50. “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional (2002)
This essential emo/alt-rock love song was Dashboard Confessional’s first Billboard Top 10 hit, and rightfully so. “Hands Down” captures the youthful crush stage of love and lust with lyrics perfectly suited for an AIM away message.
49. “Hold You in My Arms” by Ray LaMontagne (2004)
This ballad is a simple, sweet ode to lazy afternoons spent in the company of a loved one. “Hold You in My Arms” was one of Ray LaMontagne’s first breakout singles, and remains a staple heard at wedding venues around the country.
48. “Love On Top” by Beyoncé (2011)
Beyoncé is one of the greatest artists of our generation, with unrivaled vocal talent and a constantly evolving sound and style. “Love On Top” is Beyoncé at her most joyous, belting out lyrics in a way that lets you hear her smile through the words.
Go watch “Homecoming” on Netflix, and I dare you not to grin like maniac when “Love On Top” enters the set.
47. “Crazy for You” by Madonna (1985)
You probably don’t think much about “Vision Quest,” the movie for which this song was made, but “Crazy for You” is one of Madonna’s best love songs. It also earned Madonna her first of many Grammy Award nominations.
46. “How Deep is Your Love” by the Bee Gees (1977)
When you think Bee Gees, you probably think dance and disco. But along with “Emotions” (a fantastic break-up song), “How Deep is Your Love” is evidence of the Bee Gees’ ability to cut to the heart of a soulful connection between two people.
45. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift (2008)
Taylor Swift cemented her role in pop culture with her heartfelt guitar ballads, and “Love Story” bridges the gap between her country roots and modern pop music. The song epitomizes the blissfully ignorant days of idyllic young love.
44. “When You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss (1995)
This simple love ballad was sung gorgeously by country star Allison Krauss. “When You Say Nothing at All” captures the comfort and unspoken love language shared between partners with a timeless message of devotion.
43. “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes (2005)
Simple, slightly sad, emotionally resonant. “First Day of My Life” is an emo/indie staple for a reason — Connor Oberst’s voice beautifully communicates the ache associated with finally meeting someone who makes you feel as if your world has just changed.
42. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler (1983)
It would be a list of love songs without a serious dose of ’80s melodrama, and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is everything we could want in a glam rock ballad that fits into our “pining but still a love song” category.
41. “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson (1967)
We dare you not to start tapping your foot and grinning upon hearing Jackie Wilson’s number one R&B hit song “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” which has rightfully earned a place on any list of the happiest and catchiest love tunes.
40. “Best of My Love” by The Emotions (1977)
Keeping in our uptempo, groovy streak, “Best of My Love” is a classic found on movie and TV soundtracks across the decades for good reason. You’ll be humming “Oh-o-oho, you’ve got the best of my love” all day after revisiting this track.
39. “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding (1967)
Sliding into the category of “love advice,” this Otis Redding track needs no introduction. It was already considered a classic, and was solidified in pop culture history when Donkey belted it out in “Shrek” and then sampled for Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “Otis.”
38. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen (1980)
Queen’s discography is chock-full of classic hits, but none fits best on the “love song” category than this tune. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is an uptempo, genre-bending single that stands the test of time.
37. “If You’re Not the One” by Daniel Bedingfield (2002)
We know this veers more into heartache territory, but Daniel Bedingfield’s “If You’re Not the One” is the dance/electro-pop ballad we never knew we needed until it was 2002 and you couldn’t turn on a radio station without hearing it.
36. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley (1961)
Elvis Presley’s original will always remain the most beloved among many cover versions, from UB40 to Ingrid Michaelson and more.
36. “The Best” by Tina Turner (1989)
You might now associate Tina Turner’s “The Best” with Pepsi or Applebee’s thanks to its commercial appeal, but this song is the ultimate statement of devotion and deserves to be remembered as such.
33. “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo (1997)
K-Ci & JoJo probably didn’t realize they were recording a song that would soon become a school dance staple, providing the soundtrack to awkwardly adorable PG slow dances everywhere. “All My Life” is the ultimate mix-CD track, movie score pick, and karaoke jam, and it’s more than earned its spot on this list.
32. “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin (1986)
Both “Top Gun” and the world of pop love songs wouldn’t be the same without “Take My Breath Away.” We loved Jessica Simpson’s faithful cover version, but nothing can touch the original ballad.
31. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
The simple pleasures of finding love are perfectly expressed in this Beatles song. To be able to just reach out and hold the hand of a person you love is really all one needs, right?
30. “I Would Die 4 U” by Prince (1984)
Prince’s greatest hits are peppered with a joyous and infectious sense of love, but perhaps none more than the devoted single “I Would Die 4 U.” The extra inflection Prince added for the line “darlin’ if you want me to” is pure starlight energy.
29. “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths (1986)
Like others on our list, The Smiths are music legends. “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” is a beloved bittersweet song that stands the test of time thanks to the before-its-time emo message delivered with an English rock vibe.
28. “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper (1983)
Yet another ’80s classic to grace our list, “Time After Time” is the sweetly nostalgia-driven pop song that’s a karaoke classic (even for “The Office’s” Kelly Kapoor).
27. “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder (1967)
Let’s face it — a dozen Stevie Wonder songs could be on this list. But the joyous tempo and simple romantic message of “For Once in My Life” helps put it over the edge of other Stevie classics.
26. “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men (1994)
This follow-up hit to “End of the Road” is the perfect ode to doting upon a loved one. Blending the romantic and physical aspects of love, this sexy “Boyz II Men” ’90s jam belongs on every love playlist.
25. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor (1990)
No, Sinead (and Prince), nothing compares to this song. Both versions are commendable and stunning in their own right, but Sinead O’Connor’s holds a special place in the legacy of heartache-fueled artistry.
23. “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure (1987)
No other song can sweep you up faster into daydreams about frenzied and absorbing love the way “Just Like Heaven” does. The Cure is ’80s alt-rock at its finest, and this song is one of their best.
22. “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis (1996)
When the beat kicks into “I Love You Always Forever,” you realize what a true bop this ’90s pop single truly is. Lewis seems to channel Cindy Lauper’s magic, just a decade later and with slightly more pizzazz.
21. “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams (1991)
The art of parenthetical song titles has truly been lost. Candian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams crafted the love song to end all love songs with “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” and we’ll never forget him for it.
20. “My Love” by Justin Timberlake (2006)
Pop icon Justin Timberlake broke the mold with “FutureSex/Lovesounds,” and “My Love” epitomized his blend of dance/R&B/pop/hip-hop with Timbaland’s unrivaled production talents and a smooth, memorable, catchy chorus.
19. “Come What May” by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (2001)
Feel what you must about Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” — this narratively significant love song is one of the best ballads featured in a movie. Ever. And if you had dared to forget this fact, Canadian figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir reminded the world of its magic at this past year’s Olympics.
17. “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service (2003)
This synth-based electro-pop single captures a special period of time in pop culture, and remains blissfully timeless despite the changing landscape of modern music over the last 15 years.
2. “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire
Funk group Earth, Wind, and Fire crafted one of the best songs of the century in “September,” and the bonus for us is that it’s a delightful love song to boot. Half the song is simple, joyful belting of “Ba de ya,” and we wouldn’t have it any other way.