New Zealand musicians share their favourite love songs of all time.
Hate it or, uh, love it, Valentine’s Day is happening this Sunday.
Whatever your feelings are about it, we decided to make the most of a good opportunity and got some of our favourite musicians to share the the love songs that have stuck with them.
Hear from Eddie Johnston, Jimmy Mac, Tom Scott, Emily Edrosa, PNC, Annabel Liddell, Aldous Harding and Esther Stephens, below.
Tiny Ruins – ‘Me At The Museum, You In The Wintergardens’
- Eddie Johnston (Lontalius)
I’ve never been the biggest fan of folk music, nor the kind of poetic lyrics that they tend to include. This song has never failed to floor me, though. For every crush that I’ve ever had (including very brief, pretty-face-on-a-bus crushes), I will always immediately dream of the beautiful life we’ll have together, where they’ll work and where we’ll live and what type of dog we’ll have. I guess that’s what draws me to this song so much. Her at the museum, him in the Wintergardens, sharing their lunch breaks together! It’s cute as hell. The actual song is perfect too. Oh boy. This should have won the Silver Scroll.
BB King and Van Morrison – ‘If You Love Me’
- Jimmy Mac (Scuba Diva)
I think there are other versions of this song, but the BB king one is the one I know. I remember my dad getting that album when I was around 10 or something. So I guess I've been hearing this song for a long time.
I like this tune because the lyrics are pretty straight up. He doesn't really mess around with metaphors and shit, and it's kind of just straight from the heart. It was played at my wedding off Spotify with my best man Ben cupping the phone speaker to make it loud because the chapel only had a CD player and no auxillary cord. Emma walked up the isle to it. But the isle was only around four metres so we only got about 10 bars in. FML.
Don Blackman – ‘Heart's Desire’
- Tom Scott (Average Rap Band)
When she first walked in the room it was like she had her own theme music. She held her crate under her arm like wonder woman's shield. I wanted to know what she had in that even more than her pants.
We crossed paths at a mutual friend's party. She spent the whole night in the kitchen glued to the iPod dock. At first her shoulder shake had me shook, but I got my feet together and eventually one-two step lead to a few steps. Next thing she's leading me up her front steps and we fall asleep in a blanket of empty McMuffin wrappers.
Next day she drove me home. She reversed out the drive way ice cool with one hand, reached in the glove box with the other, pulled out a stack of burnt CDs and put on this song that had me like 'what-the-fuck-is-this'?
The baseline. The bass line was so cold! (Barry Sonjohn Johnson.) I think I knew right there I wanted to marry her. I remember she did this little dance with her fingers to the keys solo like some funky hogwarts spell. In my head I was watching Pam Grier conduct a concerto. This was different than the other girls I knew. This wasn't me pretending to listen to Lana Del Rey or something. This girl was speaking my language.
And it wasn't about the words. Let's be real, the words in boogie songs aren't exactly Shakespearean. I mean, it was 1982. There may have (definitely) been cocaine involved. People just wanted to party and you can't dance to Ginsberg. The song's called ‘Heart's Desire' for funk's sake. The most important lyric in it is ‘ba-doba-doba-doba-doba-be-up-ba-doba-doba-doba-do-do-do-do-weee'. But the phrasing is wild. It still throws me off three years later.
So yeah, that's the song that comes to mind when I think of love. I'm sure that deeper, more meaningful songs have been written, but they weren't playing that day and I've always been more of the ‘it don't mean a thang...' type.
Voom – ‘Beth’s Song’
- Emily Edrosa (Street Chant)
I remember first hearing ‘Beth's Song’ coming out of my clock radio (probably on bFM) while I was getting ready to go to school when I was a teenager. I hadn't fallen in love yet, but I remember being completely struck by the rawness of it, especially the vocals.
Maybe it’s because I hadn't heard anyone singing with a New Zealand accent before, let alone anything that didn't rhyme. But I think it was the lyrics themselves, they seemed so purposeful and unpretentious - a far cry from the obscurest torture musings I had only listened to until then.
