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By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

Amidst the shades of red, heart-shaped candies and fluttering lovebirds; Valentine Day is incomplete without the best love ballads humming a warm fuzzy feeling into you. Moldy Peaches' “Anyone But You” is a cute number to begin the day with, guaranteed to bring a smile on both your faces. “Piazza, New York Catcher” from Belle & Sebastian is an engaging storytelling track with too many ideas crammed in one piece. Follow up these with “Days Go By” from Dirty Vegas and John Denver's “Annie's Song”. The modern ballad written by Robert Smith for his fiancé, “Love Song” is a romantic milestone from The Cure released in 1989.

Sun and rain have always been a musician's favourite romantic metaphors; and Tim McGraw's “She's My Kind of Rain” is another addition to the list. A similar subtle sweetness is carried off by Ronan Keating's “When You Say Nothing At All”, a much loved number that topped UK Charts in 1999. “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer is a Grammy-nominated sensuous sing-along that can be coupled with the beating number about crushes, “You Really Got Me Now” from the Kinks. If you're planning to propose to someone this Valentine, “The Suffering” from Coheed and Cambria is lyrically perfect song, where a guy asks a girl to marry him.

“November Rain” by Guns N' Roses follows the short story of love and life through death and the funeral of the bride. The classics “I'll Be There For You” by Bon Jovi talks about giving love another chance, while “Please Forgive Me” by Bryan Adams is a musical depiction of evergreen love.

Our local countdown of the best loved songs about love kickstarts with Ornob's “Tomar Jonno” from his second solo album, and secured 3rd position amongst top 100 songs of 2007. Follow it up with Aurthohin's “Amar Proticchobi” and “Tumi”, which are soft, melo tracks about being around and there your loved one. “Mone Pore” from Warfaze is a classic reminiscing the times shared by two people in love.

One of my personal favourites would be Artcell's “Tomake”, a unique blues-and-fusion number with guitars beautifully complimenting Ershad's lyrics. Pair it with “Amar Shathe Aye” by Cryptic Fate, a down-to-earth, simple track about finding and following love. Yaatri's “Ei Ki Beshi Na” is a lyrically sensuous masterpiece about two people with love and being alive being the only things common between them. It discovers how people can be complete opposites, and yet, shares a feeling that is unparallel to anything else.

“Diin Gelo” and “Esho Brishti Namai” are both chart toppers from Habib. Spice it up with Shironamhiin's “Hashimukh” (from their album Jahajee) which has a street-like feel to it. “Tero Nodi Shaat Shomuddoor” is an upbeat number by James, or more commonly known as 'Guru'. With an easy-flowing guitar solo, this one uses sea, sun, rain and elements of nature as metaphors to chase love beyond borders.

To sum it up, love is the focus of the majority of musical numbers, both popular and unpopular ones, across the globe. Compiling a list of the best is nearly impossible. Each piece deals with different agenda and sharing the same feeling of receiving, remembering and returning love. Let this Valentine celebrate that love we feel everyday!

Special thanks to everyone who sent in their picks for best love songs. God loves you all.

By Sadia Islam

Valentine's Day is a fuzzy celebration of a fuzzy feeling. It is such because the entire occasion came about from the fuzzy notion that a saint by that name died and we celebrate by making greeting card companies rich.

Another way to go about it is by settling down with a movie either with a special someone or even by yourself. Following is a list of romantic flicks that guarantee tears will flow albeit from laughing. The list was compiled based on a very scientific method involving coffee, cold drizzly weather, friends and having nothing better to do.
So get ready set off those warm, fuzzy feelings.

Top classics
Some of these old movies are more than 50 years old and still manage to thrill. We start off with 'Roman Holiday' (1953). A princess called Anna (Audrey Hepburn) breaks free of her tightly scheduled life while on tour and meets Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), an American newspaper reporter stationed in Rome. He is busy covering the Princess Anne press conference when he finds out that she is right there with him. Joe promises his editor an exclusive interview with the haughty princess and love happens.

Some of the most romantic stories are about couples from different worlds who fall madly in love. 'Lady and the Tramp' (1955) is one such classic Disney flick where the lovers are dogs. Even though Lady is an uptown Cocker Spaniel, and Tramp is a downtown Mutt, this pair will do anything to be together. The scene where the pups meet at the end of a piece of spaghetti is one of the most romantic film moments of all time and also one of the most spoofed.

Let the games begin
Courtship is a big game plan and some would go to any lengths. The consequences can be hilarious……..in the movies at least.

Meg Ryans perky, bubbly persona made her a favorite for romantic comedies of the early 90's. 'When Harry Met Sally (1989)' opposite Billy Crystal was a big hit about two good friends who have known each other for years. They fall in love but fear that sex would ruin the friendship. 'You've got mail (1998)' pairs her up again with Tom Hanks as two business rivals who hate each other in real life but unknowingly fall in love over the internet.

Julia Roberts was another movie buffs romantic sweetheart with a trail of hits to her name. 'Runaway Bride, 1999' was about a reporter (Richard Gere) who is assigned to write a story about a woman who runs away from the altar leaving behind a string of fiancés.

In 'My Best friends wedding, 1997', Roberts finds out her long-time friend is getting engaged, realizes she loves him herself… and sets out to get him, with only days before the wedding.

Julia Roberts' next starred in 'Nottinghill, (1999)' as a famous star who walks into the bookshop of a simple guy and turns his life upside down.

'Never Been Kissed' (1999) is about Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore), a journalist, who enrolls into her old high school to cover a story that can make or break her career. Through the process, she uncovers old wounds and falls in love with her teacher, who does not know that she is undercover. Josie is faced with big conflicts, which turns into a great story.

While Jennifer Lopez doesn't exactly have a movie career full of hits, 'The Wedding Planner (2001) was fun and touching. She plays a wedding planner who is ambitious, extremely organized and knows exactly what to do and say. But this changes when she falls (literally) for a handsome doctor whose wedding she turns out to be handling. It shows that love has a way of turning up when least expected.

'How to lose a guy in 10 days' (2003) has Matthew McConaughey playing an advertising executive who, to win a big campaign, bets that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Kate Hudson, a magazine writer, is assigned a story on "How to Lose a Guy in 10 days." And they meet and the fireworks begin.

'10 things I hate about you' (1999) is a remake of the classic Shakespare play "The Taming of the Shrew" set in a modern day highschool. It stars the late Heath Ledger.

'50 First Dates' (2004) is not your usual Adam Sandler slapstick although there is plenty of that. Drew Barrymore has a memory problem resulting from a car crash where her memory last for roughly 24 hours. She wakes up where every day is a repetition of the day before the accident. And Sandler has to win her heart every single day.

'Hitch' (2005) is all about a self-professed love doctor (Will Smith) who helps in the matters of, what else but love. While helping his latest client woo the fine lady of his dreams, Smith finds the game doesn't quite work on the gossip columnist (Eva Mendes) with whom he's smitten.

All these movies are packed full of great lines and if you're the least bit romantic you will go crazy wanting to hear these lines at some point of life.

Life after marriage
'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' (1941) isn't the shoot 'em up starring 'Branjelina'. Produced by Alfred Hitchcock, this is a comedy about a couple who learn that their marriage was not valid. David and Annie Smith have an unusual marriage with an inordinate number of rules and regulations. One rule entitles them to ask each other one question per month which the other must answer completely honestly. Annie asks David if he would marry her again if he could have the time over again and David confides that he misses his freedom and so probably wouldn't. Later that day, an official from the town where they got married calls to see David. He explains that owing to a state boundary dispute, all couples married between 1936 and 1939 in the county were not legally married. David decides to have fun with this fact, but unbeknown to him, the county official calls to see Annie too and disaster results. For a while that is.

'Just Married' (2003) deals with the married life as a young newlywed couple honeymoon in Europe, where ridiculous obstacles challenge their ability to sustain the marriage.

'The Familyman' 2000' stars Nicolas cage as a super successful investment broker who has a Ferrari and semi relationships with sexy women. One fine day he gets a chance to see what life would have been like if he had not been so career oriented. The Ferrari goes away to be replaced by a minivan. But is it all a dream?

Starting afresh on love
Sometimes love doesn't quite work out. Divorces, jilted affairs and death prevent people from experiencing the best feeling in the world. And then there are those brave enough go for another round.

Tom Hanks plays a recently-widowed man whose son calls a radio talk show in an attempt to find his father a partner. Women swoon and flood him with letters in 'Sleepless in Seattle' (1993) with Meg Ryan as a costar.

'Must love dogs' (2005) deals with a forty-something preschool teacher (Diane Lane) looking to the personals for a change of pace and a relationship, with hilarious results. We have John Cusack to deliver a verbal attack in his rapid-fire manner with great comic timing.

With 'One Fine Day' (1996), you have Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is an architect and mother of Sammy. Jack Taylor(George Clooney) is a newspaper columnist and father of Maggie. Both are divorced and both meet one morning when overwhelmed Jack is left unexpectedly with Maggie and forgets that Melanie was to take her to school. As a result, both children miss their school field trip and are stuck with the parents.

In 'Sweet Home Alabama', Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) is a New York fashion designer who is now engaged to the city's most eligible bachelor. Melanie's past stories come back, including Jake, the husband she married in high school. She then goes back to Alabama to clear up her past. She then discovers that you can take the girl out of the South, but you can never take the South out of the girl. This romantic comedy takes you to the South with style. Witherspoon's charm wins your heart and you fall in love with her performance.

A fairy tale
Love is magical and with liberal doses of fantasy involving knights, princesses and spells, it becomes fantastic.

'Beauty and the beast' (1991) has to be THE romantic tale of all time. Great animation, way-too lovable characters and great music make this movie a treat.

