Technological Difficulty II: The 10 best songs & love and technology

The detriment of technology’s involvement in our love lives used to be limited to a missed phone call. Ah, a simpler time…

As anyone who’s ever used a dating app will tell you, there are certainly drawbacks to some of the advancements technology has had on the dating scene. Continuing on last week’s theme, the following are a few of the best my personal favorite songs about dealing with technology in the course of navigating the perils of love.

10. Beep Beep – Louis Prima

A very silly song that tells the story of Louis Prima pining for a lover who is an astronaut. Their only means of communication is via satellite transmission, leaving Louis to ponder the meaning of “beep beep.” Prime 1950’s gimmickky pop and I love it.

9. Telephone – Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce

A song that perfectly encapsulates the late Naughties’ awakening to just how annoying cell phones can be and the total degradation of everyone’s ability to ever make solid plans for a night out. The era of the f*kboi dawned as smartphones were becoming more ubiquitous.

8. Last Night – P. Diddy feat. Keyshia Cole

This one was a prom staple of my graduating year, so I feel I’m entitled to refer to it as a “classic.” Highlighting a more emotional side of missed calls whilst in the club, we also get to see a refreshing glimpse into male emotions and the experience of rejection and lost love. P. Diddy’s threats of violence at the end are a real buzzkill though.

7. Hanging on the Telephone – Blondie

This is actually a cover of The Nerves’ 1976 original, but I love this version for the same reasons I love the whole Heart of Glass album: Debbie Harry’s brash perviness and persistence in getting what she wants. The fact that this is a cover of the Nerves (where the male vocalist’s persistent attitude goes unnoticed) highlights the subversiveness of her bold approach. There are no carefully measured games of double texting and long response times: she’s just going to keep calling until he picks up.

6. Baby, I Don’t Cry Over You – Billie Holiday

The role of technology in this song is admittedly very minimal, but it was one of the first to come to mind for me because of its strong refusal to accept the “waiting by the phone” pathos of many love songs of the day. Waiting by the phone was really the single technological scourge ladies of the time had to deal with, and I just love the zero tolerance policy Billie has for a flaky date. They agreed on a phone call at 2:00, so when he doesn’t follow through she makes a new date within the hour. This may have been a personal anthem for me, but I cannot confirm or deny this.

5. Beechwood 4-5789 – The Marvelettes

Another one in the lineup of ladies taking control of telephonic communication. This song exemplifies the girl power mantra of the Girl Group era in Motown by casting The Marvelettes’ protagonist in the active role, making the first move on a shy guy.

4. Phone Down – Erykah Badu

Part of a 2015 EP Badu released specifically about phones that included a cover of Drake’s Hotline Bling, this song is the one that stuck out while I was listening to it. The vocal and production style is quite a diversion from Badu’s usual, sort of a lo-fi autotuned trap vibe, much more technologically mediated than her classic albums. The whole album should really be included on this list as an extension. Named after Badu’s infamous closing line from 1997 breakup song (and best song ever) “Call Tyrone,” the EP is entirely dedicated to original songs and covers about telephones. The album is definitely a reminder of the strength of Badu’s career: its cover pictures an illustration of her with multiple arms holding phone technology from the 90’s to now, with the word bubble “It’s always callin’ me.” Badu’s message in Phone Down is clear: she will not only make you put your phone down, but you’ll forget how to use it or that you even had one begin with.

3. Toyz – Missy Elliot

Missy gets double billing for this hype track is about a *different* type of love & technology.

2. Skypager – a Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest’s fantastic comeback album brought me back to the classics, and I love this ode to the pager. Always ahead of the curve, TCQ predict the some the technological angst the smartphone era would hold in the last verse.

1. Beep Me 911 – Missy Elliot

Another song from the pager era, this is one of my favorites from Missy. Updating the “waiting by the phone” story, Missy expresses frustration that despite having a variety of communication technology, she still cannot get answers from her man. Also the music video is A+ in true Missy style.

Yeah, that’s right….we’ve reached the end of the list and Hotling Bling is not on it. Not because it’s that bad of a song but mostly because if I listen to it one more time I’m going to smash something.

What are your favorite songs about love & technology?




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