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The Heat Beat: The Music of Phoenix Media and Beyond: Heat Beat picks for the top ten love songs 

by Jess Szabo’,Arts Writer

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are the Heat Beat picks for the top five love songs in Rap, R&B, Blues, Jazz. See the full column at  for five from beyond.

The Music of Phoenix Radio:

Rap: J-Easy: Vibe

Rap is not widely known as a “love song” genre. Most Rap songs that deal with relationships tend to be self-centered and often… a bit crude in tone. Romantic rap songs are rare. But “Vibe” is a respectful, loving song about being with the one you just fit together with perfectly in every way.


R&B: Mary J Blige: Be Without You

Despite the line,”We’ve been too strong for too long,” some music articles and columns interpret this song as a story of a character with a stable, happy relationship simply missing her partner and waiting for them to come home at the end of the day. And that does make sense if you interpret it as the story of two characters who had a rough road to get to where they are, and are now just enjoying their relationship. In any case, it’s about wanting to be around the one you love, making it one anyone in love can relate to.


Jazz: Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington:  The Nearness of You

Covered extensively over the years, “The Nearness of You” is an ultimate Jazz love song. The song cover website “Second Hand Songs,” lists 671 versions as of January 17,2022, beginning in 1940 with Chick Bullock accompanied by his Orchestra and ending with Jane Monheit in 2021. Of course, we all know the lyrics. The narrator/singer lovingly lets their beloved know that what really excites them, what really means everything to them, is the nearness of the one they love.


Blues: Little Walter: You’re So Fine

Most love songs, even those that address physical attractiveness, do so in a more romantic way. The beautiful woman is compared to a flower or some other beautiful part of nature. Or the song is about the person being physically attractive without being beloved. Little Walter’s ‘You’re So Fine’ blends both admiration of the woman’s appearance and the longing for a relationship, without any comparisons to clouds or blooms. The woman is described as, well, “fine,” with no embellishments. But at the same time, the narrator does describe the woman as “mine all mine” and says he does not want anybody else.


Jazz: George and Ira Gershwin: The Man I love (Ella Fitzgerald’s version)

The lyrics are sometimes seen as an optimistic story of a woman waiting patiently for the love of her life. Others see it as an outdated tale from a time when women had to depend on having a man for everything. Those people are trying much too hard to be offended by everything. Everyone, regardless of gender or personality, could reasonably be waiting for someone to love for the rest of their life. And Ella’s voice…the one every woman who sings  wishes for…makes this song especially hopeful and beautiful.


And beyond: The next five songs are from genres outside those played on Phoenix Radio.


Classic Rock: Roy Orbison: I Drove All Night

The combination of a soft but upbeat tempo and the mention of the love between the two of them  make a song that could have suggested an unrequited crush who is taking things much too far…”I drove all night…crept in your room..” into a song about a beloved going to any lengths to get to the one he loves. Listening to it instantly brings to mind the longest trip you have ever taken to meet up with the one you love.


Contemporary Pop/Rock: Train: Cab

Everyone knows San Francisco based “Train” for “Drops of Jupiter,” “Meet Virginia,” and “50 Ways to Say Goodbye.” But “Cab is one of their most underrated songs. Although it is about a relationship that has ended, it is still a great song about the love that remains. The lost beloved is greeted with “New York snow this time of year…nothing more beautiful to me…except for you.”


Classic Rock: The Beatles: In My Life

Not only is “In My Life” the best Beatles love song, it’s the Heat Beat pick for best Beatles song overall. A more perfect song about loving a lot of people and places in all the ways one can love things, but loving one special person in your life above all has never been written.

Singer-Songwriter: John Mayer: Your Body is a Wonderland

This upbeat and catchy song from 2002 features some rather original descriptions of the narrator/singer’s beloved’s features. Rather than comparing her to the usual things like flowers and sunshine, she has “one pair of candy lips and a “bubblegum tongue.” But it was chosen for this list because something about it…maybe the mix of suggestive and innocent lyrics….or the upbeat tempo… just makes it the perfect song to listen to while getting ready for a date with the one you love.


Singer-Songwriter: Lou Santacroce: The One Who Holds My Heart (for Jessica)

If anyone were ever going to write a song about you, you would want it to be a song like this, a beautiful song telling the world that the songwriter would rather have you, “the one who holds my heart” than anything else in the world. It is truly my absolute favorite love song..and song.. of all time.

Jess Szabo
Jess Szabo
Jess Szabo' is a novelist, writing teacher, and content writer for Utica area artists. Her online workspace can be found at

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