Look up the phrase “self-pitying” in the dictionary, and chances are the protagonist of this reggae-tinged song from the Police will be pictured. Need (melodramatic) proof? How about lyrics such as, “In this theatre that I call my soul / I always play the starring role / So lonely”? Or how about Sting’s anguished vamping on the titular phrase near the end of the tune? Either way, one (obvious) thing’s for sure: There’s no love present in the world of “So Lonely.”
You’re No Good”
Made famous by Linda Ronstadt in 1975, “You’re No Good” turned into a hard rock creeper in the hands of Van Halen. The first track on Van Halen II, this cover smolders with stoner riffs, ominous harmonies and David Lee Roth squeals. While it’s inarguable that the person discussed is a dud as a date, Van Halen’s sleazy version clearly wants to make sure listeners realize just how bad this person truly is.
J. Geils and company are pragmatic about romance. After all, it just “stinks,” not anything more serious, and it’s ended up that way because the protagonist is pining after a lady who doesn’t even love him back. That approach meshes well with the song’s loopy organ, pub-drunk harmonies and rather cartoonish intonations of the song’s title, “Love stinks.” In the end, Geils isn’t heartbroken; he’s merely shrugging his shoulders.
“Go Your Own Way”
The Lindsey Buckingham–Stevie Nicks romantic drama was well in progress by the time Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumours came out. One of the best (if not the most enduring) documents of that saga is this Buckingham-penned tune, “Go Your Own Way.” The song’s lyrics capture the bittersweet push-pull of a relationship that’s not quite balanced – a situation made all the more poignant (and complicated) by the fact that the doomed pair are bandmates.
Def Leppard’s only Billboard singles chart-topper is an emotionally conflicted power ballad. On the one hand, the song describes irresistible magnetism: “I don’t wanna touch you too much baby / ‘Cause making love to you might drive me crazy.” But if you read between the lines, “Love Bites” is actually a fatal attraction: “Watch out, love bites / Yes it does / It will be hell.” Mutt Lange’s gigantic production only magnifies the song’s drama, from Joe Elliott’s tortured vocal turn to the gargantuan guitars.