Music changes and evolves with each generation, but there's one topic that has proven to be a constant: Love is a universally understood feeling and experience. While there have been countless crooners over the years to explore the ups and downs of love, there've been a select few who stand out from all the rest, who've let it all out, told it like it is and broken or otherwise touched our hearts. Keep reading for a rundown of the ten most romantic singers of all time.
See also: The ten most brutally honest songwriters
10. Frank Sinatra Frank Sinatra's recording career spanned several different eras of popular music, and yet his music remains remarkably appealing in its timelessness. Sinatra first gained notice with big-band numbers during the swing era. During the war years, the founding member of the Rat Pack was "everyone's man," seeming to fill a void of loneliness that was sweeping the nation in the absence of the many who had gone overseas. To this day, nothing says classic romance -- or seduction -- like a rendition of "Embraceable Love," "All of Me," "My Funny Valentine" or "The Way You Look Tonight."
9. Marvin Gaye Before the release of his groundbreaking and politically wrought album What's Going On, Marvin Gaye produced a collection of enduring love songs and deeply romantic duets during his early days at Motown. In 1963, Gaye scored a hit with "Pride and Joy," introducing the masses to his lush, crooning voice, and the romance continued with collaborations with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell, including "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," one of the many great tunes in which they sing about pining for each other.
8. Joni Mitchell Joni Mitchell's romance can be found in her ability to express the inexpressible; constantly in conflict with her desire for a great love and preservation of personal integrity and independence, Mitchell poured her heart out on albums like Blue. In "A Case of You," for example, Mitchell gives listeners an outpouring of uncontainable love with lines like "You're in my blood like holy wine/You taste so bitter and so sweet/I could drink a case of you." In "All I Want," meanwhile, Mitchell describes looking for her ideal love: "All I really, really want our love to do/Is to bring out the best in me and in you, too/I want to renew you again and again/Applause, applause -- life is our cause/When I think of your kisses my mind see-saws."
7. Al Green Al Green's smooth, seductive love songs are the relationship anthems that continue to span decades. His otherworldly voice pairs with sincere, outspoken lyrics that are grand gestures of love, from the funky "Love and Happiness" to the lush strings of "Let's Stay Together." All of his songs are a sentimental nod to all facets of love and relationships. In his version of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," Green gives heft to lines describing the pain of losing a love that was the center of his life and the dark side of falling in love. In the more upbeat "Let's Stay Together," Green cites all the reasons to stick it out with the one you love.
6. Van Morrison Van Morrison's captivating vocals and poetic approach to music are as distinct as they are unforgettable. Owing to ballads like "Beside You" and "Sweet Thing," Astral Weeks was a sweeping, romantic folk masterpiece. Moondance was equally brilliant, but presented optimism and positivity in contrast with the heartache of Astral Weeks. Songs like "Crazy Love" and "Into the Mystic" continue to be anthems of love to this day.
5. Otis Redding Otis Redding epitomized deep soul both in style and lyricism with the pleading, gritty vocals of his more slow tempo music. On songs like "That's How Strong My Love Is," the aching vocals portray a man reassuring someone of his love and everlasting support: "I'll be the weeping willow drowning in my tears/You can go swimming when you're here/And I'll be the rainbow after the tears are gone/Wrap you in my colors and keep you warm."
4. Prince Prince isn't known for his subtlety in the art of seduction -- or anything else for that matter -- but romance unexpectedly shines through on songs like "Take Me With You" and "The Beautiful Ones," in which Prince pursues his ideal love and laments about the confusion of loving someone and not knowing where they stand. In "Purple Rain," he apologizes and reflects on hurting someone he loves. One of his most romantically intense ballads, though, was "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World," in which he serenades a beautiful woman with the lines, "Could you be the most beautiful girl in the world/It's plain to see you're the reason that God made a girl."
3. Smokey Robinson Smokey Robinson and his band the Miracles produced dozens of swooned-over hits, including classics like "The Tracks Of My Tears," "You've Really Got A Hold On Me," "I Second That Emotion" and "The Tears Of A Clown." Perhaps the most romantic song he ever wrote, though, "My Girl," was written for the Temptations. "I've got so much honey the bees envy me/I've got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees/Well I guess, you'd say, what can make me feel this way/My girl/Talkin' about my girl."
2. Carole King From the Shirelles to Aretha Franklin, Carole King had an important role in writing many hit love songs, in addition to making a mark on her own with classic albums like Tapestry. In 1966, King and her writing partner Gerry Goffin struck a chord with "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." Performed by the Shirelles, the song questions everlasting love with lines like, "tonight you're mine completely/You give me love so sweetly/Tonight the light of love is in your eyes/but will you love me tomorrow?" Most notably, King scored with the emotionally-charged composition of "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman," performed and recorded by Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin. "When my soul was in the lost and found/you came along to claim it/I didn't know just what was wrong with me/'til your kiss helped me name it/Now I'm no longer doubtful of what I'm living for/And if I make you happy, I don't need to do more."
1. Sam Cooke From his famed gospel roots to the music based around the civil rights movement, Sam Cooke was the all-encompassing king of soul and was a profound inspiration to countless singers that followed in his wake. In his short-lived career (Cooke was killed in a mysterious motel shooting), he wrote a few legendary love songs, including "Cupid," "You Send Me," "The Little Things You Do" and "Bring It On Home To Me," all which would be covered by soul greats such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. In his biggest hit, "You Send Me," Cooke's voice melts listeners with a simple ode to romance. Cooke's music has been further immortalized with covers by the Rolling Stones, The Supremes, the Animals, and many more.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.