Do you remember what song was playing when you had your first slow dance? What was on the car radio during that painful breakup? What song always makes you think of the one who got away? Of course you do. Music generates strong connections.
Associating music with romantic moments and memories is a universal tendency. Have you ever noticed how many songs are about love and attraction? Love is one of the most powerful emotions, and it’s no surprise that it has inspired almost every songwriter since the birth of popular music.
When we here at TopDatingTips began compiling a list of the top 50 most romantic songs across all genres, we knew hundreds of great classics and lesser known gems undoubtedly would be left off the list. There are just too many to include! Regardless, this list – in no particular order – is a great starting place. If you haven’t heard any of these, get ready to start downloading. You’ll most likely discover at least one old favorite or a few new classics among the list that you’ll want to have at the ready for the next special romantic moment.
“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton
An ode to your loved one and sung with heartfelt honesty by the guitar god himself, the beauty of this song is in its romantic simplicity: it’s a song about being proud to be with someone, a song of compliments and a song of love. You can’t do better than this for classic, romantic sentiment.
“God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys tended toward sun-drenched harmonies about surfing and cute girls, but “God Only Knows” from the band’s groundbreaking “Pet Sounds” album marked a huge shift. Grown up, heartfelt, and even spiritual, this song still chokes up listeners with its beauty.
“At Last” by Etta James
Hasn’t everyone at this point been to at least one wedding in which “At Last” was the bride and groom’s chosen song? I don’t point this out as disparagement. Rather, it’s the perfect example of how universally adored this song is. Any man can appreciate hearing that his girl considers him the prince and all others who came before him the frogs.
“Crazy in Love” by Beyonce
Love songs don’t always have to be sappy ballads. Just try to resist getting on the dance floor when Beyonce tells her man how crazy in love she is with him. Booty-shaking is as worthy a way as any to show your love.
“How Do I Live” by Trisha Yearwood
There was a time when every Hollywood movie needed a big, bombastic chart-topping song to accompany the climactic scene where the planet is saved, the boy gets the girl, or some other triumph is celebrated. Luckily for Trisha Yearwood, “How Do I Live Without You” is a great song that remains authentically romantic despite its inclusion in the “ConAir”soundtrack.
“When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
If you’ve never heard this song, stop everything and download it now. Play it, slow dance with your girl, and she’ll be in love. This works better than any potion or alcoholic beverage you can buy.
“Lovesong” by The Cure
“Lovesong” is proof that even the Goth kids at your school cared about love and romance. This sweet song’s chorus of “I will always love you” made it a staple on any mix tape. Lead singer Robert Smith might actually be as romantic as the song’s lyrics imply. He married his high school sweetheart in 1988 and they have been together ever since.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli
The infomercials for Time-Life music compilations from the 50s and 60s always include this gem. “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” evokes nostalgic memories of date nights at malt shops and sock hops, but still resonates beyond its original context. This is one of the most romantic classics of all time.
“Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye
Original, sexy and very suave – there’s no mystery to where the evening is headed once this song is played. It’s likely that many babies have surely been born thanks in equal parts to cocktails and this sensual tune.
“I’d Die for You” by Bon Jovi
This heartfelt tune from Bon Jovi doesn’t dance around the topic of devotion with metaphors or figurative language; it goes straight to the heart of the matter. If someone sings this song to you, you’ll either be in love forever or need a restraining order quickly.
“You Light up My Life” by Debby Boone
This song definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but we all tend to be saccharine sweet when we’re in love. Be warned, though: this song’s like an insulin shot.
“Wicked Game” by Chris Isaac
Chris Isaac’s cooing voice is half country yodeler-half torch singer in this sweeping song of the wicked, wicked things a woman can do to a man powerless to love. The steamy video made a lot more sense when you discovered that Helena Christensen and Isaac were actually dating at the time the song’s release. Gorgeous.
“Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley
There’s little to say about Elvis that hasn’t been said before, but his velvety voice was never better used than in this ballad. Few songs age as well as this one – it sounds just as romantic and heartfelt as the day it was recorded.
“I Need Love” by LL Cool J
In the early years of rap, romance simply wasn’t on the radar. Rappers just didn’t really take time out from dissin’ sucker MCs to tell a girl they cared. LL Cool J took a break from touting his own lyrical skills to pen what many consider the first “rap ballad.” Nothing makes a girl’s heart swell like a tough guy showing his tender side.
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
You may not recognize the title or the band’s name, but you’ve probably been struck by the haunting vocals. Singer Hope Sandoval’s voice is whispery and paper-thin – almost as if it’s about to give out before it soars again. It’s shiver-inducing and simply brilliant.
“No Ordinary Love” by Sade
Sade’s seductive voice immediately turns the mind to romance. The soft undertones of the melody, the lilting notes of the song and the beauty of its lyrics have made it a staple among music collections since its release.
“Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
With its velvety notes and deep luscious tones, “Me and Mrs. Jones” is made for smooching. If you find yourself with “a thing goin’ on” as the song says, this song will definitely be the soundtrack to your fling.
“Thank You” by Dido
Dido reminds us that no matter how crummy your day might be or what obstacle might cross your path, it’s always a little easier to swallow when you’re in love. It’s a great sentiment we can all relate to – that favorable byproduct of endorphins produced by romance. But beware, gentleman: playing the Eminem song “Stan” which samples Dido’s “Thank You” is not at all romantic, for obvious reasons.
“I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton
First things first: We didn’t choose the Whitney Houston version. It’s fine in its own right, but we prefer Dolly’s little country voice on this song to Whitney’s booming power ballad. But both versions became popular because of the song’s lyrics. Who doesn’t want a former squeeze to love them forever?
“Amazed” by Lonestar
This lilting country tune can charm even the most urbane of city folk. Play it for your girl or boy and it just might become “your” song.
“True” by Spandau Ballet
Most people can’t hear “True” without thinking first of “Sixteen Candles,” one of the classic, teenage romance flicks of the 1980s. For all its 80s smarm and saxophone solos, “True” is still a great love song.
“Destiny” by Zero 7
Most techno and dance pop doesn’t quite express emotion, let alone love. “Destiny” is a swirling, romantic song – and even the electronic chirps and whirrs don’t diminish that.
“I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
No one, and I mean no one, can resist the chorus to this song. C’mon. Admit that you sing along to this 80s classic when nobody’s around. How can you resist the swelling gospel choir’s background vocals and singer Lou Gramm’s shouts of “I want you to show me!” This song’s been known to make grown men weep like a baby.
“Nothing Compares 2 You” by Sinead O’Connor
Originally done by Prince, Sinead’s Irish warble made this one a surprise hit in the early 90s. If you weren’t moved by the song, the video – with the tight shot of O’Connor’s crying face — surely plucked at your emotions.
“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion
Regardless of what you think of “Titanic” as a film, its theme song is a classic tale of romance. Though it may have become a bit overexposed, you can’t deny the rousing crescendo-building in piece, or the passion in Celine Dion’s delivery. Besides, what other song would you want playing while you stand, arms outstretched, at the front of an ocean liner?
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder
Some may find it corny (although undoubtedly less corny than “I Just Called to Say I Love You”), but Stevie can sing anything and make it beautiful. Besides, when you’re wearing the rose-colored glasses of love, your sweetheart probably does seem like the sunshine of your life. “I Was Made to Love Her” may be a better choice for the soul purists out there.
“Fix You” by Coldplay
Organs and acoustic guitar make this track atmospheric and ethereal. Normally a policy of “fixing” a partner isn’t one I’d endorse, but Chris Martin means it in the nicest way possible. See “Protection” by Massive Attack if you like this one.
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith
Indeed I don’t, and I would bet that neither do you, which is why this song is such a romantic masterpiece. Steven Tyler sings full throttle, but the sentiment is still tender and real. The opening few words say it all: “I could stay awake just to hear you breathing …”
“Lotta Love” by Neil Young
The Canadian hippie with the weirdest, and at the same time, coolest voice takes a break from harassing the “Southern Man” with this tender ballad. Check out Nicolette Larson’s version, which is a tad more 70s disco-funk (yes, there’s a disco cover of a Neil Young song!)
“The Look of Love” by Dusty Springfield
“The Look of Love” evokes images of mod, swinging London, but Dusty’s voice oozes sensuality and soul that reminded many of the sounds of 60s Detroit. This one is the perfect soundtrack for your next stay-at-home dinner for two.
“In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel certainly owes Cameron Crowe a thank you for including this song in Crowe’s movie “Say Anything.” The scene in which underdog Lloyd Dobler hoists a boom box overhead blaring “In Your Eyes” has become an iconic moment in romantic cinema and turned the Gabriel song into a classic.
“My Funny Valentine” by Chet Baker
Love songs can tend toward soft jazz drivel, but Chet Baker’s haunting jazz standard “My Funny Valentine” reminds most people of a time when jazz meant “artsy” rather than MOR (middle of the road) or “adult contemporary.”
“Love Song” by Tesla
Even if you have a grudge against hair metal, this song will have you waving your lighter in the air in no time. Tesla may have sported the long hair and the acid-wash jeans, but they also had a way with melodies that put them beyond their contemporaries. This is definitely the power ballad you won’t be too embarrassed to admit you actually find romantic.
“Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s
A sweet and sincere song about long-distance love. Apparently the real Delilah never gave the writer the time of day, but knowing that tidbit of unrequited love just makes the song that much more romantic.
“Your Song” by Elton John
Writing a song for someone surely ranks among the most romantic acts on earth. When the song is actually good, the romantic quotient skyrockets. As much as you appreciated your 7th grade boyfriend’s 2-chord jam in your honor, Elton does it better.
“Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis
Honestly, the lyrics are pretty hard to decipher for this one. Is she singing about a love no one understands? Is this person someone who keeps hurting her yet she’s in love? It’s rather icky in places, with talk closing veins and bleeding love all over the place. Regardless, it’s a beautiful melody with beautiful vocals. Just beware of dedicating this to any potential sweethearts who may get the wrong idea.
“Unchained Melody” by Righteous Brothers
This song is almost obligatory in any list of love songs across the years. It’s a toss up whether this or “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” is the better song, but if we’re talking romance, we’ll go with the uplifting harmonies of “Unchained.”
“You Were Always On My Mind” by Willie Nelson
You may not think “romance” when you think of Willie, but the man’s all heart. Underneath that scraggly beard and the bandana is a sensitive man indeed. If you’re looking for a more upbeat song, check out Willie’s “Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me),” a song that will make you want to grab a beer and dance.
“Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” by the Police
Really? Everything? You don’t mind that your love never remembers to put the cap on the toothpaste? Or that when you walk under the umbrella it’s you that keeps on getting wet? Or that she snores really loudly? Now that’s romance!
“Hero” by Enrique Iglesias
Most men are probably wickedly jealous of Enrique’s good looks and his relationships with gorgeous women (tennis player Anna Kournikova, most famously). But having watched his father Julio make women swoon over the years, Enrique probably learned that having the guys hate you is greatly outweighed by the benefits of female attention.
“Alison” by Elvis Costello
Although the song is another one of those “songs to an ex,” the true romance comes from one of the greatest lyrics ever to appear in a love song: “Oh Allison/My aim is true.”
“Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton
Music charts in the 80s and 90s were absolutely littered with romantic ballads, but many of them were the soulless kind that sounded manufactured on an assembly line. Toni Braxton’s voice prevents this one from becoming one of the Top 40 radio casualties and makes us believe in the power of love to mend a broken heart.
“Wonderwall” by Oasis
The lyrics are nonsense, and if you read any music press you’ll know the lead singer’s a lout, but despite all those things “Wonderwall” is a swoon-inducing love song. The strings and guitar combined with said lout’s soaring vocals make for an earnest, romantic song.
“Breathe” by Faith Hill
Faith Hill and husband Tim McGraw have sung a few romantic duets, but her solo hit made a huge impression on those who can appreciate a good love song. “Breathe” was a huge crossover hit and proved mainstream record buyers would accept a love song sung by a country singer.
“Protection” by Massive Attack, featuring Tracy Thorn
Not everyone may find a woman singing about protecting her man romantic, but you can’t argue with the sentiment in Tracy Thorn’s voice. Also check out “Missing” by Everything but the Girl, which is Tracy’s usual gig.
“Fallin'” by Alicia Keys
Soulful piano ballad that sounds both like a past era and of its time. Anyone who’s been involved in a rocky love affair can appreciate the sentiment in this song, particularly when you keep finding yourself falling back in love despite yourself.
“Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)” by Cole Porter
There are very few love songs most of us know from the 1920s, but Cole Porter’s song has stood the test of time with its witty lyricism and imagery. The most quoted lines are usually: “Birds do it/Bees do it/Even educated fleas do it/Let’s fall in love.” This is the song that will add a spring to your step when you first fall in love.
“Melt With You” by Modern English
Skinny, pale English new-wavers don’t make for your typical romance experts, but they always seem like big authorities on love when they open their mouths to sing, don’t they? Or at least this particular song has resonated with lovers since its release. The fact that it was used in a Burger King ad for a few years diminished its impact somewhat, but thankfully we can all now hear this song and not immediately think of flame-broiled Whoppers.
“You’re Still The One” by Shania Twain
So many songs are written about infatuation, initial attraction or that spark that exists in the early stages of a relationship – what about the rest of the relationship? That’s probably why so many record buyers were touched by “You’re Still the One.” There’s probably nothing more romantic than knowing that, despite your flaws, idiosyncrasies and other foibles, your sweetheart would still pick you all over again.
“Take My Breath Away” by Berlin
Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” was made for slow-motion camera work, wind machines and billowing curtains. It fit perfectly with the love scenes between Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise in “Top Gun,” and consequently became the soundtrack to thousands of 80s crushes.
It’s amazing how few songs aren’t about love and romance, which makes compiling a list of only 50 essential loves songs tough. There are so many great romantic songs out there! Here are a few songs that nearly made the cut:
“Believe” by Cher
“Tunnel of Love” by Bruce Springsteen
“First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
“More than Words” by Extreme
“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones
“My Baby Just Cares for Me” by Nina Simone
“Fell in Love with a Girl” by The White Stripes
“We Belong Together” by Maria Carey
“All I Want Is You” by U2
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division
“Sweet Love” by Anita Baker
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters
“I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain