Pity the poor women on the other end of the ‘Sad Song Phone Call’


IRL  • 

Pity the poor women on the other end of the ‘Sad Song Phone Call’

I guess it’s better than a text, but….

You're 20 minutes into a really good episode of Chopped when your phone starts to buzz. The name that pops up under caller I.D. makes you cringe a little, but you know that if you don't pick up you're in for a barrage of text messages. Without bothering to pause Ted Allen's explanation of this round's ingredients basket, you answer.

"Are you drunk right now?" you demand.

"I'm just saying you could do better," slurs Aubrey Graham. "Tell me, have you heard that lately?"

Drake didn't invent the Sad Song Phone Call, he just perfected it

The Sad Song Phone Call is pretty much what it sounds like. It's a phone call that takes place in the context of a song involving heartbreak. Lyrics indicate that this is a phone call rather than a regular direct address, and the song title might even contain some phone call references. During a Sad Song Phone Call, emotions are shared in a one-sided kind of way and love is shattered.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for a Sad Song Phone Call like everybody else. But the plight of the person, usually a woman, at the other end of the telephone line is woefully unexplored.

Honestly, nobody likes talking on the fucking phone anymore, especially not when the conversation involves dealing with the antics of an emotionally stunted man-child. But if a certain breed of lovelorn songs are to be believed, then a quick phone conversation is not just illuminating. It's absolutely essential. How else could you possibly convey sadness from a comfortable distance?

One of the first sad songs that involves a man bothering a woman via telephone is Jim Croce's "Operator." In it, a heartbroken narrator relays the story of his failed relationship to a telephone operator, who is probably painting her nails or something if television and movies are to be believed. "Give me the number if you can find it, so I can call just to tell her I'm fine," croons Croce. He is clearly not fine.

Fast forward to 2004, when Usher released "Confessions Part II," in which he receives bad news via phone call — his "chick on the side" is pregnant. Yikes! He then passes that bad news on to his girlfriend, both on the phone and in person.

Pro tip: if anyone starts a phone call with "these are my confessions," hang the FUCK UP, because they're about to say something that you definitely don't want to hear.

Shit goes down when, per the song's lyrics, Usher actually arrives at his jilted girlfriend's house. "Talking to myself, preparing to tell her to her face/She open up the door and didn't want to come near me/I said "one second, baby, please hear me." Usher… Of course she doesn't want to come near you. You cheated on her and got another woman pregnant, then called her to tell her about it. Go home!

Then there's Robyn's 2010 single "Call Your Girlfriend," in which Robyn encourages her new beau to break up with their girlfriend. "Give your reasons/Say it's not her fault/But you just met somebody new," Robyn instructs. Yeah, that's definitely going to work and not vague at all.

And then, of course, there's "Marvin's Room," a Sad Song Phone Call anthem for the ages. Drake is the king of oversharing his emotions, a softboy legend in his own right, and this sad phone call song is a prime example of the emotional labor that dealing with such a softboy entails. Drake alternately insults his former lover's new man, brags about his own conquests, talks about how drunk he is and confesses his lingering feelings for this poor, tired woman.

If I had to listen to an ex tell me, "I've had sex four times this week; I'll explain/Havin' a hard time adjustin' to fame," I would hang up immediately, cry and then tweet about it.

Breaking up is hard. Dealing with the telecommunication aftermath can be even harder. The desperation that the act of calling an old lover on the phone involves is not unfamiliar, although these days those sad messages are more likely to be texts or, ugh, Instagram DMs.

But let's not forget about the woman at the other end of the Sad Song Phone Call. Because she didn't even get to go out, and now she's stuck listening to her ex rattle off all of his issues when all she wants to do is find out who the Chopped champion is gonna be.


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