Thursday, June 25, 2015

Katie's Top Ten List of Classic Pop/Rock Love Songs

"Music is only love looking for words." - Lawrence Durell: poet, novelist, dramatist, and travel writer. Best known for his work on the Alexandria Quartet.

I'm sure all of you have a favorite love song. Every time it comes on, it fills you with feelings of joy and nostalgia, you drop everything you're doing, and you take a moment to just listen to it. You have probably also sung it out loud, maybe at a  karaoke night, open mic night, or to yourself in your bathroom mirror. Or maybe you've just listened to it and let the emotion wash over you. In any case, we've all got that one song (or, for people like me, a bunch of songs) that hold that special place in our hearts and helped shape our views on the subject. You can see some of mine in my geeky music and musical theatre posts.  For this post, I took a time traveling DeLorean to the past and pulled up some gems for you today for our journey down nostalgia lane. Because my knowledge in certain areas are lacking, I brought my genius partners in crime along: my sister Sarah and my boyfriend Liam. With all our powers combined, we came up with this list for your (hopefully) listening pleasure.  Once again, this list is by no means comprehensive and opinion based, feel free to share yours in the comments below. Without further ado...

1. At My Most Beautiful by REM

Written in the style of The Beach Boys, At My Most Beautiful was featured on REM's 1999 album Up  (thus earning it the title of the most recent released song on this list). In Micheal Stipe's endeavor to write "the most romantic song [he'd] ever written", this gift of musicality uses poetry to explain what love is without every saying "I love you." I adore this song way more than is probably acceptable and I know for a fact that this song will be played at my wedding. "I save your messages just to hear your voice" speaks way more truth to my experience in love than I would care to admit. This song is perfect for any love-expressing ceremony of your choice. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe. And speaking of the Beach Boys...

2. God Only Knows  by The Beach Boys

Released in 1966 on the album Pet Sounds, this beauty has been played in pretty much every pop culture medium, from the film Love Actually to a barbershop quartet cover in the video game Bioshock Infinite. The song is pretty well known and is considered the best of the best, but it is still deserving of its spot on this list. The song is so simple and so beautiful in it's simplicity. My boyfriend Liam, who suggested the song, described it as simply "perfect" and I agree. It was a popular song at my high school; I have many pleasant memories of my classmates picking up their acoustic guitars and singing covers of this and various Beatles tunes. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe. And with that comes my segue to the next entry.

3. Something by The Beatles

Written for the band by George Harrison, the song was released in 1969 on Abbey Road, the final album the Beatles released. Referred to, by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, as "the best song on Abbey Road", the song has been covered by countless artists and has gone down in history as one of the greatest love songs ever written. I picked this one because a) George Harrison is severely underrated in comparison to the other Beatles and he needs way more love, b) Like the previous two entries, it's a very simple, lovely song that never says "I love you" because it knows it's audience is smart, and c) this song is very simple and fun to play on Beatles: Rock Band. In contrast to the previous entries, however, this song is a slow song and is perfect for those moments at your wedding when you just want to hold your best friend in your arms. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe.

4. You're My Best Friend by Queen

This song was released in the 1975 album A Night At The Opera and was written by bassist John Deacon. Despite it's modern day association with cruise lines, Deacon wrote the song in honor of his wife, Veronica Tetzlaff. I love this song not only because it is such a well known song and is very fun to dance to, I love the instrumentals. Deacon, along with the bass, also played the Wurlitzer electric piano for this song and it is one of the most intrinsic and important parts of the song. You hear the electric piano and you immediately know which song you are listening to. It's an upbeat song, most people know the lyrics, and it's just a great song. It's such a sweet thing, you guys. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe.

5. Sweet Thing by Van Morrison

"Sweet Thing' is another romantic song. It contemplates gardens and things like that...wet with rain. It's a romantic love ballad not about anybody in particular but about a feeling." said Van Morrison himself. Sweet Thing was released on the 1968 album Astral Weeks. Morrison wrote the song for his future wife Janet after he had met her on his 1966 US tour. This song is important to me for a very personal reason: the first few months that Liam and I were dating, I was fretting about not knowing what "our song" was. He provided this song as a contestant and needless to say, it became "our song." I remember meeting him in California during Christmas break from college, sitting in his car as we drove to the nearest In-N-Out as I had never been, and singing along to this song while we waited for our food. It's genuinely a super sweet song and I tear up every time I hear it. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe.

