If you’re telling a story through a visual medium — film, television, theater, your imagination — you have a great opportunity to play some kick-ass music during the Love Interest Walk-In Scene (which I have coined: the LIWIS). Don’t get your underoos in a twist worrying about which song to pick; I’ve compiled a handy list of the best LIWIS songs for a myriad of LIWIS situations.
In the interest of full disclosure: I played the Love Interest in a friend’s short film in high school, and I had one hell of a slow-motion hair-toss walk-in scene. The song playing was “Jennifer Juniper” by Donovan. It was great, but I haven’t included it because I’m clearly biased, based on my amazing hair-toss performance. I walked into that fictional (but also real, because we filmed in our high school) English Lit classroom like I owned it.
On with the list.
“With A Girl Like You” – The Troggs
A quintessential retro song that evokes pure, clean, lovey-dovey fun. The lead singer — and now, your Protagonist — just wants to date this girl at first sight. How can he or she not? It’s an upbeat, fun tune that sets up a nice little love story. Perfect for a rom-com or a lighthearted indie flick.
“A Girl Like You” – Edwyn Collins
Don’t be fooled by the title similarity to the preceding song. The two couldn’t be more different. Collins’ song evokes a hunger for the Love Interest, a strong desire with a darker edge to it. There’s some intense chemistry and spark oozing out of “A Girl Like You”. It feels like the R-rated counterpart to the Troggs’ PG-13 song.
“Teenage Dirtbag” – Wheatus
Great opening notes, a rockin’ drop a few bars later, the lead singer’s funky twang, and a storyline that appeals to your inner high school loner — Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” may be best known for the music video, starring Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari and released when American Pie was at the peak of its popularity, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a song for every guy or girl who’s pined away for a more popular Love Interest. Which means it’s ideal for your teenaged main character noticing his or her uber-popular LI for the first (or one millionth) time. And he gets the girl in the end! …Or does he?
“Blue Monday” – New Order
I recently caught the pilot of The Carrie Diaries on the CW—and by “caught,” I mean I specifically requested my roommate DVR it, since I’m terrified to touch the DVR schedule for fear of messing it up completely, and then sat down to watch it, sans commercials, the next day. So, there’s that. Whatever you may think of The Carrie Diaries or its sort-of-predecessor, Sex and the City — and I happen to enjoy both — the soundtrack for this pilot was awesome. The shining musical moment was when Carrie’s Love Interest, the floppy-haired Sebastian, walked into the courtyard and New Order’s “Blue Monday” played over his slo-mo entrance. It. Was. Genius. And it earned “Blue Monday” a spot on this list — particularly if your Love Interest is of the hunky variety. Bravo, The Carrie Diaries. Bravo.
“Love Lockdown” – Kayne West
Kanye’s “Love Lockdown” could be overshadowed by the wild—and more recent—successes of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne. Maybe not. I think that depends on whether or not you’re a fan. But it makes for a great LIWIS. It’s high-energy, despite the slow beat that starts it off, and it emits a pressurized feel; there’s something at stake in this moment, or maybe in the entire love story it produces. I can visualize the awesome, swanky walk-in every time I hear “Love Lockdown.”
“Barracuda” – Heart
Is your Love Interest evil? Will he or she break the Protagonist’s heart, much like Cher Horowitz tells Ms. Stoeger an evil male did when she’s trying to change her grades in Clueless? Confession: in my first few years as a Clueless fan, I thought that line was “I told my P.E. teacher an evil nail had broken my heart, so she raised my C to a B,” and I just COULD NOT understand the metaphor of a manicured nail breaking Cher’s heart. Regardless, you just need to listen to the first few notes of “Barracuda” to know it’s a badass Evil LIWIS. But if you still have doubts, pay attention to how Ann Wilson absolutely purrs “Oooh…barracuda,” and I think you’ll be sold.
“I Believe In A Thing Called Love” – The Darkness
If your Protagonist didn’t believe in love before, he or she certainly will after the Love Interest walks into his (or her) life to the tune of The Darkness’s 2003 hit, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” Part mocking, part genuine, it’s impossible not to jump up and groove when this song comes on (at least, for me). Guaranteed to turn any Protagonist from a cynical love-hater to a mushy, gushy, lover of love—while still maintaining some hard rock street cred.
“Shivers” – Divine Fits/Boys Next Door (original)
A nice and dark slow jam for the more emo-minded Protagonist’s LIWIS. The “Shivers” lyrics are a little bit depressive, a little bit romantic, and a little bit sexy. If you look up Nick Cave singing “Shivers” with Boys Next Door on YouTube, it is 110% intense. His sneer is transcendent. Use with caution, preferably for a Love Interest with tattered jeans, dirty shoes, and a perpetual smirk.
“Digital Love” – Daft Punk
This electronic-yet-sweet song has an ethereal feel that makes it ideal for both a “real life” LIWIS as well as a dream-sequence-LIWIS. The techie beats lend themselves nicely to a record-scratch-wake-up that’ll send the Protagonist right back to reality, should you choose to go the “Beep-bop-boop…Game Over” route. If not, “Digital Love” has the same innocent, playful quality as “With A Girl Like You.” These crazy kids just wanna dance, hold hands, and make out a little.
“Gamble Everything for Love” – Ben Lee
What’s more romantic than gambling all you’ve got in the name of love? Possibly a lot of things, depending on your taste. Nonetheless, Ben Lee’s poppy ballad is the saccharine theme song of a couple destined to get together — and stay together. They are committed, down to the last chip.
Alternates: “Beautiful Stranger” – Madonna; “I Want You to Want Me” – Cheap Trick; “Only Ones Who Know” – Arctic Monkeys
Now, go score your LIWIS; or, if it’s easier, just imagine one of these songs playing the next time you’re in a bar and looking to catch the eye of the cutest/closest boy or girl. May the force of the music gods be with you.