LOVE SONGS 101: The Top 101 Love Songs (20-1)
Dec 1, 2003 (Updated Feb 15, 2004)
Popular Products in MusicThe Bottom Line Since then, I never looked back, it's almost like living a dream, and ooooooh I love you ~~~
The Gratuitous Intro
No big intro needed, let's just get on with this, shall we?
20.) "I Know" Dionne Farris
I can recognize the symptoms
You should know I've changed my mind
I know what you're doing and it's not gonna work this time
This song was so huge when it was popular, what ever happened to it? Dionne Farris blew the doors of a dozen genres at once with her electrifying romp "I Know". Screw Alanis' "You Oughta Know", just take a listen to this for some serious melodic smackdown! The electric guitars throb like there's no tomorrow, but Dionne sings right over them, not intimidated in the slightest. Her voice is solid, she hits all the notes with no trouble, and she looks cool as hell in the video. The bridge is absolute magic; wherever they came up with that hook, I have no clue.
19.) "Hard Habit To Break" Chicago
Being without you takes a lot of getting used to
Should learn to live with it, but I don't want to
Of all Chicago's songs, this one sounds like it took the most effort to get just right. In most cases, the end result of such an endeavor in songcrafting leads to something that drives like it's being held together by bubblegum. Not for "Hard Habit To Break". The string sections at the end of this song, I could listen to that thirty-second segment looped over itself for hours and never tire of it. You know how sometimes a melody is comfortably depressing? This is one of those. I guess a love song shouldn't be hopeless, but it's more fun to lose a battle than to win a war anyway.
18.) "Beautiful Day" U2
What you don't have you don't need it now
What you don't know you can feel somehow
What you don't have you don't need it now
Don't need it now, it was a beautiful day
Maybe if I were more familiar with U2's catalogue, I'd be putting something like "All I Want Is You" or "One" here, but I always thought there was something amazing about "Beautiful Day", something that made you feel like you were flying across the sky at Mach 10 and absorbing oodles of energy along the way. There are so many different things that can make a day beautiful, but I think the hidden catalyst here is love as well, especially with a line like Touch me, take me to that other place.
17.) "Even The Nights Are Better" Air Supply
I never dreamed there'd be someone to hold me
Until you told me and now that I've found you
Even the nights are better
I'm not even sure that describing this one is necessary; you either love 'em or hate 'em, and chances are the feeling carries over into this song. But once again, this tune shows that Air Supply are more than just balladeers. When the third chorus arrives, it's like "Wait a second, what KEY did they just jump into???" And I dare you to try to play the guitar solo that segues into it -- holy shizoli. It's still Air Supply, though, and therefore, romance city.
16.) "Stars" Simply Red
As for all the things you taught me
Sends my future into clearer dimensions
You'll never know how much you hurt me
Stay, can't you see that I... wanna fall from the stars
I'm not familiar with a lot of Simply Red's work either, but I do understand that they are a widely scorned band. But this song, man oh man. This is one of those I have heard countless times over the last dozen years, but mysteriously never latched onto until recently. One day I just suddenly realized "Hey, that song's kind of groovy." And the more I listened to it, the more I looked forward to the next time. Everything in this song is played so carefully, the shaky mid-tempo beat, the marvelous guitar riff and the driving piano in the back seat. Something about all these different elements that don't sound like they belong together that mixes so well in this one particular instance. Perhaps because they found a melody that is just left-of-center enough to be appropriate for such an outlandish presentation.
15.) "Laughter In The Rain" Neil Sedaka
Ooh I hear laughter in the rain
Walking hand in hand with the one I love
Ooh how I love the rainy days
And the happy way I feel inside
God, this song is so great. Talk about being both cheesy and sexy at the same time. He and this girl are in the rain without an umbrella and they're soaking wet, sharing their love under stormy skies. Holy moly, man. Just listen to the way he harmonizes on that chorus -- it sounds like there's an army of him singing! I'm telling you, just listening to this song all I wanna do is throw it up to the top five. It's just completely out of my league to describe anything as beautiful and naive as this.
