Everyone has an opinion when it comes to love songs. Some people think that they are wonderful expressions of one of the most pure emotions. For this contingent, the lyrical valentines are sweet, relatable, and an overall good time. Others have a more visceral reaction and find them corny, infuriating pieces of music that serve no purpose to a large audience. They’ve been able to launch the careers of many (we’re looking at you, Sara Bareilles) and they’ve been the downfall of some (no one likes a happy, content Ray LaMontagne).
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the Beacon Staff compiled a list of our favorite songs about love in all of its various stages and phases, from unrequited attraction to the honeymoon phase to the heartbreaking break-up. The playlist features a couple of hits from the king of rock and roll himself, Elvis Presley, added by our editor-in-chief, Laura King.
“Last week, in my music journalism class, we talked about Elvis and we watched a lot of his videos,” King said. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, he’s so cute.’ I’ve been listening to his discography for two weeks and now I’m just obsessed. ”
It’s certainly not a bad discography to sample, either. Elvis might have the the most-covered ballad of all time, “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,” and his original performance appears on the playlist.
We decided to ask a few staff members about their criteria for a well-crafted love song, starting with assistant arts editor Monika Davis.
“A good love song is honest,” David said. “It should make your heart flutter with anticipation and give insight into feelings that can often be confusing. A good love song provides clarity.”
One of our managing editors, Becca Szkutak, had a different take.
“A good love song is something that inspires you to remember a good time or someone you love,” Szkutak said.
When it comes to ditties about desire, sometimes a good voice is prioritized over the lyrical prowess. It goes without saying that some of the tunes on this playlist are not exactly lyrical masterpieces—there are only so many ways you can say that you have feelings for someone. Artists can get pretty creative when finding phrasing to express their affection. I don’t know what exactly it means for someone to “love me lights out,” but it nonetheless sounds appealing, especially when someone like John Mayer or Beyoncé is singing it. Other tracks on here, such as Lady Lamb’s seven-minute rollercoaster ride entitled, “You Are The Apple,” take you through a litany of phases of a relationship in beautiful detail.
Her more upbeat tune, “Milk Duds,” is equally brilliant, as it takes the image of melted malt candy on couch cushions and turns it into a beautiful metaphor for an old relationship. Other tracks, like Torres’ “Honey,” deal with what 23-year-old Mackenzie Scott would say to her companion if she had the courage to speak up. Scott intensely laments, “Honey, while you were ashing in your coffee / I was thinking ‘bout telling you / What you’ve done to me / Honey, pretending like it never happened / Come over here and let me / Put you back together.” It’s a heavy track both sonically and lyrically, and the power and emotion of the words are not lost in Torres’ delivery of the lyrics.
Much like the emotion itself, love songs inspire a range of raw, deeply personal emotions. The playlist we compiled tries to represent the entire spectrum of these emotions. Whatever love and love songs mean to you, we hope that you find our playlist both relatable and enjoyable.