Top 50 Love Songs of All Time (2024)

Songs have been written about every topic imaginable, but the best ones — from swooning ’50s ballads to contemporary club bangers — have been penned about the ups and downs of being in love. We are counting down the top 50 Hot 100 hits with a form of the word “love” in the title. The romantic tunes cover every era of the Hot 100’s history, ranging from 1958’s “To Know Him Is to Love Him” by the Teddy Bears to 2019’s “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi. Love is a many splendored and many faceted thing, and this list has all types of love songs: tunes about “The Power of Love” (Huey Lewis), “The Greatest Love of All” (Whitney Houston), eternal love (Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever”) and NSFW lovin’ (Madonna’s “Justify My Love”).

It’s sonic proof that while musical fads and fashions will change with every generation, love — and the songs inspired by it — will never go out of style. And we have the numbers to prove it: 9.6% of all Hot 100 No. 1s feature the word “love” in the song title.

The ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart. Billboard’s Top 50 Love Songs of All Time ranking is based on weekly performance on the Hot 100 (from its inception on Aug. 4, 1958, through Feb. 4, 2023) and comprises songs that have the word “love” in its title (or a variation, like “lover,” “loving,” “lovely,” etc.). Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower spots earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates during various periods. Songs are ranked based on a formula blending performance, as outlined above, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from each era, certain time frames were weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those years.

  • "Lovin' You" - Minnie Riperton | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 (1975)

    After signing with Chess Records’ The Gems and Rotary Connection, Riperton joined Stevie Wonder’s backing vocalists, Wonderlove, in 1973. A year later she signed with Epic, with Wonder producing her first album. The initial single failed to chart but the follow-up was “Lovin’ You.”

  • "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" - The Righteous Brothers | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1965)

    Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote this song on a rented piano at the Chateau Marmont on the Sunset Strip, inspired by the Four Tops’ “Baby I Need Your Loving.” Their dummy lyrics were “You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin'” but producer Phil Spector liked them so much he kept them. The trio completed the song by writing the bridge at Spector’s home.

  • "I Love a Rainy Night" – Eddie Rabbitt | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1981)

    After Elvis Presley recorded Eddie Rabbitt’s “Kentucky Rain,” Elektra signed the Brooklyn-born songwriter as an artist. While searching through 300 tapes of music scraps and lyrics, Rabbitt heard a six-second fragment he had recorded 12 years earlier: “I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night.” He finally completed the song and earned his first (and only) No. 1 on the Hot 100.

  • "This Guy's In Love With You" - Herb Alpert | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1968)

    Alpert sang this Burt Bacharach/Hal David song to his wife on the beach in Malibu on a CBS special. The next day, the network was inundated with calls from viewers asking where they could buy the song. One day later, A&M released a single and it became the label’s first No. 1.

  • "Justify My Love" - Madonna | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1991)

    The video for this song was too steamy for MTV, which refused to air it. Within hours of the network’s decision, Warner/Reprise Video announced that “Justify My Love” would be the first commercially released video single. ABC’s “Nightline” then aired the entire video, uncensored.

  • "That's The Way Love Goes" - Janet Jackson | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for eight weeks (1993)

    Jackson’s first single for Virgin was based on a sample from a James Brown No. 1 R&B hit from 1974, “Papa Don’t Take No Mess.” On first listen, Jackson wasn’t thrilled with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ track; the producers asked her to take it with her on her two-week Christmas vacation and when she returned she told them it was “the bomb.”

  • "The Power of Love" - Celine Dion | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1994)

    Queens, N.Y. native Jennifer Rush was signed to CBS in Germany and found international success with her fourth single, written about her boyfriend Steven. The song kept failing in America, with low-charting versions by Rush herself and Air Supply and a slightly better showing for Laura Branigan. Finally it was a No. 1 smash for Dion, who told Billboard, “If you want to open up and sing strong, you could not have a better song than ‘Power of Love.'”

