18 Classic Love Songs for a Honey-Sweet Valentine’s Day, via Monsieur Periné’s Catalina García

Catalina García. Photo by Camila Rodriguez

If you still haven’t heard the jazzy, honeyed tunes of Monsieur Periné, do yourself a favor and head over to your favorite streaming service right now. This Colombian band knows how to slap a gypsy-infused bass with pop swing — and in a good way, not in a Mighty Mighty Bosstones kind of way.

Monsieur Periné, a band that has been around since 2007, recently earned enough creative cred to grab the attention of Eduardo Cabra Martínez, aka Visitante Calle 13, and of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Caja de Música, the band’s Visitante-produced second album, won a Latin Grammy and is nominated for a gringo Grammy too.

There’s something really timeless and whimsical about Monsieur Periné’s music, from the swinging trombone to the rollicking bass. They manage to sound fresh yet familiar, so it’s no wonder that Catalina García, their singer and one of its original founders, has a soft spot for all of those syrupy ballads your parents used to play in their kitchen. Look up their music on YouTube and you’ll find her singing old romantic covers, like “Bésame Mucho” and “Sabor A Mi.”

Catalina García. Photo by Camila Rodriguez
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“I have a special love for bachata in my heart.”

“In all of Colombia’s supermarkets, you hear merengue,” Catalina said. She grew up listening to the bachata greats (like Juan Luis Guerra, who she says is as big as one of the Beatles) as well as some of the merenhits of the 90s. “When I was 12 or 11 years old, the music I liked hearing the best besides rock en español was Proyecto Uno, Sandy y Papo, and Ilegales.”

Bachata too. “I have a special love for bachata in my heart, but for local bachata,” she said. And older bachata — Catalina is OK with Romeo Santos, but the stuff that pulls at her heartstrings is more of the Antony Santos variety.

Catalina García. Photo by Francisco Outon
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According to Catalina, a bachata is just a faster bolero — so why not embrace it as fully as we do boleros for this Hallmark holiday of San Valentín? Here’s a totally romantic playlist full of old classics, curated especially for this lonesome holiday thanks to Catalina herself.

Check out her love ofrenda, too:

“An Offering to St. Valentine:

Those of us that were born on this side of the planet are connected from the start by the similar way we share our feelings. We’re hopeless romantics, illusion collectors, scenery thieves — we’ve stolen the moon’s earrings when it comes to love.

Catalina García. Photo by Camila Rodriguez
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Since the early decades of the 20th century, our continent’s poets have sculpted our feelings with their verses. But they haven’t written words only to be read. The ones with the most feeling are meant to be sung.

There’s something really timeless and whimsical about Monsieur Periné’s music.

Leisure, falling out of love, solitude, dance, courtship, everyday family life — these are all fed from the same background music: boleros, tangos, rancheras, waltzes, tonadas, bambucos, and sambas that we’ve sung along to out of inertia or heritage, from Mexico to Argentina. Popular Latin American music carries that picturesque love potion in its lyrics, that feeling that blossoms against the grain. It’s a drug that divides pain and multiplies happiness, a fast-flowing river where we troubadours, big and small, gather to catch our muse and take her out to dance on the shores of night as we dedicate our country verses to her.

I invite you to come along on this journey into the fabric of our own skin. Valentine’s Day is here. Let’s light some candles to celebrate love as it should be: sung from the heart.”