Sophie Watson, 20.01.2017

Romantic songs for Valentine’s Day: 25 of the world’s greatest love songs

Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without an appropriately romantic soundtrack. That’s why we’ve created a carefully selected Spotify® playlist to embrace all things love. Old love songs, new love songs, classic love songs – no matter what kind of romantic music gets your heart fluttering, we’ve got it!

It's no easy thing to create a moving love song that doesn't descend into overt self-indulgence. But the artists on our list of 25 top love songs have done it!

From the sweetly romantic to the lovingly joyful, our list might not include all the best love songs ever made (what list could?) but it does feature some of the greatest: love songs guaranteed to put a smile on your face and remind you of just how fun love can be.

The 25 most romantic love songs:

Four classic love songs:

Any list of romantic music has to include some swing and jazz from days gone by. These classic love songs really set a nostalgic yet joyful tone: perfect for celebrating all things love. 

1. You Are the Sunshine of My Life – Frank Sinatra
Sinatra’s covers are legendary, and this is no exception – the joy in his voice really sums up the feeling of meeting someone who makes you feel warm inside every time you see them.
Classic love lyric:  You are the apple of my eye/Forever you’ll stay in my heart

2. This Can’t Be Love – Ella Fitzgerald
The First Lady of Song could provide material for an entire playlist of her own, but there’s something special about this ode to love that doesn’t need to have high drama to be real.
Classic love lyric: This can't be love because I feel so well/No sobs, no sorrows, no sighs

3. A Kiss to Build A Dream On – Louis Armstrong
When you meet someone that makes your heart flutter, they open up a world of possibilities. Louis Armstrong perfectly captures that sense of daring to hope that, this time, it will be love.
Classic love lyric: Sweetheart I ask no more than this, a kiss to build a dream on

4. Our Love is Here to Stay – Billie Holiday
After Louie’s hope comes Billie’s conviction: this is love that’s going to last. There may be many versions of this song, but the smile in Holiday’s voice makes this one extra convincing.
Classic love lyric: Our love is here to stay/Together we're going a long, long way

Four cute love songs:

Often, lists of love songs focus on the dramatic. But it’s unwise to skip the cute love songs – they might be super sweet but, like love, when they’re good they’ll make you smile and smile.

5. My Girl – The Temptations
If happiness could be summed up in a song, this would be it. The iconic riffs, the smooth harmonies, the joyous vocals: this cute love song is still fresh 50 years after its release.
Cute love lyric: I've got sunshine on a cloudy day/With my girl/ I've even got the month of May

6. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
If you’ve been hurt by a relationship and taken time to heal, falling in love again can feel like a thaw after a long frost. The Beatles perfectly sum up that feeling of new love and returning joy.
Cute love lyric: Here comes the sun, here comes the sun/And I say it's all right

7. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) – Marvin Gaye
Many of the greatest love songs deal with the way someone makes the singer feel. Gaye goes one step further, actually thanking the partner who does so much to make him feel loved.
Cute love lyric: I just want to stop and thank you baby/How sweet it is to be loved by you

8. Your Song – Elton John
Not all love songs have to have perfect poetry to feel romantic. Elton John’s narrator might not be Shakespeare, but this cute love song is all the more moving – and real – for it.
Cute lyric: Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean/Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen

Four romantic love songs

Some love songs are just unabashedly romantic. Dreamy and charming, they’re the ideal soundtrack for infatuated, swooning love – and for when that becomes something even richer.

9. Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
A mellow, romantic love song with a surprising allure, Come Away With Me is an intoxicating invitation to one of those relationships where even the ordinary moments feel full of magic.
Romantic lyric: I want to wake up with the rain falling, on a tin roof/While I'm safe there in your arms

10. Someone Like You – Van Morrison
Another romantic song that embraces the fact that sometimes great love takes its time to arrive, this is the perfect ballad to remind you it’s never too late to meet someone incredible.
Romantic lyric: But just lately I have realised/The best is yet to come

11. You Send Me  – Aretha Franklin
Aretha’s cover of Sam Cooke’s classic love song takes the soda-shop-soul of the original and infuses it with giddy elation – perfect for when your infatuation turns into real, strong love.
Romantic lyric: At first, thought it was infatuation, Ooh, it lasted so long, so long/Now I find myself wanting, I want you to marry me, please take you home

12. You Are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
When you’ve waited a long time for love its arrival can feel miraculous. Ray LaMontage’s romantic ode to life-changing love sees him trying to never take the miracle for granted.
Romantic lyric: You are the best thing/ Ever happened to me  

Four old love songs:

There're so many great old love songs, it’s hard to narrow it down to a top four. Instead we just picked four joyful old songs that would be right at home on any wedding reception dance floor.

