Valentine’s Day Mix Tape 101: 43 Love Songs, 49 Anti-Love Songs & Some Videos!

Last week our Style Editor Becky emailed me about her Valentine’s Day dilemma: Mix Tape Block. See Becky’s just started courting a lovely girl and doesn’t want to use the same seven or eight tired love songs that she’s gifted to other girls. Which is fair, I think every girl deserves her own special mix and so here we are to help!

‘Cause Mix Tape Block is a problem at any time of the year. But it’s particularly serious in the lead up to Valentine’s Day if you’re a sensitive soul who wants to tell a girl how you feel through the language of love, which is music, and the words to the music, despite what Ursula might try to tell you when trying to steal your voice away.

Also let’s not forget that mix tapes are affordable, personal, and something you can throw together quickly if you’ve only just now realised that Valentine’s Day is two days away.

So I thought it’d be fun if we took a group approach to solving Becky’s problem by asking a few members of Team Autostraddle to suggest a few songs for a Valentine’s Mix. And we want to hear your suggestions too, because there’s only so many times you can play the girls in your street “Every Breath You Take” before your reputation as a repeat mix tape offender spreads. Also if you’re gonna buy iTunes and you click out via Autostraddle, we will get about half a cent for every song you buy. Eventually, that means WE’RE GOING TO DISNEYWORLD AND YOU’RE INVITED. So please do, if you wanna.

And once you’ve created the perfect Valentine’s Mix Tape, you’re gonna need the perfect CD cover. Check out our Executive Editor and DIY guru Laneia’s how To guide for making a super fly mix tape sleeve.

love songs

Valentine’s Day Mix Tape: The Love Tracks

The Magnetic Fields – “The Book of Love”
Of all their 69 Love Songs, this is the most straightforwardly romantic. It acknowledges every silly aspect of love, and celebrates it anyway.

Elbow – “Mirrorball”
Falling in love can make your whole miserable life feel soft and new again. Nothing says ‘epic love’ better than lush instrumentation & harmonies.

Macy Gray – “Sweet Baby”
I dare you not to smile when you listen to this song. Love is all you need.

Lauryn Hill – “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”
Hands down, best version of this song! Simple & sweet.

Mélange Lavonne – “Marry Me”
There is absolutely no doubt that this is a LOVE song — a lesbian one, at that.

Placebo – “I’ll Be Yours”
I interpret this to be about loving someone selflessly and unconditionally, being whoever they need you to be – a friend, a lover, etc. It’s beautiful.

Phoenix – “Rally”
This is a really fun and upbeat song, perfect if your mix tape will be given to someone who you’re still in the process of winning over.

Guns ‘N Roses – “Patience” and “Sweet Child of Mine”
Axl Rose has written some of the best love songs ever. This is obvs debatable.

The Cure“Love Song”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs“Maps”
Daniel Johnston“True Love Will Find You In The End”
Dire Straits “Romeo and Juliet”
Bjork“All is Full of Love”

The Cure – “Just Like Heaven”
Of all songs; Just Like Heaven.

Dave Matthews Band – “Crush 16”
The song is tumbly, just like falling in love! – “It’s crazy I’m thinking / Just knowing that the world is round / And here I’m dancing on the ground,” and the way he sings “I will treat you sweetly/ Adore you / I mean – you crush me.”

EMO DEATH MATCH: Magnetic Fields – “Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side” & Bright Eyes – “First Day of my Life”
These is especially relevant for ppl w/soft souls who fall in love in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Portland, San Francisco, or wherever in Nebraska Bright Eyes is from. Bicycle not included.

Bonus – the video is gender-bending to the max, and full of familiar faces. Actually I think this video marks the high point of the emo queer hipster movement. From here on out it’s all sort of been a rehash, but angrier.

Unwritten Law – Callin
When these guys perform live they’re usually drunk and tearing their eyeballs apart sweaty and angry, and then suddenly this song is super gentle and super simple and super earnest. “Hey little girl look what you do…”

Adam Lambert – Whatya Want From Me
“It’s me/ I’m a freak / but thanks for loving me / ’cause you’re doing it perfectly.”

