We hear a lot of non-love songs on the radio these days, but there have been a few rare gems lately that ring of actual real love. You know, not the short-term infatuation kind, or the love/hate dysfunctional kind, or even the possessive kind for that matter—aka imitation love songs. No, I'm talking about the songs with lyrics and tunes that actually evoke lasting love.
So let's start with a big thank you to John Legend, shall we?
“All of Me” by John Legend
John Legend, known for his soulful voice and simple piano accompaniment, has always been known for sensitivity and heart in his lyrics. Once you hear this latest hit "All of Me," it's striking how much it contrasts with everything else on the airwaves. A diamond in the rough, if you will.
What's going on in that beautiful mind / I'm on your magical mystery ride / And I'm so dizzy, don't know what hit me, but I'll be alright / 'Cause all of me loves all of you / Love your curves and all your edges / All your perfect imperfections . . . Even when I lose I'm winning / 'Cause I give you all of me / And you give me all of you.
With lyrics that emphasize being committed and loving a person fully not partly, it's no surprise to find out Legend wrote the song for his bride, Chrissy Teigen, whom he married last September. In fact, he devotes the last few seconds of the music video to show footage from their wedding in Como, Italy. If the lyrics aren't enough to make you melt, watch this gorgeously choreographed foxtrot to the song from last week's Dancing With the Stars.
“Unconditionally” by Katy Perry
Katy Perry's latest album Prism has had several hit singles that blow her past work out of the water. One such track is "Unconditionally"—a song I could hardly believe was Perry when I first heard it.
All your insecurities / All the dirty laundry / Never made me blink one time . . . / I will love you unconditionally / There is no fear now . . . / Come just as you are to me . . . / Know that you are worthy / I'll take your bad days with your good / Walk through the storm I would / I do it all because I love you.
When talking about real love, it's hard to find a better word than unconditional to describe the real deal. Here, as in "All of Me," we hear echoes of loving the full person with all their imperfections and intimations of lifelong marriage ("I'll take your bad days with your good"—or, as they say, "in good times and in bad"). The best part is that the melody matches the lyrics with triumphant momentum and powerful ballad quality. Out of the park!
"Still Into You" by Paramore
Lyrics like "I'm into you" may sound too light to be serious, but in this radio hit by Paramore the strong-willed sound and surrounding lyrics are what launch it to real-love song status.
Can't count the years on one hand / That we've been together / It's not a walk in the park / To love each other / But when our fingers interlock / Can't deny, can't deny you're worth it . . . / I should be over all the butterflies / But I'm into you / And baby even on our worst nights / I'm into you / You felt the weight of the world / Fall off your shoulder / And to your favorite song / We sang along to the start of forever / And after all this time I'm still into you.
Replace the song's catchy lyrics "I'm into you" with "I love you" and you see my point: After all this time I'm into you; even on the worst nights, I'm into you. Evoking resilience and commitment, it's words like these that recur in these songs and make them stand apart.
Real love songs—now those I'll gladly put on repeat.