Song Sampler of the Day: “What Is Love,” “There Is No Arizona,” and “My Valentine”

So it’s Valentines’ Day today, of course. And Arizona’s 103rd birthday. Being proud of Arizona, and admittedly quite single, I often enjoy celebrating the latter rather than the former each February 14th, but I have to admit Valentines’ Day is a nice opportunity to put a spotlight on our most romantic, love-themed tunes. I’ll do that today with not just one Song of the Day, but a special Song Sampler of the Day, highlighting a bit of Valentines’ Day, and a bit of Arizona as well. First up?

“What Is Love” by Janelle Monae!

Nope, it’s not the “What Is Love” you’re probably thinking of. (Like that one would need any introduction.) This sprightly samba-style song of the same name, from “Rio 2” (which is still on my list of films to see in the near future), performed by the always-fantastic Janelle Monae, is really, just tons of fun. “What good is love, if it’s not your love?” Janelle asks in the chorus, surrounded by rousing Brazilian drums and a chorus. You may not be banging your head to the beat, but everything else will definitely be moving. Next, turning to the birthday state Arizona for a moment, here’s…

“There Is No Arizona” by Jamie O’Neal!

OK, so granted, this isn’t the most ideal tune to represent Arizona on its birthday, since country singer Jamie O’Neal spends each chorus talking about how the state doesn’t exist. (This is, of course, a metaphor for the lies that the song’s protagonist has been told…her lover promised her a new life in Arizona, but really used it as an excuse to leave her.) That said, while Arizona is no stranger to music (“Take It Easy” and “Route 66,” among others, name-check AZ locales), there aren’t many tunes with choruses that mention places like the Painted Desert, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona. Perhaps my argument is pretty thin, but well, I grew up with this song, and to me it’s a nice way to celebrate my beloved home state, as weird as it may sound. (Plus, I guess it somewhat fits the Valentines’ theme as well…albeit in a kind of depressing way, as it talks of love gone wrong, rather than love gone right.) Moving on…

“My Valentine” by Paul McCartney!

One of the few songs I know of with “Valentine” specifically in the title (another that comes to mind is Martina McBride’s “Valentine,” which may be 100 different kinds of cheesy, but I like it), this was one of the 2 original tunes Paul McCartney featured on his recent “Kisses On the Bottom” album, which was otherwise dedicated to jazz standards. It’s a lovely, understated song, and Paul sounds terrific, as usual. It may not be a Beatles classic or off one of his more modern albums (he’s doing great work there, as well), but it’s a great song that celebrates love and affection, done by one of the best in the business.

As an added bonus, here’s a playlist I’ve kind of thrown together, filled with an absolutely random, but outstanding, bunch of love-themed songs I came up with off the top of my head. I may keep adding to it as time goes on. There’s a few songs about unrequited love, a lot of happy songs, some in between, etc. It covers quite a lot of genres…I highly recommend you give it a try.

Enjoy your Valentines’ Day/Arizona birthday celebrations, and thanks as always for reading. Once again, I have lots of music I’m eager to share, so stay tuned and I’ll be back as soon as I can with more great posts.

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