Is there anything better than being serenaded with one of the best, most soulful R&B love songs?
If you ask me, very few things can compare.
R&B is a genre that’s known for sensual hits that are designed to seduce and set smoking hot mood.
Lovers everywhere melt immediately when they hear the right R&B track, and you know what? It makes perfect sense, because these love songs are crazy hot.
If you’re looking to make a mixtape or playlist for the love of your life, these top 18 R&B love songs are a must.
The 18 Best R&B Love Songs Of All Time
1. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston’s power ballad is one of the best love songs and gives everyone chills, simply because of how amazingly well it’s sung.
Her vocals really show off their abilities in this one, and the lyrics couldn’t be more loving if they tried (you can thank Dolly Parton for that).
This isn’t just one of the best R&B love songs of all time — it’s one of the best modern songs of all time, period.
I hope life treats you kind / And I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of
And I wish to you joy and happiness / But above all this, I wish you love
And I will always love you
2. “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys
Have you ever loved someone so much, they become the only thing you care about? Alicia Keys sure did. Her song perfectly captures that yearning feeling that we’ve all experienced, all while celebrating how much love can mean to a person.
This song is one of the many, many love songs that Alicia Keys made deserving of mention. That being said, we had to pick just one.
This one might just be the most soulful of all her songs, and that means something serious.
Some people want it all / But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you baby / If I ain’t got you baby
Some people want diamond rings / Some just want everything
But everything means nothing / If I ain’t got you, yeah
3. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
This might not really seem like a love song at first, but hear me out. Aretha Franklin’s most famous hit is all about a woman who works hard every day, all for a man she loves. The only thing she really wants in return is love and respect.
There’s something naturally endearing about a song that discusses the importance of having a loving, respectful relationship.
That’s what makes this a pretty epic love song in its own right.
What you want / Baby, I got it
What you need / Do you know I got it?
All I’m askin’ / Is for a little respect when you get home (just a little bit)
4. “All My Life” by K-Ci & Jojo
When it comes to R&B love songs, very few immediately come to mind the way that K-Ci & Jojo’s classic ’90s hit works. This entire track celebrates finding “The One,” and realizing that the person you’re with is the one you were waiting for your entire life.
Every bar of this track is sung with the same enthusiasm of a person who realizes that the search for love is over.
If you need a song that just brings a smile to your face or gets you feeling excited for love, this is it.
And all my life I’ve prayed for someone like you / And I thank God that I, that I finally found you
All my life I’ve prayed for someone like you / And I hope that you feel the same way too
Yes, I pray that you do love me too
5. “At Last” by Etta James
Etta James was known for being a pioneer of R&B, and for having a rich, velvety voice. This song showcases her voice in a way that is nothing short of awe-striking. It’s a slow, crooning song that’s all about getting butterflies in your stomach and never having to worry about being alone again.
Due to the sheer level of romanticism in this song, “At Last” became one of the most popular R&B songs for weddings.
Honestly, it’s a great choice and a perennial classic. So, it makes sense.
At last / My love has come along
My lonely days are over / And life is like a song, oh yeah yeah
6. “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey
Mimi definitely knows how to make a good love song. She’s famous for it, and “We Belong Together” is one of the biggest hits she’s created.
In this song, Mariah tells the story of a girl who just broke up with a guy who really was the love of her life. She begs him to come back to her.
Anyone who’s experienced a breakup has felt this way, and that’s actually what makes this track so relatable. I mean, who hasn’t asked an ex to come back before?
When you left I lost a part of me / It’s still so hard to believe
Come back baby, please / ‘Cause we belong together
7. “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé
Love craze is a thing, you know. When you click with someone just right, it’s hard to control yourself. You tend to act out in ways that would embarrass the normal you.
Even Queen Bey is susceptible to it, at least if you hear what she has to say in this track.
This song is old school in the best way possible. Along with being one of the hottest dance tracks of the 2000s, “Crazy in Love” became a nostalgia-inducing track that brings millions of people back to their high school days.
