A Valentine's Day playlist is a tricky thing. There are, of course, literally thousands of classic love songs out there to choose from. On the other hand, the majority of those tracks are more likely to cause laughter than set the right mood. With that difficult balance in mind, we set about creating a playlist that wasn't cheesy in the slightest — songs that enhance the vibe rather than add to the self-consciousness you're more likely to feel. So, after careful consideration, we've selected fifteen tracks that should ease you into the evening. Whether your plans involve a bottle of wine and a dinner for two or something more, ahem, taboo, these songs will lead the way to a perfect V-Day celebration.
Click through to read about each track, and skip to the last page to find the full playlist!
With his signature hi-hat groove and a fantastic guest vocal from Sara Z, L.A. producer Jerome LOL hits all our romantic pleasure centers with his newest track. It may not be explicitly hot and heavy, but the sound is perfect for setting the mood.
Valentine's Day can be as much about making up as it is about falling in love. Blood Orange's "Always Let U Down," featuring real-life girlfriend Samantha Urbani, may be a song about disappointment, but you get the feeling that things will work out in the end.
The most emotional man in hip-hop perfected his sound with last year's sprawling album, Nothing Was the Same. "Hold On, We're Going Home" is the LP's sumptuous epicenter, a smooth-as-butter ballad that makes heading back to the house seem like the most romantic thing in the world.
Including Bey's duet with Jay was a no brainer — just look at the title. If this song doesn't have you surfboarding your way into the bedroom, we don't know what will.
Back in 1999, few gave "Love You Down" more than a second glance, but over the years, it's become a cult favorite among pop aficionados, with its airy blend of bubblegum and R&B. So, if you plan to spend Valentine's Facebook stalking your middle-school crush, this is your jam.
We could have picked almost any track from Kelela's debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, but the Kingdom-produced "Bank Head" felt just right for a romance playlist. With Kelela singing over a sleek beat, it's upbeat enough for a night out and chilled-out enough for more intimate occasions.
Not including D'Angelo on a Valentine's Day playlist is a ticketable offense in 13 states. We didn't want to break the law, so we went with "Feel Like Makin' Love" — not that there was a wrong choice.
Fair warning here: This song is so romantic, so intimate, and so steamy, we don't recommend playing it unless you and your partner are really comfortable with one another. Like, leave-the-door-open-when-you're-going-to-bathroom comfortable. Things are going to get emotional.
Of all the tracks on Disclosure's Settle, "Help You Lose My Mind" has to be the most beautiful. London Grammar's Hannah Reid sings with palpable longing, and the backing track of subtle house has just the right amount of propulsive power.
Taking cues from '80s R&B, Rhye made last year's most purely romantic record. "The Fall" is already a classic that will be appearing on steamy playlists for years to come.
This song may be two years old, but it remains one of the best R&B tracks in recent memory. With production from Mike Will Made It in pre-superstar days, it's probably best to wait until you get into the bedroom before putting this one on.
Sade's entire career has been full of smooth R&B hits, but "The Sweetest Taboo" is personal favorite of ours. With its woodblock rhythm and lush production, it's a mid-'80s classic that's been ripped by countless others since its release. Play this at the right moment, and who knows what could happen.
This track may be the most purely romantic song released last year. Then again, it helps that Ciara interpolates Ghost Town DJ's' classic "My Boo." Basically, it's the perfect storm of sexy.
The original version of this playlist was like, ⅔ Miguel-based. We eventually whittled it down to include just this one fantastic duet with Janelle Monáe, another artist who knows more than a little something about romance.
The video may have been self-consciously cheesy, but "Bound 2" is a serious love song of epic proportions. Try not the think about Kim and Kanye's motorcycle ride, and embrace the gorgeous soul sample and Ye's heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics, instead.
And here's the full playlist!
Illustrated by Ly Ngo