Valentines Day can be a weird time of year for a lot of people and you may not be thinking about the best love songs – especially in 2021. You might be managing long-distance zoom calls, happily single, in lockdown with your partner, or eschewing romantic ties. While we’ve all got a different spin on the 14th Feb, love songs are for everyone. Yep, we said it!
Whether you’re from a family, like ours, where Valentines is a way to love and appreciate family and friends first (and any S.O. second), or if you’re an upfront romantic keep reading! We’re breaking down the absolute best love songs – think pop, disco, rock, R&B, country, rap, acoustic. Whether you’re looking for that perfect date night playlist or need a little boost of self-love, we got you.
We won’t pretend some of these weren’t hotly contested but we think our top love songs of all time are pretty sweet. We’ve even got a Spotify playlist created by the team here at Music Gateway to help you on your way! Stay tuned till the end to see our favourite Valentine’s Day tunes!
For now though, let’s dive into the best love songs of all time! Let the music play!
My mama wouldn’t forgive me if this one wasn’t in here.
While a lot of us might remember this from a certain Bridget Jones’ movie (please say I’m not the only one who annually binges these?) or even as the closing track of Christmas rom-com The Holiday, the song is an absolute diehard classic.
Produced in 1968, it still sounds as fresh as ever and captures that warm fuzzy feeling perfectly. Surprisingly, because Aretha absolutely spins the song like it’s her own. You Send Me was originally performed by Sam Cooke – aka King of Soul – in 1957!
Old but most definitely gold and surely one of the best love songs.
It’s hard to believe Mario was just 18 when he put this beautiful love song on the airwaves.
Written by Shaffer Smith – soon to be Ne-Yo – the track is a stunningly simple but catchy number. Demonstrated by a nine-week run at the top of the Billboard charts and a Grammy for Best Male R&B Artist.
It’s one of our favourite and best R&B love songs. But it’s also a tribute to everyone who’s seen someone they love being treated badly by someone who doesn’t deserve them.
We never find out if Mario gets selected ‘to give you everything you want and need’. But, after those sweet vocals, we sure hope so!
We couldn’t miss this chirpy, nostalgic tune from London indie band, The Maccabees.
But there’s a bittersweet acknowledgement that love can be painful as well as beautiful in the lyrics, ‘with heart-shaped bruises and late-night kisses divine’.
‘Toothpaste Kisses’ seems so naïve but hints at much more, definitely deserving a spot as one of the best indie love songs in our view.
Beautifully simple lyricism defines this country tune, as Kacey dismisses having to make conventional small talk and ‘the necessary rounds’ at parties.
After all, ‘who needs a crowd when you’re happy at a party for two’. Couldn’t agree more, though this definitely hits differently in lockdown.
We couldn’t forget this classic headbanger – ‘Fell in Love with a Girl’ is definitely in our best top rock songs!
It might not be the most romantic on our list, but it’s got all the buzz of meeting someone new after a break-up (at least we think it ended, Bobby says ‘he don’t consider it cheating’)
The video features an iconic frame by frame Lego animation. Rumour has it, the band spent a stack of money on Lego boxes and the director’s son can be spotted building the figures at the start of the video.
The Lego animation, however, really enhances the trippy feeling of unreality we can all experience when catching feels – ‘I must be alright because my heart’s still beating’.
Perhaps not an obvious entrant into best pop love songs, we still thought Ari’s 2019 classic deserved a spot. Thank U, Next has been given a whole new lease of life thanks to an appearance on the smash-hit Netflix show, Bridgerton.
The Vitamin String Quartet put an orchestral spin on the tune that we can’t believe we didn’t hear before.
The song is an absolute testament to self-love, the recognition that we all carry trauma, relationships might begin and end, but love and patience triumph all.
Again, this is one of those songs we just couldn’t leave out. Opening up with bittersweet authenticity about his relationship, appreciating its ‘not a fantasy’ and there ‘ain’t no fairytale conclusion’, Legend does what he does best and creates one of the best acoustic love songs around.
Often shunted into second position in the Aerosmith repertoire, after ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’, Angel has a charm all its own.