Erykah Badu – “On and On”
‘Cause it’s sexy.

The Blow – “Parentheses”
“There’s plenty space to encase whatever weird way my mind goes / I know I’ll be safe in these arms.” Um hello, this is what we all want.

Her Space Holiday – “Sleepy Tigers”
“It’s not that I have news to bring / I just wanna make your telephone ring / so it shows / and you know.” Shut up that is so cute.

The Knife  – “Heartbeats (Live)”
The lyrics may not be especially lovey, but to me, this song feels like I’m being promised something I really wanted.

Counting Crows – “Up All Night”
“Cause I’ve been think I’d like to see your eyes open up real wide the minute that you see me.”

Explosions In The Sky – “Your Hand In Mine”
This song is just so pretty. It makes me have lots of nice feelings about things lasting forever  [especially because in songland, 8 minutes is a long time].

Bruce Springsteen – “I’m On Fire”

The Beatles – “Something”

In my opinion, this is one of the Beatles’ most beautiful songs. “Something in the way she moves…”

The Turtles – “Happy Together”
Who hasn’t randomly burst out singing this song? I CAN’T SEE ME LOVING NOBODY BUT YOU, FOR ALL MY LIIIIIIIIIFE. So good.

The Cure – “Friday I’m in Love”
I love this song because sometimes you have the crappiest week, but then it’s Friday, and you’re in love.

Queen – ““You’re My Best Friend”
I think it’s important that your lover is also your friend. I think Queen understood that.

Devendra Banhart – “At The Hop”
“At The Hop” could be read as an end-of-relationship song, but I hear it differently. With eloquent words, Devendra Banhart artfully conveys the desperation of wanting to be near the one you love — in any incarnation.

Blink 182 – “Josie”
Blink 182 might not write the most profound lyrics, but they tell it like it is and that counts for something. With aggressive punk percussion and catchy melodies, they break down love to its molecular level — because love can be as simple as buying your true love a burrito from her favorite dive.

Lucinda Williams – “Righteously”
For Flirtation / Southern Sexytimes

PJ Harvey – “You Said Something”
Earnest, atmospheric & best enjoyed on a rooftop having a moment

Ryan Adams – “Gonna Make You Love Me”
Says: “I’m upbeat & confident. I know you want me.”

Iron & Wine – “Naked As We Came”
I think this is one of the best love songs ever. It’s so adorable and sincere! The rest of the album is fantastic, too.

BellX1 – “Rocky Took A Lover”
It talks about stars, and I think stars are a lovely thing to think about on a holiday for love. But it’s also about drinking, which is relevant to a lot of people on Valentine’s Day.

Pete Yorn – “Strange Condition”
Just for the line “you know you’re the best thing to come out of this place.”

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova (The Swell Season) – “Falling Slowly”
This is from the Once movie soundtrack and is one of the sweetest and most honest love songs I’ve ever heard. It’s the kind of song that your girlfriend might play after a big fight, and you’d forgive her instantly.

Sufjan Stevens – “The Dress Looks Nice On You”
Everything Sufjan does is brilliant, but this song is so simple lyrically, but so, so perfect. Because sometimes when we’re in love, it’s only the simple things that we can manage to verbalize.

Emiliana Torrini – “Me and Armini”
Iceland and raspy-voiced, this song is all about being willing to wait for someone you know is worth it and not giving a damn what anyone else says. Emiliana doesn’t recall writing the song, and claims she was possessed by a woman who was in love with a man named Armini.

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. Yeah, I’m going to be listening to side B this valentines.
    Heres my two cense:

    Alanis Morissette- You ‘Oughta Know
    Ani DiFranco- Untouchable Face (Fuck You)
    Florence + The Machine- Kiss With A Fist
    Bright Eyes- A Perfect Sonnet
    Cat Power- Aretha, Sing One For Me
    Ingrid Michelson- Breakable

  2. I love this! I am going to listen to every song.

    In love:
    Ashanti- Don;t Let Them
    Mariah Carey- Joyride
    Maxwell- Fortunate
    An Horse- Listen- The prettiest lyrics ever!
    Lenny Williams- Because I love you- The realest song ever sung to a woman
    The Delphonics-Hey Love
    Ojays- We Cry Togther- Which is the most beautiful, saddest, realest song that will take any situation from vertical to horizontal by the first chorus.

