We at Xtra want to send you a musical love note this Valentine’s Day—because nothing says romance like a totally random playlist from a group of jaded journalists. (And Hallmark passed on our movie pitch. Go figure.) Whether your mood is bubbly ❤️, bitter 💔 or bootylicious 💕—we’ve got the beats for you.
Listen to the playlist below, or check out Xtra’s Valentine’s Day Mixtape 2020.
💕 If you’re thirsty this Valentine’s Day
Kelela, LSDXOXO – “Truth or Dare”
Getting sweaty on a darkened dance floor is ideal foreplay (whether I’m seducing a partner or myself), which is why LSDXOXO’s heart-racing remix of this Kelela slow-burner is one of my favourite
love lust songs. From the opening lyrics, “T-shirt off / Tease me,” to the ever-increasing stakes of this sexy proposition once the chorus hits, I bet you won’t be able to sit still. In fact, I dare you.
—Michelle da Silva, community manager
💔 If you’re spending the day ugly crying about your ex
Ryan Hemsworth – “Holy” (ft. RYAN Playground & swim good now)
Let’s pour one out for all the broken hearts. This tune will have you reminiscing about your last relationship, followed by an immediate descent into heavy-cry mode starting at the one-minute mark. Just me? Well then. Happy V-day.
—Corey Misquita, video producer
❤️ If you’re unapologetically in love and want everyone to know it
Perfume Genius – “Slip Away”
Loud, swooping and ecstatic, this baroque-pop track is a gift to Mike Hadreas’ longtime boyfriend Alan Wyffels, of whom Hadreas (who performs as Perfume Genius) swoons: “God is singing through your body, and I’m carried by the sound.” But even more than that, “Slip Away” celebrates the transcendent, liberating power of queer love in hateful times. “Don’t hold back / I wanna break free,” Hadreas sings. “Let all them voices slip away-ay-ay-ay-ay.”
—Rachel Giese, editorial director
💔 If it’s your first queer V-Day
Halsey – “Strangers” (ft. Lauren Jauregui)
Who doesn’t love a messy coming out story? Strangers will help you process that first “what are we?” relationship and get you pumped for the next hot mess that walks into your life.
❤️ If you’re crushing hard and they’re sending mixed signals, but you want to make your move
Now, Now – “Yours”
KC Dalager’s bouncy call-and-answer melodies and Brad Hale’s anthemic production come together to create an undeniably feel-good love song that drips with ‘80s pop vibes. The driving baselines, lush synths, rhythmic guitar riffs and longing lyrics will leave you feeling nostalgic for a moment in time—perhaps a late summer night, hearts racing, on a wild adventure called love. Bonus: the official music video is stunning!
—Michelle Turingan, managing producer of video
❤️ If you’re dancing on your own—and you’re feelin’ yourself
Octo Octa – “On Your Lips”
Music by electronic producer Maya Bouldry-Morrison, better known as Octo Octa, always carries messages of self-love and celebration, and this heart-thumping, four-on-the-floor house track is no different. “On Your Lips” is a reminder of the power that’s held in a smile, in a kiss and in our words.
💔 If you’ve ever been cheated on by the love of your life… and stayed with them afterwards
Daughter – “Love”
This song feels like a punch in the gut, in super slow motion. Elena Tonra’s aching vocals are a perfect match for lyrics like: “Did she make your heart beat faster than I could? / Did she give you what you hoped for? / Oh nights of loveless love, I hope it made you feel good / Knowing how much I adored you.” Cavernous reverbs envelope every instrument, slowly building momentum until you’re overwhelmingly surrounded by a wall of sound and sorrow. “Love” will definitely haunt your broken heart.
❤️ If you’re crushing on your straight BFF
King Princess – “1950”
A smoldering bop about an uncertain, unrequited crush that musical prodigy Mikaela Straus wrote as an homage to an older generation of queers who were not free to express their love. If Carol had a 21st-century-pop soundtrack, “1950” would be it.
💔 If you think love is a heteronormative patriarchal construct but you still yearn for a lover
boygenius – “Me and My Dog”
I’m deeply cynical and a self-proclaimed sad boi, so it might seem an odd choice to select a song that begins with the line, “We had a great day.” Don’t worry: Phoebe Bridgers, one-third of the super queer power trio boygenius, spends the duration of “Me and My Dog” crooning about a toxic relationship, crying with teenagers at a rock show and hating love songs that make you think of your crappy ex. Love sucks; why not shoot yourself into outer space and float away with your dog?
—Erica Lenti, senior editor
❤️ If you’re nostalgic for your ‘90s queer romance
Tracy Chapman – “Fast Car”
This song was on heavy repeat in the ‘90s: at house parties, on road trips, as a prelude to a make-out session. For one, the singer-songwriter’s shy, soft-butch charisma seemed to mark her as one of us, even if Chapman herself was circumspect about her personal life. But mainly, it was the genderless couple at the centre of this heartsick acoustic ballad, yearning to escape their economic struggles in a fast car and find a better life together, that really struck a chord. More than 30 years later, this song still stands up—and for the youngins who only know it through Khalid’s recent haunting cover, do yourself a favour and check out the original.
💔 If you forgot what day it is
Peggy Lee – “Is That All There Is?”
As a cynical romantic (or is that romantic cynic?) my love of old-school glamour is matched only by my disdain for rank sentimentality. I’m also the oldest person in Xtra’s editorial department. So my pick for this Valentine’s Day is Peggy Lee’s inimitable 1969 hit “Is That All There Is?” Being jaded never sounded so jolly. “Let’s break out the booze and have a ball.”
—Gordon Bowness, executive editor
💕 If your love means frilly muumuus
Peggy Lee – “Fever”
Keeping with the same sophisticated groove… check out Lady Lee and her steamy, sensual hit “Fever” from 1958. The steam goes sideways in this 1980 performance by the legendary Canadian drag pioneer Craig Russell. Nothing more romantic than snuggles and laughs.