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Sweet serenades: 50 songs to woo your lover

Need some inspiration this Valentine's Day? George Palathingal, Bronwyn Thompson and Bernard Zuel name their top picks.

Forget the schmaltz. From the Moldy Peaches, to the Killers, with some old-school Ronettes thrown in, we've got your romance needs signed, sealed and delivered.

1. Ryan Adams, Firecracker

Why fall in love? Because it can make everything feel this alive. And when you're this alive everyone wants to rub against it. BZ

2. Augie March, One Crowded Hour

If ever you wanted to make that special someone feel like the only person that ever mattered, this is the song to play. GP

3. Big Star, I'm In Love With a Girl

Short and tender, sits as lightly as your lover's head resting on your shoulder. You're 17 again but this time getting it right. BZ


4. Bjork, Hyperballad (Brodsky Quartet version)

Strings that alternately mourn and swell plus Bjork at her most compellingly emotive equals romantic euphoria. GP

5. Boss Hog, I Dig You

Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez share the lines in a sexy blues jam about how much they like each other. Like everything Spencer does, it's very sexy. BT

6. Built to Spill, Weather

Not known for openly loved-up tunes, the simplicity of ''as long as it's talking with you/talk of the weather will do'' is simply, heart-meltingly great. BT

7. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Straight to You

Behind the dark exterior Our Nick has always been a bit of a smoothie. This is a song of heart-crushing beauty. GP

8. Cody Chesnutt, Til I Met Thee

Yeah, it's probably about God but a lover can raise your heart, too. There's real joy here. BZ

9. Chet Faker, I'm Into You

World-class electronic soul from the beardy Melburnian. Sexy without being sleazy and entirely convincing. GP

10. Cousteau, Peculiarly You

You want some intensity in your life? You want her/him to know you can do capital R romance? This. BZ

11. Death Cab for Cutie, I Will Follow You Into the Dark

Heart-on-sleeve Ben Gibbard at his best in an acoustic ballad about sticking together even in the face of death. Warning: There may be tears. BT

12. Friendly Fires, Paris

Propulsive indietronica that will make you dance as well as swoon. And possibly book an expensive holiday. GP

13. Bobbie Gentry, Morning Glory

A song that sounds as sleepy and as poised on arousal as any lover just stirred awake by your, um, presence. BZ

14. John Grant, Caramel

Swirling but detailed, lightly tinged with sadness but you feel like you, too, will see ''my soul take flight''. BZ

15. Richard Hawley, Tonight the Streets Are Ours

You're walking out, hand in hand and everything has a shine like studio lights have been flicked on. Who can resist that joy? BZ

16. Michael Jackson, Rock with You

If you can dance your lover you can love your lover. If Shakespeare didn't write that it may have been Smokey Robinson. BZ

17. Japandroids, Continuous Thunder

The Canadian garage-rockers get emotional over the potential of legendary love. One for the true romantics who picture running hand in hand through the rain. BT

18. The Killers, Bones

Playful and full of melodrama, Brandon Flowers' lines, ''Don't you wanna feel my bones on your bones? It's only natural'', make this essential for your flirting soundtrack. BT

19. Lemonheads, Into Your Arms

What's more endearing than a guy singing about how safe he feels in his girl's arms? Even more so when that guy is adorable indie-rocker Evan Dando. BT

20. The Lightning Seeds, Pure

The Brits found their soft side in 1989 with this sweet, psychedelic tune about ''just lying smiling in the dark'' and ''shooting stars around your heart''. A loved-up daydream in a song. BT

21. Nick Lowe, Let's Stay in and Make Love

Making it clear how sexy it can be when you're as relaxed together as two lovers can be. And anyway, have you seen the traffic? BZ

22. Shane MacGowan and Sinead O'Connor, Haunted

The beauty and the beast bare their souls and live happily ever after (probably under the table of a Dublin pub). GP

23. The Moldy Peaches, Jorge Regula

The film Juno might have made their Anyone Else But You famous but this is actually the cutest song ever written. GP

24. The National, Fake Empire

Running away from the everyday to be together. Few things are more romantic - besides frontman Matt Berninger's compelling baritone. BT