    Breaking up:
    Anthony Hamilton- I’m a Mess
    John Mayer- Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
    Laryn Hill- Ex Factor
    Fiest-Let It Die

  3. I’m so happy about all the Mountain Goats love here! Also, I am seriously considering having my Valentine’s Day just be listening to the Black Album (or maybe just 99 problems) on repeat. LADIES IS PIMPS TOO

  4. Awesome list… I think the Dar Williams lyrics are “and so I’m leaving,” not “and so you’re leaving.” The song’s about a guy who makes lots of backhanded comments to push at her insecurities, but she won’t take it!

    • I actually wrote that in from memory, I didn’t even look up the lyrics. I imagine i’ve been yelling the words over the actual recording so loudly for so long that I don’t even hear what she’s singing anymore!

  5. I thought of another break-up song that yells ‘FUCK’ – Rootless Tree by Damien Rice. “FUCK YOU AND ALL WE’VE BEEN THROUGH!”

    I adore the anti-love songs Crystal picked, but 3 Libras and Last Goodbye make me all sad, whereas I prefer fervid resentment.

    • i was listening to this today only i was thinking “eff you snow, i don’t like walking home through you.” only i do cause i’m still in love with snow kinda like how you’re still in love with people even when you hate them. HI i’m drunk.

  6. I’m going to make a ‘Love’ song mix using Isa and Emily’s songs and an ‘Anti-Love’ mix using Riese and Laneia’s. On Sunday you’ll find me listening to my own ‘Yay, girls rock & don’t even NEED valentines so suck on that, society! mix.

    • ah yes, that masterpiece of allegorical artistic triumph. really encapsulated all my feelings about heart, love, endurance, and how things go on despite inclement weather or illiteracy or shattered bloody hymens. how could i forget. bless you, paper. bless you.

      • See? And everyone thought you were one of the haters. Now we see that, deep down, T-Swizzle’s words just cut you too deeply. Your own experiences were too similar to hers. And as you imagined yourself back in high school, saw yourself throwing pebbles at Romeo–oh wait. I’m fucking this up, aren’t I?

    • Oh, and just about everything by Lamb, but especially Gabriel, Gorecki, Heaven, One, God Bless, Cotton Wool and Sweet.

    • i like this! but if we made a “i’m trying to get you to break up with me” mix, i’d put “your body is a wonderland” on it.

  7. no Nick Cave? IMO he wrote some of the best love songs ever.

    some of mine:
    Nick Cave – Straight to you, Are you the one that I’ve been waiting for, Lie down here and be my girl, There she goes,my beautiful world
    The Walkabouts – Till I reach you, All for this
    Uh Huh Her – Wait another day
    The Cure – Lovesong, Just like heaven
    Juliette & the Licks – By the heat of your light
    Neko Case – This tornado loves you
    Neil Young – Pardon my heart
    PJ Harvey – You said something
    The Posies – Anything and everything
    R.E.M. – At my most beautiful
    Placebo – I’ll be yours
    Mazzy Star – Fade into you

    as for anti-love/break up songs, anything from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Marianne Faithfull’s Why’d ya do it, about half of the stuff Morrissey wrote, whether solo or with The Smiths and R.E.M.’s The one I love

    • MAZZY STAR!! i loved them so. and then my friend lauren stole my cd and said she didn’t, in like 1995. so sad.

    • God that is my favorite REM Song!!! I love how it out-dates itself: “I read bad poetry into your machine” hahaha who has an answering machine anymore? :)

      I’d like to second so many songs from above for the A side like Queen and Lauryn Hill. I think I’m going to take it old school and add Ella and Louis Armstrong’s duet “Cheek to Cheek” so good. There are so many more I could add, BUT it’d end up being several pages so I’m going to not do that haha.

