Sex & Relationships

Turn Up The Volume On These Love Songs

A great love song can elevate an intimate moment from simply romantic to absolutely cinematic.

Originally Published: 
The best songs about love include a Lizzo hit. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Nearly every musician who has ever existed has written love songs, which comes as no surprise considering it’s the most universal feeling in the world. Whether you currently have it or want it, everyone hopes to be desired in some way, shape, or form because nothing compares to meeting someone and experiencing the unique spark of romance. That’s why it so often can cause jealousy, greed, and even annoyance — because you can’t deny how special it is.

Even if you’re not currently in love, however, even less deniable is the power of a good love song, which is exactly the reason why you hear so many of the same, often insufferable ones at weddings — I’m looking at you, Ed Sheeran. But whether you find them tacky or not is beside the point because the true importance of love songs is that they have the power to connect people in incomparable, unforgettable ways. Come on, don’t lie; you absolutely remember what song soundtracked your first kiss, first time, first date, or first slow dance.

A great love song can elevate an intimate moment from simply romantic to absolutely cinematic, and listeners can thank musicians like Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Boyz II Men, and Taylor Swift for crafting some that have not only topped the charts but touched hearts and stood the test of time. From “Always Be My Baby” to “Love Story,” here are 27 songs about love to help you remember just exactly why it’s one of the strongest, greatest forces in the world.

1. “At Last,” Etta James

Originally written by Mack Gordon and Henry Warren and recorded by Glenn Miller and his orchestra for the 1941 film Sun Valley Serenade, it was Etta James’ soulful 1960 version of the track that would eventually become her signature song. Released as the third single from her debut album of the same name, “At Last” is still heard on oldies radio stations and at many weddings to this day, and it’s been covered by the likes of Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, and Beyoncé.

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2. “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Elvis Presley

Regarded as one of Elvis Presley’s quintessential love songs, “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” originally appeared in his 1961 album and film, both titled Blue Hawaii. “Take my hand / Take my whole life too,” he croons on the romantic track, which has received countless covers and even soundtracked the unique bond shared by an alien and a human girl in Lilo & Stitch.

3. “I Say A Little Prayer,” Aretha Franklin

“I Say A Little Prayer” was first written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and recorded by legend, icon, and recent Twitter queen Dionne Warwick in 1967. After Aretha Franklin recorded the track with her band for fun, she decided to release her own version the following year. David wrote the lyrics from the perspective of a woman sending support to her man while he serves in the Vietnam War, which proved relatable to audiences at the time, as both singers’ versions hit the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10.

4. “Crazy in Love,” Beyoncé & Jay-Z

It’s hard to believe “Crazy in Love” was Beyoncé’s first single, as it sounds as fresh today as it did in 2003, and it features a verse from her now-husband Jay-Z. “I still don’t understand / Just how your love can do what no one else can,” Queen Bey sings on the two-time Grammy-winning romantic banger, a major worldwide hit that even received a sultry, slowed-down rerecorded remix for 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

5. “You’re Still the One,” Shania Twain

The third of a whopping twelve singles from her Come On Over album and her first track ever to cross over to pop radio, Shania Twain wrote “You’re Still the One” in response to critics of her relationship with Robert John “Mutt” Lange, the song’s other co-writer who was fifteen years her senior. “Looks like we made it / Look how far we’ve come, my baby,” she sings in its first verse. With two Grammys under her belt for the song, it’s gone on to become one of Twain’s signature hits — and it outlasted the relationship, which ended in 2010.

6. “Time After Time,” Cyndi Lauper

“If you’re lost, you can look, and you will find me / Time after time,” Cyndi Lauper sings on the chorus of her comforting, romantic, chart-topping 1983 hit from her classic She’s So Unusual album. She wrote the track alongside Rob Hyman after reading a TV Guide article about a 1979 film also titled Time After Time, inspiring a song so timeless it’s been featured across movies and television series through several decades, from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion to Parks and Recreation.

7. “Make You Feel My Love,” Adele

Originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan in 1997, “Make You Feel My Love” received several notable cover versions from Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, and Trisha Yearwood, but Adele’s 2008 take on the song has become one of her signature hits. “When the rain is blowing in your face / And the whole world is on your case / I could offer you a warm embrace / To make you feel my love,” she sings on the track, which has been certified Gold in the United States for 500,000 units sold. Reportedly resistant to the idea of recording it at first, Adele has continuously performed her memorable cover as recently as 2017.

