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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Top 10 "Love" Songs

Love is by far the most common subject a song is written about. It's a universal theme that transcends generations and will never come close to going away. So, naturally, lots of musicians make it the focus of their music.

But this list is not going to countdown songs about love; that's a pretty insurmountable task, considering the volume of songs that would qualify. Instead, today I'm listing my top ten songs with the word "love" (or some variation of it) in the title. Yes, it's a pretty open, loosely-related category, but that just allows for a more eclectic bunch of tunes to be featured. It may only be a trivial shared characteristic, but I still think it'll make for an interesting lineup.

10. The Cure - "Lovesong"

The Cure are a band known for singing of heartache, though the message here when literally interpreted is of genuine love. However, singer Robert Smith's delivery and the tone of the instrumentals suggest otherwise. Nevertheless, "Lovesong" is a fantastic tune plucked right out of the late '80's/early '90's college rock era. Though the band was well-established an a decade into their career, "Lovesong" still encapsulated a lot of what fans like about The Cure. A strong bass line, chiming guitars and keys, and Smith's sullen performance all come together to forma beautifully dark piece.

9. Wilco - "I'm the man who loves you"

One of the strongest songs off their critically acclaimed record Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco's "I'm the man who loves you" features frantic, frenzied guitar wails and showcases Jeff Tweedy's songwriting abilites. Horns, piano, and jazzy drums all add to the song's uniqueness. The jumbled guitar solo at the track's conclusion rounds up the song in a disruptive yet interesting way. It's a good introduction to Wilco, as it displays both their commercial appeal and weirdness at different times in the song.

8. Led Zeppelin - "Whole Lotta Love"

Built around a riff to end all riffs, "Whole Lotta Love" is one of Zeppelin's and classic rock's greatest moments. From the pulsating verses to Jimmy Page's outstanding guitar solo, and even the abstract middle section resembling the sounds of city life, all different parts of the track are special in their own way. "Whole Lotta Love" shows why Led Zeppelin is so beloved, and considered by many to be the greatest band of all time.

7. The White Stripes - "Fell In Love With A Girl"

Though "You Don't Know What Love Is" and "Well It's True That We Love One Another" were each considered, it's "Fell In Love With A Girl" that stands alone as the best White Stripes track with "love" in the title. This brief punk bomblast is an onslaught of distorted guitars, trashy drums, and Jack White's signature vocal stylings. The song is blues-meets-punk-meets indie, and is a true delight.

6. Arcade Fire - "Crown of Love"

It may feel like Arcade Fire overload after the last week and a half, but I couldn't make this list without giving a nod to the Funeral track "Crown of Love." It starts as a slow, beautiful love ballad, with swelling pianos and lofty violins. It sounds very old-fashioned, to be honest, but in a romantic way as opposed to a dated one. Near the end, though, the track speeds up an enters into a full-out disco frolic. After just missing out on making my top 10 Arcade Fire songs post, "Crown of Love" gets its well-deserved recognition here at #6.

5. Radiohead - "True Love Waits"

Found exclusively on their live album I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, "True Love Waits" may be Radiohead's best-kept secret. Featured solely Thom Yorke on vocals and acoustic guitar, it's one of the band's most straightforward songs, and could be prone to the label of "pop." This is not a detriment in any way, however; the track is a beautifully mellow acoustic ballad, and Yorke's vocals soar. "I'm not living, I'm just killing time," he sings. Now a fan favorite, "True Love Waits" shows Radiohead can step out of their element and still create an amazing piece of music.

4. Crystal Castles feat. Robert Smith - "Not In Love"

Robert Smith's second appearance on the list is in the explosive Crystal Castles song "Not In Love." Featured on the FIFA 12 soundtrack, the electronic song is all about production values and Smith's chilling vocals. The biggest moments in the tune are the choruses, as the instrumentals detonate on you in volume and size. It's best heard with headphones, as the jump from verse to chorus is extremely dramatic and honestly pretty incredible. This is not to belittle the rest of the song, either; the verses are intriguing in their own right, thanks to Smith's expertise behind the mic.

3. The Natoinal - "Sea of Love"

"Sea of Love" is one of my very favorite songs to be released this year, due to its crunchy guitars, pounding drum beat, and Matt Berninger's deep-as-the-ocean vocal range. It's a rare song where The National sound like they're having fun, but it sure sounds like on "Sea of Love." The song's best aspect may be the three overlaying vocal parts for the last minute or so. The lyrics are superb as well: Berninger croons, "Hey Jill, sorry I hurt you, but, they say love is a virtue, don't they?" There are only two more tracks to go on this list, and I feel "Sea Of Love" truly earned its high ranking despite being such a recently released song.

2. Joy Division - "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

Perhaps the most well-known song by the ill-fated British pioneers of college rock, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a near-perfect selection of early post-punk. If you thought The National's Matt Berninger's vocals were low-pitched, you'll be astounded by Ian Curtis' tonality. Low production values do not overshadow stellar guitar work and a furiously paced hi-hat/snare drum pattern. The tragic end to this band's career is unfortunate, but at least they gave us this gem before singer Ian Curtis's passing.

1. Bon Iver - "Skinny Love"

Claiming the top spot today is the sincere, raw, lovely (pun intended) song "Skinny Love" by folsky indie heroes Bon Iver. The hollow acoustic guitar riff sits nicely into the track, as Justin Vernon delivers a hushed, high-pitched performance. It's an incredibly honest song, one that sends shivers down your spine if listened to at the right moment. There's not much flair involved, but the few components to the song are all that it needs.

And, now for some songs that almost made the cut, in no particular order:

The B-52's - "Love Shack"
The Cure - "Friday I'm In Love"
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - "Is This Love?"
Wilco - "Whole Love"
The Darkness - "I Believe In A Thing Called Love"

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