Valentine’s Day is a bad time of year for music fans. Radio broadcasters see it as an excuse to flood the airwaves with love songs so cliché and so recycled that they sap any hint of genuine romance that might have been possible. The cynic in me says that no one really wants to do Valentine’s. It’s not love, it’s obligation. But the romantic in me secretly thinks it’s quite nice. Although not when it’s ruined by the dulcet tones of Donny Osmond crooning Puppy Love.
Love is one of the most common themes in all music, so surely the Valentine’s Day canon can be improved. We’ve tried to make a start. For the musically minded love-birds out there, here’s an alternative Valentine’s mix to get cutesy, and maybe even a little kinky to.
1. I Love You, Honeybear — Father John Misty
“Everything is doomed / And nothing will be spared / But I love you, honeybear”
The strangest things can bring couples together, even a shared belief that mankind is inherently evil, everything is meaningless, and the world is about to end. Cute, huh?
2. A Picture In A Frame — Tom Waits
“The sun come up / It was blue and gold / Ever since I put your picture in a frame”
A creaky piano and Tom’s crooning voice is enough to make anyone weak at the knees. Sometimes romance is best done without any frills.
3. You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To — Nina Simone
“While the breeze on high sang a lullaby / You’d be all my heart could desire”
4. Love After Love — Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Sometimes love is best expressed without words at all. Jeffrey Cantu-Ledesma’s lo-fi instrumental shoegaze love songs sounds like if your cassette tape of Disintegration by The Cure got water damaged, but in a nice way.
5. I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was The Greatest Night Of My Life — Sun Kil Moon
“Later that summer I picked up my mail She sent me a letter with a touching detail ‘I used up my minutes calling hotels To find you that night but to no avail” “I know it’s pathetic,” she continued to write, “But that was the greatest night of my life.’”
6. Forrest Gump — Frank Ocean
“My fingertips and my lips / They burn from the cigarettes / Forrest Gump, you run my mind, boy”
Roses are red, gender is performative, mass market romance is heteronormative. But the Pearshaped Valentine’s Playlist isn’t!
7. Dance Me To The End Of Love — Leonard Cohen
“Show me slowly what I only know the limits of / Dance me to the end of love”
Leonard Cohen is hands-down the sexiest 81-year-old Jewish Zen Buddhist monk there is. The music is cheesy, the lyrics have a nursery rhyme quality, but it somehow manages to be genuinely sensually romantic.
8. Really Love — D’Angelo
“Doo doo wah I’m in really love with you”
D’Angelo isn’t just in love; he’s in really love. One for when the lights are low and things are getting a little steamy.
9. Love Again — Run The Jewels & Gangsta Boo
“I put that dick in her mouth all day / I think I’m in love again”
Love comes in many guises. The first chorus might sound sexist, but when Gangsta Boo comes in with her’s — “I put that clit in his mouth all day” — Run The Jewels make it clear they ain’t got time for gender discrimination.
10. Brando — Scott Walker & Sunn O)))
“A beating would do me a world of good.”
A bit of a curve ball to end your evening maybe - one for all those BDSM fans. If pulverising guitars and whip sound effects are your thing…
Pictured: Father John Misty and his wife, Emma Elizabeth Tillman.