Whether you are longing for someone you can’t have or pining over the one that got away, these songs about loving someone you can’t have are sure to help you process those heart-aching emotions.
They may bring you a little solace, if nothing else, just to know that many other people have been in the same situation before. From songs about unrequited love to loving someone long after your relationship has ended.
Table of Contents
1. Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi
|Genre||Pop, Adult Contemporary|
|Album||Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent|
“Someone You Loved” is an absolutely brilliant and heartwrenching piano ballad about trying to get over a relationship when you still love the other person and were blindsided by the breakup. It was written by Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi in collaboration with the English songwriting and production team TMS, which is composed of Tom ‘Froe’ Barnes, Benjamin Kohn, and Pete ‘Merf’ Kelleher. The song became a smash hit around the world and topped four different Billboard charts in the United States alone. When it comes to songs about loving someone you can’t have, this one should certainly be at the top of any list.
2. Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw
|Genre||Pop Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul|
“Not Over You,” as the title implies, is a song about still loving someone after the relationship has ended, even though you know you can’t be with them. The narrator laments that no matter what he does or tells himself, he still isn’t over his former lover. It was co-written by Gavin DeGraw alongside the lead singer of the band OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder. The song became DeGraw’s fourth Top 40 hit, peaking at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100.
3. Happier by Ed Sheeran
“Happier” was co-written by Ed Sheeran alongside OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco. It achieved commercial success, for Ed Sheeran’s chart-topping standards, peaking at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was purchased or downloaded over 2 million times, earning Sheeran a 2x Multi-Platinum record. The lyrics are about looking back on a past relationship and realizing that the person your former lover is with now is much better suited for them. Still, the narrator proclaims that he will be waiting for his ex if things don’t work out with her new flame.
4. Back To You by Selena Gomez
|Genre||Dance-Pop, Electropop, EDM|
|Album||13 Reasons Why: Season 2 (Music from the Original TV Series)|
“Back To You” is a lively love ballad recorded by Selena Gomez and originally released as the lead single for the second season soundtrack of the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why. The lyrics tell the story of Selena wanting to be with her ex, despite the heartbreak she endured when they broke up. She admits that even when she is with a new partner, she is still thinking about her ex-lover. And if she were given the chance, she would go back to her old relationship. The song was commercially successful, becoming a top 20 hit on five different Billboard charts, and was Gomez’s 15th straight top 40 song on the Billboard Hot 100.
5. I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt
|Album||Luck of the Draw|
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” is a powerful and emotional piano ballad about a couple that has come to the heartbreaking end of their relationship. The woman is willing to lay her heart on the line for their final night together and wants to stay together, while her partner does not reciprocate her feelings and is ready to walk away and move on. The song has been covered by artists from George Michael and Boyz II Men to Bon Iver and Adele, but the original recording by Bonnie Raitt still remains the gold standard of this soulful song. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” was ranked number 339 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016.
6. Need You Now by Lady Antebellum
|Album||Need You Now|
“Need You Now” was co-written by Lady Antebellum, along with the 2013 ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year award recipient, Josh Kear. The song spent five weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and has been certified 9x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA. At the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, “Need You Now” earned Lady A four awards, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and Best Country Song. It’s a song about feeling so desperate that you want to reach out to the very person that caused you the heartache because deep down you still love them.
7. Just My Imagination by The Temptations
|Album||Sky’s the Limit|
“Just My Imagination” is regarded as one of The Temptations’ signature songs. The Motown legends sing about an imaginative relationship the narrator in the song has with the woman of his dreams. It was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. The song was a big hit at the time of its release in 1971. It topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. Rolling Stone included “Just My Imagination” on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, ranking it number 389. It would become the final Temptations song to feature the “Classic 5” lineup of the group, as founding members Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams both left the group for personal reasons.
