Whether you’re in love, falling in love or falling out of love, love songs enhances the life of romantics of all ages. A good love song might inspire you to say you’re sorry or take one last desperate shot at making it work, or a love tune might console you when no one else is around to do so.
The lyrics of love songs are important, because they remind a person that someone else has been in the exact same spot (romantically), at some time and some place. But catchy love songs or soulful love songs touch the heart more than any lyric can. Play a few bars of a bittersweet tune
Couples in love often have “their song”. Love songs inspire young lovers and old lovers alike, bringing a sense of tenderness or sentimentality, taking a romantic pair back to the time they first met. A good love song can be an affirmation of what the two of you feel for one another.
Whatever your dating relationship or thoughts on “love” are at the moment, I bet you’ll be able to find a love song to inspire you from this list. There’s a selection here from over 50 years of great love ballads.
100 Great Love Songs
I’ve tried to separate these love songs according to categories like “Love Songs for Men”, “Love Songs for Women”, “Cheesy Love Songs” and “Love Duets”. I also wanted to make sure to get some songs from each of the broad categories, so I included sections for “R&B Love Songs”, “Country Love Songs” and “Rock Love Songs”. There is some cross over between these categories, but you should find solid song selections in each category.
Love Songs By Men
The first two songs would have naturally fit on the list of great breakup songs, but I wanted to top the big list with them, because they’re two of my favorites.
1. Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers – This song effectively conveys desolation when one’s lover is gone. It’s a sad, sad bluesy song from Withers, whom you also might remember from the song “Lean On Me”.
2. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green – Simply a classic. This song was on the soundtrack of Pulp Fiction. If I remember correctly, this is song was turned on by Uma Thurman’s sometime during the scene where she and Travolta went back to her husband’s house after the more famous dinner-and-dance scene.
3. I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You – Elvis Presley – I can’t go too far without include “The King”. I imagine people will still be listening to recordings of Elvis singing this song centuries from now. Another great version is sung by Andrea Bocelli.
4. Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley – Another early classic from the Elvis. That reminds me that I forgot to put “Suspicious Minds” on this list, which is one of my favorite Elvis songs and would be a natural.
5. Dream Lover – Bobby Darin – This is a sweet song from the early days of rock-n-roll. Brings back memories of daydreaming about an ideal girl in school, which every guy has done once or another. I’m sure all the girls have done the same about guys, too.
6. Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel – Back when Billy Joel seemed cool. You would think he would be in his golden age of love song writing, given all the crazy relationship stuff that’s gone on in his life these last 15 years.
7. Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers – The name “Unchained” refers to the 1955 prison movie this song was originally written for, but everyone in my generation remembers Unchained Melody for the clay-shaping scene in “Ghost”.
8. Happy Together – The Turtles – If you check out The Turtles sing this song on Youtube, the band seems a little dorky, but this is a great love song.
9. I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder – Man, I know that I’m supposed to prefer “Overjoyed” or “Lately” as a love song, but I like the beautiful directness and simplicity of “I Just Called To Say I Love You”.
10. You Are So Beautiful – Joe Cocker – A song that comes on quiet and slow, but contains so much emotion from start to finish. Something about Cocker’s raspy delivery allows him to speak for all the average guys out there.
11. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys sing a soulful love song, though one that’s somewhat conditional. “I may not always love you.” I guess they were being honest, at least.
Love Songs By Women
Men aren’t the only ones who feel the passions of romance or get their hearts broken. Some of the finest love songs of the recording era have been anchored by a strong female vocal. This list includes includes some of the bright lights and distant echos of the pop age female love song practitioners.
12. Crazy – Patsy Kline – Written by Willie Nelson and sung by the immortal Patsy Kline. I cringe when some young lady every year on American Idol tries to sing this love anthem.
13. One Fine Day – The Chiffons – A classic theme, about a girl whose guy has wandering eyes. “One fine day, you’re gonna want me for your girl”.
14. At Last – Etta James – Another song that turns up seemingly everywhere: movies, commercials. “My lonely days are over and life is like a song”. You don’t get much better than that.
15. Crazy In Love – Beyonce – When I hear this song, I picture Beyonce dancing in that red dress. Ooo-la-la! An in-your-face song about the kind of passion love can inspire.
16. Dream a Little Dream – “Mama” Cass Elliot – Super song, showing up seemingly everywhere in many different covers over the years. Mama Cass’s version is the one everyone remembers. “Dream a Little Dream” even featured big on one of my favorite anime shows, Cowboy Bebop.
