The 30 greatest love songs of the 1990s, ranked

3 February 2022, 17:53 | Updated: 18 January 2024, 13:32

1990s love songs
Picture: YouTube

By Tom Eames

The 1990s was the decade of Britpop and Britney Spears, but it was also 10 years of fantastic love songs.

We'd even go as far as saying that the 1990s are somewhat overlooked compared to previous decades when it comes to romantic classics, so here is a list of our favourites from the decade.

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  1. Robbie Williams - 'She's the One'

    Robbie Williams - She's The One (Official Video)

    World Party first released this song in 1997, before Robbie released his cover version two years later.

    It went on to become his second UK number one single, and won him two Brit Awards.

  2. Simply Red - 'Stars'

    Simply Red - Stars

    This upbeat feel good anthem from Simply Red helped its album of the same name to become the best-selling of both 1991 and 1992, which is an incredible feat.

    Amazingly, it didn't reach the top 40 in America at the time.

  3. Elton John - 'Something About the Way You Look Tonight'

    Elton John - Something About The Way You Look Tonight

    This song was packaged as a double-A side single with Elton's tribute to Princess Diana, 'Candle in the Wind 1997', which became the best-selling single of all time worldwide.

    The video features actors from the UK TV drama This Life, as well as supermodels Kate Moss and Sophie Dahl.

  4. Sixpence None the Richer - 'Kiss Me'

    Sixpence None The Richer - Kiss Me (Official HQ)

    Thanks to its use in both She's All That and Dawson's Creek, this was one of the most iconic '90s love songs ever.

    This was the American band's biggest hit, becoming one of the best-selling songs of the decade.

  5. Celine Dion - 'Because You Loved Me'

    Celine Dion Because You Loved Me

    This song was written by Diane Warren as the theme song to the film Up Close & Personal. It was nominated for three Grammys including Song of the Year, but sadly didn't win any of them.

    The song's lyrics revolve around Celine thanking a loyal loved one for protecting her throughout her life, and making her who she is today. Warren said that the song was a tribute to her father.

  6. Wet Wet Wet - 'Love is All Around'

    Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around (Official Video)

    Director Richard Curtis approached the band to record a cover of this Troggs song, and it ended up becoming one of the biggest hits in UK chart history.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Love Is All Around'

    It spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts in 1994, with Pellow later saying: "We did everybody's head in the summer of 1994.

    "I still think it's a brilliant record. Its strength is its sheer simplicity. Any band would give their eye teeth to have a hit record like that. I'm very proud of it."

  7. Sinead O'Connor - 'Nothing Compares 2 U'

    Sinéad O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2U [Official Music Video]

    Pop legend Prince wrote this song, with funk band The Family was created as an outlet to release Prince's music, and a version of the song appeared on their only album, also called The Family.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Nothing Compares 2 U'

    It was Sinéad O'Connor's manager, Fachtna O'Kelly, who came up with the idea for Irish star O'Connor to cover the song.

  8. Extreme - 'More than Words'

    Extreme - More Than Words (Official Video)

    Usually known for their funk metal style, Extreme totally changed tack with this 1990 single.

    The acoustic ballad was later described by the band as "a blessing and a curse" due to its unexpected huge success, but they still embrace it to this day at live shows.

  9. Leann Rimes - 'How Do I Live'

    LeAnn Rimes - How Do I Live (Official Music Video)

    This song is one of the best-selling country ballads of all time. Rimes was originally meant to record the song for the Con Air soundtrack, but a version by Trisha Yearwood was selected instead.

    When Rimes' father and manager head about this, he made sure her version was rush released, and became the bigger hit.

  10. Toni Braxton - 'Un-Break My Heart'

    Toni Braxton - Un-Break My Heart (Official Music Video)

    Singer Toni Braxton initially didn't like this song at all, but producer LA Reid convinced her to record it. It was a stroke of genius, as it became a massive hit worldwide.

