Nothing says "I love you" like diamonds. But if times are a little tight (or you're only 90 percent sure you're in love), a mixtape can say almost as much.
Of course, the key is choosing the right songs. And to best serve the hopeful Romeos in our audience, we asked a hodgepodge of stars and music-business types — ranging from Ashlee Simpson and Kelly Clarkson to Paul Stanley of Kiss and J Records head Clive Davis — to help us assemble the perfect Valentine's Day mix CD. Don't miss "Date Movie" actor Eddie Griffin's very, er, scientific approach to the art at the end ...
"Sam Cooke, 'Cupid'! [He sings,] 'Cupid, draw back your bow/ And let your arrow go.' Just bring the old-school feel back, then let her know that you love her."
"Sade, 'No Ordinary Love.' That's always a good one. If you're a guy, Sade always gets the girls."
"[Anything by] Luther Vandross. He was nice, so sweet, and he had great love songs: 'A chair is not a chair, a house is not a home.' What's the best love song I've ever written? 'Dangerously in Love.' "
"You gotta have [Stevie Wonder's] 'Ribbon in the Sky,' 'cause I think it's probably one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. And then you need to have something really freaky and kinky, just in case it gets too mushy. You gotta stay focused: You just put on anything by Prince where he's screaming a little bit, and that's gonna get her like right where you need her to be. It's all about the balance: Get it mushy and then just go for the freaky."
Chad Hugo of the Neptunes
"[Anything by] Marvin Gaye or Al Green, or 'Moments in Love' by the Art of Noise, 'cause it's sexy, man. You gotta throw that on."
"I'm weird — I'd pick some kind of sexy song to be on it, like, 'Pink' by Aerosmith."
" 'Always and Forever' [performed by Heatwave and Luther Vandross, among others]."
"You could go, like, really cheesy and play things like 'You Are So Beautiful' [made famous by Joe Cocker]. Or if you wanted to do newer things, there are so many great love songs out there right now." [She did not elaborate.]
"If I made my wife a mix, it would probably start with 'I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song' by Jim Croce and 'Your Song' by Elton John and [the version of the Beatles'] 'Something' by James Taylor. That would be my mix. I like 'Love Song' because the guy kind of opens up and shares a little bit of himself and seems a little bit vulnerable. It's good when women think they're seeing that raw breakdown."
"One of my favorite love songs is Whitney Houston's 'My Love Is Your Love.' It's such a great song, I've just always loved it. If I ever got married — which is far-fetched — then that would be a cool wedding song."
Duff McKagan of Velvet Revolver
"Anything Prince — 'Diamonds and Pearls' is good. It's very sexy stuff."
Jason Biggs (of "American Pie")
" 'Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead,' I think, would be the highlight. Umm, let's see ... 'Who Let the Dogs Out?' and 'The Macarena.' ... Actually, if you gave that to your girlfriend on Valentine's Day, I hope you're planning on being dumped! If you're planning on extricating yourself from a relationship, give her a mixtape that starts with 'Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead," and I'm pretty sure that you'll see yourself right to the door."
DMC of Run-DMC
"Anything by Barry White, because he didn't get it twisted. Like Marvin Gaye, he was political and a lover. When you put that on, you know what time it is. I mean, that's what he was put on this earth for."
Joe Simpson (father/manager of Ashlee and Jessica)
"My wife is a Barry White fan, so anything Barry White does, I'm a winner."
"Just the sound of my baby breathing next to me, it's the best song I've ever heard in my life [laughs — Hamilton's wife was standing right next to him]. No, our wedding song was great: It's a song I wrote for my wife called 'Beautiful, Wonderful' and it's amazing. It's on the U.K. release of my album [the brand-new Ain't Nobody Worryin'], so it's definitely one of our favorite songs. And 'So High' by John Legend."
Clive Davis (Chairman and CEO, BMG North America/ founder, J Records)
"When I grew up, it was Johnny Mathis."
"There's a song by the Goo Goo Dolls, I can't remember what it's called, [she sings] 'And I don't want the world to see me.' ['Iris'], I love that song. Maybe they can sing it to me personally or maybe I sing it to them, that would be more appropriate."
Jimmy Jam (producer for Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Jessica Simpson)
"Janet Jackson's 'Anytime, Anyplace.' I was definitely thinking about that. Oh, I've got an obscure one: We did a remix for [Jackson's] 'Together Again' called 'A Deeper Remix' that was a total ballad. It's dope."
Paul Stanley of Kiss
"I would go everywhere from Led Zeppelin to Tony Bennett and stop at the Beatles' 'In My Life.' It's a great song: succinct, not a lot of frills, from the heart and simple."
Kerry "Krucial" Brothers (producer for Alicia Keys, Angie Stone)
"I would put the Isley Brothers' 'Voyage to Atlantis.' Just the whole vibe of it — and the ocean. It's just kind of like an imaginary place to be — paradise, old empire or whatever it was — that's unseen now."
Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire
"You gotta have a little Barry White 'You're the First, the Last, My Everything,' perhaps a little Marvin Gaye and then you can top it off with a little Earth, Wind & Fire, 'After the Love Has Gone.' "
Eddie Griffin and Sophie Monk from "Date Movie"
Eddie: 50 Cent, Barry White, Jimi Hendrix, Parliament-Funkadelic. 50, most definitely, 'cuz you know females like thugs. See what I mean? You got to get your thug on. Start off aggressive, a'ight, and then Barry White, when he comes on with that voice, it gets the clothes off. You understand me? Then Jimi Hendrix: Her mind is open to receive the game that you're spitting into her subconscious. You understand me? Then P-Funk, 'cuz it's all about the coming together of the masses. If you get what I'm saying to you, holla back!
Sophie: You've done this mixtape before, haven't you?
MTV: Sophie, who would you like to have on your mixtape?
Sophie: Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas is my favorite.
Check out the feature Love Me, Love Me Not for Valentine's Day DVD picks.