The Year in Love Songs

In honor of Valentine's Day, our critics' favorite songs about heartbreak, loneliness, and unrequited love.

Mark Ronson by Tommy Kearns

Tommy Kearns

By Nerve

In honor of Valentine's Day, we asked a bunch of our favorite critics to look back at music from the past twelve months and pick their favorite love song — and we let them figure out what means. The results? A bunch of heartbreak, despair, and loneliness — ending on something strangely hopeful. 

 

Yulia by Wolf Parade

The best love song of the past year was penned by eccentric art-rockers Wolf Parade, the second-most-famous indie-rock band from Montreal. The track is called "Yulia," and tells a tragic story about a Russian cosmonaut on a failed mission pondering the fact that he'll never see his lover again as he floats around in space. The song's heartbreaking lyrics are backed by an infectious melody and aggressively upbeat keyboard riff and drumbeat. They manage to turn the otherwise devastating track into something uplifting and even triumphant. — Taylor Johnston of Music for Ants

 

 

Undefeated Artists

True Love Will Find You in the End by Mates of State

It's a cover of a Daniel Johnston song. The original is mopey, but the Mates update is catchy as hell. It's a craven choice on my part, though, since I made the video. You can check that out here. — Dan Harris, ABC News

 

 

Love Conversation by Jose James feat. Jordana de Lovely

When I think about a love song, I think about a sonic experience that is delicate, pretty, calming, seductive, and hypnotic all at the same time. Jose James' "Lovely Conversation," featuring Jordana de Lovely encompasses all those qualities and more. The chemistry between Jordana and Jose is intense, and their vocal presence makes this song a love masterpiece. Take a listen. I dare you to try and deny it. — Aaron Byrd, DJ at KCRW, a public radio station in Los Angeles

 

 

How I Left the Ministry by The Extra Lens

In this "love song," a celibate clergy man traces a heart on someone's leg while driving to their sleazy motel. The narrator acknowledges it as an "infantile gesture," but also an "indescrible high." Anticipatory — and totally taboo — passion has never sounded better, even if it almost results in a deadly car crash. — Jessica Gentile of So This is What The Volume Knob’s For

 

 

Get On The Road by Tired Pony

I have a love/hate relationship with Gary Lightbody because often his lyrics make me laugh — at him, not with him. But then I fall hard for his songs like a lovesick girl who's just read her first Harlequin romance. From the heavy thrum of enchanting melody to nearly saccharine lines like "You are the drug that I can't quit / Your perfect chaos is a perfect fit," this track embodies all the warmth and sensuality I've come to expect.  By the end of the song, I'm just a girl who wants a guy to point his car north, at me. — Linda Park of SXSW Music and Afraid of the Park

 

 

Hey Girl by Jo Stance

What would any great love story be without the giant crush that preceded it? On their debut single, "Hey Girl," Finnish soul sensations Jo Stance deliver one of the great new crush anthems of the twenty-first century. Lead singer Johanna Forsti delivers her message with so much sass and conviction that you simply have to believe the object of her desire will be along at any moment to whisk her off into the sunset. You, on the other hand, will want to stay right where you are and listen to the song about fifty more times. — Marion Hodges, DJ at KCRW

 

 

Tommy Kearns

Somebody To Love Me by Mark Ronson And The Business Intl

For some reason, I feel a little embarrassed when I pump this song from my car. I think it's because the lyrics are really about the embarrassing, needy side of love. It's a side that most of us would rather not acknowledge, which is rather silly, since it ends up being a big part of the drive to reach out and connect with others. My sheepishness might also spring from a more simple source: the track's unabashed, slightly cheesy pop quality. Of course, what's the point of Valentine's Day if you can't embrace both? Gina Pensiero, of One Sweet Song

 

 

Teeth by Santah

"Teeth" is everything you want in a love song — it's gorgeous, it's crushing, and makes you feel everything all at once. When this song swells, it echoes the yearning and the sorrow of a tumultuous relationship. This isn't about some pie-in-the-sky kind of love — this one's real, and it cuts deep.  — Carlye Wisel of Big Ugly Yellow Couch

 

 

Dream of My Love (Chasing After You) by Abe Vigoda

LA's noisy punk brats Abe Vigoda took a brilliant turn for the (new) romantic on their latest release, "Crush." With a throbbing bass-line, sharp synth stabs, and a Goth-y lyrical delivery that teeters on the edge of contempt, “Dream of My Love” is as much about dread as it is about desire and as much about pleasure as it is about pain. Perfect music for standing against the wall psychotically glaring at your secret crush, or for dancing wildly with her to it. — Mario Cotto, DJ at KCRW

 

Commentarium (12 Comments)

Feb 08 11 - 3:50am
Lawrence

Ah, the quiet reminder that I'll be single on Valentines. Thanks Nerve.

Feb 08 11 - 11:12pm
katiepoche

... No wait Lawrence, these songs are mostly about crushes! You can be single & have a crush. In fact, most of the time, it's advisable.

Feb 10 11 - 4:26am
JfnB

Don't Worry Lawrence - I'll be your Valentine

Feb 08 11 - 10:53am
WithAnInotanE

Ahhhh KCRW rocks it so hard on the regular. I'll blindly follow you guys anywhere. If you don't know it, scope it. KCRW.com

Feb 08 11 - 11:25am
mkh

SANTAH?@?!?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Feb 08 11 - 3:18pm
Jackiez

where's the luv* for 'Love Conversation'?

*play button

Feb 10 11 - 12:54am
srrrrah

shit this song is sexxxy.

Feb 08 11 - 4:53pm
Coco

Oh wow i just found a new favourite-teeth

Feb 08 11 - 6:08pm
dlishs

Dream of My Love (Chasing After You) by Abe Vigoda !!!

So good!

Feb 08 11 - 6:45pm
JG

Jim White's "Christmas Day 1998" is one of the saddest shattered love songs ever written

Feb 08 11 - 7:19pm
Laura Manske

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d44y5C1z-y8

A MUST listen/watch:
"Internet Angel" by NYC singer-songwriter David Ippolito (thatguitarman YouTube channel)

Fantastic song and performer! Really really cool! Perfect for Nerve lovers! thatguitarman.com

Feb 08 11 - 11:50pm
Tyr

Damn, officially old -only recognized Mark Ronson's name but none of the songs or any other groups/artists. NONE!

But I'll be with my sweetheart on Valentine's Day, so all is not lost.