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It’s hard to believe we’re almost six weeks into 2021, but Valentine’s Day is already upon us. With COVID-19 still lurking, celebration options are limited. But maybe it’s a blessing in disguise: What’s more romantic than a quiet evening at home for two, complete with a good meal, a shared bottle of wine, and the perfect holiday playlist?
When we think of love songs, the classics usually come to mind — “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton, “Something” by The Beatles (which Frank Sinatra famously called the best love song of the last 50 years), “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé, and pretty much anything by Whitney Houston or Celine Dion.
But what about those singles and deep cuts that captivated us through film or radio, that we’ve forgotten about as we’ve grown older and traded in our cherished CDs and DVDs for digital replacements? From The Cure to Aaliyah, here are 14 love songs to fall in love with all over again this Valentine’s Day.
14. Counting Crows, ‘Colorblind’
There’s an honesty in the voice of Adam Duritz as he sings about his desire to be vulnerable and openhearted on this Counting Crows hit. That vocal admission found itself in one of the most important scenes and on the soundtrack to 1999’s cult classic film Cruel Intentions. Listeners can’t help but empathize with Duritz and, hopefully, find themselves inspired to express their own feelings.
13. 112, ‘Peaches and Cream’
After years of playing it safe with standard lovey-dovey lyrics, Atlanta-based R&B crooners 112 decided to turn things up several notches with their candid jam “Peaches and Cream.” With lyrics like “Wanna taste it in the morning when I’m waking up / Like peach cobbler in my stomach when I eat it up,” it’s easy to understand why the catchy tune is beloved by those celebrating every aspect of their relationship.
12. Savage Garden, ‘I Knew I Loved You’
Few people have experienced love at first sight, but thanks to Savage Garden’s “I Knew I Loved You,” many found themselves yearning for the chance to experience the phenomenon firsthand. The late-’90s serenade by the Australian duo made fabulous work of putting the rare sensation into words.
11. Robin Thicke, ‘Lost Without U’
Valentine’s Day isn’t just about showing appreciation for your loved one, it’s also about receiving an endless stream of compliments per your request (if you ask Robin Thicke, at least). His 2007 falsetto-filled single “Lost Without U” brought us to the sexier, cockier side of romance, in which he commands his beloved to tell him — among other things — “How does it feel to know that I love you, baby?”
10. Michael Jackson, ‘Butterflies’
“Butterflies,” the laid-back, soulful track off of Michael Jackson’s 10th studio album, Invincible, is different than the upbeat melodies and power vocals that Jackson typically provides. Instead, he took a more down-to-earth approach to expressing his feelings, one that can be appreciated and applied to new flames and old loves alike.
9. Selena Gomez feat. A$AP Rocky, ‘Good For You’
Former Disney darling Selena Gomez shed her good-girl image and found musical success with her newly accepted adult outlook on love and relationships. With the assistance of rapper A$AP Rocky, Gomez’s “Good For You” placates everyone’s desire to be desired, all while exploring body confidence and embracing one’s own natural beauty.
8. UB40, ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’
Of course, the Elvis Presley version of this classic, released on his 14th record, Blue Hawaii, is the seminal version of the song. But for a version that puts you in the mood and gets you bopping in your seat, revisit the 1993 cover by British pop/reggae band UB40. It’s a little peppier than Elvis’s take, and brings up fond memories of Sliver, that delightfully trashy Sharon Stone Basic Instinct knock-off (the song appeared on the movie’s soundtrack).
7. Mariah Carey, ‘Fantasy’
Like rapper O.D.B. said, Mariah was certainly on fire when audiences first heard 1995’s “Fantasy.” The ultimate diva was in her vocal prime, and the success of this track made it a necessary addition to not one, but four compilation albums following its debut on her fifth record, Daydream. To this day, it’s still one of those iconic songs capable of making even the least affectionate of lovers loosen up and dance a little.
6. Aaliyah, ‘At Your Best (Let Me Know)’
Originally recorded by the Isley Brothers in 1976, R&B songstress Aaliyah added her own harmonies and released the new rendition on her freshman album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. With such reassuring lyrics like “You’re a positive motivating force within my life / Should you ever feel the need to wonder why / Let me know, let me know,” the heartfelt ballad can be dedicated to that special someone or — like its initial recipient — your mom.
5. 98 Degrees, ‘I Do (Cherish You)’
The gentlemen of 98 Degrees changed the romance game forever with their take on Dan Hill’s 1998 country tune, “I Do (Cherish You).” For those who become easily misty-eyed, beware. This track isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those who are on basically on the verge of — if not already in the midst of — walking down the aisle. It’s obviously the best boy band love song of all time.
4. Boys II Men, ‘On Bended Knee’
There’s no better time to say “I’m sorry” than on the official day of love. For anyone needing the perfect soundtrack to their heartfelt apology, look no further than Boys II Men’s “On Bended Knee.” The ’90s R&B foursome knew a thing or two about romance, proven by the single’s six weeks at the top of the charts. Should the effort go unappreciated, it’s still a great song to belt out while crying in the shower.
3. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, ‘Maps’
Long distance relationships are never easy, and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s put that into sad yet genuine perspective on the band’s second single (and breakout megahit) “Maps.” Since the song was about her distance-marred fling with Liars frontman Angus Andrew, she knew all too well about the difficulty of watching someone pack up and go, not knowing what the future held.
2. The Cure, ‘Friday I’m In Love’
British goth rockers The Cure knew how to compose a simple, well-written love song, capable of creating a sort of rapport with their listeners with lyrics they could often times personally relate to. Because affairs of the heart heart aren’t always the happiest, the band did what they’d always perfected and acknowledged and honored the more melancholy of lovers on their 1992 track.
1. Damien Rice, ‘The Blower’s Daughter’
“The Blower’s Daughter” is little understood, as Damien Rice has never elected to elaborate on who or what inspired the somewhat somber tune. It became even more confusing after it was featured in the 2004 film Closer, a movie that is deeply cynical about love and relationships. Whatever its true meaning, Rice’s haunting single is a dramatic addition to any Valentine’s Day playlist.
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