Romantic love songs come and go, but there are many that will always remain in our hearts day in day out because of the way they speak to us. We have thus decided to compile a list of 30 love songs that will always have a soft spot in our hearts, from international stars like OneRepublic and Whitney Houston to their African and South African counterparts like Mafikizolo and Runtown.
Coming up with a list like this can sometimes be very subjective, hence we implore you to let us know your thoughts via the discussion section below. Do you like any of the songs, do you think there are songs that we would have included on the list, are there other local South African songs that would have made the list, let us know what you think.
The Best International Love Songs
1. Apologize – One Republic
“Apologize” was the debut and lead single of OneRepublic from their debut album, Dreaming Out Loud. The song, which was written by the group’s frontman Ryan Tedder, was a major hit internationally. It reached number one in 16 countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, and Italy. It also maintained the number one spot for eight consecutive weeks on the Billboard Pop 100 chart and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
As a result of the public acclaim which “Apologize” enjoyed, OneRepublic was nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the Grammy Awards in 2007.
2. Your Song – Elton John
“Your Song” is a song written by Elton John and his longtime collaborator, singer Bernie Taupin. The song, which appeared in John’s self-titled second studio album in 1970, made it to number eight on the Billboard chart and also peaked at number seven on the UK Singles Chart while also charting in the top 10 in several other countries. The RIAA later certified it double Platinum.
Many artists today have released covers to “Your Song” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 and has featured on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Lady Gaga has had a go at it while Ellie Goulding’s version reached number two on the UK Singles Chart in 2010.
3. A Drop In The Ocean – Ron Pope
Ron Pope co-wrote “A Drop In The Ocean” with his bandmate Zach Berkman in 2007. In 2009, Pope signed a recording deal with Universal and released the singles “I Believe” and “A Drop in the Ocean”, the latter of which cuts deep into the soul and gained notable commercial success as it also became an Internet sensation, gaining over 30 million views.
4. Rule the World – Take That
“Rule the World” is a song that was recorded by English boy band, Take That, for the soundtrack of the film, Stardust (2007). The song was also included on the deluxe edition of their fourth studio album, Beautiful World (2006). “Rule the World” went on to become the group’s second best selling single as it peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) certified it 2x Platinum.
5. Jar Of Hearts – Christina Perri
Christina Perri was inspired to write and perform “Jar Of Hearts” following a true-life experience she had with an ex-boyfriend who wanted to rekindle a failed romance after a tough breakup. In a blog post by the artist, she said; “I wrote the song after I went home to Philadelphia for the holiday last December. I sat in my childhood bedroom and hid from the boy (with the jar of hearts) who wanted to see me. My heart wanted to see him, my head knew better. I couldn’t take one more break so I wrote the song instead.”
“Jar Of Hearts” was Christina Perri’s debut single and it appeared on both her debut EP, The Ocean Way Sessions (2010), and her debut studio album, Lovestrong (2011). It charted on multiple charts, including the United States and Canada, and was the 11th best selling single of 2011 in the UK.
6. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
“I Will Always Love You” is a song written and originally recorded by American singer and songwriter, Dolly Parton, in 1973. In 1992, American singer and actress Whitney Houston recorded her own version of the song for the film, The Bodyguard. Houston’s version became one of the best-selling singles of all time as it spent a then-record-breaking 14 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also holds the record for being the best-selling single by a woman in music history.
7. Ashes and Wine – A Fine Frenzy
A Fine Frenzy is the nickname of pianist/singer-songwriter, Alison Sudol. She has a soft voice and a knack for making wonderful pieces with gentle orchestrations and supple melodies. This is obvious in her song “Ashes in Wine” which has a genuinely good melody and enough substance to warrant several listens. The song is about the deep frustration that one feels after a breakup and the pain of hoping there could be another chance to rekindle the relationship.
8. Run – Leona Lewis
“Run” was originally recorded by Snow Patrol for their third studio album, Final Straw (2003). In 2008, British singer Leona Lewis covered the song and released it as a single from her debut studio album, Spirit: The Deluxe Edition.
The emotion-laden song according to Lewis is about hope and facing your fears and she truly captured those feelings in the song. The two versions of the song are both brilliant but very much different in styles and tone. While Leona’s voice adds power to the lyrics, Snow Patrol’s version is more reflective.
9. You’re Still The One – Shania Twain
“You’re Still the One” is a song by Canadian singer Shania Twain written by her and Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Twain wrote the song to address the criticism of her relationship with Lange. It was released as the third single from her third studio album, Come On Over (1997). The song peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for four Grammy Awards in 1999, winning two.
10. Riverside – Agnes Obel
“Riverside” is a song by Danish singer and songwriter Agnes Obel that was included in her debut album, Philharmonics. The song has been used as the soundtrack of many movies and TV series and it won the Robert Award for the Best Song of the year 2011.
Obel sings with a quiet, serious, and tender grace that expresses a feeling of vague or regretful longing. She explained that she wanted to write a song about how people can be transformed, and sometimes how when you meet other people who have been through this strange transformation. The song came at a time in her life when she was changing a lot and she wanted to describe that using water as a border between one world and another.
