Have you seen some of these "Best Love Song" lists that are being drudged up for Valentine's Day? They are laughable. Any list that includes Celine Dion's "Power of Love" on it is not understanding the purpose of this exercise. That is a great song, do not get me wrong. I love The Dion with zero twinge of irony. But if some guy played that for me as an attempt to say the words he couldn't say, I would burst out laughing. And I am pretty sure that is not the purpose of a good love song.
A good love song should make you melt and swoon and be speechless because it says all the things. It is a moment in its own right. It is the rare third wheel that actually makes things BETTER.
99.9% of all the songs are written about love so obviously there's a ton to choose from. Many are great. Many of the ones that are great also do not withstand the test of time. The Beatles fall into this category for me. "Hold My Hand", "All My Loving", and "And I Love Her" are unimpeachable love songs. But...they're jarring in how out of date they sound (even though I really do believe The Beatles are completely timeless).
Even more heartbreaking, some great love songs get devoured by the pop culture vortex and they lose their innocence and are imbued with context that make them a punchline. I'm sure Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" is a gooey song but if you play that song around me I will start laughing at Tom Cruise and his unbuttoned jeans. And nothing shrinks a bone like Tom Cruise. Same goes for Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." Lloyd Dobbler ruined that one. And "Unchained Melody." Ghost. Nope.
I'm also going to leave out the very large and ample selection of songs that are amazing love songs, but they're sad. This collection of songs is also known as "Courtney's iPod." If there was a "Courtney's Pandora Station" it would just be comprised of songs about broken love. It would be both the best and worst station because it would be full of marvelous music that makes you feel like shit. Since that's usually not a goal on Valentine's Day, let's leave those to a later post.
Oh and let's nix the love songs that are all about professing love in really dark ways. To each their own. If that's your thing, go do you. But "I Will Follow You Into The Dark"? Let's leave death out of it. What are you, a 14-year-old girl on LiveJournal?
And so, without further adieu, here is the definitive list of the love songs you want in your back pocket on Valentine's Day. They are sweet without being saccharine, and they do not hide their sentiment behind convoluted metaphors and failed attempts at depth or poetry. They simply say, I love you.
Oh, and it's a really short list, so...
Correction: Peter Gabriel sung "In Your Eyes". Obviously. That's a pretty unforgivable mistake. Allow me to atone with this link to Peter Gabriel singing "Book of Love".