      For B Side I think Tracy Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight”– you think it’s a romantic song but it’s just really not.

  8. I totally agree with:

    Guns N Rose – Patience
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps
    Bright Eyes – First Day of my Life
    Iron & Wine – Naked as We Came
    Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – Falling Slowly

    Ryan Adams – Come Pick Me Up
    Third Eye Blind – How’s It Gonna Be
    Beyonce – Irreplaceable
    The Cinematic Orchestra – To Build A Home

    And I’ll add:

    Paramore – The Only Exception
    Adele – Make You Feel My Love
    Death Cab – Marching Bands of Manhattan
    Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks

    Laura Marling – Old Stone
    La Roux – Cover My Eyes
    Bon Iver – Woods
    Paper Route – Second Chances
    Frightened Rabbit – ‘Poke’, ‘Good Arms Vs Bad Arms’ and ‘Floating in the Forth’ – seriously recommend these guys

  9. i love that there are more anti-valentine’s day songs than there are actual love songs.

    anyways i totally agree with “first day of my life” and if i had to add another love song i would pick “lion’s mane” by iron & wine. also, “yellow” by coldplay. i’m surprised no one mentioned that, that one’s like a token love song.

    for anti-love songs i would also pick “deanne the arsonist” by atreyu if you want to get really mad and smash things. “fuck off, like you’re the only one who has ever cried or been broken by love.”

  10. In love:
    Trouble Sleeping – Corinne Bailey Rae
    Crazy for you – Adele
    Breathless – Corinne Bailey Rae
    Lucky – Jason Mraz
    Today-Joshua Radin (he played it for Ellen and Portia at their wedding. you can’t go wrong with that.)

    Breaking up:
    Love is a Losing Game – Amy Winehouse
    That’s It, I Quit, I’m Moving On – Sam Cooke/AMAZING cover by Adele
    Best for Last – Adele (FAVORITE. FAVORITE. FAVORITE)

    yeah…i really like adele and corinne bailey rae, obvs.

    • in photos corinne bailey rae always looks like she’s in love
      in photos amy winehouse always looks like she’s like, “fuck love”
      so that makes sense

  11. music+lists+feelings=win, i might get that made into a t-shirt

    otherwise,for side A, i just came across one of the loveliest songs i’ve heard in a while, “Billie Holiday” by Warpaint.
    for side B, a couple of tracks by etta james and the soundtrack to an almodovar film would do…

  12. So many amazing songs on both lists.

    Ones I’ll add:
    This might become your favorite song and your favorite band. Check them out, because you can still see them in creepy basements and hit your head on the ceiling because you’re jumping around so hard.
    —Algernon Cadwallader-The Stars
    This band is an acquired taste, but this song to me is about the beginning of a relationship that’s amazing and awesome and you’re holding all your excitement in your ribs to keep from exploding with happiness.
    —Coeur de Pirate-Comme des Enfants
    You can pretend this isn’t about a boy, because it’s in French. It basically about having someone still love you when you’re in a relationship with someone else, but you’re in love with the person you’re with and you’re telling them that.
    —Gregory & the Hawk-Boats and Birds
    —Jenny Owen Youngs-Hot in Herre
    Not exactly a love song, but this song should be in EVERY mix you ever make.
    —Postal Service-From Such Great Heights

    —Allison Weiss-The End
    I kind of think of Allison Weiss as a female Conor Oberst, but maybe a little more upbeat.
    —Kickball-Sauvie Island
    —Chris Garneau-Black & Blue
    I love this man. His music is kind of all REALLY, REALLY sad. He’s also openly gay.
    —Regina Spektor-The Flowers
    —She & Him-Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
    This is an amazing cover of this song, and I LOVE the Smiths.

