Say you’re in a situationship, and a romantic comedy is the closest bandage to wrap around your oozing heart. With its Liz Phair ‘Why Can’t I?’ score and fairytale letter font spelling out “the end” after his Princeton convertible drives down the San Fernando Valley, it’s easy to lean into the notion of a happy ending even if he’s left you on read. And yeah, that’s after we’ve seen A Cinderella Story many times! However, there are other days when it just gets a little too much.
Instead of visualizing that you’re on the receiving end of a romantic declaration, you’d rather hang out with the character who’s decided to give up. The ‘cool girl’ who sure should probably be stretching their designer shoes on a therapist’s couch to clear out their abandonment wounds but also has the sharpest sixth sense that they’re always one step ahead of the player; that’s the sort of rebel who deserves Kelly Clarkson featuring Steve Martin’s ‘i hate love’ to be the closing song as their movie turns to black sans any kind of romantic closer.
Shattering Confectionery Hearts
Obviously, when we toss Kelly Clarkson’s name into the rom-com equation, she’s already used one of her songs as the centerpiece of its soundtrack. We’re speaking to our early 2000s girlies here, who more so know Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis. Basically, she’s the princess we’d zap from our screens into the real world so she could rule the kingdom and, therefore, our hearts, but due to real-world confines, she’s simply making sure the people of Genovia are resting easy. Kelly’s ‘Breakaway’ was used during the second installment, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, during a heartfelt scene where Mia guided a group of children, including thumb-sucking Carolina, down the street, all the while with them wearing crowns.
So, therefore, it’s only natural that she would do the same regarding the anti-rom-com. We’ll flesh out an analysis of the song a little later, but for now, we thought we’d throw three possible choices into the ring for who would’ve been given this country salute.
John Tucker Must Die
Circling back to the early 2000s, John Tucker Must Die is the summer beak movie you would’ve found every it girl during that time starring in. For one, there’s One Tree Hill’s Sophia Bush, and then you’ve got Brittany Snow and Arielle Kebbel, and joining the ranks of only needing one name for their face to come to mind immediately, it’s Ashanti. Sure, there’s a fully-curled out Penn Badgley on the side, too, before his Gossip Girl climb to notoriety, but ultimately, if we’re adding people to the group chat that’s on MSN and not anywhere else to take down player Jesse Metcalfe, it’s them. It’s a really fun movie that takes a closer look at girlhood around the idea of cheating.
John Tucker Must Die’s soundtrack deals with the slow-burner tunes from the early 2000s, we mean the ones that have really long intros, and even when the lyrics come in, it feels so mellow that you can have it on in the background but not mellow enough that you’d fall asleep to it. For example, The All-American Reject’s ‘Dirty Little Secret.’ ‘i hate love’ has a similar pacing to the intro; with us only hearing Steve’s banjo, and following that, the production isn’t too heavy.
(500) Days of Summer
The character of Summer in, you guessed it (500) Days of Summer has only given us the best seasonal metaphor for ghosting. Maybe it’s more likely that they’ll hit you up at 3 a.m., but once that sun rises, there they are, feeding pretty words into your ear, and once it sets, poof, they’re gone, only to come back once again as the sun comes out. Is this hot and cold cycle becoming old to anyone else? Oh, and of course, there are three other seasons, so once winter comes around, summer’s already met their ideal person who’s not you. In the movie, Summer states that she’s not looking for anything serious. Still, she glues herself onto Tom, yet in the end, she finds someone else she’s sure about.
A lyrical couplet in the first verse of ‘i hate love’ reads, “Even when I know it’s bad for me / These memories fill my mind,” suggesting that as much as knowing something is toxic, no one has control over love itself. Hence, the emotion engulfs us, taking over until we’re so enthralled with the feeling that we settle for scraps. Kelly then sings, “Why do I want what I shouldn’t? / Why can’t I leave it alone?” It’s a pretty standard question, yet something Tom wouldn’t be able to answer. As much as Summer is a villain, so is Tom, to his detriment, as he should’ve left that situation long ago.