8. Layla by Derek and the Dominos
|Album||Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs|
One of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Layla” was originally written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon and recorded by their band Derek and the Dominos. The song was inspired by an ancient Arabian love story, canonized by the 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, called The Story of Layla and Majnun. The story is about a man who falls desperately in love with a beautiful girl, but ultimately cannot be with her because she loses her mind. Clapton related far too well to the story’s central character as he was secretly and hopelessly in love with Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend and musician George Harrison. He got the girl in the end, though, as Clapton and Boyd were married following her divorce from the Beatles star.
9. Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield
|Genre||Pop, Power Pop|
|Album||Working Class Dog|
“Jessie’s Girl” is a song about loving your best friend’s partner and wondering why you can’t be the one in the relationship. Written and recorded by Australian-American musician Rick Springfield, the song was released on his Platinum-certified 1981 album Working Class Dog. The lyrics recount the feelings that Jessie’s friend is having for his best friend’s girlfriend. He yearns for a love like the one his friend has found and wonders aloud where he can find a woman like Jessie’s girl. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was the fifth most-played pop song on the radio in 1981. It’s catchy and easily related if you’ve ever looked at your friend’s relationship and wondered, ‘why can’t that be me?’
10. Losing My Religion by R.E.M.
|Album||Out of Time|
“Losing My Religion” is a song about unrequited love, written and recorded by R.E.M. The song became a big hit, topping both the Billboard Alternative Airplay and Mainstream Rock charts. It was eventually certified Platinum by the RIAA. Lead singer, Michael Stipe, wrote the song about a shy wallflower who hangs back at a party or dance and is too scared to approach the person they’re in love with. Instead, they pine over their love interest from afar. “Losing My Religion” won two awards at the 1992 Grammy Awards, including Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best Short Form Music Video.
11. Waiting In Vain by Bob Marley
“Waiting In Vain” was written and recorded by reggae legend Bob Marley. It was released on his 1977 album, Exodus. The lyrics detail the account of a man in love with a woman who either doesn’t want to or isn’t ready to commit to a relationship with him. He is willing to wait for her love, as long as she gives him a bit of reassurance that one day they can be together. Marley scholars are divided on whose love Bob was “waiting in vain” for, but it’s commonly believed the lyrics are about his extra-marital affair with Canadian-Jamaican beauty queen Cindy Breakspeare, whom he dated in the late 1970s.
12. I Want You Back by The Jackson 5
|Album||Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5|
“I Want You Back” is a song recorded by The Jackson 5, and was the first single released by the infamous Motown group. The tune put the band on the map in the fall of 1969 as it received lots of radio play, topping both the Billboard Hot 100 and Best Selling Soul Singles charts. The Jackson 5 performed the song on their first ever television appearance, premiering it on Diana Ross’ The Hollywood Palace. It reached an even larger audience when they performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show in late December. The lyrics are about wanting to get back with your ex-lover after the relationship ran it’s course, and realizing that you took your partner for granted only after seeing them move on and date someone new.
13. Just A Friend by Biz Markie
|Genre||Pop Rap, Comedy Hip Hop|
|Album||The Biz Never Sleeps|
“Just A Friend” is a song about a man that enters into a relationship with a woman who claims she doesn’t have another man in her life, just a friend. It’s only after he starts falling for her that he realizes the person she claimed was just a friend, is in fact much more than a friend. The lyrics of the chorus and piano medley are based loosely on Freddie Scott’s 1968 R&B song “(You) Got What I Need.” “Just A Friend” was Biz Markie’s most commercially successful song, peaking at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.
14. When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars
“When I Was Your Man” was co-written by Bruno Mars and the producing-songwriting team known as The Smeezingtons. The lyrics detail the regret the narrator feels from not treating his former lover as well as he should have, which resulted in heartbreak for both parties. He still loves the one he can’t have and shows this by wishing her well and hoping that any new lover she finds, gives her the love and attention she deserves. The song was a worldwide hit, topping several Billboard charts, including the Hot 100, and has been certified 11x Multi-Platinum. In my opinion this is easily one of the most powerful songs about loving someone you can’t have of all time.
