The best part of Valentine’s Day is up for debate. You might say it is the extra romantic date nights with your significant other. You might say it is the discount on chocolate and candies the day after. If you are still looking for that special someone, you might say no part is the best part and better luck next year.
Personally, I would venture to say that the music is the best part, and I don’t mean Valentine’s Day songs in the same way that a holiday like Christmas has its own songs. Love is arguably the most written-about subject in music, and love songs are popular 365 days a year, but, when the day of love rolls around each February, every romantic song and ballad seems to hit just a bit harder.
Whether you are making a creative gift, setting the mood for the night, or just trying to feel the love, a Valentine’s Day playlist is perfect for the holiday. To help in this romantic endeavor, here are 20 of my favorite love songs for the perfect Valentine’s Day playlist:
L-O-V-E – Nat King Cole
A consistently solid go-to artist for music that is easy on the ears, jazz pianist turned popular superstar Nat King Cole spells out for us just how easy love can be on this feel-good hit. Whether you know this classic from the opening scene of the 1998 film “The Parent Trap” or simply from the Nat King Cole album of the same name, the pleasant vocals and jazzy instrumentation make this song feel at once classic and timeless. It is almost impossible to not sway your head and hum along to this ode to love.
Adore You – Harry Styles
From his One Direction days to his wildly successful solo career, Harry Styles has been the world’s heartthrob since he first stepped into the limelight. On his second solo album Fine Line, Styles plays into the fantasy of fans everywhere with “Adore You,” a groovy pop love song packed to the brim with yearning and passion that is bound to increase the romance of any situation it is played in.
Wonderwall – Oasis
One of the most well-known and beloved ballads of the ’90s and beyond came from the least likely source. Known for ear-splitting guitars and rock star swagger, Oasis was the last band anybody expected to churn out an acoustic love song, yet they did just that and so much more. By turning down the guitars and tapping into their emotions, Oasis created “Wonderwall” and elicited first curiosity and then praise. Despite its almost meme-like status, “Wonderwall” remains a consistent fan favorite and is the first song from the ’90s to reach 1 billion streams on Spotify, cementing its legacy as a classic love song.
Levitating – Dua Lipa
2020 desperately needed upbeat music to distract from the chaos of the world, and Dua Lipa saved the day. Her smash hit album Future Nostalgia provided one ridiculously catchy pop tune after another, and “Levitating” is the most optimistic of them all. A song with lyrics about a love so perfect it makes you feel like you are floating in the clouds set to club-ready bass and guitar licks, “Levitating” is the feel-good love song so badly needed in 2021.
Every Breath You Take – The Police
It is a good thing art is open to interpretation and songs with unsavory meanings have managed to become happy fan favorites because this open interpretation is what led to “Every Breath You Take” becoming the quintessential ‘80s love song. Despite actually being about an overly obsessive stalker, a quick reevaluation of the lyrics and dive into the intimate guitar strumming of this Police classic makes it easy to see why it is such a consistent romantic staple.
Get You – Daniel Caesar feat. Kali Uchis
When the right person comes into your life you usually just know — and then can’t stop wondering how you got so lucky. Daniel Caesar celebrates this curious, joyful feeling on “Get You,” a wavy R&B bedroom pop song that captures the feeling of an amazing whirlwind love and oozes romance from every beat. The perfect song for laying down beside that special someone, “Get You” is bound to have you wondering like Daniel Caesar about how you could be so lucky.
Linger – The Cranberries
While the Cranberries tune “Dreams” may be the band’s more optimistic take on breathtaking romance, “Linger” is the group’s definitive love song — and for good reason. Cranberries frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan wrote “Linger” about her heartache with a boy she had fallen for as a teenager, yet the song’s sad subject matter does not stop it from being a mood-improving tune. With beautiful acoustic and orchestral arrangement and O’Riordan’s dreamy vocals, “Linger” is like a ray of soft sunshine breaking through the clouds to warm your face.
Love You For A Long Time – Maggie Rogers
With the release of her debut album “Heard it in a Past Life,” Maggie Rogers established herself as one of the most dominant voices in indie folk and indie pop music. Shortly after, her standalone single “Love You For A Long Time” established Rogers as an incredibly talented love song writer. With bright, cheery vocals and a twangy acoustic guitar keeping rhythm, “Love You For A Long Time” is an undeniably upbeat ode to romance that fits perfectly into any playlist or mixtape of love songs.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
Who doesn’t love Queen? Better yet, who doesn’t love a cheery and danceable love song by Queen? Taking a step back from the usual arena rock flare of the band while maintaining Freddie Mercury’s infectious energy, Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is a simple, delightful, put-a-smile-on-your-face love song that reminds us of why everybody loves Queen so much…and why everybody loves being in love so much.
Ivy – Frank Ocean
Songs that come at love from a sadder angle usually would not have a place on a playlist for the lovey-doviest holiday of the year, but Frank Ocean is just too talented to ignore. On “Ivy,” Frank Ocean drives us through a tale of melancholic nostalgia about lost love and heartache to the tune of dreamily simplistic guitar. Perhaps the best song on this list for those spending Valentine’s Day solo this year, “Ivy” is Frank Ocean in top form, a moody and beautiful R&B tune that you can’t help but listen to on repeat, no matter what your relationship status is.
