It's Valentine's Day so we though we'd celebrate with a look at love in all it guises. From innocent romance to sex and everything in between (the sheets!) Here is Photogroupie's 50 best love songs, some great songs you know and some you don't and not an Unchained Melody in sight.
It must be love love love! Valentine's Day wouldn't be the same without it. As they say it makes the world go round so if it's love at first sight or the love that has seen you through the good times and the bad let's pay tribute to the songs that remind you of the 'one'. Here goes...
#1 Hey There Delilah -Plain White Tees
This is beautiful, simple and hits the spot – the perfect love song! As powerful as anything Lennon and McCartney would have written. Although sadly not as well known the sentiment is no less poignant. Whoever Delilah is she is bound to be overwhelmed by this romantic gesture.
#2 The Woman in Me – Shania Twain
From our research the best love songs are those that rely on a heartfelt vocal and stripped back accompaniment rather than the over embellishment of orchestration. The Woman In Me is an early Shania Twain song before the mainstream pop country sound kicked her into super stardom. In the typical country vain, the tender love song is superior to the populist tracks – From This Moment and You're Still The One which she is better known for.
#3 Easy Silence – The Dixie Chicks
You've heard of awkward silences, well the Dixie Chicks have crafted a sensitive song about the joy of silence in a loving relationship. These gal's are brilliant because they cover the whole range of emotions within a relationship from fear to hope to resentment and hate and lots more in the time honoured formula of a 'Country Music' story. Ye Ha!
#4 I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston
Not the obvious choice for a Whitney song, but then again it's not nearly so overplayed! It's bold but tender. It's classic Whitney and a worthy love song that's capable of standing along side the other great songs on the Bodyguard soundtrack. We will always love her!
#5 Penny Lover – Lionel Ritchie
A smoochy classic. The warmth and sensitivity in his voice as he opens his heart gives the song verisimilitude that is often missing from overworked love songs. Ritchie's stock in trade is the heartfelt ballad, Stuck On You, Hello, Truly, Easy and Three Times A Lady. He claims that many people have conceived whilst listening to his songs. So if this Valentine's night you are planning a baby – make sure Lionel is playing in the background!
#6 I Won't Last A Day Without You – The Carpenters
The tone of Karen's voice is enough to make you come out in goosebumps, pure, seductive and sincere, so many wonderful songs to choose from but we think this one is just a bit extra special. Just the qualities you want in the perfect lover, but this is no 'one night stand' song, this is for keeps.
#7 Stop, Look, Listen to your Heart – Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross.
What can you say – these two have sung enough wonderful love songs to seduce the world. Individually their voices have a magic quality, a richness so rare – but together they sound phenomenal! This song is about listening to your inner voice – stop playing games. Go ahead “Jump head over heels and fall right in.”
#8 Have I Told Lately That I Love You – Rod Stewart
Rod has had so many great songs from very sexy to romantic and everything in between but Have I Told You Lately is about not forgetting to TELL them that you love them. It’s easy to take those we love for granted. You love them – let them know! Those three little words don't cost a thing. Go on give it a try this Valentine's Day.
#9 Heaven (Candlelight mix) – DJ Sammy
DJ Sammy's slow romantic rendition of Heaven Brings a tear to the eye.”Thinking about our younger years, we were young and wild and free”. They've grown up a bit now – a mature love, a love that has stood the test of time. She has found 'The One' Heaven is in their arms. Bless!
#10 I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song – Jim Croce
Jim Croce was just such a wonderful songsmith who wrote some amazing songs in his short life, this is one of them. As we've discovered with all the best love songs simplicity is the key and the sentiment of this song just rings out with every chord and every lyric. It's eloquently written, sincere and timelessly romantic and one of the best love songs of all time.
#11 The Look Of Love – Dusty Springfield
The smokie, sexy vocals of Dusty were made for this Bacharach and David song. Its jazzy soulful feel is a perfect coupling of loving tenderness and longing lust which make it a Valentines classic.
#12 Right Here In My Arms - HIM
Here's one for all you loved up metal heads! With an epic chorus, Ville Valo's angst ridden vocals and plenty of power chords – a great track to start you V Day mosh!
#13 All Of Me – John Legend
In this modern world or twerking, blurred lines and 30 minute love affairs, this track by John Legend is a rare example of a true honest love song. Once again the simplicity of a lone piano and ghostly harmonies embellish Legend's soothing romantic aria.
#14 I Put A Spell On You – Nina Simone
The opening 18 seconds of this songs are instantly recognisable. Many people have covered this song but Nina’s version remains the definitive classic. Her bitter-sweet voice is as enchanting as her scat singing which serves an incantation for her lover. With a painfully short running time of 2 minutes 34 seconds, it doesn’t take Nina long to get her man and with a serenade like this you can see why.
#15 You Really Got Me – The Kinks
It's not just slow tunes that can be sexy, this track from The Kinks heralded the rock sound with its power chords and distorted guitar. That crazy guitar solo along with Ray Davies' vocals indicate a lovestruck madness that demonstrates a different side to love.