8. “Love on the Brain,” Rihanna

No one was expecting Rihanna to release a ’50s-inspired doo-wop ballad about an irresistible romance, but she did exactly that on 2016’s ANTI album with “Love on the Brain.” With lyrics depicting a troubled romance (“It beats me black and blue, but it f*cks me so good / Must be love on the brain”), the song became Rihanna’s 30th top-10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, placing her behind only Drake, Madonna, and The Beatles for having the most tracks to reach that level.

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9. “Baby Love,” The Supremes

Released on Motown Records in 1964, The Supremes’ “Baby Love” topped the Billboard Hot 100, received a Grammy nomination, and has been regarded as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stone. “’Cause baby love, my baby love / Been missing ya, miss kissing ya / Instead of breaking up / Let's do some kissing and making up,” sings lead vocalist Diana Ross of a romance that’s starting to go sour on the classic R&B hit.

10. “I’ll Make Love To You,” Boyz II Men

No one sings about love quite like Boyz II Men, who recorded their harmonic, chart-topping signature song “I’ll Make Love To You” for Motown Records in 1994. “Just make a wish on your night / Anything that you ask / I will give you the love of your life,” Shawn Stockman croons on the gloriously cheesy and undeniably iconic hit that’s since won a Grammy and been covered in both Pitch Perfect and Hulu’s High Fidelity.

11. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith

Written by twelve-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren for the 1998 disaster flick Armageddon, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was recorded by Aerosmith and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Love it or hate it, the rock-laced lovelorn power ballad’s impact is undeniable, especially as it went on to receive nominations at both the Academy Awards for Best Original Song and the Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Original Song.

12. “If I Ain’t Got You,” Alicia Keys

Inspired by the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and the death of R&B singer Aaliyah the same year, Alicia Keys wrote “If I Ain’t Got You,” released in 2003. With lyrics about desiring a specific person’s love over any material items that money can buy, the song received a Grammy award in 2005 and has been forever immortalized by countless amateur covers on singing competitions from American Idol to The X Factor.

13. “Bleeding Love,” Leona Lewis

Penned by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and former teen heartthrob Jesse McCartney, Leona Lewis’ 2007 single “Bleeding Love” is an incredibly passionate power ballad about undying love. One of the most successful United States chart hits of all time, the track remains Lewis’ signature tune and reached No. 1 in 35 countries, meaning that individuals worldwide know the lyrics to the belt-worthy hook: “I keep bleeding / Keep, keep bleeding love.”

14. “Cuz I Love You,” Lizzo

The title track off Lizzo’s 2019 debut record, “Cuz I Love You” shows off the musician’s powerhouse vocal chops and even received a performance at the 2020 Grammy Awards that featured a shout-out to the late Kobe Bryant. “I’m crying cuz I love you,” Lizzo belts on the doo-wop-inspired R&B song, which features production from X Ambassadors and has been compared to the work of musician Darlene Love.

15. “I’ll Stand By You,” The Pretenders

With lyrics about providing love and support to someone in dire need, The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” has gone on to live a life far beyond its 1994 chart run. It’s been covered by several artists, including Carrie Underwood, Girls Aloud, and Shakira as a charity single to benefit Idol Gives Back, Children in Need, and Hope For Haiti Now, respectively. The song was also notably featured in the pilot episode of Dawson’s Creek.

16. “Yoü And I,” Lady Gaga

Inspired by her then-boyfriend Lüc Carl, Lady Gaga’s “Yoü And I” was recorded for her second full-length studio album Born This Way in 2011. “It’s been a long time since I came around / Been a long time, but I’m back in town / This time I'm not leaving without you,” she sings of a relationship that almost got away. Promoted through her alter-ego Jo Calderone at the 2012 MTV VMAs, its romantic message got a bit lost in translation, but the song has stood the test of time — and was even just covered by Ben Platt for the album’s 10th anniversary.

17. “My Heart Will Go On,” Celine Dion

Written by Will Jennings and composed by James Horner, Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” was released in 1997 on the soundtrack for James Cameron’s iconic film, Titanic. “Near, far, wherever you are / I believe that the heart does go on,” Dion belts on her signature song, which has reportedly sold over 18 million units worldwide and won two Grammys in 1999.