14.) "Fortress Around Your Heart" Sting
And if I built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm
Let me set the battlements on fire
The Tantric One delivers his most scintillating melody ever right here. I do believe this is the third time I've tried to describe this song, and last time I cut & pasted from the first time, so I won't do that again. Basically, this is my take on it -- he has been too overprotective of someone he loves and built a proverbial "fortress" around her heart. But what he doesn't realize is that he blocked himself out too. Now he's trying to get back in, and he is his own enemy. But he'll do anything. There is a foreboding sadness that permeates every second of the verses, and in the chorus, the percussion enters (BANG!) and he, err, rises to the occasion with an irresistible pop melody. Not bad for a first solo album track if you ask me.
13.) "Alone" Heart
Til now, I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone
How do I get you alone?
Gooooood question there, Annie! As much as I might parade around here wearing my heart on my sleeve all the time, the truth is that it's pretty tough for me to believe that women have as hard a time with unrequited love as men do. I guess it depends on a lot of things, though. But when Ann sings this song, I believe her and boy do I ever believe her. You can throw out the fact that this song has a dropdead badass synth melody going on behind it, just Ann's vocals alone on this song would be every bit as gorgeous. The wail before the last chorus is PRICELESS. And I find myself asking the same question she does... "How do I get her alone?" And it ain't so I can do the hanky panky either!
12.) "Heart Hotels" Dan Fogelberg
Seek inspiration in daily affairs
Now your soul is in trouble and requires repairs
And the voices you hear at the top of the stairs
Are only echoes of unanswered prayers.
I think the lyrics to this song are some of the most beautiful ever written. Dan compares his heart to a hotel (like you couldn't have guessed that), and he's looking around for any love he might have left behind. It could be an exercise in introspection, or the ultimate act of desperation, but either way it's a song that a lot of us can relate to. The music is also perfectly aligned with the mood, and slightly abstract, just to capture the confusing aspect of such a journey. I really would have liked to get "Same Old Lang Syne" on here as well; that's another song that deserves more attention than it gets. (Funny I should say that, and two days later, I hear the song on the radio for the first time in over FIVE YEARS. I'm telling you, this stuff always happens!)
11.) "Time In A Bottle" Jim Croce
If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you
Oh man, it's getting hot in here! Okay, so this is one of those songs I got sick and tired of hearing about how great it was, until I finally actually had to hear it a few times at work. The problem is that you only remember bits and pieces of it from your childhood, and what you remember is very little, if anything at all beyond how the title sounds when it is sung. The guitar fingering in this song is just stellar, and the atmosphere is dark and almost completely empty. A single note plays, you're going to hear it. And it's going to be loud. And it's going to contribute to the big picture. The big picture of this song is something unspeakably gorgeous, and romantic in ways that would have you rolling like thunder under the covers in no time.
Now before I jump into the top 10, I would just like to make a confession. I am a total dumbass. I forgot a certain song that I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted on here, and since I'm not Casey Kasum, I'm tweaking the rules a little bit, even though I SAID I wouldn't do this...
10.5) "Take On Me" A-Ha
So needless to say I'm odds and ends
But that's me stumbling away
Slowly learning that life is OK, say after me
It's no better to be safe than sorry
If you know this song, you know why it's here. If you haven't heard it (or you have and you can hit THAT note), then I ask what planet are you from? Heh, well this song is everything lovable, upbeat and playful about the 80's. And it's even touching, if you let it.
And now, back to the matter at hand...
10.) "I'll Be Around" Spinners
Whenever you call me, I'll be there
Whenever you want me, I'll be there
Whenever you need me, I'll be there, I'll be around
From the opening guitar riff, you know exactly what this song is going to be (unless you're in a grocery store and you hear that "Personal delivery" crap that starts out exactly the same). The beat is probably the most irresistible thing about this song, aside from the fact that it's soulfully simple and allaround catchy. It is just not humanly possible to resist dancing, unless you're bound by chains, which in that case you're probably getting something even better than the rest of us so forget about it!