15. Someone Like You by Adele
“Someone Like You” was co-written by Adele and songwriter Dan Wilson, whose other hit records include “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks, and “Closing Time” by Semisonic. The song is about coming to terms with a failed past relationship and wishing the best for them, although the memories of your time spent together are devastatingly bittersweet. “Someone Like You” won Adele a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 2012 ceremony. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 and has been certified 5x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA.
16. The One That Got Away by Katy Perry
“The One That Got Away” is a pop song recorded by Katy Perry and released on her 2011 album Teenage Dream. It was co-written by Perry and the song’s producers ‘Dr. Luke’ Lukasz Gottwald and Max Martin. The lyrics reflect on a past relationship in which the narrator still loves their former lover, but let them slip away. Perry sings that she failed to tell or show them how much they meant to her and as a result, the both of them were forced to move on and live separate lives. The song topped three Billboard charts, including the Adult Top 40, Dance Club Songs, and Mainstream Top 40. It has been certified 5x Multi-Platinum.
17. Back to December by Taylor Swift
“Back to December” tells the story of a couple that are catching up some time after their relationship has ended. The narrator senses a noticeable apprehension on the part of her former lover. They don’t want to get hurt again or be reminded of the past heartache they’ve endured. Swift then declares that she was wrong and regrets throwing away what they had, admitting that her mistake still weighs heavy on her heart and mind. The song climbed to number 6 and number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Country Songs charts, respectively. “Back to December” earned Taylor Swift another certified Multi-Platinum record.
18. Shiver by Coldplay
|Genre||Alternative Rock, Indie Rock|
“Shiver” was written and recorded by Coldplay and released as the band’s first single in the UK and the second single in the United States. The lyrics are about unrequited love and detail the account of a man who loves a woman from afar. It’s love at first sight for him, but she doesn’t seem to give him the time of day. Still, he insists he will wait for her to come around. According to the song’s producer, Ken Nelson, the album cut of the song was sung in one take by lead singer Chris Martin. Martin admits that the song was heavily influenced by one of his musical heroes, the late Jeff Buckley.
19. My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion
|Album||Titanic: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack|
“My Heart Will Go On” was written by popular composer James Horner and prolific lyricist Will Jennings for the blockbuster hit Titanic. The lyrics were inspired by a real-life 100-plus-year-old woman, still working and full of life, named Beatrice Wood, whose story caught Jennings’ imagination and led him to connect her to the character Rose from the film. The song won all eleven of the awards it was nominated for, including four Grammy Awards. It is considered one of Celine Dion’s signature songs and also one of the songs of the century. It has been certified 4x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA.
20. What Am I To You? by Norah Jones
|Genre||Soul Ballad, Pop|
|Album||Feels Like Home|
“What Am I To You” is a song written and recorded by Norah Jones. It was released as the second single to her 2004 album Feels Like Home. The lyrics are about loving someone more than anything else in the world, but not knowing if that love is reciprocated. The song topped the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart, where it spent two weeks at number 1. Norah’s smooth and soulful voice perfectly complements her honest lyrics. You can feel the emotion of someone who has confessed their love to someone and is now waiting to see how their love interest truly feels about them.
21. Give Me One Reason by Tracy Chapman
“Give Me One Reason” is a song written and recorded by Tracy Chapman. With her signature folksy, bluesy, R&B sound, the tune is genre-defying. It was a top 3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Alternative Songs, Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40, and Mainstream Top 40 charts. The lyrics are about telling someone you love them and effectively putting the ball in their court to see where they want the relationship to go next. It sounds a bit like an ultimatum. It’s effectively saying, either give me one good reason to stay, or I will be on my way.