  13. I always go the super cheesy / funny route in my mixtape endeavors.

    Backstreet Boys – “The One”
    The Beatles – “Don’t Pass Me By”
    Bon Jovi – “I’ll Be There For You”
    Britney Spears – “(You Drive Me) Crazy”
    Darren Hayes – “I Miss You”
    Death Cab – “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”
    Elvis Presley – “Can’t Help Falling In Love”
    Foo Fighters – “Everlong (Acoustic)”
    Heart – “Alone”
    Ingrid Michaelson – “Die Alone”
    KEF – “Hottie Boombalottie” (Watch the music video of this song. Trust me. )
    OneRepublic – “Come Home”
    The Righteous Brothers – “Unchained Melody”
    Sixpence None The Richer – “Melody Of You”
    Sonny & Cher – “I Got You Babe”
    Spice Girls – “2 Become 1”

    Also, that music video for Melange Lavonne’s Marry Me reminds me of JenRO’s Try It.

  14. soooo many good songs already listed and to list; a few more:

    *Take My Hand – Dido … epic, sweet and lush; will get you laid
    *Touch Me – Rui da Silva … super sexy house tune; will get you laid
    *Cloudbusting – Kate Bush … current gf used this one (successfully) on me; and, I suppose, will get you laid
    *Trouble – Harry Connick, Jr. … simple, sweet and playful
    *Bernadette – Four Tops … golden oldie, shout-it-from-the-rooftops

    *Anything by Alison Krauss, Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” (yay ‘Rain’!) or Imogen Heap’s “Hide & Seek” = good for various stages of anti-love wallowing

  15. Bright Eyes is from Omaha, Nebraska, thank you.
    And we are very glad to be known for well.. something.

    Bit of advice: don’t listen to Death Cab for Cutie if you are lonely. They will only make you feel worse inside with their beautiful devil words.

    Also, “make cupcakes” a lot. A lot.

    • you pretty much just said exactly what I was going to say about Bright Eyes. They are pretty much our biggest claim to fame here in Omaha…

  16. I would like to make these lists into giant playlists in my iTunes and then listen to them whenever I am happy/sad. Alex should make album art for them, no?

    Some of my favourite love songs:
    Lover You Should’ve Come Over – Jeff Buckley (although I suppose this could be either a love song or a b side, depending on your mood..)
    June on the West Coast – Bright Eyes
    Can I Stay – Ray Lamontagne

    B Sides:
    Black – Pearl Jam (omg saddest song i will cry every time i hear it)
    Burn – Ray Lamontagne
    Over and Over – Rachael Yamagata
    Now the One You Once Loved is Leaving – Lydia

    I’ll stop cause I could go on for days. But I’d also like to mention to anyone considering trying Laneia’s wonderful cd sleeve template… that I’ve done it many times and it’s fantastic and lovely and so much better than using one of those hot pink slim jewel cases.

  17. So usually when someone asks for suggestions on your top songs/films/cultural manifestation of a certain genre, I will typically gush some freestyle mental effluvia, but this time I thought I’d sit on it a while, until the thoughts had settled and formed a more solid mass. Eugh, I think I just grossed myself out with my own metaphor then.

    Anyway, here are my non-soppy love songs:

    Always on My Mind – Elvis. Just so wonderful in its simplicity.

    Mad About the Boy – Dinah Washington. Yeah, so it’s talking about boys, so what, it’s probably the most elegant and succinct tale of pure, wanton, foolish lust on record.

    Hyperballad – Bjork. Kind of about safety and fragility. Plus the string quartet version is sumptuous.

    Devuelveme la vida – Antonio Orozco and Malu. From what my schoolgirl Spanish is capable of understanding, it’s basically about two people saying sorry that they’ve been twats, but can’t live without each other, so let’s sort this shit out. That’s proper love.

  18. I don’t have time to really comment, but I just wanna say I love that Karmen chose Tegan and Sara’s “Call It Off” for the B side. It’s been on my recent playlist and I’ve been playing it over and over! It’s soooo good!

    And yeah, that’s all I got. Carry on with the love/heartache.

  19. This is off topic but I just want to leave a note. Something on makes my computer screen freeze for about 15 seconds when I initially enter the site. Perhaps the javascript? I’m using firefox, windows vista 64.

