It’s Valentine’s Day, in case you hadn’t noticed, and we’ve just let loose our pick of the 50 best love songs ever recorded. Armed with our list and a karaoke machine, there’s no-one you can’t woo this V-Day.
On the other hand, here are five songs you probably shouldn’t sing. They may seem sweet at first, but there’s something about them that will have your date scanning the room for the nearest exit quicker than you can say ‘I’ve got a puppy in my van’.
1. Death Cab For Cutie – ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’
For a cute, shy indie boy, Ben Gibbard sounds awfully confident that he’s going to hit it off with you. He will possess your heart – and if he can’t, well, he won’t let you let him down so easily. So this song is basically the national anthem of the Friend Zone – but we’re not going to knock it too hard because, creepiness notwithstanding, it’s a total banger.
Creep factor: 1/5
2. Dean Martin – ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’
Most people associate this one with Christmas, not February – but hey, it is cold outside, so why not snuggle down with a glass of something and the king crooner? Oh, what’s that, Dean? I’m not allowed to leave? There are no cabs? Say, what’s in this drink? Robin Thicke’s got nothing on this guy. You kind of have to let ol’ Dean off the hook, though: this one was written in the ’40s, and things were different back then.
Creep factor: 2/5
3. Lionel Richie – ‘Hello’
This one actually made our top 50 love songs list, but there’s something about it that definitely rules it out as a romantic soundtrack. It’s not so much the song: Lionel’s lyrics do make him sound a bit like the world’s most polite stalker, but they’re really fairly innocuous.
No, the problem is mostly the video, in which drama teacher Mr Richie pursues a blind student with weird gazes and midnight telephone calls. (‘Tell me how to win your heart, for I haven’t got a clue’ – yeah, no kidding…) The fact that the student in question seems to actually enjoy his attention, to the point of making a hilariously bad sculpture of Lionel’s head, doesn’t make the whole scene any less awkward. ‘Hello’? Goodbye.
Creep factor: 3/5
4. Anything by R Kelly
R Kelly has more sexy slow jams up his, er, sleeve than anyone else alive. That’s partly because he’s a melodic genius, and partly because he has some kind of supernatural ability to see the potential for a little how’s-yer-father in any given situation, with any given metaphor: see ‘In the Kitchen’, or ‘Put My T-Shirt On’, or ‘Hotel’.
We don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump ’n’ grind – but when you stop and think for a second, isn’t it kind of sad and weird that he can hardly stop thinking about sex for five minutes? Add in the persistent (but disproved) rumours about his private life, and you may want to reconsider that two-hour R Kelly sex playlist you’ve got set to private on Spotify.
Creep factor: 4/5
5. The Police – ‘Every Breath You Take’
Let’s end with a classic. The biggest song Sting ever wrote is also his creepiest – and that’s saying something, since ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ is about a teacher (yep, again) getting turned on by one of his students.
At first, ‘Every Breath You Take’ sounds reassuring, supportive – nurturing, even. It’s become a regular first dance at weddings. It was used as the basis for Puff Daddy’s mawkish tribute to Biggy Smalls, ‘I’ll Be Missing You’. Even Sting says that when he first wrote it he ‘didn’t realise at the time how sinister it is’.
Well, Sting (if that is your real name), it’s pretty damn sinister. ‘I’ll be watching you,’ the singer coos at the end of every verse, and it’s hard to stop your head filling with imaginary tantric stalkers. Nightmarish.
Creep factor: 5/5
Read (and listen to) our list of the 50 best love songs ever.