La La Land
Sebastian Wilder isn’t a player. We’re just letting you know now before you, you know, come at us. It’s not that sort of anti-rom-com, at least not like the other two we’ve already mentioned. However, there’s still the common factor of the two starring leads, Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian and Emma Stone’s Mia, not ending up together. It’s because of their career paths. Sure, they can meet through them, and it’s beautiful how it pushes them to grow in each of their lanes. Still, once they make it, the melancholy blue glow settles onto Mia’s face as she watches her past love play the piano in the jazz bar he dreamed of opening. She’s more of a partial onlooker.
We didn’t solely pick this movie because of the Ryan reference – “So you can keep Gosling and I’ll take Steve Martin.” – but behind ‘i hate love’s cheekiness is also the loneliness felt in La La Land. We’re not truly living in a movie but rather someplace gelled in realism where timing and where you are on your self-love journey matter. Hence, “I hate love / And all its shine / Not all that glitters is golden.”
‘i hate love’
I generally don’t ask because I get very nervous about bothering people. But literally, within hours, I got an answer: ‘Oh my God, he’d love to, when are you recording it?’
Kelly Clarkson to Billboard
Steve Martin’s had his fingers wrapped around the strings of a banjo for nearly as long as Kelly’s sung into a microphone, and by that, we mean that he’s got miles on her—nearly 60 years, to be exact. We may know him for his comedic timing, but this particular instrument has won him Grammys. Whether you’re watching his old sketches through the grayscale gaze of a YouTube video or when it was live on air, he’s also included them in his early sketches. So with that in mind, when shuffling through the comedy-actor contacts, Kelly made the right decision.
As we were saying, it’s how ‘i hate love’ starts, finger strumming until Kelly’s voice molds on top, and this simultaneous collaboration between music and comedy highlights it again. “I hate love / It’s a bi**h sometimes,” Kelly sings, already airing profanities for their ugly sides, and laughs it off with, “Mama, I’m sorry for using that word / But I only use it when it applies.” Then she repeats the same mantra. However, she fully pronounces the word “love,” and if your ear’s trained for the feelings attached to that occurrence, it’s almost laced with hopefulness, like it’s in the same tone a dreamer would tell of it.
Therefore, there’s already a hidden juxtaposition there! Yeah, some of her hates it, but as the later lyrics hint, she still pines for it. Oh, and this juxtaposition is repeated in its refrain when the backup singers come in, repeating “(I hate love)” as Kelly does in a lower register like she’s entranced in the dream state, and then a “hey, hey” comes in with this shouting, waking her up to what’s happening.
“I played the fool, yes, I confess / I kinda did this to myself.”
Kelly’s best vocals on this tune are heard on the pre-chorus as keyboard keys melt into the production, “Livin’ your best life, livin’ fast / Love, you’rе out of time.” There’s also this really cool effect that happens after the word time. Kelly not only elongates the word to suggest that as much as she won’t admit it, she doesn’t want it to run out but there’s also a pause for when it has.
Kelly doesn’t spend the entire song suggesting that it’s everyone else’s fault but her own that she can’t hold onto the sentiment. During the bridge, she strips away every instrument except for Steve’s banjo and confesses, “I played the fool, yes, I confess / I kinda did this to myself.” Interestingly there’s a lyric parallel to “Love, you’re out of time” with “So I’m tappin’ out,” and the same effect of the pause echoes. It shows that not only has her heart declined love, but so has her head.
Golden Screen Heartbreaks
Which anti-rom-com is at the top of your list when handing over Kelly’s newest banger? Be sure to send in your vote through our Twitter mentions @thehoneypop! For us – and not solely because we gave you a clue at the very start due to its pecking order – it has to be John Tucker Must Die, as nothing quite says ‘i hate love’ than pieing the guy who decided to turn the high school hallways into his own tangled who dated profile web.
If you need more time to strike up your pros and cons list before making the executive decision, no worries! You can help rack up the song’s streams while combing through our various other articles on the Texas singer seen on both our Instagram and Facebook pages.