Updated: Feb 24
It’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air! Whether you’re celebrating with a romantic partner or basking in the love of family and friends, I hope you’re having a great holiday. To commemorate this time of year, I put together a list of love songs that I feel have gone under the radar. When people search for a love song, do they look beyond John Legend and Taylor Swift? Is their go-to one of my selected songs? Most likely not. So, I wanted to shine a line on these love songs that I think are awesome and should be on everyone’s love playlists. I say underrated in the title but that doesn’t necessarily mean obscure. The artists themselves aren’t obscure, but these love songs by them aren’t as popular as they should be. Let’s get started. Here are 10 underrated love songs that deserve recognition.
1. “Aquaman” – Walk the Moon
You may recognize Walk the Moon from their hit “Shut Up and Dance.” But they have so many other great songs beyond their radio hit. “Aquaman” is one of my favorites, and it being a love song is a bonus. From the same album as the beloved hit, “Aquaman” is the closing track off the album Talking is Hard. I always love to hype up this song because it has such a cool 80s vibe. I’ll never forget the time I was at a Walk the Moon show and a fan proposed to his girlfriend while the band played “Aquaman.” As soon as the band noticed, they shone a light on them and got the crowd to repeat the final line followed by insane cheering for them. It was a beautiful, unifying moment I’ll never forget. It was also my wedding song, so it holds a special place in my heart. Walk the Moon really give it their all on this song, and it’s such a sweet song that’s perfect to play for your person.
Standout lyric: “All I know is I wanna be here with you from now on”
2. “Deep Red” – Movements
Movements is a band known for writing very relatable and intense songs about mental health struggles. “Deep Red” still discusses those topics, but it’s also a love song about having a person in your life that makes you feel something after a long time of feeling numb. It’s about two people who feel better when they’re together. Their mental health struggles may weaken them, but there’s comfort in having each other as a touchpoint, a reminder of one good thing. It’s a must-listen for people who can relate to struggling with mental health.
Standout lyrics: “I see in shades of grey, losing my mind again, but when it comes to you my world is deep red.”
3. “I Would Do Anything for You” – Foster the People
Foster the People is another artist you probably recognize for their radio hit “Pumped Up Kicks.” I’m a big fan of the band beyond their hit, and their album Torches is an absolute masterpiece. Their hit comes off of this album, but so does this underrated gem, “I Would Do Anything for You.” This song has such a comforting, chill vibe. It’s not as romantic as some others on this list, but it is a fun one to sing, especially if you’re in love. This is a song about the joys of falling in love and the excitement of it because this time, it feels different. Throw this on whether you’re with your love, or you’re pining for someone. This is a great pining song.
Standout lyrics: “Shaking my head from all I had done but you never left me”
4. “Sarah Smiles” – Panic at the Disco
Panic(!) at the Disco was a beloved staple in the emo music scene in the 2000s with hits like “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” More recently, the original and only remaining member of the band Brendon Urie has continued with the original name and been on the charts for hits like “High Hopes.” But back before his essentially solo era, an album called Vices and Virtues came out in 2011. On it, is a beautiful love song written by Urie to his wife Sarah. The song describes a life when he was perfectly fine on his own til Sarah came into the picture and changed everything, even if it took them some time to get there. It’s a sweet little love song that deserves more recognition, so it had to go on this list.
Standout lyrics: “Does she know that my destiny lies with her?”
5. “First Day of My Life” – Bright Eyes
This may not be the most obscure on this list, but it’s one I’m sure people don’t realize they know. I’ve heard it at a few weddings, and that’s a perfect place to play this beautiful love song. The lyrics are “this is the first day of my life” after all. It’s very fitting for a commitment like a wedding. It’s a low-production acoustic song that tells the story of two people falling for each other through special moments together. This is lyrically one of the best-written love songs on this list. It’s so emotional and visual through its lyrics. You can feel the love in this tune. Throw this song on if you need a reminder of the beauties of love.
Standout lyrics: “I think I was blind before I met you. Now I don’t know where I am. I don’t know where I’ve been, but I know where I want to go.”
6. “Little Wanderer” – Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie is beloved in the alternative scene for having deep and relatable lyrics. They have a huge catalog of amazing songs, but I want to highlight “Little Wanderer” because it’s one of my favorites. Love isn’t always easy. Sometimes the person you love can’t be home with you all the time, whether that’s for work, school, or some other circumstance. This is a love song about a long-distance relationship and how difficult it can be. The singer is supportive of their desire to wander the world, but they’re ready for their love to wander back home into their arms. This is an emotional one, especially if you’ve ever had to do a long-distance relationship or are currently in one. If you’re without your Valentine this holiday because of distance, I hope this song brings some solace.
Standout lyrics: “Someone's gotta be the lighthouse and that someone's gotta be me. And I hope your absence makes us grow fonder. I hope we always feel the same.”
7. “Dumb Stuff” – LANY
Sometimes love can feel complicated, and other times, it feels as easy as taking a breath. “Dumb Stuff” by LANY really captures the sweetness of the beginning, the falling for someone. The “I” in this song explains that they are falling in love with someone from staying up late at night to talk about “dumb stuff.” They acknowledge that what they have can sound cliché, but they don’t care. It’s a very simple song with only 11 lines, but I think it captures the happy energy that one feels at the beginning of a relationship really well.
Standout lyrics: “’Cause what we got is like a movie and I’m not above a good cliché.”
8. “The Only One” – Hot Chelle Rae
You might know of Hot Chelle Rae because of their hit song “Tonight Tonight” from 2011. It still gets added to party playlists and store radios. The song I’m shouting out, “The Only One,” comes from that same album Whatever. Similar to the Panic at the Disco entry, this is a love song about the singer feeling lost until they met their person, and since then, they’ve been the only one they could think about. This is one of the most underrated gems on this list because I think it’s so well written, even if it’s simple technically. It’s a great closer to the album too. Another great love song from this album is “Forever Unstoppable” if you want more from this artist. Throw on this song if you want to embrace your feelings for someone wholeheartedly.
Standout lyrics: “You are the proof that love is beautiful. You are, you are the truth. Something unusual.”
9. “If I’m Lucky” – State Champs
This song captures teenage love so well. State Champs is a great pop punk band that doesn’t typically write positive love songs, but this is one of those exceptions, and it’s a beautiful one. It’s a sweet song about a boy falling for a girl, a girl he sees as sunshine and summer. It’s a song directly talking to this “sunshine” and all the following lyrics capture his pining that he’ll love her even if she doesn’t feel the same. If she feels the same, he’ll be lucky and glad for it. If there’s a person you just know you can never fully get over, that if a what-if came up, you’d take it, this song will hit hard for you. It’s also just a great song for anyone in the early stages of love.
Standout lyrics: “I’m looking for more than a pretty smile, and if I’m lucky you can stay for a while.”
10. “Mess is Mine” – Vance Joy
When two people choose to commit to one another, it’s no longer just about one of you. As a unit, you choose to build something together. All your memories, your struggles, your belongings, go from “mine” to “ours.” This Vance Joy song describes that feeling and knowing you can rely on that person to lift you up and be there when you need them. This would be another sweet one to play at a wedding. I’m sure someone has done it by now. I also love that this song can work for any special connection you have, even if it isn’t romantic. A large part of friendship is being supportive when it would be easy to bail. Having someone else listen and help take the weight off your shoulders can make all the difference. Throw this song on for that special person in your life you can rely on.
Standout lyrics: “This body is yours. This body is yours and mine…this mess was yours, now your mess is mine.”
I hope that you find a song from this list you can connect to. Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, I hope there’s something you got out of this list. Love is an essential part of living. It does not have to be romantic. My grandma used to give me a Valentine’s card. My mom used to buy me candy. I hope you, dear reader, have a partner, family, or friend that you cherish during this holiday, and all the time. Spread your love to them a little harder today and enjoy the love you deserve in return. Happy Valentine's Day!
Written by Kristen Petronio