Through the ages, many artists expressed their love for their respective hunnies through song. Being one of those universal feelings and all that, love songs are something most people can relate to, so understandably, there is a metric crapton of them swimming about out there. Music writer Carmen Bojanowski, music critic Matt Rice (of Matt on Music) and life editor/resident music major Jess Salisbury weighed in on their personal favorites.
Agree? Disagree? Don’t see your favorite tune? Think these writers are full of crap? Let us know in the comments section at EasternEcho.com.
1. “No Other Love” by Heart: A far cry from their famously fierce “Barracuda,” Heart’s waltzy, dreamy “No Other Love” is among their more recent work, released on “Jupiter’s Darling” in 2004. Originally performed by singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet, Ann Wilson’s unforgettable voice brings a whole new vulnerability to the lyrics, “Darling I’m flying/I can go anywhere…” If love feels like that, you’re doing it right.
2. “How Can I Tell You” by Cat Stevens: Speaking of being vulnerable, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song as honest and heartfelt as this one. This gentle, somewhat somber song speaks of those feelings nearly everyone has felt at one point or another—wanting to tell someone how you feel about them but not having the nerve to spit those perfect words out.
3. “Your Call” by Secondhand Serenade: It shouldn’t be a huge shock that a song from Secondhand Serenade made this list. After all, John Vesely named his project after the serenades he would play for his then-wife, realizing listeners were hearing them “secondhand.” This song is musically simple and lyrically beautiful, “I was born to tell you I love you/And I am torn to do what I have to/To make you mine, stay with me tonight.”
4. “Everything” by Michael Buble: This song has a certain amount of endearing playfulness to it and a melody that can easily get stuck in your head. And face it, it’s Michael Buble. His voice is just so … creamy. In the best way.
5. “Trees” by Lovehammers: Frontman Marty Casey faded back into relative obscurity after being a finalist on the reality show Rock Star: INXS back in 2005, but he and his super-catchy “Trees” deserve much more recognition. With Casey’s gruff, raspy vocals, it’s easy to forget that this song is essentially a love song about finding someone to dream with and getting lost “in a world we rule together.”
6. “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie: Dying has never sounded so…cute. This bittersweet ballad, accompanied entirely by acoustic guitar, has been covered many times and used in several TV shows and movies, but that doesn’t diminish its power one bit as both a love song and tearjerker, “If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks/Then I’ll follow you into the dark.”
7. “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi: Love them or hate them, Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” has achieved an iconic status in 80s culture, as did its bombastic, singable single “Livin’ on a Prayer” (admit it, you just hummed the “woah-oh” in the chorus). The lyrics tell the story of two young lovers, Tommy and Gina, who, despite not having much material wealth, have more than enough in each other—a recurring theme in much of Bon Jovi’s music.
8. “Island Song” by Ashley Eriksson: Fans of Adventure Time may recognize this tune as the show’s ending theme, but taken out of the context of a young boy and his shape shifting dog, this song is actually a really sweet love song, “All of my affections, I give them all to you/I’ll be here for you always, and always be for you.”
9. “Goodnight Moon” by Go Radio: Melodically gorgeous, this song has one of the most powerful build-ups I’ve heard in a while, starting with only piano and growing into the intense and emotional bridge. The lyrics speak for themselves, referencing both the beloved children’s book and Shakespeare’s classic love story, “And there you were, as I saw my Juliet come graceful down the stairs/It’s hard to miss the way her eyes light up the room and steal the air.”
10. “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel: Another classic love song of the 80s—who can forget that infamous scene from “Say Anything” with the boombox?
1. “Dammit Janet” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show: This cheesy bit of wonderfulness really set the standard for how a man should propose to his girl. Put the ring in a glass of champagne? No. Ask my father for permission? Maybe. Sing me a song, rhyme my name and give me a ring better than Betty Monroe had? I would be unable to resist.
2. “Mulholland Drive” by The Gaslight Anthem: This tale of lost and forbidden love has one of the sexiest, though very subtle, openers that make the song before it even really starts. Singer Brian Fallon sings with so much passion, like he really means every word that he says. If he’s this passionate in his real life, then Mrs. Fallon is a lucky lady.
3. “Nose Over Tail” by Alkaline Trio: This two and a half minute punk gem compares falling in love to a plane crash. Enough said.
4. “More Than a Woman” by the Bee Gees: Okay, so I said I would stray away from cheesy love songs. But this song is the backbone to one of the greatest moments in movie history. This song plays when Tony Manero and Stephanie Mangano perform their winning routine at the dance competition in “Saturday Night Fever.” Plus I just love the song. So sue me.
