The 40 Best Love Songs of All Time, Ranked

Epic love ballads and sweet, romantic lyrics can tug at the heartstrings like nothing else. But some love songs are just better than others. And don’t worry, we’ve got you covered this Valentine’s Day. So grab your significant other or your significant tub of ice cream, and get ready to ugly cry when you listen to the songs on this list — a definitive (if totally subjective) ranking of the most romantic songs ever written.

40. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley


We have Elvis to thank for some of the most iconic love ballads of all time, including “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” released in 1961. Fun fact: the song was originally meant to be sung from the perspective of a woman and was called “Can’t Help Falling in Love With Him.” This beautiful track was reportedly the most popular wedding first dance song in 2020. That’s why they call him the King!

39. “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys


This song is about love, but it’s also about loss. Alicia Keys wrote it while grieving the death of singer Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash in 2001. She explained on The Voice in 2017, “I was on a plane, and I think being on the plane and knowing she passed away after a plane crash, there was just this sentiment of being present in the moment and really like nothing else mattering but those that you love.”

38. “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer


“Kiss Me” by Christian alt-rock band Sixpence None the Richer was the song on every teenage girl’s lips after it was featured in the romcom She’s All That. But it’s such a good tune that we like to think it would have been a hit regardless of the Freddie Prinze Jr connection.

37. “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen


Is Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” truly a love song — or is more of a lust song? Listening to lyrics like “Sometimes it’s like someone took a knife, baby, edgy and dull / And cut a 6-inch valley through the middle of my soul,” the lines get a little blurred. And you know what? That’s okay.

36. “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King


Put the movie of the same name out of your mind for a minute. “Stand By Me” is a beautiful song about love and devotion, inspired by the old hymn “Lord Stand By Me,” and people have connected to it for a long time now. It’s thought to be one of the most performed songs of the entire 20th century, and there are reportedly over 400 different recorded versions of it.

35. “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees


You might know this iconic tune because Donkey sings it at the end of Shrek. But the Monkees made this love song famous long before Donkey did. “I’m a Believer” was released towards the end of 1966, and it promptly became the best-selling single of the following year. Beautiful lyrics and a super-catchy tune? It’s easy to see why.

34. “The Only Exception” by Paramore


Paramore fans always speculated that “The Only Exception” was Hayley Williams’ ode to her husband Chad Gilbert. Unfortunately, if that were indeed the case then the song got a whole sadder after 2017 when the pair split up. It’s apparently not a favorite of Williams’ anymore, but it’s still a beautiful song.

33. “At Last” by Etta James


“At Last” was originally written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for Glenn Miller to perform in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade. The song might well have faded into obscurity if not for Etta James, who recorded her own version in 1960. And now, it’s one of the most popular first-dance songs ever. Even the Obamas used it at their inauguration ball!

32. “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green


Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together?” It was released in 1971, but today it still feels as fresh and relatable as ever. And one of the track’s biggest fans is none other than Barack Obama. When he sung a couple of lines of it at a fundraiser with Al Green in 2012, the song was introduced to a whole new generation.

31. “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder

In this sweet song, Stevie Wonder calls up his lady for no other reason than to tell her he loves her. He released it back in 1984, and while phone technology might have changed since then, love sure hasn’t. The song more than stands the test of time, and it’s still Wonder’s best-selling single even now.

30. “Shallow” by Lady Gaga

“Shallow” is a song so incredibly romantic that the world thought the people singing it were actually in love. When Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed it at the 2019 Academy Awards, tongues instantly started wagging. But no romantic relationship between Gaga and Cooper ever actually materialized. You’ll just have to watch A Star Is Born instead.


29. “Something” by The Beatles

The legendary Frank Sinatra famously believed that “Something,” written by George Harrison during the White Album sessions, was “the greatest love song of the past 50 years.” But his timing might have been a little off, because it’s been over 50 years now since the song’s release, and it’s still considered one of the most romantic ever written.


28. “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden

Darren Hayes was off in Sydney missing his wife and family when he got the idea for “Truly Madly Deeply.” He wrote the lyrics, “I want to stand with you on a mountain / I want to bathe with you in the sea / I want to lay like this forever, until the sky falls down on me” just one day before recording started, and the result was a smash hit.


