By T.J. Tranchell
Bryan Adams proved impossible to escape in 1991 and in the 26 years since, I guarantee someone is still playing “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” from that garbage “Robin Hood” movie.
Every year for the past 13 years, someone will dedicate “With Arms Wide Open” to their sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. I could rattle off another dozen overplayed, earache-inducing ballads that some couple claims as “their song.”
I know, you don’t want to miss a thing when it comes to Valentine’s Day. I don’t, either, but we need to dig deeper instead of swallowing the fluff of major pop music and find songs that really can be your song and not the same song all your friends dedicate to their partners.
“Fade into You” by Mazzy Star: Yes, the vocals are a bit creepy and there’s not a ton going on musically. That’s what is good about this tune. Instead of beating listeners over the head with how much love is going around, it is subtle and invites the listener into a cozy kind of lasting love. If you are from the 1990s, this should be at the top of any list.
“Just a Friend” by Biz Markie: Perhaps you think this song was overplayed, and I wouldn’t argue. The video of Biz jamming at his piano still sticks with me. That happens to be the point of the song. “Stick with me because those other dudes are just going to play you.” It’s a mate-guarding song, like when some guy starts talking to your date and you put your arm around her shoulder. Think of it as a form of healthy passive-aggressiveness wrapped up in a catchy melody.
“I Choose You” by Sara Bareilles: If this song had been out in 2009 instead of 2014, there’s a good chance my wife and I would have played it at our wedding. It’s a can’t-miss proposal song, if you are looking for one. The video is about Bareilles helping with a variety of proposals. This pairs well will Maroon 5’s “Sugar” in which the band randomly shows up at weddings.
“Lovesong” by the Cure: “Friday I’m in Love” or “Just Like Heaven” would be the mainstream picks from the Cure. Don’t do it. Pick “Lovesong.” The melody is darker and less sentimental, but your partner (especially if he or she happens to be a bit darker of mood) will appreciate your attempt at reaching them on a deeper level.
“Love Hurts” by EmmyLou Harris and Gram Parsons: There are other versions of this song, but this one is the best. Parsons sings lead, even though it’s on a Harris album. The song could be about a breakup, but in this version, it is more about two people who haven’t had the best luck in love deciding to be miserable together. Worse things have happened.
“Telephone” by Lady Gaga with Beyoncé: This is for the single people. You need songs, too. You don’t need people who just want to suck up your time and treat you like you don’t matter. You be you and be the best you you can be. If romance never pans out for you, you can be happy knowing that you are comfortable and happy with yourself.
“Your Song” by Elton John: This flies in the face of choosing less-popular songs, but I love it. It’s a great song and should be a reminder that sometimes when we are in love, we forget some of the most basic functions of life. If it has happened to you, congratulations. If it hasn’t, I hope it does.
Tranchell is a journalism adviser at the University of Idaho. He has a great story about a Valentine’s Day gone wrong when he was in sixth grade. If you want to hear it, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commentary/Unlocking the Vault: Choose a love song off the beaten track
By T.J. Tranchell