Valentine's: Best Ever Love Songs
Published on 12 February 2021
Romance is in the air.
Love is all around, everywhere you look!
It’s time to draw the blinds, pour a few glasses of your favourite bubbles and enjoy a romantic evening with your beloved.
In order to capitalise on special evening, a soft background soundtrack of AC/DC and Metallica isn’t gonna do it: you need somewhere to quickly grab the greatest, most romantic love songs ever written, spanning the 1950s till now, to sonically spice up your night. Where could you get such a list?
Your Key to Great Romance
Take our list right here! It has been compiled by consensus (a bunch of us messaging and Zooming ideas, basically) and features some astoundingly obvious numbers – because you can’t argue with greatness - and including a few slightly left-of-centre choices. All of these tunes are guaranteed to take your special evening to new levels. Line up these tunes and enjoy!
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
Whether or not you are of the generation who first heard this song in relation to Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore making a mess of a perfectly good pottery session, you’ll know this as one of the most enduringly romantic songs ever written. With a vocal performance that’s never been matched (so many reality TV hopefuls over-sing this tune), and a production that emphasises the quietly growing grandeur of the sentiment, it’s a sure-fire hit.
Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
Elvis’ tremulous voice would make anyone go weak at the knees, and this is his most romantic song by a mile. Unabashed in its sentiment, unequalled in its delivery, Can’t Help Falling in Love will still be listened to in a hundred years’ time, and it’ll be as timeless then as it is now. How about those backing vocals?
I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
This Dolly Parton-penned ode to a sadly defeated love affair is a potent combination of heartbreaking lyrics and a showstopping vocal from Whitney Houston. It was a mega-smash when used in the movie The Bodyguard, but it stands quite apart from any movie as a gloriously realised hymn to unrequited love. Houston’s tragic life story only adds to the emotion you feel when her supersonic voice reaches the chorus.
My Girl – The Temptations
Less dramatic than our previous choice but no less affecting, this heart-warming salute to that inimitable feeling of love for another human is a touching and catchy tune indeed! Loads of people have covered this, but nothing beats the easy charm and warmth of the Temptations’ 1964 original. Guaranteed to make you smile and click your fingers, this song has the equivalent effect of its lyrics, bringing sunshine to a cloudy day.
Eternal Flame – The Bangles
A timeless radio classic from another era, the Bangles’ literal torch song is a masterful piece of writing. Written by bandleader Susanna Hoffs along with songwriting ‘hit men’ Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly, Eternal Flame was a number one single everywhere in 1988. Don’t make the mistake of playing the Atomic Kitten cover version though, okay?
Up Where We Belong - Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
It’s classic duet time here, with two beautifully blended voices: the rough soul of Joe Cocker and the smooth loveliness of Jennifer Warnes. It’s perfect, and actually won a Golden Globe, Grammy and Academy Award! Why the film awards? It was the big song from 1982’s romantic An Officer and a Gentleman, starring Richard Gere in possibly the most iconic white military uniform ever, until Top Gun. Swoon!
I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) - Meatloaf
The album version of this song is 12 minutes long, it has motorcycle noises in it and the video has Meatloaf dressed up as an extra from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but there’s no denying the epic passion and longing expounded within this gargantuan song. It’s stirring, thrilling stuff, done in the way only Meatloaf and writer Jim Steinman can. At times, it’s like an ‘Alton Towers Bruce Springsteen’ song, and we mean that entirely positively! It even has a fantastic duet towards the end with a singer named Mrs Loud. Brilliant.
Regarding the song’s (long) title: what won’t the protagonist do? Well, you’ll just have to listen to it and find out...
Into My Arms – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
It would take quite a leap of the imagination to picture the mad, violent, dysfunctional, sinister frontman from The Birthday Party becoming the mature writer and singer of achingly beautiful, confessional love songs like this, but that’s what happened! Whilst there are still definitely signs of the rascal within Cave, he has long been known as one of the best current writers of romantic ballads. This one, which features sparse instrumentation and a very low-key performance, hits so many emotional buttons, it’s unreal. A handful of simple piano chords and wonderfully frank & honest lyrics are all Nick Cave needs to mould a modern classic.
“I don’t believe in the existence of angels, but looking at you, I wonder if that’s true”, is a lyric worth its weight in gold.
First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes
Romantic songs, as we’ve seen with Nick Cave, don’t have to be grandiose, sweeping affairs (though a little of that is very welcome): they can be almost DIY in nature and still hit the spot. So it is with Connor Oberst’s song here, released under his Bright Eyes alias. It’s a simple strummer, again with frank and modern expressions of love, like this: “I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you”. A popular wedding song, this tune conveys oceans of depth in a very unpretentious way.
Wicked Game - Chris Isaak
This sultry piece of heat is not so much a love song as it’s opposite, but there’s no denying how sensual it sounds. This is a perfect song for later on in the evening, when the candles are lit and the wine is refilled. The steady, insistent rhythm and gossamer guitar lines are as flirtatious as it gets, with Isaak’s low croon providing the perfect colour and drama to the tune.
Enjoy your Romantic Evening
We hope these songs help you to get into that special Valentine’s mood! There’s always time for love, and you and your partner deserve it! Don’t let us know how you get on but do let us know if you liked our specially curated list of songs! Have a most romantic Valentine’s day, and beyond!