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6 songs that seem romantic but aren't, and one that seems like it isn't but is

Love songs are where we get our passion, our soul — and most of our worst ideas.

6 songs that seem romantic but aren't, and one that seems like it isn't but is

The Beach Boys (1965)

Love songs are where we get our passion, our soul — and most of our worst ideas.


Throughout human history, oceans have been crossed, mountains have been scaled, and great families have blossomed — all because of a few simple chords and a melody that inflamed a heart and propelled it on a noble, romantic mission.


On the other hand, that time you told that girl you just started seeing that you would "catch a grenade" for her? You did that because of a love song. And it wasn't exactly a coincidence that she suddenly decided to "lose your number" and move back to Milwaukee to "figure some stuff out."

Photo by Achim Voss/Flickr.

That time you held that boom box over your head outside your ex's house? You did that because of a love song. And 50 hours of community service later, you're still not back together.

Love songs are great. They make our hearts beat faster. They inspire us to take risks and put our feelings on the line. And they give us terrible, terrible ideas about how actual, real-life human relationships should work.

They're amazing. So amazing. And also terrible.

Here are six love songs that sound romantic but aren't, and one song that doesn't sound romantic but totally is:

1. "God Only Knows," by The Beach Boys

You can keep your "Surfin' Safaris," your "I Get Arounds," and your "Help me Rhondas."

When it comes to The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows" is where it's at. A lush garden of soft horns and breezy melody. A tie-dye swirl of sound. A landscape of haunted innocence with some of the most heartrending lyrics ever committed to the back of a surfboard.

Youth! Youth! Youth! Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

File:The Beach Boys (1965).png - Wikipediaen.m.wikipedia.org

Here's why it sounds romantic:

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
God only knows what I'd be without you

If you're traipsing through a meadow in a sundress with your beloved and not playing "God Only Knows" on your iPod, you should really stop and start over.

If you're lazily bumping a beach ball over a volleyball net and "God Only Knows" isn't playing somewhere in the back of your mind, you need to rethink the choices that got you to this point.

If you're a video editor compiling footage of grainy hippies frolicking in the mud and you're not underscoring it with the opening chords of "God Only Knows," you are doing it wrong.

It's a song that just feels like love. Pure love. Young love. Love with a chill, kelp-y vibe.

What could be wrong with that?

Here's why it's actually really, really unromantic:

There's nothing wrong with loving someone. Sending them flowers. Leaving over-the-top notes in their P.O. boxes. Stroking their hair as they fall asleep while you whisper the complete works of Nicholas Sparks into their ear.

gray asphalt road towards treesPhoto by Nic Y-C on Unsplash

But there is such a thing as loving someone a skosh too much.

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me?

Look, I get it. Breakups suck. There's no getting around that. But good God.

There's a huge difference between saying: "Hey babe, you are my first and foremost everything and I'll be bummed if you go." And saying: "Welp, you accepted that job in Seattle, so I'm just gonna chug a bunch of nightshade and call it a life."

But that's pretty much the gist here. Which makes this line...

God only knows what I'd be without you

...horror-movie creepy. Because the answer, apparently, is: "I'd be a corpse!"

That's not love. That's codependency (to put it mildly). Oh, and hey! Threatening to kill yourself if your partner leaves isn't loving. It's a form of emotional abuse.

Investing all your happiness and sense of self-worth in any relationship — one that, by definition, might one day end — is putting a lot of eggs in one basket. Sure, God may only know what you'd be without her, but God probably also hopes you have, I don't know, some hobbies. Take a yoga class. Google some woodworking videos. Try kite surfing.One person cannot be anyone's be-all and end-all. It's too stressful. And it prevents you from doing you, which is a thing that's gotta be done before you can do anything else.

No wonder she took that job in Seattle.

2. "Treasure," by Bruno Mars

Sure, it's a blatant rip off of every Michael Jackson song you've ever heard. But, we don't have Michael Jackson anymore, and as tribute acts go, you could do a lot worse than Bruno Mars.

Bruno Mars

Photo by Brothers Le/Flick

Here's why the song sounds romantic:

Treasure, that is what you are
Honey, you're my golden star
You know you can make my wish come true
If you let me treasure you
If you let me treasure you

Pass those lyrics to anyone on a used napkin at an eighth-grade make-out party and you'll likely get an instant toll pass on the highway to tongue-town (ew).

Pass them to your spouse and, chances are, date night is going to culminate in 47 minutes of chaste-yet-passionate frenching.

Pass them to a cop who pulls you over for running a stop sign, and they will think you're weird — but probably still make out with you.

In fact, Bruno Mars basically has a lifetime pass to make out with America because of this song.

And I'm OK with that.

But, here's why "Treasure" isn't as romantic as it seems:

Everything about "Treasure" is retro. Everything.

Including its attitudes about gender.

Things start to go south right from the very beginning:

Give me your, give me your, give me your attention, baby
I gotta tell you a little something about yourself

Ah yes. Nothing screams "respect" quite like a man lecturing a strange woman on the street about something she "doesn't know about herself."

