The Best Valentine's Day Songs According to Dallas DJs and Musicians | Dallas Observer


From Wu Tang Clan to DJs, Dallas Musicians' Favorite Valentine’s Day Songs

We asked Wu Tang's Raekwon and Dallas DJs and tastemakers for their favorite love songs this Valentine's Day.
Melissa Velasquez from Spinster Records was one of many Dallas tastemakers who put together an ideal Valentine's Day playlist.
Melissa Velasquez from Spinster Records was one of many Dallas tastemakers who put together an ideal Valentine's Day playlist. Elvis Anderson
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Romance and love are a game of effort — it’s not about what’s said, but about what people do. And come Valentine's Day, your gift (or general plans) can make memories that truly make toes curl and sparks fly. Earrings from Tiffany’s are always a good idea, but courtship flourishes with a handwritten, witty, heartfelt poem and a personally curated playlist. Pair this with carefully selected USDA prime aged steaks and a fancy recommendation from your favorite Total Wine sommelier to enjoy at home — alone if you're single.

No offense to the just-fine Olive Garden, but the intimacy afforded by staying in is undefeated: two lovers together, drowning in a silky Cabernet with the perfect songs soundtracking the night is the Valentine's dream. It’s why there are so many Hinge and Tinder and Bumble apps out there: People want to be adored the way Lenny Williams loved in his 1978 classic, “Cause I Love You".

We canvassed North Texas-based DJs, rappers, new wave stars and record shop pros with a simple, yet nearly impossible question: “If you were building a Valentine’s Day playlist, what are two songs you would choose? And you can only use one of your own productions.”

The straitjacket restraint of choosing a mere two selections nearly suffocated a few on our panel, who clearly wanted to cruise past the classic like The Righteous Brothers' “Unchained Melody” or Whitney Houston's “I Will Always Love You” to go deeper in the crates.

Our selections? Easy. Art of Noise's “Moments in Love” and Sade's "By Your Side."

Our panel spans the gamut from '90s new wave artists to Wu Tang Clan collaborators, record shop clerks and DJs and producers. The DJs on our panel are easy to find around town — DJ Kowboy is often playing at Lady Love, Double Wide and even unsuspecting, casual back-to-backs with DJ Sober at the recently opened Herby’s Burgers. MGM Productions is a resident at J. Whiskey’s in Oak Cliff, and Inzo is a regular at the Dallas, Addison and Grand Prairie Vidorra locations.

So make a home-cooked meal and feel the love from Dallas' tastemakers' heartfelt Valentine's Day playlist.

Jay Gillian, T-4-2

Jay Gillian, along with Will Leconto, founded the '90s new wave band T-4-2, famous for songs “Let Me Go,” among others. He's now "working with the fellas from Wu Tang Clan," he says. "They’ve been coming to the house, they’re working on a documentary and I’m editing it."

T-4-2 and the Wu Tang Clan is a multimedia relationship no one expected, but as Paula Abdul said, “We come together 'cause opposites attract.”

"One for you, Yazoo, and one for me, T-4-2," Gillian says. "Undoubtedly, new wave long songs is a category dominated by The Cure, but 'Only You' from Yazoo’s legendary 1982 Upstairs at Eric's album would receive several first place votes for best overall. And 'More Than Ever,' is like every song T-4-2 has released, it expresses inner feelings they might not typically say out loud."

Gillian adds, “With ‘More Than Ever,’ I guess I was thinking about how short our time on Earth with one another is and how being with a true love can make the difficulties of life bearable.”

Yazoo, “Only You"

T-4-2, “More Than Ever”

Chef Raekwon, Wu Tang Clan

Wu Tang Clan's Chef Raekwon offered his suggestions while boarding a flight to Las Vegas to kick off the Wu Tang Clan’s residency at Virgin Hotels, which is synchronously part of the Las Vegas Super Bowl vortex. The documentary he’s working on with Gillian features his legendary 1995 album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, and is set to be released later this year. Gillian and T-4-2 will join Anything Box and Channel 69 on May 18 at Three Links Deep Ellum.

There’s obviously a romantic side to an artist otherwise known as one of the great street and hustler historians of all time. “Chef” was only 15 when Force M.D.s released their love anthem — in the prime of his roller skating rink era. His original “All I Got Is You” is a gift to his mother

Force M.D.s, “Tender Love”
Raekwon featuring Big Bub, “All I Got Is You Pt. 2”

DJ Kowboy

If it’s not on vinyl, Kowboy doesn’t play it — which makes it easy for him to swerve bad requets. His Valentine’s Day choices are all reggae. It's one of his favorite genres, which he serves at Double Wide as part of an ongoing Thursday reggae, ska and dancehall party called Kingston Kutz.

Love Joys, “Sweet Feelings”
Davina Stone, “Love Power”

Inzo (DJ)

As people who select music professionally, DJs are quick to avoid low-hanging fruit. “I didn’t want to go with stereotypical selections,” says Inzo, which means that Luis Miguel is not on this list. Sorry, Luis.

