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The 25 Greatest Love Songs of the 2000s
Home is wherever we're with you.
Read this first! Bloggers, DJs, and critics helped us assemble this comprehensive list of great love songs. Before you tell us what we missed, a few notes. One, we excluded breakup songs and come-back-to-me songs and please-sleep-with-me songs. These are love songs — songs you could play to your current squeeze immediately after saying, "Steve/Miriam, this song explains my feelings for you, which may be nuanced but are ultimately positive," and not expect to sleep on the couch. Two, we limited it to one song per artist, with a couple of exceptions, like The Beatles, because they're The Beatles. Lastly, come back next week for the best love songs of the '00s, and click here for the best love songs of the '60s, the best love songs of the '70s, the best love songs of the '80s, and the best love songs of the '90s. Okay, now you can tell us what we missed. Have fun! — The Nerve Editors
25. Coldplay, "Yellow" (2000)
Before you write your "Coldplay is on this list, argument is invalid!!1!" comment, just wait. I agree that Coldplay is safe, innocuous, and largely forgettable. But "Yellow," their first American single, is something different. The song is majestic and ethereal; the chords are shimmering, expanding, always on the brink of overwhelming you. Yet what really grabs me is the romance of the whole thing. It looks you in the face and says, "Yes. This is it. This is love, right here. I know it and it is spectacular." — Colette McIntyre
24. Avett Brothers, "January Wedding" (2009)
For all the hype that surrounded the Avett Brothers on their first ascent into the mainstream, they weren't really doing anything revolutionary: just gracing the bluegrass and folk sounds of their native North Carolina with plaintive, beautifully rendered melodies. "January Wedding" is as pure a love song as you could ever wish for: "True love is not the kind of thing you should turn down / Don't ever turn it down." — Alex Heigl
Listen: Avett Brothers, "January Wedding"
23. Corinne Bailey Rae, "Like a Star" (2006)
Corinne Bailey Rae knows her way around a love song. She may fight with her paramour, like, all the time, but she still finds it an honor to love someone whom she feels is "just like a star across my sky, just like an angel off the page." — Kristin Hunt
Listen: Corinne Bailey Rae, "Like a Star"
22. Justin Timberlake, "My Love" (2006)
Layering Justin Timberlake's Bee-Gee-grade falsetto with Timbaland's futuristic synthesizer chords, "My Love" certainly has a lot going on. Yet in its most essential form, it's a ballad — and a pretty charming one too. JT's love is humble and refreshingly cute, dreaming only of hand-holding and beach-walking. He may have brought sexy back, but he didn't forget to bring sweetness along for the ride. — C.M.
Listen: Justin Timberlake, "My Love"
21. AIR, "Playground Love" (2000)
Teens in lust are a common pop-song topic, but this haunting theme from The Virgin Suicides turns hormonal hot-bloodedness into cool, clear devotion. "Anytime, anywhere, you're my playground love," purrs Thomas Marz, years ahead of his wider fame with Phoenix. Blanketed by smooth, subtle horns, he sounds like he's swirling a brandy years later, reliving a moment of infatuation he's now certain was the truest love he'll ever know. — Jeff Klingman
Listen: AIR, "Playground Love"
20. White Stripes, "In the Cold Cold Night" (2003)
Although "In The Cold, Cold Night" doesn't sound like your typical love song, it does sound exactly like the type of love song Meg White would sing: simple, sexually charged, and kind of eerie. Perhaps it's her reputation for being a hermit that makes this straightforward declaration of love so uncanny. But strangely enough, her impassive delivery actually makes the song feel more passionate. — Maura Hehir
Listen: White Stripes, "In the Cold Cold Night"
19. Regina Spektor, "Us" (2004)
There are different interpretations of this song, but one feels particularly salient: it's about love. The lyric "they made a statue of us," coupled with the flooding of the piano and Spektor's proud, earnest vocals, speaks to a beautiful wish for permanence in love. And as for the melody, like Spektor says, "it's contagious." — M.H.
Listen: Regina Spektor, "Us"
18. Old 97's, "Question" (2001)
In simple terms, with perfectly chosen details ("She woke from a dream/ Her head was on fire/ Why was he so nervous?"), Rhett Miller sketches a man proposing to a woman. Then, the kicker, which must, must, tug on even the crankiest heart: "Maybe tonight, I've got a question for you." — Peter Smith
Listen: Old 97's, "Question"
17. Drake, "Best I Ever Had" (2009)
While most MCs come out the gate talking about their money, their gunshot wounds, or their sexual prowess, Drake's debut single distinguished the Canadian rapper from all the rest. He wasn't afraid to talk about his feelings or his lady. Sure, "Best I Ever Had" gets a little raunchy, but when Drake reaches the lines "Sweatpants, hair tied, chillin' with no makeup on/ That's when you're the prettiest, I hope that you don't take it wrong," you can bet that every girl listening squeals with delight. — C.M.
Listen: Drake, "Best I Ever Had"