Whether you’re a serial monogamist or single since birth, you have a favorite love song. Everyone does, because most of the best songs that have ever been written are love songs.
The thing about love is that it’s complicated. It’s multifaceted. It takes different forms — some of them wonderful, some of them not so much — manifesting in unexpected ways. “Never the same love twice,” as the Fitzgerald quote goes. And just like love, the music inspired by love is the same: tackling different subjects, depicting all sorts of good and bad relationships, teaching all kinds of lessons, telling so many stories.
I love music, but my tastes have always leaned towards the alternative. If you’re tired of the same old love songs (and the cheesy ballads), if you find yourself in a less than typical (or less than desirable) romance (or lack thereof), maybe one of the songs on this list is the one that will ring true with you.
Shura, “Touch” — A love song for the one that got away, (three) years after the fact
“There’s a love between us still / But something’s changed and I don’t know why.” It’s been a while since you last saw each other, and suddenly you’re in the same place again, perhaps face to face again, and you come to realize that you’re still carrying a torch for this person you used to love, who used to love you. But things are different now, and you’re not the same people, and you will never be the same two people who used to love each other. But you’re still tempted, and you still wonder, what if? What if we tried again?
Jeff Buckey, “Everybody Here Wants You” — A love song for the one you’re pining for, who everyone else is also pining for
Arguably one of the sexiest-sounding songs ever written, this track was a love song for the late Jeff Buckey’s then-girlfriend. Sometimes you catch yourself looking at the object of your affection with such a sense of wonder — “This amazing person exists, how is that possible? Surely, everyone else must see what I see.” Add this one to your makeout playlist.
Robyn, “Indestructible” — A love song for the one who finally makes you believe in love again
If you’ve been around the dating block more than a few times, you can end up a little jaded. One bad breakup too many and you might find yourself giving up on the idea of ever finding love, questioning if it even exists, and if it does, whether or not it exists for you. (You lean heavily towards “no.”) And then, and then, you meet someone who changes all that. “And I never was smart with love / I let the bad ones in and the good ones go / But I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before / I’m gonna love you like I’m indestructible.” This is your victory song.
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Run Away With Me” — A love song for the new love who makes everything feel like an adventure
Those soaring, saxophone notes kick in at the beginning of the song, and you remember someone who makes you feel like you’re flying. That’s what this song is: The elation of love, the adventure of it, and that urge to escape — just the two of you — into the world together. Pure joy.
The Carpenters, “Goodbye To Love” — A love song for someone who has never been in love…but hasn’t quite given up on the possibility of it yet
“Time and time again, the chance for love has passed me by / And all I know of love is how to live without it.” If you’ve always been sawi sa pag-ibig, you’ll probably relate to this gorgeous classic sung by the incomparable Karen Carpenter. The lyrics say it all, really. There’s always that phase in an extended singlehood where you tell yourself you’re done waiting for love, that you’re starting to think it might not be out there for you and you’re okay with that. Goodbye to love. But somewhere in the latter half, this song takes a slightly optimistic twist: “What lies in the future is a mystery to us all / No one can predict the wheel of fortune as it falls / There may come a time when I will see that I’ve been wrong / But for now this is my song.” Goodbye to love…for now. (You know who should love you? You.)
The Weeknd, “What You Need” — A love song for the one you love who’s with someone else
Maybe you’re the third party. That sucks, because the third party is always vilified. In movies, in media, in so many stories, the third party is always “the bad one.” And what you’re doing — engaging in a relationship or conducting an affair with someone already in a relationship with someone else — is wrong, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t feel love, or that the love you feel isn’t real, and that you’re not going through all sorts of intense struggles of your own. (The person you’re cheating with is wrong, too; this isn’t all on you. It takes two.) This song is for you, because you’ve probably felt this way.
BANKS, “Someone New” — A love song for the one you love but just can’t be with right now, not yet
Sometimes you’re victims of circumstance. The timing is wrong, or things beyond control keep — or force — you apart. Sometimes you still love each other so much, but need space and time apart to grow. “Baby, be patient for me / And please don’t fall in love with someone new / I promise one day, I’ll come back to you.”
Death Cab For Cutie, “Transatlanticism” — A love song for the one you love who is 6,000 miles away — whether literally or metaphorically, maybe even both
Some people listen to this song and think about an actual long distance love, where the distance between the two lovers is measured physically, one continent to another, half a world away. “I need you so much closer.” But there exists another kind of distance, that you can feel between you and someone who might be sitting right next to you, breathing the same air but still so far from you that you just can’t seem to touch them. Whichever one applies to you, this is your song.
Björk, “Unravel” — A love song for the one you love who you keep loving and overcoming obstacles with
Lasting love is created by people who continue to create this love together, who adjust and compromise, who build and strengthen when faced with problems instead of falling apart and giving up in the face of adversity. That’s what this song is about. ‘The Devil’ is all the obstacles in your path. Things are going to change, circumstances will change, people will change. It’s how you create and grow and develop in the wake of all these changes — often very difficult ones — that determines whether your love will last.
Smashing Pumpkins, “Luna” — A love song for someone in love, plain and simple
A love song with no pretenses, open and transparent in its adoration. We all play so many games in love these days. This song is for the ones who don’t play games. The ones who take chances. The ones who just want to be with you, and aren’t ashamed or afraid to say it. The ones who wear their hearts on their sleeves. The ones who will tell you directly, honestly, and often, that they’re so in love with you.
Caribou, “Can’t Do Without You (Tale of Us & Mano Le Tough Remix)” — A love song to close your eyes to