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Play on Pleasure: Valentine’s Day Edition

They’re a little guilty, but they’re mostly LOVE.

Each week, CMN’s Brogan McCuen raves on about a musical guilty pleasure.  And maybe other stuff, too. (And uses a lot of parentheses.) We call it Play on Pleasure.

For this week’s edition of Play on Pleasure, I’ll be covering less of the guilt but 100% of the pleasure: Here are my top picks for best love songs, in no particular order (because love doesn’t play favorites).

“Painter Song” – Norah Jones

Norah’s voice must be what it sounds like to slowly fall in love. Like, you know that feeling when you’ve known someone but suddenly you feel your insides gradually turn toward them?

Her voice, especially in this song, makes me think of suddenly realizing that sneaky lovely feeling. Plus, the subject of painting a reverie of her and this someone really takes you away. “If I were a painter/And could paint a memory/ I’d climb inside the swirling skies to be with you.”

Sometimes love only makes sense if you describe it dreamy like that.  Added bonus: an accordion solo!

“Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” – The Police

It’s difficult to listen to this song and not be delighted. The subject is just so happy now that this gal is in his life. He likes her so much that her every detail and mannerism bring him joy. It doesn’t even matter that he’s too shy to tell her! Purely her existence makes his life so much better.

I mean just look at this music video! It’s nice that The Police remind us of that fizzly early crush feeling.

Added bonus (especially for you music nerds): the verses use an antiquated “scale” called a Lydian mode, which is why it sounds kind of unusual and helps the song blossom into the chorus. That, friends, is an augmented 4th!  (Here is some further music nerdage.)

“I Believe in a Thing Called Love” – The Darkness

Okay, I’ll be honest– I picked this one mostly because it is ridiculous. (And I approve Ed.)

Where do I even begin? Lead singer Justin Hawkins’ mouth during this entire music video? His pronounced working-class British accent (especially in the line, “you got me in a spin, but everyfin’ is A-OK”) or the way he pronounces “me”? (“muu”).

How about the fact that he cuddles a gigantic teddy bear while he is wet and naked AND in outer space? Or the guitar that comes out of the ceiling? Like, how did this song come out while I was alive?

This song and music video were way extra even without the majority of the vocals in Hawkins’ falsetto. It is pure glam rock magic. Added bonus: Everything. This whole song is a bonus.

“Fade Into You” – Mazzy Star

Let’s cool down after that flaming mess of glory from the Darkness and enjoy a very relaxed 90s alt rock jam.

I used to think this song was so boring and didn’t have any movement, but last year I realized that the lack of dynamic and tempo changes — and Hope Sandoval’s rolling alto voice — make this song hypnotic and intoxicating.

And there is something so dark and romantic about “fading into” someone. Like you just disintegrate. You lose yourself in your feelings for them.

“For Once in My Life” – Stevie Wonder

This is my ultimate love song.

The subject isn’t just feeling lovey-type feelings for someone. He’s experiencing an entire life upheaval. His love for this person has created a new paradigm in the subject’s life. He has hope, he is not alone, he is needed, he can finally defeat sadness. “As long asI know I have love, I can make it.”

For some reason this song just really resonates with me. I get chills when I listen to it.  

Happy Valentine’s Day! And if you are a Valentine’s Day Scrooge, remember that there is always Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

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