What could it be? Could it be that her jokes are funny? Could it be that she's got something in her teeth? Could it be that her nonfiction book about early modern German history is extremely detailed and informative?

"Thanks for teaching me all about Martin Luther's bible!"

Photo by Torsten Schleese/Wikimedia Commons.

Spoiler Alert: It's none of those.

You're wonderful, flawless, ooh, you're a sexy lady
But you walk around here like you wanna be someone else

Oh. It's that she's sexy. Cool, bro. Very original.

Word of advice? Regardless of how she's walking, the lady knows she's sexy. Even if she doesn't, it really doesn't affect her day-to-day so much that you, a complete stranger, need to shout it at her (even over a funky disco snare).

So what if she does want to be someone else? I'd love to be someone else! I think being Ryan Gosling would be quite nice. A good way to spend a three-day weekend.

And then later, of course, the narrator can't help himself:

Pretty girl, pretty girl, pretty girl, you should be smiling
A girl like you should never look so blue.

He respects her so much, he's actually straight-up telling her to smile! Much like Mars' character "Uptown Funk," who appears to get off on angrily exhorting girls to "hit [their] hallelujah." Which, you know, I guess everybody's got a thing.

Yes, in the world of "Treasure," a healthy relationship is an unending stream of a man complimenting a strange woman and said woman being so totally flattered that she immediately dispenses "the sex."

He then proceeds to talk to his potential lover like the world's creepiest pirate:

You are my treasure, you are my treasure
You are my treasure, yeah, you, you, you, you are
You are my treasure, you are my treasure
You are my treasure, yeah, you, you, you, you are

By this point, in his mind, she's a literal thing. An object. Which is fitting.

I suppose it could be worse, though. At least she's not just any thing.That's ... something, right?

3. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," by Bob Dylan

For as long as humans have been dating each other, humans have been breaking up with each other. And "Don't Think Twice" is a portrait of a relationship going down in flames. Glorious, poetic, acoustic flames.

Bob Dylan

commons.wikimedia.org

Here's why it sounds romantic:

Well, it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
Even you don't know by now
And it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It'll never do somehow
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window, and I'll be gone
You're the reason I'm a-traveling on
But don't think twice, it's all right.

Boom. Strummed on out of that friends-with-benefits situation like whoa.

"Don't Think Twice" is a raw song. An honest song. A powerful song. It's the song your older sister played on continuous loop for six months after her boyfriend left for college. The song that convinced your Aunt Roslyn to leave her bank-teller job, load her four Australian shepherds into the van, and open a wind chime store in Mendocino. The song your friend's cool dad always wants to play when he invited your high school band over to his apartment to jam.

Sure, it's about the end of a relationship, but it sounds romantic. And at the end of the day, shouldn't that be enough?

Here's why it's actually sooooo messed up:

Relationships end. For a lot of reasons. And while there is no right way to call it quits with someone, when the dust settles, both parties can certainly benefit from a difficult, honest discussion about what went wrong.

In "Don't Think Twice," that discussion basically boils down to: "It's your fault."

Let's review the reasons the dude in "Don't Think Twice" is splitting with his lady friend:

I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul

Ugh, women, right? You're all like, "Babe, I just have so much unspecified love to give," and she's like, "Take out the trash!" And you're like, "But baaaaaaabe, shouldn't my heart be enough?" And she's like, "No, seriously. I already did the laundry, cleaned the whole house, fed the dog, did the dishes, and made both of our lunches for the week. All I need you to do is take out the trash." And you're like, "You're bumming me out. I'm gonna go play guitar." And then she gets all mad! What did you do? Why is she trying to change you? UGH!

You could have done better, but I don't mind

Yes. You do mind! You mind! You wrote a song about it, you passive-aggressive prick.

You just kinda wasted my precious time

Ah yes. Your time is so precious! Think about all the hours you wasted plumbing the ocean-deep, ecstatic mysteries of human partnership when you could have been futzing around with that home-brew kit.

Photo by Bill Bradford/Flickr.

The minute you start breaking it down, the message of "Don't Think Twice" suddenly starts to seem a lot less romantic. Like your sister's ex-boyfriend, who worked at the Bass Pro Shop in town for a while and now might be in jail. Like your aunt's wind chime store, which would have closed forever ago had she not received that inheritance from her mom in the '80s. Like your friend's cool dad, who wasn't exactly, technically, paying child support.

Oh yeah, and the song's narrator also point-blank refers woman he's leaving as:

A child, I'm told

That's right. In addition to being a run-of-the-mill passive-aggressive jerk — turns out, he's also possibly a pedophile.

Even if we are to accept that this is a metaphor and she's not actually a child — which there's no indication it is, but OK, Bob Dylan — the fact that Commitmentphobe Gunderson here would willingly choose an immature partner reflects way more poorly on him than it does on her.

Breaking up with anyone in such a cruel, dismissive way is a recipe for sticking them with years of therapy bills.

Which, I suppose, may be the point.

4. "Leaving on a Jet Plane," by John Denver

Who has two thumbs and wrote a bittersweet folk song about hurtling through the stratosphere in a giant aluminum tube at 600 miles per hour?

