25 Best Love Songs to Close the Perfect Date

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There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. You’re not going to just sit in silence. You’re not going to put on the TV. You’re not going to spend 20 minutes picking a song, or worse, making a last-second playlist. No, you’re going to finish this date prepared. You’re going to hit play on your phone (already synched to the bluetooth, please), and let these 25 songs set the mood of the room. Then you do the rest. We’d say good luck, but you’re not going to need it with this playlist.

Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me”

If: You wanna be blunt.

Hey honesty is the best policy. When it comes to that moment, you just have to say what you feel. Be brave, be forward, make the first move. You won’t regret it.

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Patti Smith – “Because the Night”

If: You need a good sing-along.

So let’s be clear: If they don’t know this one, you need to find someone else. But if you both know it, this will be the perfect song to blast at 1 AM, screaming the lyrics after a few cocktails.

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Frank Ocean – “Thinkin’ Bout You”

If: You wanna let them know they’re on your mind.

So many couples play games. They hold things back, hide their emotions, and are hesitant to reveal true feelings. Play it cool—don’t tell them that they’re on your mind. Frank Ocean cuts through all the bullshit and gets to the real talk.

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Drake – “Hold On We’re Going Home”

If: You need some tunes for the ride.

Drake is always at his best as a cheesy romantic. And when it comes to love songs, occasionally that’s the perfect choice. It might be a little on-point, but if you put this on for the car ride home it fills those potentially awkward moments of travel silence, and says everything you need to say.

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Sampha – “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”

If: You wanna show that you love your mom.

It’s not weird. And they will probably find it endearing. Plus it’s a beautiful song—no one is going to judge you.

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The Outfield – “Your Love”

If: You just met.

This is jukebox gold and a guaranteed slam dunk in the good-humor department. It’s also one of the most identifiable hits of the ’80s, a one-hit wonder and a song that practically requires a sing-along in order to exist. You’ll laugh. You’ll both sound wretched when you belt out the chorus. Everybody wins.

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Father John Misty – “Only Son of a Ladies Man”

If: You want to impress.

It’s a modern classic, an indie dreamboat anthem and one of the most underrated singles of last year. Father John Misty—as we’ve discussed before—is your anti-pop star in that he shirks industry standards and just wants to sing (and write) for his supper. (Also: this.)

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Weezer – “No One Else”

If: You’re gauging interest.

A no-brainer for the ’90s nostalgia bank alone. It’s fun, it’s head-bang-able in the nerdiest of ways, it’ll prompt a conversation about the guilty pleasures of your youth and potentially spark a Pinkerton vs. Blue Album debate. It’s the comfort food of carefree love songs, and a completely un-hate-able one at that.

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D’Angelo – “Really Love”

If: You’re not ready to play “Untitled (How Does It Feel).”

Playing a D’Angelo song—really any one of them—comes with certain assumptions. And while both of you will have his abs circa 2000 shimmering in your head, his murmuring voice on this new classic is a more debonair pick.

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Miguel – “Waves” ft. Kacey Musgraves

If: You know…

A slinky, sexy duet with Kacey Musgraves (your favorite country music artist, trust us) that serves as four minutes of body-worshipping foreplay. Any human knows Miguel is the king of lyrical sex, and the surprise country twang works oh so very well.

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Seu Jorge – “Life on Mars”

If: You don’t want to try too hard.

Don’t be afraid of breaking out movie-soundtrack favorites for a person, especially if they’re covers: If it’s a good one, like Seu Jorge’s version of “Life on Mars” from The Life Aquatic, they will be thrilled for the new take on an old favorite and watch the movie that night. (And likely with you.)

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Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes – “Love Letter”

If: You want to introduce a new favorite band.

Addictive soul riffs, gorgeous voices, beautiful women, Australian: The only reason your date hasn’t dubbed Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes his/her new favorite band is because you haven’t introduced him/her to them yet. Do that, and get additional points for bringing the best of Oz to his/her headphones while unabashedly flirting.

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The Rolling Stones – “Beast of Burden”

If: Your date appreciates the classics.

