Get in the mood; from Elton John to Rhino, K-Tel

What's a romantic evening without romantic music?

Valentine's Day is this weekend, and if you're planning a quiet evening with your sweetheart, make sure it's not too quiet. You'll need to plan some mood music. You could start off the weekend by going to Metro Saturday night and swaying to The Cardigans, who will likely play their hit "Lovefool." But for Sunday night, Valentine's Day, you should get some things ready at the stereo. Maybe the two of you have a favorite soft album like Elton John's Love Songs collection of a couple years back (with "Candle in the Wind," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," "Daniel" and more) or Jim Brickman's mostly instrumental piano disc Picture This (with the 1997 hit "Valentine") that you both love.

That's an easy start. But don't settle for that. And don't trust the radio to be playing your favorite love songs at the right moment.


Make your own collection tape

One way to be sure you've got the right music is to make a compilation tape (or for you high-tech people with CD burners on your computers, a compilation CD). You might start with Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from Titanic)" or Jon Secada's "Eyes ofa Fool." Maybe throw in Styx's "Babe" or Patty Smyth's "Sometimes Love Ain't Enough"(OK, the latter is a breakup song, but it is a heart-stirrer!). Including tracks from Frank Sinatra or Neil Diamond rarely hurts.

But maybe you don't own copies of a lot of the love songs you'd like on your collection. Or you just don't have time to spend a couple hours putting together a tape of all your favorite love songs (which, by the way, is a great surprise gift, if you can find the time).

Well, there is no shortage of compilation CDs out there on the shelves for this Valentine's Day.


Off-the-shelf love song collections

Rhino Records, the premier compilation label, wants to corner the Valentine's Day music market. For this year's love-fest day, the label offers a collection from Ray Charles called Love Songs featuring, "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Baby, It's Cold Outside," "Georgia on My Mind," "You Are My Sunshine," and more.

Rhino also offers two brand new collections: Love Scene Romantic Movie Music and Now & Forever Timeless Wedding Songs. The Romantic Movie Music disc includes some more upbeat anthems like Gin Blossoms' "Til I Hear It From You," Rickie Lee Jones' "It Must Be Love," The Commitments' "Try a Little Tenderness," Aretha Franklin's "A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)" and Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman.

The Now & Forever disc will take you back to the late '70s and '80s. It opens with Luther Vandross' silky "Here & Now," seques into Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack's equally smooth "Tonight I Celebrate My Love," and then slides into Chicago's best power ballad, 1984's "You're The Inspiration." The latter song is the perfect Valentine's theme when Peter Cetera sings "you're the meaning in my life, you're the inspiration... wanna have you near me, I wanna have you hear me say yeah no one needs you more than I need you."

The Now & Forever collection also includes Melissa Manchester's "Theme From Ice Castles (Through The Eyes of Love)," Extreme's "More Than Words," Bread's "If," Anne Murray's "Could I Have This Dance," and Air Supply's "Two Less Lonely People In The World," among others.

If you want your romantic music to have a little more "bite" to it, Rhino also released Love Bites: More Romantic Power Ballads last year, featuring a bunch of love songs with big guitars, big hair and big heart. Included are Poison's "Every Rose Has It's Thorn," Pat Benatar's "Fire and Ice," Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Toto's "I'll Be Over You," Styx's "Lady" and Starship's "Sara."

Also released last year, Columbia Records' Modern Bride The Wedding Album offers some fine romantic moments, from Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" and Diana Ross & Lionel Richie's "Endless Love" to Peaches & Herb's "I Pledge My Love" and Mary MacGregor's "The Wedding Song (There Is Love)."


A night of jazz...

Maybe you don't want words to mar your moment, though. There are a million light jazz and quiet new age albums out there, from groups like Shadowfax and Spyro Gyra to Robert Miles (who makes some captivating ambient techno soundscapes) that make for good background music. But if old fashioned jazz is your thing, Columbia's Legacy arm has just released a collection by the late, great jazz trumpeteer Miles Davis. Love Songs covers some of Davis' output from the late '50s to early '60s and features his emotive horn leading instrumental renditions of popular songs, like "Someday My Prince Will Come," "Stella By Starlight" and "My Funny Valentine."


Making your own oldies CD

If you both like oldies from the '50s and '60s, K-tel has an online answer which will likely become the choice way for people in the future to make "collection tapes." On K-Tel's web site, at, you can select from a long list of oldies to make your own personalized Valentine's Day CD! (Actually, by the time you read this, it will probably be too late to get that CD delivered to your house by Valentine's Day. But it could be a fun project for you and your sweetheart to do together this weekend).

K-Tel actually offers this service year-round, now. But the Valentine's Day special offers you the option to choose from four "romantic" CD covers (which you can further personalize with your own title). Then, you simply scroll down the list of available songs and click on the ones you want on your CD. The label offers 10 songs for $9.99 —you can add up to six more for 99 cents a track.

If you're not sure that one of the songs is what you want (or if it's even the one you think you remember), you can click on the musical note at the right of the song title and listen to a short sound clip of the song.

It's an innovative way to distribute music. But this offer is strictly for those who like old oldies.

The only recent artist included in the listing of songs is The Jets. There are a number of "elevator" music instrumentals of popular songs by The Starsound Orchestra like "A Groovy Kind of Love," "I Just Called To Say I Love You," "The first Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and more. But the majority of the list is by artists like The Dixie Cups, The Association, The Turtles, The Troggs and the like. Titles include Kitty Wells' "I Can't Stop Loving You," The Buckinghams' "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)," The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)," The Chiffons' "He's So Fine," The Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back,"Charlie Rich's "The Most Beautiful Girl," The Vogues' "Five O'Clock World," and The Jets' "Crush On You."

So remember, as you're stocking up on champagne and flowers... don't forget the tunes to go with them.