John Denver

Photo by Hughes Television Network/Wikimedia Commons.

Here's why it sounds romantic:

"Leaving on a Jet Plane" is a lovely song. And impressive in its loveliness because jet planes were still kind of new at the time it was written.

'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane

To a modern ear, this would be sort of like singing, "I'm a scoooting away on my hoverboooooard," but in a way that's somehow still folksy and heartbreaking and singable by 9-year-olds at summer camp. Not easy to do!

Oh babe, I hate to go

You see — he hates to go! He just hates it! We know this, because he tells us he hates it. And why would he hate to go if he didn't love his partner just that much?

Photo by Altair78/Wikimedia Commons.

Why indeed?

Here's why it's actually not that romantic at all:

All the plaintive guitar, loping bass line, and twangy, melancholy warbling in the world can only distract so much from the fact that the song's main character is well, kind of a jerkweed.

And in reality — surprise surprise! — it doesn't actually seem like he hates being away all that much:

There's so many times I've let you down
So many times I've played around
I tell you now, they don't mean a thing

"Babe, I promise! All the movies I watched alone while you were home nursing the quadruplets. All the times I drained our life savings on Zoo Zillionaire. All the random sex I had with other women. Totally meaningless. Certainly fun to do! Really fun. Like, I had a fantastic time. But rest assured — completely empty, in an ontological sense."

Yes, when you break it down, "Leaving on a Jet Plane," is less of a passionate tribute to love overcoming distance and more the deluded ramblings of a guy who needs to convince himself he's "good" despite all evidence to the contrary.

And for all he claims to be broken up about having to part from his one and only, the dude seems pretty excited about the flight. Oh, you're leaving on a jet plane, are you? Are you Zone 1? Gonna humblebrag on Twitter about the "terrible" Cibo express salad you were forced to choke down as you sat waiting to embark on your fun, mysterious adventure?

Photo by Gesalbte/Wikimedia Commons

He continues:

Ev'ry place I go, I'll think of you
Ev'ry song I sing, I'll sing for you

Ah cool. He'll think about her while strumming and making "my love is delicate as the morning dew" eyes at a waif-y grad student in the front row. That pretty much makes up for it all.

Then he demands:

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me

After all the betrayal and heartbreak, after basically revealing himself to be a grade-A sleaze who can't be trusted, he still has the gall to tell her to wait? To wait for him?

And here's the kicker:

When I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring

Ah yes. He'll put a ring on it. Finally.

Unlike all the previous trips, where he's cheated a billion times, drained the family bank account, and just been a general screwup and disappointment.

But yeah. This time he says he'll bring back a wedding ring.

I hope she joins a polyamorous octad and never looks back.

5. "When a Man Loves a Woman," Percy Sledge

When you look up "soul" in the dictionary, the book plays you a recording of this song.

Percy Sledge

Photo by Gene Pugh/Flickr.

Specifically, it plays you the very first line.

Here's why it sound very romantic:

When a man loves a woman

Sure, you can write the lyrics down, but it doesn't even come close to capturing the heartache. The yearning. The delicious, delicious pain-belting:

WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN

Closer ... but still no.

WHEN A MAAAAAAAN. LOVES A WOOOMAN!

Yes! Sing it, Percy Sledge!

It's an elemental lyric.

It's a heart-shattering lyric.

It's a lyric that demands you put your back into it.

It's perfection.

As long as you don't keep listening.

Here's why the song is actually pretty horrifying:

From the opening lines of "When a Man Loves a Woman," we know that, at least on occasion, a man loves a woman.

Which raises the question: What happens when said man loves said woman?

He'd give up all his comforts
And sleep out in the rain
If she said that's the way
It ought to be.

Whoa! OK. No. Back up. A man, no matter how devoted, no matter how selfless, no matter how in love, needs shelter. Otherwise, a man will die of exposure and hypothermia.

Turn his back on his best friend if he put her down.

No! Jeez. No. A man can't put up with that kind of isolating behavior. A man needs friends! Once a man's whole support system erodes out from under him, a man will be bitter, ungrounded, and alone. And a man's mental health will deteriorate.

I gave you everything I have
Tryin' to hold on to your heartless love
Baby, please don't treat me bad.

This is not what happens "when a man loves a woman." It's what happens when a man loves a controlling, manipulative woman. An abusive woman. A woman who, in truth, only loves a woman. Herself.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

And that's not healthy.

Run, Percy Sledge, run! We're here for you.

(Side note: Lest it go unsaid, there is way more than one way for a man to love a woman. Maybe they spend every waking moment cuddling and bopping each other on the nose. Maybe they sleep in separate bedrooms. Maybe they dress up in large, plush cat costumes and refer to each other Mr. and Mrs. Kittyhawk. And when a man loves a man, I imagine it feels much the same. Or when a woman loves a woman. Or when a gender nonconforming person loves a gender nonconforming person.)

Regardless of the depth of commitment, living situation, or combination of genders or sexual orientations, there's no one-size-fits-all love solution. Every relationship is a unique snowflake. Variety is the spice of life. Necessity is the mother of invention. There's more than one way to skin a cat. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. It doesn't matter if it's the right metaphor, as long as it's a metaphor.