A telltale favorite rife with implication. Just met? Your good intentions are plain by the second verse. Breaking up? Send this and save the relationship. Apologizing in any capacity? Relevant, sad, and true. It’s timeless for a multitude of reasons, the first and foremost being its relatable, lyrical bones.

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Lord Huron – “The Man Who Lives Forever”

If: You want to bowl your date over with the lyrics.

Refreshing, boundary-pushing rock tropes of today coupled with the lyrical sincerity of the days of Dylan and Cash: “I said life without end wouldn’t have any meaning/The journey to death is the point of our being/Well the point of my life is to be with you babe/But there ain’t enough time in the life that they gave me.” Take the risk with this complicated, emotional wallop, as it will likely be worth it.

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Bright Eyes – “Landlocked Blues”

If: You just have a lot of feelings.

Conor Oberst’s duet with Emmylou Harris is one of the most striking dirges he’s ever released, an unfurling ballad with a snowballing intensity that demands a moment of silence at the end of it. This isn’t to be played lightly, so save it for when you really need to talk—or when you can’t bring yourself to say what you have to.

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Anderson .Paak – “Without You”

If: You have no shame in being needy.

Honestly, it takes a massive amount of confidence to tell your partner “I can’t do nothin’ without you.” And, admit it, we’ve all been in that new relationship stage where we want to do everything with that other person.

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Spencer Davis Group – “Gimme Some Lovin'”

If: You can’t stomach putting another Marvin Gaye song on a mix.

Instead of going with the Motown selections everyone has thrown around to woo a date—”I Can’t Help Myself,” “Let’s Get It On,” etc.—go with the track revered by soul DJs who know when to get a room ravaging the floorboards. This is that number.

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Tom Waits – “Hold On”

If: You want to kiss while listening to Tom Waits and have it not be weird.

So, selections from Mule Variations could understandably freak someone out, as Tom Waits either sounds like the fifth horseman of the apocalypse or the voice of God himself, depending on whom you’re talking to. It’s a gamble, but if they turn out to love Waits, it’s a worthwhile one to say the least.

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The Avett Brothers – “If It’s the Beaches”

If: You’ve done everything you can to keep from losing him/her.

Every other breakup song before and after this cut from 2006’s The Gleam is deemed irrelevant the second Scott Avett starts singing. A more gut-wrenchingly candid, tortured, and overwhelmingly truthful ballad begging for forgiveness doesn’t exist. Hopefully, you’ll never need to express yourself in such drastic terms, but if you do? This is the Hail Mary of reconciliation songs.

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Amy Winehouse – “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”

If: You want to remember.

Remember the good times. Remember the not-so-good times. Remember the powerhouse that was Amy Winehouse. This is a stunning, soulful cover for someone you will love tomorrow.

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The Roots – “Baby”

If: Your date has ears, because c’mon, it’s The Roots.

Everyone and their mother knows “Here I Come” and “The Seed 2.0” (which technically isn’t a Roots song, anyway) at this point. The Roots are universally adored for a reason. You can’t go wrong with any selection from their catalog, but “Baby” is the kind of track that starts as the soundtrack for making dinner and ends as the soundtrack for … something else.

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The National – “This Is the Last Time”

If: You want to get him/her thinking about your relationship, no matter how you define it.

One of the most cutting tracks of Trouble Will Find Me. Everyone has heard “Mr. November” and this song, with its many potential interpretations, gets your point across.

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Otis Redding – “Try a Little Tenderness”

If: You can truly appreciate the power of Otis. (Bonus points if you break out the Pretty in Pink choreography.)

Any list culling from the most convincing love songs passed around on well-worn cassettes that omits Otis Redding is a straight-up mockery of romance. Any Redding pick is perfect, but “Try a Little Tenderness” trumps them all.

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Erykah Badu – “Phone Down”

If: You have a technology addiction.

For all the good texting and Tinder have been for sparking relationships, our addiction to technology can sometimes get in between two IRL people. Thankfully, Erykah Badu knows how to remedy that situation.

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Leon Bridges – “Here In My Arms”

If: You want to dance.

Leon Bridges is a wonder. His song “River” aches, “Smooth Sailing” floats, and “Here In My Arms” is simple sweetness. Take Bridges’ advice here.

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