9.) "I Love You" Climax Blues Band
Since then, I never looked back
It's almost like living a dream
And ooooh, I love you
This here's one of the true classics. A long forgotten tune that popped up at Karaoke one night and became a favorite of mine to sing. The male vocals may be on the high end of the spectrum, but not whiny in the least bit. This is one of the "victorious" love songs, in which the guy's feeling down, hittin' the beer, growing his hair, and he meets that one girl who straightens him out, and he's thanking her for it. The combination of gratitude and self-growth is evident in every note of the song, but for the most part, the background music is wonderfully subtle. Two excellent guitar solos come and go, and how they follow all those key changes is quite beyond me. When the last chorus comes along, you have to stand tall if you're delivering these lines -- If ever a man had it all, it would have to be me, and oooooh I love you. Kick ass.
8.) "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" Backstreet Boys
Sometimes I wish I could turn back time
Impossible as it may seem, but I wish I could
So bad, baby, you better quit playin' games with my heart
Oh boy, am I gonna get it. Despite all the boy band hoopla that came along ever since the release of this song, you've got to admit, it was a damn good song that started it. Something about the drums in this song always reminds me of a triangle for some reason, is there a psychological explanation for that? Anyways, this song is tight, no other word to describe it. The boys bring together their voices and create a wonderfully urban-flavored tune with delightful little bursts of melody here and there. I especially love the fluttery notes that follow after the line "Let's stop this tonight", best damn part of the whole song. Then it slams back into that oh so cool hook. Also watch the bass just before the start of the last chorus. So many little things about this song, I'm telling you.
7.) "Crazy For This Girl" Evan & Jaron
Would you look at her as she looks at me
She's got me thinking about her constantly
But she don't know how I feel
And as she carries on without a doubt
I wonder if she'll figure out
I'm crazy for this girl
I'll tell you what really makes this song awesome and you'll never guess. It's the use of the word "this". He could have said "I'm crazy for that girl," as though he were telling his guy friends; he could have said "I'm crazy for the girl," as though she were just another one. But he says "I'm crazy for this girl." The word implies that all of his attention is focused on her, as if he has her right there in his hand and he's asking you to take a look. Forget about the acoustic version, this song just isn't the same without its intensity. It makes you feel like you are literally drowning in the feeling, and there's just no competing with the vocal harmony between these two guys. Can't forget that Mick Fleetwood is the one playing the drums; that certainly doesn't hurt anything. I will never forget how deeply this song moved me at the apex of my interest.
6.) "Superstar" The Carpenters
Don't you remember you told me you loved me baby
Said you'd be coming back this way again baby
I guess I was just starting to come out of infancy and into actual awareness when this song came along. Not only does the song have a cool title, but it lives up to that title. Karen just oozes melancholy as she calls out to her famous guy friend, who doesn't seem to have the time for her anymore. The backing instrumentation is something to watch out for; it moves this song along at a brisk pace and keeps you wondering where she's going to take it next. Sonic Youth did an interesting remake with some kind of fast descending siren sound in the background on the chorus; I thought that was like the coolest thing, it made it sound like it was an actual emergency that the person was not coming back; and it may as well have been an emergency to Karen. Surely she was hurting enough for it to be.
5.) "Jealous Guy" John Lennon
I didn't mean to hurt you, I'm sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn't want to hurt you, I'm just a jealous guy
Every time this song comes on, I just freeze. I don't know what it is. Much like "Imagine", this is a song that has nothing more than John's voice, the piano, and the occasional stringeroo. But where "Imagine" had a low-key seriousness to it, "Jealous Guy" has this standoffish high-pitched delivery, like it's almost scared to ask for forgiveness. It just doesn't get any more exquisite than this.