Vale, “Puente” Daniel Caesar, “Get You (featuring Kali Uchis)"

Ryan J (DJ)

A confessed “R&B head,” Ryan J chose Avant and Usher as a nod to a time when R&B was at least competitive with hip-hop music. “Making Good Love” from 2002 and “Lovers and Friends” in 2004 are post-R&B-peak in the '90s with Jodeci, Silk, Jagged Edge, Boyz II Men, New Edition and hundreds of others, but can certainly hang among an incredible era of slow jams.

Avant, “Making Good Love” Usher, “Lovers and Friends”

Hunter Vaughan (DJ and producer)

DJ Hunter Vaughan’s selections are on brand with his 2022 album, Mutually Assured Destruction. Not all love is bright and pink — it can be dark, black and down-tempo. His two choices are also the only tracks with profanity, though everyone could agree that relationships can spur cursing. And no one does primal infatuation like Trent Reznor, whose love songs are devout and concerning.

The Weeknd, “Wicked Games”
Nine Inch Nails, “Closer”

DJ Chuy Salazar

Salazar plays pool parties at Lee Harvey’s, which are like Vegas pool parties except that you might hear an occasional country song. In fact, both of his selections are country songs — one from an American and the other a norteño love song
from a Mexican artist.

Cody Johnson, “The Painter” Julión Alvarez Y Su Norteño Banda, “Lo Tienes Todo”

Susko (DJ)

Susko is a resident at Green Light Social, and it’s unlikely that “My Girl” is a common request among overzealous dancers trying to force their own track selections. But the Temptations' classic made Susko’s list. However, Miguel’s “Sure Thing,” from 2010, could work at Green Light or at any open format nightclub.

The Temptations, “My Girl” Miguel, “Sure Thing”

MGM Productions (DJ)

A DJ since the age of 10, MGM Productions has been on the wheels of steel for 25 years. His choices indicate he is indeed a polished song curator with a refined palate ranging from 50 Cent to Johnny Williams. You can catch his innovative playlists live at J.Whiskey’s on Fridays.

50 Cent, “21 Questions”
Johnny Williams, “Lookin’ for Love”

Carlos the Guy (DJ)

“Cupid” from 1996 and Sisqo’s “Incomplete” are perfect choices for '90’s R&B fans. “Incomplete” is from Sisqo’s 1999 debut album as a solo artist — post Dru Hill — and was not the most popular track on Unleash the Dragon. That honor went to the “Thong Song,” which would certainly be a controversial Valentine’s Day playlist selection.

112, “Cupid”
Sisqo, “Incomplete”

Priscilla Ruiz and Melissa Velasquez, Spinster Records

Spinster Records is an ideal stop on a Bishop Arts stroll after a few bottles of rosé and charcuterie board at Oddfellows around the corner. If the vino hits just right, the good folks at Spinster can help quench your buzzing thirst for vinyl decisions with music, record players and T-shirts to let the world know that you collect vinyl. These selections by Ruiz and Valasquez are steered by the customers they serve: discerning, but not full-blown underground music snobs.

Etta James, “At Last”
Mazzy Star, “Fade Into You” Prince, “When 2 Are In Love” H.E.R., “Every Kind of Way”

Raul Sarmiento, NRG Music Events

Love songs can come in all flavors, and while there are endless candidates to include, NRG Music Events founder Raul Sarmiento offered the only dance music tracks on our Valentine’s Day playlist. These two trance bangers deliver on all the reasons people love music’s most uplifting genre: trance. Connelly, who also produced the massive tune, "How Can I" and Novelli, who is responsible for “Concrete Angel” and “Black Heart,” along with Irishman Bryan Kearney, know how to tug on the heartstrings and deliver the feels on Feb. 14.

Craig Connelly & Christina Novelli, “Black Hole”
Bryan Kearney & Out of the Dust. featuring Plumb, “Take This”

Luke Sardello, Josey Records

Only a seasoned professional record broker could choose two incredible tracks with the same title, and that’s what Luke Sardello at Josey Records has done. From the record haven at the corner of Interstate Highways 35E and 635, Sardello pulled two gems, which are likely available for purchase while supplies last.

Weldon Irvine, “I Love You” Willie Griffin, “I Love You”


This bilingual pair from DJ Al G matches her style, which spans the globe —new wave, post-punk, synth-pop, Latin and funk. Her Spanish entry, “Me Quiero Enamorar” translates to, “I want to fall in love." It’s a hard vinyl to find from the Garu label, a '60s soul and Latin label from San Antonio.

Rick And Mann, “Me Quiero Enamorar” Evans Pyramid, "No I Won't"

DJ Sober

Yes, DJ Sober is sober, and no, it's not that he was ever on regular benders and then cleaned up his act. “I’ve never drank or smoked,” says Will Rhoten aka DJ Sober. And apparently, burgers are good for bookings.

“Since opening Herby’s last month, my DJ schedule has never been busier,” Rhoten adds.

Michael Franks, “When I Give My Love To You” Sister Sledge, “Thinking Of You”
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