It's that time of year again. Everything is red and full of hearts. Chocolates and roses are marked up. Couples are showing off and singles are desperately searching online dating services for a quick set-up to give them their own special day. That's right, it's about to be Valentine's Day! Some are sickened by its Hallmark commercial appeal, while others find it romantic and love to go all out for their partners.
Personally, I've only had a date one Valentine's Day of my life purely by circumstances working against me, but I'm also an atheist Jew that loves Christmastime. Just because you don't have a reason to celebrate doesn't mean you can't get into the spirit.
So as we near that special day, I'd like to present a list of what I feel are the greatest cheeseball lovey dovey songs ever written. Yeah, these songs may sound saccharine and trite to even the least jaded listener, but that doesn't mean you can't "feel the love tonight" when you listen to them. Call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but these are the 10 best songs for getting in the mood for V-Day - and pissing off your bitter friends out there.
10. Elton John - "Something About the Way You Look Tonight"
When it comes to Elton, most are going to take his '70s work or nothing at all; "Your Song" and all that jazz. But when it comes to his romantic songs, my favorite has always been this little gem from the '90s. It has all the same tropes of classic Elton, but with that distinctive flavor of the Clinton era.
9. Steve Winwood - "Higher Love"
Let's face it, Steve Winwood was a Peter Gabriel wannabe. But Peter was a little too far into world music and experimentalism to descend into complete and utter cheese. Where "In Your Eyes" was a classy love ballad, Winwood took all the things that made that song great and dumbed them down for the lowest common denominator. The end result is this masterpiece, a mix of faux Afro-funk and '80s cheesy love balladry.
8. Foreigner - "I Wanna Know What Love Is"
Foreigner had already topped the charts by going soft and emotional with "Waiting for a Girl Like You," so they took that formula and blew it the fuck up into one of the most anthemic power ballads of all time. It was a certified classic the moment that gospel backing came in.
7. Van Halen - "When It's Love"
Bonus points for this one because it won't just piss off your bitter friends, it will immediately piss off any David Lee Roth fans in the room. But Van Hagar happened whether you like it or not and it's a safe bet this is your girlfriend's favorite VH song, regardless of era, so swallow your pride and play it anyway.
6. Damn Yankees - "High Enough"
Has there ever been a more disappointing rock supergroup? Probably not. But they hit it big by playing against stereotypes and busting out this power ballad. Sure, it lost any of their potential male fanbase that might have carried over since The Nuge was a member, but I don't think any of those guys were alone on Valentine's Day 1991.
5. Celine Dion - "The Power of Love"
The more obvious choice would have been to go with "My Heart Will Go On," but where's the fun in that? I'm more partial to her first No. 1 hit. You've got all the hallmarks of a great cheesy love song here. The early-'90s adult-contemporary guitar, the thundering drums and, of course, Celine's soaring voice. You know you like it, even if you wish you didn't.
4. Meat Loaf - "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"
Meat Loaf's entire appeal from day one has been the theatricality and ultimate cheesiness of Jim Steinman's songwriting mixed with Loaf's overblown approach to performance. I mean, he starred in Rocky Horror Picture Show. After that, where can you go but completely over the top? If you fancy yourself an actor, consider putting on a little lip-synching performance of this for your sweetie. By the way, he does say what he won't do for love; you just have to listen closely.
3. Air Supply - "All Out of Love"
This song seemed to make a lot of people happy, but it probably made the guys who write commercials even happier. I can't count how many times I've heard that chorus used to sell me something. So what's more appropriate for Valentine's Day than a love song that's used to sell crappy products? Isn't that the whole point of Valentine's Day? So get up and dance with your partner like it's prom 1980 all over again.
2. Genesis - "Hold On My Heart"
I love Genesis and Phil Collins dearly. I dare anyone to shit-talk their '70s output or Phil's early solo work. My personal favorite though is, like Patrick Bateman, Invisible Touch. But Phil is as much a master of the sticks as he is a master of cheesy love songs (and the skullet; dig the one he's rocking in this vid). Some of those love songs are wonderful, classy ballads and then there's "Hold On My Heart." Now Phil, much as I love him, almost made No. 1, but there's still one guy more wretch-inducing to cynics, and that is...
1. Michael Bolton - "Said I Loved You... But I Lied"
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Yes, the king of cheese himself, Michael Bolton. Nobody will ever admit to liking him, yet he's sold so many records. A fair few people are clearly liars, so be sure to crank up this one extra loud on Valentine's Day just for them. This one is my personal fave, though not his biggest-selling song. See, Mike said he loved a woman, but he lied, because he actually more than loves the woman. I mean, how much more romantic can you get? Yeah, that's what I thought.