You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
If Taylor Swift is the definitive star of the ’00s, “You Belong With Me” is the definitive song to hold that status. After several changes to her genre and persona, all of Swift’s music remains timeless, not least of all her 2008 all-time classic “You Belong With Me.” Perfectly blending her country origins with the radio-friendly pop sound Swift was moving toward at the time while also showcasing her masterful songwriting ability, “You Belong With Me” quickly became the love anthem for a generation of young, yearning school kids debating on whether they should send a link to the song to their crush. Over a decade later, the song is still the classic love banger it was upon release.
Friday I’m in Love – The Cure
Much like ‘Wonderwall” earlier on the list, “Friday I’m in Love” is a love song that came from an unlikely source. The Cure were notoriously gloomy and dark throughout the ‘80s, spearheading the goth pop movement and inspiring a generation of alternative kids to dress in all black with crazy hair and makeup. So, when the band’s 1992 album “Wish” featured an ultra-perky love song like “Friday I’m in Love,” the tonal shift by the band was a surprise, albeit a welcome one. Now arguably The Cure’s most popular song, “Friday I’m in Love” is a testament to the hopeless romantic in even the glummest of people.
Crazy In Love – Beyonce feat. Jay-Z
Beyonce and Jay-Z are the music power couple to end all music power couples, and their strength together has been on full display since the start of Beyonce’s solo career. With “Crazy In Love,” the duo combined to show off their musical prowess and ended up with one of the most iconic songs of the ’00s. Whether it is heard in a club on throwback night, a house party with friends, or a night in with your significant other, “Crazy In Love” never fails to make you want to jump up and down and party like the world’s biggest pop star.
I’m Always in Love – Wilco
After the breakup of the seminal americana band Uncle Tupelo, co-founder Jeff Tweedy started his own band with Wilco. Wilco would come to be respected as one of the greatest experimental and indie bands of all time, and the true beginning of this evolution was with Wilco’s third album “Summerteeth.” Tweedy’s songwriting has often dealt with more serious subjects, but the standout upbeat track from “Summerteeth” is “I’m Always in Love.” Tweedy’s raspy vocals find a home in the song’s distorted guitar riff and addicting synthesizer loop, giving the track an infectious, happy feel that keeps you pressing the replay button. Tweedy may always be in love with different people, but we’re always in love with this song.
Cloud 9 – Beach Bunny
Beach Bunny frontwoman Lili Trifilio has swiftly made a name for herself as a gifted songwriter with a knack for the depressing. Much of Beach Bunny’s discography is filled out by her catchy power pop tunes that lament over troubled relationships and the ones that got away.. This makes it all the more refreshing to reach the song “Cloud 9” at the end of the band’s album “Honeymoon.” “Cloud 9” is an explosion of positivity after an album’s worth of pity partying, with lyrics about being with the perfect partner who reassures you no matter how bad you are feeling. “Cloud 9” reminds even the unluckiest with love to hold out a little longer for that person to come around.
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) – Whitney Houston
Every playlist needs a dance party break, even a Valentine’s Day playlist! There is no better danceable love song than the Whitney Houston classic “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” the timeless track that makes us all wish we could dance and have somebody to share a dance with. While the only dancing going on for the foreseeable future may just be on top of the dining room table until clubs can reopen, it’ll still be a night to remember with your significant other and this Whitney Houston classic.
Everlong – Foo Fighters
“Everlong” is a master class in wedding touching poignancy with head-banging rock. The alternative rock anthem about finding true love was Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s shining moment of proof that he belonged in the spotlight. After a stint as Nirvana’s drummer before Kurt Cobain’s suicide, Grohl recorded and released the debut Foo Fighters album by himself, and it sounded like a direct offshoot of Nirvana’s music. On the second Foo Fighters album (and first one with more band members than just Grohl), “The Colour And The Shape,” Grohl found a sound that was more his own and tapped into the emotions he had long been afraid to confront. The result was a song like “Everlong,” a touching and almost haunting love song that could bring a tear to your eye with a surprising amount of emotion packed into it.
positions – Ariana Grande
Valentine’s Day is all about love, but love is not strictly all about the happy domestic bliss that so many love songs talk about. Love is also about how sex meets romance, and nobody knows sex and romance better than Ariana Grande. On “positions,” Grande fully achieves the intimate R&B sound and feel she has always been working toward with a song that praises all the highlights of a great relationship, both in and out of the bedroom.
Finally // beautiful stranger – Halsey
Love is complicated until, one day, it’s not. On “Finally // beautiful stranger,” Halsey sings of the pains and fears we accumulate through countless bad experiences with romance until the perfect person finally comes around and we can learn to let our guard down and be happy again. With a dream pop guitar arrangement and Halsey’s vocals that are at once calmingly beautiful and stunningly powerful, “Finally // beautiful stranger” is the ultimate comfort love song.
Me & You Together Song – The 1975
A good throwback is a surefire formula to appeal to the masses! Music and aesthetics from nearly half of the decades of the 20th century have never been more popular, yet The 1975’s penchant for boundary-pushing still granted the band an edge in this arena. Instead of pulling from the 1980s or 1990s, The 1975 went full ‘00s with “Me & You Together Song.” A jangly pop rock ballad about meeting someone at a party and falling in love on the spot enough to fantasize a whole future together, “Me & You Together Song” sounds like it belongs on the playlist for a ‘00s house party. This is probably why the song’s music video shows exactly that, adding another level of enjoyment to an already endlessly catchy love song.
Whether you prefer indie, pop, R&B, or rock, there are love songs of every genre out there to appeal to anybody’s Valentine’s Day sensibilities. No matter how you’re spending the day of love, hopefully the songs on this list make it a more romantic time.