The 20 greatest movie love songs of all time, ranked in order of pure romance

3 February 2022, 18:03

Movie love songs
Picture: Warner Bros/Paramount

By Tom Eames

It's Valentine's Day season, and so we're already in the mood for lurve.

We love a good romcom on a relaxing night in, and they usually come hand in hand with a brilliant love song or two.

  • Listen to the greatest love songs of all time in our exclusive Smooth Love Songs Live Playlist, only on Global Player.

We've collected the very best romantic movie songs of all time to make for a perfect playlist to snuggle up to:

  1. Harry Connick Jr - 'It Had To Be You' (When Harry Met Sally)

    Harry Connick Jr. - It Had to Be You

    The soundtrack to this 1988 romcom staple featured many easy listening and jazz icons from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald.

    A young Harry Connick Jr also provided covers of various standards, including this brilliant version of a classic.

  2. Elvis Costello - 'She' (Notting Hill)

    Elvis Costello 'She'

    Elvis Costello recorded a cover of Charles Aznavour's classic ballad for the 1999 Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts romcom.

    The song was featured in both the opening and closing credits, and perfectly summed up the mood of the film. Surreal, but nice.

  3. Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová - 'Falling Slowly' (Once)

    Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova - Falling Slowly (Video)

    First appearing on The Swell Season’s self-titled album, it was later used by the duo in their musical movie Once in 2007.

    The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song, and was later used in the Broadway and West End stage adaptations. In the movie, the duo play the song in Walton’s music shop in Dublin, with Hansard on guitar and Irglová on piano.

  4. Celine Dion - 'My Heart Will Go On' (Titanic)

    Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On (HD)

    Taken from the soundtrack to Titanic, this is Celine's most successful of all time, largely thanks to its use in the humongous romantic drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

    Dion said retrospectively: "'My Heart Will Go On' gave me the opportunity to be associated with a classic that will live forever".

  5. Des'ree - Kissing You (Romeo and Juliet)

    Romeo + Juliet (1996) - Love at First Sight Scene (1/5) | Movieclips

    This song was famously featured in Romeo and Juliet when Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes's title characters first meet at a ball.

    Des'ree herself featured in the scene performing the song, and it gave her one of her biggest ever hits. May we say, underrated?

  6. Sixpence None the Richer - 'Kiss Me' (She's All That)

    Sixpence None The Richer - Kiss Me (Official HQ)

    This song was originally released in 1998, but received bigger attention after being used as the main them of teen comedy She's All That a year later.

    This helped the song become one of the ultimate love songs of the 1990s, and takes us back to our imaginary American high school days.

  7. Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes - 'Up Where We Belong' (An Officer and a Gentleman)

    Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes - Up Where We Belong (Officer, Gentleman & Top Gun)

    It's impossible to hear this song and not think of Richard Gere in his navy whites in An Officer and a Gentleman.

    This duet topped the US charts and won an Oscar, though producer Don Simpson was apparently convinced it would be a flop. Hindsight, eh? 

  8. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper - 'Shallow' (A Star is Born)

    Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper - Shallow (A Star Is Born)

    Barbra Streisand already had huge success with her '70s version of A Star is Born, including the song 'Evergreen'. But Gaga and Cooper had their own triumph with their 2018 remake.

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

    'Shallow' was one of many hugely popular songs from the soundtrack, and the heartbreaking ballad reached number one in the UK.

  9. Roxette - 'It Must Have Been Love' (Pretty Woman)

    Pretty Woman • It Must Have Been Love • Roxette

    It's easy to forget that this song first found fame after its use in the classic Julia Roberts and Richard Gere romcom.

    It helped give Roxette their biggest ever hit and brought them international fame.

  10. Goo Goo Dolls - 'Iris' (City of Angels)

    Goo Goo Dolls - Iris [Official Music Video]

    One of the greatest '90s power ballads, this track was used in the Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan drama City of Angels in 1998.

    Songwriter John Rzeznik said: "I was thinking about the situation of the Nicolas Cage character in the movie. 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."

  11. Phil Collins - 'Against All Odds' (Against All Odds)

    Phil Collins "Against All Odds"

    Phil Collins wrote this song for the 1984 romance movie of the same name.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Against All Odds'

    Collins watched the movie on a videocassette recorder in his hotel room and agreed to appear on the soundtrack, and the song has arguably had more of a legacy than the film itself.

  12. Berlin - 'Take My Breath Away' (Top Gun)

    Top Gun • Take My Breath Away • Berlin

    The ultimate '80s movie power ballad, this song was recorded for the Tom Cruise action classic in 1986.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Take My Breath Away'

    It won Berlin an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Song that year, and rightly so.

  13. Wet Wet Wet - 'Love is All Around' (Four Weddings and a Funeral)

    Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around

    Wet Wet Wet nearly broke Bryan Adams' record of 16 weeks at number one, as they took over 1994 with their cover of The Troggs' classic.

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

    The song was brought back (sort of) for director Richard Curtis's film Love Actually, with Bill Nighy's Billy Mack giving it a festive twist.

  14. The Righteous Brothers - 'Unchained Melody (Ghost)

    Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody ('Ghost' Soundtrack)

    Many artists recorded this ballad over the years, but The Righteous Brothers have the definitive version.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Unchained Melody'

    It found a new lease of life in 1990, when it was used in Ghost starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Pottery was never the same again.

  15. Olivia Newton-John - 'Hopelessly Devoted to You' (Grease)

    Grease - Hopelessly Devoted to You [1080p] [Lyrics]

    Out of all the classic songs from Grease, this one still makes us feel all warm inside.

    Halfway through shooting the movie, Olivia's contractually-entitled vocal solo had yet to be written.

    John Farrar, Newton-John's producer, wrote the song and gave it to the film's team. Although reluctant, they eventually approved it, and recorded the scene after the other parts of the film had been completed.

  16. Bryan Adams - 'Everything I Do (I Do It For You)' (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)

    (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'

    Bryan Adams recorded the song for the Kevin Costner action caper, and you couldn't escape it in 1991.

  17. Patrick Swayze - 'She's Like the Wind' (Dirty Dancing)

    DIRTY DANCING "She's Like The Wind"

    Patrick Swayze wrote this ballad for another movie, but it was eventually used for the soundtrack of arguably his biggest film, Dirty Dancing.

    Read more: The Story of... 'She's Like the Wind'

    The song features in the film when Johnny (Swayze) and Baby (Jennifer Grey) part ways in the middle of the film, and became a surprise hit for the actor.

  18. Seal - 'Kiss From a Rose' (Batman Forever)

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

    This song was written in 1987, but weirdly, Seal felt “embarrassed by it” and “threw the tape in the corner”.

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

    It was later used in the soundtrack for Batman Forever in 1995. Director Joel Schumacher called Seal to request the song to play over a love scene. However, it was instead used to play over the end credits, which helped it reach number one in the States that year.

  19. Whitney Houston - 'I Will Always Love You' (The Bodyguard)

    Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You (Official Music Video)

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

  20. Aerosmith - 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' (Armageddon)

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

    No-one saw this one coming, a sudden top five 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.