Man at His Best

The 40 Love Songs You Need to Close A Date

You're not going to sit in silence.

BY ESQUIRE EDITORS | Jan 25, 2019 | Music

THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY

Besides the greeting, the ending is the most awkward part of any date. Do you wave? Do you hug? Do you kiss? Do you just sit in your car or living room in silence staring at each other until one of you breaks eye contact and backs out of the room? No, friend. If you have a date that's going well, why don't you put on a little music, and let that do the talking for you? Find a good song—something fun, not too cheesy, but says a little something about you—and let this become a memorable moment. Certainly a song can say what you're thinking way better than you can yourself. So, sit back, hit play and let these 40 songs end your date on the perfect note.


Yuno - "No Going Back"

If: You're both still getting over someone else, but still like to have a good time.

Hey, breaking up sucks, but one great feeling is when you're done and ready to move on. Sounds like a good time to get back on the market.

 

Yo La Tengo - "For You Too"

If: You're willing to change for the better.

Sometimes being in love means bettering yourself for someone else. And that's what Yo La Tengo offers in four simple verses.

 

Amber Mark - "Love Me Right"

If: Your love language is actions rather than words.

As Amber Mark explains, it's not enough to just tell someone you love them. You have to show it in more physical and emotional ways than just words.

 

Janelle Monáe - "Make Me Feel"

If: You're both feeling ... a lot of things.

Let's be honest: Love can best be boiled down to the free sexual energy of Janelle Monae's "Make Me Feel."

 

Kacey Musgraves - "Butterflies"

If: You like it country, but not TOO country.

Remember when Taylor Swift used to sing about love instead of fake news? That's the warm world that Kacey Musgraves transports you to with the sunny "Butterflies."

 

Troye Sivan - "My My My!"

If: You really only need one word to make your case.

It's love summed up in three words—the same three words, in fact. This simple exclamation expressed with such passion by Troye Sivan feels so pure, so contagious that you don't even need the qualification "living for your every move."

 

Travis Scott - "Stargazing"

If: Two of the biggest celebrities in the world are your relationship goals.

In this woozy trap ballad he sings, “I was always high up on the lean / Then this girl came here to save my life.” It’s a reference Kylie Jenner, with whom he recently had a kid and who inspired him to quit codeine. The second act of the song tracks his rise to stardom to its peak, which in his mind is a relationship with Jenner, who’s both his saving grace and one of the biggest celebrities in the world.

 

The Internet — "Come Over"

If: Your idea of a relationship is just chilling the fuck out.

With her silky smooth vocals, Syd imagines a life with this person where they just do couple things like watch TV in bed. That's real love right there.

 

The Carters - "Summer"

If: The two of you agree that Jay-Z and Beyoncé are the king and queen of music.

The Carters personify the ups and downs of a romantic partnership as an ocean, with the ebb and flow of relationships and the washing of sins. As the tide of their struggles recedes, it's all making love in the summertime.

 

Teyana Taylor - "Gonna Love Me (K.T.S.E.)"

If: You both like a perfect Delfonics sample.

Teyana Taylor's "Gonna Love Me" begins with an apology. "I'm sorry if I made you feel less than who you are / A little insecure, oh, you's a shining star." It's a song that—over a Kanye-produced sample of The Delfonics' "I Gave You"—describes a love so strong we can take it for granted.

 

St. Vincent - "New York"

If: You both wanna sing "motherfucker" really loud.

There are a lot of New York songs. It's a romantic place (when you're not dying of heat in a moist, rat-filled subway station). But everyone's experience is their own. And St. Vincent's "New York" does a beautiful job in summing up her experience. "New York isn't New York without you, love," she sings. It's a situation that, somehow, anyone anywhere can relate to.

 

The xx - "Brave For You"

If: You want them to feel strong.

A very useful thing about love is that it supports you when you're down, or scared, or crippled with anxiety. Whenever you need someone to lift you up, you have that person. Hell, if you went on a date the night before a big presentation or test or whatever, just play this song.

 

Kendrick Lamar - "LOVE."

If: You ride blade on curve.

Kendrick Lamar isn't necessarily one to write love songs or radio-friendly pop songs for that matter, but "LOVE." feat. Zacari does both. "If I don't got you, I got nothing," he sings. Damn, Kendrick, what emotion can't you sum up in less than 10 words?