When you leave, I’m begging you not to go / Call your name two, three times in a row
Such a funny thing for me to try to explain / How I’m feeling and my pride is the one to blame
‘Cause I know I don’t understand / Just how your love can do what no one else can
Got me looking so crazy right now, your love’s / Got me looking so crazy right now (your love)
8. “Back at One” by Brian McKnight
Brian McKnight quickly gained a reputation for being the ultimate R&B romantic during the late 90s. It’s a reputation that’s well earned. Almost all of his hits involved romancing women, talking about a girl’s beauty, or just showing what it means to really have romantic attraction.
“Back at One” tells the beautiful story of a guy who just wants to make a woman happy, and vows to never stop romancing her. It’s a story that will melt your heart, and make you wonder how you can be more romantic with the person you love.
Seriously, Brian McKnight is #goals.
One, you’re like a dream come true
Two, just wanna be with you
Three, girl it’s plain to see / That you’re the only one for me
Four, repeat steps one through three
Five, make you fall in love with me
If ever I believe my work is done / Then I start back at one
9. “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind & Fire were some of the biggest pioneers of R&B during the 70s. Their disco-esque take on R&B and Motown was what really made the 70s such an epic time to be alive.
This song’s classic beat and old school lyrics remind people to cherish the memories and keep the love alive, whether it’s fall, winter, summer, or spring.
True love is only found once in a blue moon. Earth, Wind & Fire managed to make a danceable beat that reminds us of the fact, all while keeping things incredibly groovy. Bell bottoms, anyone?
Do you remember the 21st night of September? / Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away / Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing / As we danced in the night
Remember how the stars stole the night away
10. “All of Me” by John Legend
John Legend put his name on the map when he delivered this soulful, endearing track back in the early 2010s. It’s a song that is all about honest love, minus the Photoshop and public appearance factor that comes in play during so many modern relationships.
It was this slow, heartfelt ballad that became one of the most popular R&B songs to be played during weddings in the past decade. This track, simply put, is romance through and through.
Plus, Legend wrote it for his gorgeous wife, Chrissy Teigen. What’s not to love?
‘Cause all of me / Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges / All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me / I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning / Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me / And you give me all of you
11. “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men was not just an R&B group of the 90s; they were the 90s R&B boy band. Their smooth voices, amazing harmony, and epic slow dance beats were what made 90s R&B popular. Their crowning achievement as far as romance-heavy tunes go was “I’ll Make Love to You.”
Along with being one of the most tender songs about sex to come out of that decade, Boyz II Men were able to capture what it means to have sex in a loving manner while keeping it classy.
Needless to say, this is still baby-making music today.
I’ll make love to you / Like you want me to
And I’ll hold you tight / Baby all through the night
I’ll make love to you / When you want me to
And I will not let go / Till you tell me to
12. “Creep” by TLC
Did you ever have a lover that you really shouldn’t have? Maybe it was a married individual. Maybe it’s a person who just didn’t want to say they were taken by you. TLC was a trio of ladies who totally understood it, and even wrote a song about it.
TLC’s “Creep” is all about cheating on a love who you know is also cheating on you. It’s a weird moral morass that can’t really be fully understood unless you’ve been in this position.
If you have, it’s relatable, especially when you hear all the justifications in the lyrics.
I think about us baby all the time / But you know that I’m gonna need some attention
Yeah, yeah can you dig it / Love you forever baby soul and mind
And you gotta know if you don’t give it / Imma get mine
Oh I oh I oh I / So I creep
13. “Is It A Crime?” by Sade
Sade’s voice is made for lovemaking music, plain and simple. Her voice oozes sensuality in a way that most never can, and when it comes to her songs?
Oh, well it’s pretty much a done deal. They are romantic and as hyper-sexual as you can get without going into smutty territory.
This elegantly sexy track is all about the steamy, passionate vibes that come from a forbidden love. It’s that feeling of loving someone that’s so right, it can’t be wrong, even if common sense dictates otherwise.
