The Ultimate Valentine’s Playlist

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Illustration by Alyssa Long

Sofia Lyon

Arts & Entertainment Editor

This can be a tumultuous time of year. Some look forward to Valentine’s Day and its sweet aesthetics, where others dread its reminders of loneliness. In a world where everyone is undergoing some form of disconnect, it can be especially difficult to find any enjoyment in a day that feels so trivial this time around. 

I am an enthusiast of heavy and difficult emotions — the ones that remind us we have a stake in this world. Love is certainly a mixed bag when it comes to intense emotional experiences — in spite of countless poor decisions, painful breakups, or unrequited romances, we still find ourselves constantly in pursuit of it. If we focused less on seeing love and relationships as an achievement, as some marker of attractiveness or value, we might be able to relish in unadulterated passion — whether it’s pleasant or not.

I’ve put together the ultimate Valentine’s Day playlist; one that celebrates both the uplifting and difficult aspects of love. My hope is that it will bring you nostalgic memories and fill you with hope for love’s future.

Here are a few of my favorite picks featured on the playlist:

  1. “telepatía” – Kali Uchis

If we could hear pink, it would sound like this song (synesthesia envy). Kali Uchis’s smooth R&B tones always create an intoxicating soundscape of sensuality, and her first entirely Spanish album is certainly no exception. Every song is a gooey and feminine display of intimacy, you can’t help but feel yourself melt into the music. “Telepatía” is an especially romantic and luxurious beat — kind of like drinking a sweet wine and swaying in a Parisian hotel room with your one and only. 

“Quién lo diría?

Que se podría

Hacer el amor por telepatía.”

  1. “Woman” – John Lennon

Lennon is nothing short of a controversial figure in music history. But his last solo album, Double Fantasy, is an arguably fantastic form of redemption. Spending ten years away from the music industry, Lennon was able to focus on being a better husband and father. Double Fantasy is an ode to this time — it is a genuine and heartfelt glimpse into a life of unadulterated love. “Woman” is a song that makes me think of slow-dancing while doing kitchen cores: straight-forward, mundane, but filled with so much simple love.

“Hold me close to your heart

However distant, don’t keep us apart.”

  1. “Beyond Love” – Beach House

What is it about Beach House that makes us feel like we’re floating in an inescapable, yet warm, void? The pure sublimity of their music is something I don’t even the snobbiest of snobs could contest. “Beyond Love” is, of course, no exception. This is one of those tracks that lies somewhere between heartbreak and passionate romance; it is reminiscent of the more difficult realities when it comes to love. Perhaps it is a bad habit of mine, but I am obsessed with finding that raw, emotional in-betweenness, and this song always manages to take me there.

I’m gonna tear off all the petals

From the rose that’s in your mouth

  1. “Jardin d’hiver” – Keren Ann

To me, this song is the epitome of sensual romance. Even if you don’t remotely understand French, the suave grooviness of this song will make you want to tango like you never have. Even if you’re spending the evening alone, Keren Ann will make you want to get that dress on, lock yourself in the bathroom, and enjoy the sight of your own reflection for a few hours.

“Je voudrais du soleil vert

Des dentelles et des théières

Des photos de bord de mer

Dans mon jardin d’hiver”

  1. “When We First Kissed” – Hellogoodbye

Let’s get nostalgic, shall we? Take a trip back to that sweet and strong teenage love. I’ve loved Hellogoodbye since I was twelve years old, and their music instantly reminds me of late and restless nights in my bedroom as a teenager, hopelessly infatuated. Maybe you’ve just come home from the party where they finally kissed you, or maybe they just gave you a smile more endearing than yesterday’s glance in the hallway. Regardless, it’s time to dance alone in your room until two in the morning, ignoring all responsibilities, a young heart full of yearning. As much as love has the potential to suck, we all know the excitement of having a new crush. Let’s just enjoy it!

“But what would I say then

I shouldn’t have came in

Words sat on the pavement

Oh, what are you waiting for?”

  1. “Sleepwalking (Couples Only Dance Prom Night)” – Modest Mouse

Arguable THE slow-dance song, there’s no way I could leave out this timeless and slightly melodramatic tune out of this playlist. Its cliche melody and lyrics are part of that prom-night charm, and will remind you of prom scenes in ’80s coming-of-age films. You’ll be left wondering why your prom night didn’t go that way. 

“The white trash boys listen to their headphones

Blasting white noise in the convenience store parking lot

I hung around there wasting my time

Hoping you’ll stop by”

  1. “Lovers Rock” – TV Girl

A strong recommendation from my Aries housemate, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this anthem of sorts. An anthem for staying up all night with someone in a parking lot until the sun rises, inhabiting some liminal space where only you, them, and the cramped backseat of their car are in existence. 

“Are you sick of me?

Would you like to be?”

  1. “First Love / Late Spring” – Mitski

The most underrepresented aspect of love and relationships in my book is the mere chaos of it all. Sometimes our feelings for someone are incredibly complicated and mysterious. We want those we can’t have, or we have yet to discover what we are even looking for. It’s right person wrong time, having feelings for someone when we shouldn’t, or knowing bringing anything into realization is unwise. This track places me back in that aforementioned headspace of in-betweenness. 

“So please hurry leave me 

I can’t breathe 

Please don’t say you love me”

Just by looking at a few of the songs featured on the playlist, you can tell I curated a collection fit for a diverse range of emotions (a few staff picks included as well). Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with the love of your life or just spending some time alone, I guarantee I picked songs to match your mood. Let’s bask in all the sappy romance, the tortured heartbreak, the celebratory dancing tunes, or yearning laments. Check out the songs that make me wish I could live through my loves all over again: the good, the bad, and everything in between.

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