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Top 10 Songs About Unrequited Love

VO: Matt Campbell
Script Written by David MacIntyre. Many of us have experienced it, and these artists know exactly how we feel about it. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down the Top 10 Songs about Unrequited Love. For this list, we've narrowed it down to songs whose lyrical content focuses on the subject of the song being in love with a person who doesn’t return their feelings, though the backstory behind each song is quite different. Special thanks to our users UndercoverGleek, Martin Acoustics12 and Eugene Lee Spitzer for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script Written by David MacIntyre.

Top 10 Songs About Unrequited Love


Many of us have experienced it, and these artists know exactly how we feel about it. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down the Top 10 Songs about Unrequited Love.

For this list, we’ve narrowed it down to songs whose lyrical content focuses on the subject of the song being in love with a person who doesn’t return their feelings, though the backstory behind each song is quite different.

#10: “Heartless” (2008)
Kanye West

Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreak was recorded in the wake of his ex-fiancee leaving him, and you can feel his anguish in the lyrics of the album’s second single. Sung about a cold and evil ex-lover of his who didn’t love him back and the mental agony he feels because of it, it’s yet another catchy big hit in Yeezy’s canon, even if his auto-tuned singing can be a bit over the top.

#9: “Just a Friend” (1989)
Biz Markie

Once you get over his off-key singing, you’ll understand how sad this song really is. Boy meets girl at a concert, boy asks girl if she has a boyfriend, she says she only has a friend, they get together, boy discovers that this “friend” is something so much more. This would prove to be Biz Markie’s biggest hit of his career, charting within the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, so the song's success probably helped him get over it a bit.

#8: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (1991)
Bonnie Raitt

The title kinda says it all, though the song’s inspiration is maybe not quite what you’d expect. The song’s writers got the idea from a story they read in the newspaper about a guy who murdered his girlfriend while drunk and said that he couldn’t make a woman love him after he was sentenced by the judge for his crime. Raitt’s performance of this song stops you in its tracks, while other artists such as Adele and Bon Iver have provided equally powerful covers of the 1991 ballad.

#7: “You’re Beautiful” (2005)
James Blunt

Whether you love this song or you absolutely hate it, it was huge, and the subject matter is what many of the unluckiest guys in the world can relate to. The song was written after James Blunt saw his ex-girlfriend with another man in the underground tube in London, and the lyrics basically wrote themselves after that. It might be overly gooey and sentimental, but this former British army soldier has been laughing all the way to the bank ever since its release.

#6: “Stacy's Mom” (2003)
Fountains of Wayne

Here’s a bit more of an interesting one: although this song’s protagonist hangs out a lot with his female friend, he instead develops a huge crush on her super hot mom. Believe it or not, the idea was actually inspired by frontman Adam Schlesinger’s friend having a crush on his grandma. Though it’s a delicious slice of power pop gold, this song may have caused this band to be doomed into one hit wonder-dom, but its video featuring model Rachel Hunter as Stacy’s mom is pretty much immortal.

#5: “Losing My Religion” (1991)
R.E.M.

Although the title comes from an expression implying that you’re losing faith in God, Michael Stipe is really talking about the object of his love not returning his feelings. Despite its sad subject matter and unconventional song structure, it became a top five U.S. hit, and won big at the MTV VMAs and the Grammys. With a bassline that was inspired by the work of Fleetwood Mac, and some surprising mandolin playing from guitarist Peter Buck, “Losing My Religion” is a cryptic love song that you have to hear to believe!

#4: “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” (1992)
Sophie B. Hawkins

Based on the title and lyrics, it seems like a pretty classic song about yearning to be someone’s lover even if they don’t love you back. However, there are several other interpretations of the song’s meaning, particularly that it’s about a woman rather than a man – and one that is being abused by their male partner. Despite complaints about its video being too “erotic”, the song became a big hit regardless, cracking the top five of the Billboard Hot 100.

#3: “Waiting in Vain" (1977)
Bob Marley

Don’t let this song’s chilled out reggae groove fool you: it’s actually a really upsetting tune. In it, Bob is rather persistent while pursuing a girl who will never seem to feel the same way he does. He pleads and he pleads to her, but as we hear at the end of the song, the lady of his dreams seems to be running away from him. The song has been covered many times as well, most notably by Annie Lennox in 1995.

#2: “Layla” (1971/1992)
Derek and the Dominoes/Eric Clapton

Whether it’s the classic rock original from the ‘70s or Clapton’s equally great unplugged version from the early ‘90s, this song is a classic unrequited love anthem that sort of had a happy ending in real life. The song was inspired by Eric Clapton’s love for George Harrison’s then-wife Pattie Boyd. Boyd and Clapton would eventually be married, although the couple would later divorce due to Clapton’s alcoholism and infidelity. So much for the purpose of the song!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions.

“Shiver” (2000)
Coldplay

“Surrender” (2007)
Billy Talent

“Tiny Vessels” (2003)
Death Cab for Cutie

“Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” (1981)
The Police

“A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me’” (2006)
Fall Out Boy

“The Girl of My Best Friend” (1960)
Elvis Presley

#1: “Creep” (1992)
Radiohead

A song about the attempts of a drunk guy wooing a woman he loves by following her everywhere, Thom Yorke’s unrequited obsession with her turns into strange behavior and she eventually “runs out the door”. While it’s still a staple on alt-rock radio to this day, it’s not at all representative of the band’s style and the band has made known their dislike for the hit song. It’s became a 90s classic, and the song of a generation, as listeners everywhere could relate to the song’s gloomy themes.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favourite song about unrequited love? With new top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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