Is Romance a Dying Art?

Every so often, when I’m looking to unwind, I throw on my Frank Sinatra Pandora station and let the smooth kings of croon carry me away. But then, the other day, a truly captivating song struck my fancy. It was “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” by Louis Armstrong. As I listened carefully to the words, it got me thinking about a few things, namely romance. But first, have a listen for yourself.

Now, let’s slow it down and look at those lyrics.

Give me a kiss to build a dream on,
And my imagination will thrive upon that kiss,
Sweetheart, I ask no more than this,
A kiss to build a dream on.

Give me a kiss before you leave me,
And my imagination will feed my hungry heart,
Leave me one thing before we part,
A kiss to build a dream on.

Have you ever heard anything so charming in your life? If you’re a twenty-something like me, probably not. It’s not exactly news that modern music doesn’t carry the same love-struck chord that it did in the fifties, but just how far have we strayed? For comparison sake, let’s take Britney Spear’s newest hit, “Werk B****.”

You wanna hot body,
You want a Bugatti,
You want a Maseratti,
You better work b****.
You want a Lamborghini,
Sip martinis,
Look hot in a bikini,
You better work b****.

Maybe I don’t actually want a Maseratti. Maybe what I really want is old-school, heart-felt romance. Maybe I want Louis Armstrong. Long gone are the days when love was enough to pay the bills, and now it’s all about “jet planes, islands, and tigers on a gold leash,” or so says Lorde. Of course, marvelous love songs still exist today, but they’re seldom chart-toppers. They say that pop culture is a mirror to society, and if that’s the case, then doesn’t this deficiency of affection in mainstream music say something about us as a whole?

Lyrics

Of course, no romance is better than hollow romance. What I’m talking about is an outpouring of affection rooted entirely in genuine fondness and respect for another person. But if we did actually receive that grounded, all-in romance, would we even know what to do with it? It all reminds me of an episode of Sex and the City, where Carrie begins to feel smothered by all the grand romantic gestures of her new boyfriend. I think she sums it up best:

“We accept Tasti D-lite instead of real ice cream, emails instead of love songs, jokes instead of poetry. It’s no wonder that when faced with the real thing we can’t stomach it. Is it something we could learn to digest or have we become romance-intolerant?”

TextLove

A recent article by the Huffington Post suggests that the root of unhappiness plaguing Generation Y stems from a long history of unrealistic expectations. While that’s probably true, is it possible that just this once, in regard to romance, that’s not the case? Could the problem actually be that reality is quite simply coming up short? Or, as the article suggests, are we twenty-somethings stuck in a world of Ryan Gosling, romcom-fueled unrealistic expectations?