Point being: Generalize at your peril, Sledge. And please, seek help! You can do this! And if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, please give these people a call.

Photo by Rosmarie Voegtli/Flickr.

6. "All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You," Heart

Honestly, Heart could sing a list of the most popular AllRecipes ("Jaaaamie's Cranberry Spinach Saaaaalad/World's Best Lasaaaaagna/Sour Creeeeeam Cutouts") and it would make me want to bawl my eyes out in the arms of a tall, dark stranger at the end of a pier.

This song is perfect. You should always be listening to it. If you're not listening to it now, smack yourself in the face and Google it. It's just that important.

I am singing the phone book. You are weeping like a tiny baby. Photo by FatCat125/Wikimedia Commons.

Nancy and Ann Wilson playing at a charity concert

FatCat125/Wikimedia Commons

So much passion. So much pain. So much hair.

Here's why it sounds romantic:

Over pounding drums and a soaring melody, Heart sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson deliver a primal tribute to the one true romantic fantasy shared by every living being on Earth: picking up an unnervingly attractive man for one night of mind-blowing sex and then releasing him back into the wild to bone — but never quite as compellingly ever again.

They sing:

It was a rainy night when he came into sight
Standing by the road, no umbrella, no coat
So I pulled up alongside and I offered him a ride
He accepted with a smile so we drove for a while

I don't have to go on because you know what happens next, and it's awesome.

Now, here's why this song is not romantic at all:

The relationship in "All I Wanna Do" seems too good to be true. And it is. Because it's not an equally loving ,or even equally lusty, pairing at all.

It's a...

It's a...

Well. You know what it is:

For a while, things are humming along just fine, like any wholesome, illicit, anonymous affair should:

I didn't ask him his name, this lonely boy in the rain
Fate, tell me it's right, is this love at first sight?

Sure, many of us might hesitate to pick up a strange leather-jacket-clad man standing on the side of the road for a no-strings-attached screw, but our narrator just has a feeling about this guy, and sometimes, you gotta go with your gut.

I can respect that.

We made magic that night
He did everything right

Great! Seems like it was a good decision. Bonking the hitchhiker is payin' off big time.

But then, without warning, the song starts to sound less like an all-time great romance and more like a story men's rights activists tell each other as they vape around a campfire:

I told him "I am the flower, you are the seed
We walked in the garden, we planted a tree
Don't try to find me, please don't you dare
Just live in my memory, you'll always be there"

I'm not a poet. Symbolic language often eludes me. But unless "flower," "seed," "garden," and "tree," suddenly mean wildly different things in the context of human reproduction than they have since sex was first invented in the early-1970s, we're talking about a surprise, non-mutually-consensual pregnancy!

HELLO! Photo by Avsar Aras/Wikimedia Commons

Of course, metaphors are opaque, interpretations vary, etc., etc., etc. You might be tempted to think, "Maybe Heart meant something else by that."

To that I say, no, they definitely meant it:

Then it happened one day
We came round the same way
You can imagine his surprise
When he saw his own eyes

There are two possibilities here.

One: The narrator of the song is recently-deceased Jerry Orbach from this creepy New York City subway ad from nine years ago:

Photo by eyedonation.org

Or two: She totally conned a dude into whipping up a baby on the sly.

I said, "Please, please understand

Ah, sure. Yeah. No worries.

I'm in love with another man

Cool, so this all makes sense and is in no way the nightmarish scheme of a deranged sociopath who has now wrecked not one but two lives.

And what he couldn't give me, oh, no
Was the one little thing that you can"

A HUMAN LIFE! A REAL SENTIENT HUMAN LIFE THAT IS NOT INCIDENTAL TO ALL OF THIS!

The best you can say about that is that it's not technically illegal, and that leather-jacket man probably should have been responsible for his own birth control. Or, at the very least, asked more questions .

But ... it's not cute. It's not romantic (even the Wilson sisters themselves agree).

And at the end of the day, the shadiest character in this song is somehow not the rain-soaked hitchhiker wandering to nowhere in the night.

Which... is saying something.

But there is a love song that is truly, madly, deeply perfect. An unassailable track in a sea of problematic faves.

A song that does everything right.

A song that paints a portrait of a healthy partnership built to last.

A song that can double as a manual for the ideal human romantic relationship.

And that song is...

"Candy Shop," by 50 Cent, featuring Olivia

Here's why you might be — OK, almost definitely are — skeptical:

As catchy as "Candy Shop" is, as fun it is to dance to, and as cathartic as it can be to scream in the middle of a crowded fraternity house at 2 a.m., there's no getting around the fact that the song begins like this:

I'll take you to the candy shop
I'll let you lick the lollipop

I'll post that again, in case you missed some of the nuance:

I'll take you to the candy shop
I'll let you lick the lollipop

Way to take one for the team, narrator of "Candy Shop"!

At first glance, "Candy Shop" is nobody's idea of a classic love song.

