It's been quite some time since we last pinned our editorial interns against one another, and we felt that this day of love, lust, and loss would be the ideal atmosphere for the battle to commence.
This year's war is between our darling Miss Madison Murphy and the charming Eric "DJ Sweatpants" Galietti. Madison was assigned to select five songs that encapsulate the warm and fuzzy feelings of February 14th, while her counterpart produced the most heart-wrenching list of melancholic music known to man.
"Don't Look Back" - The Temptations
Nothing oozes love like some good old fashioned Motown ballads, especially when they were produced by the great Smokey Robinson. "Don't Look Back" showcases the incredible Paul Williams on lead vocals, who proves with this song that he was certainly up to par with the ability of Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. This song is encouraging, and brings us back to a time when girls were compared to sunshine on a cloudy day. With a breathtaking orchestral sound and the trademark harmonies, it's just timeless. A popular show closer for the original five, "Don't Look Back" makes a fundamental point: "Love can be a beautiful thing/Though your first love let you down/'Cause I know we can make love bloom, baby/The second time around/So if you just put your hand in mine,/We're gonna leave all our troubles behind/Keep on pushing and don't look back."
"Be Mine" - Alabama Shakes
So you could have guessed it in the title. But how can Miss Brittany Howard's voice not tear at your heart strings? She has the soul and rawness of Janis Joplin, but above all, she's honest. This song has the perfect build up for some passionate, unearthed emotion. At the epic bridge, we're ready to scream alongside Howard. You just can't listen to this fiery song without feeling it. We love you, Alabama Shakes.
"Make You Feel My Love" - Adele (Bob Dylan cover)
From the vault of hundreds of Dylan covers, this is by far the greatest of recent efforts. The soulful British queen released this song on 19, and its sheer gracefulness is nothing short of splendid. It highlights the sacrifices what we go through to show someone just how much we care. Sometimes flowers and a box of chocolates doesn't permanently seal the deal, bud.
"Loving Cup" - The Rolling Stones
Mmmm, Exile on Main Street. The Stones not only send their music thundering through the bouncy piano, but when the saxophones come in, it's a done deal. Although it may be a rarity for Mick Jagger to have to beg for a drink from a loving cup, we're not questioning it. Perfectly appropriate for this special day, it's shameless and all the emotions are there as keepsakes. "Yes, I am nitty-gritty and my shirt's all torn/But I would love to spill the beans with you till dawn." No one else can get away with lyrics like the Rolling Stones.
"Treat Me Right" - Grace Potter
Not all love songs involve stable relationships. In fact, the best seem to be those that tell of a struggle. Come on, treat me right! With Grace's funkadelic organ playing, this song is carried by a suave, alluring tone. Not only are we enticed by its soulful authenticity, but it's easy to identify with: "Treat me right and don't you do me wrong/Play for keeps don't just play along/I will give you all the love I got/If you'd just entertain the thought." Just Like "Be Mine," the bridge shimmers. Grace Potter's groove is contagious.
"Blue Valentines" - Tom Waits
The title track of Tom Waits' 1978 release is obviously one for this list of anti-Valentine's. In "Blue Valentines" we hear a solitary tale of a man who is haunted by a distant love. Waits has committed a sin against his lover, so he flees, trying to forget. No matter how far he drives, how he covers a tattoo that once was, or how much whiskey he drinks, he can't shake her memory, constantly receiving her blue valentines, both physical and ethereal.
"Hearts of Stone" - Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
Even though Springsteen wrote this one, he gave it to the greatly underappreciated Southside Johnny who's sincerity can be heard in every lyric. "Hearts of Stone" sets a scene of ex-lovers on the telephone having one last discrete conversation. Each of them wishes that they could have one last embrace, but know that sadly, you just can't return to some loves, and we move on.
"Cold Heart of Stone" - Frank Black
Another one about "stone hearts," this Frank Black song from 2002's Black Letter Days is perfect for heartache on a cold V-day. Black Francis sings of a cheating ex-lover's heart being incomparably colder than the bone-chilling freeze of winter. Black says in the bridge "If ever you need, don't call." Dang.
"St. James Infirmary Blues" - Cab Calloway
This video is from an old Betty Boop cartoon entitled Snow White, where we hear Cab Calloway do his version of the "St. James Infirmary Blues", an old folk song performed by countless jazz and blues artists over the years. Though the lyrics change nearly every time they're done, it's basically the story of a man visiting the hospital to see his girl lying dead. Fun fact: that's actually Cab Calloway himself singing and dancing in the video playing the clown/ghost character, who was drawn via rotoscope.
"Could Have Been" - Lee Fields
One of the single most impressive and emotional vocal performances I've ever heard is in Lee Fields' heartbreaking B-side "Could Have Been". Fields' soul power wails over a single slow-dancing guitar with touches of distant organ and horn, letting the star belt out his thoughts on what "could have been" if he hadn't loved and lost.
So who put together the best playlist? Please let us know your thoughts, as there's a free breakfast at stake.