6 classic love ballads to serenade your date

Elena Waldman

Valentine’s Day is a controversial holiday. Cynics claim it is simply a capitalist construct designed to drive the sale of chocolate and flowers, while hopeless romantics consider it an important milestone in a healthy relationship.

Regardless, the classic holiday holds an important weight in culture, especially when it comes to music. Whether people want to admit it or not, Valentine’s Day has inspired love ballads of all genres, from all eras, giving us an abundance of romantic classics.

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Here are some old-school Valentine’s Day classics for the in-love, the lonely or the brokenhearted souls.

1. “Sleepwalk” – Santo and Johnny

A timeless hit from 1959, “Sleepwalk” sounds like what a sunset looks like. The song features a steel guitar as the most prominent source of the tune, giving it a smooth, honey-like sound. Though there are no words to this track, the instrumentals portray the sound of love perfectly on their own.

2. “A Teenager in Love” – Dion and the Belmonts

Released in the late 1950s, a time when Doo-wop had reached its peak, “A Teenager in Love” could not be more symbolic of its era. This song has everything an old-school pop song needs: desperate lyrics, vocal harmonies and an upbeat tempo.

3. “La Vie en Rose” – Édith Piaf

Many people may have heard “La Vie en Rose” for the first time sung beautifully by Lady Gaga in the “A Star is Born” soundtrack, but the song was originally released in 1947 by French singer Édith Piaf. As French is known as the bona fide language of love, this song is one of the most romantic ballads of all time. It explores the powerful influence of love, saying “Je vois la vie en rose,” which translates to “I see life through rose-colored glasses.”

4. “Laughing on the Outside” – Bernadette Carroll

Originally written by Bernie Wayne and Ben Raleigh in 1946, “Laughing on the Outside” became popularized by several different artists. The Netflix original series, “The End of the F*cking World” included the cover by Bernadette Carroll in the soundtrack, exposing it to mainstream audiences once again. “Laughing on the Outside” appears to be a sad song about heartbreak, though it is more whiny-sounding than tear-inducing. Still, the lyrics are amusing and are effective in emphasizing how many young people tend to blow the seriousness of their relationships out of proportion.

5. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” – The Beatles

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What more could the best selling band in history give us than a slew of timeless love songs? “Do you want to know a secret” was one of the many hits on The Beatles’ debut album, “Please Please Me,” released in 1963. The song was written by the infamous duo, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and speaks to the love interest of the writers. Accompanied by a simple yet beautiful three-chord tune, the lyrics feel youthful and innocent as if they were written for someone’s first love.

6. “At Last” – Etta James

Etta James was an icon of the ‘60s and is still known today as one of the most influential voices in R&B music of all time. The song opens with an enchanting melody from the strings, followed by James’ effortlessly powerful vocals. “At Last” is reminiscent of the themes portrayed in classic Hollywood romance films, with the lyrics calling out to the singer’s one true love.

Elena Waldman can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @Waldmanelena.