17. Love Takes Time – Mariah Carey – Once again, this is a song that gets in the mind of someone who has lost at love. “I had it all/But I let it slip away.” Everybody has been there at one time or another. And I remember seeing this video for the first time and thinking, “Good lord, that woman is hot!” Also, notice how this was before Mariah started all her verbal gymnastics and you could appreciate the simple pleasantness of her voice.
18. Eternal Flame – The Bangles – This love standard has been covered by a lot of different artists since the Bangles made it famous in the 80’s.
19. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston – A song written by the illustrious Dolly Parton, but I’ll go with the Whitney Houston version. Whitney needs to be on this list and she made this song hers. A great song no matter who sings it, though.
20. The Power of Love – Celine Dion – Celine Dion ruled the love ballad industry 10 years ago, before the first of her retirements. For those who hate Celine Dion, I linked to an anti-Celine Dion article you can chuckle at.
21. I’m Sorry – Brenda Lee – Brenda Lee was huge in her heyday, with 46 chart hits in the 1960’s. Her version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” gets huge play every holiday season.
22. Thank You – Dido – An earnest song for someone who first came to America’s attention from being tied up in an Eminem video. In her defense, reports were that Dido was hesitant to appear in the video, but was flattered that Eminem chose to sample this song from two years earlier.
Love Song Duets
Duets were made for love songs. Pair two great singers – one a man and one a woman – and they’re going to make great love songs together. I should have included more, but these eight are absolutely top notch.
23. Endless Love – Lionel Richie & Diana Ross – This has to be one fo the best duets ever written: my boss likes to sing this at karaoke, t least when he can find a duet partner that isn’t intimidated by his Lionel Richie covers.
24. Time To Say Goodbye – Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman – I don’t speak Italian, but if I get this song correctly, it’s about a man telling his lover he wants to get away with her and see all the countries he’s never experienced before. One of the great love songs of the last 15 years. Played on continual loop at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (or at least it used to be).
25. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – You could fill out a pretty good sized list of love songs with Marvin Gaye songs alone. I’ll try to restrain myself from having the Marvin Gaye section. I could have added several others duets of theirs, including “How Sweet It is”.
26. All My Life – Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville – This duet won all kinds of awards the year it came out. Two distintive singers at the top of their powers.
27. Reunited – Peaches & Herb – The glory of reconciliation after a couple had a bad breakup. A timeless subject.
28. The Closer I Get to You – Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack – This song hits the sweet spot. Better than the cover of this song by Beyonce and Luther Vandross.
29. Baby Come To Me – Patti Austin & James Ingram – This is another song with a man taking charge of his situation, from back when they knew how to sing love duets. Quincy Jones produced and Michael McDonald sang backup.
Best Breakup Love Songs
When you’ve experienced the bad breakup, there are songs out there that are like a shoulder to cry on. When you want to wallow in misery and self-pity, listen to a few of these songs and cry cry cry. These songs cover the five stages of loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
30. I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye – A song about finding out your love is stepping out with someone else. Nothing worse in love than being in this position, or being the friend who has to tell you bud’ that his or her love is doing the same.
31. The Way We Were – Barbara Streisand – Okay, Barbara Streisand isn’t my favorite celebrity, but this song has a timeless quality about love and loss.
32. Wicked Game – Chris Isaak – I know what you’re saying, Chris. This woman used you and she’s the devil in a dress. Boy, who hasn’t been there?
33. With Or Without You – U2 – Perfectly captures the mindset of a person in a relationship that’s bad for them: I can’t live with you and I can’t live without you. There’s a whole lot of bitterness, though, talking about her slipping you a dagger. We’re definitely still in the “anger phase” in this U2 classic.
34. Anytime – Brian McKnight – Brian McKnight is a master of the song about a broken-up couple. He sings for the “unlucky in love”.
35. Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson – Another name for this song could be “regret”. I messed up royally, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you, honey.
36. Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison – Few people sing a song of love lost better than Roy Orbison. Imagine the silky tones of Orbison singing: “There goes my baby. There goes my Heart. They’re gone forever. So far apart.” That’s just about says it all.
37. Don’t Speak – No Doubt – Once again, a song about the emotional devestation wrought by a bad breakup.
38. One Last Cry – Brian McKnight – This song describes one of the timeless situations in life: seeing the ex- you care about with a another man. I still think Brian McKnight has one of the most powerful voices going today. I was blown away by his work on the latest David Foster get-together.