  • "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - Stevie Wonder | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1984)

    Dionne Warwick told the producers of the Gene Wilder film “The Woman in Red” they should ask Wonder to compose the soundtrack. That’s how the film became an Oscar winner; this song, written for the movie, claimed the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

  • "Greatest Love of All" - Whitney Houston | Hot 100 Peak: 1 for three weeks (1986)

    Michael Masser and Linda Creed wrote this song for the film The Greatest, a Muhammad Ali biopic. George Benson’s soundtrack single peaked at No. 24 in 1977. Later, when Houston auditioned for Clive Davis, she performed the song, and then it became the B-side of her first Arista single, “You Give Good Love.” Months later, radio airplay forced it out as the fifth single from Houston’s debut album.

  • "The Power of Love" - Huey Lewis & the News | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1985)

    Asked to contribute a song to the Back to the Future soundtrack, Lewis said he had the perfect tune: “In the Nick of Time.” Negotiations went on so long, Lewis gave the song to another film, Brewster’s Millions. The “Future” folks were upset but Lewis said he had a second perfect song, “Back in Time.” For another scene, Lewis came up with “The Power of Love,” which became the movie’s breakout hit.

  • "Dreamlover" - Mariah Carey | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for eight weeks (1993)

    Carey and producer Dave Hall did not have the title “Dreamlover” when they started writing the song. “Usually…[I] do an untitled song,” says Hall. “We’ll grab the hook and use that as a title.” Their collaboration gave Carey her then-longest-reigning No. 1 hit.

  • "Love Hangover" - Diana Ross | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1976)

    Other labels were heavily into disco in 1976 but not Motown. So it was an anomaly for Ross to record this Pam Sawyer/Marilyn McLeod tune. Ross had no problem with the slow, seductive first half but started laughing when the beats-per-minute increased, protesting she couldn’t sing that part. Producer Hal Davis created a club atmosphere in the studio and Ross got into it, resulting in another No. 1 hit for the former Supreme.

  • "Can’t Help Falling in Love" - UB40 | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1993)

    Elvis Presley’s version peaked at No. 2 in 1962. Three decades later, UB40 was asked to remake the song for the soundtrack to Honeymoon in Vegas. The producers passed over their version in favor of one by Bono of U2. The UB40 recording might have gone unreleased, but the music supervisor of another film, Sliver, rescued the track from the Virgin vaults.

  • "I Knew I Loved You" - Savage Garden | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (2000)

    After producer Walter Afanasieff delivered the new Savage Garden album to Columbia, he was given a message to take back to the band: “It’s an artistic masterpiece. But we want another ‘Truly Madly Deeply.'” (the duo’s first No. 1). A furious Darren Hayes went away for 10 minutes with bandmate Daniel Jones and came back with a completed song, “I Knew I Loved You” (the duo’s second No. 1).

  • "I Want to Know What Love Is" - Foreigner | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1985)

    There wasn’t unanimous agreement among the members of Foreigner that this song would be a great single for the group. Lou Gramm thought it might do irreparable damage to their rock image and Rick Willis thought it was “fluffy.” Mick Jones told Billboard the track was released “because it was coming out at Christmas and it had the right kind of mood.”

  • "What’s Love Got to Do With It" - Tina Turner | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1984)

    Newly signed to Capitol, Turner’s first single for the EMI-owned label was a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” which peaked at a disappointing No. 26 on the Hot 100. The follow-up was an original, though U.K. pop quartet Bucks Fizz recorded it first. Their version went unreleased and Turner had her first No. 1 in the U.S.

  • "She Loves You" - The Beatles | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1964)

    John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote “She Loves You” on a tour bus in Yorkshire, England. It was producer George Martin’s idea for them to start with the chorus of “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” instead of the first verse.

  • "Love Child" - Diana Ross & the Supremes | Hot 100 Peak: No 1 for two weeks (1968)

    After 10 No. 1 hits written and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, Diana Ross & the Supremes went into the studio with a new set of Motown collaborators, which resulted in the trio’s 11th chart-topper on the Hot 100. “Love Child” was just one of Motown’s more socially conscious songs that were released starting in 1968, including the Temptations’ “Cloud Nine” and Edwin Starr’s “War.”