    When US charts Billboard celebrated 40 years in 1998, the song was declared as the most successful by a solo artist ever.

  11. The Corrs - 'Runaway'

    The Corrs - Runaway [Official Video]

    Originally released in 1995, it took four years to finally become a huge hit, reaching number two in 1999.

    The song was written by sisters Andrea, Sharon and Caroline Corr. Andrea later said the first time she sang it in front of her parents, she was embarrassed because of the line "make love to me through the night". Awkward.

  12. Take That - 'A Million Love Songs'

    Take That - A Million Love Songs (Official Music Video)

    Gary first wrote this song when he was just 15, and it was arguably the song which helped the group to start being taken seriously as a pop act.

    It also gave them an early UK top 10 hit in 1992.

  13. Tracy Chapman - 'Baby Can I Hold You'

    Tracy Chapman - "Baby Can I Hold You" (Official Music Video)

    Despite never being a big hit for Tracy Chapman at the time, it has since become one of her signature songs.

    Boyzone later scored a number two hit with a cover in 1997.

  14. Roxette - 'It Must Have Been Love'

    Roxette - It Must Have Been Love (Official Music Video)

    It's easy to forget that this song was originally Christmas-themed, with the full title being 'It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)'.

    Originally released in 1987, it became a huge hit three years later when an updated version without the festive references was recorded for the Pretty Woman soundtrack in 1990.

    Thanks to the movie's success, it became Roxette's biggest hit and went to number one around the world.

  15. Tina Arena - 'Chains'

    Tina Arena - Chains (Official Music Video)

    This power ballad was Australian singer Tina Arena’s biggest hit outside of her home country, reaching number six in the UK in 1995.

    When she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2015, she performed the track alongside The Veronicas and Jessica Mauboy, which became a hit in itself later that year.

  16. Boyz II Men - 'End of the Road'

    Boyz II Men - End Of The Road (Official Music Video)

    This song was number one for a massive 13 weeks in the US in 1992, and cemented Boyz II Men as the leading vocal group of the era.

    It also became easily one of the greatest R&B love songs of all time.

  17. All-4-One - 'I Swear'

    All-4-One - I Swear

    John Michael Montgomery first recorded this ballad in 1993, topping the country charts in the States.

    A year later, R&B vocal group All-4-One recorded a cover version, scoring a massive hit. It topped the US chart for 11 weeks, and was at number two for 7 weeks in the UK (kept off by Wet Wet Wet's 'Love is All Around').

    Montgomery and All-4-One teamed up for a duet version for the latter's album Twenty+.

  18. Savage Garden - 'Truly Madly Deeply'

    Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply (Official Video)

    This classic ballad is actually a reworking of a song called 'Magical Kisses' that Savage Garden wrote together long before they began on their debut album.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Truly Madly Deeply'

    It was a huge success, and topped the charts in their native Australia and in the US, and hit number four in the UK.

  19. Shania Twain - 'You're Still the One'

    Shania Twain - You're Still The One (Official Music Video)

    This song was co-written by Shania and her former husband, Mutt Lange.

    Although she was well-known among country fans at the time, this was the song that helped her become an international superstar.

  20. Elton John - 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight'

    Elton John - Can You Feel the Love Tonight (From "The Lion King"/Official Video)

    Written by Elton and Tim Rice, this ballad won the Oscar for Best Song of 1994, and earned Elton a Grammy Award, after its use in Disney's The Lion King.

    Sure, it may have been written for a couple of lions, but that doesn't stop it being romantic to humans across the land.

  21. Goo Goo Dolls - 'Iris'

    Goo Goo Dolls - Iris [Official Music Video]

    This song was written for the 1998 romantic drama City of Angels, starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. It is sung from the perspective of Nicolas Cage's character.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Iris'

    "I was thinking about the situation of the Nicholas Cage character in the movie," Rzeznik said.

