Love is the theme of many songs from every decade and music genre. Sometimes it is about the love a couple feels for each other, and sometimes a song is about how much one person loves another, but the other person does not feel the same. So, are there any songs about unrequited love? Here are some of the best songs about unrequited love from across the decades.
20. To Be with You, Mr. Big, 1991
Rock band Mr. Big recorded ‘To Be with You’ in 1991 for their second studio album ‘Lean into It.’ The single topped the charts in multiple countries, including the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Austria, Belgium, and Denmark. Band member Eric Martin composed the song in his teens to describe how he was in love with a girl who always went out with the wrong boys. Although he dreamed of being her knight in shining armor, the girl never reciprocated his feelings.
19. Everything You Want, Vertical Horizon, 1999
‘Everything You Want’ is listed by Music Industry How To as one of the best songs about unrequited love. The song’s lyrics describe a situation where someone has a crush on somebody who is bad for them. It is the band’s second single from their third studio album, which is also called ‘Everything You Want.’
18. If, Janet Jackson, 1993
Janet Jackson produced and co-wrote the single ‘If,’ which was recorded for her fifth studio album, ‘Janet.’ The song fuses several music genres together, including industrial music, trip-hop, and rock. It also contains a sample of ‘Someday We’ll Be Together,’ which was performed by Diana Ross & The Supremes. The lyrics describe how she is in love with a man that has never even looked at her. It was a top-ten hit in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.
17. Crush, Mandy Moore, 2001
Mandy Moore’s single ‘Crush’ is about having a secret crush and not being able to tell the other person how they feel for fear of being rejected because the other person doesn’t feel the same. The American singer recorded the song in 2001 for her self-titled second studio album. It peaked at number 35 on the US Mainstream Top 40 and was more successful in Australia, peaking at number 25 on the charts. In the music video for the single, Mandy Moore is wearing a replica of Michael Jackson’s jacket from ‘Thriller.’
16. Stacy’s Mom, Fountains of Wayne, 2003
‘Stacy’s Mom’ is Fountains of Wayne’s highest charting song, as it peaked at number 21 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The American rock band recorded the single in 2003 for their third studio album ‘Welcome Interstate Managers.’
Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger are both credited with writing the song due to their agreement to jointly take credit for all the band’s songs, regardless of who wrote them. Schlesinger later revealed that he was the one that contributed this song to the band’s repertoire. The song is about an inappropriate crush a young man has on an older woman, which is secret and clearly unrequited.
15. Teardrops on My Guitar, Taylor Swift, 2006
Like many of Taylor Swift’s songs, she wrote ‘Teardrops on My Guitar’ based on her personal, romantic experiences. It is about her unrequited love for one of her classmates in high school. The track was the second single released from Swift’s second studio album, ‘Fearless.’ Swift co-wrote the song with Liz Rose, and it peaked at number two on the US Hot Country Songs chart. It was also a top-ten hit in Canada.
14. Just a Friend to You, Meghan Trainor, 2016
‘Just a Friend to You’ is a song written and recorded by American artist Meghan Trainor for her second studio album, ‘Thank You’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thank_You_(Meghan_Trainor_album)). The song was not released independently as a single, as the three singles from the album were ‘No,’ ‘Me Too,’ and ‘Better.’ It is about being in love with someone who only sees you as a friend.
13. Put You in a Song, Keith Urban, 2010
Keith Urban co-wrote ‘Put You in a Song’ with Jedd Hughes and Sarah Buxton, and he recorded it as the first single for the 2010 album ‘Get Closer.’ It peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Like many other songs about unrequited love, it is about a man who is in love with a girl who shows no interest, and his only chance of getting close to her is by putting it into a song.
12. Grenade, Bruno Mars, 2010
‘Grenade’ is a song about a man who would do anything for a woman, but she doesn’t feel the same. Bruno Mars recorded it in 2010 for his debut solo album ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans.’ He co-wrote the song with Phillip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, and Andrew Wyatt. The single was Bruno Mars’ third to top the Billboard Hot 100.
11. Not in That Way, Sam Smith, 2014
‘Not in That Way’ is a song about unrequited love that was recorded by English singer Sam Smith for his debut album ‘Not in That Way.’ Smith co-wrote the song with Fraser T Smith. The album topped the charts in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, and the UK, although it only reached number two on the Billboard 200.
