Every time I turn around, there’s a list in some men’s magazine about the top ten (or two hundred if they’re ambitious) albums for a particular cause. These things vary from garden variety best-albums-ever (impossible given bias and subjectivity) to best-albums-for-or-from-a-certain-time-period (top ten best albums for six in the morning! Top ten best albums from March 1962!) to best albums to score with. It’s this third one I take most offense. To think that there is a certain number of albums that will get you laid is ludicrous, unless the girl wants to get laid just as desperately as you and has read the same list, and in that case you’re both too horny to really think about music anyway and could screw to William Shatner if you had to.
To make the joke worse, these lists almost always include R&B, and for the most part it’s cheesy R&B like Al Green or Usher or Alicia Keys. When it comes down to it, R&B is the market-ready expected afterthought to a romantic evening. It’s about as romantic in a non-ironic sense as a candle shaped like a penis. Forget R&B. Hell, forget the idea of music being the soundtrack to your big romantic moment, and begin thinking of it as a connection between the two of you.
The fact is, there’s really no factual evidence either way to indicate how your music collection helps your romantic cause. There’s lots of people out there who only date those they feel are equal musically, and while there’s worse specifics to be made (only dating people that are named “Billy” might be one) the music qualification is scattershot at best. Only one of the girls I’ve ever dated matched me for musical know-how, and that was a great facet to the relationship, but it’s not like it was lacking in the others. It does come up, however. I’ll be talking about some new album I just got, and the girl next to me will have no idea what I’m talking about, and that is a lost connection. It doesn’t hurt the relationship in any tangible way, but it has the potential to give damage the same way it would if you had absolutely no idea or interest in what she did for a living.
Here’s my point. Your music and her music (or his music) might be completely different, and there might be no middle ground at all, and that’s a bad thing. What I’m here to do (and for the next three weeks, continue doing) is present you folks with some middle ground. This is a challenge to do something specifically romantic and generally great for the world at large. Here’s the scene; you both go into a music store, and pick out something you’ve either never heard of or only know because some internet columnist recommended it (I’ll get to that in a bit). You share the CD, much like a couple of 8 year old kids would share a comic book. This CD becomes a connection between the two of you, and because of that the relationship grows a little stronger (instead of slowly growing weaker based on the lack of musical connections). Finally, take that thing everywhere you go. Drive with it blaring. Fall asleep to it. Make love to it. Eat dinner to it. Do anything and everything with that CD, because the more context you make of the music, the more context you’re relationship will have with music on the whole. And while there’s no evidence saying that music can drive a relationship either, but I can pretty well guarantee you don’t want music to be on the negative side. Consciously, this girl will never pick her Fionna Apple CD’s over you, but subconsciously there’s love for that artist that doesn’t ever falter, and it can be like choosing the boyfriend or the best friend.
So, this list of albums isn’t a best-of, or a best-to-do-it-with, it’s a list of suggestions that may or may not work (tabloids will never be this honest) in bringing in a new and exciting connection to your relationship. They’re CD’s that explain relationships and love, but also drive them in different directions. They’re also great albums by themselves, so if you’re shopping for something new, you could do worse than these suggestions.
The Raveonettes – Chain Gang of Love
This 2003 release is all about a couple of lovers going out at night on their motorcycles and raising hell in a sexed-up version of the 1950’s. Every song exemplifies a certain emotion geared towards fun and love. On “That Great Love Sound”, they sing about a game of hard-to-get. “Heartbreak Stroll” is all about that moment before you get to the girls’ house at three in the morning and you have to drop her off. And “Little Animal”? Well, here’s some lyrics; “My girl is a little animal/she always wants to f*ck/I can’t find the reason why/I guess it’s just my luck.” If you guys are the kind of couple that likes to break the rules and occasionally draw blood, and yet at the same time love today’s hipster chic, this one’s for you.
Bjork – Post
This is still arguably Bjork’s best album and the reason is simple; she creates a mood that most people don’t know exists. It’s dancy (army of me), quietly romantic (I miss you), naively silly (it’s oh so Quiet) and dreamy (headphones), and in exploring all these individually great ideas the flow never wavers and can be enjoyed so much as a whole. This album is for the couple who occassionaly create works of art, or dreams in colours and does a drug or two from time to time.
The Dresden Dolls
The Dresdon Dolls is for the couple who used to be innocent and charming but something carnivalesque happened to them and now they’re both a little disturbed. The view of the world through TDD’s glass is one of a funhouse mirror, and their take on love is no different; “you can tell/ from the scars on my arms/ and cracks in my hips/ and the dents in my car/ and the blisters on my lips/ that i’m not the carefullest of girls” from Girl Anachronism describes the mood pretty perfectly.
Apostle of Hustle – Folkloric Feel
Apostle of Hustle is a side project (one of the many) from Broken Social Scene, and in this place could be just about any of the side projects, from Stars’s Nightsongs to Feists’ Let it Die. They all have a similar laid-back feel that works best with the lights low and comenced cuddling. Any of these albums works with any amount of cynicism a relationship could have because of their innocuous innocence that’s impossible not to appreciate and feel bewildered by. Many of the tracks here barely have lyrics and instead thrive on a simple guitar beat that can be forgotten as easily as it can be stuck in your head for days.
Damian Rice – O
If there’s any album out there that’ll make you cry, it’ll be this one. The idea is to use the guarantee of tears to your advantage. Crying during intense conversation or love making can be one of the most memorable moments in any relationship, and this one will do the trick. It’ll also slow everything down to a crawl, and if you’re looking to make a moment last forever, there are few better choices.
Five recommendations should suffice. There’s dozens of records out there that sound like these ones as well, so by all means search and experiment before you find what you love. That goes for every context imaginable, as well, not just music. If there’s someone out there you have feelings for, the moment is now. There is no perfect moment coming, so just say it. Say it now before you lose that opportunity. And say it with music, if you can. It helps.