Love song  

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"This Is Not a Love Song"

Image:Birth of Venus Botticelli.jpg
This page Love song is part of the love series.
Illustration: The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Love songs are songs about love, a subset of songs that deal with intimacy. They are usually romantic ballads, but may also deal with the darker side, such as infidelity and breakups. They are a staple of pop music Famous love-song singers include Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

Love songs have been around for hundreds of years and are found in most cultures. The Western world uses the love song to express feelings in a way most people would identify with. Some tribal cultures use group love songs to attract a partner in elaborate rituals. Love songs are performed wherever music is found, such as romantic films, television and recorded media such as tapes and CDs. Love songs are a common feature of most Broadway musicals, often in exchanges between the protagonist and his or her interest. Sometimes, the song is shared by two suitors and a common love interest. The love song has dominated almost all genres of popular music. However rebellious the music, such as punk rock or rap, the experience of "falling in love" always seems to require expression.


Girls' names

Many love songs are addressed directly to the person being admired. This means that a girl's name often appears in the title. Some well-known examples are "Maria" (from "West Side Story"), "Michelle" (The Beatles), "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" (Stephen Foster) and "Layla" (Derek and the Dominoes). It seems that songs sung from the girls point of view, with a man's name in the title, are less frequent. In 1964 Cilla Black had a hit with "You're MY World". Unusually, the song does not specify the sex of the singer. In the same year it was a hit for Harry Secombe. He did not need to change any of the words to make it refer to a man's love of a woman. The Crystals had a hit with "Then He Kissed Me". It was a simple matter for the Beach Boys to change a few words, and this became "Then I Kissed Her", also a hit. Other examples of songs with girls names in the title are "Annie's Song" (John Denver), "Peggy Sue" (Buddy Holly), "Amanda" (Boston), and "Sherry" (The Four Seasons).

Some historical or local names for a sweetheart often appear in the title. For example "My Old Dutch" (Albert Chevalier) contains the cockney rhyming slang word "Dutch" = "Duchess of Fife" = "Wife". Robert Burns' "John Anderson, My Jo" has the word "Jo" (18th century word for a sweetheart). Love songs in the first person are quite rare before the middle of the nineteenth century, but it is not known why this should be.


Love songs have been around for centuries and can be found in the histories and cultures of most societies, though their ubiquity is a modern phenomenon.

A highly controversial and startling explanation of the genesis of love songs can be found in Denis de Rougemont's Love in the Western World. De Rougemont's thesis is that love songs grew out of the courtly love songs of the troubadours, and that those songs represented a rejection of the historical Christian notion of love.

Identities of love songs change from time to time, from the decade of love in the '70s, through night partying in the '80s, and into dark romance of the '90s. Love songs did not have an identity in the 2000s.

Prior to 1945

Changes in style mean that few songs survive more than fifty years, but there are exceptions. Al Jolson had a hit with "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)". It is better known in the film version by Judy Garland. "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" (Friedman, Whitson) dates from 1910, and is still quite familiar. "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" (McHugh, Fields) has become a jazz standard. Cole Porter wrote many witty love songs. The best known one is possibly "I've Got You Under My Skin (song)". "You're Driving Me Crazy" (Walter Donaldson) has the jaunty feel of the 1920s, and is almost synonymous with Americans dancing the Charleston. Other songs that have survived from the 1920s included "The Very Thought of You" (Ray Noble), "All of Me (song)" (Marks, Simmons) and the country and western song "Confessin'" (Daugherty, Neiberg, Reynolds).

The 1950s

The 1950s were perhaps the era of sophisticated slow melodic songs. Nat King Cole recorded "Unforgettable (song)", Anita Bryant recorded "Till There Was You", and Johnny Mathis recorded "The Twelfth of Never". One of the last Cole Porter songs to be a commercial success was "True Love (song)" (Bing Crosby). By the time we reach "All I Have to Do Is Dream" (The Everley Brothers) we are in the era of rock and roll. A pattern started to appear, that young rebellious singers would record punchy rock and roll songs at the start of their career, then move on to smoochy love songs later. Usually this meant they were no longer "Serious rockers". The Everley Brothers, Elvis Presley and the Beatles managed to retain their status as rockers, even after they became known for love songs. In the main, however, a ballad singer had a different career path from a rocker. "Unchained Melody" (Alex North/Hy Zaret) was a hit for eight different artists. The comedy version by "The Goons" was not a hit. "Dedicated to the One I Love" (Ralph Bass) was a hit twice. "Only You (And You Alone)" (Ram, Rand) was a hit seven times over.

The 1960s

Artists that we would now call "Divas" began to appear in the sixties. There was Dusty Springfield with "I Only Want to Be with You" and Aretha Franklin with "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman". Old-school balladeers still had hits: Ray Charles with "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Frank Sinatra with "Somethin' Stupid". Jim Reeves last big hit "I Love You Because" could almost have been written 40 years earlier, it was so timeless. Pet Clark's "This Is My Song (1967 song)" was almost operatic. Soul music/ R + B hits included "For Once in My Life" (Stevie Wonder). Rocking love songs include "I'm a Believer" (The Monkees) and "All My Loving" (The Beatles). country music gave us "Crazy (Willie Nelson song)" (Patsy Cline). Two big hits of the sixties defy categorization: "River Deep - Mountain High" (Ike and Tina Turner) and "God Only Knows" (Beach Boys). Other hits include "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (Crewe Gaudio), "I'll Be Your Mirror" (The Velvet Underground),"Can't Help Falling in Love" (Weiss, Peretti, Creatore) and "Anyone Who Had a Heart (song)" (Burt Bacharach).