22. You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift
|Genre||Country Pop, Power Pop|
“You Belong With Me” was written by Taylor Swift alongside her longtime songwriting partner Liz Rose. The song displays Swift’s genius of producing a perfect blend of country and radio-friendly pop music. It became a number-one hit on both the Billboard Adult Contemporary and Hot Country Songs charts. The song has been certified 7x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA. The lyrics are about unrequited love, where the narrator compares and contrasts herself to the partner of her love interest. The music video won Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. During her acceptance speech, a shocked Swift was interrupted by Kanye West, who proclaimed that Beyoncé should have won the award. If you like this song, you’ll most likely love our playlist of songs about young love.
23. You Don’t Know My Name by Alicia Keys
|Album||The Diary of Alicia Keys|
“You Don’t Know My Name” is a song co-written by Alicia Keys, Kayne West, and Harold Lilly. It was recorded by Keys and released on her 2003 album The Diary of Alicia Keys. The song features a sample from the 1975 song “Let Me Prove My Love to You,” performed by The Main Ingredient. It spent eight consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “You Don’t Know My Name” won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song, as well as a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Single – Female.
24. All I Have to Do Is Dream by The Everly Brothers
“All I Have to Do Is Dream” is a song about a man in love with a woman. He proclaims that he can have her anytime and anyway he wants. The only problem, the narrator admits, is the girl of his dreams is just that, only his when he’s dreaming. The song was written by Boudleaux Bryant of the husband-and-wife songwriting duo Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. Rolling Stone magazine ranked “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” number 141 on the list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
25. Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right by Bob Dylan
|Album||The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan|
“Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” was written and recorded by Bob Dylan. It was released as the B-side to Dylan’s early masterpiece “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and was featured on his landmark 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The lyrics tell the story of a woman Dylan loved, but is moving on from and leaving behind as he feels that she doesn’t love him as much as he does or in the same way he does. Although he still loves her and wishes it would have worked out, Dylan says fare thee well and reassures her that she doesn’t need to feel bad for their relationship not working out.
26. Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac
“Go Your Own Way” is a breakup song written by Lindsey Buckingham and recorded by his band Fleetwood Mac. It was released on the band’s acclaimed 1976 album, Rumours. It became the group’s first Top Ten hit in the US, peaking at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was inspired by Buckingham’s relationship with bandmate and ex-lover Stevie Nicks. The lyrics detail one’s love for their former lover, lamenting that they would give them everything they wanted and more, if only they would reciprocate their feelings. The tune about loving someone you can’t have is considered one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time.
27. Lovefool by The Cardigans
|Genre||Disco-Pop, Pop Rock|
|Album||First Band on the Moon|
“Lovefool,” as the title suggests, is about loving someone so much that you aren’t too proud to cry, pray, and beg for them to stay with you, despite the advice from friends and family that you should be with someone that loves you fully. The song put the Swedish rock band, The Cardigans, on the map, especially after it was featured on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes a few months after its release. “Lovefool” was commercially successful, topping the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart.
28. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
|Genre||Pop, Soul, R&B|
|Album||The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album|
Originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton, “I Will Always Love You” was a commercial success for Dolly, topping the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice, in 1974 and again in 1982. But the most popular recording by far is the soulful version sung by Whitney Houston for the film The Bodyguard, which was certified Diamond by the RIAA. The lyrics tell of the singer who will always love her partner, even though she knows they aren’t meant to be and must ultimately move on without one another. If you’re looking for songs about unrequited love to add to your playlist this is certainly one I recommend considering.
29. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
|Album||Faster Than the Speed of Night|
“Total Eclipse of the Heart” was written and produced by Jim Steinman. Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler recorded the song, and her distinctive, raspy voice lends credence to the heartfelt, passionate lyrics. It helped propel Tyler to stardom, as it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making her the first artist from Wales to earn a #1 record in the United States. The song also earned Tyler a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, which she performed at the 1984 ceremony, only to lose to Irena Cara’s “What a Feeling” from the film Flashdance. Perhaps not so surprising, every time there is an eclipse, the song gets a significant boost in streams.
