Right off the bat, let me disclose that my taste in love songs is not always conventional; the song that consistently moves me to tears is “Commitment” from the musical 1776. (Picture John and Abigail Adams expressing their love by sending each other saltpeter and pins. It’s very moving. Really.) But my idiosyncratic tastes aside, when I think of love songs, I think emotional, a little girly, occasionally bombastic. (Celine Dion‘s “My Heart Will Go On” immediately comes to mind.) So when I saw that Entertainment Weekly had compiled a list of the 25 Best Love Songs Ever, I expected a little girl power. However, it seems that songs become more “swoon-worthy” when they pass a bobbing Adam’s apple on the way out. A full 78% of the songs on the list were recorded by men.
Women do occupy a few prominent spots. Most notably, Aretha Franklin comes in at spot number four with her version of “(You Make Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Certainly no reasonable person could object to this placement. Also in the top 10 is Whitney Houston‘s version of “I Will Always Love You.”
While I prefer the Dolly Parton original, I have no trouble accepting this version at No. 6.
But that’s it for the top 10. And there are only three and one-half women in the remainder of the top 25. (No song is sung by half of a woman; one is a duet.) The remaining women are:
14. Etta James — “At Last”
She’s certainly looking big, blonde and beautiful.
18. Beyoncé — “Crazy in Love”
19. Tammi Terrell (with Marvin Gaye) — “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
21. Cyndi Lauper — “Time After Time”
That’s it. No Ella Fitzgerald, no Barbra Streisand, no Karen Carpenter. And I think it may be an actual crime that Carole King‘s “I Feel the Earth Move” is not on the list. (I may have to check where Entertainment Weekly is incorporated and examine the relevant penal code.)
But Guns N’ Roses occupies spot eight with “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
So I’m going to list my own estrogen-fueled Top 10 (in no particular order):
Ella Fitzgerald — “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”
Barbra Streisand — “The Way We Were”
The Carpenters — “Close to You”
Bette Midler — “The Rose”
Tracey Ullman — “They Don’t Know”
Melissa Etheridge — “This Moment”
Melissa Ferrick — “Drive”
Bree Sharp — “David Duchovny” (this may be more of a stalking song than a love song, but sometimes these lines are hazy)
Sarah McLachlan — “Ice Cream”
Miss Piggy — “I’m Gonna Always Love You”
Now that’s a girl, er, sow-power love song!
But these are just my opinions. What omissions offend your sensibilities?