27. “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge

Andrew Wright and Calvin Lewis wrote “When A Man Loves A Woman” for Percy Sledge, and they were amazed by its success. People responded to its message of love and devotion, and before long it was everywhere. “It’s kind of mind-boggling to me that the song is still doing what it’s doing,” Lewis told American Songwriter magazine in 1994. And decades later, it still is!


26. “Come What May” by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman

Moulin Rouge’s “Come What May” has got to be one of the greatest movie love ballads of all time. If you don’t feel your heart soar when you hear Ewan McGregor’s Christian pledge his love to Nicole Kidman’s tragic Satine, you have no soul left in your body. Sadly, it missed out on an Oscar nomination for Best Song because it’d actually been written for another movie, Romeo + Juliet.


25. “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison

Van Morrison’s beautiful tune about a woman who is “as sweet as tupelo honey” and “an angel of the first degree.” Ross from Friends is a fan and so is Bob Dylan: apparently he once declared, “‘Tupelo Honey’ has always existed and that Morrison was merely the vessel and the earthly vehicle for it.”


24. “In Another’s Eyes” by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood

Believe it or not, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood weren’t actually together yet when they released “In Another’s Eyes.” They were friends, but they were still married to other people. That’s not the case now, of course. Listen to the song and you can definitely hear the chemistry between them — chemistry that later turned to romance.


23. “All of Me” by John Legend

Before John Legend married Chrissy Teigen in 2013, he wrote a song for her. “It’s called ‘All of Me,’ and it’s inspired by Chrissy,” Legend told People magazine that May. “She loved the song and cried when she heard it.” And now it’s one of the most popular love songs of modern times.


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

This song from When Harry Met Sally made a different Harry world-famous. When Harry Connick Jr. released his soundtrack for the movie, a huge hit in its own right, it went straight to double-platinum in the USA. And Connick picked up his first-ever Grammy Award for it as well.


21. “Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel

“Just The Way You Are” and some of Billy Joel’s other great love songs were inspired by his first wife, Elizabeth Weber. Alas, things didn’t go well in the marriage, and not only did they divorce, Joel ended up suing her for $30 million. But if you forget that bit of backstory, it’s a beautiful song with a very heartfelt message.


20. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Although most people think of “I Will Always Love You” as Whitney Houston’s song, it was originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton. She wrote it for her mentor Porter Wagoner just before they parted ways, and apparently he was overcome by emotion when he listened to it. Fortunately, Dolly’s own personal connection to the song didn’t stop her loving and praising Houston’s beautiful version, which memorably appeared in the 1992 movie The Bodyguard.


19. “You and Me” by Penny & The Quarters

There’s an amazing story behind “You and Me.” It was discovered on a master tape found at an estate sale in 2005, and all attempts to track down the band Penny & The Quarters were fruitless. Then, Ryan Gosling encountered the song and decided to use it in his movie Blue Valentine — and the resulting publicity led to the band being found!


18. “The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood

“I always felt like ‘The Power Of Love’ was the record that would save me in this life,” Holly Johnson, lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, told Metro in 2009. “There is a biblical aspect to its spirituality and passion; the fact that love is the only thing that matters in the end.” Sure, that may sound dramatic… but so is the song.


17. “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers

One of the most famous and emotional love ballads of all time, “Unchained Melody” has been covered and re-recorded countless times. However, the Righteous Brothers version still takes the top spot. And it gained a whole new lease of life in the ’90s after being used for that iconic pottery scene with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in the movie Ghost.


16. “Faithfully” by Journey

Jonathan Cain wrote “Faithfully” because of one simple, relatable fact: he missed his family while touring. “I was having trouble with my marriage at the time, and so my wife came on the road, and I played it for her,” he told Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters Association International in 2018. “And she just gave me a big old hug. It meant a lot to her that I had written it.”


15. “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole’s song may be about spelling, but more importantly, it’s about love! Those sweet, simple lyrics are enough to put a smile of your face: “L is for the way you look at me, O is for the only one I see, V is veryvery extraordinary, E is even more than anyone that you adore can.” It’s been covered by multiple artists over the years, including Cole’s own daughter Natalie!