39. After The Love Is Gone – Earth, Wind & Fire – A song that covers the gamut of a relationship, from the first sparks of love to the last embers of regret.
40. You Look So Good In Love – George Strait – This one isn’t about a man praising his love, but his ex-love.
Love Songs About Seduction
When I started this list, I honestly thought there would be a whole lot more love songs in this section. Who would have thought that all these musicians wouldn’t really be that interested in seducing people? Well, at least we could depend on the late great Marvin Gaye.
41. Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye – Nobody does a seduction song better than Marvin Gaye. How many other artists’ songs have referenced listening to Marvin Gaye as mood music?
42. Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye – After Marvin tries being poetic talking about “sexual healing”, he decides to use the direct approach.
43. How Deep Is Your Love – The Bee Gees – The Bee Gees were anathema for much of my childhood, because they were identified so closely with the Disco Era. Then people began to realize the Bee Gees simply made great music. A fine example of the “If you love me, you’ll go to bed with me” School of Love Songs.
44. I’ll Make Love To You – Boyz II Men – It seems like a lot of people thought Boyz II Men were wimpy back in the day, but you can’t have a list of love songs without these guys on it. I chose the one where the Boyz really seem to be taking charge. In this song, Boyz II Men really seem in control of their scene.
45. More Than Words – Extreme – The sweetest-sounding song ever about a man trying to convince his girlfriend to have sex.
46. Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Baby – Barry White – Okay, this song isn’t explicitly about seduction, but Barry White is “in the mood” music, so it might as well be.
47. Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon – Neil Diamond – Well, I probably don’t need to explain what the title means. This is another song that ended up on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, though it was a cover of the 1968 Neil Diamond hit by Urge Overkill.
R&B Love Songs
There really are a million R&B songs I could put on this list, so you’ll have to forgive me if this becomes the biggest section of our “Top 100 Love Songs“. R&B was made for singing songs of love and loss. And singers like Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke have some of the smoothest deliveries in all of American pop music.
48. Cupid – Sam Cooke – A man sending out a prayer to Cupid to strike the woman of his affections with a love arrow. That’s the kind of pagan love we’re talking about.
49. You Send Me – Sam Cooke – This was Sam Cooke’s first “secular” single, topping the Billboard and R&B charts and establishing him as a mainstream R&B singer. Interestingly, Sam didn’t want his friends and family to know he was signing anything but gospel, but they recognized his distinctive voice. “You Send Me” seems to have been covered by everybody.
50. If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys – This is a love song that I think will stand the test of time. I’ve been resistant to putting many 21st century songs on this list to avoid the transient pop hit of the moment, but “If I Ain’t Got You” I feel safe with.
51. Just My Imagination – The Temptations – The Temptations should have more than one entry on a list like this, but this will be my only tip of the hat to them this time around.
52. You Are the Sunshine of My Life – Stevie Wonder – Perfectly captures the positive, sunny side of being in love: unadulterated devotion. In that way, it’s similar to the next tune on the list.
53. When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge – Percy Sledge may not have the classic love song voice, but this song paints a great picture of a man helpless in love. Even Michael Bolten couldn’t mess up this song.
54. You Make Me Feel Brand New – The Stylistics – “My love, I’ll never find the words, my love…”. The Stylistics are one of the great underrated pop bands of all time.
55. Killing Me Softly – Roberta Flack – A song covered so many times that’s it hard to keep track. This is my favorite version.
56. Un-Break My Heart – Toni Braxton – Let me state categorically: I like Toni Braxton’s husky voice. Some people don’t. Un-Break My Heart (and the accompanying video) first brought Toni Braxton to the attention of the pop public.
57. Three Times a Lady – The Commodores – This song was supposedly written by Lionel Richie about the three ladies in his life: his wife, his mother and his daughter. Whether it was meant to be a love song or not, everyone assumes Three Times A Lady is a love song.
Country Love Songs
I’m not the world’s biggest country music fan, so don’t expect full and fair representation for all the great country stars out there. Also note that there are country love songs sprinkled throughout the rest of this list. Here are some of my favorite country love tunes I’ve come across over the years.
58. Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain – Willie Nelson – What can I say, the Red-Headed Stranger is a national monument.
59. The Chair – George Strait – For those unfamiliar with the song, it’s about a guy who strikes up a conversation with a woman in a bar by pretending she’s sitting in his chair. End line: “That wasn’t my chair after all.”