30. How Do I Live by Trisha Yearwood
|Album||(Songbook) A Collection of Hits|
“How Do I Live” was written by Diane Warren and recorded separately, by LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood, for the Nicolas Cage film Con Air. LeAnn Rimes was originally offered the song by Warren. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer loved her recording of the ballad but requested some changes to be made. Rimes’ father and producer, Wilbur Rimes, refused to compromise on the tune, so Bruckheimer suggested that Trish Yearwood record the song for the film instead. The result would be that for the first time in history, at the 1998 Grammy Awards, two different artists were nominated for the same song in the same category, Best Country Vocal Performance. Rimes performed the song live at the awards ceremony, but it was Yearwood who would take home the Grammy.
31. Blue by LeAnn Rimes
“Blue” is an emotional country ballad originally written and recorded by singer-songwriter Bill Mack in 1956. It was recorded by other artists before Rimes, but it was the version sung by the 13-year-old LeAnn that made the song a hit and helped launch her career. The song received considerable airplay on country radio stations and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Rimes’ version of the tune won her the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
32. What I’m Doing Here by Lake Street Dive
|Genre||Indie Rock, Pop Rock|
“What I’m Doing Here” was released as a 7” vinyl single as a Record Store Day exclusive in 2014. The song features the powerful, soulful, and jazzy vocals of Lake Street Dive’s lead singer, Rachael Price. Enjoy the linked video as it captures Price’s complete unedited take live in the studio. Her absolutely masterful vocal performance brings the somber yet relatable lyrics to life. The song describes the struggle she is experiencing while going out with new love interests, only to realize she misses her former lover and still loves him.
33. So Far Away by Carole King
“So Far Away” was written and recorded by Carole King. It was released on her 1971 album Tapestry. The song features James Taylor on acoustic guitar. The title and lyrics imply that her lover is far away, focusing on the physical distance between the two. Then the lyrics delve into the emotional distance between the lovers. The song gave King a top 15 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. American Songwriter magazine recently ranked “So Far Away” as the number two song on their list of the 10 greatest Carole King songs.
34. Light in Your Eyes by Blessed Union of Souls
|Album||Blessed Union of Souls|
“Light in Your Eyes” was written and recorded by the Ohio-based alternative rock band, Blessed Union of Souls. It was released in early 1998 as the second single from the band’s self-titled second album. The song charted fairly well in the United States, peaking on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts at number 48 and 16, respectively. The lyrics detail a struggling relationship where one of the lovers challenges their partner to reignite the spark in their relationship, only to come to realize that while he may still love his partner, the relationship is destined to fail and so he begins the process of moving on.
35. Roll to Me by Del Amitri
“Roll to Me” is a super catchy pop rock song about loving someone who is in a struggling relationship with someone else. The narrator in the song is telling a girl that she is unhappy because she keeps dating the wrong guys, all the while implying that he is the right kind of man for her. It was written by the lead singer of the Scottish band Del Amitri and released as the third single on their 1995 album Twisted. The song would become Del Amitri’s most successful tune in the United States, where it peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
36. Let Her Cry by Hootie and the Blowfish
|Album||Cracked Rear View|
“Let Her Cry” was written by Darius Rucker and recorded by his band Hootie and the Blowfish. It was released on their incredibly successful 1994 debut album Cracked Rear View. The album stands as the best-selling debut album in history, selling over 21 million units, leading to it being certified 21x Multi-Platinum. The lyrics recount a relationship where a man is in love with a woman who is an irresponsible alcoholic. He has been supportive and patient but knows ultimately that he cannot have her because of her unhealthy addiction. Darius Rucker admits that he wrote the song about his own battle with alcoholism and one of his past relationships. In 1995, “Let Her Cry” won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
37. Back to You by John Mayer
|Genre||Soft Rock, Acoustic|
|Album||Room for Squares|
“Back to You” was written and recorded by John Mayer and released on his 5x Multi-Platinum debut album, Room For Squares, in 2001. The song is about not being able to get an ex out of your head and never really getting over them. Try as you may to forget them, they stay with you everywhere you go, if only in your mind. When you love someone that deep, you keep a small light turned on in your heart in hopes that someday you will get back together. The song features John Mayer’s virtuoso guitar playing and let critics know early on that he is much more than just a soft rock songwriter.
