As any respectable rom-com will tell you, relationships and music were made for each other. With every moment of your emotional adventure there is a song crafted to fit your exact mood, whether you find yourself in the loving embrace of your partner or neck deep in a tub of depression ice cream.
Here’s a list of songs for all the highs and lows that come with love — hopefully you can use these for any emotional situation you find yourself in.
Stage 1: At First Sight
Song: “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes
It doesn’t matter where or how it happened — across the room at a party or in the middle of an office as they drop a huge stack of papers. All that matters is that you’re hooked. I don’t think I believe in love at first sight, per se. However, sometimes you just look at someone for the first time, and you instantly feel a spark, something you don’t usually feel with anyone else.
This song may seem like an easy pick for this stage, but that’s because it was made for this situation. The yearning in Conor Oberst’s voice is so palpable, it feels like he’s sitting right next to you. The whole track has this timid but incredibly sincere tone to it that sinks to the depths of your heart. Plus, few songs capture the magic of that initial spark better.
Stage 2: Making It Official
Song: “Latch (Acoustic)” by Sam Smith
After several dates, you can feel your attachment toward the person growing. Every moment with them is magic. You find yourself talking to them every day, filling all moments of the day with thoughts of them. Eventually, you realize you are beyond hope in love. You immediately realize that you have to make the relationship official, because you cannot imagine spending another day without them.
To me, Sam Smith does a wonderful job describing all the tenderly intimate moments of a relationship. While the version of “Latch” on the album Disclosure is fun and sensual, it fails to pack the emotional punch this acoustic rendition does. The theme and emotion of the song shifts, from a flirtatious dance anthem to a ballad, seeing Smith wanting something more serious.
Stage 3: Honeymoon Phase
Song: “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra
Set the scene: you’ve been dating for a couple months. You’re strolling through Central Park in autumn, jumping on piles of leaves and dabbing whipped cream from your lattes on each other’s noses. It’s all so very cute. The world is marshmallows and sprinkles, and everything feels amazing. You think that this state of pure bliss will never go away.
There’s a reason why this song is in so many rom-com montages. Sinatra’s sultry voice perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being totally enamored with someone. Think about the best dates you’ve been on, and imagine it being soundtracked by this song. It makes it that much more magical. All those same feelings, only accentuated.
Stage 4: The Plateau
Song: “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads
After many months of pure happiness, the luster begins to wear off. You begin noticing things about your partner, things that irk you like never before. Their room is always a mess, they obsessively talk about “The X-Files” and they eat pizza with a fork and knife. I mean, who does that? They must be from another planet.
When I find myself on the cusp of a breakup, it feels like I’ve just woken up — hence the lyric “How did I get here?” Talking Heads’ songs always have a bit of quirk to them, and “Once In A Lifetime” uses that quirkiness to muse on an existential crisis. And if you’re nearing the end of a relationship, you’re probably feeling the same way.
Stage 5: The Breakup
Song for sad reactions: “Hungry is the Ghost” by Marissa Nadler
Son for angry reactions: “You Will Never Be One Of Us” by Nails (ANGRY)
This is where I cheat and name two songs for this stage, because, let’s face it, everyone reacts to breakups differently. Even if you’re the one who ended it, chances are you feel pretty down about the whole situation. So it’s only fitting to include two songs for the final, and possibly most emotional stage.
In the first scenario, you are just overcome with grief. Ice cream drips on the tear-stained sweater you borrowed from them that one time but never gave back. You feel like you’re hallucinating, seeing their face in every single object. Luckily, the wonderful Marissa Nadler has the song for your grief-induced paranoia with “Hungry is the Ghost.” It’s a haunting ballad about the struggles of forgetting a person you were once infatuated with. Nadler’s low and whisky dry voice is sure to soothe you as you stare at the phone for hours, waiting for them to text back.
In the second scenario, you feel personally offended by them leaving. How dare they just end it and continue to have a life? Who do they think they are? You slowly become embittered and angry, a deadly emotional cocktail that needs to be vented. If there’s one band made for venting hostile emotions, it’s Nails. On “You Will Never Be One Of Us,” the band plays with such ferocity, you won’t ever want to be angry again. Sure, it’s not a breakup song, but you’ll be too busy punching your pillow to notice.
Kyle Land is a music writer at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at music@dailylobo or on Twitter @Kyleoftheland.