When you think of romantic songs, rock love songs probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. Rock lyrics are often full of more wild things, like sex and drugs. The genre is also full of great break-up songs. However, true rock fans know there’s more to this type of music than meets the eye. If you’re trying to put together a playlist filled with great rock love songs, we’ve got a few suggestions for you.
1. Foreigner – “I Want to Know What Love Is”
This 1984 track was the first single from Foreigner’s fifth album, Agent Provocateur. It was an instant number one track, making it the band’s biggest hit. Nearly 40 years later, it is one of the group’s most popular songs.
2. Firehouse – “Love of a Lifetime”
Written by C.J. Snare and Bill Leverty, this power ballad made it to the number 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1991. It is their best-known song and has been played at weddings worldwide for the last three decades.
3. REO Speedwagon- “Can’t Fight This Feeling”
REO Speedwagon is well-known for their power ballads. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” was their second number one hit and held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks in a row.
4. Journey – “Faithfully”
Written by keyboard player Jonathan Cain, “Faithfully” was dubbed the greatest power ballad ever recorded by Classic Rock magazine. Amazingly, a song that started from a set of lyrics written on a napkin went on to become one of Journey’s most popular songs.
5. The Pretenders – “I’ll Stand By You”
Following its release in April 1994, this song about undying love and faithfulness reached the top 20 on music charts across the globe.
6. Eric Clapton – “Wonderful Tonight”
Clapton penned this 1977 top 20 hit about his wife, Patti Boyd. The sentiments of care and admiration are ones that everyone longs to hear from the one they love.
7. Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford- “Close Your Eyes Forever”
Originally released on Lita Ford’s album, Lita, the remixed single made it to the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1989. After listening to it, you’d never guess that this beautiful ballad was an accident. According to an interview with Ford, the two singers got drunk in the studio and wrote these lyrics. This accident paid off, however. “Close My Eyes Forever” was Ford’s highest-charting single and Osbourne’s greatest hit of his solo career.
8. Warrant – “Heaven”
Released on July 22, 1989, “Heaven” is easily Warrant’s most popular song. Frontman Jani Lane wrote this song presumably for his daughter (“I don’t need to be the king of the world/as long as I’m the hero of this little girl”), and in 2017 his daughter, Maddi Lane covered the song as a tribute to her late father. If that’s not a beautiful love story, I don’t know what is.
9. Aerosmith – “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”
Aerosmith might have a cool, hard rock exterior but they are also known for some great power ballads, like “Crazy”, “Cryin'” and “Dream On”. None of them hit that beautiful romantic note quite like this one. Written for the 1998 Blockbuster hit, Armageddon, these lyrics are all about savoring every moment with the one you love. Songwriter Steven Tyler talks about watching over his lover while she sleeps (in a sweet, non-stalker way); you can’t get much more romantic than that.
10. GooGoo Dolls – “Iris”
Singer/songwriter Jonny Rzeznik wrote “Iris” for the 1998 movie, “City of Angels”. This ballad reached number one on charts across the globe and made it to number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. In an interview with Songfacts, Rzeznik explained that he wrote the song while thinking about the main character from the movie and his willingness to give up immortality to be with the woman he loved. Rzeznik felt that was a pretty heavy thought, and I have to agree. Giving up immortality is the epitome of true love.
11. Maroon 5 – “She Will Be Loved”
Released in 2004, “She Will Be Loved” was Maroon 5’s third single from the album, Songs About Jane. It hit the charts at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number one in Australia for five weeks. The song is about a young man seeing the beauty in his girlfriend’s mother and believing that she would find love after leaving her abusive marriage.
12. Ben Folds – “The Luckiest”
Originally written for the 2000 movie, “Loser”, this song is all about how much luck goes into finding love. Unfortunately, the scene that it was meant for was scrapped from the movie. We guess that makes us lucky that it was ever written in the first place.
13. Coldplay – “Yellow”
“Yellow” was written as a group effort by the band, which started when they took a break from recording and walked outside the studio. After looking at the stars, lead singer Chris Martin got inspired and got the chord pattern in his head. The rest, as they say, was history. Funny enough, Martin says the word “yellow” has no meaning at all. It was a place-holder while he worked on the rest of the lyrics but somehow no matter how much he tried to change it, “yellow” just sounded right.