South African Love Songs
1. Ngibambe La – Mthunzi
South African musician Mthunzi features Claudio and Kenza on the song “Ngibambe La” from his debut album, Selimathunzi. The song is a perfect one for guys who are trying to remind their love interest that while many guys are excited and chasing after her, the two of them know that she has only got eyes for him.
2. Ngeke Balunge – Mafikizolo
Awarding-winning South African singing duo, Mafikizolo, which consists of Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza, return to their original sound on “Ngeke Balunge” that was released in October 2019. In the song, they describe a Romeo and Juliet kind of love that will always have them returning back to each other.
3. Umuhle Uyasabeka – Samthing Soweto
“Umuhle Uyasabeka” is a song by South African singer and songwriter Samthing Soweto from his second album, Isphithiphithi (2019). On the track, which is a favorite for many, the singer praises his lover’s ethereal beauty in a way that will certainly have her swooning.
4. Ndiceli’ikiss – Berita
“Ndiceli’ikiss” is a feel-good and upbeat jam by South Africans Afro-soul singer, Berita. The song, which was released in January 2019 and literally translates to “May I have a kiss”, has the singer unabashedly asking her lover to come closer for that special kiss.
5. Ungowami – Ami Faku
South African musician Ami Faku, who shot to fame as a contestant on The Voice SA, slows down the tempo in “Ungowami” where she reassures her lover by letting him known that he belongs to her and no-one else.
6. Khethile Khethile – Kwesta
South African rapper Kwesta recruits the services of Makwa, Tshego AMG, and Thee Legacy for “Khethile Khethile” which was made as a tribute to his wife on their wedding day. The rapper shows the world his vulnerable side on the love song that will definitely stir your emotions.
7. Future Plan – Manu WorldStar
Fast-rising South African-born Afro-soul artist Manu Worldstar puts together a laid-back and easy record with “Future Plan”. The song follows his theme of a lover boy but in a more sexual form as he lays out all his imagined future plans on the table in the hopes of his love interest giving him a chance.
8. The Sun – Ayanda Jiya
“The Sun” is a song by South African singer and songwriter Ayanda Jiya. While there are different opinions on whether Ayanda intended for this anthem to be a love song, she speaks about holding on just a little longer until things become better.
9. Emakhaya – Mlindo The Vocalist
“Emakhaya” is a song by South African singer and songwriter Mlindo the Vocalist from his debut studio album of the same name. The singer uses the perfect words to sing about looking forward to finding his lover upon returning back home from a very long journey.
10. Ndizele Wena – Amanda Black
South African singer and songwriter Amanda Black speaks about issues that are common in every relationship in “Ndizele Wena”. She goes on to reassure her lover that no matter the ups and downs, arguments and disagreements, that she would not be leaving but would stay through thick and thin.
Love Songs From the African Continent
1. Nishike – Sauti Sol
“Nishike” which translates to Touch Me, is one of the most epic love songs by Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol, which comprises of Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Delvin Mudigi, and Polycarp Otieno. The band caused an uproar in the media due to the steamy content of the music video as they go straight to the point by requesting for intimate relations with their lovers.
2. Mayday – Hiro
Hiro le Coq is the charismatic and charming leader of the Congolese Afro-pop group, Bana C4. The singer, however, goes solo on “Mayday” where he sings in French and Lingala about what he would have given up for the love of his life who hurts him by leaving.
3. Yelelema Sheney – DJ Arafat
“Yelelema Sheney” is a song by the now late Ivorian DJ and singer, DJ Arafat, who made music in the Coupé-Décalé genre. In the song, which is included in his Yorogang album, he sings of a young love that was lost because it was forbidden by the girl’s parents.
4. Mad Over You – Runtown
“Mad Over You” is a song by Nigerian singer and songwriter Runtown. According to him, the song which charted at number 38 on the Billboard Twitter Top Tracks chart was inspired by African beauty. He, however, sings about his Ghanian beauty whose body is driving him crazy.
5. If Love is a Crime – 2Baba
“If Love is a Crime” is one from the very long catalog of Nigerian singer and songwriter, 2Baba aka 2face Idibia. From his 2006 sophomore album, Grass 2 Grace, he sings about the ideal girl who he would continue to love even if it meant that he would lose his freedom or life.
6. Supporter – Locko
Cameroonian singers Locko and Mr. Leo join forces to produce this French-English song that emphasizes the importance of staying in a relationship despite the trials and tribulations the two parties involved may face.
7. Fais moi confiance – Sidiki Diabaté
“Fais moi confiance” is one of the most famous songs by Malian instrumentalist and singer Sidiki Diabaté. The song, which was released in 2015, is about a woman who doubts her significant other’s feelings for her while he does everything in his power to make her trust him.
8. Fallen in Love – Chidinma
Nigerian singer Chidinma proved with “Fallen in Love” that she is the go-to artist for romantic and love songs. In the music video, she plays a high school student who professes her everlasting love to her lover no matter the weather.
9. Melissa – Shatta Wale
Ghanaian singer and songwriter Shatta Wale stole the airwaves in 2019 with the infectious song “Melissa”. The self-acclaimed King of African dancehall music dedicated it to all the beautiful and sexy girls in his country and beyond.
10. The One – Diamond Platinumz
“The One” is a song by Tanzanian Bongo Flava recording artist Diamond Platinumz. Released in 2019, the singer serenades the one he loves on the song as he talks about his willingness to show her off to the world.