Given the pandemic, many couples are going to celebrate Valentine’s Day with an intimate evening at home rather than a grand night on the town.
With that in mind, we asked some local musicians about their favorite makeout songs to help build a soundtrack for romance. Here’s what they had to say.
“Steal Your Love” by Lucinda Williams, off her “Essence” album. Between the lyrics, Charlie Sexton’s hypnotic guitar loop and Lucinda’s hushed vocals, it just sets the right mood.
— Martin Zellar
I love guitars, so anything with swirling guitar grooves is going to work for me. Pinback would be a good example. Especially the way the guitar and bass tangle together in that band. There’s also a great opening track on the album “This Guitars” by the now-broken-up Chicago band Grandkids — the song is “Dust Cabin” — that will always remind me of leading into a very nice time in a Chicago hotel room while that album was going. But really, anything can be makeout music if you want it to be, right?
— Bev, aka Niki Becker
For all-time sexy classic makeout music, nothing beats “Cream” by Prince and the New Power Generation. That was a big song the year I met my now husband. My introduction to love and soon after, Minneapolis! For more up-to-date makeout sessions, I would have to go with “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles. He’s an old-fashioned triple threat who can make even the dirtiest song sound like an instant sweet classic. It’s cheeky too, which I like. I think it’s important that no matter what song you like to snog to, it’s also one your partner is equally into.
— Katy Vernon
It’s Maxwell for me. When he entered the scene with “Sumthin’ Sumthin’,” the earth shifted back toward the sexy path Marvin Gaye initiated. We are blessed by the mellow smooth that is Maxwell’s head voice and chest voice. Let alone the supreme sumptuousness of his funk-laced musical accompaniment. Ooo wee!
— DeVon Russell Gray
“Overcome” by Tricky, off “Maxinquaye.” No one does dazed, drunk languor quite like that.
— Ciaran Daly
When I hear the term “makeout song,” I am immediately transported to a beautiful, awkward time in my life before any such idea was even a remote possibility. I am in the summer before 7th grade at the Owatonna Roller Rink (RIP) skating backwards to impress anyone who will watch me, and “Joanna” by Kool and the Gang plays through the tinny PA. I eye the crowd and wait to hear the DJ yell “Snowball!” as I position myself to be as close to my crush-of-the-week as possible. That song always brings back to the same feeling – one of hope, youthful yearning, waning confidence and excitement. The breathy, padded backing vocals and sweet sentiment of pure love abound in this song. It’s more of a sweet, exhilarating holding hands feeling than straight up making out.
— Sean Tillmann, aka Har Mar Superstar
I’d usually try to pick something that my partner would enjoy, like a Paul Westerberg solo album so she can pretend that she’s making out with Paul. But all things being equal, I’ll play “The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads.” I can’t name a more passionate singer, and the song selection on that album is wholly about being in love. There are only a couple of heartbreak songs, and the rest is pure romance.
— Terry Walsh
For me it’s definitely John Coltrane’s “Ballads” album. The melodies are all sweet and beautiful, but the playing is really intense and even a bit raw sometimes. The songs all set a nice, low-key acoustic jazz mood, but they aren’t sleepy. They keep pulling you back to the moment. I read that they hadn’t played the songs together before recording them and that they were mostly first takes and I’d say the whole album definitely has that “first time” energy.
— Anthony Ihrig
My favorite makeout song? “Cruisin’,” by Smokey Robinson, hands down. It has all the ingredients for me — the bass leading a slow, incessant groove, lush strings and that voice, starting low and intimate, then building up to something even more so by the chorus … sigh. The glorious dichotomy between the lyrics saying “I love you” and the music and his delivery promising, ahem, a lot more than that, is still breathtaking, even to these somewhat jaded adult ears. Sorry, my glasses are getting a little streamed up just thinking about it.
— Doug Collins
My wife has learned not to play any sort of music if she desires my full attention.
— Chan Poling