60. I Walk the Line – Johnny Cash – A song so good they made a movie about it. Then they made a spoof movie about it. This was also the song that made crazy ole Joaquin Phoenix believed he could be a music star.
61. Breathe – Faith Hill – Okay, I probably wouldn’t like this song nearly as much if Faith Hill wasn’t so darned gorgeous. That being said, lyrics like “suddenly I’m melting into you” sang with a country twang can’t be ignored.
62. Forever and Ever, Amen – Randy Travis – Lyrical quote: “But honey, I don’t care, I’m not in love with your hair/And if it all fell out, well, I’d love you anyway.” That’s inspired.
63. He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones – I guess half of the country songs could also end up on the list of breakup songs. The two just seem to go hand-in-hand.
64. Hello Darlin – Conway Twitty – Conway Twitty had 45 #1 country hits, which was a record in the country music industry that stood until the year 2000. What was his secret? Most of those songs were about love, relationships and sex. Think about it. “Hello Darlin'” is about a man meeting his old flame and apologizing for how he mistreated her, then making a pass at her.
65. Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ – Charley Pride – Charley Pride seems forgotten these days, but he was a trailblazer. “Kiss an angel in the morning/And love her like the devil when you get home.” That’s timeless country music, there.
66. Love Story – Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift seems to be everywhere these days, so I’ll throw a bone to all the Taylor Swift fans out there. It’s a song about a girl in love who wants to be treated like a princess. What girl doesn’t, huh?
67. The Dance – Garth Brooks – Another song that could have been listed in breakup songs. I always get the idea that the singer is dying in this song.
68. If Tomorrow Never Comes – Garth Brooks – This was one of the first wave of big hits that made Garth Brooks such a mega-star. Some probably believe a better version was sung by Irish pop sing, Ronan Keating, in 2001.
Rocker Love Songs – Rock Ballads
Okay, this is a wide ranging list in the category called “rockers”. It’s everything from the Beatles to 80’s post-punk and from alternative to so-called “pop-punk” acts. I think you get the point, though. These are songs played by (usually) four-piece bands and guys with some manner of “strange looking” hair. About half are rock ballads, while the other half are lively rock beats that just so happen to touch on the subject of love in one permutation or the other.
69. Living On A Prayer – Bon Jovi – After all these years, “Living On a Prayer” is the one song from the eighties that consistently makes the “Top 100 Most Downloaded Songs”. I can’t explain it, but people love this love song.
70. You Give Love a Bad Name – Bon Jovi – Quintessential 1980’s rock song. With lyrics like “An angel’s smile is what you sell/You promise me heaven and put me through hell” and “A schoolgirl’s smile/You Act so shy/Your very first kiss was your first kiss goodbye”, you know it has to be good. Don’t know what that last lyric’s is supposed to mean.
71. I Melt With You – Modern English – The second line of this song states, “Making love to you was never second best.” Even when he starts talking about making a trip to save the human race later, you know this is in essence a song about love.
72. Yesterday – The Beatles – When I was a kid, my dad used to play this on the guitar and my mom would sing along. I had to have “Yesterday” on this list.
73. Woman – John Lennon – This song would be a whole lot more romantic if it wasn’t written for the woman who broke up the Beatles.
74. Time Of Your Life – Green Day – I know, a real punk band shouldn’t be writing wistful love songs, but it’s still a great song.
75. Don’t Cry – Guns & Roses – Go to Youtube and watch the video for this song sometime. It’s bleak melodrama at its best. Axl Rose appears to have a nervous breakdown, or Slash has such contempt for his girlfriend that he drives the two of them off a cliff. You can say the same for this solid rock ballad. Great, dramatic guitar solo – something we don’t see enough of anymore. Also had the late Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon on backing vocals. I know, I should have included November Rain or Sweet Child O’ Mine, but I wanted to go with their “tender” love song instead of their more famous ones.
76. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls – One of several hit songs off the soundtrack of the movie, “City of Angels”. They have a really cool website called “Absolute Goo”.
77. Truly Madly Deeply – Savage Garden – The singer is making every promise in the book. He’ll be your dream, you wish and your fantasy, and that’s just in the first two lines of the song.
78. I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing – Aerosmith – When you’re about to die blowing up a meteor with a nuke in order to save human civilization and you’re girlfriend is crying, this is the song that needs to be playing.
