Motown Love Songs Ranked from Worst to Best

In honor of Valentine's Day, a look at the most romance-obsessed music there is.

By Libby Rumelt

In 1960, Motown Records was founded in Detroit, and in years since, it's brought us some of the best love songs ever written. Also, some of the cheesiest. We decided to let you know which is which. All of the following songs were Billboard Number One hits and all of them have the word "Love" in the title. Some of them are amazing. 
 

27. "All This Love" — DeBarge (1983)

This song topped the chart for Adult Contemporary. If you listen, I think you'll understand why.

Listen: "All This Love"

MP3

26. "Two Lovers" — Mary Wells (1962)

Controversial content couldn't save this song. Mary turned out to be much more interesting singing about boring old monogamy. (See "My Guy.")

Listen: "Two Lovers"

MP3

25. "Love Will Conquer All" — Lionel Richie (1986)

This song is smooth. Like the worst butter you've ever tasted.

Listen: "Love Will Conquer All"

MP3

24. "I Love Your Smile" — Shanice (1991)

This if the best elevator music anyone has ever heard. Which says very little.

Listen: "I Love Your Smile"

MP3

23. "Send One Your Love" — Stevie Wonder (1979)

I don't have anything against this song. It's just very, very dull. Next!

Listen: "Send One Your Love"

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22. "Love Machine (Part 1)" — The Miracles  (1976)

This song is both hooky and mind-numbing.

Listen: "Love Machine (Part 1)"

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21. "Stoned Love" — Diana Ross & The Supremes (1970)

I've always considered this song The Supremes' attempt at capitalizing on a lifestyle they never really experienced. It's catchy, but somehow fake, which makes me feel weird.

Listen: "Stoned Love"

MP3

20. "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" — The Temptations (1968)

This song would be great if it had been done by a lesser band, but we all know The Temptations can do better, so this is stuck back here at number twenty.

Listen: "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)"

MP3

19. "I Just Called To Say I Love You" — Stevie Wonder (1984)

Between the corny holiday references and the drum machine, Stevie seriously dropped the ball on this one.

Listen: "I Just Called To Say I Love You"

MP3

Commentarium (31 Comments)

Feb 12 11 - 1:35am
JfnB

I was waiting for an article about Happy Love Songs after Last Weeks Selection of Heartbreakers! <3 Gotta Love the Temptations

Feb 12 11 - 10:06am
bearman33

Who do you think would win in a fight between Prince and James Debarge?

Feb 15 11 - 8:18am
JfnB

Prince

Feb 12 11 - 10:11am
sdeetee

I sense a Supremes bias. Other than that, David Ruffin didn't break up The Temptations.

Feb 12 11 - 11:15am
nan

What the hell? You realize that there are motown artists out there other than Diana Ross and the Supremes right? Where is Smokey Robinson? Where are the Drifters and the Coasters?? And what the fuck are Shanice and Boyz 2 Men doing on a MOTOWN list??????

Feb 12 11 - 1:48pm
overreaction

Boyz 2 Men were Motown artists for about a decade. I'm not saying that I agree with their placement on this list, but they were Motown artists nonetheless.

Feb 12 11 - 8:15pm
tmp

Nobody read the intro, huh?

Feb 12 11 - 11:36am
Un Wan Ted

Since when is "Love child" a love song?

Feb 12 11 - 12:32pm
Maneki Nekko

Actually "Two Lovers" is about monogamy, too. Mary Wells was dating a guy with multiple personalities.

Feb 12 11 - 10:26pm
Anon

He didn't have multiple personalities, he had a bad temper. Wow. The author of this article is dumb.

Feb 12 11 - 2:01pm
DMC

There were several Marvin Gaye songs missing from this list. Distant Lover has to be one of my favorites. What about Teena Marie's "Portuguese Love" or "Cassanova Brown"? I agree that there are way too many Supremes songs on this list.

Feb 12 11 - 4:56pm
Vinegar Bend

Man, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but this is an atrocious list. Have you ever heard of The Four Tops? They should have several songs on this list.

Feb 12 11 - 6:51pm
read?

I think you missed the concept, guys. It says up top -- Motown, #1, w/ love in the title. That's the criteria.

Also, Motown isn't a style. It's a record label. Boyz II Men was on it.

Feb 12 11 - 9:13pm
D. Warner

Unfortunately, they're probably not going to read this either.

Feb 13 11 - 11:12am
nan

I'm reading it. I just think this was a dumb premise for a list. Why not consider Motown as a style rather than a label? You could include a greater variety of artists. And why not just make it about love songs rather than songs with "love" in the title? As it turns out I don't hate this list... I hate the concept of this list. :)

Feb 12 11 - 8:00pm
Bruce

Excuse me: The great Supremes' song--"Love is Like and Itching in My Heart! The Funk Brothers are in top form. And the Supremes sound almost gritty. Great song.... "The Love Bug done and bit me..............."

Feb 13 11 - 12:17am
Vinegar Bend

'Reach Out I'll Be There" by The Four Tops was #1

Feb 13 11 - 3:52am
Jane22

I'm quite a bit older than most of you so I disagree with this list, but thanks for the trip down Memory Lane

Feb 13 11 - 4:03pm
rb

im fifty where are the drifters?

Feb 13 11 - 8:43pm
Rafael

No Four Tops? Levi Stubbs laid down some of the out-and-out sexiest vocal tracks in the history of the single, and you managed to ignore all of them. The fabulous percussion, using the backing vocalists as another instrument, the sudden twists and turns in the arrangements...they all put many of the listed singles to shame. The pleading, unhinged yearning of "Bernadette," the wailing (and the fabulous tempo changes) of "Seven Rooms of Gloom," "Standing in the Shadows of Love." I mean, for fuck's sake... did you even realize the Four Tops were a Motown act?

Feb 14 11 - 5:55pm
Chris S.

The picture for #6 s is not Jr. Walker & The All-Stars but the Temptations.

Feb 14 11 - 10:40pm
ArchieLeech

"Love Hangover" is amazing in its long version. Because 2 1/2 minutes ain't enough.

Feb 14 11 - 10:40pm
ArchieLeech

"Love Hangover" is amazing in its long version. Because 2 1/2 minutes ain't enough.

Feb 14 11 - 10:40pm
ArchieLeech

"Love Hangover" is amazing in its long version. Because 2 1/2 minutes ain't enough.

Feb 15 11 - 10:20pm
J.Smith

take "worst" out of the title...theis are classic songs but Marvin Gaye "Distant Lover" should be on this list along with many others.

Feb 18 11 - 6:31pm
ChanChan

Wow this is quite the collection and clearly you have quite a breadth of knowledge concerning motown! I LOVE your blurbs about each song...kept me chuckling.

Feb 22 11 - 7:47pm
VraiCru

So, has anyone ever thought how weird it was that the Jackson 5 would sing songs with this depressing adult themes?

Apr 13 11 - 12:40am
Dortha

AKAIK you've got the ansewr in one!

Mar 05 12 - 1:04am
young fee

all the music go hard

Aug 12 12 - 3:14pm
henry grimes

Pointless discussion, Motown was nothing but mass manufactured garbage.

Sep 02 12 - 3:40am
Paolo

You're garbage grime