As with many things, the key to compiling a good playlist is to know your audience. Now, I don’t want to make too many assumptions about the people reading this article, but I think there are three types of people that we can safely assume probably aren’t going to be too interested in a Valentine’s Day playlist (or at least, the kind I’m throwing down here).
if you recently went through a breakup, don’t bother lying about it – we all know you’ve got Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble”
For example: if you’re madly in love and looking forward to spending the day with your special someone, I’m going to hazard a guess that you aren’t spending much time on the internet reading random blog posts, except most likely for gift ideas, Valentine’s Day Cardsand fancy chocolate. Likewise, if you’re one of those people who aggressively celebrates “Singles Awareness Day,” love songs probably aren’t going to be your jam, either. And if you recently went through a breakup, don’t bother lying about it – we all know you’ve got Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” blaring on repeat right now.
So who is this playlist for, you ask?
It’s for everyone inhabits the vast twilight expanse between those three aforementioned extremes – the “solidly single,” if you will. It’s for everyone who’s benevolently neutral about Valentine’s Day, but still feels a twinge once in a while when they realize they’re spending another year on their own. If you nodded in agreement while reading those last two sentences, congratulations – this playlist is for you.
1. Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry on Their Own”
When I set about making this playlist, I *knew* that Amy Winehouse needed to be on this list. Almost all of her “Back To Black” album fits with the theme, but “Tears Dry on Their Own” strikes the perfect balance between rueful and optimistic. And it has some added poignancy for being one of her last “real” music videos.
2. Barcelona – “Please Don’t Go” Cool story about Barcelona: prior to their appearance at SXSW in 2011, someone slapped this song over some footage of people watching the fish in an enormous aquarium. The band never got around to recording an actual music video for this, probably because this video just works. Every time I watch it, I get emotional and I don’t know why.
3. Rilo Kiley – “Silver Lining” I once read an article years ago (that I haven’t been able to find since) about how Jenny Lewis blazed a trail for the current crop of confessional, uber-frank female singers. If you ever come across that article, let me know. Until then, listen to this.
4. Vance Joy – “From Afar” My best friend sent me this track a few months ago, and I promptly listened to it about 8000 times. Most people are probably used to Vance sounding a little more upbeat (as he does on “Riptide”), but he does sad and longing pretty well, too.
5. San Fermin – “Sonsick”
I never get tired of listening to this track by SXSW/NPR darlings San Fermin, and it’s an apt reminder that sometimes we fall in love not because we should, but because we want to. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
6. The Kooks – “Around Town”
I kinda missed this song when it first came out, but when I saw The Kooks in concert a few months ago, this was the one song that really stuck out in my mind. Fair warning: the music video is pretty dark.
7. Broods – “Never Gonna Change”
Broods singer Georgia Nott sings with way more intensity than any 20 year-old should be able to muster, and nowhere is that more apparent than on this song. I ain’t mad about it, though.
8. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
Speaking of intense, it doesn’t get more intense than Future Islands. Now admittedly, I’ve heard one or two hapless couples refer to this as “their song” and/or make out during this jam at festivals, but LISTEN TO THE LYRICS, MAN. Do not put this track on a mixtape for your boo unless you’re trying to be reaaaally passive-aggressive about how long it takes them to get ready.
9. Panama – “Always”
If you feel a little convicted when you hear Jarrah McCleary say “I’m a coward, when it comes to love,” don’t worry – there’s always next year. Until then, it looks like that wine glass needs a refill, amiright?
These are songs about love, which we can all dig, but they’re not about actually being in love, which most of us can relate to. So sit down with that glass of wine (I know you’ve already poured yourself one) and enjoy my favorite love songs for people who aren’t actually in love.