Valentine's Day

Watch/Listen/Love: Our Favorite Valentine's Day Songs

Our editors share the songs that give them that loving feeling—plus a long and diverse playlist that hits every emotion.

By Staff February 9, 2017

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Image: Shutterstock

"Great Zamboni of Devotion," The Zambonis

Hockey love is a special kind of love indeed, and captured perfectly in The Zambonis’ timeless "Great Zamboni of Devotion." The tune may be bouncy, but the lyrics tell of longing, a lament of worship from afar, told from the point of view of a rinkrat coping with unrequited love. His tale is set amid a violent sport that nevertheless must yield to the ceaseless cyclical path of the ice resurfacer. He sings, "It’s the price that I pay for those hockey head games that you play," and every net-minder, blue-liner and goon in the place nods her head all, "Dude, it’s like you’re singing what my heart is saying." We try to cope, even as the Zamboni still goes round and round. "Meanwhile, I’m just standing here, / Raise my fist and down my beer, / Now I’m at the end of my wits." —Hannah Wallace, associate editor

"Try a Little Tenderness," Percy Sledge 

I fell in love with this song one night listening to WMNF and George, my boyfriend, spent the entire next day going around town looking for a copy (this was before streaming!). He finally found an old discounted Percy Sledge CD in a rack at K-Mart. And years later, for our 20th anniversary, he flew us to North Carolina for what turned out to be one of Sledge’s last concerts, at a little community college in Rocky Mount, where two local church ladies did the back-up vocals. Sledge had to sit through most of the performance, but he still had it. —Pam Daniel, editorial director

"Dilemma," Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland

I grew up in St. Louis. In St. Louis, Nelly is it. If you do not know "Country Grammar" by heart, you aren’t a true Gateway City citizen. So when I was tasked when choosing my favorite Valentines day song, I was halfway there. One of the best musical inventions of all time was the R&B/rap collaboration. Nothing was hotter in the early ‘00s, and it's now a tried-and-true approach. 'Dilemma' is the epitome of this style. Add in Kelly Rowland on the hook, arguably the most talented singer of Destiny’s Child, and it’s golden. The song focuses on a near-Shakespearean love triangle. "No matter what I do/ All I think about is you/ Even when I’m with my boo/ Boy you know I’m crazy over you." They're star-crossed lovers, never to be together. Also, check out the music video to see Kelly Rowland texting Nelly through an excel spreadsheet on a Nokia flip phone." —Jasmine Respess, editorial intern

"Moon River," Andy Williams

My husband has been “crooning” "Moon River" to me, a la Andy Williams, for 40 years and it still sends me. —Ilene Denton, senior editor

"Nicotine & Gravy," Beck

Far and away Beck's most hormonal album, Midnite Vultures might also be the man's catchiest. Spin it at a party attended by people of a certain age (I'm 36) and revel in the audience chanting along. "I'm mixing business with leather." "Norman Schwarzkopf! Something tells me you want to go home!" "I'm a full-grown man but I'm not afraid to cry."

"Debra," with its slow-jam horns and detailed storytelling ("I met you at JCPenney / I think your nametag, it said, 'Jenny'") is the album's most well-known romantic tune. Surely, countless happy marriages have begun with the simple invitation: "Lady, step inside my Hyundai." It's a masterpiece. But I'll argue the merits of another of the album's tracks: "Nicotine & Gravy."

The song is a mid-tempo banger that goes through so many permutations it's hard to track them all, with a methodical duh-duh duh bassline and processed drums that explode into a club jam halfway through. The lyrics pan from absurdist boasts ("I'll feed you fruit that don't exist / I'll leave graffiti where you've never been kissed") to more prosaic seductions ("I'll do your laundry"). "Your Love Is Weird" is a title Beck gave to another of his '90s song, but love is never weirder than on "Nicotine & Gravy." The object of Beck's affection has a lazy left eye. He promises to turn her over to the highway patrol. Buried animals call her name. Weird, yes. Fun, too. Just like love. —Cooper Levey-Baker, associate editor

"That's How Strong My Love Is," Otis Redding

Call me a sap, but hearing just the first few chords of this song brings a tear to my eye, even before the words start. I've loved this song for ages, but it holds a special place in my heart now since it was my husband's and my first dance at our wedding. When I hear it, I think of us practicing our dance in our living room, swaying to the music, and then my mind flashes forward to our wedding day, where we danced to it surrounded by our favorite people in the whole world. We just celebrated our one-year anniversary and listened to it again, and the flood of memories that came rushing back made me so happy. There's nothing better than Otis. —Megan McDonald, web editor 

"These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)," Billie Holiday 

An old tune that’s been floating around in my head lately is “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)”—not a love song with a happy ending, but one that shows the singer will never forget the person he or she is singing about. —Kay Kipling, executive editor

Listen to our favorites

Because we couldn't pick just one song each, we created this eclectic Valentine's Day-themed playlist (a warning: some of the songs are NSFW). Happy listening!


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