    "This guy is completely willing to give up his own immortality, just to be able to feel something very human. And I think, 'Wow! What an amazing thing it must be like to love someone so much that you give up everything to be with them.' That's a pretty heavy thought."

  22. En Vogue - 'Don't Let Go (Love)'

    En Vogue - Don't Let Go (Love) (Official Music Video)

    This song was the girl group En Vogue’s last single to feature band member Dawn Robinson, and became their biggest international single. It was first recorded for the soundtrack to 1996 movie Set It Off starring Queen Latifah.

    Robinson decided to leave En Vogue for a solo career shortly after this song, beginning a long and tumultuous era for the group as member changes became quite frequent.

  23. Take That - 'Back for Good'

    Take That - Back for Good (Official Video)

    Like many Take That songs, this ballad was written by Gary Barlow, who also took on lead vocals on the song. He has claimed that he wrote it in just 15 minutes - impressive!

    Read more: The Story of... 'Back for Good'

    To avoid his boyband roots, Robbie often performed a rocky version of the song in the style of the Sex Pistols, and included it as a B-side on his single 'Angels' in 1997. He later performed this version with Mark Owen in 2003, and eventually performed it with the rest of Take That in 2016.

  24. Bon Jovi - 'Always'

    Bon Jovi - Always (Official Music Video)

    This song became one of Bon Jovi's most successful singles, selling 3 million copies worldwide in 1994.

    It was originally written for the soundtrack to the 1993 film Romeo Is Bleeding. After disliking the movie – which was not a hit - the band decided not to lend it out. Jon Bon Jovi forgot about the song until a friend found it and convinced him to re-record and release it. Good move!

  25. Aerosmith - 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing'

    Aerosmith - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing (Video)

    No-one saw this one coming, a sudden Top 5 hit from stadium veteran rockers Aerosmith.

    Read more: The Story of... 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing'

    The power ballad featured in frontman Steven Tyler's daughter Liv Tyler's latest movie Armageddon, and it remains their all-time biggest hit in the UK.

  26. Robbie Williams - 'Angels'

    Robbie Williams - Angels (Official Video)

    This was the song that saved Robbie's career, after his first few songs that had lackluster chart runs.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Angels'

    Despite only reaching number four, it is his best-selling single, shifting over a million copies after its release in 1997.

  27. Whitney Houston - 'I Will Always Love You'

    Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You

    The main love song from 1992's The Bodyguard, Whitney made this Dolly Parton ballad her own, after her co-star Kevin Costner suggested it.

    Read more: The Story of... 'I Will Always Love You'

    It spent 14 weeks at number one in the US, 10 weeks in the UK, and sold millions around the world. The ultimate power ballad.

  28. Celine Dion - 'Think Twice'

    Céline Dion - Think Twice (Official Video)

    This song's co-writer Andy Hill was known for his association with Bucks Fizz, while Peter Sinfield was a former member of the rock group King Crimson, which is quite the combination.

    Released in late 1994, it was in the UK top 40 for 12 weeks before finally reaching number one, and then staying there for seven weeks, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. Underrated.

  29. Bryan Adams - 'Everything I Do (I Do it for You)'

    (Everything I Do) I Do It For You (Official Music Video)

    You can't argue with 16 weeks at number one, which is still the record the consecutive weeks at the top to this day.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Everything I Do'

    People may have got sick of this power ballad at the time, but it perfectly summed up the kind of love songs we loved back in the early 1990s.

  30. Seal - 'Kiss from a Rose'

    Seal - Kiss From A Rose (Official Music Video 720p HD) + Lyrics

    Seal first wrote this amazing power ballad back in 1987, but would you believe it, he felt "embarrassed by it" and "threw the tape in the corner".

    Read more: The Story of... 'Kiss from a Rose'

    It wasn't until producer Trevor Horn brought it back for his 1994 album Seal II. A year later, it was included on the Batman Forever soundtrack and it became the biggest hit of his career.