I have a love/hate relationship with love songs. I’ve had times when I listened to them out of being in love or at least catchin’ some kinda feelings. Other times, I’ve listened to them while in “maaannn, fuck love” mode. There was a time when I was a kid who had no real grip on matters of the heart and all the highs and lows they entailed. Back then, I just liked the way they sounded. Nowadays, I feel the various emotions of those songs- whether they be about infatuation, bitterness, appreciation, or heartbreak. This week, I drop 25 in particular that I’ve loved for years and continue to. Here we go…
25- SWV “Use Your Heart” (1996): It wasn’t SWV’s most popular slow jam (that would be “Weak”– blah), but “Use Your Heart” is one I’ve always been big on from their ’96 album New Beginning. Also notable for being one of the earliest productions by The Neptunes.
24– Musiq Soulchild “Love” (2001): Musiq dedicates a love song to love itself and the different feelings it evokes. Even when in my most anti-love state of mind, I couldn’t help but agree with the song’s sentiment: for all the shit it puts you through, it’s almost always the best option.
23- Lisa Fischer “How Can I Ease The Pain” (1991): …but still, it can be a pain. Sometimes, love is an unhealthy thing that consumes a person even when they know the object of said love is no good for them. I don’t mean to get all Freudian on y’all, but what’s true is true, and Lisa Fischer’s single solitary hit from ’91 drives that point home.
22- Dru Hill “We’re Not Making Love No More” (1997): Feel what you will about the little guy with the blond hair, but he stayed putting heart into everything he sang- hell, he even went in at the end of the “Thong Song”. Given a tune with much more substance, like this one about a relationship in decline, he kilt it. Listen to those last two minutes and tell me I’m wrong.
21- Angela Winbush “Angel” (1987): With one of the best voices of her era, this was Angela Winbush’s first single after breaking away from the Rene & Angela duo. She never made another one quite this great during her solo career, and possibly gave her best work to Stephanie Mills to sing instead, but “Angel” remains a classic.
20- PM Dawn “I’d Die Without You” (1992): In the middle of all their psychedelic videos, lame monotone raps, and involuntary stage-diving… PM Dawn had one song that made people forget it was sung by the guy who wore big shiny robes and flowers in his dreds and shit. I couldn’t stand these dudes, and I still had to feel it.
19- New Edition “Can You Stand The Rain” (1988): Despite thinking the hook was literally about weather conditions when I was a young’n, I’ve always had love for “Can You Stand The Rain”. In hindsight, it was also a song that solidified NE’s transition from teen act to adults in the R&B world.
18- Guy “Let’s Chill” (1991): As a New Jack Swing era and Teddy Riley production enthusiast, I eff with Guy’s second album The Future HEAVY. Still, unlike their first album, that one didn’t have much in the way of constantly-enduring singles that still got play years later… the exception being “Let’s Chill”. If I had a Valentine for every time I rode the bus to school singing this- whoa.
17- Toni Braxton “Another Sad Love Song” (1993): “Heard it on the radio last night, so sad!” Ahhh… the miserable feeling of not being able to listen to the radio without relating every single love song to your current situation. I’ve sure as all hell been there before, and in some instances, it even included hearing TB’s song about that exact predicament.
16- Keith Sweat feat. Jacci McGhee “Make It Last Forever” (1988): Sure, it’s one of those super-cliche picks that always gets love, but rightfully so. For his long-standing reputation as the best singer that can’t really sing, Keith Sweat’s Make It Last Forever album is great from beginning to end- especially the title track. I feel old as shit knowing that I remember this song when it was new and the radio wouldn’t stop playing it, but I’m also glad to have known and loved it since then.
We reconvene on Wednesday for the second installment, going from #15 to #6… but in the meantime, feel the love. Happy Valentine’s Day.