'The Princess Bride' (1987) follows the traditional fairy tale plot with a kidnapped princess, an evil prince and a knight in shining armor. There's swashbuckling adventure, lots of humor and of course, romance. The sets are magical and will keep you mesmerized throughout the flick. It's the perfect feel-good fantasy.

Another tale involving prince and princesses is 'Ever After' (1998). It is an adaptation of the classic fairy tale Cinderella, Drew Barrymore plays Danielle De Barbarac. With the evil stepsisters and that wicked stepmother, she finds her self in need of being saved. With not your typical Cinderella story, Danielle rescues herself from her dreadful family and the prince from gypsies. With help from her fairy godfather Leonardo da Vinci, Danielle overcomes tough situations, marries her one true prince charming, and lives happily ever after.

'Shrek' (2001) blew away all concepts of the knight in shinning armour green belching ogre on a quest to save a princess from a fire-breathing dragon. What's more romantic than that? It shows that looks aren't everything and that even a big green ogre can get the girl.

'Stardust' (2007) is a magical tale of a fallen star, flying pirates, and frightening witches, is really just a romantic story about love. Tristan thinks he loves Victoria so in a romantic gesture he promises her the stars. It turns out that the star is actually cutie Clair Danes, and she eventually teaches our misguided hero about the power of true love.

The end
To wrap it up, you wouldn't want to miss 'Love Actually' (2003). Lots of stars like Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, etc playing the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives. It's hilarious and touching.

It deals with all the categories mentioned above except maybe for magic and fantasy. But isn't that what love is?

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Come February, telecom companies, gift stores, restaurants, and parlours alike start hyping up Valentine's Day until you lose that loving feeling amidst a riot of clichés. Bring some real romance back into the season with some sizzling love stories. Now Danielle Steel, Jackie Collins, and Penny Jordan are fine for those long plane rides, but if you want something more meaningful, give these authors a shot:

Melissa Nathan
A successful journalist who went on to become one of the best-selling comic romantic novelists of her generation, Melissa Nathan died of cancer in 2006, at the shockingly young age of 37. Creating credible, sympathetic, modern characters that her readers identified with and desperately wanted to fall in love with, was her greatest strength. Melissa's heroines always achieved more than just falling in love - as a feminist herself she created rounded characters struggling to find their vocation, and she skilfully observed the social, family and career pressures faced by young women today.

RS Pick: The Nanny
Frustrated with her small-town life and reluctant fiancé, Jo decides a change of scenery is in order, and moves to London to work as a babysitter for Dick and Vanessa Fitzgerald. Juggling two eccentric employees and three charming but demanding charges is hard enough to adjust to, but Jo really begins to feel the heat, and not in an unpleasant way when the handsome Shaun, Dick's son from a previous marriage, arrives at the doorstep. If you're looking for a love story that is filled with sparkling humour and makes you laugh, this is the one for you.

Mary Stewart
Mary Florence Elinor Stewart is the author of many crime fiction, gothic fiction and romance novels, and considered one of the founders of the romantic suspense sub-genre, blending romance novels and mystery. Her novels seamlessly combined the two genres, maintaining a full mystery while focusing on the courtship between two people.

RS Pick: Gabriel Hounds
This is the book that got yours truly hooked on to Stewart. It tells the tale of two second cousins meeting up by chance in Damascus, where they happen to have an eccentric relative living nearby. A harmless visit quickly snowballs into a life-threatening adventure, in the midst of which, an old romance is rekindled, startling truths are revealed, and lives are changed forever. Beautifully rendered, with quotes from Kahlil Gibran, the Quran, and other sources, this is a real page-turner.

Nicholas Sparks
Do we see some raised eyebrows? There's a tendency to see the word 'romance' in connection with literature, and instantly think 'female author', but with tearjerkers like A Walk in the Clouds and The Notebook under his belt, this sexy author has definitely earned his place in the must-read romances list. His stories tend towards tales of enduring love, defying all odds.

RS Pick: Message in a Bottle
Yes, we loved the song, didn't we? The story, though not related in any way, is about a divorced woman who finds a letter in a bottle, and is so touched by the message that she manages to track down the author, and the resulting meeting changes both of their lives forever. This is perfect for those who like a little sad touch to their love stories.

Anita Shreve
Technically, she is not a romance author. Her stories deal with interpersonal relationships, that may or may not be romantic. Often there is an element of loss in them, that lends a depth to her books, and her characters are very flawed and relatable.

RS Pick: Eden Close
Andrew leaves his home shortly after a tragedy in the house next door, where someone shot the homeowner and his daughter. The girl, Eden survives, but has been rendered blind. Seventeen later, Andrew returns to his hometown, and realises he has never stopped being fascinated by Eden. You want to read this one, if you like a little darkness in your romance

We've given you our picks, but all four authors are ones you keep coming back to, so if you can, do check out their other books.


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