Love songs help tell a story – our stories. They help us remember that feeling of first love, first heartbreak, last love, and everything in between. Songs build associations between feelings and events. So, it is no wonder that love songs are often found at the top of the charts.
So it’s no surprise that the first song to hit the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 when the chart debuted in 1958 was Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool”. It was written by Sharon Sheeley, who penned the song in response to her own disappointment over a short-lived relationship. Now, it may not be a romantic song, but it is a love song nonetheless. These are songs that speak to us, because most of us know what it feels like to have a relationship end.
However, the most popular love songs are the ones that speak to undying devotion and adoration of a loved one.
Wedding songs and first dance songs are usually the big love anthems, such as Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” the Beatles’ “Something”, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” or maybe more recently Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” or Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”.
These songs will always remind the couples of how they felt at the time, even if the relationship ends the song will (usually) still give them good feelings. That is the power of music and love songs as they can bring you back to the honeymoon phase of a relationship and that feels good.
On the other end of the spectrum, of course there’s J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks”, Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”, The Police’s “So Lonely”, Van Halen’s “You’re No Good”, Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way”, Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and more to remind us it doesn’t always go right.
The good feelings are why we are into love songs, and the bad feelings too. These songs are our history and help tell our stories. Love songs are here to stay. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Check out some love song-related music memorabilia here.