Love is one of those feelings that you just want to shout about. But it can be hard to figure out how to express everything it is that you’re feeling – love is a complicated thing, and writers have spent centuries disagreeing on how best to describe it. Often, when people want to show their significant others how much they mean to them, they’ll turn to love songs.
Playing someone an emotional song about love – or even writing one yourself – is a very romantic gesture, especially if the lyrics of the song have a special meaning to you and your partner. There have been hundreds of great emotional love songs written over the years, but some stand out above the rest. Here are 21 of the best emotional songs about love.
Best Emotional Songs About Love
“Lover” – Taylor Swift
Swift has written many great songs about love and relationships, but Lover is considered one of her most romantic. She is head over heels for her partner, and never wants to leave his side. “Can I go where you go? Can we always be this close?” she asks him. The title track from the singer’s Lover album, the song sees Swift reclaim the old fashioned word for her and her partner.
Swift has described how she wrote the emotional love song entirely on her own in the middle of the night after coming up with the idea. She later dropped a remix featuring Shawn Mendes, in which Mendes rewrote some of the song to reflect his own love story.
“Love Takes Time” – Mariah Carey
This emotional song about love from one of the greatest voices of all time tells the sad story of a love story gone sour. After letting true love slip through her fingers, she laments the fact that it took her too long to realise what she had. But she knows that “love takes time” – and now it’s going to take some time for her to love herself again.
“Love Takes Time” was originally intended for Carey’s second album, but her label were so taken with the track that it was rushed onto her self-titled debut. Mariah Carey had already started to be printed and pressed. The track was snuck onto the album, but there are still versions of the record out there that don’t list it on the track list due to its last-minute inclusion.
“I’ll Never Love Again” – Lady Gaga ft Bradley Cooper
Written for the 2018 film A Star Is Born, “I’ll Never Love Again” is a devastating ballad about losing the love of your life. Lady Gaga channels all the emotion of her character, Ally, into this tragic love song. “Don’t want to feel another touch,” she sings. “Don’t want to start another fire.”
Gaga recorded this track just minutes after receiving news about the death of an old friend, Sonja Durham, which is part of why her emotion feels so real. She recalled that Sonja “gave me a tragic gift that day.”
“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston
“I Will Always Love You” is often referred to as an ‘unsingable’ song, because it’s hard to imagine a performance that comes close to Whitney Houston’s. The singer tells the story of a relationship ending and reminds her lover that even though they are parting ways, she will always hold onto her love for him.
Originally written by Dolly Parton as a country ballad, “I Will Always Love You” was transformed by Houston into a contemporary pop and soul smash hit. It was originally recorded by Houston as the lead single from the film The Bodyguard, in which she starred alongside Kevin Costner.
“Can You Feel The Love Tonight” – Elton John
This gentle love ballad was written by John alongside Tim Rice for the film The Lion King. In the film, the song is sung by the characters Timone and Pumbaa, but John’s version that played over the end credits of the film remains the most enduring version. Working on The Lion King soundtrack was something of a comeback for John, and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” earned him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
“My Heart Will Go On” – Céline Dion
One of the most recognisable movie themes in history, Céline Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ made a nation weep when it was used in James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic. Written by James Horner and Will Jennings, the emotional track describes a love that endures no matter what forces conspire to separate the two lovers.
Dion was the first choice to sing the track, but originally wasn’t too thrilled about the idea. She recorded the demo in one take, wanting to get it over quickly so she could focus on the fun pop she was more interested in. That one-take demo ended up being the version used in the film.
“Video Games” – Lana Del Rey
Del Rey is known for her epic, cinematic love songs, but “Video Games,” her debut single, remains one of her most popular. Whilst she is very in love with her partner in the song, Del Rey feels like she is putting in far more effort to the relationship than he is.
The emotional realisation that she is love with the relationship she wants and not with the person in front of her hits her when she compares her current partner to the love she idealises in her head.
“Perfect” – Ed Sheeran
Sheeran wrote a lot of love songs before he wrote “Perfect,” including the incredibly popular wedding song “Thinking Out Loud.” But “Perfect” is possibly his most emotional, because of how personal it is to his relationship with his now-wife Cherry Seaborn. Sheeran emailed Seaborn the track fairly early in the relationship – a bold move, but apparently it paid off.
“Just The Way You Are” – Bruno Mars
In this sweet love song, Mars reminds his lover that despite her insecurities, he loves her exactly as she is. The emotional track sees Mars listing all the things that he loves about his girlfriend and reminding her that she never needs to worry about how he feels about her. “If perfect’s what you’re searching for then just stay the same,” he tells her.
“A Moment Like This” – Kelly Clarkson
“A Moment Like This” captures the emotion of realising that you’ve stumbled upon a one in a million kind of love. “Some people search forever for that one special kiss,” sings Clarkson. “Oh, I can’t believe it’s happening to me.”