 

Charli XCX - "Boys"

If: You think you can compete with Riz Ahmed holding a teddy bear.

Look, this would be the ultimate confidence move. If you think you have what it takes to top Mac DeMarco licking a guitar, then by all means go for it and play this with the video.

 

Sufjan Stevens - "Visions of Gideon"

If: You both wanna have a healthy cry.

Anyone who's seen the closing credits of Call Me By Your Name will know exactly what I'm talking about.

 

Angel Olsen - "Shut Up Kiss Me"

If: You wanna be blunt.

Hey honesty is the best policy. When it comes to that moment, you just have to say what you feel. Be brave, be forward, make the first move. You won't regret it.

 

Patti Smith - "Because the Night"

If: You need a good sing-along.

So let's be clear: If they don't know this one, you need to find someone else. But if you both know it, this will be the perfect song to blast at 1 AM, screaming the lyrics after a few cocktails.

 

Frank Ocean - "Thinkin' Bout You"

If: You wanna let them know they're on your mind.

So many couples play games. They hold things back, hide their emotions, and are hesitant to reveal true feelings. Play it cool—don't tell them that they're on your mind. Frank Ocean cuts through all the bullshit and gets to the real talk.

 

Drake - "Hold On We're Going Home"

If: You need some tunes for the ride.

Drake is always at his best as a cheesy romantic. And when it comes to love songs, occasionally that's the perfect choice. It might be a little on-point, but if you put this on for the car ride home it fills those potentially awkward moments of travel silence, and says everything you need to say.

 

Sampha - "(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano"

If: You wanna show that you love your mom.

It's not weird. And they will probably find it endearing. Plus it's a beautiful song—no one is going to judge you.

 

The Outfield - "Your Love"

If: You just met.

This is jukebox gold and a guaranteed slam dunk in the good-humor department. It's also one of the most identifiable hits of the '80s, a one-hit wonder and a song that practically requires a sing-along in order to exist. You'll laugh. You'll both sound wretched when you belt out the chorus. Everybody wins.

 

Father John Misty - "Only Son of a Ladies Man"

If: You want to impress.

It's a modern classic, an indie dreamboat anthem and one of the most underrated singles of last year. Father John Misty—as we've discussed before—is your anti-pop star in that he shirks industry standards and just wants to sing (and write) for his supper. (Also: this.)

 

Weezer - "No One Else"

If: You're gauging interest.

A no-brainer for the '90s nostalgia bank alone. It's fun, it's head-bang-able in the nerdiest of ways, it'll prompt a conversation about the guilty pleasures of your youth and potentially spark a Pinkerton vs. Blue Album debate. It's the comfort food of carefree love songs, and a completely un-hate-able one at that.

 

D'Angelo - "Really Love"

If: You're not ready to play "Untitled (How Does It Feel)."

Playing a D'Angelo song—really any one of them—comes with certain assumptions. And while both of you will have his abs circa 2000 shimmering in your head, his murmuring voice on this new classic is a more debonair pick.

 

Miguel - "Waves" ft. Kacey Musgraves

If: You know...

A slinky, sexy duet with Kacey Musgraves (your favorite country music artist, trust us) that serves as four minutes of body-worshipping foreplay. Any human knows Miguel is the king of lyrical sex, and the surprise country twang works oh so very well.

 

Seu Jorge - "Life on Mars"

If: You don't want to try too hard.

Don't be afraid of breaking out movie-soundtrack favorites for a person, especially if they're covers: If it's a good one, like Seu Jorge's version of "Life on Mars" from The Life Aquatic, they will be thrilled for the new take on an old favorite and watch the movie that night. (And likely with you.)

 

Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes - "Love Letter"

If: You want to introduce a new favorite band.

Addictive soul riffs, gorgeous voices, beautiful women, Australian: The only reason your date hasn't dubbed Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes his/her new favorite band is because you haven't introduced him/her to them yet. Do that, and get additional points for bringing the best of Oz to his/her headphones while unabashedly flirting.

 

The Rolling Stones - "Beast of Burden"

If: Your date appreciates the classics.

