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10. Prince, "Adore" (1987)
Prince overdubs himself into the world's coolest soul harmony group, just so he can serenade that crucial lady he plans to worship until the end of time. His warmest ballad is also his funniest, as he pledges, "You can burn all my clothes, smash up my ride — well, maybe not the ride." On his latest tour, he changed that line to "smash up my Bentley," but the sentiment remains undeniable: he's got to have your face on his pillowcase. — Rob Sheffield, writer for Rolling Stone and author of Talking to Girls About Duran Duran
Listen: Prince, "Adore"
9. Talking Heads, "This Must Be The Place" (1983)
"I try to write about small things — paper, animals, a house. Love is kind of big." That's David Byrne on writing love songs. Nevertheless, he managed one of the most beautiful ever, which builds in five minutes from uncertainty to soaring joy. Having entered a relationship with the most basic hopes ("I'm just an animal looking for a home — share the same space for a minute or two"), Byrne realizes he's gotten a lot more. Okay, I have to stop writing about this now, because I'm kind of tearing up. — P.S.
Listen: Talking Heads, "This Must Be The Place"
8. Aretha Franklin, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (1967)
Gerry Goffin and Carole King's lyrics about finding purpose and joy through love are heartfelt on their own. Add in vocals from the Queen of Soul, and you have a love song for the ages. — K.H.
Listen: Aretha Franklin, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"
7. Peter Gabriel, "In Your Eyes" (1986)
If you leave Say Anything out of it, "In Your Eyes" is a touching song about love under pressure. Like "Don't Give Up," also off Gabriel's hit So, it's a testament to love's ability to keep you sane while you struggle to stay alive. — P.S.
Listen: Peter Gabriel, "In Your Eyes"
6. The Beatles, "In My Life" (1965)
Beyond the unforgettable six-note guitar entry and Bach-inspired piano bridge of "In My Life" are some of the most moving lyrics ever written. The simple reflection on the past, and the love of one person who brings it all together, transcends time and makes you reflect on what really matters. — Lydia Simmons, of Sunset in the Rearview
Listen: The Beatles, "In My Life"
5. Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time" (1983)
Cyndi Lauper's most enduring masterpiece hits at the very essence of commitment. Lauper may be most often (and unfairly) remembered for the excesses of her image, but she captures real romance in the most simple and straightforward of lines: If you're lost, you can look and you will find me, time after time. — Jonathan Keefe, of Slant Magazine
Listen: Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time"
4. Roberta Flack, "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (1972)
Roberta Flack's gorgeous, intimate take on the Ewan MacColl folk ballad became a hit in 1972 and won a Grammy for Record of The Year. Flack's vocals are nothing less than spectacular, floating like pure bliss over an equally powerful musical arrangement featuring jazz legend Ron Carter, guitarist John Pizzarelli, and Flack on piano. It's as close to a perfect love song you can get; good for the bedroom, the wedding dance, and the ultimate love-song mixtape. — Bruce Warren, of WXPN
Listen: Roberta Flack, "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"
3. Al Green, "Let's Stay Together" (1971)
Is there any better intro to a song in all of soul music? Those Willie Mitchell-produced strings, punctuating horns, and seductive whispers that make up the first ten seconds of "Let's Stay Together" perfectly set the table (or is it the bed?) for what evolves into not only the definitive Al Green song but one of the sexiest love songs of all time. — Dan Wilcox, of KCRW
Listen: Al Green, "Let's Stay Together"
2. Beatles, "Something" (1969)
Love can be full of doubt, but sometimes all we have to do is take a good look at our partners and realize that no matter what happens, the present we have is the most beautiful time of all. This may be a fairly literal translation, but I say, "Testify, Brother Harrison!" The future is uncertain, but the song's emotional swell tells us that today the answer is yes. — Linda Park, of SXSW
Listen: Beatles, "Something"
1. The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows" (1966)
Two friends danced to this song at their wedding, and it was one of the most romantic things I've ever witnessed. We all felt a little more love that night as the lights twinkled down on us and Carl Wilson made us all ponder a moment over who we'd be without our partners on that dance floor. The joy mixed with melancholy sentiment in the lyrics captures perfectly what it is to be connected in this life. — Linda Park, of SXSW
Listen: The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"
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