The ancients didn’t know what the heart was supposed to do. However, they knew it was important. For instance, Aristotle believed the heart to be the seat of thought, though to be fair, he concluded thus because of erroneous experimentation rather than pure philosophizing. Even now, we see the influence of these beliefs in how the heart remains a symbol of love, compassion, and other powerful emotions. Many songs have used the concept in one way or another.
10. “Stereo Hearts” – Gym Class Heroes
“Stereo Hearts” was the lead single on Gym Class Heroes’ fifth studio album. With that said, many people will recognize it because Adam Levine’s singing paired so well with Travie McCoy’s vocals. This isn’t the greatest song ever written, but this is nonetheless very enjoyable.
9. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler
This song makes more sense when one knows the context. In short, Jim Steinman wrote it for a Nosferatu musical. That explains the song’s pairing of love and darkness. Moreover, that explains some of the more ominous connotations in the lyrics. Regardless, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” earned its place as one of Bonnie Tyler’s most famous songs.
8. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – Elton John and Kiki Dee
Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote this song as a homage to Motown duets. Originally, they intended for John to sing the song with Dusty Springfield. Unfortunately, that fell through because the latter was too sick at the time. Instead, John sang the song with Kiki Dee, the first female singer from the United Kingdom to sign with Motown. The result went number one in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
7. “Straight From the Heart” – Bryan Adams
Cuts Like a Knife was Bryan Adams’ third studio album. Despite that, it was also the studio album that made him mainstream. “Straight From the Heart” played an important role in this process because it was Adams’ breakthrough song in the United States.
6. “Heart of Gold” – Neil Young
Neil Young once wrote several acoustic songs because of a back injury. As the story goes, he couldn’t play his electric guitar because he couldn’t stand up for long periods. In response, he played his acoustic guitar while sitting down. “Heart of Gold” is very honest about being a love song. Young has outright stated that he was inspired by his feelings for the actress Carrie Snodgress at the time.
5. “Heartbreaker” – Pat Benetar
“Heartbreaker” isn’t a Pat Benetar original. After all, it had been released by the English singer Jenny Darren just a year before Benetar’s debut studio album. Still, there can be no doubt about the fact that “Heartbreaker” is Benetar’s song in the popular consciousness. It took some time to build up, but in the end, it enabled her to break through with her first studio album. Suffice to say that “Heartbreaker” is every bit as powerful as the imagery it uses to make its point.
4. “Heart of the Sunrise” – Yes
Yes is a progressive rock band active on and off since the late 1960s. Combined with their popularity, this makes them one of the most influential acts in the genre. “Heart of the Sunrise” is interesting because it seems to be deliberately impressionistic. As a result, different people come away with different messages. Both the heart and the sunrise are strongly associated with positive things. As mentioned earlier, hearts represent love and other powerful emotions. Meanwhile, sunrises represent renewal, revival, and the triumph of light over darkness. Thanks to those things, it is no coincidence that many people come away feeling empowered by this song.
3. “Heart-Shaped Box” – Nirvana
Nirvana is famous for its ambiguous lyrics. Some would argue this is one of the band’s most interesting characteristics. Amusingly, there are not one but two stated meanings for “Heart-Shaped Box.” Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain himself mentioned inspiration from a news report about children with cancer. In more recent times, Courtney Love claimed her vagina was Cobain’s source of inspiration for the song. If one reads further into the claim, one can even argue that “Heart-Shaped Box” is about the two’s famously complicated relationship. In that light, Love’s claim would be as metaphorical as it is literal. As always, music is up for interpretation, particularly when the lyrics are about as ambiguous as they can be without becoming outright nonsensical.
2. “Heart of Glass” – Blondie
Glass isn’t the sturdiest material in the popular consciousness. As a result, the title “Heart of Glass” doesn’t exactly inspire the impression of a lasting relationship. The song itself uses this imagery to wonderful effect, thus managing to be both clever and casual at the same time. “Heart of Glass” has been covered by many artists. Despite that, Blondie’s original remains the best. That is no small feat considering some of the competition.
1. “My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion
Titanic is sappy. Even so, it is remarkably good at evoking the right emotions. Some of that power comes from Celine Dion’s song “My Heart Will Go On.” It is her signature song. Moreover, “My Heart Will Go On” is one of the best-selling singles ever released, so much so that it is the second best-selling single ever released by a female artist. Above it, there is Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Beneath it, there is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Dion’s song goes hand-in-hand with the movie. What can be said about one of them can be said about the other.