Sometimes, when studying English Literature, it can feel like the experience of love will be utterly joyless. Soooo much pain!

  • MUSIC FOCUS: Prospa, Taylor Swift, Lil Lotus, Against The Current, Dagny, Taking Back Sunday, Bring Me The Horizon, Tove Lo, Elena Coats, We The Kings, Holding Absence.
  • ACTIVITY FOCUS: Use our ideas about the featured songs and then use the same structure to support an essay about the pain of love in a text of your choice.
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Read each lyric (in purple) and get ready to explain what techniques the writer uses to underline the related idea (in green).

10. Prospa, ‘One Of A Kind’

“You’re one of a kind.”

Ooh, this doesn’t sound too painful at all actually! Love really can serve as the catalyst for feelings of specialness! Being someone’s ‘One Of A Kind’ is wonderful!!!

9. Dagny, ‘Love You Like That’

“You know how they say you got the real thing
When nothing else matters
I love you like that
I love you like that
I love you like that
I love you, I love you
I love you like that”

Okay, I’m definitely sold on the idea of love now. I want this feeling of absolute fulfillment that Dagny’s describing!!! It’s not painful AT ALL. Ha!

8. Taking Back Sunday, ‘You’re So Last Summer’

“The truth is you could slit my throat
And with my one last gasping breath
I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt”

On the slight downside, though, I do feel very, very committed to this person who’s invested me with these enormous feelings of love. And, actually, this makes me quite vulnerable. Perhaps I’m not in pain yet, but Taking Back Sunday might be highlighting a valid point when they suggest that 1) this person I’m in love with now has the potential to hurt me quite badly, and 2) that I’d do ANYTHING to protect the other person in this equation – I don’t ever want bad stuff to happen to them. Suddenly, these romantic feelings seem a bit risky. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll be fine…

7. Tove Lo, ”No One Dies From Love’

“We were so magical, why end this way?”

…Or maybe not. Just like that, EVERYTHING’S GONE WRONG. My romantic relationship has ended and I’m ALL ON MY OWN. And – just as Tove Lo suggests – the pain is so much worse because of how special I thought we were. If it hadn’t all seemed so wonderful and painless in the first place, there’s no way I’d feel so terrible now. Aaaaggghhh.

6. Lil Lotus feat. Chrissy Costanza, ‘Romantic Disaster’

“This is a romantic disaster, the nightmare comes after”

Oh no!! It’s really terrible! I’m in SO MUCH PAIN!!! Lil Lotus is right when he compares this feeling to having a nightmare. HELP ME!!

5. Holding Absence, ‘Curse Me With Your Kiss’

“I dream of you
In colours that don’t exist
Looking back on my life
All I know is this
I let you curse me with your kiss”

Oh noooooooo. It hurts soooooooo much. I had such a high opinion of you! Remember how we were sooooo special to each other! And now it turns out that was it all an illusion. The colours I saw you in don’t even exist. Oh nooooooooo!!!!

4. Taylor Swift, ‘Death By A Thousand Cuts’

“You said it was a great love
One for the ages
But if the story’s over
Why am I still writing pages?

‘Cause saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts
Flashbacks waking me up
I get drunk, but it’s not enough
‘Cause the morning comes and you’re not my baby
I look through the windows of this love
Even though we boarded them up”

I can’t forget you!!! You were so important to me and now I’ve got this big hole where you used to be. A hole that never even existed before you came along!! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO???

3. Bring Me The Horizon, ‘Throne’

“Beat me black and blue’

I’ve been injured by this whole experience. It’s PAINFUL. I’m in sooooooo much PAIN.

2. We Are The Kings feat. Elena Coats, ‘Sad Song’

“Without you, I feel torn
Like a sail in a storm”

It’s actually very possible I’ll die of the PAIN before I get the chance to heal.

1. Taylor Swift feat. Bon Iver, ‘exile’

“You were my town
Now I’m in exile”

I’ve lost EVERYTHING. I used to be happy. Well, maybe not happy – but at least I wasn’t in this much actual PAIN. It’s all too PAINFUL. Aaaaggggghhhhhh.


The ideas related to the ten songs listed above can be separated into 3 sections…

  1. The magical moment when it seems like love can’t possibly bring you pain.
  2. The less magical moment when it becomes clear that love can actually cause you pain after all – and that it’s all the worse because this new low contrasts so extremely with the absolute high you were feeling not so long ago.
  3. The physical and mental effects of the pain. The uncertainty regarding your recovery.

Choose a text which explores the pain of love. Plan an essay which follows the above 3-part structure. Choose between 2 and 4 quotes to serve as the appropriate evidence within each section.

Perhaps, you’ll want to focus on the first few chapters of ‘The Great Gatsby’ – here are some quotes you could use…

How are ideas about the pain of love presented?

Initially, love as unimaginably pain free:

  • “windows, glowing now with reflected gold, and wide open to the warm windy afternoon”
  • “a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbour’s mansion and was… regarding the silver pepper of the stars.”
  • “They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in”

Then, a hint of love’s actual potential danger:

  • “They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in”
  • “he stretched out his arms toward the dark water… he was trembling.”
  • “a single green light, minute and far away”
  • “the thickish figure of a woman blocked out the light from the office door.”

Ultimately, ‘Oh dear lord this is the most painful experience i could have imagined’:

  • “Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth”
  • “Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand.”

Please do send your work in. I want to publish the most exciting answers and offer advice. Or send us a quote from one your course texts that we could incorporate above!

Now explore our favourite songs about colour.