Updated: Mar 3, 2021
By Emma Enebak
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In the heat of our new “roaring 20s” I have gotten to thinking about the diverse range of distinctive cultures of each decade. It’s fascinating how each time period seems to be a world of its own. While the fashion, popular culture, musical genres and social/political landscapes are constantly evolving, one thing has always remained at the center of our world’s view:
People sing about it, write about it, dream about it and almost everything in-between. Whether beautiful or tragic, these comments on love continue to be centerpieces of our culture, and have never faded from our artistic view. This notion inspired the idea to compile the greatest love songs from the past eight decades in order to create a playlist that transcends time itself. So without further ado, here is the tasteful, nostalgic and timeless montage of love songs that you never knew you needed.
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The 50’s were a time of rebellion in the music industry. Rock n’ Roll, Rhythm and Blues, Pop and Swing burst into the public eye to challenge the “higher” forms of culture that young men and women were expected to enjoy. When Elvis released his first single on July 19, 1954, it was safe to say that the music industry was forever changed.
1957: "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley
1958: "Put your head on My Shoulder" by Paul Anka
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The 60’s are quite easily my favorite musical era making it nearly impossible to pick only five songs. This decade was defined by fearless figures like Etta James, who sought to tear down boundaries and transcend the limits society had set upon her as a black female artist (CS Monitor). The passion, boldness and relentlessness of this era are so profound within these musical styles. Not to mention the Beatles released their first album in 1963. But that one’s obvious.
1960: "A Sunday Kind of Love" by Etta James
1962: "Something’s Got a Hold on Me" by Etta James
1963: "Nothing Can Change this Love" by Sam Cooke
1965: "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers
1967: "All you Need is Love" by The Beatles
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The decade of Disco and the birth of hip-hop, it’s safe to say the ‘70s were a golden era for the music industry. This is one of the most fragmented decades musically thus far, as listeners were bombarded with a never ending range of genres. Record players became living room essentials, and music became a part of the American way of life.
1970: "Your Song" by Elton John
1970: "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross
1974: "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton
1976: "Somebody to Love" by Queen
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Rock music dominated the entirety of the 80’s. Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Heavy Metal.
Dead center of the decade in 1985, Freddie Mercury made history at the Live Aid benefit concert, where a crowd of 80,000 screamed the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody” in unison. Basically the 80’s win.
1982: "Come on Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners
1982: "P.Y.T." (Pretty Young Thing) by Micheal Jackson
1984: "Like a Virgin" by Madonna
1989: "Love Shack" by The B-52’s
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The end of the millennium was classified by borrowed and refined sounds. The popular artists of this era compiled styles from all the previous decades and added a bold refinement to them that was purely ‘90s. Think Micheal Jackson and Prince meet The Backstreet Boys and Tim McGraw.
1994: "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John
1997: "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer
1995: "I Like it, I Love it" by Tim McGraw
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Juicy sweatsuits, choker necklaces, low-rise jeans and crimped bangs. I can’t guess exactly what was going through peoples’ heads in this decade, but I do know that it brought us "Crazy in Love" by Beyoncé.
For me, that’s enough.
2003: "If I Ain’t Got You" by Alicia Keys
2002: "She Will be Loved" by Maroon 5
2008: "Lovebug" by The Jonas Brothers
2008: "I’m Yours" by Jason Mraz
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The 2010s were defined by the rapidly growing technology that seemed to entirely transform the world. Artists that may have never been discovered before were suddenly becoming internet sensations. It was real people expressing their real feelings.The ordinary was suddenly converging with the extraordinary – and it brought us beautiful music.
2010: "Rhythm of Love" by Plain Whit T’s
2011: "Without You" by David Guetta, Usher
2014: "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran
2014: "XO" by John Mayer
2017: "Beige" by Yoke Lore
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Still uncharted territory. But here are the love songs of 2020 that I simply can’t help but include-
2020: "Stuck With U" by Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber
2020: "Invisible String" by Taylor Swift
2020: "If the World Was Ending" by Julia Michaels, JP Saxe