The lyrics are ... unusually forward. The beat is kinda basic. The hook is like the music they play when Abu Nazir sidles scarily by in "Homeland."

It doesn't get played much anymore. When it does resurface, it feels ... kinda dated. Like watching that DVD of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" on your new Xbox 360.

It's not a song you'd put on a mixtape for your crush. It's not a song you'd play for your spouse when the kids are at home with the babysitter and you've got nine hours to tear up the Piscataway Hampton Inn. It's certainly not a song you'd include on the video photo montage you made for your grandparents' silver anniversary.

It's just not.

But it should be.

So here it is. Here's why "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent, featuring Olivia, is actually the perfect relationship song:

The bass drum hits. The MIDI violins whine. The singer starts filling out his fellatio permission slip. It's only been 20 seconds, and you're already getting ready to hang it up with "Candy Shop."

But then ... over the square thrum and the mewling strings, a miracle occurs — in the form of a female voice joining the track, cutting through the din like a clarion call.

She sings:

I'll take you to the candy shop (yeah)
Boy, one taste of what I got (uh-huh)
I'll have you spendin' all you got (come on)
Keep going 'til you hit the spot, whoa

It's mutual! It's mutual! They're performing oral sex oneach other!

Ring the bells! Bang the drums! Release the doves!

Photo by liz west/Flickr

Go, cunnilingus doves, go!

50 Cent himself may not be the world's greatest partner — for example, according to one of his exes, he's done some pretty unforgivable things.

But the narrator of "Candy Shop"? He gets it:

You could have it your way, how do you want it?

Rather than simply imposing his desires on the person he's with — a la the dude in "God Only Knows ("I'm going to invest my entire sense of self-worth in you!") or the street heckler in "Treasure" ("I'm going to treat you like a chest full of gold doubloons!") or the sociopath in "All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You," ("I'm going to trick you into knocking me up!") — the "Candy Shop" guy actually asks his partner what she wants.

Which, in the world of popular music, is good for about 50,000 trillion points.

And where are they going to do it? The hotel? Back of the rental? The beach? The park?

It's whatever you're into

'Cause consent is sexy!

I ain't finished teaching you 'bout how sprung I got ya

The narrator of "Candy Shop" is certainly ... assertive about his desires.

But here's the key thing: the lady on the receiving end of those desires? She's clearly into it. And we know this because she says so.

The lines of consent in "Candy Shop" are bright red, highlighted, and soldered into the weirdly sticky club floor.

Grim23/Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, Robin Thicke is outside trying to convince the bouncer that his uncle is a lawyer.

Girl what we do ...
And where we do ...
The things we do ...
Are just between me and you

No matter how nasty they freak, it will be intimate. It will be private. There will be no revenge porn (the epilogue to "Blurred Lines," to wit, would definitely be a protracted, emotionally devastating lawsuit).

If you be a nympho, I'll be a nympho

Sexual compatibility is key to the survival of any relationship, whether years, weeks, or (very possibly in the case of "Candy Shop") minutes long.

She may have a high sex drive, but dude is graciously offering to accommodate her. What a gentleman! These crazy kids just might go the distance after all.

And at the end of the day, what is a relationship but two nymphos, sharing health insurance?

Thanks, Obamacare! Photo by Wonderlane/Flickr

It's like it's a race who could get undressed quicker

Again, everybody is having a great time. And, critically, an equally great time.

I touch the right spot at the right time

Of course, it wouldn't be a pop/hip-hop hit without a spot of random braggadocio, but if we're to take him at his word, "Candy Shop" guy is at least as good at "doing everything right" as the anonymous hitchhiker from "All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You" — except without all the creepy surprise baby nonsense.

The "Candy Shop" guy is a keeper. Because he's not a hero or a stranger in the night or a funky, shimmering love god. He's a good partner.

"Candy Shop" is raunchy. It's dirty. It's not your grandmother's love song.

But when you strip away the swagger, the back beat, and the weird strings from "Best of Public Domain Middle Eastern Music 1993," by the end of the song, both people are satisfied. And at the end of the day, isn't that what a healthy relationship is all about?

Yeah.

Uh-huh.

So seductive.


This article originally appeared on 12.21.22


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1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

There are over 30 years between these amazing before-and-after photos.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile."

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Before and after photos separated by 30 years.




Chris Porsz was tired of studying sociology.

As a university student in the 1970s, he found the talk of economics and statistics completely mind-numbing. So instead, he says, he roamed the streets of his hometown of Peterborough, England, with a camera in hand, snapping pictures of the people he met and listening to their stories. To him, it was a far better way to understand the world.

He always looked for the most eccentric people he could find, anyone who stood out from the crowd. Sometimes he'd snap a single picture of that person and walk away. Other times he'd have lengthy conversations with these strangers.


But eventually, life moved on and so did he. He fell out of love with photography. "Those pictures collected dust for 25 years," he says.

Then, a few years ago, Porsz found those 30- to 40-year-old photos and sent them to be printed in his local newspaper.

Peterborough, reunions, Chris Porsz

Chris Porsz and his camera.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

And remarkably, people started recognizing much younger versions of themselves in his shots. "There was this lightbulb moment," he says of the first time someone wrote to him about one of his photos.

