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Not Your Old-Fashioned Love Song: A Valentine's Day Playlist

by Chloe Catajan

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Have you listened to this mix we made you?

With Valentine's Day near, love isn't just in the air. It's all over the display racks of every major department store too. As if cheesy greeting cards, red flower arrangements and heart-shaped chocolates weren't enough of a reminder that romance is a thing, love is also forever on the airwaves.

Nat King Cole literally spells it out in song, while Donna Lewis, Whitney Houston, and many more sing of the kind that lasts a lifetime. Every sugary sweet feeling ever felt has undoubtedly been covered, but what about the rest of the story? Love comes in many forms, and as music evolves, songs are starting to be more reflective of that. Between butterflies and heartbreak, there's the thrill of a fling, the friction between lovers, or the struggles of being on the outside looking in. Sometimes, it's about self-love too.

This Valentine's Day, we're celebrating all kinds of love through genres from indie and pop to rap and hip-hop. Whether they tell their own story or put a spin on a classic, the tracks on this playlist redefine the old-fashioned love song by exploring the many narratives about these fluid and familiar feelings.

MitskiYour Best American Girl

In this track off 2016's Puberty 2, Mitski lays out an indie rock ballad about loving someone and wanting so badly to fit into each other's lives, despite cultural differences. "Sometimes life or your backgrounds just kind of get in the way, and there's nothing you can really do about it," Mitski explained in an interview with NPR.

Moses SumneyMake Out In My Car

Sultry and straight to the point, Moses Sumney's smooth electro-soul slow burner repeats two simple lines: "I'm not tryna go to bed with you/ I just wanna make out in my car." It's a nod to the aromantic community. Sumney has detailed on his Tumblr that his 2017 album Aromanticism, on which this song appears, "seeks to interrogate the idea that romance is normative and necessary."


This is the latest single from Australian dream pop singer-songwriter Hatchie. With fluffy, swirling melodies, the song is about having a picture-perfect romance but finding yourself still craving for something else.

Lucy DacusLa Vie En Rose (Édith Piaf cover)

Indie singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus reimagines this classic ballad with a guitar-driven twist. On top of the fresh instrumentation, Dacus' velvety vocals switch between French and English lyrics, totally immersing listeners in the rush of this rose-tinted daydream.

Conan GrayCrush Culture

YouTube and bedroom pop sensation Conan Gray gets tangled in the bittersweet ebb and flow of millennial romance. While he pines for the love that he sees from coupled-up friends, he also resents the cheesiness of it all.

Janelle Monáe feat. GrimesPynk

This collaboration from Janelle Monáe and Grimes celebrates everything pink—from parts of our bodies to more figurative meanings. Feel-good and empowering, it's no wonder "Pynk" quickly became an anthem for self-love and sexuality following its release.

The KnifeHeartbeats

This 2003 cut from Swedish duo The Knife is an electropop classic. It's been covered numerous times, most notably by acoustic singer-songwriter José González. And while that cover has made waves of its own, nothing compares to getting wrapped up in the original's timeless thrill. With fun bubblegum synths, "Heartbeats" personifies the spontaneity of a romantic flame.

Death Cab for CutieEarth Angel (The Penguins cover)

Death Cab for Cutie gives this doo-wop gem about being hopelessly in love the indie rock treatment. Glimmery fuzz from the guitars adds an extra coat of dreaminess, while Ben Gibbard's sincere vocals capture the original's utterly smitten charm.


Disco meets funk in singer and rapper Lizzo's newest single, "Juice." It's a feel-good bop about feeling yourself—the perfect foundation for showing yourself some love this Valentine's Day and any other day. "No, I'm not a snack at all/ Look, baby, I'm the whole damn meal," is the self-love mentality we need to get behind in 2019.

Daniela AndradeDigital Age

Canadian singer-songwriter Daniela Andrade muses modern romance and the way technology has influenced our connection to others. Over the soft glow of synths, Andrade's vocals come into focus, creating a steamy yet haunting 21st-century love song.

There's more where these came from. Scrobble the full playlist below!

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