Bad Love Songs of the 1990s

Yesterday I claimed that the 1990s were terrible years for pop songs about love. Then I wondered, was I being too hard on the decade?

I tell you what: you judge.

Bryan Adams: (Everything I Do) I Do It for You (1991)

In 1991 you could not escape this song. Even if you avoided the radio and didn’t turn on your TV, A&M Records would send men into your house to duct tape a Walkman and its earphones to your head. “I can’t help it,” Adams croons as the song swells gently to a crescendo worthy of a bad sex scene in a low-rent romance novel.

Aerosmith: I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing (1998)

“I could stay awake just to hear you breathing/Watch you smile while you are sleeping”. Imagine, if you will, that you had a rough day and were asleep moments after you crawled in bed. Then you’re waking up, feeling relaxed and refreshed, ready to face a new day. You open your eyes and your bedroom comes into focus and suddenly in front of you is

Steven Tyler

And he tells you he’s been staring at you all night long. I also note that Diane Warren, who wrote the song, has said that she originally wrote it for Celine Dion.

Backstreet Boys: All I Have to Give (1997)

Jonathan Coulton’s song Soft Rocked By Me contains the lyrics, “I’ll listen to the things you say about the way you feel / I’ll smile an understanding smile when your boyfriend calls / And you’ll go, but you’ll think of me”. All I Have to Give is that passive “but I could love you if you’d let me!” approach taken seriously and somehow going quadruple platinum. This song is the anthem of Nice Guys(tm) everywhere.

Celine Dion: I Want You to Need Me (1999)

Celine Dion should hook up with the Backstreet Boys.

Kenny Loggins: For the First Time (1997)

A decade after Footloose and Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins inexplicably reappeared on the charts with this Oscar-nominated song. Eyes, smiles, hands holding hands — there is no cliché safe from Loggins’s muse.

Mariah Carey: Emotions (1991)

Everything about this song feels carefully and soullessly assembled, despite the number of times she says the word “feel”. And “I feel good, I feel nice”? Her singing may be full of high notes, but the emotions her lover inspires in her are barely two inches off of the floor.

Extreme: More Than Words (1990)

If you really loved me, you’d sleep with me.

Richard Marx: Now and Forever (1994)

You’re holding a fortune heaven has given to you, huh? I wish you had kept holding it quietly. If you’re low on your RDA of love ballad string sections, this song should help.

You know, I’ve been hard on the 1990s, but at least it didn’t give us this:

[tags]love songs, 1990s, music videos, too much vibrato, too many high notes, too many string sections, I can’t believe the album “The Best of Bread” has twenty whole songs[/tags]

5 thoughts on “Bad Love Songs of the 1990s

  1. Allow me throw in a couple of honorable mentions…

    Since there’s a Diane Warren song in the list, we should probably include Jim Steinman’s incomprehensible masterpiece.

    Pretty much anything from Boyz II Men’s II qualifies. For that matter, anything that comes to mind when you hear the Da Vinci’s Notebook song “Title of the Song” automatically counts.

    You know, this might actually motivate me to do an 80’s version of this post on Sliding Constant. 🙂 I’ll even give a hint to one of the winners (because I heard it on XM on the way home tonight): How would you pronounce this phrase?

  2. Oh, man, I’d forgotten “I Would Do Anything For Love” was in the 1990s. I should have remembered — “Objects in the Rearview Mirror…” led Andrew and me to come up with the companion love song, “Objects May Have Shifted During Flight”.

Comments are closed.