These 22 Most Romantic Movie Soundtracks From The Last 30 Years Are Totally Swoon-Worthy
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.
1. 'Romeo + Juliet' (1996)
Romeo, oh, Romeo. Wherefore art to even start with this soundtrack, Romeo? Baz Lurhman's 1996 re-imaging of the ill-fated, star-crossed lovers (starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo, and Claire Danes as Juliet) was stacked with angsty alt-rock and bubbly pop hits. From The Cardigans' "Lovefool," to Everclear's "Local God," the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack ran the gamut of appeal.
"I'm Kissing You" by Des'ree, though... The emotions jumped out to every teen watching. The track was played during the scene when Romeo and Juliet first meet during the ball at the Capulet's mansion, and it perfectly captures their adolescent love-at-first sight.
2. 'Dirty Dancing' (1987)
While "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes is likely the most-played and best-known track from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack — how many times have you and *your* friends tried to re-create that epic lift scene? — "Hungry Eyes" by Eric Carmen might be the most romantic.
"Time Of My Life" is romantic in a more victorious way. It's romantic in the over-coming-odds-and-prevailing-against-haters way. "Hungry Eyes," however, "Hungry Eyes" is filled with lust, and played during the moment Baby (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny (Patrick Swayze) truly started to fall in love.
3. 'The Bodyguard' (1992)
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?
4. 'Ghost' (1990)
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.
5. 'Love & Basketball' (2000)
Love & Basketball tells the story of two childhood friends, 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.
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.
6. 'Titanic' (1997)
When 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.
7. 'Pretty Woman' (1990)
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 "Cinder-f*ckin-ella."
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.
8. 'Sleepless In Seattle' (1993)
Celine Dion and Clive Griffin's "When I Fall In Love" is an epic ballad about that end-all-be-all kind of love, and it's used perfectly in Sleepless in Seattle. After Sam Baldwin (played by Tom Hanks) loses his wife to cancer in the film, it seems as if his end-all-be-all love has come and gone. That is, of course, until he meets Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), and he's able to give his heart completely — as the lyrics go — yet again.
9. 'When Harry Met Sally' (1989)
This entire movie is basically one extended "Will they or won't they?" moment, and it's endlessly charming. It takes both Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) more than a decade of friendship to realize that they've been perfect for each other all along, and when it finally dawns on Harry, Frank Sinatra's "It Had To Be You" accompanies a montage of their most memorable moments throughout the years. (Harry Connick Jr. also recorded a version of the song for the film, and it'll sweep you off your feet.)
10. 'Top Gun' (1986)
You can kind of consider Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" as the "Shallow" of its generation. The track was written specifically for the 1986 film, and ended up winning both the Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song that year. It's sensual and synth-heavy and it's hard to imagine Top Gun without it.
11. '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.
12. 'Jerry Maguire' (1996)
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.
13. 'Risky Business' (1983)
If your version of romance involves getting frisky on the subway, then Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" is the song for you. If, however, that's *not* your version of romance, well, there's a very steamy scene in Risky Business that goes down while this song is playing, and it might just change your mind.
14. 'A Star Is Born' (2018)
There's no way you can talk about romantic movie soundtracks in 2019 and *not* mention "Shallow" from A Star Is Born.
15. 'Boomerang' (1992)
This movie soundtrack is uniquely romantic. It's so dreamy, Andre Grant wrote an entire essay dedicated to the Boomerang soundtrack. In his piece, he explained how the songs on the album taught him about love before he really even knew what love was.
16. 'Say Anything' (1989)
Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack), standing outside, holding a boombox playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" above his head. Enough said.
17. 'Indecent Proposal' (1993)
In reading the synopsis of Indecent Proposal, 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.
The 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."
18. 'My Best Friend's Wedding' (1997)
In a strangely bittersweet moment — strange because the whole premise of My Best Friend's Wedding 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.
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."
19. 'Reality Bites' (1990)
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.
20. 'One Fine Day' (1996)
Van Morrison contributed two heart-felt ballads to the One Fine Day soundtrack: "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?" and "Someone Like You." In the film, it takes Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Jack Taylor (George Clooney) a somewhat frustratingly long time to feel the love. In both of those two songs, though, the love you feel is instantaneous.
21. '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 How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days — Chantal Kreviazuk's "Feels Like Home" further makes both of their feelings clear.
22. '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 500 Days of Summer, when you 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?