THiS is SOUND: You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)

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Brought to you by your friendly neighborhood James Cassar.

                So, besides the fact the title of this week’s column shares its name with The White Stripes’ final single, this is going to flash an unholy amount of light on a relatively-tired teenage topic: ah, young love. Excuse me while I touch my uvula. Sure, girlfriends are great – mine is no slouch – and relationships serve as a frustrating course in money- and time-management, but whoever invented Valentine’s Day decided that the best way to guilt-trip dudes for paying more attention to The Elder Scrolls and the Super Bowl than their precious beloveds is to make them literally pay for it.

                Sure, I’m seventeen, and I’m not sure when I’ll get married, or even if a girl could handle all this wit and handsome. My book, The Asphalt Diaries, deals with – and analyzes the, well, consequences of – falling in love at the wrong time. Love songs are no help. You’ve got sickeningly-sweet, digitally-forged crap churned out of Capitol Records by the thousands that croon love out like it’s the word “swag.” Bruno Mars is music to every girl’s ears, yet, if a grenade was thrown his way, he’d be as far away as his pretentious legs could carry him in seven seconds. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for the female “exam week” makeup mentality 24/7 and they deserve respect more than anything I know, but come on. There has to be something wrong with love, otherwise, Newt Gingrich wouldn’t need a third wife to cover up the prequels. That flaw is the music. Let’s face it!
For example, you’ve got 2010’s gut-wrenching radio darling “Hey, Soul Sister” from the once-alright Train. Taking an entire plagiaristic leap into Jason Mraz’ god-awful ukulele playbook, the lovesick vocalist Pat Monahan fawns over the eponymous “soul sister” while lamenting about his “untrimmed chest” and being “so hood/so thug” while singing falsetto lines like The All-American Rejects’ second cousin and an outdated reference to Mr. Mister that, like the stupidity of this single, went over the heads everyone aged 25-and-over and became the soundtrack of choice for soccer moms everywhere.
 Thank God SOPA hasn’t cleared yet, otherwise Wikipedia wouldn’t give me half-facts to scoff at. “Speak Now was generally positively received by music critics, who complimented [her] overall songwriting and themes.” What are you talking about? The same bigwigs who gave the actual love doctors Stevie Wonder and Al Green glowing praise ranked the sad-puppy-love poster girl deserving of the same, if not more accessible, accolades. Ms. (yes, that’s Miss, due to the fact she sucks at relationships, apparently) Swift may have millions of followers and creepy stalkers, but she’s pining over lost princes from her golden carriage – and you’re all falling for the less-than-royal charade.
As much as I enjoy angry music as much as the next guy, I usually go for angst channeled in guitars rather than spitfire rap. Fellow lower-peninsula Michigander Eminem has made a career out of being a walking time bomb – always ticked off – but “Love the Way You Lie” off 2010’s return-to-form Recovery is a love song…loosely. It’s a narrative of a dismantling relationship told from the viewpoints of Barbados babe Rihanna and Marshall himself, but the undertones of domestic violence and you know, tying down infidelity and setting on fire really light up your heart, don’t they, darling?
 If you haven’t heard this trio of songs within the past two years, I commend you for your ability to be the first Amish teenager to attend a well-lit public school. However, if you have heard this trifecta, you probably get my point. Love is great – Shakespeare told us so – and it’s pretty awesome when you’re older, have disposable income to burn, and a partner to confide in, but until then, you’re in high school. You may be amazing just the way you are, but leave the Facebook PDA and terms of endearment at home.