If music be the food of love play on-William Shakespeare
Marvin Gaye-Come Live With Me Angel
It’s so hard to choose that ONE Marvin Gaye song to get the fire going. But here I decided to go with a personal favourite of mine. From the start this song is inviting with a smooth exotic groove followed by a bed of enchanting melodies which sets up Marvin to croon for over six minutes. This is the start of contemporary R&B as we know it. Start with this and love will be as inviting as the angel Marvin wants to come live with him.
Lynden David Hall-Sexy Cinderella
This hidden gem is by an artist gone way too soon. Sexy Cinderella was Lynden David Hall’s introduction into the R&B world that put urban radio on notice and made others from across the pond pay attention. One of the shining stars of UK R&B, a voice reminiscent of D’angelo David’s voice is his own, proven in this classic take on a classic love story. R.I.P. Lynden.
One thing I didn’t get about Jodeci at first was the way that they used to structure their albums. Placing the slow jams at the beginning of the album then switching it up half way to an upbeat Hip-Hop influence dance groove. Maybe they were ahead of their time. Anyway much of their first album (Forever My Lady) had those personal ballads (Forever my lady, Come & talk to me, U&I) while their second album titled Diary of a Mad Band was full of explicit hits that evoked that X-rated feeling with the one you cared for. Let K-Ci & JoJo sing to the ladies while De Vante and Dalvin rap and speak sweet nothings throughout.
Joe-The Love Scene
What’s your ideal love scene? Can’t describe it? Don’t worry Joe’s got you covered. The perfect answer to settling the scene Joe describes the ultimate love making scene ideal for any romantic flick. One of the many excellent songs off of his sophomore album (All That I am), one listen and this song comes across as the perfect backdrop to setting the scene, one of the many jams by Joe to do so. But where to begin, oh yeah STEP ONE….
Maxwell-Til the Cops Come Knockin’
Quiet storm time now, who needs music when you have Maxwell’s voice and falsetto? Forget singing this is damn near spoken word poetry. However you take this song the idea to do what the song suggest with a love one seems crazy at first but give it a try and see if you disagree.
Aaliyah-At your best (You Are Love)
Few could cover The Isley Brothers but Aaliyah did it twice with the results being pure bliss. In Aaliyah’s hands the ballad comes off as a sweet lullaby and an intimate love letter to her love interest. The Tom boy image she portrayed in 1994 was a sign of the times for female R&B acts (see SWV) but listen to the third verse and this is anything but rugged. Innocent yet up front. R.I.P. Aaliyah
Usher-Twerk It Out
I never understood why this was never released as a single, but then again you were spoiled for choice with 8701. an album cut with plenty of soul references to those songs that influenced it (You Sure Love To Ball). An upbeat jam that you could get down to over and over. Usher was the king in the early noughties and he got the formula right here.
Raphael Saadiq-Ask of you
From the Higher Learning soundtrack we have one third of the R&B group Tony Toni Tone Raphael Saadiq going solo on this one. I remember playing this constantly when I first heard it. The simple drum pattern with a piano melody placed over them (not to mention the killer harmonica solo) all these elements made the song so enjoyable. But let’s not forget Raphael’s vocals, bursting with honesty if you couldn’t find a way to suggest to your lady about doing a little sumthin sumthin just let press play and thank Raphael later.
Who said you can’t be romantic with Hip-Hop? Common has proven this time and time again (see The Light & Come close) this song has Common rapping about meeting a lady he has chemistry with and exploring their fantasies together. The additional vocals of Kanye West and John Mayer is a great assist to the song with repetitive use of the word Go throughout the chorus almost as if it’s a mantra. The song is so enjoyable and laid back you’ll overlook Commons many crude references, but I’ll never tell…just push play and GO!
This is the same problem I had with Marvin Gaye when choosing that ONE prince song. So I kept it clean and chose the one song most prince fans can agree on as the love song to vibe to. Off of his second opus Sign o’ the Times. If you can’t confess your love to someone with this song then all hope is lost. The song has EVERYTHING, beautiful imagery (Rapping till the sun came up) humour (you could burn my clothes, mash up my ride…well maybe not the ride) and last but not least sheer honesty (until the end of time, I’ll be there for you…..your beauty I’ll still see) prince made this slow jam seem like the height all other slow jams would reach, is he wrong? Simply exquisite, signature Prince.
Sade-By Your Side
So elusive but when present her presence is heard and often felt. Not one to wail to the rooftops Sade’s voice is sophisticated and elegant; her voice only grows more pure and intimate with each listen as proven by her later work. By your side is that one you play for that first dance or for rekindling with a former flame. However you use Sade’s ode to the perfect partner the result will always be the same. Perfect.
A bass driven groove for you to vibe to, lady is a song to get your grown man romance on with your female friend. Whether it’s the handclaps or his voice that will make you want to sing and dance or just simply nod your head along D’angelo made a song we can all feel or feel someone else with. I brought the Brown Sugar album again when I was in college. The result was constant play from beginning to end.
Who hasn’t got R.kelly in Their Playlist? The R. has a whole catalogue worth of love songs but I decided on this intimate track featuring Nivea. The pair sing the song acting as two lovers in a conversation describing their romantic antics that they wish to peruse with one another that seem so taboo, but its ok they are alone after all. Let them do all the talking while you do all the action.
Luther Vandross-Forever, For Always, For love
What playlist is complete without Luther? The end of a romantic evening Luther takes it low and slow and lets us into his story of a love gone wrong and starting again from the beginning to rekindle the passion which once was, a love song with a happy ending. A classic song by a classic artist to wrap up a classic night (or morning). Sing away Luther and enjoy forever, for always for love.
**oh what the hell here’s some bonus cuts**
The Isley brothers-secret lover
INXS-Never Tear Us Apart
Faith Evans-Come Over
Dead Prez-Mind Sex
What songs do you play to put you in a romantic mood for valentines day? Leave a comment below.