14. The Cure – “Lovesong”
According to an interview with Robert Smith, “Lovesong” is an open show of emotion. He said he wasn’t trying to be clever and that it took him ten years to reach the point where he felt comfortable singing a straightforward love song. That straightforwardness paid off. “Lovesong” became The Cure’s only top-10 song on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the number two spot in October 1989.
15. Talking Heads- “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”
In the “Self Interview” in the concert DVD Stop Making Sense songwriter David Byrne says “This Must Be the Place” was intended as a love song without the cliches of the genre. He wanted a strong emotional resonance without feeling corny and felt he succeeded.
16. Tears for Fears – “Head Over Heels”
According to lead singer, Roland Orzabal, “Head Over Heels” is a romantic love song and one of the most simple tracks Tears for Fears ever recorded. That simplicity paid off; the song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1985.
17. Heart – “Crazy on You”
This one is all about forgetting your worries for a night of passion. Released in 1976 Heart’s debut single in the United States, songwriter Ann Wilson revealed that “Crazy On You” was written as a response to the stress caused by the Vietnam War.
18. Paul McCartney – “Maybe I’m Amazed”
Written just before The Beatles broke up, this song is about McCartney’s wife, Linda. He credits her with helping him through that difficult time. It was never released as a single, but it was still enjoyed worldwide airtime.
19. Queen – “You’re My Best Friend”
Queen’s bass player, John Deacon, wrote this song for his wife, Veronica Tetzlaff. Despite reaching number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, it was only performed live during the Summer Gigs 1976 Tour until 1980. The band dropped it from the rest of the tour and didn’t play it again until after Freddie Mercury’s death.
20. The Beatles – “In My Life”
According to John Lennon, the song was an autobiography. When he wrote it, he was thinking of friends he had lost, an aunt he had lost, and his wife Cynthia. John Lennon and Paul McCartney called “In My Life” one of the best Beatles songs, and it was one of George Harrison’s favorite.
21. Snow Patrol – “Chasing Cars”
According to an interview with lead singer Gary Lightbody, he wrote the song the morning after getting drunk on white wine. He called it the purest love song that he’s ever written and surprised himself when he realized there was no dark edge to the lyrics.
22. Oasis – “Wonderwall”
During an interview in 1996, songwriter Noel Gallagher said that “Wonderwall” (originally titled “Wishing Star”) was written for his girlfriend of the time, Meg Mathews. After their divorce in 2001, Gallagher changed his story, claiming that the media took the meaning from him by suggesting that it was about her. He felt that he couldn’t take the song away from her so he went with it, but that he had written it about an imaginary friend who would save you from yourself.
23. Alanis Morissette – “Head Over Feet”
The lyrics of “Head Over Feet” tell a story about falling in love with your best friend. Alanis thanks her best friend and lover for the love and devotion he shows her. The song became a Billboard Top 40 hit after its release on July 22, 1996.
24. Halestorm – “Here’s to Us”
Lzzy Hale told Rolling Stone magazine that this song is their band’s anthem. They learned how to celebrate the lows and the highs that come with keeping a band together for 10 years. We think that’s an important thing to celebrate in any relationship. Hanging in there unconditionally is what it means to be in love.
25. Live – “Dolphin’s Cry”
This one is all about an initial spark that grows into so much more. In addition to Live, this song showcases other great artists, being co-produced by Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads and features Adam Duritz of Counting Crows singing back-up.
26. Nine Inch Nails – “The Perfect Drug”
Written for the 1997 film, “Lost Highway”, “The Perfect Drug” was never released on any Nine Inch Nails EP. The song enjoyed worldwide success, but songwriter and NIN frontman Trent Reznor was unhappy with the way it turned out.
27. The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights”
During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, co-writer Ben Gibbard said that “Such Great Heights” came together incredibly quickly and seemingly out of nowhere. He went on to say with was the first time he had written a positive love song, where it’s about how great it feels to be in love instead of how bad it feels to have your heart broken.
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.