Whether or not you consider yourself a romantic person, Valentine's Day can bring out a lot of emotions. And if there's one thing musical theater knows how to do it's speak to the ecstasy (and occasional agony) of love. Because of this we've compiled a list of some of the greatest and most underrated songs about love to help score whatever emotional state you find yourself in this February 14th.
For new loves blooming
"Shiksa Goddess", The Last Five Years
When you get that first inkling that you may have found the one, the shock to your system can be almost overwhelming in the best possible way. Jamie Wellerstein, the neebish, aspiring author feels that early in The Last Five Years, frantically trying to suppress the excitement inside him. Hopefully listening to this will help contain yourself.
For those pining
"Losing My Mind", Follies
Valentines Day has a tendency to bring up the ghosts of relationships past, and few capture the pain of recalling unrequited feelings than Stephen Sondheim's haunting anthem. Listen, let out a tear for what's passed, and ready yourself for whatever comes next.
For the artistic collaborators
"Falling Slowly", Once
Sometimes finding the right person can unlock the perfect partner to express yourself artistically. Look no further than Once, a small story about the beauty that can come when two artists find each other by chance and find the sort of connection so many search for. As beautiful as it is bittersweet, the song shows the power of finding that perfect person to harmonize with
For the long-term partners
"Sleepy Man", The Robber Bridegroom
This sweet love song from the recently revived folk musical is a relatively simple message, that after all the pain of everyday exploits, having a partner means they'll be there for you to calm you down and help put you at ease. It's a simple notion, and not a particularly sexy one, but on a day centered on love, it's something that should be celebrated
For the "morning after"
"Changing My Major to Joan", Fun Home
Because waking up next to someone opens the door to so much joy and panic, and Fun Home's depiction of a college aged Alison Bechdel speaks to every single one of these complicated feelings in 3-minute span. Since it's already so hard to put these emotions into words, just be glad this show already did it for us.
For those who want to remember
"They Can't Take That Away From Me", Crazy for You
Technically speaking, the Gershwin tune didn't premiere on the Broadway stage, but rather the 1937 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Shall We Dance. But the song, which was featured in the 1992 Tony Winner Crazy For You, celebrates the beauty of romance, even the ones that have since ended. Even if your love didn't end in happily ever after, there's still reason to look back and smile today at the past loves.
For those who want to forget
"Back to Before", Ragtime
Loving someone is not always good for you, and breaking free of these relationships can be the most positive thing you can do for your general happiness. The character "Mother" in the musical Ragtime is breaking free from a marriage that saw her just as the dutiful and subservient wife. In her climatic ballad, she celebrates wanting more in her life than simply following in her partner's footsteps.
For those over "love"
"Love's a Gun", Love's Labours Lost
Not everyone believes the notion that monogamous love is necessary or even healthy for a person. With so much societal and cultural pressure, it's important to also acknowledge that not everyone sees romance the same way. This song from the 2013 adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy paints romance as something that while the notion of love may be nice, it has a destructive side too.
For parental love
"Dear Theodosia", Hamilton
Yeah, you didn't really think Hamilton wouldn't show up on this list? Despite the several ballads in the show, one of the most powerful love songs on Broadway currently is one two fathers sing to their children. Because romantic love doesn't have a monopoly on the day, it's important to take a moment and recognize the people who helped raise you and have been there since day one.
For those ready for the next step
"Being Alive", Company
Commitment is scary and not everyone is capable of rushing into it head first. But in another one of Sondheim's ballads, the central character of Company, Bobby is finally taking stock of his life as a single man and resolves to let love into his life. Even if it's not all happening today, sometimes deciding what you want is worth celebrating.
For those taking care of themselves
"So Much Better", Legally Blonde The Musical
As great as it is to be in a healthy fulfilling relationship, it's more important to love yourself and pursue ways of making yourself happy rather than thinking someone else will do that for you. Elle Woods knows a thing or two about that and here she celebrates the fact that on her own she has found a far greater fulfillment than just being trophy fiancé.
For those who've found their partner:
"Perfect for You", Next to Normal
So often people buy into the cultural images of what love is supposed to look like without recognizing that no two romantic relationships are the same. That's why this short song from the 2011 Pulitzer winning musical recognizes the importance of finding somebody who is compatible with who you are to ensure you both can. You may never find the "perfect partner" but you can find someone perfect for you.