The purpose of music in movies is multi-faceted, and its importance is immeasurable. Music elevates the setting, the plot, the characters, and their intentions. It also sets the mood — which, in this case, is romance. These 22
most romantic movie soundtracks from the last three decades will make you fall in love all over again — with the movies they were featured in, with your significant other, or with Leonardo DiCaprio in his early 20s ( a la ). Romeo & Juliet and Titanic
Of course, it's pretty unheard of for the soundtrack of a movie — regardless of the genre — to maintain one musical mood entirely. So, while all of the films featured on this list do qualify as romances, not every song on their soundtracks will make your heart swell.
Still, the majority of these soundtracks are pretty much known for at least one of their ballads. Maybe its because the ballad released and promoted as a single, or perhaps it became unsuspectingly renowned due to the scene it was attached to. Either way, all of these songs are going to make you feel some serious feels.
So, go ahead and grab a box of tissues now. You'll need them. And be prepared for waves of nostalgia — that's going to hit you, too. Without further ado, here are the 22 most romantic movie soundtracks from the last 30 years.
Dolly Parton wrote "I Will Always Love You," but
Whitney Houston made it famous during the heart-breaking, final scene of The Bodyguard. Now, it's one of the most iconic love songs to have ever existed. What more is there to say? Who knew that pottery could be so sexy? "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers accompanied the scene where Molly (played by Demi Moore) sensually works with clay, while her late boyfriend Sam (Patrick Swayze) — who possesses Whoopi Goldberg's mortal body for the occasion, with her consent, of course — wheels her into passion, so to speak.
Sure, it sounds a little twisted on paper. On screen, though, it's bring-you-to-tears levels of romantic.
'Love & Basketball' (2000)
, both of whom aspire to play professional basketball. It is, at different times, heart-warming and heart-breaking. It's a love story, sure, but it's also a story about growing up, figuring out who you want to become, and how that can change your relationships in the process. Love & Basketball tells the story of two childhood friends
Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are on the verge of adolescence when they first become an item, and
Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Sweet Thing" perfectly punctuates their budding, youthful love.
Rose (Kate Winslet) told Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) to never let go of her following the sinking of the Titanic, well ... he did. For reasons that still remain unclear. They could have shared the door! There was plenty of room!
The moments leading up to that final moment were intense with a capital "I," and
Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" was forever made a hit with a capital "H-I-T" because of it. That solo pan flute intro, man. Gets me ever time.
Ah, yes. The age-old love story of "rich guy hires sex worker, rich guy falls in love with sex worker, rich guy and sex worker live happily ever after." It's basically a modern-day
The movie's most romantic music moment comes when
Roxette's "It Must Have Been Love" begins playing after a dejected Vivian Ward (the aforementioned sex worker, played by Julia Roberts) drives away from the aforementioned rich guy (Edward Lewis, played by Richard Gere). She's fallen in love with Edward, and he with her, but, before they both come to terms with this, they must each appear very contemplative, to the tune of Roxette.
Following this scene, Edward heads to Vivian's apartment, climbs up her fire escape, and woos her with a rose in his mouth. What a moment.
'Sleepless In Seattle' (1993)
'When Harry Met Sally' (1989)
'Waiting To Exhale' (1995)
"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" by Whitney Houston is all about loving, learning, and letting go. It's a little bit sad, but it's also hopeful: "For every win, someone must fail, But there comes a point when, When we exhale." The smooth R&B groove mirrors the struggle and eventual lesson learned by all of the women in Waiting to Exhale , and serves as an optimistic reminder for the rest of us, too.
After a bit of a public meltdown, playboy sports agent
Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) leaves his high-paying agency job to go out on his own. Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger), a single mother and receptionist at Maguire's former agency, decides to join him, and they hastily end up getting married after a brief, work-muddled courtship.
Their marriage quickly begins to fall apart, though, and they decide to separate. Jerry ends up coming to terms with the fact that he's been acting like a dummy. He flies back to Dorothy to tell her as much, and while he's reciting a lengthy monologue about his feelings,
Bruce Springsteen's "Secret Garden" sets the scene.
"I love you. You complete me. And I just ...," he says, before Dorothy interrupts him. "Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello." Swoon.
'Risky Business' (1983)
'A Star Is Born' (2018)
This movie soundtrack is uniquely romantic. It's so dreamy, Andre Grant wrote an entire
essay dedicated to the . In his piece, he explained how the songs on the album taught him about love before he really even knew what love was. Boomerang soundtrack
'Indecent Proposal' (1993)
In reading the
synopsis of , the word "romantic" might not be the first to come to mind. In the end, though, former-high-school-sweet-hearts-turned-married couple-turned-divorced-couple David (Woody Harrelson) and Diana Murphy (Demi Moore) realize that — despite everything that goes down — they're meant to be. Indecent Proposal
lyrics to "A Love So Beautiful" paint a very similar, ambiguously hopeful picture. There was love, the love was lost, but now, "when I think of you, I fall in love again."
'My Best Friend's Wedding' (1997)
In a strangely bittersweet moment — strange because the whole
premise of is kind of twisted — Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) finally comes to terms with the fact that she and her best friend Michael O'Neal (Dermot Mulroney), are not, in fact, going to live happily ever after. My Best Friend's Wedding
In her wedding speech to the couple — who hadn't decided on "their song" — Julianne gifts them the song that was once so special to her and Michael:
"The Way You Look Tonight."
Oh man. This scene. This song. For such a quintessentially "cool" grunge-era movie, you wouldn't be alone in being surprised by the effectiveness of U2. Now, though, it's kind of hard to imagine that any other song would have been able to do what
"All I Want Is You" did in this moment.
'How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days' (2003)
Despite the fact that their relationship was based on a few work-related bets, both Ben Berry (Matthew McConaughey) and Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) end up falling for each other anyway. During a sweetly tender moment — one of the first
real romantic moments in — Chantal Kreviazuk's "Feels Like Home" further makes both of their feelings clear. How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days
'500 Days of Summer' (2009)
OK, this the only non-ballad on the list, but it just so perfectly encapsulates the triumphant feeling of being smitten. That moment when you've realized — or, in the case of
, when you 500 Days of Summer think you've realized — that the other person feels the same way you do, and it makes you want the world to join you in a choreographed celebratory dance set to Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams."
So, there you have it. The most romantic movie soundtracks from the last 30 years. How's that box of tissues? Empty yet?