20 Anti-Valentine’s Day songs for the cynic in your life

Had enough of the mushy stuff? This is for you.

Valentine’s Day isn’t for everyone – neither are love songs, actually – so here, for everyone that objects to all the adverts about sentimental tat, is a playlist full of songs designed to poke holes in the Valentine’s tradition. An Anti-Valentine’s Day playlist, if you will. Sit back and enjoy, cynics! We wuv you too <3

This piece was previously published in February 2019

Robyn, ‘Dancing On My Own’

A sadbanger for the ages, this. In 2016 Robyn’s most outstanding track was given a morose and incredibly popular makeunder – we were quite literally scratching our heads – by Britain’s Got Talent contestant called Calum Scott. Robyn’s version is of course way better, mixing as it does the pain of rejection with a defiance and sense of opportunity that Scott’s version completely overlooks.


Mope factor: 5
lyric: “I’m giving it my all / but I’m not the girl you’re taking home

Salen, ‘Heartbreak Diet’

One of the best tracks of 2017 was also a chirpy anti-Valentine’s song inspired by @textsfromyourex – it compares kisses to cola, and exes that won’t quit to gelatinous sweets stuck in your teeth. On an unrelated note – your dentist will bloody love this song.

Mope factor: 0
lyric: “I am done with sticky people / They’re too hard to pick out of my teeth

Public Image Ltd, ‘(This Is Not) A Love Song’

Fairly self-explanatory: this was a response to PIL’s label asking for hits on their fourth album ‘This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get’. This is what they got.


Mope factor: 0
Key lyric: 
This is not a love song

Beyoncé, ‘Sorry’

The narrative of the wronged woman on ‘Lemonade’ bursts into flame with ‘Sorry’ – it’s the ‘Fuck you’ part of the infidelity story. Bey’s line “I ain’t thinking ’bout you” is sort of paradoxical – she must be thinking about him a bit in order to say that she isn’t, and that means she’s not totally invulnerable – but the sentiment is there. Middle fingers up!

Mope factor: 4
Key lyric:Suck on my balls

The Smiths, ‘I Know It’s Over’

Breaking up is hard: this funereal cut from ‘The Queen Is Dead’ aims to teach acceptance. They didn’t deserve you anyway…

Mope factor: 8
Key lyric: Love is natural and real / But not for such as you and I, my love

Mac DeMarco, ‘Ode To Viceroy’

This is a love song, yes, but the recipient of the Canadian’s adoration is not a human person: it is a brand of cigarettes he was once unfaithful to. Now they’re back together. What a beautifully toxic relationship.

Mope factor: 0
Key lyrics: Oh, honey, I’ll smoke you ’til I’m dying

Crystal Castles, ‘Not In Love’

Crystal Castles’ cover of Platinum Blonde’s song was also reworked to feature vocals by The Cure’s Robert Smith, but somehow the pitch-shifted vocals on this version feel more appropriate here.

Mope factor: 4
Key lyric:
We were lovers / Now we can’t be friends

Carly Rae Jepsen, ‘Boy Problems’

Sia helped Jepsen write this upbeat tune about ruining your friendships with boring-as-fuck relationship chat. It culminates with the rather amusing lines “I think I broke up with my boyfriend today and I don’t really care / I’ve got worse problems“.

Mope factor: 1
Key lyric: So tired of hearing all your boy problems”

Soft Cell, ‘Tainted Love’

Thinking about escaping a toxic relationship? ‘Tainted Love’ will guide you to freedom.

Mope factor: 6
Key lyric: I love you though you hurt me so /Now I’m going to pack my things and go

Natasha Bedingfield, ‘Single’

2004: a simpler time. A few years after her brother Daniel had smashed the charts with the comparatively whiny ‘Gotta Get Thru This’, Natasha did the same with this anthem about the perks of singledom.

Mope factor: -23
Key lyric: I’m not waitin’ around for a man to save me

Charli XCX, ‘Breaking Up’

If you’ve ever had an ex you looked back on and thought: “What the hell was I doing?”, you’ll relate to this. It’s brutal: “You had an ugly tattoo, and fucking cheap perfume / You couldn’t dance, barely moved, I didn’t know what to do“. Embarro.

Mope factor: 0
Key lyrics: “Everything was wrong with you / So breaking up was easy to do

The Weeknd, ‘Secrets’

This Chillwave-y cut from The Weeknd’s third album ‘Starboy’ is about a relationship with 0% trust, and most scientists agree that’s quite a lot less trust than relationships need.

Mope factor: 6
Key lyric: It’s a lie / I catch you every time / In your lust / Every time you close your eyes

Tom Waits, ‘Blue Valentines’

The valentines in this song are flowers sent to Waits by an ex. The tears on your cheek as you listen are yours, reminding you to never love again.

Mope factor: 10
Key lyric: “
They’re insisting that our love must have a eulogy

Jack White, ‘Love is Blindness’

Jack White beefs up U2’s track with a massive guitar solo and his signature screech. It’s love as a terrifying, destructive force: handle with care.

Mope factor: 5
Key lyric: Love is blindness / I don’t want to see

The Antlers, ‘I Don’t Want Love’

This is a bit like Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ in its message – but you definitely can’t dance to it.

Mope factor: 10
lyric: “I should have built better walls / Or slept in my clothes

Vampire Weekend, ‘I Think Ur A Contra’

Relationship under pressure due to your inexorably diverging world views? ‘I Think Ur A Contra’ is the song 4U!

Mope factor: 4
Key lyric: We’ve both made up our minds / You’re going to watch out for yourself and so will I

Kelis, ‘Caught Out There’

A lot can change in the space of a single year – as Kelis heartily attests to on ‘Caught Out There’. “Last year, Valentine’s day, you would spoil me and say ‘Babe, I love you'” she recalls, before doing the musical equivalent of shredding up a Hallmark card in front of a trash-fire ex, and impaling a teddy bear won in happier days at a seaside arcade. This time around, there’s no more room in her life for cheating partners – Galentines Day all the way.

Mope factor: 7
Key lyric: So sick of your games, I’ll set your truck to flames”

The Japanese House, ‘Lilo’

On The Japanese House’s most bittersweet break-up banger, compassion wins out. A song about gradually falling out of love, ‘Lilo’ charts a formative relationship that eventually fizzled out – capturing its highs and lows alike. As if that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, Amber Bain also cast the song’s real life subject Marika Hackman in the music video. Not crying, just my hayfever.

Mope factor: 10
Key lyric: “It felt good, it felt transitional, a feeling I’d been waiting on”

Ariana Grande, ‘thank u, next’

To quote RuPaul: ‘If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?’ Perhaps Ari’s a Drag Race fan, because ‘thank u, next’ sees her expressing gratitude to a variety of exes, before moving on with the most dependable squeeze possible – herself.

Mope factor: 3
Key lyric: I’ve learned from the pain, I turned out amazing

Taylor Swift, ‘Shake it Off’

Dreading running into your newly-smitten ex as he strolls around some sort of artisan sourdough croissant market arm-in-arm with his new girlfriend? Fed up with all your smugly coupled-up mates leaving you out of their Valentines Day ‘couples dinners’ and tutting because you average at two Hinge dates a week? Just shake it off, shake it off, shake it off.

Mope factor: 5
Key lyric:My ex man brought his new girlfriend, she’s like, “Oh my God!” – I’m just gonna shake.”

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