Years later I heard that Buzz wrote the song to sing down the phone to "Beth", and the lyrics he had written were vetoed by his flatmate for being too cheesy so he made these ones up on the spot.
I used to think love songs had to be so intense and poetic, that the singer simply couldn't continue without the object of the song. Buzz knows the truth; you still carry on. I also had a girlfriend who moved to Australia. I promised I would go over too, but I ended up staying in Auckland. There’s a song about it on Hauora, Street Chant's long delayed second album. I hope that my Beth gets to hear it one day.
Banks – ‘Fuck Em Only We Know’
A few years ago ‘Fuck Em Only We Know’ breezed its way into the hallowed collection that is my favourite Slow Jamz. It ticks all the boxes: an Aaliyah inspired whisper tone echoing over lush 80's synths. Saccharine sentiment coupled with uncertainty.
The title represents that unashamed egotism that develops in any good relationship. Whether it's ‘You're Still The One’ or ‘Me & My Bitch’, my favourite love songs often have a heavy dose of diss and indifference to anyone who doubted.
Most importantly though, this song reminds me of falling in love. It was a constant in a slowly developing bond that remains and grows stronger each day.
A jam that still gets spins, at a relaxed 5pm or raucous 5am.
Simply put, this is our song. Only we know.
Pet Shop Boys – ‘Always On My Mind’
- Annabel Liddell (Miss June)
It was a tie between this song and Roy Orbison's 'You Got It' cos Roy has the voice of a damn angel. But 'Always On My Mind' is just such a banger. My partner Andrew put it on a mix CD that he made for me when we first met, which is how I fell in love with the song.
I appreciate that it's about fucking up and a love lost, because in a way that's kind of more romanti ... like on Louie when the old man tells him love is heartbreak. It's also Andrew's favourite karaoke song. He sings it to me every time we go to Charlie’s. It always makes me boogie and always makes me smile. How could I not love it?
Toto – ‘Africa’
- Aldous Harding
Toto’s 'Africa' remains one of the most powerful songs I've ever heard. I first heard it driving with my mum’s brother in his red RX7. It's one of those introductions that pulls in your jaw, like you've bitten into something intensely sour.
The groove is full of deep and charming pulses that put you high up in a tree during a monsoon. The words are a charming collective of spiritual, simple, trying and merciful concepts. I think that he feels blessed to have seen Africa but also now sees that he is blessed with an easy existence and must work on his dumb soul to keep the woman he loves.
I find it interesting the method of a powerful anthem. Why did so many people love it? Why do I love it? I don't know why I feel the way I do about this song but I can tell you I miss everyone I've ever loved when I hear it.
Bjork – ‘Possibly, Maybe’
- Esther Stephens (Esther Stephens and The Means)
I first met 'Possibly, Maybe' through a boy I liked. He told me it was one of his favourite Bjork tunes, and because I liked him, I wanted to like everything he liked, which luckily led me to fall completely and independently in love with this song. It chronicles the journey of a relationship, from the first flushes of attraction, through the conflicts of coupledom, and out the other side as both parties go their separate ways. Ironically the exact path me and aforementioned boy ended up following.
Along with the life cycle of a relationship, the song also addresses the gamble of love, to fall in love is to launch into the unknown: “Who knows what's going to happen? Lottery or car crash.” I love how the melody of the chorus, her repeated “possibly, maybe” elicits that sense of hope and uncertainty.
One of the things I admire about Bjork is how she is able to pin point very specific human experiences in her lyrics, rather than just dealing in broad thematic brush strokes. My favourite line in the song is one of the final lines, “I suck my tongue in remembrance of you.”
'Possibly, Maybe' connects with me because it's not a rose tinted, sentimental love song - it deals with the dynamic of real love, that I, as a listener, understand it to be like. And she pashes a watermelon in the music video and that's just wonderful.