The first song ever written was a love song. Okay, we don’t have any empirical evidence to back up that claim, but doesn’t it just feel right? Sometimes your feelings are just so big you can’t articulate them except in a romantic song. In the olden days, the best way to let a crush know about your big feelings was through a mixtape. Now, it’s sending a link to a playlist. But the motivation and effect remain the same. You want to shoot your shot with Spotify? We’ve got your back with the top romantic songs of all time. Use a few as a starting point to curate a virtual mixtape for your significant other.
“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
We dare you to play this song around your boo and not launch into your best rendition of the infamous refrain. Even if you’re not in love, Whitney Houston’s vocals grab hold of your hopeful heart and drag it along for the ride.
“Your Song” by Elton John
The deceptively simple architecture of piano and vocals builds around you, making this really, truly, genuinely “Your Song”. It’s the perfect opening song on a romantic mixtape to let the object of your desires know what’s about to hit them. Love, they’re going to be hit with love.
“Make You Feel My Love” by Adele
The greatest torch singer of all time belts out a lot of romantic songs about unrequited love, loss, and betrayal. But this is just an earnest pledge to be there for someone when the world gets rowdy. It’s the kind of love we all deserve these days. Adele’s condensed it into four minutes which will fit into any self-care regiment.
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
We confessed how we stan for Cyndi Lauper in our best 80s songs playlist. If you’re ever in a bar again, throw this on the jukebox and watch the people unite.
“Halo” by Beyoncé
This timeless Beyoncé song is perfect for first love, true love, or self-love. If you’re looking for the most romantic songs of all time, the vocals in “Halo” are so exceptional they make even the most hardened cynic believe in love again. Let your walls down! Love is real if Beyoncé says it is!
“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion
It’s hard not to be brought back to the era of Titanic whenever you hear “Near, far…” Are we still sad about Jack and Rose? Or are we all in agreement that Jack could have fit on the door, and Rose let him die? At the turn of the century, this was the height of romance.
“Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean could sing census data and make it sound romantic. “Thinkin Bout You” is the best way to let someone know that you’re thinking about forever with them. This great love song has a Sunday morning vibe perfect for adding a dose of romance to a comfortable relationship.
“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths
We want to acknowledge a specific type of over-anxious person who feels their most romantic self while listening to The Smiths. And this addition to our top romantic song playlist is in honor of their emotional expression. But there are better ways to express your love for someone than getting hit by a bus with them.
“I’ll Never Love Again” by Lady Gaga
From the heartbreaking movie, A Star Is Born. While it was more than a little uncomfortable watching Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s “emotional affair” during the Oscars, we’re not mad about the killer playlist that came out of the movie. We’re betting this reaches “My Heart Will Go On” infamy.
“Cuz I Love You” by Lizzo
If there was one redeeming part of 2020, it’s how Lizzo got the acclaim that she deserves. It’s a romantic song with a beat, done the way only Lizzo can. When you’re in love, romantic songs are fine, but listening to Lizzo is perfect for when you’re on a self-love quest.
“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd wouldn’t be on our all-time-favorite romantic song list if not for its inclusion in the most heartbreaking romance movie of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But we can’t hear the opening guitar without a swell of regret for all the lost loves we’ve forgotten.
“By Your Side” by Sade
Is it possible to listen to Sade and not feel like the sexiest version of yourself? This romantic song is smooth and sweet, with those vocals that just. don’t. quit. If you want someone to swoon for you, throw this onto a mixtape (ugh, fine, or a playlist).
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“Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison
If you’re not quite in the mood to belt out your love like Whitney Houston, Van Morrison gives you a quiet way to sidle up to your feelings. It’s a perennial favorite on wedding playlists. A fact that manages to not reduce it to a cliche, but just reaffirms its place in the pantheon of romance.
“Islands in the Stream” by Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers
Maybe it’s not romantic like a candlelit dinner, but it’s romantic like karaoke when you’ve had one too many. You know you’re moving from crush to something real when you yell/sing this at someone in a dive bar, whether it’s a date or your best friend.
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