Credits: For love, compassion — and the music. Let's all hold out for more, and better! ;)

Originally posted (tongue firmly in cheek!) on February 2005

Last February (it being the traditional month of romantic entanglements) I got a great deal of enjoyment writing a Firestarter titled, "What is Love?" This February I decided to do something slightly different. Instead of writing solely about today's world, I thought it might be interesting to do an evaluation of how love is seen today and how it was seen ten years ago.

In order to provide a comparable medium of comparison, I used the top ten songs for the month of January in 1995, and in 2005. I chose the beginning of January for the experimental dates mostly so I'd have a month free to study the songs and see what came floating up in my head regarding how love is seen by the populace.

This is all, of course, just for fun, so feel free to take it with a huge grain of salt — especially since what is most popular is not always best or most representative. Those two criteria are far harder to come by objectively, however, so let us simply state: the masses have spoken, damn them! -and take a moment to hear what they apparently have to say. ;-)

Therefore, without further ado, here are the top ten songs for 1995, and a quick review of content. The songs and review for 2005 are listed in tomorrow's posting.

7 January 1995

Rank Song Group
1 Creep TLC
2 On Bended Knee Boyz II Men
3 Here Comes The Hotstepper Ini Kamoze
4 Take A Bow Madonna
5 Sukiyaki 4 P.M.
6 Every Day Of The Week Jade
7 Hold My Hand Hootie & The Blowfish
8 The Sweetest Days Vanessa Williams
9 Be Happy Mary J. Blige
10 Before I Let You Go Blackstreet

Review

What can we generalize for these songs? Well, with the sole exception of Here Comes the Hotstepper, they're all love songs. I'd say this indicated pretty strongly love was quite the obsession in our culture.

I'd guess the one non-relationship song was popular due to the ability to dance to it. Also, it was mostly an "attitude" song, so even though it wouldn't really speak to people wishing to be close and romantic, it was still fun. Being part of a movie sound track probably didn't hurt either.

This would therefore seem to indicate (by wildly projecting statistics where they don't really deserve to be so abused) our culture felt people had a 9 in 10 chance of having a relationship. Sounds good, right? Okay… let's look at those nine love/relationship songs, and see if we can postulate what sort of relationships our culture expected all to fall into.

How did we see romantic relationships?

Brace yourselves. The number one song was about a person who was in love, but believed she was being cheated on and lied to — so what did she do? She decided to cheat also — to "protect" him! Stunning logic. I must admit the title was apt — Creep was just creepy. Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but a message of returning bad faith with more bad faith, such as:

"Love you forever baby soul & mind
And you gotta know if
You don't give it I'ma
Get mine…
because I need some attention….
"

…doesn't sound like love to me. Furthermore, how could she "creep around" and still assert she'll "never go astray"? Makes you wonder just what she was doing, doesn't it? The one thing it doesn't do is make you think she was doing anything constructive, like being honest and communicating clearly with him, or leaving him because he's a liar.

What did the other songs say about relationships? Well, let's look at them in quick synopsis:

Every Day of the Week:

showed a potentially good developing relationship.

Hold My Hand:

about trying to draw someone into a relationship and a better life. Interestingly, the lyrics don't specifically state genders.

Before I Let You Go:

about a man who felt his lover slipping away from him and didn't want to let her go.

Take a Bow:

about a woman leaving a lover, even though she still loved him, because he did not reciprocate the feeling.

Be Happy:

tells of a perennially self-interested person: "all I really want is for me to be happy," even as she lamented her treatment by her lover: "Why do you have to play with my mind / All the time…."

Sukiyaki:

relates the pain of a man whose sweetheart left him. He didn't know why she left, but he was sure she was lost forever.

On Bended Knee:

tells of someone pleading with his ex-lover to accept him back.

Interestingly, only one of the love/relationship songs (The Sweetest Days) was written about a good relationship — and yet even there, the lyrics and music held a wistful note, as if she expected the relationship to sour, and was doing her best to remember these good times in preparation for the expected bad times.

So what does all this tell us about 1995? By further torturing statistics, we can come up with the following postulations:

  • Our culture believed we have a 9 in ten chance of being in a relationship

  • Unfortunately it also believed we only had a 1 in five chance of having a happy relationship!

  • In the one "happy" relationship the woman seemed wistfully, almost trepidatiously happy.

  • In two of the three songs about developing or existing relationships, neither of them were really happy!

  • In all the songs which mentioned it, women were no better than men at facing reality or being honest in their relationships.

  • Men were most often left by their lovers (five cases), as opposed to no cases of women left by men.

  • However, of the five cases where the women left or were leaving, two of them were very unhappy and/or tortured themselves endlessly.

Still, before we despair, we should keep in mind the compositions would seem to also indicate we had a 1 in ten chance of going dancing. ;-)

Anyway! To synopsize again, it sounds like our culture believed men were utterly clueless when it came to romantic relationships, and women were perennially depressed about them. Bleargh! Maybe things have gotten better since then. Let's take a look at the songs of 2005 tomorrow…

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