10. Shiver, Coldplay, 2000
‘Shiver’ is a song by British rock band Coldplay. Chris Martin wrote ‘Shiver’ about a specific woman. Despite repeated media speculation, he has never named her. The song featured on Coldplay’s debut album, ‘Parachute,’ and the band regularly includes it in their tour playlists.
9. Just My Imagination, The Temptations, 1971
Not only is ‘Just My Imagination’ one of the best songs about unrequited love from the 1970s, but it is also one of the best soul songs on the subject. It was recorded in 1971 by the soul group The Temptations for their fourteenth studio album ‘Sky’s the Limit.’ The song was co-written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and it topped the Billboard Hot 100.
9. I Can’t Make You Love Me, Bonnie Raitt, 1991
‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ is listed by Teen Vogue as one of the best songs about unrequited love. Bonnie Raitt recorded the song, which was written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin, for her eleventh album, ‘Luck of the Draw.’ It was one of the most successful singles ever recorded by Raitt.
The inspiration for the song came from an unusual situation. Reid read about a man who ended up in court after getting drunk and shooting at an ex-girlfriend’s car. When the judge asked him if he had learned anything, the man said that he had learned you couldn’t make a woman love you.
8. You Belong with Me, Taylor Swift, 2008
As Taylor Swift is famous for writing songs about her former relationships, it is hardly surprising she appears more than once on a list of songs about unrequited love. However, this particular song was inspired by a telephone conversation she overheard between a male friend and a girl. It is about unrequited love for somebody who is out of their reach. In the United States, the song topped the Hot Country Songs and Adult Contemporary charts, and it also topped the Canadian singles chart. The song featured on Swift’s second studio album, ‘Fearless.’
7. Mr. Brightside, The Killers, 2003
The debut single from The Killers’ 2003 debut album ‘Hot Fuss,’ was ‘Mr. Brightside.’ Band members Brandon Flowers and Dave Keuning co-wrote the song, which was an international hit. Dave Keuning wrote the song prior to the formation of The Killers, and it is about his paranoia and jealousy after finding his girlfriend with another guy and knowing she didn’t feel the same about him as he did about her.
6. Chasing Pavements, Adele, 2007
‘Chasing Pavements’ was the second single released by British singer Adele from her debut studio album’ 19.’ Like many singer-songwriters, Adele used her personal experiences as inspiration for the song. The lyrics describe the end of a relationship following her ex-boyfriend’s infidelity and how she is trying to move on with her life even though she still loves him because her love is unrequited. It was nominated for multiple awards, winning the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
5. Black, Pearl Jam, 1991
Black is about falling in love for the first time, the relationship coming to an end, and one person still having feelings for the other that are unrequited. It is about getting through the experience and learning how to let go. The song is from the fifth album of the American rock band Pearl Jam, which was called ‘Ten,’ and it was released as a promotional single. Band members Stone Gossard and Eddie Vedder co-wrote the song.
4. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, The Police, 1981
‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ is a single released by British rock group The Police in 1981, and it is from their album ‘Ghost in the Machine.’ Sting wrote the song in 1976 before the band was formed, and it is notable for featuring a piano section. The single topped the charts in the UK, Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands. It also reached the top spot on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
3. Creep, Radiohead,1992
Radio X names Radiohead’s Creep as one of the best songs about unrequited love. It was the band’s debut single and featured on their debut album ‘Pablo Honey.’ Despite the band being unknown prior to the single’s release, it was a worldwide hit. The song has since been covered by many other artists, including Prince, Arlo Parks, Monica Naranjo, and Sophie Koh, amongst others. The song is about band member Thom Yorke and a girl he used to follow around.
2. I Will Always Love You, Dolly Parton, 1974
Whitney Houston often springs to mind when people think of the song ‘I Will Always Love You,’ as she performed it for the film ‘The Bodyguard’ and released it as a chart-topping single. However, country singer Dolly Parton originally wrote and recorded the song in 1974. The song is about a woman who is still in love with her former lover, but her love is unrequited. It topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and peaked at number four on the Canada Country Tracks chart.
1. Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen, 2012
Repeat Replay lists ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen. The Canadian singer recorded the song for both her EP ‘Curiosity’ and the album Kiss.’ She originally wrote the song with Tavish Crowe as a folk song, but producer Josh Ramsay adapted it to pop to appeal to a wider market. It is about the singer wanting to catch the attention of the boy next door who she has fallen for, but her feelings are not returned. The song topped the Canadian charts and the Mainstream Top 40 and Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States. It was also nominated for multiple awards.
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