  • "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" - Andy Gibb | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1978)

    Robin Gibb was considered the “chart freak” in the family but Andy was an avid chart watcher too, and he kept track of his second single’s progress up the Hot 100. “It slowed down…we were all a little scared,” he once recalled. “It lost…its jump in sales activity. And then…it just picked up and nothing stopped it.”

  • "I Think I Love You" - The Partridge Family | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1970)

    David Cassidy and his stepmother Shirley Jones were the only cast members of the TV series who appeared on the group’s recordings, and Jones says, “I did very little…I literally was the backing vocals for David. I never thought I’d have a gold record…it hangs on my wall and I’m very proud of it.”

  • "Love Rollercoaster" - Ohio Players | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for one week (1976)

    After struggling for 15 years, the group scored a No. 1 hit in 1975 with “Fire,” from their first album for Mercury. The follow-up LP, Honey, yielded a single, “Sweet Sticky Thing,” that stalled at No. 33. It was the second single, “Love Rollercoaster,” that returned the group to pole position.

  • "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" - Whitney Houston | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1987)

    George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam wrote “How Will I Know” for Houston. Asked to submit another song, they sent “Waiting for a Star to Fall,” and when the answer was no, they recorded it themselves as Boy Meets Girl. Encouraged to try again, it only took them two days to write “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” This time, Clive Davis said yes.

  • "Love Will Keep Us Together" - Captain and Tennille | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1975)

    Four months after he was No. 1 on the Hot 100 with “Laughter in the Rain,” Neil Sedaka was back on top, as a songwriter, thanks to Captain and Tennille’s cover of a song A&M’s Kip Cohen heard on the Sedaka’s Back album.

  • "Roses Are Red (My Love)" - Bobby Vinton | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1962)

    A hitless Vinton was about to be dropped by Epic, when he found this song in a reject pile and asked to be given one more chance. He recorded it as an R&B tune. “It was the worst sounding thing you ever heard in your life,” he admits. The label agreed to a second session with a new arrangement, added strings and a vocal choir and the result was a No. 1 on the Hot 100.

  • "Crazy in Love," Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for eight weeks (2003)

    The first single from Beyoncé’s first post-Destiny’s Child album (Dangerously in Love) became the first No. 1 of her solo career. “I asked Jay to get on the song the night before I had to turn my album in,” Beyoncé told Billboard. “Thank God he did. It still never gets old, no matter how many times I sing it.”

  • "Love the Way You Lie" - Eminem feat. Rihanna | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (2010)

    The combination of Eminem rapping and Rihanna singing about an abusive relationship, something both artists had personally experienced, though from different perspectives, was powerful enough to send the song to No. 1 on the Hot 100 for seven weeks in the summer of 2010. At 12x platinum, it is the best-selling song by either artist.

  • "To Sir With Love" - Lulu | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1967)

    Lulu hated the songs the producers of the film To Sir With Love were considering for the soundtrack. She asked her friend Mark London to write a title song she could sing. He composed the music in five minutes and the next day Don Black wrote the lyrics. “I was over the moon,” says Lulu.

  • "Vision of Love" - Mariah Carey | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1990)

    Right after she was signed to Columbia, Carey wrote her debut single with Ben Margulies. She described the composition as being not so much a love song as a celebration of her life at the time.

  • "It Must Have Been Love" - Roxette | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1990)

    Originally recorded as a Christmas song in Sweden in 1987, this track was revised by Per Gessle when he was asked to update it for the Pretty Woman soundtrack. “I heard the director really loved the song,” says Gessle. “I also heard he re-edited the movie to get it in there.”

  • "Love Takes Time" - Mariah Carey | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1990)

    Her first album was being mastered when Carey played a demo of this song for label president Don Ienner aboard a plane. Carey was told the song was a “career-maker” and despite her protests, the presses were stopped and the song was added to her debut release.

  • "Love Yourself" - Justin Bieber | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (2016)

    Ed Sheeran wrote “Love Yourself” for himself, intending it for his album Divide. But then he gave it to Justin Bieber, who did some additional writing on the song, which spent two weeks atop the Hot 100 in early 2016 and went on to become Billboard’s No. 1 song of the year.

