Oh Valentine’s Day. A day of love and cupids and chocolate and wine and sadness and self-hate. Love, just like Valentine’s Day, evokes a lot of emotions. It can be one of the best things in the world, but it can also drive people actually insane which is why the world is filled with copious amounts of love songs. While some are dedicated to the bliss of a love bubble, others are dedicated to explaining- in detail- why love sucks.
The staff of The Pop Break decided to create their own Valentine’s Day Soundtrack. Each playlist has anywhere from 3 to 10 songs and covers everything from Beyonce’s “Countdown” to Tyler Ward’s “Trap Queen.”
1. “Of Crows and Crowns” – Dustin Kensrue: This is my definition of the perfect romantic love song. Dustin is a master of making his written words more magical when set to music. The lyrics of the verses are wholly quotable with the hook tying it all together: “My love, how beautiful you are, my love is ever where you are.” Have truer words ever been written?
2. “You Make Loving Fun” – Fleetwood Mac: Christine McVie delivers a song that is, to me, a true depiction of the early stages of love when everything is butterflies and rainbows. “Sweet wonderful you, You make me happy with the things you do, Oh, can it be so, This feeling follows me wherever I go.” This is the type of jam you rock during a long drive on a sunny day with the windows down when everything is right in the world.
3. “First Day of My Life” – Bright Eyes: Conor Oberst has written more than his share of sad songs and breakup songs. This is not that kind of song. This is poetry set to the quiet sounds of an acoustic guitar. “And so I thought I’d let you know, That these things take forever, I especially am slow, But I realize that I need you, And I wondered if I could come home.” Sometimes simple and direct words are the most heartfelt.
1. “Blackberry” – Devin Townsend Project: This damn-near-perfect cut from Ghost captures the nervous thrill of young love with fingerpicked acoustic guitars, luscious male-female vocal exchanges, and a wall-of-sound crescendo that will leave you with goosebumps.
2. “Chillout Tent” – The Hold Steady: A very different kind of love song, the penultimate track on Boys and Girls in America follows two drugged-out festivalgoers through ecstasy, recovery, and an unexpected moment of infatuation. Cutesy guest vocals from Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner and The Reputation’s Elizabeth Elmore hook up with some lovely trumpet and piano interplay for a surprisingly sweet depiction of fleeting romance.
3. “coffee” – Miguel: Sincerity can be cool, people. Look no further than Miguel’s smoldering take on the moment where intimacy becomes more than just sex. The slow-burn arrangement gives Marvin Gaye a run for his money, while the sentiment of “Bubble bath, Truth or Dare, and Would You Rather” is as adorable as “Fuckin’ in the morning” is hot.
Please enjoy the “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” mix by your resident writer/photographer.
No matter how esoteric your taste in music nor how much street cred your iTunes playlist possesses, you’ve undoubtedly FELT an embarrassingly cheesy pop song, singing along like the lyrics were written for you and only you, when in the giddy whirlwind of a new relationship or the heart-rending throes of a dying one. As Shakespeare said, “music be the food of love” and infatuation and heartbreak are so universal that, no matter how cerebral or cool your musical sensibilities, you’ve certainly seen your own love life reflected in a seemingly simplistic lyric at one point or another and have been affirmed or comforted by a song you might otherwise ignore (see also: why greeting cards continue to exist).
How relatable then is the lush, breathless arrangement and hopeful lyrics of The Crystals’ classic “And Then He Kissed Me” or the dizzy, love-drunk swoon of The Cure’s “Mint Car” to those of us swept up in the joyful whirlwind of new love? What better soundtrack to slowly slide down a wall and ugly-cry to when that relationship turns a dark corner or reaches its end than the raw soul of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” or the melancholy finality of Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game”? And where is the all-encompassing, life-affirming nature of love and all the possibilities it births more perfectly expressed than when Louie Armstrong sings in his grandfatherly croak of seeing it reflected in the face of nature and future generations in the painfully beautiful “What a Wonderful World”?
And, to reflect both my own musical leanings and my frequently bickering, yet ultimately loving relationship with my high school sweetheart, best friend, and husband, I can’t think of a better Valentine’s troubadour than the sarcastic, endlessly witty Morrissey. “All You Need Is Me,” indeed, babe. Xoxo
Our resident writer/podcast engineer’s mix ranges from the raunchy Steel Panther to an all-time classic from Extreme to something from Judas Priest.
1. “Punk Rock Girl” – The Dead Milkmen: An ’80s punk rock group from Philly, The Dead Milkmen, and their songs, are not widely known. So when the song came on in mt now boyfriend’s car when we first started dating, “Punk Rock Girl” became solidified in my mind as the ultimate love song.
2. “Last Kiss’ – Pearl Jam: Eddie Veder is a total babe and this song makes me cry.
3. “Kiss Me” – Ed Sheeran: Ed Sheeran is the king of romance and love songs. “Kiss Me” is one of the ultimate choices from his prolific discography. He wrote it for his managers wedding and it was also used as a backdrop for Grayson’s (Josh Hopkins) proposal to Jules (Courteney Cox) on Cougar Town (one of my favorite hangout comedies.)