What makes a love song great?
Highlighting some of the many love songs that have shaped society for generations.
Love is a remarkable subject from which we draw inspiration. In the music industry, love songs have dominated the charts for centuries. And while some of the greatest tracks of our generation are love songs, the question remains: what makes a great love song?
I always think that a love song becomes epic when you hear it and think of it as the soundtrack to your life. The most crucial element is the lyrics. It does not matter if you are 15 years old or 50, somehow artists can put universal emotions into words. As we listen, the connections we make in our hearts allows us to visualize specific moments that allow us to relate to the music.
Simple lyrics that convey authentic emotions are favoured over complex and hard to understand phrases. Some examples of two timeless love songs include Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young.” These tunes allow listeners to paint a mental picture. Through each artist’s authenticity, we understand their stories. We understand them. After all, they say art imitates life.
It’s not all about the lyrics when it comes to a great love song—there are also vocals and instrumentals. Love songs with acoustic rhythms do better than beats with electronic, fist-pump inducing sounds, in my opinion. Major key signatures tend to resonate better than minor keys—like in “My Girl” by The Temptations or Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Although, some fast-paced and upbeat love songs, like “More Than You Know” by Axell and Ingrosso, describe the kinds of confessions that we sometimes need to get off our chests.
According to writer and music critic Martin Chilton, “it has been estimated that more than 100 million love songs have been recorded, and the variety is staggering.” Songs about love each have their own meanings. For some, love is an eternal promise, like in “Everlasting Love” by Love Affair and “Make You Feel My Love,” originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan, but later covered by Billy Joel and Adele. Then, there are more complementary love songs that are full of praise and put the lover on a pedestal—like “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge and Franki Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” More so, some songs portray situations of forbidden lovers—a more modern R&B-pop example of this would be “Don’t Matter” by Akon. Finally, songs about love can also be categorized through sex and desire, like “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. Regardless of the era, love is timeless and appeals to younger and older generations. A personal favourite of mine is “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees.
Love is not always about feeling happy, and if you ask me, there are two sides to everyone’s secret playlist of romance-inspired tunes. Heartbreak is reflected on in some of today’s great love songs—like “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi, “Happier” by Ed Sheeran, and “You Are the One” by Shiny Toy Guns. Meanwhile, other break-up songs feature artists who swear that they will move on from lost love, like “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac. Additionally, most people consider Kelly Clarkson’s
“Since You’ve Been Gone” their break-up anthem. Even Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” falls under the genre.
Before writing this article, I made a playlist called “The Greatest Love Songs of All Time.” It includes many more songs like the ones I have discussed, but I came to realize that whatever tracks you add to your own playlists will depend on your experiences with love. So, the next time you are blaring a love song in your room or in the car, think about what makes that song so great.