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Valentine’s Day Around the World

February 21, 2023

Chocolate-covered strawberries, romantic dinners, and roses reach their peak season every year on February 14. The “Day of Love” is the perfect time to show loved ones how much they are appreciated, and what better way to do so than to travel the globe searching for the best love songs? If you’d rather spend your time writing valentines for a special someone, don’t fret! Global Frequency will introduce you to some great love songs from around the world to soothe your soul until next year’s Valentine’s Day. 


Asem Sebe – Nana Quame

The title roughly translates to “use your words wisely.” This song can’t be found on streaming services, so thousands of people flock to YouTube and TikTok to listen to this timeless Ghanaian love song. Quame’s classic highlife serenade will make you want to dance and maybe even fall in love. 


Channa Mereya – Pritam, Arijit Singh

The best love stories in the world can be found in Bollywood films; however, not everyone gets a fairytale ending. This Hindustani song from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil emphasizes that even if it is not reciprocated, the sole act of loving someone is strong and empowering. Open yourself up to vulnerable emotions by listening to the bittersweet yearning of a song titled “My Moon.” 


For Lovers (恋人へ)- Lamp

Lamp whispers sweet nothings into your ears through the speakers, and this singularity makes them impossible to forget. The title track of their popular album is a short poem translating into four lines: “Because the season I like is a short thing / It melted away without me noticing / Alone in this moving scenery / I stand still and think of you.” This song tiptoes into your soul, wraps its arms around your heart, and holds on for dear life. 


Honey Baby – Three Plus

You’ve likely heard this song before if you grew up in Hawai’i, but it is never too late to listen for the first time. The sweet-talking lyrics and melodic ukulele allude to pure love at first sight. Imagine being transported to a porch with rocking chairs overlooking a grove of mango trees, sitting with your honey baby and growing old together.


Memory of Your Scent (향기만 남아) – Huh Gak

Look no further than Korean music if you are in the mood for heart-wrenching love. The k-indie scene is especially talented at making the saddest songs you’ll ever hear, but don’t overlook the ballads with emotional crooning like this one. With lines like “Your faint memories, those beautiful memories / Only the scent that resembles you still remains,” you can picture the powerful love of an abandoned man. Whether his partner left him or passed away, you can hear his desperation at trying to remember even the way his partner smelled. 


Ajab Si – KK

Perhaps one of the most iconic Bollywood love songs, Om Shanti Om’s surprisingly sincere telling of true love and dedication brings the musical beyond its themes of rebirth, celebrity crushes, and the supernatural. If you are looking for a compelling, earnest love song that might convince you they do actually like you back, listen to “Ajab Si.”


The Moon Represents My Heart (月亮代表我的心) – Teresa Teng

Teresa Teng left an indelible mark on Chinese music, and “The Moon Represents My Heart” was an instant hit that has sustained its influence more than forty years later. It is often said that every Chinese person knows this song and for a good reason. Teng sings of moon-like affection: even when it is not shining in the sky, it is always there orbiting the planet and moving the tides. 


Ti Ein’ Afto Pou to Lene Agapi – Sophia Loren

The 1957 film Boy on a Dolphin centers on the discovery of a long lost ancient Greek statue. However, the most mesmerizing part of the film is this performance by Sophia Loren singing in Greek. While originally sung by Kaiti Ntenis, the raw melancholy of this version encapsulates the silver screen love shown in old American cinema.


Dayung Sampan – Rita Zahara

You might recognize the melody of “Very Sweet (甜蜜蜜)” by Teresa Teng featured in the movie Comrades: Almost a Love Story. Teng’s version uses the melody from this folk song, which traveled from Indonesia to Singapore in the 1800s. “Dayung Sampan” refers to the ubiquitous paddle boats used for fishing, transportation, and more. The lyrics detail the journey made by migrants from China to Southeast Asia to make a better life for themselves, likely on the same boats from which the title originates. While only a few transliterations of “Dayung Sampan” refer to it as a love song, the journey in a sampan relies on the care and dedication of familial love. 


Nasini El Donya – Ragheb Alama

Turn up the volume and sink into the lovesick vocals of this quintessential Lebanese singer: “If I tell you I love you, love is too little / If I am away from you for one second, I return longing for your eyes.” If you are searching for wholehearted devotion in your relationships this year, the beauty of Alama’s confession will make your heart ache in all the right ways. 


Có Nhớ Đêm Nào – Phương Tâm

This track comes from a compilation of Saigon surf, twist, and soul from 1964-66. Influenced by American rock and roll, a new genre of music emerged called nhạc kích động, or action music, that infused these Western music styles with Vietnamese lyrics and themes. This song asks, “Do you remember the night?” Picture yourself there in the club, the air thick with smoke, as a lounge singer reminisces about a beautiful night with her love. 


Get ready to woo your valentine all year long with these inspiring selections hand curated from around the world. You can find these global love songs and even more on the Global Frequency: Valentine’s Day Around the World playlist. 

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