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Torch Song

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"You said you loved me
Or were you just being kind?
Or am I losing my mind?"
Follies, "Losing My Mind"

One of the principal subgenres of Musical Theater song, and very common in the Jazz Standards and traditional pop repertoire. A torch song is a sentimental ballad about lost or unrequited love, typically performed by a woman: the singer is still "holding a torch" for someone who (they think) doesn't or can't love them back.

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The genre is most closely associated with the Great American Songbook era of the 1920s to 1950s or so, but newer musicals often still have songs that fit this category.

The Chanteuse is often seen performing one of these. A performer who specializes in these songs is called a "torch singer".


Examples:

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    Film 
  • A Star Is Born Judy Garland's Esther shows off her musical chops on "The Man That Got Away", which is so over the top it's almost a parody of the genre.

    Music 
  • "Walk Away Renee" by The Left Banke, which was based on a woman dating one of the band's members.
  • Much of Lana Del Rey's repertoire consists of these. Notable examples include "Dark Paradise", "Blue Jeans", "Summertime Sadness", and "Young and Beautiful".
  • "Anna" by The Menzingers is about how the narrator's girlfriend is never around and he misses her, but will wait for her.
  • "Mover Awayer" by Hobo Johnson is about how Hobo's girlfriend moved away and left him, but he still loves her and wishes he hadn't pushed her away.
  • The Amazing Devil has a song called "New York Torch Song" though the style may not fit as well as the title.
  • "White Flag" by Music/Dido is about how the narrator is still in love with their ex even though the relationship is over and there is no hope of reconciliation.
  • "So Sick" by Ne-Yo is about the narrator having trouble getting over feelings for a partner who walked out on them.
  • Confession Executive Committee's Love Series has "Right Now, I'm in Love -triangle story-" and "Triangle Jealousy", in which the male singer Kotaro laments how his love interest and childhood friend Hina doesn't notice his feelings while she's busy with her own crush on another boy.
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    Theatre 
  • "Perpetually Almost" from Finale is a rare male example of this, when Alex sings about his love for Tyler, who is in a relationship with Dylan.
  • "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from Grease is Sandy's Anguished Declaration of Love to Danny (who isn't there), and is followed shortly thereafter by her makeover to something Hotter and Sexier to recapture his attention.
  • "Satisfied" from Hamilton: Angelica sings about how she's in love with Alexander, who is in love with her sister Eliza. She could pursue him if she wanted to, but as the first born to a wealthy man with no sonsnote , she is not allowed to marry below her station, plus she would hate to hurt her sister (who's more free to court a "commoner"), so she figures letting him be with Eliza is the next-best thing since Alexander would still be in her life that way.
  • "On My Own" from Les Misérables is Eponine singing about how she's in love with Marius, while he's in love with Cosette and only views her as a friend.
  • "I'm Not That Girl" is sung twice in Wicked, once when Elphaba has a Love Realization with Fiyero, and then Glinda sings it when Fiyero leaves to be with Elphaba.
  • "With Every Breath I Take" from City of Angels is sung by an in-universe example of The Chanteuse.

    Western Animation 
  • "Paris Is A Lonely Town" in Gay Purr-ee is a disillusioned Mewsette pining for a lost lover and the Paris she thought she was getting when she moved there.
  • “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2 Jessie reminisces about her time with her original owner, Emily explaining how she loved her until eventually she outgrew her and abandons her to charity, showing that Emily no longer loves her.
  • "It's Over, Isn't It?" from Steven Universe contains Pearl singing about how she loved Rose Quartz, who was in love with Greg Universe, and how she should move on, but can't.
  • In Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Acacia's song Malaguena is definetly one.
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