13 Beats: Valentine’s Day


Trixie Yoo, Staff Writer

*RIYL = Recommended if you like 


“Darling,” Mannequin Pussy

RIYL*: Faye Webster, Japanese Breakfast, Snail Mail 

This track from Mannequin Pussy’s latest extended play (EP) “Perfect” captures the bittersweet feeling of moving on from an old partner. If you’re over your ex but still wish you had a date for Valentine’s Day, this is the song for you. Mannequin Pussy will be performing in the Hall of Presidents on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. 


“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You (I Love You Baby),” Lauryn Hill

RIYL: The Roots, Teyana Taylor, India.Arie

This track from Lauryn Hill’s debut solo album “The Miseducation of Ms. Lauryn Hill” is a cover of the timeless and immensely popular love song by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but with a late ’90s R&B twist (read: beat-boxing central). If you’re lucky enough to have a bae for the holiday, and you want to be gross and romantic yet *learnéd* about it, this is the song for you. 


“1+1,” Beyoncé

RIYL: Miguel, Solange (You don’t need a RIYL, it’s literally Beyoncé)

This track from Beyoncé’s album “4” is a powerful ballad and statement of love. The understated guitar, synth and organ backing Beyoncé’s commanding vocals shine a light on her unparalleled talent. This is the song for you if you’re entangled with someone, but instead of being with your person, you would rather ponder them from afar while you sit alone in Frank Dining Hall with your headphones on. 


“To Be Alone With You,” Sufjan Stevens

RIYL: Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine, Bon Iver

This track from the 2004 album “Seven Swans” features Sufjan Stevens’s lilting, emotive voice over his signature acoustic guitar and folky backing vocals. If you recently got rejected and you want to wallow in your unrequited love, or if you prefer disappearing into romantic fantasies over real-life companionship, this is the song for you.


“Unchained Melody,” Al Green

RIYL: Marvin Gaye, The Righteous Brothers, Smokey Robinson

Al Green’s version of this timeless love song transforms the Righteous Brothers’ cut-and-dry 1950’s ballad into a soulful, intimate performance. If you’re trying to set the mood this Valentine’s Day, then this is the song for you. 


“A Sunday Kind of Love,” Etta James

RIYL: Dinah Washington, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Sam Cooke

This track from Etta James’s signature album “At Last!” features James’ boldly expressive voice over dramatic strings, creating an almost-sickeningly-romantic atmosphere. If you find yourself in love this season, and you want to lean into the camp of being in love, this is the song for you. 


“Claire de Lune,” Harry Kalahiki

RIYL: Claude Debussy, Wes Montgomery, Kaikane

This song from Harry Kalahiki’s album “Mungo Plays Ukulele” interprets Debussy’s piano piece for the ukulele. Yes, you read that correctly — the ukulele. It’s a brilliant take on a study music staple, but it’s also the perfect song for those of you who simply want to share a tender moment with your loved one this Valentine’s Day. 


“Too Good to Say Goodbye,” Bruno Mars

RIYL: Silk Sonic, Ariana Grande, Keyshia Cole

As the closing track to Bruno Mars’ “24k Magic” this song is often overshadowed by the massive successes of the album’s singles like “Versace on the Floor” and “That’s What I Like.” However, this song is not to be overlooked, as Mars shows off the range of his powerful voice with melodramatic lyrics and a soaring melody. If things with your boo have taken a turn for the worse, but you want to procrastinate having the hard conversation to figure out how to fix it, this is the song for you.


“Samba Triste,” Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd

RIYL: João Gilberto, Luiz Bonfá, Antônio Carlos Jobim

This track from Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s 1962 album “Jazz Samba” has no vocals, but the gorgeous melody and moody saxophone are as satisfying to the ear as any singer. This song is for you if you’re a *cool couple* and you like to do partner dances together (let me have your life).


“Since I Fell For You,” Nina Simone

RIYL: Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Otis Redding 

In this track from the album “Nina Simone Sings the Blues,” Simone’s dark contralto voice and the backing instrumental create the exact sound that you think of when you hear “the blues.” If you’ve been burned recently, this song might be for you since you’ll probably begin to feel resentful and bitter soon. 


“La Llorona,” Dueto Dos Rosas

RIYL: La Santa Cecilia, Paquita La Del Barrio, Lola Beltrán

This 2018 single by Dueto Dos Rosas is just one version of the popular Mexican folk song about the La Llorona legend. The two women that form Dueto Dos Rosas perform this folk song as an emotional duet, and their voices are rich with grief and storytelling power. This song serves as a reminder that heartbreak transcends time and locale. 


“Come Here,” Talib Kweli and Miguel

RIYL: Bilal, Slum Village, Raphael Saadiq

This track from Kweli’s 2013 album “Prisoner of Consciousness” is an upbeat love song that, with Miguel’s hook, will stay stuck in your head for hours. If you’re trying to encourage your sneaky link to make the first move, this is the song for you. 


“C.R.E.A.M.,” Wu-Tang Clan

RIYL: A Tribe Called Quest, Ghostface Killah, MF DOOM

This immensely famous track from Wu-Tang’s debut album “Enter the 36 Chambers” gives us the reality check we all need to remember who the real enemy is (hint: it’s not your demons, it’s the-political-economy-that-shall-not-be-named). This song is for those who are feeling particularly cynical about Valentine’s Day this year.