Recommendations: Modern Love Ballad (Part I)

Love-inspired music will lasts forever.

Adhi Waluyo
5 min readMar 8, 2020
Photo: Patrick Hill

Here are the nowadays ones, you can sense the atmosphere which will gives you a nod to….your love life:

1. Mac DeMarco - No Other Heart

Mac is good in paying homage to the old sounds which he likes, this one has a Beatlesque sound. “No Other Heart” represents a problem that will never be solved in this world: falling in love with someone who is already in a relationship.

However, Mac didn’t make this song as miserable as it could be, instead, he insisted the girl if he could do anything to cheer her up. This also can be seen that the girl may just break up with her boyfriend but she’s still in love with him.

Embodied in the lyrics, Mac questioned if love can’t simply make something worse:

“Is it wrong / to think my love could really help you out? / it’s simply just my stubborn heart no doubt, rambling away”

Yes, it’s a rhetorical one (however, I bet some of you can answer it). The piano and the guitar really blend well, it’s a fun song yet it has an optimistic view of a miserable condition in love life.

2. The Walters - I Love You So

The first time I heard this song I found the chorus melody was funny, I don’t know why. After that, I repeat this song over and over again because this retro melody is quite rare to be found in nowadays ballad. The intro is so simple, a strum of two guitar chords alternately coped with lyrics of a man’s struggling relationship:

“I just need someone in my life to give it structure / to handle all the selfish ways I’d spend my time without her”

Well, the more you listen, the more you see that his relationship is off-balance. The girl can’t fully commit to him, she only sees him as “friends with benefits”. You can guess the best thing to do for the man: move on.

3. Phoenix - Fior Di Latte

This sweet song radiates a sensual and romantic vibe, it’s a slow one but it’s rich in melody and catchy. Phoenix are great in creating a rhythm synthesizer, you can hear how they create various rhythm playing in the verse and pre-chorus. Fior Di Latte is an Italian cheese, however, here’s the lyric in the chorus:

“Fior di latte, fior di latte / throw your weight around behind me/ fior di latte, fior di latte / don’t think about it, trigger me happy”

You should listen to the whole song to get the actual meaning of “Fior Di Latte” in this song. It’s a bit vague at first, here’s a hint for you: a desire of such an arousing and amusing activity….without the cheese part of course.

4. Jake Bugg - Love, Hope and Misery

To be honest, he’s not in his prime anymore but he’s still composed a great ballad. This one comes from his third album and for me, it’s the stand out track. The way he sings the verse represents his classic influence in music, something which he maintained until now. The song solely focuses on the last word on the title, as he sings in the chorus:

“They say it comes in threes: love, hope and misery / and the first two are gone and tell me if I’m wrong / I hope that I am and you don’t hate me”

It’s indeed a sad song filled with desperation, but Jake makes it better by incorporating an “optimistic” vibe throughout the song. The pre-chorus part always gets me, it’s haunting yet beautiful.

5. Rex Orange County - Nothing

“Apricot Princess” often overlooked by many people, the album contains some good ballads. “Nothing” resembles Rex’s love for R&B, implied on the guitar licks and bass playing. The song is about separation, mainly he points it out because of differences:

“But I wish I could I grow up, the way in which you grow up / ’cause then you’d never see me cry”

He may have experienced something which doesn’t end well for him, however, it inspired him to make this wonderful ballad. Rex’s talented friend (Marco McKinnis) also took part in this song, singing the verse.

6. Vansire feat. Floor Cry - Nice to See You

The lo-fi atmosphere toward the song will make you capture joyful moments. Another strong point here is the addition of woman’s vocal, making the song resembles an intimacy. Nevertheless, the song is about remembering a relationship:

“You make me feel things / I don’t believe in / it’s all up in my heart / and all up in my spine those chills”

To be honest, I’m running out of words to describe this song because when I’m listening to it there’s always a nostalgic thing which comes through… this song really, really hits me in the feel.

7. Charlie Burg - I Don’t Wanna be Okay Without You

This song is a sad one but cheesy:

Now I can’t find the words to say / that’ll be the perfect balance between loud and clear / and I can hear so well your lovely voice inside my head / sayin’ you love me

Charlie emphasizes his fright of being separated with his partner toward the whole song. The music compliments it, starts with a soft piano intro and slowly getting “more intense” by adding a prominent guitar lead and drums. In addition, the chorus seems like the main point of the song, the deliverance is sweet and as soothing as it could be.

8. Atilia Haron feat. SORE — Silly Little Thing

SORE composed a song called “Karolina” and I think it’s their best ballad. However, there are so many “typical ballad” things on that song, very different with this one. The humming on the intro is soothing, straight giving you the vibe of the entire song, a well-rounded ballad with a classic woman and man singing alternately. Moreover, the vocal harmony between Atilia Haron and SORE is the highlight of this song.

Click here for Part II!