Lust, it might be one of the seven deadly sins, but boy have some terrific songs been written about it. It's not quite love, it's not quite sex, but it's that no-mans land in-between the two where hearts race with long smoldering looks. Here are our picks of some of the hottest songs about lust...be warned you may need a cold shower!
#16 Foxey Lady – Jimi Hendrix
The King of psychedelic sex, Jimi Hendrix not only made love to his guitar, but all his female fans with this track. It's the perfect mix of voyeurism, aggression and raw sexuality. The driving guitar along with the rhythmic bass and drums bring out a primitive tribalism in the song and Jimi's voice fluctuates between passionate desire and lust; What would Mary Whitehouse say!
#17 Give In to Me – Michael Jackson
MJ and Slash - “you had me at hello!” - a terrific musical partnership. Jackos vocals plead and demand with desperate desire and Slash's guitar solo makes you go weak. The song just keeps warming up until it reaches its explosive crescendo, “I'll have what they're having!”
#18 I've Got to See you Again - Norah Jones
Tango is the dance of love and this takes on the Latin staple, slows it down to a slinky swaying masterpiece. It's as much about love as it is about obsession. The arrangement of this track, from the bright piano to the crying gypsy violin, creates the scene of yearning that will have you in a heap on the floor within four minutes - especially when Norah Jones delivers that final perfectly phrased demand.
#19 The Sensual World – Kate Bush
Based on Molly Blooms soliloquy at the end of James Joyce's Ulysses, Kate Bush has written the sexiest song in the world. With hugely suggestive, sexy lyrics, a undulating uilleann pipe and Kate's breathy vocals create the ultimate erotic song. Mmm yes.
#20 Set The Prairie On Fire – Shawn Colvin
Another hugely sexy song penned by a woman makes our lust list. The opening chords on an organ and that slide guitar tell us this is one sexy MF of a song. Shawns low staccato and vocal quiver capture the lust and desire of the moment. The middle 8 at 3.52 shifts the song into another gear; the sensuality is apparent. The suggestive lyrics are poetic and clever. They say noting and they say everything.
#21 Because The Night – Patti Smith Group
Bruce Springsteen wrote the music for this song but didn't know what else to do with it. Enter Patti Smith who stepped in to write lyrics as an ode to her then boyfriend. Some accused the queen of punk of selling out with a mainstream hit song, but we think it's a fab song; a perfect mix of lust, sex, passion and love.
#22 Buttons – Pussycat Dolls
This is by far one of the most sexy songs of recent years. The hint of Eastern promise in the music gives it that tilting Middle Eastern belly dance feel which makes the song stand apart. The video should come with an R rating too!
#23 She's A Beast – Lenny Kravitz
In the style of Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz creates a rock ballad with a country feel. With an acoustic guitar laying down the foundations of the track before layering strings, drums and electric guitar to create a smooth, lusty love song.
#24 Do you Get Excited? - Roxette
A power pop song from Roxette with a great energy. The video is typically 90s made with that dreamy, floaty style (sandstorms, lots of nauseating spinning camera angles, wind machines that kind of thing.) The song itself rocky rather than erotic, but it has a cool chorus and it's upbeat lusty lyrics make it a perfect classic for soft rock fans.
Lets talk about SEX!
After all those longing looks and getting hot under the collar we've picked some of the best tunes about getting jiggy with it!
#25 Tina Turner – Steamy Windows
This Tina track is full on and explosive. The rolling bass line and Tina's impeccable phrasing adds to the sensuality of the track. Despite describing a tacky fumble in the back-seat of a car, this song is pure class.
#26 Closer – Nine Inch Nails
This classic NIN song is as subtle as a sledgehammer, but it's hedonistic animalism and sleazy dirty sound is an example of an alternative sex scene. We reckon it would make Mr Grey blush!
#27 Pull Up To The Bumper – Grace Jones
This funk and R & B inspired track from 1981 was hugely controversial due to it's lyrics. Although Jones has suggested that the lyrics could be interpreted with a non-sexual meaning, we can't see how. Undeniably its a great club tune, perfect for some dirty dancing – or washing your car...
#28 Lick It Before You Stick It – Denise LaSalle
The R&B and Hip Hop genres have always been more progressive when it come to S E X. LaSalle acts as Dr Ruth advising guys on how to please their ladies. It's executed with humour - It's actually not a bad song either.
#29 Shave 'Em Dry (Shave Me Dry) Lucile Brogan Aka Bessie Jackson
Recorded in 1935 it's lyrical content could make most rappers blush. Jackson's authoritarian demands are given with humour and wit, it's too graphic to be sexy but it's fun. Just don't let your Mum hear it!
#30 I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby – Barry White
Ah the Walrus of Love, it wouldn't be Valentine's Day without him. In places this track is more like a internal monologue, a soundtrack to love making itself. The music is as hypnotic as Barry’s voice with rhythm is forceful but the strings temper that with some romance.
