With fads that have changed with every generation, the one that never goes out of style is love. We have seen it on screen, those love tragedy films such as ‘Romeo + Juliet’, ‘The Notebook’, ‘A Star Is Born’, ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, and even ‘Terrace House: Aloha State’s episode ‘Shinuhodo No Koi’. We have probably gone through some sticky love situation that has had you lying on your bedroom floor late at night in deep thought.
Let us all admit that the best songs written are all about the ups and downs of being in love. This is especially with the ones that make you internalize and break down, and feel what the artist is conveying in their music. The ones that make you feel the pain the songwriter is going through while writing that particular track. Even more so if the track makes you want to sing your heart out in the shower or at home alone just because you relate to the track. The higher the level of feeling, the better.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we’ve handpicked the top 10 local love songs that made it to our music list for a love worth dying for.
Plainsunset – Love Songs For The Emotionally Wounded
As one of Singapore’s most influential bands in the music scene, Plainsunset has had a momentous career pulling in large crowds and playing at stages all over Southeast Asia. Known for their high-energy anthem performances and irreverent stage banter that only Plainsunset can do, tracks such as ‘Johari Window’ and ‘The River Song’ have been main favourites for their listeners. We on the other hand have the track ‘Love Songs for the Emotionally Wounded’ as part of this list. In 6.05 minutes, the track starts with just an electric guitar solo and Jon Chan’s vocals of the same lyrics which slowly build up throughout. Having been to some of their past gigs, it is also evident when the band performs this track, that you can hear everyone in the audience singing along to this –personally, it is that specific moment where all you want to do is kneel on the grass and light up your lighter while singing with them.
Charlie Lim – Bitter
No one else can do melancholic sad songs better than this guy. Inspired by heartbreak, the prolific singer-songwriter took 3 years to write the heart-wrenching lyrics of ‘Bitter’ – an all-star favourite for everyone hands down. ‘Bitter’ is all about finding the right person at the wrong time, and trying too hard to make the relationship work. For those who have never heard this before, the track alone has so many layers unfolding throughout. Starting from just Charlie Lim and his guitar, to a pick up on the bridge where you can hear the singer’s signature falsetto vocals, to a surprise guitar solo that sounds so hardcore. To add on, sonically when you watch Charlie Lim and his band The Mothership perform this live, it is another sound experience altogether.
Check out Charlie Lim’s performance of ‘Bitter’ live at the Star Performing Arts Theatre with his band, The Mothership.
Artist-producer Evanturetime joined forces with fellow artists Tim De Cotta and Vandetta to come up with this honest, elegant, lo-fi R&B chill track. Titled, ‘You’, the track reflects where all 3 artists are at with their personal lives, in love and happy. Laying all their emotions down, ‘You’ was produced as a simple tribute to J Dilla and Nujabes based on that beat, while lyrically the track is an honest song about their loved ones.
Linying, Self-Control (Frank Ocean cover)
Who doesn’t love Frank Ocean’s ‘Self-Control’? Produced by Malay, Jon Brion, and Frank Ocean, the track is all about timing and the losses which come by way of unfortunate timing in love. What’s even better was when Singaporean singer-songwriter Linying released a cover of this track fresh from a standout performance at SXSW 2019. Usually performed only during live sets, Linying’s take on the Blonde album number is one that makes you tug at your heartstrings and makes you want to have the track on repeat.
Watch Linying, Self-Control (Frank Ocean live cover):
The Great Spy Experiment, Class ‘A’ Love Affair
Another influential band in the local music scene is The Great Spy Experiment. Although now defunct, the band forged their way through developing their iconic Indie Rock sound in their wildly successful debut album, ‘Flower Show Riots’ to garnering international acclaim performing in many overseas festivals from Malaysia to the United States. A given choice for this is their prolific single, ‘Class ‘A’ Love Affair’. Think of the time when international indie rock bands such as White Lies and Glasvegas just came into the scene with their anthemic hard-ass tunes that make you want to headbang. ‘Class ‘A’ Love Affair’ gives off the same vibe while touching on the topic of yearning for someone when you are heavily invested in love.
M1LDL1FE has been known to marry electronic textures with eclectic dance grooves into pop sensibilities of guitar-driven music of the early 2000s. With high synergy and quirkiness of the 4 of them put together, the band has opened for venerable acts like Last Dinosaurs, Death Cab For Cutie, and Travis, as well as back-to-back touring in Southeast Asia, China, South Korean, and Spain. While most of their discography includes music that checks off all the boxes for this article specifically, one track that was brought to our attention was their 2017 track, ‘Distraction’. From coming to terms with various things in life including work, side hustle, life outside of work which can be considered distractions, the track perhaps is a push and pull of right and wrong, relating to most people where sometimes even though it feels wrong to admit it, you feel that time with your loved ones is also a distraction. Put rather directly by M1LDL1FE’s frontman, Paddy Ong, “It’s a song for those times when you feel ‘I don’t have time for this right now’, but it’s your lover’s birthday dinner and you feel terrible for having those thoughts.”
Folk soul singer-songwriter Jean Tan recently released a refreshedlo-fi tri-hop remix version of her earlier released track ‘Oak Cherry Wine’, a cross border collaboration with YouTube Korean artist 양중은 Yang Jung Eun. Call this an overtly romantic love story that might have fit into the plot of a rom-com, but we love it all the same. The track tells the story of Jean’s struggles with kidney disease, and of the man who stood by her in the celebratory and difficult moments alike. The accompanying music video comes out on 14 February (Yes! Valentine’s Day) and features a pair of lovers dancing through the quotidian scenes of Stockholm city. Traditional meets contemporary, and ballet meets street dance, as the couple whirl around each other in a dream state, swirling like a glass of (oak cherry) wine.
Gareth Fernandez, Achilles
We had to include local crooner, Gareth Fernandez, for his track ‘Achilles’ in this mix. From the likes of Sam Smith and Lauv, the track is stemmed from the artist’s struggles with pride and the need for external validation of admitting one has done something wrong and seeking reconciliation with lover. It is essentially a well-rounded gospel-like tune, and what fit perfectly was the Youtube video that was released with the track, where Gareth and his band gave a very honest, and raw performance of the song.
R&B and funk maestro, Tim De Cotta has made his mark in the local music scene not only with those buttery vocals and bass guitar of his but also helping fellow musicians and the industry through his various agency-led projects including Getai Soul Festival and The Great Singapore Replay. Tim’s music discography exudes very clearly even on his artist bio of how love is king and that music is love’s mouthpiece, — He is music’s gift, unconditionally spreading love all around. The one that stood out was one of his recent singles, ‘Lying Eyes’ which ironically covered a darker side of love where heartbreak and infidelity. Based in the late 80s, dance funk vein of Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown, the track takes you through a journey from the point where the protagonist feels something is not quite right and finds his worst fears have come through but proceeds to try and rise above it all by being strong and moving on while dancing it off as the song reaches its groove climaxes.
Gentle Bones, Elusive
Gentle Bones is one artist whose music tugs on listeners’ heartstrings with topics on self-love, love, and heartache, evident in the millions of streams that his songs have resonated with people worldwide. While the obvious and more preferred choice is ‘Until We Die’ for its literal meaning of “Til death do us part”, we at Popwire feel a stronger pull towards the track ‘Elusive’. The track speaks of an overwhelming adoration, the despair, and desperation one gets from unrequited love, and the struggles of waiting for an acceptance that might not even happen.