New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Staff Recs: Mwah!

WSN’s Arts Desk spotlight their favorite swoon-worthy books, tunes and films to celebrate this Valentine’s Day.
Kennon Cummings
(Illustration by Kennon Cummings)

Whether you’re excited for or dreading Valentine’s Day, we at the Arts Desk have compiled a wide range of romance-related media to get you through the holiday. We’ve got songs to yearn to, delightful rom-coms and a book that indulges in a classic guilty-pleasure trope: enemies to lovers.

Organize a Galentine’s get-together to watch these flicks. Treat yourself to chocolates while reading a cute romance novel. Compile sweet little tunes in a playlist for your significant other. Make this holiday your own. Go nuts.

“touch tank” by quinnie

A gorgeous ode to the inimitable bliss of new love, “touch tank” by singer-songwriter quinnie is distinctive in that it focuses on female comfort and sexual pleasure — a topic rarely talked about in popular media.

Using the metaphor of the titular touch tank, quinnie begins the song by comparing modern hook-up culture to the experience of a lonely marine animal trapped in a shallow aquatic display, waiting to be ogled and prodded by visitors. Lyrics like “Tender two fingers to touch the display / I used to dive deep ’til I got splashed in the face” imply the singer’s experiences with heartbreak as a result of these superficial encounters.

The chorus of “touch tank” beautifully illustrates the refreshing tenderness of the singer’s newfound relationship. In lines like “He’s so pretty when he goes down on me / Gold-skinned eager baby, blue shirt out the laundry,” quinnie combines images of sexual pleasure with intimate domesticity, evoking the blissful comfort shared between the pair.

With its clever lyrics and lo-fi tune, “touch tank” is a heartfelt song that’s the perfect playlist addition as a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift.

— Stephanie Wong, Arts Editor

“10 Things I Hate About You” (1999)

“I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme.”

You couldn’t find a better rom-com if you tried.

A transformation of Shakespeare’s deeply misogynistic play “The Taming of the Shrew” into a modern day high-school romance, “10 Things I Hate About You” focuses on indomitable, headstrong and antisocial Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles). Kat has few admirers, unlike her charming and popular sister, Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik). To keep Bianca from dating, their father establishes a rule that she can only date once Kat has a boyfriend.

All is good and well until Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) arrives, a charming and mysterious Australian exchange student. One of Bianca’s admirers, Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), devises a plan to pay Patrick to take Kat out, leaving Bianca free to date.

Despite its title, there isn’t much to hate in this one hour and 37 minute-long masterpiece.

— Clara Scholl, Arts Editor

“The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne

“Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.”

Chick-lit gets a bad rap. And yet, it’s romance that has consistently been the highest-selling literary genre over the past year. My personal favorite of the genre is “The Hating Game,” a role it’s occupied since my emotional-support English teacher recommended it to me in high school. Make note that I do not recommend the movie, unless you’re looking for a poorly-acted adaptation that’s even cheesier.

“The Hating Game” follows literary publishing archnemeses Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman during their time working together as assistants. Their two bosses recently merged their respective publishing companies to avoid bankruptcy, and the assistants do not get along. Lucy and Joshua are classic enemies to lovers.

It’s a classic workplace romance with witty banter and a quintessential grumpy/sunshine personality clash. I return to this book so often because it never fails to make me smile — and that’s really all you need in a romance book.

— Julia Diorio, Music Editor

“I Miss You” by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes ft. Teddy Pendergrass

A sultry ballad for the emotionally empty, “I Miss You” captures the vicious pain of living in a world without “the one.” Moody instrumentals, pained lyricism and delicate backup vocals come together and form one of the most intimate songs of all time.

No one better captures romantic desperation and a wounded heart than the song’s lead singer — Philly-Soul legend Teddy Pendergrass. He imbues every verse with a lifetime of hurt and longing. Simple lines like “Without you I don’t know what to do with myself / what to do with my time” are delivered as if on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

While on paper this track appears as formulaic and corny as a ’70s soul track could get, Pendergrass’ vocal performance brings “I Miss You” to another plane of lovelorn despair. If you are going over to your ex’s house with a boombox over your head hopelessly trying to win back their affection, this is the song you want to be playing.

— Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor

“Notting Hill” (1999)

“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

While superstar Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) is on a trip to London, she casually shops at a Notting Hill travel-book store and meets the store’s owner, divorced William Thacker (Hugh Grant). A few minutes after Anna leaves the store, William goes out to buy some orange juice and physically bumps into Anna on the street. He spills the orange juice all over her, and they go to William’s nearby apartment so Anna can clean herself up. When they say goodbye at his door, she kisses him, as if it’s no big deal.

After their first kiss, the A-list Hollywood actress and the normal British guy hit it off quite well. But, they get caught up in the usual issues of attempting to date while famous: PR stunts, tipped-off paparazzi and judgemental fans. Still, even when they’re apart, the two just can’t seem to move on, despite their consistently terrible timing and distant locations. They keep on making their way back to each other, which serves as a testament to their love.

Admittedly, I cry during every romance movie I watch — though my Notting Hill cry feels particularly cathartic. At the end of the day, each of us is just a girl, standing in front of a boy, right?

— Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor

Contact the Arts desk at [email protected].

Leave a comment
About the Contributors
Julia Diorio
Julia Diorio, Music Editor
Julia Diorio is a sophomore studying journalism at CAS. When not reminiscing about 2000s pop-punk music, she can normally be found drinking copious amounts of Dunkin' iced coffee, curating hyper-specific Spotify playlists or struggling with the NYT crossword. Find her variations of all-black outfits and dog pictures on Instagram @juliadiorio_. Send song suggestions to [email protected].
Alexa Donovan
Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor
Alexa Donovan is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Art History and minoring in Creative Writing. Her favorite drink is lemonade and her party trick is listing the U.S. presidents in chronological order. You can find her in Bobst Library most hours of the day, on instagram @alexadonovan/@lemonadequeen5678 and on Goodreads @alexafdonovan.
Mick Gaw
Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor
Mick Gaw is a junior double-majoring in History and Public Policy. When he’s not holed up in a cinema, he's probably perusing the aisles of an Asian grocery store, wandering around museums or taking ugly pictures of his meals. You can find him on Instagram as @gawmick and occasionally on Letterboxd as @micks_canon.
Clara Scholl
Clara Scholl, Arts Editor
Clara Scholl is a Gallatin junior studying philosophy, politics and economics. She’s from New York City and hosts a radio show on the Riot Grrrl movement. You can find her on X, formerly Twitter, @scholl_clara or on Instagram @cllscholl.
Stephanie Wong
Stephanie Wong, Arts Editor
Stephanie Wong is a junior double-majoring in Media, Culture and Communication and Journalism, with a minor in English Literature. In her spare time, she loves watching bad movies and curating esoteric Spotify playlists. You can find her at @_stephaniewong_ on Instagram, @normalstephanie on Spotify, and unfortunately, on Letterboxd as @emima.

Comments (0)

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *