Evergreen – Barbra Streisand, soundtrack of A Star Is Born (1976).
What does love mean to you? Well, Evergreen, the love theme from the movie A Star is Born answers that question using lyrics that are predictable but at the same time have the power to make you feel all warm and tender. Perhaps, it is Streisand’s poignant delivery but every time you listen to it, you’ll just want to curl up with someone. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 list for three consecutive weeks and received an Academy Award for best original song.
Your Song – Elton John, from the self-titled album Elton John (1970).
Actually it is Ewan McGregor’s rendition on the film Moulin Rouge that can be credited for the revival in interest of this ballad but you can’t take away from the great Elton John and Bernie Taupin collaboration that led to the birth of this song. Your Song is just one of those songs that is perfect to be made “our song.”
When You Tell Me That You Love Me – Diana Ross, The Force Behind The Power (1991).
If you want to tell someone just how great they make you feel, then this number by Diana Ross should definitely be on the list. True the lyrics are a bit sappy but Ross’s vocals are so pure and effortless that they convey the message with sincerity. It is a karaoke favourite but my advice is to go with real thing. The song, which peaked at number two of the UK top 75 singles chart, has become one of the Motown legend’s signature songs.
Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson, Always On My Mind (1982).
The song originally recorded by Elvis Presley has been covered by numerous artistes including The Pet Shop Boys but it is the country version by Willie Nelson that best captures the feelings of regret that are communicated through the lyrics of this song. Nelson’s version won three Grammys; best original song, best country and best male country vocal performance.
Up Where We Belong -Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, soundtrack of An Officer and A Gentleman (1982).
We all know love isn’t easy. But we also know that with the right person at our side, facing those obstacles is a whole lot easier. This duet by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes tells of how the right person really can take you to a better place. The song which combines Cocker’s rough vocals with Warnes pure ones creates an interesting effect that really works. Up Where We Belong won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for best original song. The duo also won the Grammy Award for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal.
We Belong Together -Mariah Carey, Emancipation of Mimi (2005).
Listen to it and you get the feelings of disappointment, of sadness, of what could’ve been…. We Belong Together was Carey’s big comeback hit after a much publicised nervous breakdown. She bounced back with this mega hit that earned her a Grammy in the best R&B female vocal performance category.
I Want It That Way – The Backstreet Boys, Millennium (1999).
All boy bands want respectability and The Backstreet Boys got it with this number. No doubt, it’s a typical pop song but there’s an infectious element about this song that makes you want to sing along. Perhaps, the catchy melody doesn’t correspond to the lyrics about a sparring couple but it is an enjoyable song. I Want It That Way was nominated for three Grammys and earned the pop band the record of the year award.
With Or Without You – U2, from The Joshua Tree (1987).
This rock ballad from the Irish band U2 is always the pick of those who don’t want to associate themselves with soppy songs. It is arguably one of the bands greatest songs though U2 purists will likely disagree. Unlike their other songs, which address social issues, this is often viewed as being too emotional. The song, however, was described by Bono as being about real relationships. It was the band’s first number one song in America.
Every Breath You Take – The Police, from Synchronicity (1983).
The song has a rather sinister undertone of a man obsessed, resulting in some stalker-like behaviours. Not surprising, perhaps, since Sting wrote it after the breakdown of his first marriage. Well, scary or not, Every Breath You Take is now acknowledged as one of the greatest songs of all time. Rolling Stone placed it at number 84 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time while Billboard ranked it 25 in its list of the All Time Top 100. It got two Grammys, one for best pop performance by a duo or group with a vocal and song of the year.
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You – Michael Jackson and Siedah Garret, from Bad (1987).
There are numerous ballads by multi-award winning artiste but in my book this is one of the best. The simple lyrics describe an emotion you just can’t help in an honest way. Jackson who wrote the song originally wanted to duet with either Barbra Streisand or Whitney Houston. When they declined he then approached Aretha Franklin who also turned down the offer. Garrett, who incidentally co-wrote the Jackson hit Man In The Mirror, then offered to sing it with him. The offer resulted in her getting her very first hit song.