Valentine’s Day is upon us. If words alone can’t conceivably hope to covey the depths of your passion, if you hope to woo a potential valentine, or even if you’re sacking off the whole thing as a bad job – compile the following playlist and all of your appropriately seasonal fancies and fears will be accommodated for.
Dave McPherson // ‘Before I Even Had You’
Valentine’s Day conjures up all sorts of notions about schmaltzy music that you wouldn’t listen to at any other time of year. Much like valentine’s presents, music for the occasion is best when it is a little bit more outside of the box. Sinatra and Swift are much like the flowers and chocolate of the music world, sure they’re enjoyable but they’re generic and frankly clichéd. This acoustic offering is a meaningful tale of that nervous feeling you get as you fall in love. Perfectly characterising that moment of realisation McPherson sings “A mixture of confidence and insecurity all wash over me, I’m only acting stupid ‘cause I’m scared of losing you”.
The Beach Boys // ‘God Only Knows’
Not only is this classic rated the number 1 most romantic song on TimeOut, but it is a quintessential Beach Boys and 60’s track. This oldie is key to a Valentine’s Day playlist with its gentle, eternally happy melody and proclamations of undying and powerful love about how unliveable life would be without the other half. This tender song puts forth a sense of a complete lack of identity and absolute bewilderment without your significant other. Brian Wilson croons lyrics of unconditional devotion, prompting the soppiest of us to sigh in yearning. Complete your Valentine’s with this heartbreaking, outstanding and utterly romantic song.
John Mayer // ‘Dreaming With A Broken Heart’
Of course, this song requires several boxes of chocolate and a tub of ice cream for your Valentine sorrows (a window on a rainy day is highly optional, but advised). This beautiful piece from John Mayer’s album Continuum was released a decade ago, but continues to soothe broken hearts on this day that celebrates love – or the lack of it. It knocks on the sudden realisation that the one you once loved is no longer with you, and can’t come to terms with the fact that they once existed in your presence. A must for everyone looking to embrace their broken heart.
Frank Hamilton // ‘Flaws & Ceilings ft. Lauren Aquilina’
Ridiculously simple yet effortlessly beautiful, Frank Hamilton wrote ‘Flaws & Ceilings’ as part of his #OneSongAWeek project in 2012. Featuring the pretty vocals of Lauren Aquilina, the song should really be more popular than it is. It is perfect for Valentines Day because hey, you might have flaws but the man who points out that everyone else has ceilings has got it totally right – love doesn’t see flaws and you don’t need to worry about them. Give this song a listen, it’s totally beautiful and it will make you feel all cushy and romantic – isn’t that what we’re meant to be on Valentines Day?
Bloodhound Gang // ‘The Bad Touch’
Valentine’s Day, a time for love, affection and doing the kind of stuff that only Prince would sing about. A day where beneath all the feels and romance flows a steady stream of innuendo, as many search for that steamy and playful way to let a special someone know they want them smothered like their waffle-house hash browns. Released in May 1999, ‘The Bad Touch’ has become a classic tune, and a masterclass in double entendre. Just utter smut.
Counting Crows // ‘Accidentally In Love’
It’s a song that has become synonymous with Shrek 2 since appearing on the soundtrack way back when, but, in its own right, ‘Accidentally in Love’ is the optimistic lovesong of the 90s kids. Not just a window back to ‘04, its feel-good, fast-paced swing is the perfect, bubbly recreation of those feelings of unexpectedly finding love. Oozing cheer with helpings of electric guitars and piano riffs, the song encapsulates the true spirit of Valentine’s Day. And if you still can’t quite shake the image of ogres then all the better – because who doesn’t want a love like Shrek and Fiona’s?
Father John Misty // ‘I Went To The Store One Day’
This, the final track on FJM’s latest album I Love You, Honeybear, epitomises the qualities that made the LP, overall, such a formidable exemplar of sharply observant and thought-provoking song writing. Appropriately (or perhaps not….), the well established tropes of romantic love – as an institution as much as a subjective experience – are drawn upon, undermined, deconstructed, and reaffirmed all over again throughout the album, emphasising our understanding of love as an inherently illogical, albeit widely indispensible aspect of human existence. Documenting how the man behind the moniker – Josh Tillman – actually met the woman who became his wife – Emma – in the parking lot of a liquor store in Laurel Canyon, our Father spirals into an imagined future for the couple, all because of that chance meeting. “For love to find us of all people”, he reflects, “I never thought it would be so simple.” Not without some trademark gloomy realism that touches on drug-induced paranoia, withering physiques, and a desire to die together in the throes of passion rather than a clinical hospital setting, the track is tenderly bookended by their chance meeting at the store and what were assumedly his first words to Emma – “I’ve seen you around, what’s your name?”
Michael Bublé // ‘Just Haven’t Met You Yet’
Yes this is a valentine’s playlist, and what’s worse than being a singleton at this time of year? You guessed it! The plastering of happy couples on your Facebook newsfeed, in the coffee shops, and all things that say that dreaded ‘V’ word, and are a garish shade of red or pink, probably with sparkles to boot. Don’t get me wrong – you guys deserve happiness, and coffee, but we aren’t all as lucky (yet), so here’s a feel good (i.e. to induce that ice cream and rom-com feeling) song, with a hopeful message for all those who just haven’t met that special someone yet.
Nick Cave // ‘Into My Arms’
There are some who fear Nick Cave: the man who made the album Murder Ballads and on stage looks a cross between a pimp and a crow. Then there are those who hate him, for his perceived misogyny and insistence upon violence. Then there are those who find him a hopeless romantic. ‘Love Letter’, ‘Breathless’, and ‘Sweetheart Come’ are some of Cave’s most sincere and poetical works, but the one that sticks most is ‘Into My Arms’. Any song which opens with the line “I don’t believe in an interventionist God” invokes expectations for a barrage of wit: but truly, Cave evokes the differences that divide and define every relationship, in this case his atheism, and turns them into statements of passion. “But if I did, I would kneel down and ask Him not to intervene when it came to you” finishes the lyric, and so he continues with breathy vocals and heart-melting piano. It may be about division, but like the characters at it’s heart, few lovers would fail to be united by the beauty of this song.