He tastes her kiss / Her kisses are not mine, they’re not mine
He takes, but surely she can’t give what I’m feeling now / She takes, but surely she doesn’t know how
Is it a crime / Is it a crime
That I still want you / And I want you to want me too?
14. “My Boo” by Alicia Keys and Usher
Alicia Keys and Usher teamed up to make one of the biggest hits of the last decade, and for that, we’re all thankful. This unique love song isn’t quite about the kind of struggles typical couples feel.
Rather, it’s about making it through all the turmoil of fame together.
This is a victory lap of a song, talking about how much stuff a couple can go through and still stay together. If you’re in a relationship that’s seen it all, you’ll definitely enjoy this pop-friendly smash hit from yesteryear.
I was in love with you when we were younger, you were mine (my boo)
And I see it from time to time, I still feel like (my boo)
And I can see it no matter how I try to hide (my boo)
And even though there’s another man who’s in my life
You will always be my boo
15. “Sexy Love” by Ne-Yo
Danceable R&B songs about lovemaking are a dime a dozen, but very few can be as catchy as this one. Ne-Yo’s “Sexy Love” is all about attraction that goes beyond the physical into the mental.
This duet’s a must for anyone looking for a romantic R&B song to share at a karaoke bar. It’s also a wonderful choice for a couple’s song.
Early 2000s R&B never quite sounded as pure and epic as when Ne-Yo sang this hit.
She makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up / Just one touch and I erupt
Like a volcano and cover her with my love / Baby girl u make me say (oohoohooh)
And just can’t think (of anything else I rather do) / Than to hear you sing (sing my name the way you do)
Oh when we do our thing (when we do the things we do) / Mmmm baby girl u make me say (oohoohooh)
16. “My Girl” by The Temptations
Motown and R&B came together in this song in an absolutely beautiful way. “My Girl” might be a serenade about a special girl, but it’s so much more than just a dedication to a lucky lady. It’s a song that captures the innocent thrill of a new relationship in all its glory.
R&B usually focuses on the sexual, but not The Temptations. This classic hit is about pure, innocent love.
Even though it’s over three decades old, this hit still manages to bring a smile to lovers’ faces because of how eloquently it discusses love.
I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day
When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May
Well I guess you’d say / What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
17. “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” by D’Angelo
Back before all the hubbub of the “50 Shades” franchise, there were artists who would make one-off music releases who would involve elements of the sexy and kinky. D’Angelo gained his notoriety from appearing stark naked in a super-sexy music video talking about how he wants to get with a girl.
With subtle nods to BDSM and all-encompassing desire, D’Angelo gives an amazing tribute to women who are approached by men for the fling of a lifetime.
It’s slow, sexy, and incredibly heartfelt. It’s glorious like that.
Girl it’s only you / Have it your way
And if you want you can decide / And if you’ll have me
I can provide everything that you desire / Said if you get a feeling
Feeling that I am feeling / Won’t you come closer to me baby
You’ve already got me right where you want me baby / I just wanna be your man
How does it feel
18. “Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean
Sexually-charged, nostalgic, and at the same time aggressive in a lovable way, Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” is totally unforgettable.
This song is a story about a guy who had a not-so-serious fling years ago, only to be unable to stop thinking about the way the girl rocked his world.
Frank Ocean repeatedly sings lines that say it’s just a fling, but at the same time, it feels like he’s just trying to tell himself that he’s not interested. It’s romantic, in the rebelliously wild kind of way.
A tornado flew around my room before you came / Excuse the mess it made, it usually doesn’t rain in
Southern California, much like Arizona / My eyes don’t shed tears, but, boy, they bawl
When I’m thinkin’ ’bout you (ooh, no, no, no) / I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout you (you know, know, know)
I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout you / Do you think about me still? Do ya, do ya?
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. She writes primarily about lifestyle, food, finance, and relationships. Follow her on Twitter.