Instead, the band explained they wanted to develop their sound and grow. There’s something special about heavy rockers singing such vulnerable lyrics. Admitting he’s ‘put away my pride’, Steven Tyler sings, ‘without your love – I’m nothing but a beggar’.
Beyond the lyrics though, the song is sonically satisfying. With all the 80s blues/rock guitar you could need, charting in the best 80s love songs.
This sultry ode to an old flame is one of the standout tracks from Tiller’s debut album, T R A P S O U L.
The song is really a fantasy of reconnecting with an ex (the title is a play on words, ‘exes-change’) and taking accountability for mistakes in the past.
Around a 78bpm trap drum beat, the song expertly weaves in a 1998 sample of K.V. and Envyi’s ‘Swing my way’ and Tiller’s incredible signature flow.
Exchange is a killer track and demonstrates how to produce the best rap love songs with decisive swagger.
Natalie Cole, known initially for her famous dad, Nat King Cole, made a name for herself with this soul classic.
The song’s feel-good groove has made it a perennial top love song, featuring in Charlie’s Angels and Bride Wars.
Queen Natalie herself judged an historic lip-sync to the love song in season 4 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Before approaching Capitol Records with this song, launching her to success and a Grammy on her debut album, Cole had been rejected by every label she approached.
The comparisons with Aretha are striking, swinging horns, gospel-inspired keys, and soulful vocals.
A classic ‘first dance’ song, Smith’s incredibly emotive vocals really pluck at the heartstrings with this tune.
Although many of us might remember this tune as a major dancefloor hit, the acoustic version is perhaps one of the best pop love songs of the decade. With the slow tempo really showcasing Smith’s light and shade, and vocal power.
While the overall metaphor of ‘capture’ is a little problematic, it’s clear the song is about mutual dependency. Wanting to ‘lock in your love’ as well as ‘feeling wrapped up in your touch’. The lyricism alone is really worth a listen.
The Roots are a timeless band, launching in 1987 and remaining active today, they’re responsible for banger after banger. Including a track on the Hamilton Mixtape in 2015.
‘You Got Me’ is a hypnotic rap duet with both singers laying down their love through each other within a story of how their relationship began and started to fall apart.
The smooth rap flows from The Roots and Eve (who raps the second verse) and the ground-breaking drum solo to finish. As well as a melody co-crafted with Jill Scott combine to make one of the best 90s love songs and the best hip hop love songs of all time.
The lilting hook – ‘baby don’t worry you know that you got me’ – will get into your head in the best way. Perfect for getting cosy to.
Beatles track, ‘Somethin’’ was called the greatest love song of all time, by none other than Frank Sinatra!
George Harrison, the lead guitarist, wrote the track and many have claimed it was a love song for his then-wife, Bettie (who later cheated on him Eric Clapton, yikes!)
Harrison, however, claims that his true inspiration for the tune was really Ray Charles. We still love it, George.
No list of best love songs would be complete without an R&B duet, featuring two vocal heavyweights.
The track is towards the end of the legendary The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album and was, for Hill, an attempt to refocus on the human and spiritual aspects of relationships. Rather than overtly sexualised aspects emphasised by some musicians.
You can hear the musical references to Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack in the laidback, ever-so-silky vocals. Apparently, it really was that easy – D’Angelo said he recorded his vocal part in an hour.
Not bad for one of the best R&B love song duets released to date.
You might not be able to spend Valentines Day with your favourite people, but at least you can enjoy listening to some quality music.
We’ve covered most of our favourites from across the genres and eras here. Dance tracks, bedroom jams, acoustic love songs, and soul classics all make it into our best love songs of all time.
But we know, just maybe, we missed out a few. What’s your favourite love song? Did we forget your ‘first dance’ track? What is the best love song of all time? Let us know in the comment section below!
So here it is – Music Gateway’s Valentines Day Playlist!
If you haven’t yet got your Valentine’s Day playlist sorted yet, then you’re in luck – you can take this one! Let our playlist be the soundtrack to your February 14th. Enjoy!