In the wake of Valentine's Day, February is the perfect time to turn to my controversial favourite film genre, Romance. Love them or hate them, when trying to distract myself from the impending work load, or in need of an absolute wind down, Romantic films are the way to go. The genre spans from the light hearted rom-com, to the hard-hitting tragedy, and range in quality dramatically. I find the two-hour play-out of a relationship compelling, I can’t deny it, they are the films I revisit the most. What makes them better is the fact that, more often than not, they are low budget, swapping scores for songs. It is not uncommon that I hear a favourite song of mine for the first time in a Romance, often skilfully embedded into a heartfelt scene, ramping up the emotion. I’ve limited myself to a few of my favourite combinations, but I could probably go on.

'Home' - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Stuck in Love

Lily Collins and Logan Lerman@stuckinlovemovie/Instagram

I find this film to be underrated. Not only does it boast a cast of Hollywood twenty-somethings and famous faces, it details addiction, first love, domestic tensions…all within the frame of a family of writers. Furthermore, it uses a number of incredible song choices, most notably 'Home' by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The song is used twice in the film, once in the opening scenes and again for the closing scenes, both during a family’s preparation of a Thanksgiving Dinner, spanning a year, a lovely round-off for the film. The song itself is about as wholesome as a song can be, demonstrating that ‘home’ is about coming together with those closest. Whilst the events and traumas of the film lead to an ever-fluctuating dynamic for the characters, the consistency of the opening and closing scenes, played out alongside the charming folk song, add a feeling of closure, to an otherwise ambiguous ending.

 'You make my dreams come true' – Hall & Oates - 500 Days of Summer 

@beautifulavengers

This scene is iconic. A perfect feel-good song, the scene epitomises being on top of the world, as the main character walks to work. He breaks out into musical-style dance routines with passers-by, as well as engaging with a Disney style animated bird. It is farcical, yet brilliant. Usually, good musical moments come at points of climax in the plot, or emotional outbursts, however this scene is pure fun. The film is a perfectly balanced romance and comedy. Whilst a relationship can fulfil an individual’s dreams, it can make them realise that their dreams do not correspond with what they want in real life. The highs and lows of this film are articulated perfectly in the narrative collage of disordered fragments, through the accompanying songs and 'You make my dreams come true' emphasises the ultimate high, in an inventive and entertaining way.

'Lovers' - Anna of the North - To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 

"It is a believable first kiss between two teenagers, the song a perfect addition"@toalltheboysivelovedbefore/Instagram

In the Summer, everyone was talking about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and despite its somewhat unbelievable concept and recipe for a cringe worthy disaster, I enjoyed the easy-watch. The infamous ‘hot-tub scene’ (about as steamy as the film gets) is accompanied by 'Lovers' by Anna of the North, a song I’d never heard before, but instantly added to my playlist. A production heavy pop-song, synthesised instruments and dreamy layered vocals, it’s the perfect accompaniment to the typically antagonising will-they-wont-they scene in a Rom-com. Not only that, but the scene is beautifully lit, cool and warm light balanced through fairy lights in the background, atmospheric with the neon blue hot tub lights illuminating the couple. It is an endearing moment - rather than picking an emotional piece to accompany it, potentially heightening the cringe, it is a believable first kiss between two teenagers, the song a perfect addition.

'Long way Down' – Tom Odell - The Fault in Our Stars

"It would be easy to over-do a film that in its sentiment, is so naturally emotional, however the song choices are understated"@thefaultinourstarspage/Instagram

This film never fails to tear me apart. The obvious choice from the film would be Kodaline’s 'All I Want', but by that point, the tragedy is in momentum. The soundtrack works perfectly with the film, complementing the emotional complexities of the plot. Tom Odell’s 'Long Way Down' is used in a moment of hope, Hazel-Grace making the choice to embark on a relationship, despite the potential consequences of her cancer. Despite the pain of the situation, she decides to embark on a ‘normal’ life, having previously held herself back. It is a simple piano ballad, not particularly melancholic, but instead delicate and hesitant, almost debating a decision and is cut off by Hazel-Grace taking a chance. Odell creates the feeling of going over the edge, as he pauses at the end of the verse, a moment of hesitation, before launching into the chorus. It would be easy to over-do a film that in its sentiment, is so naturally emotional, however the song choices are understated. 'Long Way Down' is incredibly personal, creating an incredible emotion using only the piano and his raw vocal.

'Promise' - Ben Howard - If I Stay  

"'Promise' accompanies a natural montage of a teenage couple"@ifistayofficial/Instagram

Much like The Fault in Our Stars, but not quite as good, If I Stay follows a romance turned to tragedy, following a near-fatal incident. Whilst the film didn’t quite match the emotional impact of the book, it is still poignant. Constructed through a series of flashbacks, the film is set in a wintery Portland, the landscape shots done beautifully. Ben Howard’s 'Promisehas always felt like winter in a song to me, a crackling fire running throughout, the hushed and echoing vocals layered with a female harmony. They reverberate alongside a minimalistic and rhythmic guitar, creating an almost enclosed feeling, as the wind is outside. If I Stay is an interesting concept, as it doesn’t follow the chance meeting of two doomed lovers, instead Mia, comatose after a car accident, debates the success and significance of the relationship to her life. 'Promiseaccompanies a natural montage of a teenage couple, whilst simultaneously creating an atmospheric, under-water feeling, as she watches her own life play out before

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