18. “God Only Knows,” the Beach Boys

Originally released as a B-side on the Beach Boys’ seminal 1966 Pet Sounds album, the baroque-rock “God Only Knows” is about a love so intense that only a higher power could possibly understand it. Regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stone and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, fellow rockers Paul McCartney, Jimmy Webb, and Bono have all named it as one of their personal favorites as well.

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19. “Perfect,” Ed Sheeran

Whatever your opinion on Sheeran may be, you can’t deny that he’s achieved the unlikely feat of writing at least two songs that have become (mainly straight, white) wedding staples: “Thinking Out Loud” and “Perfect.” The former was a monstrous hit, but Sheeran outdid himself by re-releasing the latter in two remixed forms featuring famed opera singer Andrea Bocelli and thee Beyoncé, which took the song to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

20. “Love Story,” Taylor Swift

Known (and often unfairly criticized) for writing dozens of love songs early on in her career, Swift’s 2008 hit “Love Story” is easily the most romantic, featuring lyrics that reimagine Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet to end with the couple living happily ever after rather than, you know, in both of their deaths. After the song originally peaked at No. 4 in the United States, Swift’s unprecedented “Taylor’s Version” rerecording took it back to the Billboard Hot 100’s top 15 over a decade later in 2021, further proving her ever-powerful fanfare.

21. “I Love You Always Forever,” Donna Lewis

Donna Lewis’ soft, simple “I Love You Always Forever” is a blissfully pure love letter written to music, with the hook’s lyrics repeated like a mantra: “I love you, always forever / Near and far, closer together / Everywhere, I will be with you / Everything, I will do for you.” The song reached No. 2 in the United States in 1996 — blocked from No. 1 by none other than Los del Río’s “Macarena” — but a 2016 cover by Australian pop star Betty Who brought it back to several countries’ charts 20 years later and gave the bass-led ballad a new life.

22. “Always Be My Baby,” Mariah Carey

Of Carey’s 19 No. 1 singles, “Always Be My Baby” is the only one to have an entire romantic comedy film named after it with Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe in 2019. “Time can't erase a feeling this strong,” she declares on the track, which at the time tied her with Madonna and Whitney Houston as the female artist with the most No. 1 hits. The song notably received a remix with rapper Da Brat and girl group Xscape, and Fifth Harmony sampled it in 2015 for “Like Mariah” off their debut album Reflection.

23. “Best of My Love,” The Emotions

Released in 1977 through Columbia Records, The Emotions’ “Best of My Love” is a funky, upbeat disco-R&B track about pledging to put your best foot forward in a romantic relationship. “I like the way you make me feel about you baby / Want the whole wide world to see,” the group sings on the track, written by members of Earth, Wind, & Fire, that took home a trophy at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards.

24. “All of Me,” John Legend

Released on his 2013 album Love in the Future, “All of Me” became John Legend’s first No. 1 single the following year as well as his unofficial wedding playlist staple. “All of me loves all of you / Love your curves and all your edges / All your perfect imperfections,” he sings on the piano ballad, lyrically inspired by his wife, Chrissy Teigen.

25. “Be My Baby,” The Ronettes

Many songs on this list are considered classics, but “Be My Baby” is a rare one that’s literally been added to the United States National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. “I'll make you happy, baby, just wait and see / For every kiss you give me, I'll give you three,” sings The Ronettes’ Ronnie Spector on the 1963 R&B classic that the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson has credited with inspiring the band’s “Don’t Worry Baby.”

26. “Butterflies,” Kacey Musgraves

“Now you’re lifting me up, ’stead of holding me down / Stealing my heart instead of stealing my crown,” country queen Kacey Musgraves sings on the sweet, acoustic guitar-led “Butterflies” off her Grammy-winning 2018 album Golden Hour. Written about her initial spark of romance with singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly, the earnest, uplifting track has unfortunately outlived their relationship, which ended in divorce in 2020.

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27. “I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston

Dolly Parton wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You” in 1973 for her legendary Jolene album, allegedly in the same studio session during which she recorded its timeless title track. Presley originally wanted to record “I Will Always Love You,” but due to his demand for songwriting credit, Parton denied his request and later gave the track to Whitney Houston, who recorded it in 1992 for the soundtrack to her film The Bodyguard. Regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time by several outlets, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a then-record-breaking 14 weeks.

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