There are tons of lists about the most romantic songs ever made. They come up again at regular intervals, especially around Valentine’s Day, and they cover different selections. Yet, the existing lists have several oddities. Many are selected perhaps by young enthusiasts who do not resist to include Beyoncé or Adele (or even James Blake), just to insert more recent songs. Others make the opposite mistake and end up in lists with no surprises, with an high rate of Whitney Houston and Elvis Presley.
The following list tries to mitigate those fallbacks, covering all needs and tastes, alternating some classics, less visible works of important names and some alternatives, usually not mentioned in these lists. Make good use of it.
Air – Playground Love
The main theme of the soundtrack that Air made for Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, still the sweetest and most romantic song in a discography full of many other perfect songs. Points of attention: the saxophone and the initial verses: “I’m a high school lover, And you’re my favorite flavor”.
The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody
If you think about what triggers romance when you hear a song, you’ll find out that in 80% of cases the reason is: movies. Soundtracks of classic sentimental films. So don’t be surprised if many of the pieces that you will find here come from that area: for example, The Righteous Brothers made several great romantic songs in their life, but since Ghost exists the hit above remains one of the most mentioned love songs. Complaining is useless.
Jeff Buckley – Grace
Jeff Buckley has the voice, the charisma, the class and that emotional style which makes him beloved by girls and generally by sentimental characters. And moreover, Grace is a classic.
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – Je t ‘ aime… Moi Non Plus
There are many legends behind Serge Gainsbourg’s famous hit, and many gossips that have made him so famous. Of course, Serge wrote it in one night, after Brigitte Bardot asked him to “write the most beautiful love song he’s able to”. The version that became famous, however, has the voice of his second lover, Jane Birkin, and it seems that certain parts were recorded while they were having sex. Listen and tell us if it’s not a trustable rumour.
D’Angelo – Untitled (How Does It Feel)
Loaded with as many legends as the previous song, D’Angelo’s Untitled is his most famous song and a classic of the modern black soul. The video with his nude chest obviously helped to make it one of the most provocative songs of all time, at least for the female audience. They say he was naked even below. And they say that during the shooting there was someone under the frame who was… bringing out the best of D’Angelo.
Portishead – Glory Box
Portishead are not mentioned often when it comes to romance. Perhaps because it’s an intellectual name, perhaps because their trip hop has always been more melancholic than the others. Yet it takes courage to deny the erotic charge of Glory Box, with that sinuous round of violins and that dirty guitar that gives the sense of reality. And Beth Gibbons singing “Give Me a Reason to love you/Give me a reason to be a woman” is something that everybody should know.
Depeche Mode – Breathe
If we talk about lyrics, voice and talent in writing songs, Depeche Mode can be considered among the best love songs composers ever. Too bad that the best is also the least known (and we should all stop adding Enjoy The Silence in the list of love songs – how does it have anything to do with love?): One Caress, for example, well known to fans thanks to its video. Or Breathe, the one above, remained hidden in the tracklist of one of their less popular albums. With a Dave Gahan in beautiful shape and its significant verses. “Put your little hand in mine / And believe in love / Put your head on my chest / And breathe love / Breathe Love”.
Joe Cocker – You Are So Beautiful
Another classic, another protagonist of romantic music thanks mainly to the voice and other example of how the cinema catalyze the sentimental effects of a song. This you will remember especially for Carlito’s Way‘s ending titles, which arrive immediately after the emotional peak of the movie. Add Joe Cocker vibrating vocals and it’s done.
The Doors – You’re Lost little Girl
Jim Morrison is probably the most revered singer who ever lived, or at least the most erotically desirable from the group of legends that includes Kurt Cobain and Jeff Buckley. He knew this and he showed it with all confidence possible, making songs that were talking directly to female listeners. Having him singing “You are lost, little girl” is the apotheosis, as well as the clear evidence of how much Morrison played with his own image.
Ray Charles – I Can’t Stop Loving You
One of the classics of all time, in the version sung by Ray Charles’s powerful, scratchy voice. It was 1962 when he recorded a song written few years earlier, ending up regularly in the lists of more beautiful songs ever. Even because of the lyrics, so soft and dreamy, reminiscent of a love that no longer exists: “Those happy hours that we once knew / Tho’ long ago, they still make me blue / They say that time heals a broken heart / But time has stood still since we’ve been apart”.