14. “(Everything I Do) I Do it for You” by Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams knows why his romantic power ballad became so popular. “Though some people didn’t understand what was being said in the song — people from other languages and cultures — they got the emotion of the song,” he told The Independent in 2022. “The lyric is quite simple in its sentiment, but it was a sentiment that went around the globe. It was all-pervasive.” And that’s what makes a good love song.


13. “Hallelujah I Love Her So” by Ray Charles

This gorgeous gospel song has been performed by many people, but Ray Charles is the one who has true ownership of it. As soon as Charles sings, “Now if I call her on the telephone / And tell her that I’m all alone / By the time I count from one to four/I hear her on my door,” you’ll be diving for your phone and messaging your own SO to come over.


12. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Frank Sinatra

This may be Frank Sinatra’s signature song, but it’s also a song for everyone who’s ever fallen hopelessly in love. Nothing can invoke that feeling as well as the words, “I’ve got you under my skin / I’ve got you deep in the heart of me / So deep in my heart that you’re really a part of me.”


11. “XO” by John Mayer

John Mayer always loved Beyonce’s song “XO,” and that’s probably why he released his own version. He said on Twitter in 2014, “The best thing about Beyoncé? The break in her voice on the first ‘baby, love me lights out’ in XO. Real and raw.” And he sure did add some of his own rawness to the track when he covered it a year later.


10. “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri

Christina Perri’s ode to the timelessness of love featured on the soundtrack for the Twilight movies as an anthem for the romance between main characters Edward and Bella. Perri told Teen Vogue in 2012, “I’m not a vampire, even though I wish I was, but I tried to step into their love story.” Plenty of non-vampires like the song too, though.


9. “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette

Did you know that “It Must Have Been Love” was originally a Christmas song? And not a very successful one, either. But then people started to discover the talents of Roxette, and gradually they became well known enough to redo “It Must Have Been Love” and stick it in a movie. Luckily, that movie was Pretty Woman. And now it’s one of the most famous love songs ever written.


8. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith

This iconic power ballad, recorded by Aerosmith for the movie Armageddon, was written by Diane Warren. And she said that the original idea came from hearing James Brolin talk about missing his wife, Barbra Streisand, even when he was asleep, which is adorable. Apparently she wrote the line, “I don’t want to miss a thing,” before there was even a tune! And the rest is history.


7. “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones

The absolute most perfect song for driving in a car on a summer’s day with your significant other?“Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones. When Jones softly sings, “I want to walk with you / On a cloudy day / In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high,” every person listening knows the exact feeling she’s singing about!


6. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is both romantic and catchy, the perfect song for dancing the night away at a wedding. It has a sad story behind it, though. Tammi Terrell died of brain cancer in 1970, and Marvin Gaye, her good friend as well as her collaborator, never really got over it.


5. “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele

Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” has been covered by everyone from Billy Joel to Boy George. But Adele’s 2008 cover is probably the one that comes to mind first for many people — and with good reason. Adele loves the Dylan version, and that love shines through when she sings the lyrics.


4. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion

Celine Dion’s beautiful ballad about everlasting love made the movie Titanic even more achingly romantic than it would otherwise have been. Go back and listen to it again, and you’ll soon forget all that stuff about whether Rose could have fit Jack on the floating door or not. (She totally could have, though.)


3. “Your Song” by Elton John

One of the best songs Elton John ever wrote with Bernie Taupin, although it’s up against some pretty stiff competition. Taupin told American Songwriter in 2009, “The great thing about that song is that the naiveté of it is truly honest. It’s real. It’s not somebody pretending to write a song that is simple and naïve. It is a simple, naïve song.” And it’s a beautiful one, too.


2. “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys

“God Only Knows” is not only a very romantic song with beautiful words, but it was also pretty ahead of its time. Back in the 1960s, it was considered quite a risky move to talk about God in the lyrics of a song; it was actually going to be called “Fred Only Knows” at one point instead! And yet the gamble totally paid off; it’s been hugely popular since its release in 1966. It’s even the soundtrack to the poignant final scene of iconic rom-com Love Actually.


1. “Endless Love” Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

This song was originally written for the movie Endless Love, but it went on to have a life far beyond that. Diana Ross and Lionel Richie sung about love with such conviction that the song went down as one of the greatest romantic ballads ever made. Not only that, but Billboard magazine named it the top love song of all time in 2022.