After Clarkson won the first season of American Idol, “A Moment Like This” was released as her first single. Each of the finalists also recorded their own version of the song, in case it happened to be their winner’s single instead.
“A Thousand Years” – Christina Perri
Perri sings about an eternal, timeless love on “A Thousand Years.” After being chosen to attend an early screening of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part One, she went straight home and wrote this track to reflect the central love story in the film. Since the franchise is about vampires, the themes of eternal love are especially applicable.
Since appearing on the Twilight soundtrack, “A Thousand Years” has become a popular wedding song around the world.
“Turning Page” – Sleeping At Last
Another emotional song about love from the Twilight soundtrack, “Turning Page” reflects on waiting what feels like forever for that perfect love – and knowing that you could have waited so much longer if you’d only known how perfect it would all be.
“Your love is my turning page, where only the sweetest words remain,” sings Ryan O’Neal. Having been a fan of the previous Twilight soundtracks, O’Neal decided to write something for Breaking Dawn Part One. This ballad became the music that Bella Swan walked down the aisle to onscreen – and that hundreds of brides walked down the aisle to in real life.
“Romeo and Juliet” – Dire Straits
Dire Straits singer Mark Knopfler sings this Shakespeare-inspired love song about a couple who just can’t seem to find their moment. Having been pulled apart by fate, the two still hold a lot of love for each other, but just can’t find a way to make things work between them. “When are you gonna realise it was just that the time was wrong?” Knopfler asks his Juliet.
“First Day Of My Life” – Bright Eyes
This beautiful acoustic love song from band Bright Eyes describes how falling in love can change everything. Conor Oberst pens an emotional ode to realising that the person beside you is an essential part of your life and someone you want to be with forever. “I realised that I need you, and I wondered if I could come home?” he asks them.
“Mid Air” – Paul Buchanan
Featured on the soundtrack of romantic comedy About Time, “Mid Air” sees Buchanan singing about how the picture he has in his head of “the girl I want to marry” will never fade.
He remembers every detail about how she looked when they first met, and in his memory she is floating – an illustration of how fantastical the moment is for him. “I can see you standing in mid air,” he sings over the gentle piano accompaniment.
“Make You Feel My Love” – Adele
This emotional piano ballad from Adele is a depiction of absolute devotion. “No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do to make you feel my love,” sings Adele. She wants the person she loves to never be in doubt about how much she loves them.
“Make You Feel My Love” is a cover of the a 1997 track by Bob Dylan – Adele heard the song whilst making her debut album, 19, and felt that it perfectly summed up how she was feeling at the time.
“i love you” – Billie Eilish
Sometimes expressing how you feel can be a difficult thing. When Eilish’s boyfriend tells her that he loves her, her response takes him by surprise. Eilish reacts with alarm and fear, which upsets her boyfriend.
“Baby won’t you take it back, say you were trying to make me laugh,” she sings. She isn’t ready to be that emotionally vulnerable with him and fears it may lead to the end of the relationship, even though she probably is in love with him.
“All Of Me” – John Legend
Written for wife Chrissy Teigen, John Legend’s emotional piano ballad is a beautiful celebration of falling in love. “All of me loves all of you,” he tells her. “Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections.” Legend isn’t afraid to shout about everything he loves about Teigen and he wants to make sure that she’s never in doubt of it.
“Iris” – The Goo Goo Dolls
“I’d give up forever to touch you,” sings John Rzeznik on “Iris.” The emotional rock ballad reminds us that sometimes love requires sacrifice, but if you really love someone, you’d do anything to stay by their side. “When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am,” sings Rzeznik.
“Everything” – Parachute
This beautiful orchestral piano ballad from band Parachute sees them singing about the all-consuming nature of love. “You ask me how I feel, and it’s really no big deal – you’re only everything,” sings Will Anderson. The song captures the complicated emotions of love, and how it all comes down to that simple statement.
“As Long As I Have You I’m Home” – Imaginary Future
Singer-songwriter Jesse Epstein pens a delicate ode to his wife and fellow musician, Kina Grannis, in “As Long As I Have You I’m Home.” The emotional love song reminds the listener that home can be found in people just as much as it can be in places, and the safety and comfort Epstein finds in his wife makes him feel at home.
Love is a huge, complicated feeling that it can be difficult to pin down. These songs tackle the enormous task of putting love into words, often to incredibly emotional effect. Whether you’re looking for a song to play for the person you just fell in love with, you’re trying to work through some complicated feelings, or you’re searching for the perfect first dance song for your wedding, these emotional songs about love come at the feeling from every angle, so you’re sure to find the right one for you.
Caitlin Devlin is a music, entertainment and lifestyle writer based in London. When she’s not creating playlists for Repeat Replay, she’s reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for Ticketmaster UK and thinking about what her Spotify Wrapped will look like this year.