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The 10 best love songs of all time

Romance comes in many forms. It can take the shape of a candlelit dinner, cozying up to watch a movie together, or simply having someone else do the dishes for you. It can also arrive as music, as any couple who met when the jukebox played the right song can tell you. The power of romantic songs is even supported by science. 

One study published in Psychology of Music found that women who were exposed to love songs were much more likely to give their phone number to a prospective suitor than those who weren’t. So when you really need to set the mood, you need to turn to some of the most moving, sensual songs ever recorded. We’ve got 50 of them right here—a ready-made playlist for your next date night.

Whether you’re thinking about your crush or trying to find the perfect songs to add to your playlist for your next date, you definitely want to find some super romantic songs to put you in the right mood.

Luckily, there are plenty of amazing and beautiful love songs out there that remind us all about what it’s like to fall in love and be with that special someone. From fun rock classics to some brand new bops that are all about being with your bae, there is definitely a song here that will be perfect for you.

1. ‘This Magic Moment by the Drifters

A standout love song even among the other classics written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, ‘This Magic Moment’ is gloriously cinematic: You can almost picture the camera slowly zooming on the two sharing that mind-blower of a first kiss, as Ben E. King wails reverby lead vocals against beautiful swirling strings.  

2. ‘Love Me Like You Do’ by Ellie Goulding

Co-written by pop genius Max Martin and ace Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo, this electro power ballad became a huge global hit in 2015. Topped off by Goulding’s distinctive fluttery vocals and a properly loved-up climax, it’s so irresistible that it’s even possible to block out, just about, that it featured on the Fifty Shades of Gray movie soundtrack. Promise we won’t bring it up if you won’t?

3. ‘Unchained Melody’ by the Righteous Brothers

It’s the mushy definition of a love song that becomes all the more powerful for it. ‘Unchained Melody’ has all the corny trappings of a by-the-numbers ballad: the swooning, arpeggiated opening, the crescendo to an epic orchestral finale, lyrics whose blatant emotional manipulation ought to fall right apart under scrutiny. But there’s real, undeniable hunger in Bobby Hatfield’s luminous and raw vocal, the push and pull of the instrumentation is subtler than expected, and the words reveal layers where true fidelity fights to overcome lingering doubt. 

4. ‘Slow Show’ by the National

The National is a band best known for its alternately stately and ravaged examinations of existential dread and anxiety—in short, they’re far from lovey-dovey. But this track from their breakout album, 2007’s ‘Boxer’ proves that they’re aware of love’s curative powers. 

5. ‘At Last’ by Etta James

The most unapologetically romantic slow-dance–wedding–love-scene song in history, Etta James’s 1960 cover of ‘At Last’ may seem a bit cliché. But from the first note, we all know what’s coming (love! finally!), and James’s soulful crooning induces a shiver every time, whether we expect it to or not. 

6. ‘Let’s Stay Together’ by Al Green

The lyrics to the Reverend’s landmark 1971 love song, ‘Let’s Stay Together’ articulate the solemn vows of marriage: ‘Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad.’ But sung by Green, these promises are given wings. Covered multiple times since its release, Green’s gorgeous original was given a new lease on life in ’94, when Quentin Tarantino featured it in Pulp Fiction. 

7. ‘God Only Knows’ by the Beach Boys

In 1963, Brian Wilson was so obsessed with Phil Spector’s orchestral vision for the Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ that he reportedly took to listening to it 100 times a day. Three years later, Wilson and the Boys would surpass the master with a song that lifted the notion of the sophisticated love song clean into the heavens. The uncertainty of the first line (‘I may not always love you’) is a classic pop curveball, which works with the swooping transition from intro to verse. Once that miasmic mix of harpsichords and celestial brass clears, and that opening caveat is laid bare, we’re left with a heartbreakingly tender song of yearning, of devotion and of fidelity. 

8. ‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes

Lennon covered it, Scorsese used it to announce his directorial arrival in Mean Streets, and, as discussed, Brian Wilson was so in awe of its orchestral drive, he famously listened to it 100 times a day. With 1963’s ‘Be My Baby’, Phil Spector put a bowtie on the bubblegum love song—conveying love’s urgency and sweaty-palmed excitement. 

9. ‘Maps’ by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

While the lyrics to this early aughts classic are fairly repetitive, they become almost like a mantra. ‘Wait, they don’t love you like I do’ is a thought perhaps way too many of us have had, whether spoken or not, as things start to fall apart in a relationship.  

10. ‘Something’ by the Beatles

‘Something’ was the first George Harrison-written song to occupy the A-side of a Beatles single (though it did share the accolade, appearing as a double A-side with unifying call ‘Come Together in 1969). Capturing the swirling triumph of infatuation, the tune would become the second-most-covered song of the Beatles’ canon (‘Yesterday’ is the first).

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