Alternating big “Louie Louie” guitars, squealing synths and hilariously relatable lyrics, 1980’s “Love Stinks” was almost a warmup for the huge success that was just around the corner.
Never speeding up past a slow march, “Love Stinks” is delivered with the supreme confidence of old pros who know exactly what they’re doing every step of the way.
And admittedly, Peter Wolf’s lyrics aren’t going to win any contests, but he delivers them with the equal amounts resignation and amusement.
You love her
But she loves him
And he loves somebody else
You just can’t win
And so it goes
Till the day you die
This thing they call love
It’s gonna make you cry
And it’s the tone that makes “Love Stinks,” so great. After all, they didn’t call it “Love Sucks,” which they probably would have been able to get away with, but “Love Sucks” isn’t funny. “Love Stinks” is.
So when the whole band stops — including those big-ass J. Geils glammy guitars — at the beginning of the chorus so Wolf can intone the title like a ’50s doo-wop song, it’s a great moment. And it’s almost instantly topped by the rest of the band joining in with a joyous “Love stinks, yeah yeah” over and over again.
In 1980, when I was a walking compendium of unrequited crushes, a song like “Love Stinks” was absolutely perfect for me to blast every time it came on the radio.
“Love Stinks” official video
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