The 50 best love songs ever made

Are you ready to fall head over heels with the best love songs of all time? Cupid has you in his sights, people.

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40
“You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates

“You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates

When you and your boo are newly in love and your idiot happiness is annoying the crap out of all your friends, this 1981 single from Voices is the soundtrack to your lives. (500) Days of Summer pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one—enjoy it while it lasts, lovebirds.—Kate Wertheimer

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39
“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Magnetic Zeros frontpeople Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos had a whirlwind romance that sparked a band, so it’s only fitting that the Magnetic Zeros’ 2009 breakout hit was this sweet duet. They sing to each other like Johnny Cash and June Carter, with a whole crowd (and a horn section) behind them. What makes this tune’s aw-shucks, neohippie earnestness work so well is that you can just tell that Ebert and Castrinos mean it. “We laugh until we think we’ll die / Barefoot on a summer night / Never could be sweeter than with you.” This is your soundtrack for cartwheeling through a field of daisies.—Jenna Scherer

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38
“Heartbeat” by Buddy Holly

“Heartbeat” by Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly is the king of li’l love ditties, and 1958’s two-minute “Heartbeat” (the last single to be released during his lifetime) is one of his sweetest, illustrating that well-known, might-vomit feeling that comes along with new love. We’ll cut him a break for “piddle dee pat” because heartbeat sounds are hard, and it was the ’50s.—Kate Wertheimer

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37
“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King

“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King

“Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.” If that’s not a love song—well, it’s not, but Ben E. King purportedly drew inspiration from Psalms 46:2-3 when writing his 1961 hit ballad, “Stand by Me,” with legendary songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. With more than 400 recorded versions, the song has hit the Billboard Top 100 more than any other song in existence, becoming a testament in its own right—to the benefit of staring down life’s woes side by side.—Kristen Zwicker

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36
“Eternal Flame” by The Bangles

“Eternal Flame” by the Bangles

The Bangles were not known for emotional depth, but this plaintive ballad from the girl group’s 1988 album, Everything, takes the bop out of their usual teenybopper sound, leaving only a piercing distillation of teen angst. If love here burns like the sun, it is set against the storm of “a whole life so lonely.” And the girlish tremble of Susanna Hoffs’s vocals, which flip into a vulnerable head voice for most of the higher notes, poignantly embodies the song’s yearning for security.—Adam Feldman

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35
“Hello” by Lionel Richie

“Hello” by Lionel Richie

Banish from your mind’s eye the meltingly cheesy and vaguely creepy video for Lionel Richie’s 1984 No. 1 hit, with its plot about a teacher, a blind girl and the clay bust she molds of him. But give yourself over to the softer kitsch of the song itself—the slow build of anticipation, the rise and fall of the guitar solo, Richie’s tender vocals as he imagines spilling his heart out—and you may be surprised to find how well it has held up in the years since that rather unfortunate introduction.—Adam Feldman

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34
“The Book of Love” by The Magnetic Fields

“The Book of Love” by the Magnetic Fields

Stephin Merritt once said of his group’s 1999 lo-fi concept masterpiece: “69 Love Songs is not remotely an album about love. It’s an album about love songs, which are very far away from anything to do with love.” We’d argue otherwise about “The Book of Love,” a monkishly unadorned ode to amour in all its mystery and banality. The track’s status as a hipster-wedding staple hasn’t dulled its poetic beauty, or the simple truth it conveys about matters of the heart: “Some of it is just transcendental / Some of it is just really dumb.”—Jenna Scherer

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33
“That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding

“That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding

Otis, you slay us. We’re hard-pressed to think of an artist who croons the good, bad and ugly of love as heartbreakingly well, and this 1965 cover (of O.V. Wright’s ’64 original) is no exception. The lyrics are so comforting, so reassuring—especially when sung with Redding’s signature soul—that it makes us feel adored just to hear them on the stereo.—Kate Wertheimer

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32
“Cheek to Cheek” by Ella Fitzgerald

“Cheek to Cheek” by Ella Fitzgerald

Untroubled by the darker themes that complicate so many love songs, Irving Berlin’s 1935 classic—written for Fred Astaire to woo Ginger Rogers with, as they dance in the movie Top Hat—is a pure expression of romantic bliss. “Heaven, I’m in heaven / And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak”: When Ella Fitzgerald sings these lines on her 1958 album of Berlin standards, with a confident and good-natured swing of total contentment, you can’t help joining her in the clouds.—Adam Feldman

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31
“It Had to Be You” by Harry Connick Jr.

“It Had to Be You” by Harry Connick Jr.

Flirtatiously wry in its acceptance of the singer’s perfectly imperfect match (“For all your faults I love you still”), this 1924 Tin Pan Alley ditty has been a Hollywood staple for generations, in films ranging from Casablanca to Annie Hall. For many modern listeners, though, “It Had to Be You” is indelibly linked to the 1989 rom-com When Harry Met Sally…, a movie that perfectly captures its sense of romantic inevitability. Harry Connick Jr. recorded the soundtrack when he was just 21, with a mix of youthful freshness and retro finesse that deservedly made him an instant star.—Adam Feldman

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Users say

2 comments
Kitty K
Kitty K

I don't know how the Association "Never My Love" did not make the list, but Kanye did. 

Matt W
Matt W

How in the world did Kanye West make the top 50? I almost ditched the entire list after seeing that on the first page, I feel sorry for whatever woman falls in love with the man who thought a song with lyrics like "I wanna f**k you hard on da sink, then I wanna give ya somethin ta drink" is even remotely romantic. Why no country songs? Just off the top of my head, I cross my heart, by George Strait comes to mind and there are literally hundreds of other country songs that are MUCH better than Kanye's drug induced rabble, this is a disgrace.