A telltale favorite rife with implication. Just met? Your good intentions are plain by the second verse. Breaking up? Send this and save the relationship. Apologizing in any capacity? Relevant, sad, and true. It's timeless for a multitude of reasons, the first and foremost being its relatable, lyrical bones.

 

Lord Huron - "The Man Who Lives Forever"

If: You want to bowl your date over with the lyrics.

Refreshing, boundary-pushing rock tropes of today coupled with the lyrical sincerity of the days of Dylan and Cash: "I said life without end wouldn't have any meaning/The journey to death is the point of our being/Well the point of my life is to be with you babe/But there ain't enough time in the life that they gave me." Take the risk with this complicated, emotional wallop, as it will likely be worth it.

 

Bright Eyes - "Landlocked Blues"

If: You just have a lot of feelings.

Conor Oberst's duet with Emmylou Harris is one of the most striking dirges he's ever released, an unfurling ballad with a snowballing intensity that demands a moment of silence at the end of it. This isn't to be played lightly, so save it for when you really need to talk—or when you can't bring yourself to say what you have to.

 

Anderson .Paak - "Without You"

If: You have no shame in being needy.

Honestly, it takes a massive amount of confidence to tell your partner "I can't do nothin' without you." And, admit it, we've all been in that new relationship stage where we want to do everything with that other person.

 

Spencer Davis Group - "Gimme Some Lovin"

If: You can't stomach putting another Marvin Gaye song on a mix.

Instead of going with the Motown selections everyone has thrown around to woo a date—"I Can't Help Myself," "Let's Get It On," etc.—go with the track revered by soul DJs who know when to get a room ravaging the floorboards. This is that number.

 

Tom Waits - "Hold On"

If: You want to kiss while listening to Tom Waits and have it not be weird.

So, selections from Mule Variations could understandably freak someone out, as Tom Waits either sounds like the fifth horseman of the apocalypse or the voice of God himself, depending on whom you're talking to. It's a gamble, but if they turn out to love Waits, it's a worthwhile one to say the least.

 

The Avett Brothers - "If It's the Beaches"

If: You've done everything you can to keep from losing him/her.

Every other breakup song before and after this cut from 2006's The Gleam is deemed irrelevant the second Scott Avett starts singing. A more gut-wrenchingly candid, tortured, and overwhelmingly truthful ballad begging for forgiveness doesn't exist. Hopefully, you'll never need to express yourself in such drastic terms, but if you do? This is the Hail Mary of reconciliation songs.

 

Amy Winehouse - "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"

If: You want to remember.

Remember the good times. Remember the not-so-good times. Remember the powerhouse that was Amy Winehouse. This is a stunning, soulful cover for someone you will love tomorrow.

 

The Roots - "Baby"

If: Your date has ears, because c'mon, it's The Roots.

Everyone and their mother knows "Here I Come" and "The Seed 2.0" (which technically isn't a Roots song, anyway) at this point. The Roots are universally adored for a reason. You can't go wrong with any selection from their catalog, but "Baby" is the kind of track that starts as the soundtrack for making dinner and ends as the soundtrack for ... something else.

 

The National - "This Is the Last Time"

If: You want to get him/her thinking about your relationship, no matter how you define it.

One of the most cutting tracks of Trouble Will Find Me. Everyone has heard "Mr. November" and this song, with its many potential interpretations, gets your point across.

 

Otis Redding - "Try a Little Tenderness"

If: You can truly appreciate the power of Otis. (Bonus points if you break out the Pretty in Pinkchoreography.)

Any list culling from the most convincing love songs passed around on well-worn cassettes that omits Otis Redding is a straight-up mockery of romance. Any Redding pick is perfect, but "Try a Little Tenderness" trumps them all.

 

Erykah Badu - "Phone Down"

If: You have a technology addiction.

For all the good texting and Tinder have been for sparking relationships, our addiction to technology can sometimes get in between two IRL people. Thankfully, Erykah Badu knows how to remedy that situation.

 

Leon Bridges - "Here In My Arms"

If: You want to dance.

Leon Bridges is a wonder. His song "River" aches, "Smooth Sailing" floats, and "Here In My Arms" is simple sweetness. Take Bridges' advice here.

From: Esquire US


COMMENTS