Eventually, he became curious about the people he'd photographed all those years ago, and he decided he'd try to find some of them. It wouldn't be easy — the photos were taken a long time ago, and Porsz didn't have names or contact information for many of the people in them.

But he did find some of them, sometimes in extraordinary ways. "Some were absolute million-to-one coincidences," he says.

Like the time he went out on a call (he's a parademic these days) at 3 a.m., and the man he was there to treat recognized him as the photographer who'd snapped his picture all those years ago. On another call, he asked a local shopkeeper if he recognized any of the subjects in the photos. He did.

Once Porsz began posting about the project online — he calls it "Reunions" — it became easier and easier to reconnect with his former subjects.

Many were eager to recreate the old shots as best they could, like Layla Gordon, who Porsz originally photographed drinking milk in 1983.

time, memories, photos

The child version drinking milk.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

milk, history, project

The adult enjoys milk too.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Others groups, like these schoolgirls, had fallen out of touch. "Reunions," fittingly enough, brought them back together.

schoolgirls, pose, soul mate

Schoolgirls pose for a photo.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

best friends, intimate, confidant

The adult versions find time for a group photo.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Porsz says that his subjects, like this wild-haired couple, were strangers to him 30 years ago. Now he considers many of them friends.

punk rock, narrative, archive

Pink colored hair and mohawks.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

record, story, account

The color has moved to the sleeves.

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

In all, Porsz has collected over 130 before-and-afters in his new book.

The response to Porsz's work has been more than he ever imagined.

He's personally heard from people all over the world who've been inspired by his project and want to try to recreate it themselves. But beyond that, he just hopes it brings a little warmth and happiness to the people who see it.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile," he says. "Because there is so much sadness in the world."

And while the project is finished for now, don't count out the possibility of "Reunions Part 2" somewhere down the line.

"I'd love to meet these guys in 2046 when I'm 94 years old," Porsz says.


This article originally appeared on 11.30.16

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Health

Trying to guess which twin smokes is the perfect way to help you quit

Nobody would call smoking “glamorous” after seeing these comparisons.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

Which twin smoked?

It's not revolutionary news that smoking wreaks havoc on your body in different ways. More often than not, however, the focus of anti-smoking campaigns is on your internal health, citing emphysema, heart disease, and lung cancer, to name just a few consequences.

While the superficial effects may not be as lethal, appealing to people's sense of vanity can have a powerful effect as this clever gallery below shows. Twins, only one of whom smokes, sit side by side, showing the profound damage smoking can cause to your face, hair, and teeth.

The twins' circumstances vary in each set of pictures, but the differences and effects are undeniable. In some instances, one of the twins never smoked. In others, the "smoking" twin had smoked for at least five years longer than the other "non-smoking" twin.

Though they're not common knowledge, the effects of smoking on your appearance are predictable and consistent. You can identify a smoker with ease if you know what you're looking for. Harmful smoke, dehydration, and even the heat from a burning cigarette can damage your complexion, hair, and eyes. The photos below helpfully point out the symptoms and effects on the smoking twin.


The photos here were taken from those of 79 pairs of identical twins at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. Though they weren't taken with this use in mind, that allows them to serve as an even more powerful testament to the effects as perceived by casual observers.

1. The eyes are a strong "tell" if someone's a smoker or not. In this photo, the smoker is the man on the right. He has smaller, more sunken eyes and carries more wrinkles throughout his face than his twin on the left. You'll also notice his hairline has receded further than his brother's. That's a little-known though hardly surprising effect of smoking habitually.

health, danger of smoking, studies on smoking, mental health

Can you tell the smoker?

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

2. Here, the difference is profound. Though they're the same age, they look almost like they represent different generations. The smoking twin on the right has done so for 16 years, and it's manifested in a number of ways. Most noticeable is the pervasive discoloration of her skin compared to her twin on the left. Less noticeable, but still apparent, is the damage done to her lips, eyes, and even her hair. It's difficult to believe they're even related, let alone twins.

aging, health benefits, clean living, cancer

Did I get this one wrong?

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

3. This comparison is less glaring but still apparent. The twin on the left is the smoker. You can see many more pronounced wrinkles on her forehead, under her eyes, and around her nose. There are also pronounced bags under her eyes.

skin aging, medicine, medical insurance, damaged hair

Some differences are more subtle than others.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

4. In this comparison, the smoking twin only smokes about two cigarettes per day, so the difference will be less profound. The twin on the right is the smoker. The differences are on the subtle side, mostly the more damaged hair and the squintier eyes.

twins, research, studies

Smoking can cause a receding hair line.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.


