Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Music Not to Get Married By

Avid followers of The Album Wall may well be wondering why I haven't posted a new blog since last Wednesday. Where was Friday's blog? And Monday's? Are you getting lazy, Joel? Don't you care any more?

Okay, I'm not suggesting that laziness didn't have its part to play, but I'd like to think that a larger chunk of the blame for this minor schedule slip can be pinned on my cousin's wedding. The ceremony took place on Saturday, and it took place in Yorkshire, which meant that the time I usually reserve for blogging was instead spent driving to and from Stamford Bridge*.

Pictured: me at the reception. I was probably making that face because of all the driving it took to get there.

Still, it was a lovely wedding (with, if you'll excuse my sudden verve for matters decorative, a wonderfully autumnal colour scheme), and the three-course meal was obviously much appreciated. In fact, the only thing that wasn't perfect was the choice of music.

Now, far be it from me to criticise the songs that a bride and groom want to hear on their big day, but Every Breath You Take? Seriously? Not only is it a poor choice for a wedding, it's such a clichéd poor choice that the song's Wikipedia page actually goes to the trouble of pointing out that, hey, maybe this shouldn't be the first thing you listen to after kissing the bride:
Sting later said he was disconcerted by how many people think the song is more positive than it is. He insists it's about the obsession with a lost lover, and the jealousy and surveillance that follow. "One couple told me 'Oh we love that song; it was the main song played at our wedding!' I thought, 'Well, good luck.'"
Having said that, I can't be too hard on Rowena and Sam. The love song genre is an absolute minefield of hidden meanings and sour undertones, and no matter what seemingly romantic tune you've got queued up for your return journey down the aisle, there's a pretty good chance that it's completely inappropriate in some way. For example, Aerosmith's I Don't Want to Miss a Thing has some ugly end-of-the-world connotations, while First Day of My Life (apparently a pretty popular choice for the first dance) always sounded slightly sad and desperate to my ears:

"Besides, maybe this time is different - I mean, I really think you like me!"

From Minnie Riperton's Lovin' You (sexual suggestiveness that may offend elderly relatives) to Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On (inextricably linked to histroy's greatest maritime disaster), seemingly every love song in the pop music canon comes with a reason to exclude it from your nuptial playlist. Even Can't Take My Eyes Off You - a classic love song if ever there was one - has that recurring interlude that sounds like the Jaws theme.

So is there a love song without any such issues? Here's the closest thing I've found:

That song is You You You You You by The 6ths, another of Stephin Merritt's many, many musical projects. It's one of the purest love songs I can think of; admittedly, the lyrics are more applicable to exhilarating new romances than the stern bonds of matrimony, but this is a pretty minor quibble. At least it doesn't suggest that your marriage is in any way akin to a literal sinking ship.

No, I can't imagine anyone *actually* using that Titanic song at their wedding either, but then I didn't think anyone *actually* got married to the ominous ostinato of Every Breath You Take until last Saturday.

*That's Stamford Bridge, the small village in East Yorkshire, not Stamford Bridge, the big football stadium in London.


  1. I've always loved Sweet Avenue by Jets to Brazil (, but even that's quite overwrought. Quite difficult to write a love song without overdoing it a touch, surprised it's caught on quite so much!

  2. There's also the classic example of The One I Love by REM. A song that even Peter Buck used at his wedding that Michael Stipe has repeatedly said isn't a love song...unless you count referring to your lover as "a simple prop to occupy my time" as romantic :-)

  3. Y Teimlad by Datblygu (covered by Super Furry Animals). End of. That said I deferred to my wife's choice of The Wannadies's You & Me Song at our wedding. Figured I may as well start married life in the same vein as the rest of it....