For lovers and the lonely alike, Feb. 14 is a day that stirs up mixed feelings. Our Arts & Entertainment staff has compiled a list of songs that capture every possible Valentine’s Day mood, from joy to jealousy and love to lust. No matter how you spend the day, we hope it’s set to some good tunes! The playlist is available on Spotify and Apple Music.
Saru Garg: “Call It Fate, Call It Karma” by The Strokes
“Call It Fate, Call It Karma” is an ideal blend of the melancholic and the romantic, making it the perfect song for this year’s Valentine’s Day. Julian Casablancas’ heartbroken falsetto lends a wistful tone to the otherwise hazy, dreamy nostalgia of the track. Whether you spend the night slow dancing under a streetlight or lost in a memory, this song will serve as an appropriate soundtrack.
Stephen Altobelli: “Good in Bed” by Dua Lipa
I dedicate this entry into the Wheel’s Valentine’s Day playlist to all the good pipe in the moonlight and the long nights where we did everything but talk it through.
Maddie Bober: “Come Rain or Come Shine” by Ray Charles
This mesmerizing ballad, written in 1946 by renowned songwriters Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen, was one of Frank Sinatra’s favorites to perform. But it is Ray Charles’ velvety vocals, string orchestra and soprano choir that leave listeners disarmed and dewy-eyed. With a sultry trombone solo, the song’s intro slowly bleeds into Charles’ opening line: “I’m gonna love you / Like no one’s loved you / Come rain or come shine.” An ode to undying commitment, “Come Rain or Come Shine” is a Valentine’s Day must listen.
Aidan Vick: “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads
“Home is where I want to be, but I guess I’m already there,” David Byrne croons on an uncharacteristically sentimental song for the Talking Heads frontman. Those in love may relate to the lyrics directly, but even single folks can find comfort in the song’s cozy synthesizers and heartwarming lyrics. Also worthwhile is the band’s 1984 “Stop Making Sense” live performance, which features Byrne dancing with a lamp.
Gabriella Lewis: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Ms. Lauryn Hill
Ms. Lauryn Hill’s R&B spin on Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ original makes this the ultimate love song. Aside from it being part of the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the best album of all time, this song is why Hill is one of the greats: her expert blend of harmonies and a prominent drum beat make her sound addictive. She takes a song from an earlier time period and genre and demonstrates her uncanny ability to make everything she touches intoxicatingly unique.
Eythen Anthony: “104 Degrees” by Slaughter Beach, Dog
The “boy meets girl” trope is a common one in romance songs, but few explore it as poignantly as “104 Degrees.” The lyrics tackle not so much falling in love, but rather the false realities we craft to silence our own loneliness. Featuring the deadpan vocals of Jake Ewald and the upbeat drumming of Zack Robbins, this song is a refreshing take on a classic idea.
Jada Chambers: “(Feels Like) Heaven” by Fiction Factory
Valentine’s Day isn’t happy for everyone, which is why you might need a bit of 1980s disco to brighten it. Fiction Factory delivers an ironic take on desire masked as a fun love song. In reality, it’s about despising someone so much you’re elated when they’re gone. With both interpretations in mind, it makes for an insiders-only listening experience that still encourages make-out sessions or breakups — dealer’s choice.
Cailen Chinn: “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate” by Briston Maroney
Maroney’s lyrics say it all: love’s what you deserve. That line always makes me smile and serves as a reminder to hold on, even if you are freaking out on the interstate. Add in Maroney’s voice, full of defeat and angst, and this is the perfect song for Valentine’s Day — regardless of what you might have planned.
Cole Huntley: “Inside Friend” by Leon Bridges feat. John Mayer
A mood-setter for the ages. Though some reach for the classics when it’s business time, you won’t regret choosing this recent Bridges and Mayer co-venture as the soundtrack to your next amorous rendezvous. With smooth voices, dreamy chords and cozy melodies, “Inside Friend” is a wholesomely unwholesome Valentine’s Day pick.
Jeffrey Rosen: “Footsteps in the Dark, Pts. 1 & 2” by the Isley Brothers
This classic-copulation commencing cut has a magical ability to set a sensual and dream-like atmosphere for any potential steamy Valentine’s encounter. Bonus points for having been iconically sampled by Ice Cube, Thundercat and J. Dilla.