Valentine’s Day – you either love it or you hate it. Unless you’re me, in which case you’ll be trawling through the annals of your Spotify trying to find your favourite songs that you once listened to with exes that you don’t talk to anymore. Like it or not, music is an indispensable part of many of our lives – I’m sure everyone has a song that they don’t listen to anymore, or a song that brings back some pretty unforgettable memories. The latter for me, embarrassingly enough, is ‘The Show’ by Lenka – make of that what you will.

This Valentine’s, I share with you my ten favourite love songs of all time – some I listen to every day, some I listen to and reminisce, and some I only listen to curled up in the foetal position with a box of tissues. I don’t claim that this is a definitive ranking of the greatest love songs of all time – ‘Wonderful Tonight’ unfortunately did not make the cut – however, I’m hoping that you’ll find some that you recognise and think back to better times, and maybe even some new ones that you’ll be listening to this Valentine’s.

10. ‘The Girl I Can’t Forget’ by Fountains of Wayne (2005)        

“I wondered what I did or said

That I might soon regret

It was the night I can’t remember

With the girl I can’t forget”

I know what you’re probably thinking – theStacy’s Mom’ band made the list? Before you discredit this article entirely, hear me out. ‘The Girl I Can’t Forget’ is an ode to those nights that you just can’t quite remember that you wish you could. Adam Schlesinger sings along to upbeat drums and a jaunty horn section, telling the story of a girl he met on a night where he ‘had some trouble standing up’. Endearingly self-conscious (and probably relatable), this song is the perfect soundtrack to a road trip for two, or a drunken walk home with someone you like just a little too much.

9. ‘Firelight’ by Young the Giant (2014)

“In the wild, the jungle flower

Your toxic perfume

Tell my friends I’m gone, it’s true

I’ve passed on now

To the eyes of a dark, lost blue”

‘Firelight’ takes us to a dreamy wilderness, telling a tale of the dangerous and addictive promise of falling in love. Jacob Tilley’s luminous guitar and Sameer Gadhia’s hazy vocals lend a sense of ethereality to the song. Close your eyes and picture the dying firelight – this is one of the songs on the list I don’t (read: can’t) listen to very often, but it’s the perfect addition to a late-night Valentine’s playlist.

8. ‘Thirteen’ by Big Star (1972)

“Won’t you let me walk you home from school?

Won’t you let me meet you at the pool?

Maybe Friday I can get tickets for the dance

And I’ll take you”

Described by Rolling Stone as ‘one of rock’s most beautiful celebrations of adolescence’, Big Star sings about the innocence of a childhood romance. Accompanied only by a folksy guitar, Alex Chilton’s vocals are soulful and longing, providing a perfect soundtrack to a quiet walk home or late-night conversations in a bedroom lit by fairy lights. ‘Thirteen’ is a heartfelt tribute to locker-room confessions and after-school dances, reminding us that love isn’t so bad after all.  

7. Fallen Angel by Frankie Valli (1980)

“Home again, so won’t you close the door

Stay here with me and

We’ll forget what’s gone before

Just hold me tight

Our love is gonna make it right”

As a massive Frankie Valli fan, ‘Fallen Angel’ stands out as one of my favourites. This is a classic love song about longing, forgiveness, and reconciliation – three things that we all need on Valentine’s Day. ‘Fallen Angel’ is the epitome of an ‘80s power ballad, verging on the almost-too-cheesy with its sombre keys, barbershop-style harmonies, and swelling string arrangement. This song is the perfect serenade, complete with a bunch of red roses – just over-the-top enough to be endearing. What’s not to love?

6. ‘Come Away With Me’ by Norah Jones (2002)

“And I want to wake up with the rain

Falling on a tin roof

While I’m safe there in your arms”

Norah Jones is, in my opinion, one of the greatest songwriters of all time. She combines sparse piano chords, delicate guitar melodies, and soulful vocals to form some truly transcendental songs. ‘Come Away With Me’ is no exception. Sung to a simple, heartfelt melody over a jazz-like piano arrangement, this is Jones at her most tender, providing a muted backdrop to lazy mornings in on rainy days. 

5. ‘And I Love You So’ by Don McLean (1970)

“I guess they understand

How lonely life has been

But life began again

The day you took my hand”

Sung by folk giant Don McLean on his debut album Tapestry, ‘And I Love You So’ is the quintessential love song. He tells the story of a world-weary old man that has been reborn by new love – it’s heart-rendingly sweet, but never cloying. McLean’s earnest vocals and deft lyricism remind us that love, like his song, is timeless. 

4. ‘Jackie and Wilson’ by Hozier (2014)

“We’d sit back and watch the world go by

Happy to lie back, watch it burn and rust

We tried the world, good God, it wasn’t for us

She’s gonna save me, call me ‘baby’, run her hands through my hair”

In a marked departure from the previous entry, ‘Jackie and Wilson’ is a bombastic, stomping blues-rock tune that easily makes it onto the list of my all-time favourites. Choosing an excerpt from the song was a monumental task – Hozier writes lyrics like poetry, telling a story about a wild, carefree love. Holding a very special place in my heart, this song reminds me of sunny days at the park and the euphoria of falling in love.

3. ‘A Sunday Kind of Love’ by Etta James (1960)

“And my arms need someone

Someone to enfold

To keep me warm when Mondays and Tuesdays grow cold

Love for all my life, to have and to hold”

‘A Sunday Kind of Love’ is a jazz standard for good reason. Covered extensively by some of the music greats, including Ella Fitzgerald and the aforementioned Frankie Valli, Etta James’ version stands out for its power and soul. Singing over a spare piano arrangement, intimate strings, and a mellow bassline, James provides the perfect soundtrack for lazy mornings and half-finished cups of coffee, longing for the promise of forever.

2. ‘Who’d Have Known’ by Lily Allen (2009)

‘You’re quite affectionate in public

In fact, your friend said it made her feel sick

And even though it’s moving forward

There’s  just the right amount of awkward’

Otherwise known for her pop masterpiece ‘Fuck You’, Lily Allen shows her tender side in this charming tune. Accompanied by a chiming electric piano and with an irresistibly catchy chorus, ‘Who’d Have Known’ is a song about a modern love story. Allen sings about two people in the in-between phase, offering a fresh take on the friends-to-lovers trope with lyrics like ‘today you accidentally called me baby’ and ‘when you flash up on my phone/I no longer feel alone. If you ever find yourself still up at 5am, face lit up by your phone screen, this song is a message for you to take the plunge, reminding us of the excitement of falling in love. 

1. ‘Nothing’ by Bruno Major (2020)

“Track suits and red wine

Movies for two

We’ll take off our phones

We’ll turn off our shoes”

The song topping this list is also its simplest, a quiet confession accompanied by nothing but a delicate jazz guitar and a muted drum beat. Clocking in at just over two minutes, ‘Nothing’ is an achingly beautiful tune about the simplicity of love. His wordplay in ‘we’ll take off our phones/we’ll turn off our shoes’ is reminiscent of stumbling over your words whilst falling in love. This song is near and dear to my heart – lullaby-like and understated, Bruno Major’s jazz mastery plays second-fiddle to his lyricism, reminding us that you don’t need much else when you’re in love.

Hopefully this eclectic blend of songs fresh off my Spotify will have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a new song for a long-time love or just want something to listen to while walking home. Sometimes a good song is all the companionship you need. All there’s left to say now is – Happy Valentine’s Day.