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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20
“Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey

“Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey

Though we could have put many a Mimi song on this list, her 1990 smash single made the cut for its classically Carey assurance that come what may, love will triumph. Plus, the slow-dance-ready ballad basically launched American Idol–type melismatic singing, and stars like Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera cite the track as a key influence—so we basically have the diva to thank for Mrs. Carter’s “Drunk in Love,” too.—Marley Lynch

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19
“You Got Me” by The Roots

“You Got Me” by the Roots

Fidelity is the name of the game in this 1999 Grammy-winning track from Philly’s favorite hip-hop sons, the Roots. A globe-trotting musician and a film student meet cute, but what happens when he goes back on tour and she starts drawing the attention of famous athletes? The dreaded long-distance relationship has been known to decimate many a couple, but not this time. Our steadfast heroine—whose rhymes are courtesy of Ruff Ryders First Lady Eve and singing is by Erykah Badu—assures her boo that his paranoia is unfounded and, no matter what, “You got me.” Sounds like a keeper!—Michael Chen

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18
“Eye Know” by De La Soul

“Eye Know” by De La Soul

Sweetly revealing hip-hop’s soft center, this 1989 cut from (then-teenage) Long Island trio De La Soul perfectly demonstrates what the crew meant when it referred to the “D.A.I.S.Y. Age.” Set to snippets of Steely Dan’s “Peg” plus a breakbeat from Sly and the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song” and a sample of Otis Redding’s whistling from “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of a Bay,” “Eye Know” is as charming as it is groovy—a gorgeously deft and understated invitation to love.—Sophie Harris

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17
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder was a mere 20 years old when he released his apologetic anthem “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” Even at that tender age, the Detroit prodigy had done a lot of foolish things that he really didn’t mean, but making that record wasn’t one of them. It spent six weeks atop the U.S. R&B chart and garnered Wonder his first Grammy nomination, proving that everyone loves a second chance.—Kristen Zwicker

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16
“My Baby Just Cares for Me” by Nina Simone

“My Baby Just Cares for Me” by Nina Simone

Written for Eddie Cantor to sing—in blithe blackface—in the 1930 movie Whoopee!, “My Baby Just Cares for Me” has had an unusual afterlife. Though Nina Simone recorded her version in 1958, it became an unlikely chart hit in the U.K. nearly 30 years later, when it was used in a popular ad for perfume. The irony of this commercial connection is keen, since the song itself represents a rejection of material and cultural distractions. Simone’s account, though relatively lighthearted by her standards, nonetheless strips the ditty of much of its surface frivolity; in performance, her rendition could seem positively dour. With matter-of-fact majesty, she restores the song, in a sense, to its own values.—Adam Feldman

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15
“Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison

“Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison

The Irish belter famously commemorated first love in “Brown Eyed Girl” and summed up hippie-style soul communion on “Into the Mystic,” but he never captured the ecstasy of romance better than on 1968’s Astral Weeks. On “Sweet Thing,” with help from jazz pros Richard Davis, Jay Berliner and Connie Kay, he starts in the troubadour zone and quickly propels himself to full-on speaking-in-tongues word spew. Riding the song’s tumbling waltz rhythm, he pours out half-coherent proclamations (“I’m dynamite, and I don’t know why”) and blissful babble, climaxing with a triumphant “Sugar baby!” at the 4:03 mark. If love is a drug, then Van was on a heavy dose here.—Hank Shteamer

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14
“Oh Yoko!” by John Lennon

“Oh Yoko” by John Lennon

Lennon’s flair for the prosaic and his unabashed adoration for his lady make this simple folk-rock ditty (taken from 1971’s Imagine LP) simply glisten in beautiful gooey drippiness. There’s probably only one person whose heart doesn’t melt hearing it, in fact: the poor engineer bawled out by John and Yoko during its recording.—Oliver Keens

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13
“Be My Baby” by The Ronettes

“Be My Baby” by the Ronettes

Lennon covered it, Scorsese used it to announce his directorial arrival in Mean Streets, and 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.—Oliver Keens

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12
“The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra

“The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra

Considered by many to be the gold standard against which all romantic standards are judged, this perennial wedding favorite marries an elegant, soaring melody by Jerome Kern with a personal, wistful lyric by Dorothy Fields. It’s about wanting to preserve a perfect moment that must pass—but that might at least be extended and treasured in memory. Introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1936 MGM musical Swing Time, the song has been recorded countless times since, but Frank Sinatra’s sensitive early-1940s recording (not to be confused with his later, more cavalier version) gives it a sure, gentle touch that feels perfect.—Adam Feldman

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11
“The Very Thought of You” by Billie Holiday

“The Very Thought of You” by Billie Holiday

Originally recorded by Al Bowlly and then Bing Crosby in 1934, Ray Noble’s jazz standard has been covered time and again this past 80 years—but its defining version comes from Lady Day. This 1938 reverie swings like a lazy daydream, Holiday’s voice sweet and languid. “I see your face in every flower,” she coos, reminding you of each time you got lost in fantasy when you were washing the dishes, or watching a movie, or listening to someone explain something to you.… Sorry, what was that?—Sophie Harris

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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.