    Lauren Hill ft D’angelo – Nothing Even Matters
    Amerie – Nothing Like Loving You
    Drake – Bria’s Interlude/ A Night off
    H-Town – Knockin Boots (Of course)
    Justin Timberlake – Take It From Here
    Mariah Carey – The Roof
    Natasha Ramos – Midnight Hour
    Sade – By Your Side (Neptunes Remix)
    Taio Cruz – She’s Like A Star
    The Dream – Rockin That Shit
    Jagged Edge – In The Morning

    Broken Up/ Single & Jaded
    112 – Love You Like I Did
    Bat For Lashes – What’s A Girl To Do
    D’Angelo – Shit, Damn, Muthfucka
    Duffy – Warwick Avenue
    Maroon 5 – Makes Me Wonder
    Maroon 5 ft Rihanna – If I never See Your Face Again
    Natasha Bedingfield – Single
    Mariah Carey ft Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Breakdown
    No Doubt – Don’t Speak
    P!nk – Just Like A Pill
    Rihanna – Rehab
    Incubus – 11am

    Just a lil something… ;}

  21. In the despair behind the holiday and a partially induced sugar coma from the cookie recipes, I have used songs from the list and made a mix CD but had to add a few more songs to make it perfect melancholy:

    Joshua Radin-“Just One Of Those Days”
    Frank Sinatra-“Time After Time”
    Eric Clapton-“Tears In Heaven”
    Kings Of Leon-“Mahattan”
    Missy Higgins-“Where I Stood”

    • Good picks. I think Missy’s catalogue could make up a perfect Love / Anti-Love mix tape on its own.

      • Ah, I am so in love with Missy Higgins albums-The Sound of White and On a Clear Night. I’ve never been able to identify with a singer/songwriters lyrics as much as I have with hers,to see her perform live would be an absolute dream come true.

  22. What does it say about me that I know more of the B-side songs? hrmmm..

    More A Sides:
    Serena Ryder – Hiding Place
    Jason Mraz – Butterfly
    Maria Mena – You’re the Only One
    Ingrid Michaelson – You & I

    More B Sides:
    Jill Barber – Measures & Scales
    Pink’s entire Funhouse album

  23. A great anti love and love song all rolled into one is
    Dixie Chicks – Earl
    Maryanne and Wanda <3

  24. I’m still in the midst of Chinese New Year, practically stuck at home with endless family reunions and a cat and my older brother that needs looking after while my mom’s in Germany with my dad. What Valentine’s Day??!!

    Awww… but these songs are so sweet!! I especially like Bright Eyes’ The First Day of My Life. The lyrics are easy to relate to and the tune is geeeennntle just the way I like it. And it brings out all sorts of aspects of love, which made me fall in love with the music vid.

  25. There is a light that never goes out-the smiths
    Heroes-David Bowie
    Wals x 2-Elliot smith
    Tiny girl-Iggy pop

  26. Here I am like 4 months late, but FULL OF SIDE B.

    My initial offerings are:

    There’s a Fine, Fine Line – Avenue Q. “There’s a fine, fine line between love / And a waste of time.” Sad, but good for spitting along to resentfully and/or feeling like an idiot to.

    Still Hurting – Songs From a New World. “Jamie arrived at the end of the line / Jamie’s convinced that the problems are mine /Jamie is probably feeling just fine / And I’m still hurting.” Fuck this is good. Also CELLO PART.

    Why yes, I do feel almost all my feelings with musical theatre. The other ones go through country music. That is because these are the feelingest genres. Thanks for asking.

  27. Now you gotta make a movie list to watch on V-day!!! AND IT MUST INCLUDE IMAGINE ME AND YOU!!! GOD I LUV THAT MOVIE!!!!!

  28. All of you get on Lo Ball- ‘Can’t get me down’
    Yes, its a grungy fem 90s garage band song and it is amazing.

    It was also in legally blonde!

    “It’s over, you told me that you don’t wanna know me. I’m alone now, I know that, you’re never gonna get me down”

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