The 1970s

Barry White created his own orchestral soul style with "You're the First, the Last, My Everything". "Nobody Does It Better" (Carly Simon) was helped by being the title song of a Bond movie. Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" is most famously covered by Whitney Houston, though the original was written in the 70s. Charles Aznavour's "She" has the distinction of being the only number one hit for a living artist aged over 50. Other famous love songs of the seventies include "You're the One That I Want" (John Travolta) and "Without You" (Ham, Evans). Donna summer's "I Feel Love" sounded almost like an instrumental. Nazareth's 1975 recording of Love Hurts was a classic hit.

The 1980s and after

There have been fewer easy listening singers since the 1980s, and there has been a corresponding decline in the number of love songs that reached number one. Hits include "Hello" (Lionel Richie), "I Know Him So Well" (Rice, Andersson, Ulvaeus) and "Nothing Compares 2 U" (Prince/Sinead O'Connor). Kenny Rogers, who is famous for recording many love songs, had some of his biggest hits in the 1980s with "Through the Years", "You Decorated My Life" and "Lady". In 1989, The Cure's greatest hit "Lovesong" reached number 2 in USA. From the 1990s we have Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do". The most famous love song of the nineties is "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls (however this song was more rock than a love song) or "Truly Madly Deeply" by Australian band Savage Garden. These two songs would be the more known and loved of the songs in the '90s. SWV made their signature song "Weak" in 1992. During the boy band boom of the 90s, several were driven by love songs (and if not most still had a few) like Take That and Boyzone. But Westlife became the king of the love song and their hits include the classic Flying Without Wings.

Operatic love songs

Some of the worst-known operatic arias are love songs: "E lucevan le stelle" and "Recondita armonia" are from Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca". Giuseppe Verdi favorite is "Celeste Aida" from "Aida". All of Puccini's operas have outstanding love songs, but "Che gelida manina" from "La Bohème" and "Un bel di vedremo" from "Madama Butterfly" should be mentioned. Even music lovers who don't go to operas will have heard The Flower Song (La Fleur que tu m'avais jetée) from Bizet's "Carmen". Finally there is "M'appari" from Flotow's "Martha" and "Porgi, amor" from Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro".

Rock/heavy metal love songs

Love songs have been present in rock music since the early days of the genre; one of the most common examples of a rock love song is Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender". The 80's saw several rock love songs including "The Promise" by When in Rome. Common newer examples of love songs in rock include "Your Guardian Angel" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls, and "Check Yes Juliet" by We The Kings. Love was a common theme in early hard rock, heavy metal and glam metal bands; like Guns 'N' Roses, Ozzy Osbourne and KISS in power ballads. From the emergence of thrash metal (which would become the standard style for most all metal to come), the genre's lyrical themes became centered around hate, horror and political unrest, leaving little room for sentiments of love. However, Metallica occasionally write what could be considered love songs (particularly "Nothing Else Matters"). Love songs in the primarily hateful genre of extreme metal are extremely uncommon, though "Symbiosis" by Mortification and "Diktat" by Napalm Death both speak of the value of marriage. Trivium's "The World Can't Tear Us Apart", "Mordecai" by Between the Buried and Me, and Zao's "Angel Without Wings" exemplify the most common way that metal bands write about love in a positive manner. "The World Can't Tear Us Apart" uses metal's typical dark imagery to describe life without love, while also pondering why the metal scene is usually so devoid of it. In "Mordecai", a depressed man on the brink of insanity questions the meaning of his existence, and finds comfort in "the lovely laugh from the love of my life". "Angel Without Wings" thanks a female friend for staying close to the singer during a near-death experience. Secondhand Serenade is a rock band whose lyrics almost always center around love. While neither of these bands typically create what could be considered a true "love song", two of the most famous modern rock bands, U2 and Coldplay, frequently write songs about being haunted by love. Gothic bands like Within Temptation, Evanescence, Nightwish and Leaves' Eyes often reflect on love and lost love, sometimes in a rather dreary manner. Another example of this is Demon Hunter's "My Heartstrings Come Undone", a dark expression of unconditional love. While death metal is perhaps the most notorious genre for hateful lyrics, the lead singer of band Novembers Doom wrote a love ballad to his daughter, in the form of "Twilight Innocence". There are many post-hardcore and metalcore songs about love; while Bullet for My Valentine and Bring Me the Horizon are known for writing about love and relationships in a negative light, almost every song by Killswitch Engage, Blessthefall and early As I Lay Dying speaks of the wonder of love. Love occasionally finds its way into the lyrics of the primarily positive genre power metal (Sonata Arctica being a prime example of this). Although the belligerent and restless genre of punk rock rarely yields love-themed lyrics, love songs of sorts are common among pop punk bands like Relient K, Green Day and New Found Glory.

Pop love songs

Pop love songs include:

Take That - Patience, Rule The World, Back For Good, Pray, Greatest Day
Bryan Adams - Everything I Do (I Do It For You)
Spice Girls - 2 Become 1, Viva Forever, Goodbye
Britney Spears - Everytime, Sometimes
Rihanna - Unfaithful, Hate That I Love You , Take A Bow
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love, Better In Time
Taylor Swift - Love Story
Beyonce - Irreplaceable, Listen, Halo
Sugababes - Too Lost In You, Caught In A Moment
Girls Aloud - I'll Stand By You
Atomic Kitten - Whole Again
Will Young - Evergreen, Leave Right Now, All Time Love, Who Am I
Tesla - Love Song

Songs with love in the title or lyrics

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Love song" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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