Art is often driven by emotion, and the language of love can be expressed in many ways. By far, the most universal way is through music.
Romantic songs are very popular because almost all of us have fallen in love at some point in our lives, and we can identify with them. The key to achieving success in the music industry is to touch people’s hearts and make them feel something. This is the recipe for a hit song.
Over time, romantic music has evolved. It is estimated that more than 100 million love songs have been recorded, and the variety of genres and styles is staggering. Let’s take a chronological look at some of the most romantic songs in history, starting in the 60’s.
“At Last” by Etta James
This piece from 1960 has been praised by music critics throughout history. With her beautiful voice Etta James sang the words, “At last, my love has arrived, my lonely days are over, and life is like a song.” Beyoncé performed this piece at Barack Obama’s inaugural ball, while the ex-president danced with his wife, Michelle.
“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers
This song was so popular that four versions of it were recorded in one week, and it is part of the Guinness Book of Records. In July 1965, the Righteous Brothers version of the song became a must-play on jukeboxes and, later, in 1990 it gained popularity again when it was used in the soundtrack of the film Ghost.
“Something” by The Beatles
Frank Sinatra always said that this was his favorite ballad, one that doesn’t even say “I love you” in the lyrics. Written by the band’s drummer George Harrison in 1969, this is the second most covered Beatles song after “Yesterday.” There are now more than 150 versions.
“Always On My Mind” by Elvis Presley
The most famous versión of this song was the one recorded by the king of rock-and-roll in 1972. Considered ahead of its time, this song tells the story of someone who admits that he doesn’t always do the things he should to show his appreciation for his partner, and he wants to let her know that he is always thinking of her.
“Your Song” by Elton John
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the release of this song that broke records at the time of it’s release. It is one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. Elton John wrote the melody and Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, as was the case for most of Elton’s songs.
“I Just Called To Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder
This is Stevie Wonder’s best-selling single worldwide and also one of his most criticized. The song was first used in the movie The Woman in Red along with two other singles by the artist, and it led the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in 1984, winning a Golden Globe and an Oscar for the best original song.
“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
With fifty-five million records sold in the United States, this is one of the greatest hits in American pop and the pinnacle of success for this performer. If you haven’t heard this track in a while, put it on, and marvel at Houston’s incredible voice.
“Crazy For You” by Madonna
Produced by her boyfriend at the time, John “Jellybean” Benitez, this ballad would be the queen of pop’s first. It was the one that catapulted her to star status. The song returned to the charts after being re-released to promote Madonna’s greatest hits album The Immaculate Collection (1991), reaching the top of the UK charts for a second time.
“You’re Still The One” by Shania Twain
This song was a tremendous success and became a staple at weddings and anniversaries for years to come—a banner of ’90s country music and one of the songs that would define Twain’s career.
“Love On The Brain” by Rihanna
Inspired by the music of the 50’s and 60’s, in this song from this singer from Barbados is both beautiful and powerful. It became Rihanna’s twenty-second top-five single, breaking her tie with Elvis Presley as the artist with the fifth-most top-five singles. It was also her 30th top-ten single, tying her with Madonna and The Beatles.
It is easy to write about the idea of love, because, although nobody really understands it, we all think we know what it is. Throughout history, countless romantic songs have risen up the charts because we all like to refer to that universal feeling.
We’ll end on a playlist that contains these tracks and others, making up a compliation of the most romantic songs of all time: The Most Romantic Ones.
By Sussy Oh