Growing up, I saw love displayed by my parents; who just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. They were college sweethearts and got married right before graduation. I remember going every Friday with my dad after school to pick out my mom’s favorite flowers — white lilies. I remember my dad coming home from a hard day at the Air Force base to my mom cooking his favorite meal: Zuppa toscana soup with garlic bread. Love, to me, is very real, pure and a lot of hard work. My parent’s love always proved to my brother and me that love was challenging but worth it.
- If I Ain’t Got You // Alicia Keys
Starting off with a classic “If I Ain’t Got You” shows raw, needy love. The soft piano glides us into Keys’ definition of love. Often people confuse love for constant flowers and chocolates, but, in reality, it is a lot of hard work and compromise. All she wants in this hard life is love and if she doesn’t have that then “everything means nothing.”
2. All of Me // John Legend
Legend is one of the great modern romancers knowing just what to say to win us over. (I’m sure Chrissy Teigen is very happy.) In this song, he is literally saying that all of him, every cell, loves her and will give himself to her. He goes on to say that she is his muse, that all her imperfections are perfect. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
3. I’m Yours // Jason Mraz
What’s more romantic than someone telling you that they belong to you? Mraz gets straight to the point in this adorable love song. He sings that loving her is his fate and nothing will stop him. With the ukulele playing in the background he woos her – and us – into opening her mind, looking into her heart and accepting that he is her love.
4. Thinking Out Loud // Ed Sheeran
Sheeran won America’s love with this instant hit about how he’ll love forever. Most love songs don’t say how the artist will love someone until they’re old and can’t walk, but Sheeran does. And what’s more adorable than old people in love? After the song was released in 2014 and won the Grammy for song of the year, it was annoyingly played at every wedding and school dance. I’m sure one day my mom will stop walking around the house dramatically singing it to my dad. Hopefully.
5. XO // Beyoncé
Now married with a daughter and twins on the way, Queen B hasn’t forgotten what fresh love feels like. Singing how her love gives her everything and is everything she needs, Beyoncé shows that even the strongest of women can be vulnerable. Time stops for her when she sees his face, “In the darkest night I search through the crowd, your face is all that I see.”
6. Just the Way You Are // Bruno Mars
Love sees past the physical, right? Well, at least it should. Mars’ love goes deeper than skin as he tells his girl that her smile, laugh, and everything else is perfection. He wouldn’t change anything about her. Many times, we get caught up in what we see instead of how we feel. This song is a perfect love song because it encompasses everything physical love should be: non-judgmental.
7. If I Ever Fall in Love // Shai
Shai is a go-to for 90’s romance songs. I remember growing up hearing my dad sing this song and many others to my mom while they were in the car. This one in particular is to a girl the main singer is in love with, who started out as a friend. He begs her to never leave him lonely and to always let him serve her. He goes on to say that “if I ever fall in love again I will be sure that the lady is a friend!”
8. If it Isn’t Love // New Edition
With the recent release of the BET New Edition biopic, this addition is more than necessary (also, I just love it). Until the end of the song, the lead singer is questioning his symptoms of love, “So if it isn’t love why do I feel this way, why does she stay on my mind?” He doesn’t understand why he feels the way he does and isn’t willing to accept that he is, indeed, in love until the very end of the song. This shows how true love isn’t always immediate but develops over time.
9. I’ll Make Love to You // Boyz II Men
In the world of love songs, Boyz II Men takes the crown. This song is the most sensual on the list. These men relay how they will treat their women in and out of the bedroom in the classiest of ways. Taking the perversion out of physical love songs, it’s a song about the bedroom that can be played around children. This is the jam that your boyfriend jokingly plays as he makes you dinner or bathes the dog. It’s also one you can jam to in the car just because you can.
10. At Last // Etta James
Ending with the late Etta James most famous ballad, “At Last” is the go to romance song. When I think of young love, I think of James. Fresh in love, James is renewed with life because of the love of her man. Her dreams are being fulfilled and her days have meaning again. She describes it like magic; “And then the spell was cast, and here we are in Heaven.” At last, love has finally come.