Local musicians share their favorite love (and anti-love) songs

Love <i>is</i> sweet, sure. But it's also a breakable candy heart :-(

Love is sweet, sure. But it's also a breakable candy heart :-(

Valentine’s Day stirs up all the repressed feelings within all of us. That makes the holiday a perfect time to take advantage of these feelings and recognize standout examples of the most ubiquitous type of songwriting — love songs.

But also, anti-love songs, which include, but are not limited to, songs about breakups, loneliness, and the dismissal of modern ideals of monogamy and heteronormative relationship expectations all together.

Who better to ask about love music than musicians themselves? We reached out to dozens of local musicians to collectively put together the ultimate love song playlist and anti-love song playlist. Here are those romantic and/or sad enough to respond.


“The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA

Picked by Amber Fletcher of the Ultrasounds

“The lyrics are so dramatic, but it’s too groovy to fully indulge in the sadness. It’s the song I’ll turn to if ever I’m 35 and single and have a bottle of wine.”

“I Will Dare” by the Replacements

Picked by Tyler Barrett of Triple Crossed/Mall’d to Death/No Skin

“This tune picks up on the urgency of a nascent relationship. ‘Meet me anyplace or anywhere or anytime / I don’t care, meet me tonight.’ You can’t text this to someone early on and expect not to sound desperate, though, so throw it on a mixtape and let Paul Westerberg croon coyly to your new squeeze.”

“Just Like Heaven” by the Cure

Picked by Courtney Guenveur of the Ultrasounds

“It’s the kind of song that makes me nostalgic for an ex I never had.”

“Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley

Picked by Johnny Solomon of Communist Daughter

“This is the very first song I think of when thinking about love songs. It’s dramatic. It’s a little melancholy, but it also just sounds like a classic love song. Something between a Nat King Cole jazz standard and a Freddie Mercury ballad. It takes me back to boozy, dramatic, all encompassing first loves.”

“Never My Love” by the Association

Picked by Gordon Byrd of Teenage Moods

“It’s too beautiful to not have the feels all over and certainly the most positive use of ‘never.’ Ever.”

“Sweatpants” by Childish Gambino

Picked by Monica Coleslaw of Hollow Boys

“I think it’s so important to be in love with yourself, even if it comes off as arrogance to some people.”

“Love Is Alright Tonight” by Rick Springfield

Picked by Megan Hanson of the Ultrasounds

“Love is alright, I suppose.”

“The Purple Bottle” by Animal Collective

Picked by Michael Voller of Chalk

“The jittery rhythms and vibrant instrumentation do a perfect job at conveying the uneasy eagerness that accompanies falling deeper and deeper for a new crush. The lyrics expand on this sensation and tell a loose story of a couple falling in love. At times the lyrics don't make complete sense, but love rarely does. I think that anybody could benefit from being told that they are the purple in someone else's bottle (whatever that may really mean).”

“Nowhere Near” by Yo La Tengo

Picked by Kyle Werstein of Fury Things

“I saw Yo La Tengo in Calgary last summer because we happened to be playing the same festival, and I finally got to hear this song live. It moved me to tears. Wrap yourself and your partner in this song like a warm blanket.”

“Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow” by Jonathan Richman

Picked by Chris White of Murder Shoes/Monica Laplante

“This song embodies that excitement of connecting with someone in a real and immediate way and feeling that perfect fit. Quasi love at first sight, but I don't know if Jonathan Richman would agree with that.”

“La Vie en Rose” by Edith Piaf

Picked by Sean Schultz of What Tyrants

“Who knows l’amour better than the French?"

“Pumping Iron for Enya” by Atom and His Package

Picked by Todd Hanson of the Ultrasounds

“It makes me truly believe in my acquisition of an overpriced gym membership.”

“Malibu Love Nest” by Luna

Picked by Holly Heniz of the Dirty Banks

“It brings me back to the early days of the Dirty Banks when my now husband and current bandmate, Jon Heinz, shared me on a playlist that included the song. It struck me immediately with the upbeat feel and the simplicity of ‘I'll write your name’ that holds such an intimate feeling when you have those initial pangs of liking someone. And any love song that mentions Robespierre is all right with [Heinz] because he thinks he's from France."

“C.L. Rosarian” by Mutual Benefit

Picked by Chris Murphy of Nomenclatures

“It always reminds me of cozy basements, heated blankets, and sharing music with someone special. It equally brings me to tears whenever I listen to it, but it’s a song I feel is important enough to show to everyone I love, hoping to express the emotion I felt first hearing it."

“Into Your Arms” by the Lemonheads

Picked by Garth Blomberg of Lutheran Heat

“Discovered in that all-too-familiar courting period where you're listening to each other's music, not only judging their taste in music in your mind, but desperately hoping for common ground because you're in that crushing phase. Also a shout out to Robyn St. Clare of the Hummingbirds who originally wrote the song.”

“Flower” by Liz Phair

Picked by Melissa Jones of Tony Peachka

“Subtle hints are so 2015. Send this song to a timid hottie.”

