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02.04 Have we had enough silly love songs?

No doubt. But on Valentine’s Day, these classics will make your love hunger for your touch

February 2004 – A quick glance at the country’s top music charts tells us what St. Valentine does not want to hear: the love song looks dead.

Right now (deadline time) the two top songs in this country belong to Outkast – “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move” respectively. The former song’s line, “Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor,” expresses some type of sentiment, but I do not think that you would call it love. Likewise, the same can be said about songs by successful artists like Kelis, Beyonce, No Doubt, and Linkin Park.

It is nothing new that rap does not offer anything in the way of romantic love songs. Guys like Ludacris and Jay-Z are not exactly your typical balladeers. Sure love songs used to be outnumbered by anti-love songs (songs about heartbreak or “free love”), but this is ridiculous.

So what to do on this Valentine’s Day 2004? With what song can you surprise your lover as she leans out of her second floor window only to see you in a full-length leather jacket with a boom box held over your head? On what song will you press play when your true love unsuspectingly picks up the phone to hear your personal statement of desire (written of course by somebody else, because writing your own song has the potential of becoming blackmail material further down the road)

Here’s the solution — go back to the classics. As much as you might like a great deal of the music out there today, let’s face it: there have not been any real testaments to love out there since the boy bands — and dedicating one of these songs to your boyfriend or girlfriend may not exactly be viewed as a sign of kindness.

Here’s a list of songs that typify the love song. This is not an exhaustive list nor is it a catalogue of the best love songs ever written. But all of these have in them something that makes these songs especially able to melt the heart of whoever you play it for on Valentine’s Day.

Unchained Melody — The Righteous Brothers: This is the ultimate slow song, perfect for slow dancing by definition alone. “Lonely rivers flow to the sea/ I’ll be coming home/ Wait for me.”

Your Song — Elton John: A self-conscious love song. Simplicity reigns as Elton just says plain out that this was a song written for you. And go ahead and tell everybody. Oh yeah, and “how wonderful life is/ when you’re in the world.” Simple words soar when put to graceful music.

I Will — The Beatles: Paul McCartney’s acoustic jaunt is different from most other love songs because of its bounce. Love songs do not have to be slow dances or soft ballads. “I Will” is fun. The diddy is also a testament to selflessness, an automatic winner in the love department.

Can’t Help Falling in Love — Elvis Presley: “Wise men say, only fools rush in.” Elvis sings a song about defiant love — love that should not even happen. And that’s exciting. It is a song about that rebellious love that cannot be denied – at least until the feeling of the fling wears off and then the love song becomes void (All love songs can eventually turn into cruel reminders).

Lay Lady Lay — Bob Dylan: Playboy magazine once called “Lay Lady Lay” the sexiest song ever written. Velvety and candlelit, the song is at times self-deprecating and then dreamy and hopeful. A great testament to depending on somebody else’s love.

Sing A Song for You — Tim Buckley: Probably the least known song on this list, I think it is the best. The late Buckley managed to write a song that was both sad and lovely at the same time. “Sing A Song for You” has imagery and self-consciousness like some of the previously mentioned songs, but the difference is a personal immediacy that permeates every word.

I Just Called to Say I Love You — Stevie Wonder: Also a little lighthearted, “I Just Called to Say I Love You” is fun and expresses a sentiment that most girls want: somebody just calling to say hi and tell you how they feel. Sweet as sugar, basically.

Something — The Beatles: There are probably many more Beatles songs that could be included as pinnacle love songs. “Something” stands out though with a smooth guitar riff that nobody forgets. The song also lists attractions – it says why Harrison loves his object of affection.

I Will Always Love You — Whitney Houston/Dolly Parton: For the quintessential love song, it helps to have a killer voice. You may not play it for your love because it is so well known it seems almost tacky. But its country credentials help it, since it comes from the heart and says plainly that love should be eternal – and that’s true love in a song.