38. You Were Meant For Me by Jewel
|Genre||Folk, Folk Rock, Soft Rock|
|Album||Pieces of You|
“You Were Meant For Me” is a song co-written by Jewel and her partner at the time, Steve Poltz of the Rugburns. The lyrics recount the singer’s inability to move on from a failed relationship. The song was the second most played song on US radio in 1996, behind only Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind.” It was the biggest-selling single in the history of Atlantic Records at the time, leading to Jewel gracing the cover of the July 21, 1997 issue of TIME magazine. Two music videos were made for the song, but it was the Lawrence Carroll-directed video that won the award for Best Female Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.
39. How Am I Supposed To Live Without You by Michael Bolton
“How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” is a love ballad co-written by Michael Bolton and Doug James. Originally meant to be recorded by the soft rock duo Air Supply, the President of the record label Arista, Clive Davis, requested some of the lyrics be changed, to which Bolton refused. Consequently, Davis let the song go. Other artists since recorded the song, but it was Bolton’s version that made the tune a powerful pop standard. It was the fourth most played song on US. Adult Contemporary radio stations in 1990 and spent two weeks atop the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
40. To Love Somebody by The Bee Gees
|Album||Bee Gees’ 1st|
“To Love Somebody” was written by British singer-songwriting brothers Barry and Robin Gibb and recorded by their group the Bee Gees. It was released as the second single from their debut album and is considered one of the best songs of the 1960s. It became a Top 20 hit in the USA, where it peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. The lyrics detail the feeling of inadequacy that the narrator is feeling in his relationship. He is professing his love to his partner or potential lover but laments that his feelings mean nothing if they aren’t reciprocated. The song has been covered by artists from Nina Simone and Michael Bolton to Michael Bublé and Ray LaMontagne.
41. Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinéad O’Connor
|Album||I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got|
“Nothing Compares 2 U” is a song originally written and recorded by The Family, a side project of the late, incomparable artist Prince. But it was the version recorded by Sinéad O’Connor that became an international hit. It features a remarkable vocal performance by the Irish singer-songwriter, whose vulnerable voice brings the lyrics to their full, desperately emotional potential. The song was an international smash hit, topping charts all across Europe and the United States. It is widely considered one of the greatest songs of all time.
42. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic by The Police
|Genre||New Wave, Pop Rock, Power Pop|
|Album||Ghost in the Machine|
Originally written as an acoustic ballad by Sting, it was the first demo song ever that the English singer-songwriter played for his bandmates. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic ” topped the charts in seven countries around the world, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The Police greatly benefited from the launch of Music Television (MTV) some three months prior, giving the band and their music video for their new song wide exposure to a massive audience. The lyrics are about unrequited love and the feeling of wanting to profess your love to someone but being too scared to do so for the fear of rejection. This is another one of my favorite one sided love songs.
43. I Can’t Stop Loving You by Ray Charles
|Genre||Country Soul, Blues, R&B|
|Album||Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music|
“I Can’t Stop Loving You” was originally written by Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Don “The Sad Poet” Gibson, and released as the B-side of “Oh, Lonesome Me” in 1958. But it was the legendary Ray Charles who brought the song fully to life when he released his version in 1962, complete with a choral providing harmonies and backup vocals. The song was a number-one hit for Ray, topping the Billboard Hot 100, R&B Singles, and Adult Contemporary charts. Enjoy the official lyric video of “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” set to a recently-discover, previously unreleased, live cut of the tune from a 1972 concert in Stockholm.
44. I Never Told You by Colbie Caillat
“I Never Told You” was co-written by Colbie Caillat along with former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi and singer-songwriter Jason Reeves. The song recounts the love Caillat still feels for her former lover, who she was missing at the time she began to pen the lyrics. The song earned Caillat a Top 10 single when it peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Colbie Caillat delivers a strong emotional performance on the track, lamenting that she regrets not telling her ex how much she loved him and now he’s moved on, while she is left pining for what they had.