79. Just Like Heaven – The Cure – “Show me how you do that trick/The one that makes me scream, she said”.
80. Lovesong – The Cure – This song was a wedding gift from Robert Smith to his fiance of the time.
Cheesy Love Songs
These are love songs that make you sing, but you feel guilty doing so. These songs were all hugely popular, so don’t think I’m bagging on them. In fact, I wouldn’t call all these songs cheesy myself, but I have seen them portrayed as such over the years.
81. The Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News – A lot of people think Huey Lewis is cheesy, but there’s a lot of his songs I still love.
82. Love Will Keep Us Together – Captain & Tennille – I know, it’s kind of cheesy putting a guy in a captain’s hat on this list, but this is just an all-around great love song. Check out the Nickelback cover of this song if you don’t like 70’s songs.
83. You’re the Inspiration – Chicago – The 1980’s were the golden age of cheesy rock ballads, apparently because the rock ballads were sure hits. “You’re The Inspiration” is a fine example of what I’m talking about.
84. Glory of Love – Peter Cetera – Following up his work with Chicago, Peter Cetera sang the song which inspired Ralph Macchio to defeat that evil karate kid, Chozen, in Karate Kid II. Consider the promises the guy is making to his woman in this song: “We’ll live forever/Knowing together/We did it all for the glory of love.”
85. Have I Told You Lately? – Rod Stewart – No list of love songs would be complete without rock idol Rod Stewart making a submission. There are people who would take great offense that Rod Stewart is in this section of the list, but I’m standing by my pick.
86. I’ve Had The Time of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – It seems like a lot of these cheesy songs come from the 80’s. Oh well, I love the Eighties, but it kind of was an era of wonderfully cheesy music. This is the Dirty Dancing duet. “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
87. Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) – Christopher Cross – I never much liked the movie, but it was a great song. Another one that’s un-charitable to list in this category. Christopher Cross was and is a major talent and you won’t find a sweeter vocal than on “Best That You Can Do”.
88. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Bryan Adams – This is over-the-top love balladeering at its best (or worst). Every time I hear this song, I think of Kevin Costner trying to master a British accent.
89. Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Elton John – Okay, it’s a love song inspired by a Disney Cartoon, but this song was pretty much an instant classic. This song is enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best.
90. Open Arms – Journey – Apparently, several members of Journey didn’t want this song on the album (too wimpy), but Steve Perry got his way and it still brings a tear to his sentimental heart. This song was used in movies as wide-ranging as Heavy Metal and The Last American Virgin. Mariah Carey also covered “Open Arms”.
91. Just A Friend – Biz Markie – This song just turned up in a Heineken anti-pot beer commercial. You might remember it as the commercial where the aging cab driver sings, “Babe, you got what I neee-eed…”. Just A Friend is a song anyone can sing along with, because Biz Markie sang it in the cheesiest fashion possible.
Love Standards of Another Era
Don’t think I’m ranking these songs in order of importance when I place these below the cheesy love songs. I just wanted to end with a really strong list and you don’t get any better than the guys on this list. Maybe I should have went as far back as the World War II era, when some of the best love songs ever song were written. But I wanted a cut-off point and the 1950’s was my arbitrary point. So enjoy.
92. The Way You Look Tonight – Tony Bennett – Check out the Tony Bennett life story sometime for a good life tale. This song will be Tony Bennett’s claim to lasting fame.
93. That’s Amore – Dean Martin – For those few who don’t know the translation, “Amore” equals “Love”.
94. When I Fall in Love – Nat King Cole – Silky voiced-Nat King Cole knew how to sing a love song with style and class. Another song that’s been in a million movies.
95. Unforgetable – Nat King Cole – If you’re going to get this song on mp3, get the classic old version and not the electronically-produced “duet” between Nat King Cole and his daughter.
96. Strangers In The Night – Frank Sinatra – A song about instant attraction. It’s also a song about two lonely people finding a moment’s comfort in one another’s arms.
97. Luck Be a Lady – Frank Sinatra – Here’s the story: a gambler needs to win this bet to have the money to save his relationship with his estranged girlfriend. I’m not sure how the money situation works, but the song became a Frank Sinatra standard.
98. Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra – This says it all: “In other words: baby, kiss me.” There are so many Sinatra standards I could put on this list, but I’ll stick with the best known.
99. It Had To Be You – Frank Sinatra – This song seems to play in every romantic comedy that takes place in New York City in the last 30 years. It’s just a great mood setter.
100. The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra – This would be one of the finalists for the most romantic songs ever written, and no version was better than the Sinatra version.