“Just Like Heaven” – The Cure
From looking at the wild hair, lipstick and dark eyeliner of Cure frontman Robert Smith it would be easy to suspect that the band produced interesting post-punk glam rock or something equally dated and specific. Instead, the Cure displayed a remarkably timeless pop sensibility, spending the ’80s and early ’90s making some of the catchiest, most unaffected pop songs of the past 30 years.
A prime example of this is the song “Just Like Heaven” from the 1987 album Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, one of the band’s biggest hits. From the song’s opening line, “Show me how you do that trick,” Smith sings about falling in love as though it is some sort of illusion, but not necessarily an unwelcome one.
He continues, “Strange as angels / Dancing in the deepest oceans / Twisting in the water / You’re just like a dream,” which creates a poignant lyrical ambiguity. Is the love he’s describing actually unreal, or is he being metaphorical when he says he’s “been asleep for days”?
Whatever the case, these lyrics and the song’s dance-worthy melody work together to capture the unique mixture of joy and mystery you experience while falling in love.
– By Logan Lockner
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” – Frankie Valli
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” starts off simply enough: ’60s ballroom pop legend Frankie Valli sets the stage, laying down some romantic tropes over a building bassline, percussion and keys, layering all of it with his usual oozy charisma. “You’re just too good to be true/ can’t take my eyes off of you,” he croons like the slick weasely little dude he is, and it all sounds a bit schmaltzy, maybe a bit like your grandma’s Frank Sinatra – that is, until the glorious horn solo. After that, everything spins blissfully out of control, Valli’s characteristic brassy yelp calling out into oblivion: “I love you, baby!” The same process of melodic explosion and control repeats over and over again throughout the song, never losing any of its effusive charm. Listening to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is like spinning on a merry-go-round in the middle of your third grade playground. It’s dizzying, it’s euphoric and it’s just so damn fun, you’ve got to yell about it. This is what I want falling in love to sound like.
– By Lane Billings
“Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepsen
While many may see Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” as simply a catchy and overly-sugary sweet pop song, I can’t help but feel attached to its carefree portrayal of relationships. It perfectly describes one of the most fun and beautiful parts of the relationship: the beginning, when the possibly of a future is veiled by anticipation and uncertainty; but at the same time, the chemistry and fun flirtation is there. Romance doesn’t have to be red roses and deep gestures. Often you find yourself attached to someone because of the small, fun things that you do together instead. I have to admit, another reason this song holds a special place for me is that it’s the “song” of my relationship. I wasn’t super thrilled when it happened, but I’ve come to accept it for what it is: a song that reminds us of the fun times we had when we first met, which laid the foundation for it all.
– By Tina Grajewski
“Maybe I’m Amazed” – Paul McCartney
Expressions of love can be found in every book and every film. But what is the ultimate love song? Is it “Your Song,” the recurring love theme of Moulin Rouge? Is it “In Your Eyes,” which John Cusack plays outside Ione Skye’s window in Say Anything? In determining the ultimate love song, I considered a number of factors. I poured over ‘top love song’ lists and read through the lyrics of my top choices. I listened to them on YouTube and determined which had the highest approval ratings by other viewers. Ultimately, I asked myself one question: If I wanted to tell the girl I love how I feel about her, what would I be singing outside her window?
The answer, for me, must always be “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney. While songs like Luther Vandross’s “Here and Now” or Sara Bareilles’s “Stay” have poetic lyrics and a soulful, swelling melody, “Amazed” understands love better than any of them. Love is something that can sneak up on you, leaving you unprepared for how to express it. McCartney’s astounded lyrics and soulful singing feel more real than a carefully constructed song filled with metaphors and orchestral sounds. He calls himself a “lonely man who’s in the middle of something that he doesn’t really understand.” Sounds like love to me.
– By Ian Trutt
“Something” – The Beatles
Her lips curl into a soft smile, her clumsy hands fumbling with her hairbrush. Others walking by pay little attention, but this moment sends a quick, warm pulse throughout your body. You do not know why her small quirks make you fall even deeper in love; it is something about her, something unexplainable, just … something.
George Harrison conveys the unexplainable magic of these seemingly insignificant snippets of time. In the Beatles’ 1969 track “Something,” Harrison does not attempt to put labels on love.
“Something in the way she moves,” he slowly sings as if in a pleasant trance of admiration, “attracts me like no other lover.”
Harrison’s gentle voice basks in a moment of profound love without worrying about description, analysis or the inevitable confusion. In the end, that comforting sensation of “something” is all that really matters.
The emotional rush of these moments is often based on uncertainty. Things may fall apart, but what if she is the one?
“You’re asking me, will my love grow?” Harrison sings before answering honestly, “I don’t know.”
No one knows how the future will impact love, but that is ultimately part of the fun. Whether this emotion will fade or continue to grow, Harrison speaks to a pure immersion in present joy and a genuine intimacy even without full understanding.
– By Chris Ziegler