Our Favorite Offbeat Love Songs
Valentine’s Day is almost here, and love is in the air and on the airwaves. Instead putting “Let’s Get It On” on repeat, we picked out 14 offbeat love songs ready to make your sweetheart swoon.
The Magnetic Fields – “The Book of Love.” Sighing “But I, I love it when you read to me / And you, you can read me anything,” Stephin Merritt captures the idea that, though the “rules” of modern courtship can be daunting, sometimes we meet someone who makes even the tedious moments feel like a pretty swell time. – Will Landon
Television Personalities – “She Can Stop Traffic.” It’s a good thing Dan Treacy’s girl controls traffic, because he’s already been hit by the love bus. Wielding his endearing lisp, he turns the song’s four lines into a mantra for anyone who’s ever gone starry-eyed over someone else. A note for anyone who believes in happy endings: you might want to skip the last 10 seconds. – Tyler Clark
Ghostface Killah – “Paragraphs of Love.” In "Paragraphs of Love," the narrator falls for a pregnant (and happily married) woman played by British rapper Estelle. While a younger, brasher Ghostface would have been infuriated by such a rejection, the present-day one wishes her the best, still grateful for having met someone so wonderful. It’s uncharacteristically sweet and always strikes a chord with me. – Dan Caffrey
Pavement – “Spit on a Stranger.” Master nonsense artist Stephen Malkmus spins the story of a couple emerging intact from a relationship rough patch. It might help that both of them are narcissists ("Honey, I'm a prize, and you're a catch, and we're a perfect match.") with little regard for social decorum. – Emily Wachowiak
Songs: Ohia – “Lioness.” "You can't get here fast enough," the late Jason Molina sings over and over with increasing impatience. "I will swim to you." It's a line that drowns me every time, even on days I've felt buoyantly in love. – Kelly MacDowell
Allen Toussaint – “Soul Sister.” Apologies to Messrs. Gaye, Green, and White, but this swamp-funk jam is about the sexiest song these ears have ever wiggled to. Toussaint chats up a girl who's "so very much together" with her "bad hip boots," conjuring a woman who not only stops traffic but does so by making the green light blush until it turns red. – Scott Hirsch
Todd Snider – “Just Like Old Times.” A hard-luck gambler calls up an escort out of the classifieds. The dagger? She’s his high-school sweetheart. “Just like old times,” Snider croons in this bizarro love song about hometowns and the old flames that haunt them. This is the kind of love song that makes you want to take off your clothes—but only for a long, cold shower. – Collin Brennan
Prince – “The Beautiful Ones.” Everything about this song spells passion. With climbing synth lines and a graceful falsetto, Prince asks his baby to choose between him and another man. After a slow, emotional build, the track climaxes in what is perhaps the finest tantrum ever set to song. – Lindsay Moore Siegel
Jimmy Stewart – “Easy to Love.” If your sweetheart has the soul of an 86-year-old, anything from the Cole Porter songbook will get you unlimited smooches. What could be better than baby-faced Jimmy Stewart crooning dreamy lyrics like"[you'd be] so sweet to waken with, so nice to sit down to eggs and bacon with"? Make sure you stock up on breakfast food—put this record on and you might need it. – Amelia Buzzell
Billy Bragg – “Brickbat.” Billy Bragg is mostly known for his zeal for left-wing politics, but I've always had a soft spot for his love songs, especially the ones he's written in middle age. "Brickbat" focuses on the mundane activities, petty arguments, and compromises that make a long-term relationship last for good. It's a song I've grown to like a lot more since I got married. – Patrick Winegar
Beck – “Nicotine & Gravy.” In this surrealistic jam, Beck evokes the ups and downs of a mutually destructive relationship. Somehow the weirdest lines end up being the most evocative: "I'll feed you fruit that doesn't exist / I'll leave graffiti where you've never been kissed" remains one of the most memorable images of relationship dysfunction I know. – Nathalie Lagerfeld
Cassie – “Me & U.” From the moody R & B beat to delicate vocals that teeter between innocence and experience, this track perfectly encapsulates the anticipation that goes with having a crush. It reminds me of being in eighth grade the week before Valentine's Day and wondering if the boy from fourth hour knows who I am. – Courtney Ryan
Paul Baribeau – “Better Than Anything Ever.” Paul Baribeau strums the hell out of his guitar behind honest vocals in this ode to love’s basic but life-affirming moments. Whether he’s watching the object of his affection cry after finishing a great book or holding hands under blankets, Baribeau comes to the same (adorable, sensitive) conclusion: “I think you're better than anything else ever.” – Lisa Ladehoff
John Williams – “Theme from Jurassic Park.” Love should be intoxicating, majestic, mythic—like this classic movie score or the venom-spitting frill of a dilophosaurus. – Amanda Nyren
Photo: Lindsay Moore Siegel, Groupon.
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