So, I’m late on this one because V day has already passed but love songs are the best so I’m posting this anyway. In no particular order…
Who’d Have Known – Lily Allen
I have so much love for this song. It’s a masterpiece and I will fight on this. It captures so beautifully the blurring of that line between friendship and love, and the thrilling mundanity of relationships in your twenties.
The chorus is elite: “Are you mine? / Cause I stay here all the time / Watching telly, drinking wine”. Is there a more accurate depiction of modern love? I don’t think so. The sound is super nostalgic and it interpolates Take That’s ‘Shine’, not sampling because Allen said she ‘ripped off the chorus from Take That and can’t be bothered with the paperwork’.
This is prime Allen, her voice soft and dripping with tender affection as she sings, “Told your friends / They all know / We exist but we’re taking it slow / Now let’s just see how we go”. The meandering drums and gentle melody emphasise the shyness, fragility and rosy hope of the new relationship.
Eugene – Arlo Parks
This one hurts I won’t lie. This song is about falling in love with your straight best friend and not knowing what the fuck to do about it – one for the culture. Parks captures that heart-aching awkwardness of distancing oneself to try and ‘get over’ your feelings, which never really works: “I know I’ve been a little bit off and that’s my mistake / I kind of fell half in love and you’re to blame”. The song is warm and soft, with Parks’ unique breathy vocals. It sounds like the calm after (or maybe before?) the storm.
Wasn’t Looking – ELIZA
I had to include this one for the elite baseline (and the general ELIZA appreciation). ELIZA is as sultry and sexy as it comes, crooning “Now you wanna make love (make love) all night”. The song details that unexpected love, which one never looks for but unassumingly stumbles upon and dives right into with a mad type of intensity.
Miss Right – Anderson Paak
Understated, fresh, and groovy, with Paak listed as sole producer! He sings of wanting to find the right girl, with his characteristic funk-jazz sound but restrained by Venice’s more electronic production. Still, the melody and Paak’s voice is simply lovely as he declares “I wanna stone groove / I wanna love sensation”. There’s even a guitar solo halfway through which Paak usually uses as an excuse to bash some drums in his live performances.
Dreaming of You – The Coral
2000s perfection! Okay, so this is a sadder love song again but I’m including it for the unrequited love representation. I would listen to this on repeat when I found myself infatuated with someone. There’s a definite 60s influence in the beat, the brass and sugary ‘ooohs’ – it could have easily come from merseyside at the time of the beat explosion.
Tightrope – The Stone Roses
This is the Roses’ best love song (sorry Sally Cinnamon). The evocation of the angelic lover is gorgeously done; amidst the morning light and white sheets, Brown murmurs ‘I swear I saw her angel wing, my vision was complete’. Squire also reigns on the guitar in this one, carrying the melody and tying the song together. The chorus captures the joint vulnerability and euphoria of being in love: ‘I’m on a tightrope, baby, nine miles high / Striding through the clouds, on my ribbon in the sky / I don’t know how to stop, and it’s a long, long, long / Long way down’.
Stay – Mac Miller
Hailing from The Divine Feminine, a gorgeous album about love and lust, this song describes a request to stay the night (presumably for some s e x). The trumpet is the star on this track, with sensual melodies galore. The whole song is deliciously candid, as Miller admits ‘the way you walk in to the room, oh / All I think about is what I wanna do to you’. There’s some X-rated sexual moaning at the end of the song which seemingly confirms the s e x happened, as well as being reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s ‘You Sure Love to Ball’.
Love Supreme – Nao
This is song about dreaming about that love. Nao questions “who can stand to be lonely” alongside heavy beats which delineate her self-described ‘wonky funk’. It’s catchy and sweet – perfect for singing alone in your bedroom/the shower. Precise production emphasises the insane vocal control, Nao switches from a honeyed falsetto to a husky alto with ease. Distortion and synth maintains the song’s fantastical imagining of a supreme type of love.
Baby Blue – King Krule
Archy at his best, give me all the teen angst. Gentle and soothing, with slow velvety chords, percussion and Archy’s classic croon. Muted yet vast, it’s so easy to get delightfully lost in this soundscape – like some kind of late-night drunken love letter. Archy has cited Chet Baker as an influence, which can definitely be heard here (think ‘My Funny Valentine’).