In the summer of 2007, Sara Bareilles had a hold on the airwaves with her poppy tune “Love Song.” Radio stations were wearing it out, web downloads were burning up the information superhighway, it became an iTunes song of the day, it was a featured song of the day for Starbucks. It was placed in a Rhapsody commercial. Sara B played it on the Late Late Show in addition to many others. It seemed as though everyone and their brother was belting out, “I’m not gonna write you a love song ’cause you asked for it ’cause you need one, you see.”
So, where did this this poppy hit come from? A bad relationship, a terrible heartbreak?
No, the explanation is actually much more interesting than that.
Believe it or not, the song is actually pointed at her label! She wrote the lyric to express her frustration with them for constantly asking her to focus on more acceptably radio-friendly pop songs. It’s the classic conundrum, actually. A record label signs an artist because they possess that “special something” that sets them apart from everyone else…and later begins to push them to conform – to change to become like everyone else.
I doubt they’re resentful of Sara now, however. The creative conflict that she documented in “Love Song” has netted them a ton of CD sales, and through that a ton of cash. If most songwriters could make them that amount of sales criticizing them, I’m fairly certain they would not be upset about it.
In fact, they might even instigate arguments merely to make it happen!
For now, however, Sara B remains the only artist on the radio to have a tune that’s about conflict, not with a boyfriend or an ex-boyfriend, but with a major corporation.
And I think that’s a distinction that’s probably going to stand.