Behind every Hollywood kiss, passionate tryst, and teary-eyed goodbye is a great romantic song playing in the background. Why? Because nothing sets the mood quite like the music of love. So, to honor the amorous tradition of serenading our lovers, I present the 15 best romantic songs ever sung. And, yes — that includes the best breakup songs, too.
Follow along for an eclectic playlist of the 15 best romantic songs to dedicate to your love!
1. "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton (1974)
Written and performed by Dolly Parton in 1974, this romantic country ballad is among the most famous love songs in history. Of course, we can't talk about this song without paying homage to Whitney Houston's iconic cover, which was originally recorded for The Bodyguard that same year. Houston's signature voice and powerful belt transformed the song and made it even more popular, solidifying its place as one of the all-time greatest love songs. Regardless of which version you prefer, "I Will Always Love You" deserves a top spot on every romantic playlist.
2. "Crash Into Me" by Dave Matthews Band (1996)
Behold one of the greatest slow dance songs of all time. This romantic tune blends influences from folk, alternative, and rock genres, and is one of the band's most popular hit songs. It makes a great First Dance song, but can be perfect for a first sleepover if you know what I mean! Something about Dave Matthews whispering "come into you" while slowly strumming his guitar sets a mood that's both romantic and erotic.
3. "I've Been Loving You Too Long" by Otis Redding (1965)
The message here is simple: I've loved you for too long to stop now. This is one of those soulful love songs that somehow applies to both happy relationships and hurtful breakups. Whether you've been married for 50 years or you're heartbroken and need something to wail to, there's no denying the passion behind this ballad. It's slow, tender, and truly encapsulates the power of love.
4. "Breathe" by Faith Hill (1999)
This American country-pop love song is a hit single from the '90s that became an instant chart topper — and with good reason. Although Faith Hill began her career as a country singer, "Breathe" was Hill's way of exploring the pop genre. In fact, this song was the number-one pop single in 2000! It's a popular choice for wedding songs, so if you're looking for a song to dedicate to your boyfriend, you can't go wrong with this one.
5. "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole (1953)
Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" brings R&B romance to the table in a way few other songs can. Many have covered this romantic tune (and who could blame them?), but it's Nat King Cole's original recording that was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. If you're looking for a way to tell your lover how remarkable they are, serenade them with this unforgettable classic.
6. "'Til The End Of Time" by Timothy Bloom, V (2001)
This early 2000s love song is dramatic, passionate, and classically romantic. As its title implies, the lyrics center around the idea of everlasting love — the kind of love that transcends time and space. If you plan on loving your partner 'til the end of time, send them this song and wait for the waterworks!
7. "To Be Loved" by Jackie Wilson (1957)
Ah, what a feeling! Jackie Wilson's hit love song invites listeners to explore what it feels to be "truly, truly, truly" loved. This is another tune that doubles as a romantic song and a breakup song, as the singer's perspective reflects what being in love feels like, as well as how strong the yearning to feel loved can be.
8. "1 + 1" by Beyoncé (2011)
It was very hard to narrow it down to only one Beyoncé song, but this powerful love ballad just hits different. Its lyrics are simple, romantic, and sexy as hell. In fact, Beyoncé herself called it her "favorite" song. And hey — with Queen B crooning "make love to me" again and again while the piano and guitar moan in the background, I can totally see why.
9. "Love Songs" by James Taylor (1975)
If you're wondering, "what song can I dedicate to my love?," allow me to suggest this '70s gem from James Taylor. This tune is relaxing and subtle in its melody, but profoundly romantic in its lyrics. In fact, many consider it to be one of the most romantic songs ever written. In essence, this song drives home the idea that true love will always find a way, no matter what. What's more romantic than that?
10. "One And Only" by Adele (2011)
This gospel-style love ballad is Adele's powerful plea to be bestowed the honor of "one and only" in the eyes of her lover. If you're looking for the chance to prove your love, this romantic tune is a great way to say "I love you" to someone who might not yet know your true feelings. Send them this song, and they'll get the picture pretty quickly.
11. "Love Story" by Taylor Swift (2008)
As far as country pop love songs go, "Love Story" is a worldwide fan-favorite. Written and performed by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, this chart-topping tune is as catchy as it is charming. It has a slow-building melody, and follows the story of Swift's "Romeo and Juliet" characters who — you guessed it — fall in love and live happily ever after.
12. "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You (I Love You Baby)" by Lauryn Hill (1998)
This recognizable hit was originally sung by Frankie Valli in 1967, but was covered in 1998 by rap royalty Lauryn Hill and transformed to fit her style. And while Valli's original is a great classic, there's just something about Hill's delivery that packs a punch. If you're looking for a romantic rap song, you can't go wrong with this one.
13. "By Your Side" by Sade (2000)
This Grammy-nominated hit is sure to ignite all the feels. Its lyrics are as sultry as Sade's voice is smooth, and its melody is so slow-dance worthy. In 2002, VH1 ranked "By Your Side" the 48th greatest love song of all time, and I'm here to keep recognition of its greatness alive in 2021 and beyond.
14. "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" by D'Angelo (2000)
This millennial masterpiece by D'Angelo was released on New Year's Day in 2000, making it among the first love songs anyone smooched to after the highly-anticipated ball dropped. It's slow, sexy, and most likely conjures memories of that wildly arousing music video. It might not be the most romantic song on this list, but it's a hit song for a reason. Trust me.
15. "As Time Goes By" by Dooley Wilson (1943)
If you've ever seen the internationally beloved movie Casablanca, this tune is already familiar to you. If not, this is definitely a classic love song to add to your playlist. It's been covered by stars like Nancy Sinatra and Harry Nilsson, and is widely considered to be one of the best songs in film... ever. If you want to watch a romantic movie and listen to love songs at the same time, invite your lover to your home and queue up Casablanca!