“Forever My Queen” by Pentagram

Picked by Doug Saretsky of Ashen

“There do indeed exist love songs for those of us who think every day is Halloween.”

“Your Prime” by Anderson .Paak

Picked by Sarah White

“After I’m done being all up in my feelings and want to open back up to love vibes, I can’t even lie, I sit in the bath with my glass of red and repeat this song by my future husband, Anderson .Paak. I don’t even know if the song is really romantic, but when he says, “Come back to BED” I die. It renews my broken heart. Hopeless romantic, I am.”

“I Can Hear Music” by the Ronettes and the Beach Boys

Picked by Christopher Williams of Warehouse Eyes

“I’m always drawn to write love songs that explain too much. I love this song because it does the opposite — it’s so simple and heartfelt that it can’t help but be a lie. It’s a lie but it feels really nice to tell it.”


“Inside You” by Elvis Depressedly

Picked by Tamara Alswager of Drumbeat Red

“Lovely lo-fi music straight from the heart of Mat Cothran. It’ll help through the lonely times.”

“$1000 Wedding” by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris

Picked by Matt Englestad of Lutheran Heat

“No explanation necessary.”

“Home for the Holidays” by Houston

Picked by Manny Snarley of Swimsuit Area

“True love is for creeps.”

“Sailin’ On” by Bad Brains

Picked by Tyler Barrett of Triple Crossed/Mall’d to Death/No Skin

“Such a blunt dismissal of the past with all attention moving forward. ‘You don't want me anymore / I just walk right out the door / I'm sailin’ on / I'm moving on.’ Really puts a nice spin on things. I mean, who doesn't want to go sailing?”

“This Time It Will” by Jeff Hanson

Picked by Johnny Solomon of Communist Daughter

“It’s a love song for those that have to move on. My song ‘Soundtrack to the End’ is about the end of a love/life with someone and the music you listen to that forever gets associated with it. And when I wrote that song, this is the song I was thinking about. So it’s wrapped up in my story. Jeff Hanson's music will always pull some feelings up in me.”

“If You Go Away” by Emiliana Torrini

Picked by Eric Harvingston of Swimsuit Area

“A haunting spin on a classic song of pining and pleading with lost love.”

"Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" by the Buzzcocks

Picked by Gordon Byrd of Teenage Moods

“Either side of a breakup can blast this the second it's over and get the same feels out.”

“All You Get From Love is a Love Song” by the Carpenters

Picked by BMAN Popp of Swimsuit Area

“Hypocrite” by Allan Kingdom

Picked by Sarah White

“I'm coming out of a long relationship with a very sloppy ending, so it’s my favorite song to curl up to when I want to feel extra sentimental and harden my heart. We are ALL messed up. Love takes so much work, but it’s worth it. This is in my current rotation for V-Day.”

“Fluorescent Grey” by Deerhunter

Picked by Monica Coleslaw of Hollow Boys

“I always listen to this song and think about how everyone I love is just going to die. But it’s chill because what else am I going to think about?”

“Why Bother?” by Weezer

Picked by Todd Hanson of the Ultrasounds

“In college I got my first taste of genuine heartbreak and betrayal. The combination of listening to this while drinking in the shower really seemed to help.”

“Katy Song” by Red House Painters

Picked by Michael Voller of Chalk

“The lyrics are perfect and crushingly sad: ‘Glass on the pavement under my shoe / Without you is all my life amounts to.’”

“I Quit Girls” by Japandroids

Picked by Kyle Werstein of Fury Things

“I still can't really make it through this whole song again. It's abrasive, sad, lonesome and the guitars crush you as you down pitcher after pitcher at the CC Club trying to get yourself back together.”

“Fruits of My Labor” by Lucinda Williams

Picked by Christ White of Murder Shoes/Monica Laplante

“This song paints a vivid picture of how the emotions of love lost can be triggered by the physical world around us, how everything reminds you of what is no longer. You want to escape that feeling but everything is your former lover.”

“Come See About Me” by Don Covay

Picked by Sara Pette of Lutheran Heat

“This song isn't about a partner, former or current, as much as it evoked the feeling of isolated loneliness to which I could relate from past experiences. Good ol’ Don got me through the winter of a friend breakup, which felt just as bad as a love breakup! ‘All of my so-called friends have disappeared / And all alone, all alone I don't wanna be’ is the important line.”

"No Children” by the Mountain Goats

Picked by Rebecca Harvingston of Swimsuit Area

“Best breakup song ever.”

“Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Motörhead

Picked by Doug Saretsky of Ashen

“This one has gotten me through all the breakups since I was in 8th grade.”

“Not That Simple” by Mike Posner

Picked by Karizma

“It connected with me a lot. It's just simply stated how breaking up and the pain that comes with it isn't just normal heartbreak. Everyone feels and deals differently.”

“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot

Picked by Jon Bublik of Swimsuit Area

“It’s just fucking sad. I hate when love fades.”