  • "Woman in Love" - Barbra Streisand | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1980)

    Barry and Robin Gibb wrote the song for Streisand but the former told Billboard he gives the artist most of the credit. “At least 80 per cent of the success of the record belongs to her.”

  • "Someone You Loved" - Lewis Capaldi | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (2019)

    Although Scottish-born Lewis Capaldi first charted in hisnative U.K. in 2017, he was an unknown in the U.S. when his single “Someone You Loved” was released. The piano ballad turned out to be a sleeper hit, working its way to No. 1 in its 24th week on the Hot 100. The song, which Capaldi wrote about his late grandmother, reigned for three non-consecutive weeks in November 2019.

  • "Love Is Blue" - Paul Mauriat | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1968)

    Five years after he co-wrote Peggy March’s No. 1 hit “I Will Follow Him,” Mauriat was back on top of the Hot 100 with an instrumental cover of “L’Amor Est Bleu,” Luxembourg’s entry in the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest. Vicki Leandros performed the song, which placed fourth in the annual songfest.

  • "To Know Him Is to Love Him" - The Teddy Bears | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1958)

    Phil Spector was inspired to write the song by a photograph of his father’s tombstone at Beth David Cemetery in New York. The inscription read: “To Know Him Was to Love Him.”

  • "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" - Queen | Hot 100: No. 1 for four weeks (1980)

    Freddie Mercury wrote the song while languishing in his bath at the Munich Hilton. He leapt from the tub and ran to his guitar and piano to lay down the melody. His label was reluctant to release the song in the U.S. but radio stations played the imported U.K. single anyway, forcing an American release.

  • "Because You Loved Me" - Celine Dion | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1996)

    After viewing the film Up Close and Personal, Diane Warren met with director Jon Avnet to talk about her vision of the song she was to compose for his movie. The next morning in her office, she recalls, “The chorus lyrically and musically wrote itself.”

  • "My Love" - Paul McCartney and Wings | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1973)

    McCartney wrote “My Love” about one of the members of his post-Beatles band, Wings. The inspiration for the sentimental ballad was Scarsdale, N.Y.-born Linda Louise Eastman, a professional photographer before she married McCartney on March 12, 1969.

  • "Bleeding Love" - Leona Lewis | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (2008)

    Ryan Tedder and Jesse McCartney wrote the song, inspired by the latter’s long-distance romance with his girlfriend. McCartney wanted the song for himself but his label was unenthusiastic so it went to the winner of the third season of The X Factorin the U.K.

  • "I Can’t Stop Loving You" - Ray Charles | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1962)

    Back in 1958, Don Gibson wrote two songs one hot afternoon in Knoxville, Tenn. – “Oh Lonesome Me” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Four years later, Charles only needed to hear the first two lines of the latter before deciding to record it for his album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.

  • "Best of My Love" - The Emotions | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1977)

    When the Stax label folded, the three Hutchinson sisters had to find a new home. They were signed to a production company run by Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire. With group member Al McKay, White wrote this song specifically for them and the lead voice of Wanda Hutchinson.

  • "I Love Rock n' Roll" - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts | Hot 100 Peak: No 1 for seven weeks (1982)

    Joan Jett tried to convince her band ’70s band, The Runaways, to record a cover of the Arrows’ “I Love Rock n’ Roll,” but they weren’t into it. She recorded a version for the B-side of a Dutch single (a remake of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”), but it was her version with backing band the Blackhearts that ruled the Hot 100 for seven weeks in 1982.

  • "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)" - Stevie B | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1990)

    Songwriter Warren Allen Brooks says his No. 1 hit was a “spiritual song,” even if people think he was writing about love between a man and a woman. “It’s really about me and God having a personal relationship.”

  • "Let Me Love You" - Mario | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (2005)

    Mario didn’t realize this song was going to be so huge. “I didn’t know it would touch so many people,” he says. “But it was an emotional song and those records last forever.”

  • "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 14 weeks (1992)

    Whitney Houston’s signature song — a No. 1 smash from The Bodyguard — was originally a No. 1 hit for the woman who composed the tune, Dolly Parton. Her version topped the Hot Country Songs chart in 1974 and again in 1982.

  • "Silly Love Songs" - Wings | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1976)

    1976 was a very good year for love songs achieving pole position on the Hot 100. First there was “Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players, followed by Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “Love Machine” by the Miracles, “Let Your Love Flow” by the Bellamy Brothers, “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross and the longest-running “love” No. 1 of the year, Wings’ “Silly Love Songs.”

  • "We Found Love" - Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 10 weeks (2011)

    What could be more romantic than finding love in a “hopeless place”? Rihanna scored the biggest hit of her career (and the top ‘love’ song of the 21st century) with only her fourth Hot 100 entry to feature “love” in the title, following “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want” (2005), “Hate That I Love You” (2007) and her featured role on Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” (2010).

  • "How Deep Is Your Love," Bee Gees | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1977)

    Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb hadn’t seen the script for the movie that became Saturday Night Feverwhen they wrote “How Deep Is Your Love” for the soundtrack. They weren’t even certain that there was a love scene in the film. They intended the song for Yvonne Elliman, but their manager Robert Stigwood insisted they record it themselves.

  • "I’ll Make Love to You" - Boyz II Men | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 14 weeks (1994)

    When the members of Boyz II Men first heard Babyface’s composition “I’ll Make Love to You,” they were concerned about recording a song that was too similar to their previous hit, “End of the Road.” Nathan Morris explains, “The record company talked us into doing it and thank God it worked.”

  • "Endless Love" Diana Ross & Lionel Richie | Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (1981)

    Producer Jon Peters and director Franco Zeffirelli asked Lionel Richie to compose an instrumental along the lines of the theme from Love Story for the movie Endless Love starring Brooke Shields. When Zeffirelli changed his mind and asked Richie if he would add lyrics, the Motown star agreed to write some. Then Zeffirelli made one more request – to add a female singer, someone like Diana Ross.

As a music enthusiast with a deep understanding of the intricacies of chart performance and the historical context of popular songs, I can confidently delve into the fascinating world of Billboard's Top 50 Love Songs of All Time. My extensive knowledge of the music industry allows me to provide insights into the ranking methodology and the stories behind some of the iconic love songs mentioned in the article.

The article discusses the compilation of the Top 50 Love Songs of All Time by Billboard, based on the weekly performance on the Hot 100 chart from its inception in 1958 to February 4, 2023. The rankings are determined by an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the most points. The weighting of eras accounts for changes in chart methodology over the years.

Now, let's explore some of the highlighted love songs mentioned in the article:

  1. "Lovin' You" - Minnie Riperton (1975): Riperton's hit, reaching No. 1, showcases her unique vocal range. The article provides background on her career and collaborations, including her time with Stevie Wonder's backing vocalists.

  2. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" - The Righteous Brothers (1965): The article shares the interesting story of how Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote the song, inspired by the Four Tops' "Baby I Need Your Loving."

  3. "I Love a Rainy Night" – Eddie Rabbitt (1981): Rabbitt's journey from having Elvis Presley record his song to his own No. 1 hit is outlined, adding a layer of intrigue to this catchy tune.

  4. "Justify My Love" - Madonna (1991): Madonna's controversial hit is featured, with details about its steamy music video and its unconventional release as the first commercially released video single.

  5. "That's The Way Love Goes" - Janet Jackson (1993): The article reveals the inspiration behind Jackson's first single for Virgin, which sampled a James Brown hit from 1974.

  6. "The Power of Love" - Celine Dion (1994): The backstory of the song, originally by Jennifer Rush, is shared, emphasizing Dion's powerful rendition that finally made it a No. 1 hit.

  7. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - Stevie Wonder (1984): The article highlights how Dionne Warwick's suggestion led to Wonder composing the soundtrack for "The Woman in Red," resulting in this Academy Award-winning song.

  8. "Greatest Love of All" - Whitney Houston (1986): The origin of the song, written for a Muhammad Ali biopic, and its journey from George Benson's version to becoming one of Houston's signature hits is discussed.

These snippets only scratch the surface of the rich narrative woven around each song. My expertise allows me to appreciate the historical and artistic significance of these love songs, making the Top 50 list a testament to the enduring power of love in music across different eras.

Top 50 Love Songs of All Time (2024)


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