# 31 S&M – Rihanna
As this list was inspired by 50 shades of Grey it seemed appropriate to have an S&M song in here, it's a great club tune too. “Chains and whips excite me” - Oh Rihanna you really are a good girl gone bad!
#32 Kiss – Tom Jones and the Art Of Noise
It's Tom Jones, do we need to say anything else?
#33 Need You Tonight – INXS
Not a big hit in the UK, but this track deserves to be in our list. The late Michael Hutchence was pretty damn sexy and so is this song. The tone of the music is peppered with desire; the thrusting rhythm of the track, the hot lyrics, that guitar sound and the last line makes the listener putty in Hutchence's hands.
#34 Spark In the Dark – Alice Cooper
This track is pure Alice. With double entendres a plenty and a campy 80s rock vibe which is all part of the charm. It's sexy and it knows it.
#35 Bone Me Like You Own Me – Barbara Carr
This bluesy little number has only one message, as indicated in the title. In the vain of Denise LaSalle's song its funky and explicit but a well crafted 12 bar song. It's not subtle but this woman knows what she wants!
#36 Sadeness Part 1 – Enigma
Who would have thought Gregorian chant could be sexy? This track has appeared in many films, usually to underscore a sex scene. Not necessarily an obvious lovers choice, but there is a certain something about it. Their earlier track The Principals Of Lust lacks the sexuality of this track , perhaps if they had used the Gregorian chant on that one too, it would have been more seductive.
#37 Strokin' – Clarence Carter
Another track not known for it's subtlety, but it earns it's place because of the fact that its hilarious and was used in The Nutty Professor!
#38 Wet Dream – Max Romeo
This 1968 classic reggae tune got to number 10 in the UK charts despite being banned from the radio after being played twice. It's still got plenty of swagger and a chorus that you will be humming for the rest of the day.
GET HERE IF YOU CAN
We thought we'd pay tribute to all the lovers who are apart with some of our top tunes for being away from the one you love.
#39 A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton
With her piano playing and distinctive vocals, Vanessa Carlton creates a terrific love song. It's multi layered and endlessly recognisable without being too schmaltzy.
#40 Travellin' Prayer – Dolly Parton
The woman who penned one of the most popular love songs of all time covers this Billy Joel tune. She adds her unique stamp on it and adds a bluegrass element which enhances the song and makes you feel as if you are on the move with her. It features some great musicians too.
#41 When I Need You – Albert Hammond
Written on the road about being apart from his wife and children, Albert Hammonds original carries the heartfelt sentiment that is lacking in the cover versions. It's honesty and sincerity make it a firm faveorite.
#42 Set The Fire To the Third Bar – Snow Patrol
Gary Lightbody and Martha Wainrights voices blend seamlessly in this haunting duet. The sentiment is beautiful but the tone of the track tells of chilling loneness that separates the two lovers apart from the occasional warmth in the chorus when they think of each other. Pure Indie brilliance.
#43 Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Another top country cross-over tune with suburb harmonies and melody which captures the desperation of the couple and the pain of the being apart. An underrated love song that is as good as any Motown love anthem.
#44 10,000 Miles – Mary Chapin Carpenter
This 18th Century English folk song is arranged with a haunting piano, synth and strings and is heartbreaking in its simplicity. It's Mary Chapin Carpenter at her best, vocally bare with a tender delivery. The lone soprano saxophone at the end adds a level of sadness that will be sure to move anyone who hears it.
#45 I Go to Sleep – The Pretenders
A terrific song with a bitter sweet dual meaning of lost love. The haunting tune has a classic Hollywood feel that is impossible to resist. Chrissie Hynde's voice is mournful and beautifully captures the emotion of the song. Once again the sparseness of the arrangement of the track makes you sit up and take notice.
We couldn't resist the opportunity to dig out a few of the best tracks about choking the Bishop, flicking the switch, charming the cobra, going solo...yes it's the best songs bout doing it yourself!
#46 She Bop – Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper's trail blazing song about female masturbation was hugely controversial in 1983, in the US the single even came with an advisory sticker. It was hardly as explicit as some of the tracks we've covered, but in the music charts going solo was a no-no.
#47 I Touch Myself – The Divinyls
One of the best known songs about the subject of masturbation and a karaoke anthem. It's entry into the mainstream pop cannon in 1990 showed that a lot had changed in attitudes towards sex since She Bop. Sisters really were doing it for themselves.
#48 Be My Girl Sally -The Police
Be My Girl—Sally is based on a poem by Sting and Andy Summers about a blowup doll. The lyrics are disturbing, funny and very clever.
#49 Fingers – Pink
Following on from the pioneering She Bop, Pink takes the subject into the new millennium, making the content more explicit complete with orgasmic groans. It's also Pink's second song about masturbation with U + UR Hand focussing on guys flirting with girls in clubs but going home alone.
#50 I'm A Wanker – George Formby
A novelty comedy classic as subtle as Bessie Jackson and Denise LaSalle and just as funny and clever. The song was also recorded by Ivor Biggun as The Winkers song (misprint)