[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Saturday, Feb. 13.]
If you measured romance by the Billboard charts, it would seem people are more
tuned in then ever to their favorite love songs.
The upper portion of the chart magazine's list of the top 50 love songs is dominated by
tunes from this decade nine of the top 10 were released from 1991 to 1996. For its
website (www.billboard.com), the veteran music magazine prepared its list of the 50
most popular singles of the past 40 years based on those that had the word "love" in their
Topping the list are "I'll Make Love to You," the 1994 single by R&B vocal quartet Boyz II
Men at #1 and Whitney Houston's 1992 remake of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love
You" at #2.
But before you start celebrating a rebirth of romance, consider this: Charts Director Geoff
Mayfield suspects the success of the later releases is a product of changes in the record
industry and radio stations, rather than in the heart of music listeners. SoundScan, the
sales tracker that monitors weekly sales of albums and singles, was instituted in 1991,
yielding sales statistics that in all likelihood exceed those of the pre-SoundScan years.
In addition, radio stations now allow songs to remain in rotation until requests dissipate,
And that could take a while.
Still, Haynes Johns, music director for WNND, a soft-rock station in Chicago known as
Windy 100, said love songs are tough birds to kill. And some of the oldest remain firmly
in the hearts of the romantic, he added.
"It's that emotional tie. Those are emotional songs," Johns said. "It puts into words the
feelings people are trying to communicate, especially men. It's like, 'This is what I'm
Mayfield said that for the "love" chart, the magazine editors ranked the singles all of
which have spent time in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 using a staggered
point system. The higher the song crested in the top 10 and the longer it appeared on
radio playlists, the more points the song received.
The list covers songs from as far back as 1958 and includes tracks from each of the last
In turn, the list is peppered with romance-infused pop favorites of recent times
including "Dreamlover" by Mariah Carey at #7 and two songs by French-Canadian pop
star Celine Dion at #5 and #10 and with such rock nuggets of yesteryear as "She
Loves You" by the Beatles at #28 and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by defunct glam
rockers Queen at #19.
Keeping some of the more vintage love tunes alive are radio stations aiming to tug at the
hearts of an older listener, while capturing a new generation of lovers. For example,
Johns said a 1994 version of "Endless Love" crafted by R&B singers Mariah Carey and
Luther Vandross is played regularly on Windy 100.
And at this time of the year, love tunes are all over the air, as radio stations play request
after request for songs of romance of love found, love lost and love forever sought.
Among the older songs ranked high on the Billboard chart is Diana Ross and
Lionel Richie's 1981 duet "Endless Love" at #3. Further down are such classic love
tracks as "How Deep Is Your Love" by the BeeGees and "To Sir With Love" by Brit-pop
singer Lulu at #16 and #18, respectively. Bringing up the bottom of the chart is
"Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" by pop-rock artists Patty Smyth and Don Henley at
The chart was originally released in a September issue of the magazine commemorating
the 40th anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart,
"People identify with [these songs]," Johns said. "Everyone gets mushy."
But in some of the songs on the list, it's the relevance that gets a little mushy. Take entry
#8, for example: the jukebox ode "I Love Rock 'N Roll" (RealAudio
excerpt) by riff-rockers Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Well, at least "love" is in the title, Mayfield said.
"We're not claiming that anyone gives 'I Love Rock 'N Roll' to their girlfriend for
Valentine's Day," he said. "It just has the word 'love' in the title."
Karol Kamin, a management representative at Blackheart Records, Jett's New York-based
label, said the distinction tickled her.
"I think it's pretty cool," she said. "This is a song that resonates for all generations."