25. Nelly, She Don't Know My Name

Slinky and lightly clothed, in the dark and building up some heat. You know where it ends. BZ

26. New Order, Temptation

The electronic icons find that first impressions count, with Bernard Sumner intoning ''No, I've never met anyone quite like you before'', in this wonderfully melodic 1982 hit. BT

27. The Notwist, Consequence

A love song with a twist; lovely with a sense of longing, and lines like ''you're the colour, you're the movement and the spin'' sung in a lilting German accent over the most beautiful melody. Perfection. BT

28. Frank Ocean, Thinkin' Bout You

Low tempo and low temperature but inside something burns pretty fiercely. Need and yearning and ache. BZ

29. Passion Pit, Sleepyhead

Breathtakingly swoonsome, this was even written as a Valentine's Day present. That relationship didn't last, but don't let that put you off. GP

30. Billy Paul, Me And Mrs Jones

Slow and unabashed with seduction built in and the lights seem to turn themselves low as you listen. BZ

31. Pink Mountaintops, Execution

Grand - and dramatic - soulful rocker from Canada's Black Mountain side project in which even the bad in a lover is excused because of how incredible the good is. BT

32. Pixies, Gigantic

Forget the conjecture about its supposed rude meaning and just bask in the glory of that bass line and the big, big love of the chorus. GP

33. The Postal Service, Such Great Heights

Not only does this feature vocals from the king and queen of twee indie-pop, Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis respectively, this song is about a soaring love. BT

34. Primal Scream, I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have

For those who have made terrible mistakes in love, here's your best shot at a second chance. Not that you necessarily deserve it. GP

35. Prince, I Wanna Be Your Lover

So it's hardly subtle and more than a little dirty - it's still an irresistible slice of breezy '70s R&B. GP

36. The Promise Ring, Happiness is All the Rage

This offering of sky-high love from the iconic power-popsters will turn around even the worst mood. Pure honeymoon-period joy. BT

37. Pulp, Babies

Suave, suited pop master sings about wanting to have your children. A bit forward, sure, but a fun song with enough cheek to keep it light. BT

38. Queens of the Stone Age, Make It Wit Chu

The baddest rock band in the world get sexy, and how. Hotter than the California desert where it was made, this positively smoulders. GP

39. The Ronettes, Be My Baby

Groundbreaking production, a superlative vocal and full of the heady rush of young love, to boot. A truly perfect song. GP

40. Dusty Springfield, Just a Little Lovin'

Who could resist you saying, softly, that this old world wouldn't seem half as bad if each and every one of us had just a little lovin' early in the morning. BZ

41. Bruce Springsteen, If I Should Fall Behind

Not one for the kids but for lovers who know someone who will pick you up or wait for you is the biggest win of all. BZ

42. Matthew Sweet, Sick of Myself

Gorgeous anthem where pop-rock legend Sweet says he's fed up with himself ''when I look at you, something is beautiful and true''. As beautiful as it was in 1995. BT

43. Rachel Sweet, I Go to Pieces

Kinda sad - it's killing her seeing him passing by after all - but the pop pleasures make it seem like the most exquisite pangs. And that will win over your lover any day. BZ

44. The White Stripes, Hotel Yorba

The deliriousness of romance has rarely been captured as well as here, as Jack and Meg thrash away like reckless teenagers. GP

45. Lucinda Williams, Right on Time

Lust, lust and lust, that's what this song is about. And there ain't nothing wrong with that. BZ

46. Jackie Wilson, (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher

Pure joy in song form. If this doesn't make your heart leap with delight, you have no soul. GP

47. Wolfman featuring Pete Doherty, For Lovers

Who would have thought two men that don't appear to wash could make something so elegant and seductive? GP

48. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Maps

Karen O lets her guard down for four sublime minutes and proves she can break the hardest of hearts at 1000 paces. GP

49. The xx, Try

They shouldn't. They want to. They can't. They will. Because. BZ

50. Yo La Tengo, Our Way To Fall

The New Jersey icons that feature husband and wife team Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley recount two lovers meeting and pinpointing that ''we're on our way to fall in love''. The song you want to share your first kiss to. BT


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