Related Article: Songs About Forbidden Love (Full Playlist)
45. Motorcycle Drive By by Third Eye Blind
|Genre||Alternative Rock, Power Pop|
|Album||Third Eye Blind|
“Motorcycle Drive By” was written by Stephan Jenkins and recorded by his band Third Eye Blind. It was released on the band’s certified 6x Multi-Platinum debut self-titled album. Jenkins wrote the song while riding his motorcycle in the rain after breaking up with his girlfriend. It’s about realizing that the person you are with is not your life partner and the relationship is doomed to fail, no matter how much you may still love them. The track shows off Stephan Jenkins’ unique gift for turning songs with melancholy subject matter into epic and cathartic singalongs.
46. Without You by Dixie Chicks
“Without You” is a country ballad about lost love, co-written by Natalie Maines and Eric Silver. It was released as the fifth single on the Dixie Chicks’ 2000 album, Fly, ranked number 224 by Rolling Stone on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Maines’ vocal performance is honest and vulnerable as she sings about the pain she is feeling, pining over someone whose love she once had, but now can’t have. The song received substantial airplay in the US, topping the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and peaking at number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This is without a doubt one of the most popular songs about loving someone you can’t be with ever. If this song resonates with you and you’re feeling alone after losing someone important in your life, check out our playlist of songs about being alone and feeling alone.
47. White Flag by Dido
|Album||Life for Rent|
“White Flag” is considered one of Dido’s signature songs. It’s about confessing your love for someone after you have broken up and being unwilling to move on or give up on their love. Yet when it comes time for them to meet again, the singer resolves that she will keep her thoughts to herself so as to not open any freshly healed wounds. “White Flag” was fairly commercially successful and went on to become a Top 20 hit on six different Billboard charts, including the Hot 100, where it peaked at number 18. It was certified Gold by the RIAA and was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards.
48. What It Takes by Aerosmith
|Genre||Rock, Glam Metal|
“What It Takes” was co-written by Aerosmith band members Steven Tyler and Joe Perry alongside Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Desmond Child. The lyrics are a reflection of a failed relationship where the narrator is struggling to let go of his former lover. He is essentially asking his ex what went wrong and trying to process the emotions associated with losing someone you still love. The song topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart and peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
49. To Be With You by Mr. Big
|Genre||Soft Rock, Glam Metal|
|Album||Lean into It|
“To Be With You” is a soft rock ballad co-written and recorded by the Lost Angeles-based band Mr. Big. It’s about a man that is in love with his friend and wants to be with her romantically, while she continues to get hurt by lovers that don’t treat her right. The song became a number 1 hit in countries all across the world, including the United States where it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “To Be With You” earned Mr. Big a Gold certified record and showcased the group’s ability to create incredibly catchy soft rock love ballads, which contrasted with their earlier hard rock sound.
50. If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher
|Genre||Pop Rock, Soft Rock|
|Album||Heart of Stone|
“If I Could Turn Back Time” was written by the esteemed songwriter Diane Warren and recorded by Cher. It was featured on her 1989 album Heart of Stone. Upon hearing the demo for the first time, Cher did not like the song and refused to record it. If not for the stubborn persistence of Dian Warren, the pop star would have one less number 1 hit. Warren pleaded with Cher to give it a try and the star finally relented, agreeing to do so. The lyrics are about wanting to go back in time and change the way things played out in a relationship. She still has strong feelings for her former lover and regrets things ended the way they did.
That does it for this article; let us know if there are any great songs that we missed in the comments section below.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Butler, Pennsylvania. I’ve been obsessed with music and audio gear for as long as I can remember. I started this website to help people find professional advice related to a wide range of audio topics. We have a number of Audio Engineers on our team who have been designing and fixing audio gear for decades.