Editor Ella Govrik relays the best love songs for year-round listens, even beyond Feb. 14.
Despite being more appreciated in the days preceding Valentine’s Day, love songs are reminders that the season of love doesn’t end after Feb. 14.
Melodies infused with romantic sentiments may annoy those who find the songs to be lyrically cliché or painfully unrelatable. For others — like myself — they’re a celebration of the scope and depth of love.
As the Valentine’s Day season passes, some people gleefully indulge in discounted chocolates and a decline in the holiday’s trademark sappy music. While I’m a big fan of the former, I’m on board with love songs year-round.
Here are a few of my favorites.
“Your Song” by Elton John
The best love songs favor strong lyricism. In his self-titled studio album, Elton John casually dropped one of the greatest love songs of all time.
Written by John’s songwriter Bernie Taupin, “Your Song” was crafted as if it were a gift to a partner. The piano tune in the background parallels the delicacy of the song’s lyrics, emulating the simplicity and comfort of genuine love.
“I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind / That I put down in words / How wonderful life is while you’re in the world,” John croons.
John spent 20 minutes composing the track on the piano after Taupin wrote the lyrics, according to an interview with Rolling Stone. Released in 1970, “Your Song” was a big step forward musically, John said. He added that the lyrics resonate more with him the older he gets and the more he sings them.
“What can I say, it’s a perfect song,” John told Rolling Stone.
“True Blue” by boygenius
Since the release of their self-titled EP in 2018, indie rock trio boygenius established a reputation as devastating, heartbreaking lyricists. When the group surprised fans in January with the release of three new singles, one of the last things fans expected from members Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker was “True Blue” — a surprisingly affectionate track.
Unassuming instrumentals allow the song’s sentiments to shine. Through a series of anecdotes, Dacus takes the lead by reflecting on memories that define the relationship examined within the song. These narratives culminate in the chorus when the trio expresses the freedom and safety felt within the relationship.
“And it feels good to be known so well / I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself,” the trio sings.
While the song models romantic love, boygenius’ “True Blue” captures the unique tenderness of a love between true friends. Adding to the song’s warmth, some fans have suspected the song is a declaration of the trio’s close friendship and a testament to the way they’ve cared for each other.
“To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees
While the Bee Gees are known for their disco hits, the Gibb brothers — Barry, Robin and Maurice — didn’t shy away from heartfelt tracks to contrast their typical funk sound.
Barry Gibbs opens “To Love Somebody” with desperation and longing in his vocals, with the space behind filled by a graceful orchestra. Lyrical repetition addresses and emphasizes the intensity of an unrequited love.
“You don’t know what it’s like, baby / You don’t know what it’s like / To love somebody / To love somebody / The way I love you,” the group sings.
The song was initially meant to be sung by Otis Redding, but was written for the Bee Gees’ manager Robert Stigwood, according to an interview Barry Gibbs did with Mojo Magazine in 2001. He said Stigwood asked for a song to be written for him and Barry openly agreed to it, not as an act of romantic endearment, but rather as a display of admiration.
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Stevie Wonder
In his 1970 release “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” R&B and soul innovator Stevie Wonder took a less traditional approach to the typical romantic serenade.
Through an admittance of disloyalty, Wonder declares his devotion and regret. A supporting bassline walks down and back up again throughout the song, paralleling lyrics which alternate between recounts of his own faults and his newfound appreciation for the relationship.
“Then that time I went and said goodbye / Now I’m back and not ashamed to cry / Ooh baby, here I am / Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours,” Wonder reveals.
The confessions sprinkled throughout the lyrics make it a bit less romantic, but the hook is an undeniably feel-good arrangement. Aside from Wonder, songwriters credited for the hit include Motown writers Lee Garrett and Syreeta Wright, the former of whom Wonder married shortly after the song’s release. Wonder’s mother Lula Mae Hardaway is also credited as a songwriter for her creation of the hook “Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Featured image courtesy of Austin Hojdar