Love Songs (The QH February 2013)

This piece was published in February 2013 in The QH (the student newspaper of The University of Westminster.)

Known to bring out either the diehard cynic or hopeless romantic in just about all of us, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.  Like it or not, inevitably shops are already populated with all manner of garish novelties in the same hues of pink and red, nestling alongside cringe inducing cards and overpriced identikit gifts. Slushy, cheesier than a mouse’s fridge songs are beginning to populate the airwaves and music channels; like it or not, love is in the air.

If you’re feeling romantic but are sick of the same old fromage, sifting through the myriad of love songs can be a bit of a minefield. What exactly makes a good love song? Love, romance and all it encompasses is arguably the most covered topic in music. There’s a myriad of throwaway drivel out there that’s devoid of any genuine sentiment (take JLS’s entire back catalogue, for example), but dig a little deeper and there are rewards to be had. The key, of course, is lyrics. Tricky, given that love means something different to all of us; but it can be done. Here are five love songs you may not have thought of.

Starship – Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now

Perhaps I’m playing fast and loose with the no cheese rule here, but bear with me. Taken from the soundtrack to bizarre eighties romantic flick Mannequin, ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ couples an anthemic chorus with some genuinely beautiful lyrics; “looking in your eyes I see a paradise, this world that I found is too good to be true”. Cracker of a guitar solo to boot. They don’t write them like this anymore, that’s for sure.

Bryan Adams – The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You

Why not Everything I Do (I Do It For You), I hear you cry? It’s certainly a quintessential love song, but it’s a bit… obvious. Arguably the master of the contemporary love (or lust) song, I could have picked almost anything from Bryan Adams’ extensive back catalogue. One for the slightly more adult moments with your special someone this (or even your not so special “I’ve had a few so you’ll do” someone) The Only Thing… is absolutely dripping with implicit filth; from the wah soaked guitar that opens the track all the way through to the not so subtle revelation that “sometimes I think I might be lookin’ good, but there’s only one thing that fits like it should”. Oo err, Matron.

 Foo Fighters – Everlong

A track that in no way can be referred to as cheesy; ‘Everlong’ is a bona fide classic in its own right. The catalyst of quite possibly the world’s biggest sing alongs at Foo Fighters shows, Dave Grohl himself describes this track as being about “so in tune with somebody, like singing in perfect harmony with them”, which pretty neatly encapsulates the feeling that only being with somebody you completely and utterly adore can give. Midway through the song, everything literally drops to a whisper – before building to a delicious, heartfelt roar for the final chorus.

Madness – It Must Be Love

Oh dear, I seem to have gone back in time again. Still, the eighties has a wealth of love songs to explore. Heartfelt without resorting to tired cliché, recycled sentimentality or pretentious imagery, It Must Be Love opens with an irresistibly bouncy piano and lead singer Suggs admitting to an unseen paramour “I never thought I’d feel this way, the way I feel, about you” before that classic chorus kicks in. The clever musicality continues throughout, with sparse saxophone stabs interspersing with jaunty, arpeggiated strings; capturing the mood and complementing the lyrics perfectly. It’s honest, too – “How can it be that we can say so much without words?” is the question pondered at the beginning of the second verse. Listen to this whilst walking down the street on a sunny day, possibly on your way to meet your special someone – it’ll certainly put a whacking great grin on your face and a spring in your step a kangaroo would be jealous of.

Meatloaf – What About Love

What about it, indeed? Well let’s ask Patti Russo, guest vocalist on one of Mr Loaf’s lesser known tracks. “Once in a lifetime you’ll find someone heaven sent for you, for a lifetime you’ll feel there’s a reason to believe, in a love that’s meant to be”; a lyric that’s sure to give even the most cynical singletons renewed faith in the matters of the heart. The track itself propels along on an insistent musical backing, accompanied by the standard-issue theatrical prog-rock time signature changes that are a signature of much of Meat Loaf’s music.

I’d like to wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day!

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