First and foremost, regular love songs have been a staple of popular music since the beginning. Standards like “Something” by The Beatles and “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys are timeless classics to this day. Even more modern takes like “True Love Waits” by Radiohead and “My Kind of Woman” by Mac DeMarco could easily join your daily rotation. Other contemporary classics like “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, “Here Comes My Girl” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and “Back At One” by Brian McKnight are guaranteed to make you want to fall in love.
Some love songs are a bit more complicated than being “lovey dovey.” “Hyper-Ballad” by Björk is about doing things to keep yourself sane while in a loving relationship. “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak and “When You Sleep” by My Bloody Valentine discuss an obsession, while stalker anthems like “Every Breath You Take” by The Police and “She” by Tyler, The Creator take those obsessions to the extreme. “Tourniquet” by Marilyn Manson deals with being someone's emotional band-aid, while “The Feeling” by Justin Bieber asks if you love the person you’re with or just the feelings associated. Oh, and if you're into getting kinky, as the kids say, there's always “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails.
Not every song has to deal with relationships between lovers! “Dear Mama” by 2Pac and “Hey Mama” by Kanye West are odes to their mothers, while “Disarm” by The Smashing Pumpkins is the exact opposite for Billy Corgans’ parents. “Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment is all about love for a grandma, while “I Love College” by Asher Roth is all about loving the college lifestyle. “Tha Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony mourns all those lost due to life in the streets, and “Farley” by Adam Sandler is a lovely obituary for the late-great Chris Farley. “My Shiny Teeth and Me” by Chip Skylark is the greatest song of all time according to my dentist.
Ah, young love. That person that makes you feel like a kid again. “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra has been a staple of this feeling for years, but newcomers like “The Louvre” by Lorde and “Let’s Get Lost” by Carly Rae Jepsen make you feel the butterflies through your headphones. “Siberia” by Lights takes you back to when you thought you’d move away with your middle school crush. “Seventeen Forever” by Metro Station encapsulates those wild nights with your high school sweetheart, and “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey is what you hope your significant other says to you now.
For a genre that prides itself on being less wordy, dance music has churned out some good love songs. “Computer Love” by Zapp may or may not be about having sex with your technology, but “Digital Love” by Daft Punk definitely is. “Since I Left You” by The Avalanches and “Music Sounds Better With You” by Stardust use a grand total of 48 words combined, but you can feel the love as each word repeats continuously. Progressive house tracks like “Summit” by Skrillex and “Raise Your Weapon” by deadmau5 are designed to make you feel more than move. If you want to move, though, “By Your Side” by Jonas Blue and “Middle” by DJ Snake are perfect for you and your rager friend to groove to.
Press play on songs like “Everything You Want” by Vertical Horizon and “If You Only Knew” by Shinedown when the one you want doesn’t want you back. When you just want them to be happy with you instead of the one they’re with, turn to songs like “Drew Barrymore” by SZA and “Best of You” by Foo Fighters. When you find yourself in a three way dance, and not in the good way, blast “When You Were Mine” by Prince and “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Edition until the speakers burst. “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” by Mint Condition is to be played when you finally realise just how unrequited the love truly is.
When you’re interested in someone, the only logical route to take is to stand outside their bedroom window with a speaker above your head. Load songs like “That Lady, Pts. 1 & 2” by The Isley Brothers, “Miss Independent” by Ne-Yo and “A Girl Like You” by Edwyn Collins into your playlist for that. When those inevitably don’t work, use songs like “All For You” by Janet Jackson, “Photograph” by Def Leppard or “Somebody’s Baby” by Jackson Browne instead. When none of those work, “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne might work on the person on the other side of the house.
One of hip-hop’s grandest traditions is the ability to tell a story in a way that is unique to the genre and that extends to stories about relationships. Common has one of the best hip-hop love songs in “The Light,” but he crafts a better story with “I Used To Love H.E.R.” A Tribe Called Quest try and persuade a lovely lady on “Bonita Applebum” and Biz Markie swoons over the girl in the very big bra on “Just a Friend.” OutKast talk about girlfriends of their youth on “Da Art of Storytelling, Pt. 1” and Jay-Z discusses an old flame before fame on “Song Cry.” Finally, Too $hort always gives you a good laugh with his “Freaky Tales” and Lupe Fiasco makes you feel for two rebel skaters on “Kick, Push.”
Sex havers, unite! “No Ordinary Love” by Sade, “Love You Down” by Ready For The World and “Justify My Love” by Madonna are perfect for when you and that special someone are ready in between the sheets. Hidden gems like “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen, “Pushin’ Inside You” by Sons of Funk and “Purple Kisses” by The-Dream are practically guarantees to get you some action. Other diamonds in the rough like “Bed” by J. Holiday or “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” by John Legend could feasibly get you into anyone’s pants as long as you’re doing it right.
Virgins, unite! You really have to hand it to songs like “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls and “Pump It Up” by Elvis Costello & The Attractions for making such a pleasurable time sound so normal. You’re a real jerk if you can’t find the fun in listening to songs like “Long View” by Green Day or “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld. OK, no more puns. If you want a song that is more about actual self-love and not the literal kind, “Pretty Girl Rock” by Keri Hilson is an outstanding tune about self-confidence. “Don’t hate me ‘cause I’m beautiful.”
Everyone is human and we all want to be loved regardless of our identity. That’s why it’s so important to bring up songs like “Fastlove, Pt. 1” by George Michael and “Your Song” by Elton John. These are proudly gay artists making wonderful music people can relate to regardless of sexual orientation. “The Good Side” by Troye Sivan and “Drone Bomb Me” by ANOHNI are by LGBTQ representers, whereas “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins and “This Charming Man” by The Smiths are sexually ambiguous tales.
Not everyone is from around here. Therefore, it’s important to mention songs that express different viewpoints from around the world. “Narashite” by harunemuri is a Japanese song about crying your eyes out post-breakup. “Con Te Partirò” by Andrea Bocelli is an Italian opera piece about saying goodbye, and “Si No Estás” by Chayanne is about longing for someone you shouldn’t. While it’s not sung in another language, “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski is from the perspective of dating someone from another culture.
Finally, the dreaded break-up tunes. Break-ups come in many different emotions. If you’re angry about it, “Thnks fr th Mmrs” by Fall Out Boy could be your route. Otherwise, songs like Frank Ocean’s “White Ferrari,” “Amnesia” by 5 Seconds of Summer or “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” by John Mayer would be more appropriate. Songs like Jewel’s “You Were Meant For Me” and Mary J. Blige’s, “Be Without You” take the direction of wanting the lover back. Songs like “On Hold” by The xx, “Loud Places” by Jamie xx and “What It Takes” by Aerosmith are more about struggling to move on. Break-ups are never easy, but hopefully these songs help you get through it easier.
Country music gets a bad rap these days, but when it’s on, it’s on. Somber songs like “The Dance” by Garth Brooks, “Remember When” by Alan Jackson and “Come Over” Kenny Chesney have all the capabilities of any other genre to make you feel something and cry. Even in today’s ridiculed country landscape, some real highlights have emerged. “Unforgettable” by Thomas Rhett, “Honey Bee” by Blake Shelton and “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker have proven to be durable hits regardless of you and your partner’s favorite genre. “Hell, Break Up With Him” by Old Dominion is so convincing you had better watch out if your partner starts listening to it.