13. That’s How Strong My Love Is – Otis Redding  
Otis’ love is strong like the sun – but he’s also the moon so that his lover doesn’t feel alone once the sun goes down. The beautiful imagery in this old love song makes it truly timeless.
Top lyric: Anything the sun can do I'll do it for you /Any kind of love you want, I'll be with you.

14. For Once In My Life – Stevie Wonder
This old love song existed as a slower ballad before Stevie Wonder got his hands on it and found gold. Through Stevie it’s turned into an ecstatic celebration of the strength love brings.
Top love lyric: As long as I know I have love, I can make it

15. You Make Loving Fun – Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac’s love triangles (and resulting spats) are legendary, and yet, despite the dramas, they managed to create a song infused with the wonder and rapture of finding real love.
Top love lyric: I never did believe in miracles/But I've a feeling it's time to try

16. Thinking of You – Sister Sledge
When you’re in love, often just the thought of your partner can make you smile like you'll never stop. There’s something about the catchy disco beats of this song that has same jubilant effect.
Top love lyric: What did you think brought the sun out today/It's my baby, oh, help me sing

Four new love songs:

Along with the classics, it's important not to forget about new love songs. If these newer tunes (all released within the last two years) are the future of romantic music, things look bright!

17. Real Love Baby – Father John Misty
Father John Misty often writes decidedly cynical love music. But in this love song, he instead embraces the scary, rewarding act of dropping your defenses and letting yourself be loved.
New love lyric: I'm in love, I'm alive/I belong to the stars and sky

18. What You Don’t Do – Lianne La Havas
Like many new love songs, What You Don’t Do focuses on the realities of love, showing that sometimes true romance comes from quiet, real moments rather than grand gestures.  
New love lyric: The closer we get, oh/ The less we need to show

19. Blended Family (What You Do For Love) – Alicia Keys
Modern love is often bigger than just two people. In a song that will hit home with anyone dating a single parent, Keys explores falling in love and discovering a whole new family.
New love lyric: We're a blended family (for love)/And it's alright (for love)

20. Coming Home – Leon Bridges
Dripping with smooth, old-fashioned soul, this new love song is set to be a timeless classic. There’s something about its warmth that feels nostalgic, yet heartfelt and even healing.
New love lyric: Baby, baby, babe, I'm coming home/To your tender sweet loving

The five greatest love songs:

The chances of anyone, anywhere, agreeing on the five greatest love songs of all time is decidedly slim. Just as love itself is deeply subjective experience, love songs are going to have different meanings depending on who’s listening. That said, here are our top five love songs – tunes that have stood the test of time and truly express the joys of love.

21. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
A song about enduring love, wrapped in a blanket of euphoric vocal and musical harmonies, this is one of those special love songs that is beautifully heartfelt without feeling cheesy.
Great love lyric: I may not always love you/But long as there are stars above you/ You never need to doubt it/ I'll make you so sure about it

22. Something’s Got a Hold on Me – Etta James
At first, this great love song sounds almost reverential – but Etta James just can’t contain her happiness at finding love and so it’s not long before she bursts into romantic, exhilarated bliss.
Great love lyric: Step by step, I got a brand new walk/I even sound sweeter when I talk

23. Best of My Love – The Emotions
When you’re in love sometimes you want the whole world to notice. This is the musical version of that feeling, with horns, harmonies, and upbeat bass proclaiming love for all to hear.
Great love lyric: My life has a better meaning/Love has kissed me in a beautiful way

24. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
One of the greatest Motown songs as well as one of the greatest love songs, it’s impossible not to dance to this catchy yet undeniably romantic song about love beating any obstacles.
Great love lyric: No matter how far; don't worry baby /Just call my name; I'll be there in a hurry /You don't have to worry

25. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
The effortlessly smooth vocals, the soulful horns and harmonies, the warmth, happiness, and peace that infuse every second of this track – it’s little wonder this love song is still so beloved 45 years after its original release. The BBC calls it ‘’one of the best-known love songs ever recorded’’1 and it’s easy to see why: whether it’s playing at a wedding or just on in the background when you’re with your sweetie, this is the kind of song that makes you feel loved.
Great love lyric: Cause you make me feel so brand new/And I want to spend my life with you

EliteSingles editorial January 2017

If you have questions about our list of the greatest love songs, or if you have some romantic love song picks of your own, let us know! You can tell us in the comments below, say hi on Facebook or Twitter, or drop us a line at editorial@elitesingles.co.nz

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