The idea of courtly or romantic love goes back to ancient times but really took on a more modern understanding of the topic in the Medieval Ages and thereafter. Needless to say, it has been part of every culture and era’s music since then. The Twentieth Century certainly solidified the idea of romance and often seduction, via song. Whether you were a fan of the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s or all of them, as we are, the one theme that seems to run through every decade is love. Love is timeless. Love reigns supreme. Love is the answer. And every decade had some really great songs about this subject.
The Beatles wrote a LOT of love songs. In fact, many would have labeled them the “Love Gurus” of the era. Some of the most classic and beautiful romantic songs you’ll ever hear were songs like “If I Fell” and “And I Love Her” from the movie “A Hard Day’s Night;” or their 1966 ballad “Here, There, and Everywhere,” which was considered by many to be Paul’s best love song. But it was their 1969 smash hit “Something” that captured the pure essence of true love. George wrote the song about his then-wife, Pattie Boyd. Boyd recalls: “He told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful.”
Meanwhile in the 60s, the Rolling Stones were just as well known, but for grittier anthems, and more of their “anti-love songs.” The Brian Jones era Stones surprised and delighted some of their fans with 1967’s “She’s A Rainbow,” from “Their Satanic Majesties Request” album. The album was often thought to be created under the influence of numerous psychotropic drugs and ended up being self-produced as a result. Many have said that this was the Stones answer to the Beatles smash success, “Sgt Pepper.”
Sadly, Brian Jones’ personal issues, stemming from his drug use brought about an end to his tenure with the Stones in June 1969, and Brian would be found dead less than a month later.
Keith Richards himself has been critical of the album in later years. While he likes some of the songs (especially “She’s a Rainbow”), he has often stated, “the album was a load of crap.”
Other great notable 60s love songs included:
1961 – Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
1964 – How Sweet It Is – Marvin Gaye
1965 – Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
1967 – Happy Together – The Turtles
The 70s were dominated by Queen. While they were best known for their rock anthems, such as “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Will Rock You.” In 1975, the band produced possibly the greatest love song of all time, at least in my opinion, when Freddie Mercury penned the song “Love of My Life” for his then-girlfriend Mary Austin. The song was such a concert favorite that Mercury frequently stopped singing and allowed the audience to take over.
The Bee Gees, quite simply, were the second half of the 70s. When the smash hit movie “Saturday Night Fever” took the United States by storm at the end of 1977, the Bee Gees were already well known for their love ballads, such as “Run to Me” and “To Love Somebody.” However, this movie, and its numerous hits by the Brothers Gibb launched the group into the stratosphere. I’d venture to say their greatest love song was their massive hit, “How Deep Is Your Love.” You couldn’t turn on any radio station and not hear this song at least once an hour.
Other notable 70s love songs included:
1972 – Oh Girl – The Chi-Lites
1974 – I Honestly Love You – Olivia Newton-John
1975 – I’m Not in Love – 10CC
1977 – Best of My Love – The Emotions
Oh, the 80s. So much great music, and for the most part, so undefined by any one band. Instead, you had a great range of love songs from 1980’s “Just Like Starting Over” by John Lennon, to Jody Watley’s 1989 song “Real Love.” But there were a few notable stand outs.
Air Supply could be called the masters of the love ballad. With hits like “All Out of Love” and “Lost in Love” in 1980, these guys seemed totally unstoppable in this department. But it was their 1983 smash hit, “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” that forever cemented their reign at the top.
When Bon Jovi hit the scene in 1984, rock and roll was truly ready for the next new thing. While most of their initial songs were considered more Glam Metal, their 1988 album “Bad Medicine” produced the epic power ballad “I’ll Be There for You.” This song cemented Bon Jovi in the power ballad category and led to so many more great hit love songs.
Other notable 80s love songs included:
1981 – Open Arms – Journey
1985 – Addicted to Love – Robert Palmer
1986 – The Glory of Love – Peter Cetera
1987 – Love Bites – Def Leppard
The 90s ushered in Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and the beginning of boy bands, and tons of cheesy love songs to go along with them. From Boys II Men to NSYNC to the Backstreet Boys, it was heaven for all the women. Who can forget those dance routines they performed with such precision?
Celine Dion and Mariah Carey topped the charts on a regular basis throughout the 90s. With hit ballads such as “Because You Loved Me” and “The Power of Love” from Celine Dion, and “Dreamlover” from Mariah Carey, the women definitely had a stronghold on that decade.
The Boy Bands also produced a slew of hit love songs, such as NSYNC’s 1997 smash hit “A Little More Time on You,” or Backstreet Boys 1997 song “As Long as You Love Me”. Or what about Boys II Men’s 1994 breakout hit “I’ll Make Love to You?” The decade was full of love and a bounty of love songs to boot.
One of my favorites will always be the combination of Boys II Men and Mariah Carey in 1995, singing their mega-hit “One Sweet Day.” I think that song resonated with so many people, on numerous levels.
Ahhh love songs. Almost everyone loves them. If you’ve ever been in love, then you probably have a love song that is “your song.” Play it loud. Play it proud. Because Love is all you need.
Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected]