It’s the season of love, and whilst this year’s valentine’s day isn’t valentine like all the other valentines, it doesn’t stop us from trying to enjoy it by showing love to each other.
And what’s a better way to express love than through song? But not just any old music, Nigerian love songs. E shock you abi.
Nigeria has a ridiculously vast catalogue of love songs; unfortunately, a lot of time it gets lost under catchy beats and funny lyrics and we miss the message, I mean what’s more romantic than telling a Nigerian woman to ‘take all my money put am for your head o” (we’re going to conveniently forget the rest of the lyrics in that song, cos I don’t get it either) but I maintain that Nigerian men are romantic, argue with yourself.
I have chosen twenty out of the best, this is by no means an exhaustive list, there are so many more that I’d have loved to add. Have a read/listen, google the lyrics and send them to your SO, if you’re still single, listen and have yourself a solo party.
Now I must give you a heads up; this list is incredibly biased, they’re all songs that I like, a lot of which I can sing word for word. If you disagree, make your own list, share it on Instagram and tag @soundsofafricamusic
Ok, now enjoy. I hope you show love and feel loved today.
Ololufe – Wande Coal
Long before I ever interviewed him, this was my first introduction to Wande, Ololufe was from the now-defunct Mo’Hits (now Mavin) compilation album Curriculum Vitae released in 2007.
African Queen – 2face
The ultimate Nigerian love song of its time, it’s a classic song, released in 2004. It was widely acclaimed worldwide and was even used as a soundtrack in the movie Phat Girls’s arguably the first Nigerian hit of the contemporary pop.
Baby mi da (Baby Jowo) – Victor Olaiya ft 2face
Technically this isn’t the name of the song, the original highlife song ‘Mofe mu yan’ is a little more vulgar, I lowkey prefer the remix with 2face released in 2014, the original was released somewhere between the ’60s and ’70s, filled with beautiful trumpet and piano interludes, this version is a mishmash of the oldies and with a fresh spin. RMD also remixed baby Jowo in Tade Ogidan’s OGD All Starz Jamz.
Iyawo Mi – Timi Dakolo
Iyawo mi was released in 2014 and dedicated to his wife. My chest. If I were creating this list in order, I would definitely be in my top 5 and listen to the lyrics. That’s it. That’s the message.
Never Far Away- Lagbaja
Anyone who knows me, and knows me well knows that Lagbaja is MY guy, there’s no song of his that I don’t know, and I keep saying (God willing) he will play at my traditional wedding. NFA was released in 2004, with the beautiful Ego’s voice, accompanied by an orchestra, violins, bata drums, percussion, a beautiful fusion of sounds that he’s christened AFRICANO. Honestly, it’s beautiful to listen to; I’m calling this one a masterpiece, Lagbaja is what I call a proper musician, wherever you are, come back, I miss you.
Oruka – Sunny Neji
Released in 2007, when there weren’t many Nigerian wedding love songs, Sunny Neji, having gotten married a few years before created this specifically to fill that gap, Oruka quickly became a popular wedding song.
One Love – Onyeka Onwenu
Now, this isn’t about romantic love, but I would be remiss if I didn’t add it to the list as it sends a message of love nonetheless. /released in 1986, and still relevant in 2021. ‘One Love’ is a call for us to come together as one and love each other, sounds cheesy, but in light of the last year, I’d say it’s more than relevant.
Paul Play – Angel of My Life
Originally released in the early 2000s. Likely 2006, this song has been featured in many love songs playlists. He released a remix featuring Runtown in 2020. Paul Play is the son of legendary juju musician the late Isaiah Kehinde Dairo.
Olo Mi – Tosin Martins
This is one song that won’t be forgotten in a hurry, released in 2005 it was the love song that was played at almost every wedding, and is a part of many love stories it’s a fusion of R’n’B, hi-life and jazz with Yoruba lyrics. It is still going strong over a decade later.
One Naira – MI
One of MI’s most loved songs, released in 2010 as track no ten on his sophomore album MI 2: The Movie; it features the talented Waje vocals on the chorus. He praises his love interest in choosing love + one naira over money, and it makes for beautiful music, but I’m not saying you should go and subscribe to struggle love o.
Olufunmi – Styl Plus
I struggled to decide between Olufunmi and Always on my mind. Still, if you pick 20 random Nigerians over the age of 18, I can almost guarantee they all know the lyrics to Olufunmi’s chorus. Released in 2006 on the album Expressions, the song quickly became popular and is still their most successful song. Honourable mention – Aso Ibora.
Ekuro – Davido
Aye and Assurance heavily contested this spot – But I think Ekuro is the right song, released in 2012 off his debut studio album titled “Omo Baba Olowo”. OG Davido fans will remember this.
Eji Ewuro – Sola Allyson
‘Ife bi eji owuro’ means love like the morning dew, my whole chest 😍 Originally released as a soundtrack for a Yoruba movie with the same title, it’s filled with mostly Sola’s words. You can still hear the keys and talking drums; this one is a proper traditional love song. You may not understand the language, but I promise you it’s beautiful; I loved this song even before I knew what an expression of love felt like.
My Darlin – Tiwa Savage
I would be remiss if I did not include Miss Savage on this list when the majority of her songs are deemed love songs, my Darlin was released in 2014 along with beautiful visuals of a love story, starring Tiwa as a grandma telling her love story against the backdrop of war, and her granddaughters impending wedding.
Love Don’t Care – Simi.
Released in 2016 ‘Love don’t care’ isn’t just any old love song it sorts of crosses over into the ‘woke’ territory. She talks about a love that isn’t bound by ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status; the song garnered her mainstream attention.
Romeo and Juliet – Johnny Drille
Johnny Drille is in a league of his own, “Romeo & Juliet” is a simple song with crisp vocals over a simple acoustic guitar, a tambourine, and a drum. The song has an alt-country vibe that is relatively new in the Nigerian music scene. I wouldn’t compare him to any other Nigerian artist, having only just discovered him, I’ve quickly become a fan.
Banky W – Yes/No
Released in 2012 just in time for Valentine’s day, Banky W then known as Mr Lover boy is another one with an impressive catalogue of mostly RnB Love songs (Made for you, All I want is you) Yes/No won Most Gifted R&B Video at the 10th Annual Channel O Music Video Awards, it also peaked at number 1 on BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Afrobeat charts.
Obianuju – Duncan Mighty
What’s more romantic than a man creating a whole song with your name as the title, released in 2010, quickly became a fan favourite and inspired many covers and spin-offs.
Future in Your Eyes – Tjan
“Future in your eyes” released in 2018 is a mid-tempo vibe produced by the legendary Cobhams Asuquo Beautiful lyrics.
And last but certainly not the least
Case – Teni
Simply because I’m currently into the type of love that comes with ENERGY, one that fights for me, released as a single in 2018 ‘Case’ won the Headies award for Best Pop Single, propelled Teni further into the limelight, and grabbed major players’ attention within the African music industry.
I’ve created a Spotify playlist with these songs and honourable mentions that didn’t cut this time around.
Click to listen to my Valentine playlist
Lastly, stay up to date with all you need to know about African music at SOA, right here.