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Valentine's Day 101: Songs to Set the Mood

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This week on Sound Opinions, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot talk about their favorite songs to set the mood for Valentine’s Day. Of course, as rock critics, Jim and Greg always think music is the most important element of life. But when it comes to putting romance in the air, they may be right. Creating the soundtrack for a romantic evening is a tricky thing. You don’t want to be too cheesy, too clich© or too overt. For example, the moment any Righteous Brothers or Eric Clapton CD cases are popped open, I head for the door. And, thanks to Ally McBeal and countless movies and TV shows, the classic smooth tones of Barry White have been reduced to parody. Finally, hometown lover R. Kelly would seem like an easy choice. But, his less than subtle approach results in giggling more than anything else. But, there are some tried and true romantic tunes you’d be safe to play. Dig a little deeper and impress your mate with lesser-known gems. Instead of Kels, go straight to the source: The Isley Brothers or Teddy Pendergrass. Or play something by the next generation: D’Angelo or Jaheim. And why not let the ladies speak for themselves. You cannot go wrong with Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield or Mary J. Blige. Somehow, suggestive lyrics coming out of their mouths is just a little classier. (Did I mention how creepy I find The Righteous Brothers?) Everything also sounds better with an accent. Some great international picks: “Tender" by Blur, “Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones and anything by Air or Serge Gainsbourg. If you find lyrics in general problematic, an instrumental group like Four Tet or Boards of Canada leave more to the imagination. Finally, if you’re newly dating and feeling a little gun-shy, just lay it on the line.** Trust me, they’ll get it. What are your favorite songs to set the mood? **Also a great message for kids.

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