In time for Valentine’s Day, Spotify has recruited a team of musical masterminds to determine the formula for creating the perfect love song.
“Lyrics about love should be positive and the song needs to have a slow tempo (andante, or about 70-80 beats per minute),” said Jacob Jolij, assistant Professor in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Groningen. In addition, Jolij states that the world’s perfect love songs also follow the KISS rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
“They do not have a very complex harmonic structure, and the chord sequences are all ‘easy on the ears,'” he said. “And familiarity is good – even though you might think that people prefer originality, we know from psychology and neuroscience that the brain likes familiar stuff.”
Hence, the formula is as follows: sentimental lyrics + slow tempo + syncopated rhythm + major key + standard chord progression = perfect love song.
So which songs follow this simple formula? Adele’s Bob Dylan cover, “Make You Fee My Love,” is a prime example and other popular romantic staples from Marvin Gaye, The Righteous Brothers, Elvis Costello, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey and Leona Lewis make the cut.
Even though slow, soothing songs with love-positive lyrics are considered the most “perfect,” there is also something to be said about a good F.U. heartbreak power ballad. Just ask Alanis Morissette, Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson.
“The best songs come from heartbreak,” said Maureen Crowe, President of the Music Supervisors Guild, who supervised on the film The Bodyguard, famed for its unforgettable hit I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston.
“Anytime an artist goes through hard times the A&R staff are thinking: big songs are coming,” she said. “When we are the most vulnerable, sacred insight comes. The song becomes a treasure, an expression of a deeply personal emotional experience that everyone can share.”
For your listening pleasure, Spotify has created a special playlist of these treasured songs:
1. Make You Feel My Love – Adele
2. Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye
3. I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton / Whitney Houston
4. Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
5. Love Me Tender – Elvis
6. Let Her Go – Passenger
7. Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
8. She – Elvis Costello
9. If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
10. Think Twice – Celine Dion
11. Vision of Love – Mariah Carey
12. Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
13. If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
14. Un-break My Heart – Toni Braxton