5. Based on what you've read in the earlier side by side pics, you might be able to ID the right twin as the smoker due to the discolored and receding hair as well as the aged skin.

wrinkles, aging, smoking

Smoking appears to cause more gray.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

6. These two twins are both elderly, so the differences are slightly less pronounced. Though the left twin has more graying hair, it's the right twin that's the smoker. She's got a droopier face, especially on the outside of the eyes. The wrinkles are also more pronounced in the brow and upper lip.

wrinkles, skin, health

The hallmarks of smoking apparent on the skin.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

7. Though the two sisters here are also older, it's easier to distinguish the smoker. The left sister bears the hallmarks all over her skin. Her cheek, outer eye, and neck all look weathered from her habit. Not only is she more wrinkled, but the skin has begun to discolor from the fair tone her sister has.

discoloration of skin, dermatology, identifying factors

Wrinkles around the lips distinguish the smoker.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

8. Here it's pretty difficult to tell. The woman on the left is the smoker. She sports slightly discolored lips that are upon inspection, more wrinkled than her sister's. Since the lips are the most proximate to the smoke, they are a pretty telling feature when it comes to identifying smokers.

The pics above show a lot of singular traits that can call out a smoker, but it can be a lot more simple than that. Speaking to the NY Daily News, dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi from George Washington Medical Center dispenses with the jargon, stating, "Smoking makes you look old. That's all there is to it."


This article originally appeared on 11.01.16

Courtesy of Kisha Rose Woodhouse

Man surprises partner by performing haka alone at her graduation


Graduations can be emotional no matter if it's preschool, high school or college. Something about watching a loved one close one chapter to open a new one just does something to you. But sometimes people have a few more challenges getting across the stage that make it feel even sweeter.

One new mom, Kisha Rose Woodhouse, who goes by @kiisha.rose on TikTok, became pregnant and gave birth while finishing up her college degree. Clearly, determined to finish, Woodhouse walked across the stage at graduation with her baby on her hip. But that wasn't what got people all choked up while seeing her video, it was Woodhouse's partner who stood alone in the auditorium.

The man was visibly filled with pride from Woodhouse's accomplishments when he began doing the Tautoko, also known as the haka. Immediately the auditorium fell silent as the man's words and sharp movements filled the air. Seeing him perform such an emotional dance alone to honor his partner is enough to get just about anyone's eyes to water.


Woodhouse was visibly overcome with emotion when she heard her partner start the traditional Maori dance. While originally the haka was performed as a war dance, it has become a dance performed for major occasions, celebrations and funerals.

"Honestly that moment felt so surreal, it was completely unexpected and the way he expressed himself through his haka really summed up the respect and love we had for each other throughout all the challenges we faced to finally get me up on the stage and earn my diploma. And on that note, our son came with me as he deserved the diploma just as much as I did (he did attend every class while being in my tummy!)," Woodhouse tells Upworthy.

With everything the couple has been through up until that moment, it's no wonder they were both emotional. Their emotions and love can be felt through the video and it seems like just about everyone has something in their eye.

"I will never not cry when I see the haka. I think it's inside us as humans to know that outward display of passion, emotion and strength moves our souls. Imagine releasing that energy in celebration, in mourning or in the face of fear. You would never know what it meant to not face your emotions," one person writes.

"Performing haka alone, for her and their son, ALONE, in front of thousands. This is an existential form of love," another says.

@kiisha.rose One of the greatest moments 👩‍🎓 being able to walk across the stage with son and a surprise tautoko from my love ❤️ #maori #graduation ♬ original sound - kiisha.rose

"Whoa, that haka gave me goose bumps. You could hear a pin drop. Definitely felt the wairua [soul] in that one. Well done mama bear ka pai [good]. Good on you, someone writes, complete with heart emojis.

One commenter had a front row seat, "I was there graduating that day too and this made my eyes water! So beautiful."

It's nearly impossible to watch someone perform the haka without something getting into both of your eyes as you feel their passion move through you. If you've never seen the haka performed, you may want to grab a tissue because this is one of the most beautiful acts of love people get to witness.


This article originally appeared on 3.22.24

Family

Harvard psychologists have been studying what it takes to raise 'good' kids. Here are 6 tips.

Help unlock your child's best self with a few tried-and-true strategies.

Kids playing baseball with a slide into second.




A lot of parents are tired of being told how technology is screwing up their kids.

Moms and dads of the digital age are well aware of the growing competition for their children's attention, and they're bombarded at each turn of the page or click of the mouse with both cutting-edge ideas and newfound worries for raising great kids.


But beneath the madness of modernity, the basics of raising a moral child haven't really changed.

Parents want their kids to achieve their goals and find happiness, but Harvard researchers believe that doesn't have to come at the expense of kindness and empathy. They say a few tried-and-true strategies remain the best ways to mold your kids into the morally upstanding and goals-oriented humans you want them to be.

kids, toddlers, pacifiers, parenting

Entertaining the toddlers.

Cartoon by Sara Zimmerman/Unearthed Comics.

Here are six practical tips:

1) Hang out with your kids.

parenting advice, healthy habits, teachable moments

Cleaning the hands.

Image by Cade Martin/Public Domain Images.

This is, like, the foundation of it all. Spend regular time with your kids, ask them open-ended questions about themselves, about the world and how they see it, and actively listen to their responses. Not only will you learn all sorts of things that make your child unique, you'll also be demonstrating to them how to show care and concern for another person.

2) If it matters, say it out loud.

teamwork, educational games, Harvard

Teamwork in process.

