Great songs have been written about every topic imaginable, but often the most memorable- from the swooning ballads of the ’50s and ’60s to contemporary ’80s disco jams have been penned around the complicated ups and downs of falling in love. The following tunes cover several decades of good music, and though the music landscape may have changed a lot since some of these records came out, their impact can still be felt years after, as the beautiful (and sometimes sad) memories came all over you when you hear the sounds. The beauty of music is that it’s timeless, and these songs will be celebrated for years to come. Which one’s your favorite from this list?
#1. My Heart Will Go On (1997) – Celine Dion
Sometimes called the “Love Theme from Titanic” Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” is the official theme song for the 1997 epic flick, Titanic. The lyrics were penned by Will Jennings and music composition was done by James Horner, who approached Titanic director James Cameron about using the song in the film. The song was in fact recorded in one take, and the first release was a demo.
Due to the success of the love ballad, a number of record labels and film studios attempted to imitate the process with the release of films such as the blockbuster, Armageddon, in the late ’90s, or Pearl Harbor, both of which included a love ballad as the theme song. Although the move was fairly successful, the songs didn’t quite capture audiences the same way this song did.
#2. Let’s Stay Together (1972) – Al Green
Let’s Stay Together was first released as a single in 1971, where it picked the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the chart for 16 weeks. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the 60th in their list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The Library of Congress selected it in 2010 as an addition to the National Recording History, a selection of recordings considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
“Let’s Stay Together” was recorded by Willie Mitchel and released in Green’s 1972 album of the same name.
#3. I will Always Love You (1992) – Whitney Houston
R&B songster Whitney Houston made the song as soundtrack to her film, The Bodyguard – which incidentally was her film debut. The song was first written, composed and recorded by singer-songwriter, Dolly Parton, for her 1974 album, Jolene. Houston originally intended to record a different song-“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Rufin; but it was discovered that another motion picture, Fried Green Tomatoes, had used it. So instead Kevin Costner, her co-star in the Bodyguard, brought her a version of this song- a 1975 version by Linda Ronstadt for the album Prisoner in Disguise.
The single became Houston’s longest stay at the top of the charts, with 14 weeks at number 1 on Billboard Hot 100, the first soundtrack to reach such heights.
#4. Lovesong (or Love Song) 1989- The Cure
“Lovesong” is a single recorded by English alternative rock band, The Cure, from their studio album, Disintegration. The song made it to number two on the iconic 100 chart, making it the group’s most successful single to date. Robert Smith wrote the song for his longtime girlfriend and then fiancée, Mary.
The song has been covered by a number of artists, most notably Adele, for her album 21, released in 2011.
#5. You’re Still the One (1998) – Shania Twain
“You’re Still the One” is the third single from Twain’s album Come on Over, released in January 1998. She co-wrote the song with her then-husband and record producer Mutt Lange.
At the time she recorded the song, Twain and Lange had been married for five years, but there had been intense media scrutiny and criticism on the age difference between the two, with tabloids suggesting that she had married him to further her music career. In a 1999 interview, Twain mentioned that the idea for the song was brought on by press criticism. In essence, critics did not expect the marriage to last long, and she wrote the song to address publicly the issue, and celebrate her love.
#6. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing (1998) – Aerosmith
Aerosmith’s smash hit debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, the first for the band after 28 years together. The power ballad was written by Diane Warren for the 1998 film Armageddon, and it was Aerosmith’s biggest hit, charting at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, and reaching number one in multiple countries including Germany, Australia, Ireland, Norway, Italy, and the Netherlands.
#7. Can’t Help Falling in Love (1961) – Elvis Presley
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” was first distributed by Elvis on his publishing company Gladys Music in 1961. The song’s melody is inspired by 1784’s “Plaisir d’amour” by Jean Paul Egide Martini, and it was features in Elvis’ album, Blue Hawaii. In the decades following its release, the song was sampled and recorded by numerous artists, including British reggae sensation, UB40, whose version topped the charts in 1993.
During his performances in the late 1960s, Elvis performed the piece as a finale, as can be seen in some of his most notable shows, including his 1968 NBC special. Elvis’ version is credited as a Platinum Record by the RIAA.
#8. Sweet Child O’ Mine (1988) – Guns N’ Roses
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” is featured in the album Appetite for Destruction, by American rock band, Guns N’ Roses. It became the band’s first and only number one single in the U.S. and was rated the No. 5 record of the year upon its release in1988 by U.S. Billboard.
Band guitarist Slash was quoted as having initially disparaged the song, terming it a “string skipping” exercise and a “joke”. The song came about as the band was doing a jam session at their house in the sunset strip, and Slash and drummer Steven Adler were warming up, when Slash started to play a “circus” tune and making faces at Adler. That’s when Izzy Stradlin asked Slash to play the tune again. As Slash noted in his autobiography, within an hour his guitar exercise had gone from being a joke to something else.
#9. With or Without You (1987) – U2
Irish rock band U2 released the song as the third track from their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, and the record became the group’s most successful release at the time. Guitarist the Edge plays sustained guitar parts on “With or Without You” using a prototype of the Infinite Guitar; bassist Adam Clayton plays the baseline with lead singer Bono on vocals.
The song’s lyrics were inspired by Bono’s conflicting feelings about balancing life as a musician and a domestic man. Rolling Stone placed the song at number 132 in 2010 on their list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
#10. (Everything I Do) I Do It for You (1991) – Bryan Adams
This record was released on two albums simultaneously as the official soundtrack for the 1991 film, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, and also as Adams’ sixth studio solo album titled “Waking up the neighbors”. Adams co-wrote the song with Mutt Lange, both of whom upon its release went on to win a Grammy for ‘best soundtrack’ in 1992. The song was also nominated for an Oscar but lost to “Beauty & the Beast”.
Each one of this songs represent a major accomplishment for the band or singer, and in most cases the songs went on to cement the artists as major icons of their time, helping sell millions of records up to this date.