On the Record: A Valentine's Day Special

Valentine's Day just begs for music to give its flavor — all about love, affection, romance, even raw seduction if you're feeling adventurous. Like the old Shakespeare quote that you see adorned on countless Tumblr blogs and Amazon vinyl packages, "If music be the food of love, play on." How about that My Chemical Romance song that reminds you of your first love? Or the D'Angelo song that provided just the right atmosphere for that make-out sesh? Songs can serve as time capsules — instant reminders of the most striking or embarrassing moments in our lives. We asked a few friends of ours about the musician they had an instant crush on, the first album they fell in love with and what's the most romantic song to them.



My first musical crush when I was very small, like 3 or 4. It was Gloria Estefan because she made me DO THAT CONGA! I kid you not. I loved that song and she was (and still kinda is) a mighty fine latin beauty! With Miami Sound Machine it got my little veins rushing with excitement to just drop everything and dance. Like anywhere in the house or in my kindergarten school bus.

Benjamin Kheng, The Sam Willows

Either t.A.T.u or Michelle Branch. 2003 vibes. I had a dream about doing a duet with Michelle Branch when I was 13. 

LIYANA FIZI, singer-songwriter

Yusry KRU because I was 12. I memorized songs from KRU's albums (especially Yusry's parts).

INTRIGUANT, musician

Joanna Newsom. A girl who plays the harp with a voice like that. Whoa, how can anyone resist?


Natalie Imbruglia. The short hair and the eyes lah. 'nuff said.


Madonna, circa the Madonna, Like a Virgin & True Blue era. I was constantly watching and singing along to her videos especially to 'Lucky Star', 'Borderline', and 'Papa Don't Preach'. I was a bit too young to realise that 'Papa Don't Preach' about her getting an unwanted pregnancy, so I didn't sing that as loud after I realised that.

TRACY PHILIPS, Lush 99.5FM & Present Purpose AND Ili FM, Manager of KHOTTAL/Tour Manager of HUJAN

TracyNew Kids on the Block, Jordan if you mean crush crush. If you mean the earliest music I fell in love with, it would be Motown music. I watched a video recording of their 25th anniversary which featured all their artists from girl bands in the 60's like The Supremes to Michael Jackson, over and over again. That and The Sound Of Music.

IliJordan Knight of NKOTB. No idea why, really. I was about 9 years old I think. And my older cousin sisters kept on playing New Kids on The Block whenever there's a family gathering, so I took a liking on the group, but don't really know who's who.  And then one day, I saw the videoclip on TV and a cousin asked, "OK which one you like?" and I pointed out to Jordan. OK what! Can sing, can dance, quite cute. "That one nama dia (name is) Jordan Knight," said cousin. Pretty much stuck with that one since. 

DON SHIAU, Babushka

Louise Nurding. It was 1995. I was 14 or 15, and saw her face on a magazine cover. I had no idea who she was, but she had the most beautiful smile. I bought that magazine just because of her. I never heard a note of her music because, you know...adolescent male priorities.


Hayley Williams because of her red hair...and nipples. Hayley Williams just damn shiok to listen to and watch.

JEREMY LEE, The Diarists, Hell Low

Dame Julie Andrews (circa Sound of Music/ Mary Poppins). I was raised on a diet of musical theatre and Julie Andrews was my governess and nanny aged 6-10. I can still sing almost all the songs.



D’angelo’s Brown Sugar. My sisters who are 7 and 9 years older than me were diving into neo-soul when I was like 9. So I had the pleasure of listening to Brown Sugar on repeat and it really changed my life! It pulled me into soul, on top of all the other people I was listening to at the time, like Jill Scott, Maxwell, Erykah Badu and Musiq Soulchild. So that album sparked something in me. But at the same time for my 16th birthday I got Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun and that made me really rooted in the kind of music I write and express and feel comfortable in today, as a musician, bassist and songwriter. She is goddess. Heart Eyes.


Blockhead's Music by Cavelight. I am a huge fan of hip-hop, funk, soul and everything in between and this album had me started.


I'd give this title to a compilation by The Beach Boys. The album wasn't mine actually — my brother bought it when I was 8, I think. He used to get mad at me cause I would sneak it out of his room and hide it in my Discman. 

Benjamin Kheng, The Sam Willows

What I tell people: Nirvana - In Utero (I genuinely love it, but...)

The truth: Backstreet Boys - Black & Blue. Or anything Limp Bizkit before 2003. As you can tell I was very cool. 

SOFIE CHANDRA, Head of Marketing & Events at Zouk

A1's Here We Come. HAHAHHAHAH OMG DAMN PAISEH. Actually it was just the song 'Like a Rose' I swear I played it on repeat mode at least 50 times a day.


Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody. My friends and I would get together and practice in the backyard like we were going take part in Young Talent Time, a TV show in Australia at the time. 


Depeche Mode's Black Celebration. I feel that concept albums are that much easier to fall in love with, and this one had a concept that was devastatingly realised from start to finish. It awakened me to the difference between writing songs and writing albums.


Linkin Park's Meteora. Amazing songs lah pls. Meteora was like a legit flowing album and every song was amazingly good.


As much as I want it be something groundbreaking and sonically important like Nirvana's Nevermind or Radiohead's The Bends. It was probably one of those early 90s compilation albums they used to issue on cassette like Megahits. With what little pocket money I had I would buy one of those cassettes and it would get played to death on my walkman. Also deserving a mention is the the mat-rock band that covered Guns n Roses' Appetite for Destruction lick for lick that I bought at a pasar malam. Listened to it for weeks until the walkman decided to have a meal of it. Still like their version more.

