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Taylor Swift, Julia Michaels & Khalid: 9 Love Songs For Valentine’s Day
Let's revisit a little classical mythology, shall we? Cupid, the god of desire, attraction and affection, is rumored to have been the son of love goddess Venus and god of war Mars. This fiery youth evolved to carry a bow and arrow with magical properties that, when shot through a lover's heart, will bring their affection right to your doorstep, making him the perfect symbol for Valentine's Day.
While Cupid may just be a legend, we have an even better way to shoot straight to a lover's heart — or cure a broken one — on this special day: music. That's why we've compiled this special Valentine's Day playlist, including your favorite love-inspired spins from the likes of Taylor Swift, the Holy Cows, Khalid, Shakira, Julia Michaels, Lana Del Rey, Joe Satriani, Indigo Girls, and more.
So snuggle up, drop the needle and let the sparks — and arrows — fly.
Indigo Girls, "Power Of Two"
It may ring a little sentimental but what is the purpose of Valentine's Day if not to get a little mushy? The classic Indigo Girls track "Power Of Two" puts simple words to the power of holding your partner's hand through thick and thin — "I'm stronger than the monster beneath your bed/Smarter than the tricks played on your heart/Look at them together then we'll take them apart/Adding up the total of a love that's true/Multiply life by the power of two." From their 1994 GRAMMY-nominated album, Swamp Ophelia, folk-rock duo Amy Ray and Emily Saliers let these beautiful words shine through with crystal clear vocal harmonies accompanied by a clean acoustic guitar line. There's nothing overly complicated about the song, contributing to the breezy contentment of finding the one true companion to share your life with. What could be more perfect for this holiday? — Renée Fabian
Martina Topley Bird, "Anything"
British underground soul songstress Martina Topley Bird's 2003 debut album, Quixotic, created such a buzz in the U.K. that it was redesigned, resequenced, and renamed for a U.S. release a year later, this time with the entrancing "Anything" as the title track. Ethereal and hypnotic, "Anything" seethes with desire as Topley Bird's sultry voice begs and moans through the chorus of "I don't want anything but you/ I don't need anything but you," a performance managing to be both suggestive and convincing. — Nate Hertweck
Julia Michaels, "Uh Huh"
Best New Artist and Song Of The Year GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Julia Michaels' "Uh Huh" speaks to the wild abandon of young love at its most frenetic peaks. The way Michaels throws herself vocally into the choruses and lets her voice break over the hooks evokes a rising wave that blurs the border between love and lust and swirls everything together so quickly that there is no time left to think. This is the kind of love where it's tough to separate the fear over whether things are getting too serious too early from the feverous excitement and novelty of the whole thing. It's big, it's powerful, and it feels real. And ultimately it doesn't even matter if it’s fated to burn out almost as soon as it's started, because right now this love makes it feel like "now" is all there will ever be. — Brian Haack
Joe Satriani, "Always With Me, Always With You"
Has love just left you speechless? If so, you wouldn't be alone. With that thought in mind, GRAMMY-nominated guitarist Joe Satriani composed 1987's "Always With Me, Always With You" as an instrumental tribute to his wife, Rubina. Though there are no lyrics, Satriani's fluid melodies conjure vivid, intense imagery. The song's major-key main theme bottles that feeling of finding your one true soulmate. Meanwhile, the bridge — which is signaled by a tonal shift to a minor key — seemingly represents a temporary parting of the ways. But like some once-in-a-lifetime matches that are meant to be, the couple reunites and rides off into the sunset together, a sentiment reflected by Satriani joyously returning to the original key and reprising the main theme. At least that's one listener's interpretation of it. — Tim McPhate
Khalid & Swae Lee, "The Ways"
Like the sweet bonbon one desires for Valentine's, Khalid and Swae Lee relate that they are way into that special someone. Featured on 2018's Black Panther: The Album curated by Kendrick Lamar, the track's layered soul and R&B elements loop ethereally against gritty drumming, a nice contrast to the bachelors' sweet talk. The object of their affection is a "power girl" and apparently one of her powers is demanding the attention of a crowd — initially from Khalid's heartfelt ballad at the base, then higher up as Swae Lee says she's "over the city" while flying through vocal electronica of his own, and with a special "If I had you" message inserted from Lamar as well. — Philip Merrill
The Holy Cows, "Valentine"
This gem of buried treasure comes from the long-defunct, Chelsea, Mich.-born garage rock band the Holy Cows, who smashed together a guitar-driven punk attitude and alt-country flair with melancholic vocal harmonies and exceptional songwriting. Drawing influence from a pair of Minneapolis greats, the Replacements and Soul Asylum, the Holy Cows released two astonishingly solid and sadly overlooked albums in the mid-'90s: Get Along and Blueberrie. "Valentine," the closing track of the latter, shows the band's tender side while reminding us of the many hearts who will spend Feb. 14 alone, looking back on love. — N.H.
Lana Del Rey, "Love"
The opening track from Lana Del Rey's Best Pop Vocal Album GRAMMY-nominated Lust For Life, "Love" is another song that paints an evocative picture of young love, but from a touchingly ageless perspective. In her signature breathy tones, Del Rey sings of the self-encompassing completeness of young love, while her slant-rhyme chorus lines of "You get ready, you get all dressed up/to go nowhere in particular" speak of the quieter side of capital-L "Love." Hinted at here are the secret smiles that come to our lips as we walk down a sunlit path on a daily errand, as unprompted thoughts of a loved one skew the world to seem as though it is lensed in soft focus. And while Del Rey's vocals meander around the title-line hook "… to be young, and in love," the sense remains strong that this is a usage of "young" that would remain unchanged whether the song's subject was aged 17 or 70. — B.H.
Taylor Swift, "Dear John"
"Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong/Don't you think 19 is too young to be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so?" Taylor Swift gets right to the point on the other side of love on "Dear John," doesn't she? Featured on 2010's GRAMMY-nominated Speak Now, the melancholy diss track was an arrow (allegedly) pointed at John Mayer, whom she reportedly dated circa 2009. Though Swift has not confirmed the song's inspiration, she surely hit upon a relatable side of how to deal with a bitter breakup aftertaste. "A lot of times when people's relationships end, they write an email to that person and say everything that they wish they would have said. A lot of times they don't push send," the GRAMMY winner told People magazine. "This was a tough one to write, and I guess putting it on the album was pushing send." — T.M.
Maná Featuring Shakira, "Mi Verdad"
Multiple GRAMMY winners Maná and Shakira sing "You are my truth" to each other, a sentiment that became the centerpiece track of the former's 2015 LP, Cama Incendiada. Celebrated for having run up 25 million hits quickly, the music video's total views on YouTube are now more than 187 million. Its message of depending on each other implies depending on the other to be real, so that love is honest — a feeling that certainly drips with romance. Also romantic was the video's wine-cellar setting near Barcelona, Spain. Shakira's pregnancy adds associations of family to the duet's passionate lyrics. The simplicity and musical power rock, as Shakira has on other noteworthy duets with Alejandro Sanz and Carlos Vives. — P.M.