Love is in the air all over the music industry, but how does this translate on to the stage? There’s a big difference between crying along to a heartbreak ballad alone in your room or sharing a mushy love song with your significant other and enjoying these songs at a concert. And yet, year after year, artists make it work.
When it comes to love songs, Taylor Swift undoubtedly reigns supreme, and her live shows are known to be a really special experience. She’s written her share of breakup bangers and romantic anthems, all of which have made it on to her setlists at one point or another. Swift shows that breakups can be empowering with tracks like ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’, a high-energy tune that has the crowd bouncing. Her latest release, Lover, which shows the softer side of romance, will be hitting the Glastonbury main stage in 2020, showing that Taylor Swift’s ability to craft a love song has made her one of the most sought-after live artists of the last few years. And besides, who wouldn’t want to be in a crowd if she started playing ‘Love Story’?
One of the most exciting live artists of the past year has been Lizzo, who has captured hearts all over the world for her high-energy, overwhelmingly empowering live shows. Like Taylor Swift, she sings about love in all of its forms. From ‘Truth Hurts’ to ‘Julian’, Lizzo has felt every emotion there is, and when she’s on stage, we feel them with her. What works so well for her is her constant celebration of love, from breakups to relationships to self-love, Lizzo’s performances are so electric that you can’t help but celebrate with her.
But it’s not all fun and games when it comes to live love songs. Adele has made a career of sad ballads can crack even the hardest of hearts, but people still pay good money for tickets to see her live. Although they aren’t the most appropriate to dance to, there’s a different kind of power in hearing tens of thousands of people singing along to her songs. Songs like ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘Rolling in the Deep’ aren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows, but they’ve established Adele as a festival headliner and an unmissable live artist.
Similarly, artists who make music on the darker side have never been afraid to shy away from romance when they pick out their setlists. The Cure’s ‘Lovesong’ is one of the band’s most romantic songs – a wedding gift for Robert Smith’s wife – and although it comes from their darkest album, 1989’s Disintegration, it never fails to appear on their sets. This is one of their biggest hits and is a fan favourite at any show, another song that can get thousands of fans singing along no matter how sombre it sounds.
One thing that all of these artists have in common is their ability to connect with an audience, even if they do this in different ways. Whether they sing about blossoming love or a painful breakup, they still have fans all over the world coming to their live shows. The success of the love song is that it can be so universally relatable, and that’s why they’re so successful on stage: hearing a song live that you understand so deeply is one of the most deeply moving experiences there is when it you go to a gig.