What’s the best love song ever?

British songwriters have been responsible for some of the most enduring and successful love songs of all time. So with Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s high time we shine a romantic candle light on 10 ballads that not only stormed the charts but have lived on in the nation’s hearts, says Russell Iliffe.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 14 Feb 2014
  • min read
Nilsson  Without You
Written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans from the band Badfinger, it was US star Harry Nilsson who had the big angst-ridden chart-topper with this in 1972. Sadly, both Ham and Evans later committed suicide - increasing the song’s poignancy.  Later, in 1994, Mariah Carey returned Without You to pole position.

10cc  I’m Not in Love
10cc gave the world this dream-like ballad back in 1975 and, even by today’s standards, it still sounds fresh.  The repeated refrain, ‘Be quiet, big boys don't cry’, spoken during the instrumental break was whispered by the receptionist working at the band’s recording studio.

Spandau Ballet True
By 1983 Spandau Ballet were no longer the new romantics of Chant No. 1 and Musclebound fame, preferring a more sophisticated sound.  Gary Kemp’s smooth ballad was also sampled by P.M. Dawn on their 1991 smash Set Adrift on Memory Bliss, the video for which featured a cameo by Spandau’s Tony Hadley.

George was still a member of Wham! when Careless Whisper became his first solo single in 1984. Co-written with fellow Whamster Andrew Ridgeley as teenagers, it can still be heard echoing round karaoke bars to this day.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood  The Power of Love
This was a popular song title in the mid-eighties with both Jennifer Rush and Huey Lewis and the News enjoying hits with songs of the same name. Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s third and final UK chart-topper was not originally written as a Christmas song but its accompanying nativity themed video turned it into a festive favourite in 1984.  Meanwhile, Gabrielle Aplin took The Power of Love back to the summit in 2012 after covering it for a John Lewis advert.

Chris De Burgh The Lady in Red
After airplay hits with A Spaceman Came Travelling, Don’t Pay the Ferryman and High on Emotion, DeBurgh struck gold in 1986 with this smoochy ballad.  It topped the UK chart and reached number three in the US - though it definitely divided public opinion at the time!

Wet Wet Wet  Love Is All Around
A 15 week run at the top in 1994 for this cover of The Troggs’ song was in no small part due to its appearance in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral.  However, the Wets narrowly failed to equal Bryan Adams’s infamous record-breaking 16 week reign, as Danish pop sensation Whigfield scuppered them with her super-catchy Saturday Night.

Celine Dion Think Twice
Having written hits for Bucks Fizz in the eighties, British songwriters Andy Hill and Peter Sinfield provided another Eurovision winner with her first UK chart-topper.  When the power ballad reached number two in 1995, following a slow climb up the charts, Celine interrupted her honeymoon to appear on Top of the Pops.  The French-Canadian diva’s decision was spot on as Think Twice ended up residing at the summit for seven weeks.

James Blunt You’re Beautiful
The former army captain had been tipped as a promising new act to watch following the release of his debut album Back to Bedlam.  However, it was this tale of unrequited love that turned his career stratospheric in 2005.

Adele Someone Like You
Adele’s performance of this at the 2011 BRIT awards made her a true pop A-lister.  It became the UK’s biggest selling single that year while the parent album 21 has sold over ten million copies in the US alone.