Valentine's Day is the day to celebrate love -- it's good for business. But whether you think Feb. 14 is a scam made by Uncle Sam or not, the fact is that you're going to at least acknowledge it if you have a boo by your side. Even if you're pessimistic about the day, you can look at it as a way to strengthen the bond with your mate. Or seal the deal. Whatever is the agenda.
If you're struggling with gifts, the bright side is that you can't go wrong when it comes to music. Everybody likes music; some may be apathetic, but no one straight up hates those catchy melodies (if your Valentine does, that can't be bae). There are hundreds of reasonable songs to use to get romantic. Not all of them will work. For example, Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' is a classic, but some won't be inclined to make love to the same song their parents made them with.
We've selected these tunes not just because they soundtrack romantic pursuits; they're mostly classics and they're all ubiquitous. Some of them you'd want to throw on your playlist immediately. Some of them are perfect for hitting the sheets. Whichever way you choose to spend the celebration of Saint Valentine (hopefully it's not busy dodging Cupid's arrow), give each of the 10 Songs to Woo Your Bae on Valentine's Day a shot.
One of the reasons why Miguel is one of the decade’s most reliable stars is how he maximizes even the most sublime and nuanced performance movements for impact (which is somewhat of a metaphor for love when you think about it). He hasn’t let up since 2012’s ‘Kaleidoscope Dream.’ Still, the most compact example of the "Miguel Effect" is still ‘Adorn.’ The musical arrangement is lush, but it really isn’t anything too complex; you get a chord progression played up for dreamy effect combined with thumping bass for the intimacy. It’s Miguel — half entertainer, half warrior of love — who transforms the track.
Badu’s first single is the most poignant song on this list. It’s filled with quotables that harp on people’s habitual inadequacies -- we screw up because that’s just what we do. It’s a fact as consistent as time. But what prevents this from being a mood killer is how it sets the mood from just its sound. JaBorn Jamal and Bob Power’s production hides its melancholy within its dulcet breeziness, while the smokiness within Badu’s whisper immediately became one of the genre’s most likeable voices. So then you flip the negative into a positive: We’re naturally flawed anyways, so let’s take pleasure in the moment.
'That's the Way Love Goes' Janet Jackson
There are multiple reasons ‘Control’ and ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ are two of the most compelling pop works in history. One of them lies in the character arc within ‘Let’s Wait a While’ and ‘Someday Is Tonight.’ She’s maturing and abstinent in the former and ready in the later. Four years after ‘Rhythm Nation,’ we get ‘janet.,’ her most sexually exploring body of work. We get both idyllic and explicit (see ‘Throb’) visions of lovemaking, and the two collide in the shimmering perfection of ‘That’s the Way Love Goes.’ Jackson’s proclivity for bedroom joints wouldn’t fall — ‘I Get Lonely’ would come on her next album ‘The Velvet Rope’ — but this hit would remain her most entrancing. When they declare, “Love is in the air,” they’re referring this production.
Mariah Carey was still on top of her game during the ‘Butterfly’ era. Still, one music question that will remain unsolved is if ‘Babydoll’ could’ve been that third Billboard No. 1 if it was released as a single. It certainly had a shot. On the ‘Butterfly’ highlight, ‘Babydoll’ pulls back on the genre-crossing. Scratches whiz in the background as aquatic sound effects and low-tempo percussion set the mood. It sets the tension before Carey just tears it down in the hook: “Enfold me in your arms / Cover me with velvet kisses / Rock me on and on.” After-dark needs are never this sweet in real life, but one can wish.
‘Red Light Special’ is so great that you almost forget there’s a poop joke on the same album. TLC was just that confident. Twenty years later, ‘Red Light Special’ remains the boo-loving playlist essential with its dirty guitar and the orgasmic bridge that nears the end. “I'll let you touch it if you'd like to go down / I'll let you go further / If you take the southern route,” they sing. Sometimes the best gift is pleasure.
'Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)' Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys' most sensual and atmospheric song is also arguably her best. The Superwoman parses it down a bit for some quiet storm, channeling Sade's compelling sense of restraint into what was 2010's most resonant bedroom jam. Drake, who quietly does background vocals, would again collaborate with Alicia Keys on 'Fireworks.' That one didn't quite stick, though; cliched symbolism is no substitute for intimacy.
'Till The Cops Come Knockin''Maxwell
Maxwell’s debut album got delayed partially because Columbia didn’t see its commercial potential. Wrong: ‘Urban Hang Suite’ went on to sell over two million copies, and tracks like ‘Till The Cops Come Knockin’' is a huge reason why. ‘Urban Hang Suite’ was buoyed by the range of Maxwell’s vocals — from the soaring falsetto to the effusiveness of his deeper notes. As smoother as the instrumentals for the song are, what’s at the center is how the crooner's voice carries this sense of mischievousness on the hook. You can leave the cherubs outside of the hotel room.
'Can't You See' Total Feat. Notorious B.I.G.
Total's most well-known song works because of both the chemistry and the potency of both sides. Biggie, the lothario, is still cold, rhyming as if he's in a mink sitting on leather. The person who dislikes the sweetness of Total's performance is rare and not to be trusted. Plus, 'Can't You See' is recognized as one of the greatest R&B and hip-hop collaborations of all time. It should be good enough for bae.
'What You Need' The Weeknd
Part of this song's original appeal lies in how this textured and submerged production came from this mysterious figure. He’s the Weeknd and he’s scoring film soundtracks these days. Four years after, the darkly intimate track arguably stands out more without a Basquiat-like figure attached to it. Even without the Aaliyah sample, the very familiar feeling of lust is at the core of ‘What You Need.’
You can argue whether or not ‘Rock the Boat’ is Aaliyah’s greatest song. However, it’s harder to disagree on if it’s not the most immediately pleasurable — from the tropical drums, to the instrumental breakdown that leads to the hook, to the Aaliyah’s trademark angelic vocals. Part of the charm lies within the misleading title, too; Baby Girl is piloting this ship on the hook.
‘Rock the Boat’ gets some notoriety for being the last music video Aaliyah filmed before passing away in the plane crash. Despite the tragedy, the sweetness still outlasts the bitterness.