Throwback Thursday: “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles

Admittedly, I hadn’t listened to this song in years before I sat down to do this week’s Throwback Thursday. But it hasn’t aged at all: that familiar, heavy piano, that slightly husky voice, those incredibly catchy lyrics. It’s time to revisit an anti-love song that was everywhere back in the day.

The great thing about this tune is that it inverts the genre. Despite the cheerful beat and its echoes of swing, Bareilles is singing about the tension of a relationship that she doesn’t want to memorialize. The song was actually directed at her label and how they were trying to get her to write a love song when she didn’t want to. (When I was a teenager, I thought that was just an urban legend.)

The lyrics themselves are delightfully passive-aggressive: “the breathing gets harder, even I know that.” She’s taking the excuses of the other person in the relationship and reframing them. And over the course of the song, the narrator seems to grow more confident. She acknowledges that they “convinced me to please you” and “made me think that I need this too.” Finally, at the end, she seems to have the strength to walk away.

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