The way to the heart is through the ears

Valentine's Day is a time for lovers -- for boxes of chocolate, long-stem roses, poetic greeting cards and kisses that make you warm all over. And of course, for music, but not just any kind.

Valentine's Day is slow-jam day.


It's a time to break out the softest ballads, the smoothest melodies and play them with the volume high, the lights low and your main squeeze snuggled beside you.

There are hundreds of love songs out there; too many it seems to pick the best. But we did our best to come up with a list of what we think are our favorites of all time. Here are our picks from a male and female point of view.


Her picks

"Adore" by Prince. Done during his raunchier days, this veered from Prince's normally sexually charged style to tell a sweet story about being smitten with someone. This is a song about love at its purest.

"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. Houston put an R&B; stamp on this Dolly Parton country song about loving someone you can't have. It won her two Grammy Awards and was one of the best-selling singles ever. This is a song that many people can relate to.

"If This World Were Mine" by Luther Vandross. You can't have a list like this without including Vandross. A dozen of his songs could have been in the Top 10. This one perfectly illustrates loving someone so much you'd give them anything.

"By Your Side" by Sade. Sade released this song after an eight-year hiatus from singing. Those familiar with her smoky sound from the '80s weren't disappointed with this version that was reminiscent of other hits such as "Smooth Operator." This song reminds you of sticking with someone you love through thick and thin.

"Lady in My Life" by Michael Jackson. This was just one of a string of hits on Jackson's legendary Thriller album. In an ode to the ladies, Jackson sings about unconditional love.

"Ordinary People" by John Legend. This is a song that made Legend a household name. It turns the cliched love song on its head to present a deep tribute of the good and bad of being in love.

"I'd Give Anything" by Gerald Levert. Who hasn't sat alone on a Friday night longing for Mr. or Ms. Right? Levert sums up that universal feeling in this song about looking for love.


"We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey. Carey redoes the classic "don't know what you got until it's gone" love song without the mundane cliches. She sings about lost love.

"I'll Give All My Love to You" by Keith Sweat. Many men likened his singing style to whining, but with songs like this one, Sweat always had the women swooning. "Make It Last Forever" was his most popular love song but this one, though less played, has more character.

"I'll Make Love to You" by Boyz II Men. This group brought the gentleman back into music, wooing the women with the members' clean-cut image and dance moves reminiscent of the old Motown groups. This song is about spoiling a woman and showering her with attention.

His picks

"Betcha By Golly Wow" by the Stylistics. The clarinet chords, the soft violins, the harmonic background singers and the smooth falsetto voice of lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr. make this tune a timeless favorite.

"Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye. Motown's best-selling single from 1973 to 1992 is also one of the steamiest, most sensually charged recordings ever. Originally written as a political song, Gaye changed the lyrics when he was smitten at first sight upon meeting Janis Hunter, who would become his wife.


"Lovin' You" (LP version) by Minnie Riperton. The artist was known for her five- octave voice well before Mariah Carey. Riperton wrote this song -- which includes birds chirping in the background -- with her husband, Richard Rudolph. The late mother of Saturday Night Live cast member Maya Rudolph, Riperton sings her daughter's name at the end.

"Something He Can Feel" (LP version) by Aretha Franklin. Written by the late Curtis Mayfield for the 1976 motion picture Sparkle, the song is Franklin at her finest, exclaiming unabashedly her feelings for her man.

"Let's Do It Again" (LP version) by the Staple Singers. The renowned gospel group sings a sultry ballad for the 1975 motion picture by the same name. It has a seductive, 25-second intro, with Mavis Staples crooning low, and violin and lead guitar strumming a blues-style melody in the background.

"For the Love of You" by the Isley Brothers. Originally titled "How Lucky I Am," the song was written by Rudolph Isley as a poem about his wife, Elaine. Its words -- along with vocalist Ron Isley's smooth delivery -- speak to most anyone who's ever been moved by undying love.

"All I'll Ever Ask" by Najee featuring Freddie Jackson. Jackson sings the lyrics -- which read like wedding vows -- while Najee plays smooth sax.

"Love Ballad" by LTD. You can all but visualize lead singer Jeffrey Osborne crooning to his beloved on this 1976 tune.


"You're My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration" by Teddy Pendergrass. This tune from the Sound of Philadelphia balladeer is a late-night R&B; radio favorite.

"Knocks Me Off My Feet" by Stevie Wonder. Mainstream music listeners may know it as the tune sung by last year's American Idol third-place finisher Elliott Yamin. But old-school slow-jam lovers know it as one of Wonder's finest, a song with a most memorable chorus: "I don't wanna bore you with it, oh, but I love you, I love you, I love you."