6. Sweet Darlin' by Heart

In 1980, Heart released the album Bebe Le Strange where this song was featured. Written by Ann Wilson, it's a bit of hidden gem for those not familiar with Heart's discography. Despite a live version being featured on their Greatest Hits, it wasn't a song that got a lot of radio play when it was released. Some people interpret this song as a break up song, I feel like this falls into the same category as Sweet Thing where Ann Wilson is singing about a particular feeling. While Van Morrison took a more springy, lighthearted feel, Ann Wilson went deep into her heart and laid it out on the table for all to see. And what a beautiful song it is. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe. Ann Wilson has the voice of an angel and I can't imagine anyone else who could sing this as perfectly as she can.

7. Earth Angel by The Penguins

Released in 1955 as the B-side to Hey Senorita, Earth Angel skyrocketed to the top of billboard charts and was the only hit single the Penguins ever had. This entry is a bit of an odd duck, and a bit of cheat, since it is the only song on this list that doesn't fall within the "rock music" umbrella, it's a doo-wop song, and I had featured the cover of the song used in Back to the Future in my "Geeky Music" blog post. Even so, this song is so beautiful. Just... listen to the lyrics, listen to the passion behind their voices, it's just such a gorgeous song and it sweeps me off my feet. It's also the perfect slow song for a wedding. I hear this song and I can just picture slow dancing with my spouse with our arms wrapped tightly around each other, just fools in love with each other, right where we belong. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe. And speaking of which...

8. We Belong by Pat Benatar

Suggested by my sister Sarah, this song was on the 1984 album Tropico. Written by Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro, it was a major hit when it came out and it earned Benatar a Grammy nomination. It's got a very nice beat to dance to, the lyrics are simple and easy to sing along to, and Benatar's voice is smooth and, for lack of eloquent phrasing, very nice sounding on the ears. But much like Sweet Thing, this song has a personal memory attached to it too: for spring break of my junior year of college, my family took a trip to Universal Studios. Our final night there, Pat Benatar was giving a free concert. It was Sarah's first concert and she is the biggest Pat Benatar fan I know, so she and I made our way to the front and watched Benatar belt her heart out. It was a fantastic concert and great moment for the both of us. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe. We still go to concerts for 80's artists together when we can.

9. Sweetest Thing by U2

While not the song suggested by Liam, I still wanted to make sure U2 made an appearance on this list because U2 is one of his favorite bands and Liam is one of my favorite people. The song was released in 1987 as the B-side to the Where the Streets Have No Name single. The story, so I'm told by Liam, is that this song was written by Bono as an apology to his wife, Ali Hewson, for forgetting her birthday while he worked in the studio on The Joshua Tree. As I was doing my research for this entry, someone on a U2 fansite referred to this song as the "Don't Worry Be Happy" of the U2 catalog and I can definitely see that comparison. That being said, I really like this song and it's got that perfect hook you'll be singing for the longest time. His wife agreed to appear in the music video if all the profits from the single would be donated to her favorite charity: Chernobyl Children's Project International, and thus the music video was made. You can buy the "Best of" album HERE from CD Universe.

10. For the Longest Time by Billy Joel

Okay, maybe Earth Angel wasn't the only odd duck. For the Longest Time was released on the album An Innocent Man in 1983 and then as single in 1984. Every bit of the song, with the exception of the bass guitar and the snare drum, are done by Joel himself, including the claps and the snapping. The song has become very popular with a cappella groups and choirs all over the country and you can hear why! It's a very fun song, it's very easy to dance to, it'll be perfect to play at your wedding when you need something upbeat to liven everyone up. You can buy it HERE from CD Universe. This is Billy Joel's tribute to doo-wop at its most beautiful.

What classic rock/pop songs are your favorites? Which ones will be/were played at your wedding? Let me know in the comments.

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