…The love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted… The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The write who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love, for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil, so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.
– Nick Cave
Though a love song that is purely about how amazing it is to love someone, inherently within such a song is a feeling of incompleteness (for why would someone have to sing so exultingly about another person, if they were complete within themselves?)
But in that, that is the absurdity of life, and therefore the joy of life. That someone can complete us, exhilarate us and maybe even consume us, despite the likely fact that the relationship will end in heartbreak.
In the eyes of Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue’s Better the Devil You Know is a heartbreakingly wondrous love song, which touches on all the simultaneously painful and beautiful parts that love itself brings.
And this is why, he says:
Within the world of modern pop music, a world that deals ostensibly with the Love Song, but in actuality does little more than hurl dollops of warm, custard-coloured baby-vomit down the air waves, true sorrow is not welcome. But occasionally a song comes a long that hides behind its disposable, plastic beat a love lyric of truly devastating proportions. Better the Devil You Know is such a song. The disguising of the terror of love in a piece of mindless, innocuous pop music is an intriguing concept. Better the Devil You Know is one of pop music’s most violent and distressing love lyrics:
I’ll take you back again
No more excuses no, no
‘Cause I’ve heard them all before
A hundred times or more
If you say you’ll never go
‘Cause its true what they say
It’s better the devil you know
I think I know the score
If you say you love me, oh boy
I can’t ask for more
I’ll come if you should call