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Bitter Love

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

When Love Breaks Down

Picture: "We were on a break!" That Ross and Rachel break up on Friends / Credit: NBC

It's Not All Sweetness and Light

We've all been there. Love is great when it's sweet but a nightmare when it's bitter. So why prolong the pain? Sometimes we just get stuck in a bad situation or left with bittersweet memories. The Hub presents a playlist for those moments when love hurts and it feels like nothing will ease the pain.

80s pop band Prefab Sprout sets the tone with When Love Breaks Down, a single from 1984 album Steve McQueen. Frontman Paddy McAloon croons sweetly:

When love breaks down

The lies we tell,

They only serve to fool ourselves,

When love breaks down

The things you do

To stop the truth from hurting you

The Cracks In Our Foundation

Bitter Love started with The Hub trying to remember "What was that Kate Nash song I used to like?" and wondering "What happened to her after that first album?" The song turned out to be Foundations from Kate Nash's No.1 album Made of Bricks. After a successful second album Nash was released by her record label and published two further albums independently.

YouTube video: Kate Nash - Foundations (Official Video)

For a while, Nash and Lily Allen doubled as clever, brutally-honest, London-girl singers. No surprise to The Hub that Nash is from an Anglo-Irish background. There was something folky about her delivery. Foundations begins with Nash singing of her boyfriend humiliating her in front of their friends and sadly singing:

My fingertips are holding onto

The cracks in our foundation

And I know that I should let go but I can't

And every time we fight

I know it's not right

Every time that you're upset

And I smile

I know I should forget but I can't

The Hub was delighted to find a August 2019 interview with Kate Nash on Hoxton TV.

It's Not Fair

YouTube video: Lily Allen | Not Fair (Official Video)

Musically, the two Lily Allen songs that go with Foundations are Somewhere Only We Know and The Fear. But for thematic reasons The Hub has included It's Not Fair, Allen's bitter lament her apparently perfect new boyfriend just doesn't cut it in the bedroom. Despite her best efforts!

Somebody That I Used To Know

From the Nash-Allen duette, The Hub alighted on Bitter Love and sifted through memories of disparate songs fitting the theme. The country music notes in Allen's song naturally lead to the mother of all Bitter Love songs, Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man. Nathalie Imbruglia's Torn is an occasional favourite on The Hub's Epsom Hospital Radio show with its "I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel; I'm cold and I am shamed; Lying naked on the floor" refrain.

YouTube video: Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra) [Official Music Video]

Somebody That I Used To Know, a 2011 song by Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter Gotye, featuring New Zealand singer Kimbra was memorable for the striking title and for its video literally exposing the naked vulnerability of relationship break-up.

Guitar Riff

The Hub's playlists are typically multi-genre, so we enter a guitar zone with The Lumineers' Stubborn Love. Radiohead continues the riffs with All I Need.

A mood lightener comes with Jilted John's not entirely serious punk-era Jilted John. John's complaint about Julie's infidelity with Gordon, "Just cause he's better looking than me; Just cause he's cool and trendy", led to a favoured immature school playground chant of "Gordon is a moron!" by The Hub and friends. Thankfully the teacher it was aimed at took the joke well!

YouTube video: The Cure - Pictures Of You

The Cure's Pictures of You, from 1989 album Disintegration, one of the bands' best songs, takes us to a if only twilight world stuck in a past relationship captured in old pictures.

If only I'd thought of the right words

I could have held on to your heart

If only I'd thought of the right words

I wouldn't be breaking apart

All my pictures of you

Many of Horror

Two songs take us to a relationship chamber of horrors. Scottish guitar band Biffy Clyro's Many of Horror (When We Collide) is a deep dive into the dark side of romantic love with references to physical and emotional abuse and interdependence.

You say, "I love you boy." I know you lie I trust you all the same I don't know why

'Cause when my back is turned My bruises shine Our broken fairytale So hard to hide

YouTube video: Biffy Clyro - Many of Horror (When We Collide) (Official Music Video)

Caroline Says II from Lou Reed's 1973 album Berlin mines the same seam with a difficult-to-listen-to song with the lines:

Caroline says

While biting her lip

Life is meant to be more than this

And this is a bum trip

I Dreamed A Dream

YouTube video: Les Misérables (2012) - I Dreamed A Dream Scene (1/10) | Movieclips

Anne Hathaway tugs at our hearts in I Dreamed A Dream from 2012 film Les Misérables, featured in The Hub's In Your Dreams blog. Hathaway recalls her fate at the hands of a callous young lover who "took my childhood in his stride, but was gone when autumn came."

Much needed relief comes with the mellow sounds of Bitter Love (1998): Against Time of Desire the opening track on various artists album Bitter Love (1998) from Peony Pavilion, with vocalists Ying Huang, Tan Dun, Steven Osgood and Linqiang Xu.

Two soul greats join in with Aretha Franklin's Sweet Bitter Love Demo and Otis Redding's jealous struggles on I've Got Dreams To Remember.

They're Only Pretty Lies

Fleetwood Mac's Little Lies couples with Joni Mitchell singing, "You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you; All those pretty lies, pretty lies" on The Last Time I Saw Richard from her iconic 1971 Blue album.

YouTube video: Abba - The Winner Takes It All (Official Video)

Adele sings to a lost lover on Someone Like You that "for me it isn't over". Carly Simon brilliantly takes down Warren Beatty on You're So Vain, with uncredited backing singer Mick Jagger one of the many people also considered as an inspiration for the song.

ABBA's The Winner Takes It All has that killer piano key and tempo change as Agnetha Fältskog painfully sings Benny and Björn's lyrics, "But tell me does she kiss; Like I used to kiss you; Does it feel the same; When she calls your name" on 1980 album Super Trouper.

Proof thinks The Hub Benny and Björn are Bowie fans as Letter to Hermione*, from the 1969 Space Oddity album, predates Super Trouper by over a decade with the lines:

And when you kiss

It's something new

But did you ever call my name

Just by mistake?

* With thanks to Cliff Stammers for the Bowie recommendation. Mr Stammers manfully admits to crying when he hears The Winner Takes It All, "one of the best songs ever written".

I Know It's Over

And finally... Morrissey questions his fate as he laments the end of an affair on The Smiths' I Know It's Over from 1986 album, The Queen Is Dead :

I know it's over

And it never really began

But in my heart it was so real

And you even spoke to me, and said :

"If you're so funny

Then why are you on your own…

Music by Johnny Marr and "tour de force" lyrics by Morrissey. Marr described Morrissey's singing on the song as, "one of the highlights of my life."


You can listen to The Hub's Bitter Love playlist by clicking on the link below.


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