4.) "She's Like The Wind" Patrick Swayze
Such a fool to believe I have anything she needs
She's like the wind
I was driving at night when the idea came to me to do the Top 100 Love Songs of all time, and what song should be playing but this one. This is THE ultimate "driving alone at night" song. You gotta respect anyone who can act AND sing as well as this guy does. Opening with an eccentric piano line, this song heads into a lonely melody, and old Mr. Solitary Swayze delivers his case. For as many simple lines as there are in the song (Living without her, I go insane) it sure comes off as convincing! This was originally my #1 song, but alas, things change.
3.) "I Saw The Light" Todd Rundgren
I tried to run, though I knew it wouldn't help me none
'Cause I couldn't ever love no one, or so I said
But my feelings for you are just something I never knew
Til I saw the light in your eyes
As many times as I have heard this song on Mom's oldies station, I simply cannot believe what I have missed. I could go on about the tons of "little" things about this one, but more than anything else it's the way all those little things come together. Considering it's an oldie, I'm surprised Todd was able to get away with such a peculiar beat. If you really watch it, it comes out strangely. The guitar lick that plays throughout the beginning of the song mysteriously disappears, only to come back at the perfect time, along with a slight change in the words at the end. It's just too cool for words.
2.) "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, and many others!
You could've told me yourself
That you loved somebody else
Instead, I heard it through the grapevine
Okay, the whole reason I had to go into all that crap about P.O'ed love songs is because of this one. Now that we have that out of the way, just take a listen! With all the different versions of this song that exist, it seems that no one can ruin it. And I find myself hard-pressed to pick any one specific one. Gladys Knight turns it into an upbeat dance tune, Marvin Gaye makes a despondent soul piece out of it. But the song is internationally famous and can be recognized instantly by its brooding opening chords. Some may even still get pictures of the California Raisins in their heads when the song comes on. No matter which version you go for, though, this is one of the greatest melodies ever conceived. And very rarely does a melody fit so well with the words as this one does. This song plays at the funeral of at least 95% of failed relationships. Within the unceasing evolution of this list, "Grapevine" too enjoyed a brief stay at #1.
But I figured if we were talking about Love Songs and all, I should at least let #1 be a happy one...
And so we are finally there...
Are you ready for this?
Can't you just feel the excitement?
Don't get your hopes up, I can almost promise you it's not the song you are thinking of.
And, here we are...
1.) "Breakfast At Tiffany's" Deep Blue Something
And I said what about breakfast at Tiffany's
Riding on the sharp-as-the-edge-of-a-knife border between pop and rock, Deep Blue Something treat us to the masterpiece, the Big Kahuna of all love songs.
Well, okay, let's just get it over with.
1.) "Chains Of Love" Erasure
We used to talk about the weather
Making plans together, days would last forever
Come to me, cover me, hold me
Together we'll break these chains of love
Don't give up, don't give up
Together with me and my baby break the chains of loooove
Yeah, this is it. Now you can breathe your collective sigh of relief. Erasure always had kind of an "arty" feel to a lot of their music, so even when they went off in more of a mainstream area, as they did with "Chains Of Love", they still came out with stellar results. This song has the most flawless beat, eminent vocals from the soulful lead singer Andy Bell (who weaves in and out of falsetto like a motorcycle through traffic) and a wonderfully discreet melody all the way around. And when you take your loved one out to dance to this harefooted monster, you'll probably end up just spinning around in circles until you both fall down!
There is something almost disappointing about reaching the end of such a fun journey. But I suppose it's all just another step in the great big thing we call life.
So rather than making a big spectacle of it, I'll just bid you goodbye.
And I hope you had a good time :)
And thanks again to all who have supported my ass and made this possible.
And thanks to all the great musical artists who continue to sweep us off our feet.
And thanks to God, for blessing me with the ability to see such beauty.
And thanks to myself, I guess.
Allright, take it easy y'all
Keep the faith
And don't give up!
Mike's Love Songs 100-81
Mike's Love Songs 80-61
Mike's Love Songs 60-41
Mike's Love Songs 40-21
Mike's Love Songs 20-1