John Legend’s Serenade Tips

by | Feb 17, 2014 | Life

A high school nerd’s secret weapon: the irresistible serenade

When I was in high school, nobody would have guessed I’d end up engaged to one of the world’s most beautiful women. I was a nerd, the youngest in my class, and 20cm shorter than I am now. I had no game.

But I did have music. I could sing and I could play piano, so my go-to way of establishing my cool was a good old-fashioned serenade. And it usually worked. These days, I sometimes sing for my fiancée, Chrissy Teigen. (Not too often, though – it’s like talking shop at home.) Some of my songs are about her, and she loves that she can hear them first, at home. That’s romantic.

But if you don’t have any musical chops, you can still use music to romance a woman. Say she’s coming over for dinner. Make a playlist reflecting your taste and personality, but then aim a little higher – with songs that have the coolness you aspire to. Show her that she should want to be part of the “you” experience.

I used mixtapes when I was young, too. That’s a way for you – or any guy, regardless of his musical talents – to be romantic and show a woman that you have good taste, that you put in some effort, and were thinking about her. But don’t just pick current songs. Go beyond the obvious and surprise her. Show her that your musical knowledge extends beyond the Top 40.

A good love song is an audio landscape – it’s gorgeous, it’s lush, and it takes you places. Marvin Gaye did that. It may be a little cliché. To have Marvin on your mix, but the man made a lot of sexy music – his voice was beautiful, his arrangements sensual. He remains one of my primary influences. Great music has the power to put you under a spell. When I’m writing and arranging music, that’s what I’m aiming to do.

That said, you never know how your music is going to affect people. My first hit, “Ordinary People,” has shaped a lot of relationships. Seven years later, people still tell me that song saved their marriage. They’ve used it as a point of conversation, like therapy. There’s a new song, “All of Me,” on my upcoming album, that couples will appreciate.

It’s about Chrissy, and it’s honest and real. Anyone who has been in love will relate to it. Chrissy certainly loves it.

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