While most people associate hearts, roses and romance with Valentine's Day, it isn't wine and roses for everyone. For some, it can be marked by anything from unrequited love to feelings of loneliness and despair. In fact, the life and death of the patron saint for which the day is named was anything other than a bed of roses.
It was only in the middle ages that the 3rd century martyr's feast day of February 14 became associated with romance and love. During his lifetime, Valentine is said to have cut hearts out of parchment for soldiers and persecuted Christians, and on the day of his execution, he supposedly left his daughter a note that was signed, "Your Valentine." So, there you have it.
In the theme of a "not so" Valentine's Day, we've gathered a selection of un-Valentine's Day songs for your listening pleasure - two new and two classic.
Sophie Sanders | "All My Friends Are Married"
First up is "All My Friends Are Married," the brand new anti-Valentine's Day anthem from Nashville born-and-raised songwriter Sophie Sanders. Falling somewhere underneath the Country/Americana/Singer-songwriter umbrella, Sophie has been writing her own music since a fateful mid-May day in 2011 when she picked up one of her dad's guitars after having wisdom teeth removed and still in a restless, swollen, life-feels-so-strange state. Her obsession with songwriting was born.
"All My Friends Are Married" was produced by Paul Sikes and is the first single from Sophie since her 2019 debut album, Steep and Shining Spaces. In her anti-Valentine's day anthem, Sophie sings about the reality of being 29, single, and scared of her dating prospects. She relates to the heart looking for love while everyone around her seems to have already found it. "I think everyone knows the friend that is going to want to hear this song today," Sophie says, certain that other women will relate.
Sophie dedicates this song to everyone who’s tired of dateless weddings, dating apps, bad first dates, lonely Valentine’s Days, matchmaking mothers and friends, and sitting at home with the cat on Friday night. She penned the track alone, early one morning soon after turning 28. “I actually had a lot of fun writing it, despite the sad sounding words," she laughs, explaining that she made herself 29 so that the vowels would rhyme in the chorus. She says she had recently attended a friend's wedding and was the only single one in her handful of friends there. "Everyone's like 'oh that groomsman is single, go for him!' And 'oh my gosh is Christina drinking sparkling water? Oh my gosh are they pregnant?” she says.
Jay Miners | "Real Love"
New York-based folk/pop singer-songwriter Jay Miners takes a unique look at Valentine's Day in "Real Love," a modern, beautifully melodic, creepy/romantic love song written from the perspective of our smartphones, the apps that collect our data, and our ever-decreasing privacy. Produced by Harper James at Brooklyn's Degraw Sound studios, Jay describes that the tune came alive within just one weekend, "I'm on keys and Harper on guitar, bass, and all the cool synth stuff."
"Oh this world was made for you and me
what an algorithmic match we could be
I'll show you a side of your dreams, it's so real
you know you're lovin' livin' life in the screen"
Regarding the subject matter of "Real Love," Jay tells SoundThread, "The seed for the song initially came from the book How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price, which really got me thinking about all the ways I was addicted to my phone." She continues, "I thought it would be interesting to write a creepy-romantic love song in the perspective of my smartphone - a device that probably knows more about me (what I want to buy, where I want to travel to, how I find love) than the average person in my life. We're in this weird era of technology - and I find myself questioning how much of my life is kept just for me."
The Smiths | "I Know It's Over"
When I think of anti-Valentine's Day songs, The Smiths is one of the first indie bands that come to my mind. "I Know It's Over" is an obvious choice for this post, with its somber mood, sluggish pace and hopelessly honest lyrics: "I know it's over | And it never really began | But in my heart it was so real" and "Love is natural and real | But not for you, my love | Not tonight, my love."
Joy Division | "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
From the very first notes of this Joy Division classic, I'm emotionally transported to someplace far from the present. Timeless, shimmering and raw: "Love Will Tear Us Apart." This beautiful ode to the disintegration of love couldn't be told in a more touching way than by the late Ian Curtis.
"And we're changing our ways
Taking different roads
Love, love will tear us apart again"