5. “I’m Shakin’” by Jack White: I’m almost personally offended at the fact that one of the greatest albums of 2012 didn’t pick up any wins at the Grammys this year, so including “I’m Shakin’” on this list is Jack White’s consolation prize. It’s not as prestigious as a Grammy, but I like to pretend it’s still prestigious.
6. “Sassafras Roots” by Green Day: These guys never really wrote any “romantic” songs, per se, (I’m not including the three latest albums, for obvious reasons) but this song is probably one of the closest. It’s about being lazy and alone and liking someone who’s also lazy and alone, so you might as well just be lazy together.
7. “Finally Falling” by Mayer Hawthorne: I have to highlight Mayer Hawthorne, not only because of his soulful voice, but also because he hails from Ann Arbor. This upbeat, poppy tune about, well, finally falling for someone after being content on your own for so long will even have the most cynical of Valentine’s Day haters bopping along.
8. “The One” by Backstreet Boys: BACKSTREET BOYS. “MILLENNIUM.” I don’t have to say anything more.
9. “Too Good to Be” by New Found Glory: I just love acoustic songs, especially by bands who don’t overdo the acoustic thing. New Found Glory writes some “sensitive” songs, but plays them with their normal pop punk sound. I appreciate this song for the fact that the guard is let down and it’s actually kind of romantic without overdoing it.
10. “Smile” by Weezer: The sappy points for this song are negated because of the fact that as awkward as you probably are, especially around the opposite sex, Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo is probably more awkward than you. But he can express himself via cute songs, so you can too.
1. “Heroes” by David Bowie: One of the most influential periods in David Bowie’s career, if not the most influential overall, was his Berlin era. Between 1976 and 1979, Bowie lived in West Berlin and recorded three albums there, “Low,” “Heroes” and “Lodger.” Almost all of the music he made during this period was fascinating, but the title track to “Heroes” was something special. Possibly the most inspired love song ever written, the lyrics were based around an image of two lovers meeting at the Berlin wall and embracing each other. That image alone is a genius representation of love triumphing over bad circumstances, while “Though nothing will drive them away/We can beat them just for one day” paints love as something capable of triumphing over anything.
2. “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding: Originally recorded by O. V. Wright, “That’s How Strong My Love Is” became complete when placed in Otis Redding’s hands (as most things did).
3. “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys: “I may not always love you,” is a downer opening line for sure, but it’s also honest. The brutal honesty continues, as the rest of the song describes a love so intense that it can only end badly.
4. “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge: Another example of brutal honesty, the basic message of “When a Man Loves a Woman” is that being in love turns people into idiots. Happy Valentine’s Day!
5. “Come Back from San Francisco” by The Magnetic Fields: “Come Back from San Francisco” comes from the Magnetic Fields’ 1999 album “69 Love Songs.” Comprised of 69 love songs, the title is pretty honest. For the title to be completely honest, it’d need to include the word “extraordinary.” While many songwriters find it difficult to put together solid 12-track albums, Stephin Merritt managed to put a career’s worth of incredible songs on one album. Picking one track to represent the entire record is difficult, but my favorite is “Come Back from San Francisco,” specifically because of the line, “You need me like the wind needs the trees to blow in/Like the moon needs poetry/You need me.” The fact that it’s completely gorgeous helps too.
6. “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys: Max Martin’s biggest accomplishment, “I Want It That Way” is one of the most perfect pop songs ever written. Its success can be credited as much to the romantically desperate lyrics as to the unbelievable production.
7. “Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Written about her relationship with Liars’ Angus Andrew (the title is an acronym for “My Angus Please Stay”), “Maps” may be more of a breakup song. Still, Karen O’s performance is so soulful that I couldn’t leave it off the list.
8. “Whenever You’re on My Mind” by Marshall Crenshaw: A forgotten classic from a forgotten master.
9. “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads: David Byrne so often played the role of the paranoid cynic that hearing him sing a love song, especially one this happy, is very bizarre. “This Must Be the Place” is a fantastic one too, somehow managing to sound like what would happen if joyfulness itself wrote a song.
10. “Words of Love” by Buddy Holly: Sometimes, simplicity works. “Hold me close and tell me how you feel/Tell me love is real. Words of love you whisper soft and true/Darling, I love you. Let me hear you say the words I want to hear/Darling, when you’re near. Words of love you whisper soft and true/Darling, I love you.” Those are the lyrics to “Words of Love” in their entirety. It’s simple, but Buddy Holly never wrote about love in a more touching way.