Image by Steven Bennett/Wikimedia Commons.

According to the researchers, "Even though most parents and caretakers say that their children being caring is a top priority, often children aren't hearing that message." So be sure to say it with them. And so they know it's something they need to keep up with, check in with teachers, coaches, and others who work with your kids on how they're doing with teamwork, collaboration, and being a generally nice person.

3) Show your child how to "work it out."

sports and exercise, team exercise, building confidence

Playing soccer.

Image by susieq3c/Flickr.

Walk them through decision-making processes that take into consideration people who could be affected. For example, if your child wants to quit a sport or other activity, encourage them to identify the source of the problem and consider their commitment to the team. Then help them figure out if quitting does, in fact, fix the problem.

4) Make helpfulness and gratitude routine.

problem solving, gratitude, healthy

Ingenuity for cleaning up.

Image by David D/Flickr.

The researchers write, "Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving — and they're also more likely to be happy and healthy." So it's good for parents to hold the line on chores, asking kids to help their siblings, and giving thanks throughout the day. And when it comes to rewarding "good" behavior, the researchers recommend that parents "only praise uncommon acts of kindness."

5) Check your child's destructive emotions.

negative feelings, emotional intelligence, honesty, understanding

An automatic save.

Image by Thomas Ricker/Flickr.

"The ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings," say the researchers. Helping kids name and process those emotions, then guiding them toward safe conflict resolution, will go a long way toward keeping them focused on being a caring individual. It's also important to set clear and reasonable boundaries that they'll understand are out of love and concern for their safety.

6) Show your kids the bigger picture.

empathy, families, researchers

A reflective moment by the ocean.

Image by debowcyfoto/Pixabay.

"Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends," say the researchers. The trick is getting them to care about people who are socially, culturally, and even geographically outside their circles. You can do this by coaching them to be good listeners, by encouraging them to put themselves in other people's shoes, and by practicing empathy using teachable moments in news and entertainment.

The study concludes with a short pep talk for all the parents out there:

"Raising a caring, respectful, ethical child is and always has been hard work. But it's something all of us can do. And no work is more important or ultimately more rewarding."


This article originally appeared on 06.16.15

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.



His whole TV persona is based on being the world's worst boss.

Ramsay went on Reddit and allowed users to ask him any question they wanted.

So when a fellow cook asked him a sincere, deeply personal question about what to do when you've hit a roadblock in your career, you could probably guess what was coming.

economics, inspiration, mentorship

How do you deal with it Ramsay?

Indeed, I thought the guy was making a terrible mistake pouring his heart out to a chef as notoriously tough as Ramsay:

"My hopes and dreams are nowhere to be found as I scale and portion salmon after salmon, shelling pods after pods of broad beans.
...
Sometimes I look out the tiny window and I can see people walking around the streets, enjoying the sunlight, while I'm here, questioning my dedication to this art as I rotate stock in the cool room, getting frost bitten, but the fear of the chef stops me from stepping outside to warm up.
...
The closest thing to feeling any kind of joy I get is those rare moments when I walk through the dining room near the end of service to get some coffee for everyone, and there will be a few diners left, idly sampling those little petite fours that we've painstakingly ensured are all perfectly round, identical, and just plain delicious. Then, one of them will stop the conversation they're having with their company, look up from their food and say, 'Thank you, chef. This is delicious,' and making the previous 14-hours of sweat and tears kind of worthwhile.

My question is, how did you deal with it? How the fuck did you deal with all the bullshit, Gordon?”

But the way Ramsay responded? Totally amazing. And completely unexpected.

uplifting, chef, labor laws

That’s an amazing question.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Turns out, real-life Gordon Ramsay? He actually can be a really kind, big-hearted dude.

He's sympathetic to the guy. Not just because he's a good person. But because he's been there.

Working in restaurants is a tough, tough business. As of 2012, the average salary for cooks was less than $23,000/year. And those who are just starting out often have to work unglamorous, tedious jobs that no one else wants to do. Ramsay didn't have fancy culinary school training. He rose up through the ranks putting in long hours for low pay in kitchens all over the world. That's why he gets it.

Which brings up another point.

Diet Dieting GIF by Bobbi DeCarlo - Find & Share on GIPHY

diners, food, job security, restaurants

(Does this salad dressing have black pepper in it?? No tip for you!)

Diet Dieting GIF by Bobbi DeCarlo - from GIPHY.

When we go out to eat, we, as a culture, tend to behave ... how should I put this?

Let's go with "not like perfect angels."

Of course, no one likes getting the wrong order. Or waiting a really long time for a meal. Or eating something that doesn't taste the way you expect it to.

But it's important to remember that the people behind the food, like Ramsay's anonymous letter-writer, might be working 14-hour days. Or might be a recent immigrant who speaks limited English, trying to support a family thousands of miles away. And possibly making very little money. And sure, they screw up sometimes. But we all screw up at our jobs sometimes.

Because they, like the rest of us, are human beings.

Which is why saying...

"Thank you, chef. This is delicious."

Could mean everything to someone.


This article originally appeared on 04.22.15