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So Your Tiny Black Heart Is Broken

art from the cover of Lisa Germano's 'In the Maybe World'

Valentine's Day has always been a cruel holiday: For those in love, it applies pressure to perform — to prove one's devotion through a series of insipid gestures. For those in the tentative early stages of courtship, it litters the emotional terrain with landmines, forcing new couples to state feelings they might not be ready to express. And, for those beset by heartbreak or loneliness, Valentine's Day provides a crass, cruel reminder.

These five songs — all great, all released in the past five years — are for those wishing to wallow in the holiday's sheer, soul-wrecking brutality. Each is carefully selected to provide a vivid soundtrack for those moments when alcohol isn't even necessary, so drunk is the listener on his or her own misery. Enjoy!

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Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a host, writer and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist and guest host on All Songs Considered. Thompson also co-hosts the daily NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created with NPR's Linda Holmes in 2010. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)