Songs For Ill-Advised Office Romances

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idogcow/Flickr

In all likelihood, you spend more time at work than you spend anywhere else, with the exception of your own bedroom. So, really, it's only natural that the two locations intersect as often as they do. From longing gazes across cubicles to furtive make-out sessions in dairy coolers, workplace romance is rampant to the point of inevitability. Sometimes, under a select set of circumstances, it's not even a horrible, career-demolishingly tragic mistake.

Maybe your office romance will mark the beginning of a lifetime in which you alternate bliss and contentment. Perhaps it'll lead to a ruinous, humiliating spectacle in which vicious rumors give way to depositions, divorce and desktop knickknacks being stuffed hastily into boxes and hauled out by security. Either way, you'll need a soundtrack — five songs to guide you through your exciting and unpredictable new life.

For more entries in NPR Music's Listen While You Work series, click here.

Songs For Ill-Advised Office Romances

Belle and Sebastian cover art

Step into My Office, Baby

  • Artist: Belle & Sebastian
  • Album: Dear Catastrophe Waitress
  • Song: Step into My Office, Baby

Even the most dunderheadedly catastrophic romantic pursuit should have its moments of good cheer. So before the consequences kick in, ramp up the sexual tension with Belle & Sebastian and the appropriately titled "Step Into My Office, Baby." (And, yes, a Google search confirms that this is the first use of the phrase "ramp up the sexual tension with Belle & Sebastian" in the whole history of the Internet.) As Stuart Murdoch takes "marching orders" from a demanding boss, the song itself exudes chugging jauntiness and punning double-entendre: "I've been pushing for a raise / I've been pushing now for days."

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Song
Step into My Office, Baby
Album
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Artist
Belle & Sebastian
Label
Rough Trade/Sanctuary

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You Follow Me cover art

There Is No Train

  • Artist: Nina Nastasia/Jim White
  • Album: You Follow Me
  • Song: There Is No Train

"There is no train to take you this late," Nina Nastasia sings in "There Is No Train," taking all of 12 seconds to set a vivid scene in which everything is about to change between two people who ought to know better. Nastasia captures the way would-be lovers disguise their self-serving intentions as obliviousness -- "I was aware, but I didn't say / I let the last one roll on as you talked all along" -- as Dirty Three's Jim White ratchets up the portent with his distinct brand of unsettlingly arrhythmic drum patterns. In only two and a half minutes, Nastasia makes it clear that things are about to get much better, for at least a little while, before they get much worse.

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Song
There Is No Train
Album
You Follow Me
Artist
Nina Nastasia/Jim White
Label
FTC
Released
2007

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Bastards of the Beat cover art

Kiss Catastrophe

  • Artist: The Damnwells
  • Album: Bastards of the Beat
  • Song: Kiss Catastrophe

So your relentless pursuit of validation, companionship and/or boredom-alleviation has gotten you into a bit of a jam. What was once a playful diversion now has your would-be suitor taking the long way to the copier in an effort to avoid you. The Damnwells' charming "Kiss Catastrophe" is perfect background music for when you want to tell that special someone, "I know that you're starting to find me a little unnerving, but I'm still here if you're desperate enough to risk making matters even worse." As singer Alex Dezen asks, "Can I be in your way for a while?" you can just imagine your companion responding, "No, come to think of it."

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Song
Kiss Catastrophe
Album
Bastards of the Beat
Artist
The Damnwells
Label
Red Ink
Released
2003

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Dolorean cover art

To Destruction

  • Artist: Dolorean
  • Album: Violence in the Snowy Fields
  • Song: To Destruction

Not every word in Dolorean's sweetly ambling, wonderfully winning "To Destruction" applies specifically to office romance. But the song's key line -- "On the way down to destruction / there are places where I find my rest" -- hits all of the sweet spots between innocence and ruin. Along the way, singer Al James gets at the push-and-pull at the heart of so many misguided couplings: "I have tried to run away / but I am so unhappy when I am alone." Some obviously ill-advised relationships are so utterly doomed to fail that even moments of contentment have an air of imminent collapse about them; "To Destruction" is a perfect song for when you want to revel as your live unravels.

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Song
To Destruction
Album
Violence in the Snowy Fields
Artist
Dolorean
Label
Yep Roc
Released
2004

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The Avett Brothers cover art

Pretend Love

  • Artist: The Avett Brothers
  • Album: Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions
  • Song: Pretend Love

Sure, your relationship with a coworker began as a casual dalliance -- a relationship born of proximity and executed with a sort of conspiratorial playfulness. But that doesn't mean it's sure to end well. The Avett Brothers' Seth and Scott Avett know how when to strip away the artifice, set aside the metaphor and make with the emotional carnage: "I have love for my family / I have love for my friends / That's as far as it goes, and I must let you know / My love for you was pretend." It's hard to hear that from someone you're going to have to continue seeing every day -- if you're lucky -- but, hey, at least you'll have one more reason to look forward to quitting time, right?

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Pretend Love
Album
Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions
Artist
The Avett Brothers
Label
Ramseur
Released
2006

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