Valentine’s Day is coming fast upon us, and its coming is inexplicably linked with love songs. Musicians have been singing about the boy-meets-girl conundrum for as long as pop music has existed, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are some quality love songs of past and present:
Bright Eyes — “First Day of My Life”
Even if your soul is as black as the night, this song’s unabashed beauty will still make you cry. Conor Obsest’s fragile voice coupled with heartbreakingly gorgeous lyrics make for one of the best love songs of recent memory and one quintessential for Valentine’s Day.
The Smiths — “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”
If you scoff at romance and prefer your love songs served with an edge (or on the “500 Days of Summer” soundtrack), this masterpiece by the Smiths more than suffices. Besides, nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day!” like promising your lover a tandem death.
The Flaming Lips — “Do You Realize??”
It’s a sweeping love song that serves as the perfect anthem for Valentine’s Day (and for the other 364 days of the year, too). It’s about the brevity of life, the scope of the universe and the simple joy of seeing the smile of someone you love.
Ben Gibbard — “You Remind Me Of Home”
“I Will Follow You Into The Dark” has been inexplicably ruined by every wannabe Jason Mraz with an acoustic guitar, so if you like romance accompanied by soft strumming and earnest vocals, dig a little deeper with this song from Death Cab For Cutie lead singer Ben Gibbard. He’s married to Zooey Deschanel, so he must know some valuable secret about wooing the ladies.
The Beach Boys — “God Only Knows”
Probably the best love song ever written, the Beach Boys say it all on “God Only Knows”. It’s a song about eternal love, plain and simple. If you listen to just one song this Valentine’s Day, make it this the one.
If sentimentality and feeling aren’t on your Valentine’s agenda, you’re in luck. Almost as common in music as the themes of love and affection are rejection, anger, bitterness and dismissal. A brief selection of the very best anti-Valentine’s Day songs is below.
Weezer — “Pink Triangle”
Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy discovers that girl likes other girls. “Pink Triangle” is the best song ever written about finding out your crush isn’t interested in you — or member of your gender, for that matter.
Kanye West — “Gold Digger”
The title is self-explanatory. Kanye puts a nail in the coffin of romance, trashing the ubiquitous money-hungry female of hip-hop culture. It’s a perfect song for anyone tired of blowing all their free cash on an ungrateful significant other
Sufjan Stevens — “Casimir Pulaski Day”
If you prefer a weepier Valentine’s Day, look no further than this tearjerker from Sufjan to tear your heart into tiny shreds. A tale of a girl stricken with bone cancer, this song is perfect for spending the holiday with your Kleenex box.
OutKast — “Ms. Jackson”
What anti-Valentine’s Day would be complete without OutKast’s ode to the beloved mother of one of their baby mamas? Thanks, Andre 3000, for teaching us the true meaning of chivalry.
R. Kelly — “Real Talk”
An R&B classic, R. Kelly lashes out at his lady in the most hilarious way possible — over the phone with as much drama and riffing as possible. Perfect for any jaded listener who’s killed a few relationships by creeping at the club, or goaded an ex-lover with relish to burn all his or her clothing.
Bob Dylan — “Like A Rolling Stone”
The best diss track of all time features Dylan mocking an ex-flame fallen from grace. This Valentine’s Day, though it may be tempting to trash your previous lovers via College ACB, take Dylan’s lead and and compile an eloquent litany against your ex, mocking them for their misdeeds.
The Beatles — “Norwegian Wood”
John Lennon knew how to treat a lady correctly: pay her a visit, sleep in her bathtub, and then light her house on fire when she leaves for work the next day. It really doesn’t get any less romantic than this. Happy V-Day, Yoko.