MOHAMED HANIS, sub:shaman, Spacedays

Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix. It hit a raw nerve with me and I dare say, that album changed my life. I had never had quite an experience like that in my life before that CD. Even though, it is not an album per se, it will always and forever hold the greatest importance to me for its impact on my life and the love for music that grew out of listening to that CD. It will always be my first love.

The Most Romantic Song Ever

NADIA RAHMAT, freelance events organizer

Femme En Fourrure - Watcher

I’m very forthcoming when it comes to sexuality so this song nails it pretty damn well! While most might prefer the usual sugar-coated heartwarming variety, I’d much rather choose something more raw. The song’s basically about a woman wanting to bone the shit out of her person in the wildest ways possible. It helps to intensify the atmosphere when you’re with your significant other more than anything. ;)


Tower of Power - Willing to Learn

I was 16, once again, and I was thinking about love, not necessarily getting a girlfriend yet because I still had my O’ Levels and football which took up all of my time (hard knock life). But I started digging up a lot of old soul and funk and I came across Tower of Power’s Greatest Hits. And number 13 was this ballad. With so much soul, and with so much uncertainty and vulnerability but yet so much strength when Lenny Williams comes in with the hook, “I’m just trying to tell you baby, I’m willing to learnnnnnnnn!” with the horn section backing him. I got floored and had goosebumps I heard it the first time. That was when I wanted to find the love of my life. I wanted to have the kind of woman that he was so passionate about in that song. That’s when I became a soul romantic ;) HAHA! Donny Hathway’s 'A Song for You' comes in at close second. Maxwell’s 'For Lover’s Only' in third.

Benjamin Kheng, The Sam Willows

The Book Of Love - Peter Gabriel. Slow dance to that shit. Much feels. 

INCH CHUA, singer-songwriter

Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life

Amazing music video. I tear everytime. So I hate valentine’s day, I HATE IT. It's just another consumeristic holiday. I mean why just WHY would I want to go out when every couple in the world is out. 

I’ll just break out in hives by just the sheer amount of smug in love couple out there. So my then boyfriend knew I hated valentine’s day, but he felt that he still wanted to spend that day with me.

Coincidentally, I fell horribly sick. It wasn’t just a minor flu it was bronchitis status. I looked like I’ve seen hell and became hell itself. He came over my place with porridge and a valentine’s day card scratched shoddily off with a marker and replaced in bold, “GET WELL SOOON DAY” with a footnote “This is NOT a Valentine’s Day card, Valentine’s day sucks.”

It was the best Valentine's Day. 

AHMAD ARIFF, Pleasantry, Paris In The Making

Pg. 99 - In Love with an Apparition

This is the most romantic ever to exist cause this song is a 'fuck you' and the girl dies in this one. (Editor's note: You okay, bro?)

JOSIAH NG, Siren Pixels

Adam Sandler - Grow Old With You

Singing through the P.A system at 30,000 ft with Billy Idol introducing you. C'mon!!!

I actually learnt the chords to this song and sang it at some class performance to my then girlfriend in secondary school. The mic stand was faulty so my best friend was kneeling in front of me while I crooned and played the guitar (badly), which on hindsight was weird because I had to stare my best friend in the eye at that angle (also to avoid eye contact with my girlfriend cos it was taboo to be in a relationship then at 15 years old, everyone thought it was just some random performance). What's even weirder is that since then, every time I hear that song, my best friend's acne-filled face pops into my mind (instead of my then-girlfriend's face).


DJ Mitsu The Beats (Feat. José James) - Promise In Love 

I always have a soft spot for slow jams. It's the best way to end a night. 


Blink 182 - First Date

It's a song about nascent love/romance. Romance doesn't get any more idealistic/naive/pure than that. I mean, look up the lyrics

No pretences, no cheesy sentiments, no overused romantic cliches. Just the exhilarating thrill/anxiety of a new romance. We've all (hopefully) been there before; you're having a really awesome time with someone new and you both click and neither of you want the date to end.

The song's really honest and it's something most people can relate to. For that, it's my pick for the most romantic song. Ever. 


Mel Carter - Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me

Please, which girl wouldn't want to dance to this song with you?


David Bowie - Heroes

Taken off the album of the same name — the second of his Berlin trilogy album — a story of two lovers met by the Berlin Wall, kissing by the graffiti wall amongst the razor wire. Bowie, dreaming of escape so hard he wishes to be a porpoise, wails against a wall of sound, made romantic. Some songs are about love, some are about heartache this is just a song about being in love. 

This 1977 krautrock cannonball is testimony to the awesome, world-shaking power of love itself. A song that brought back bitter sweet memories of me spending time down under, being young and dangerously in love. If this is not a true pledge of love guess nothing else will and hey, who to say that all love songs have to be a ballad.


Carpenters - Close to You

The lyrics and melody are so innocent and sweet. Strangely it's an episode of The Simpsons that comes to mind — of Homer and Marge.


The Bird and the Bee - Spark

Not really a love song, but I feel love when I listen to it. Those spectral synth chords are simply magical. I'd also say 'Hoppipolla' by Sigur Ros, but after a while it started gaining popularity as a wedding march and became less special for me.


Sixpence None the Richer - Kiss Me

'Kiss Me' just makes my heart stim.

NOR ASYRAF, photographer

Copeland - Chiromancer

"Forever yours...

and I can feel you in the morning sun.

You warm me like no other one.

Forever yours...

Your voice is fading. I call your name,

‘cause I’m still here,"

Sweet, right?