Despite what you might think, we at FACT like to see ourselves as romantics. No, really – we do.
As has become our custom, we mark Valentine’s Day with a playlist. Nothing definitive, not the 10 greatest love songs of all time, just 10 songs that concern themselves with matters of the heart. Think of it as a token of our affection for you. It’s not all red roses and stolen kisses, mind: domestic abuse, premature ejaculation (of a kind) and the anxiety of influence all figure in a selection that acts as a warning as well as a celebration.
Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to turn pages (page 1/11)
‘WHY DO I FEEL’
Courtship isn’t all fun and games – for a small cabal of nervous spods (read: the FACT editorial team), it’s a veritable minefield of awkward fumbles, malapropisms and pratfalls in restaurants. Thank heavens, then, for the Wiggin sisters and their cargo cult rock’n’roll. The legend of The Shaggs’ The Philosophy Of The World has been told many times: Dad raises his daughters in a music-free household; Dad abruptly decides his teenage daughters should form a band; daughters unwittingly write the greatest avant-pop album of the 1960s. ‘Why Do I Feel’ is its most anguished moment – the purest expression of paralysing emotional awkwardness ever committed to wax.
VIKTOR VAUGHN FEAT. NIKKI
‘LET ME WATCH’
Valentine’s Day dirtbags take note – on this highlight from MF DOOM’s Vaudeville Villain album, he romances a local girl and gets so close to what he wants, before blowing his proverbial load early and ruining the night for everybody. Classic hip-hop storytelling with DOOM on fantastic form; the line that gives the song its title is a fantastic parting shot.
‘BY YOUR SIDE’
Given their tendency to slip into vacuous habits, the idea of CocoRosie tackling domestic abuse in their music is one that sets alarm bells ringing, and ‘By Your Side’ – a song that casually slips “I’d wear your black eyes” in amongst less sinister forms of submission, before closing on “all I want with my life / Is to die a housewife” – doesn’t exactly assuage those fears. Does that stop it from being one of the most haunting, and strangely moreish songs in the duo’s catalogue though? Not for a second.
‘MYSTERIES OF LOVE’
It’s a familiar story by now: David Lynch wanted to use This Mortal Coil’s ‘Song For The Siren’ in the soundtrack for his 1986 film Blue Velvet, but the rights for the Tim Buckley cover proved beyond the director’s budget. To get around this, he asked his friend and composer Angelo Badalamenti to write a new piece of music with a similar vibe to TMC’s ethereal classic. Lynch wrote the lyrics, and Badalamenti recruited Julee Cruise, a hitherto unknown singer he’d heard performing at a theatre workshop in New York, to handle lead vocals. The heart-stopping ‘Mysteries Of Love’ was born, and it arguably transcends the song that originally inspired it.
‘BONNIE & CLYDE’
You already know Serge Gainsbourg’s third most infamous duet (and if you don’t, we’d recommend finding a companion and robbing a record store), and Mick Harvey’s 1995 reading adds an extra level of noirish romance. The Birthday Party man croons from the bottom of a whiskey bottle, and Anita Lane takes the Brigitte Bardot role, somehow outsmouldering BB in the process. A heart-tugging soundtrack to living – and loving – fast, as relayed by a pair of lovestruck barflies.
MERCSTON & CHUNKY BIZZLE
For many, grime is about sour detuned notes, cold synth tones and mucky 8-bar bass switches. Not for oft-overlooked producer Chunky Bizzle, however, who was pretty much unparalleled – amongst his peers, at least – in chopping-up honey-sweet soul samples at 140bpm. ‘Summertime’, with former Movement member Mercston on vocals, remains his best known track – a tribute to summer love, unfortunately fronted by someone who ended up in jail for rape a few years later.
‘HE LOVED HIM MADLY’
Strictly speaking, ‘He Love Him Madly’ shouldn’t qualify for this list. It is about one man’s love for another, but not the romantic kind: rather it’s the great trumpeter’s passionate tribute to Duke Ellington, who died a month prior to its recording. 32 minutes of abstract but deeply soulful sound sculpture, this extraordinary piece bemused fans and critics at the time, but over the year’s has become a touchstone of psychedelia and head music – adored by Julian Cope and cited by Brian Eno as a lasting influence on his work.
‘HAVE I TOLD YOU’
Alright, so Chunky Bizzle wasn’t the only grime producer who could chop for the lovers. Best known for producing N.A.S.T.Y. Crew’s ‘Nasty Gang Banga’, here Blackjack re-edits a familiar classic (let’s face it, you already know what it is) for the clubs.
THIRSTIN HOWL III
‘STILL LIVE WITH MY MOMS’
One for the ragged-trousered graduates. Freestyle legend Thirstin Howl III’s got flair, verve, panache – and a cosy box room in his Mom’s house. Cue Peep Show-style hilarity as he fesses up to his horrified date. First among many brilliant couplets: “Shout out to my niggas in Compton / Who still live with they Moms and fight they brothers for the top bunk”.
‘ONLY LOVE WILL BREAK YOUR HEART’ (A MIX OF TWO HALVES)
Proof that great songs are there to be reimagined and made new, Andrew Weatherall’s remix of Saint Etienne’s ‘Only Love Will Break Your Art’, itself a cover of the Neil Young classic, is a Balearic dub-pop masterpiece that still packs a punch, managing to sound both hungry for romance and weary of the disappointment it so often, perhaps always, leads to.