We take our love songs very seriously, and if the past year is any indication of the bullshit we'll continue to encounter in 2019, we're going to need them. Of course, there will always be a special place in our hearts for the classics, but there's nothing like a fresh song to put us in our feels five (or 10?) times over.
Hit play and pretend you're in a romantic music video with the best new love songs 2018 has to offer, below.
"Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" - Mark Ronson ft. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is back and taking a very different route from her 2017 album, Younger Now. The singer decided to close 2018 with the release of her new pop single, "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart," co-written with Mark Ronson. While the overall theme explores heartbreak generally ("We got all night to fall in love / But just like that we fall apart"), the music video specifically alludes to the heartbreaking reality of gun violence in America. ("This world can hurt you / It cuts you deep and leaves a scar.") Watch her perform the song on SNL here.
"Hope" - The Chainsmokers ft. Winona Oak
The Chainsmokers had themselves a year, releasing hit singles like "Somebody," "Everybody Hates Me," and "This Feeling" (and performed the latter at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show). Then the EDM-pop duo debuted their newest single with the über-talented Winona Oak. It very much sticks to their upbeat, EDM style—this time reminding us why we're much better off without our ex. "I would have walked through fire to kiss your lips / Do you still think about it, of what you did? / Still see your old apartment, like a bad trip / Wish I could forget all the places we've been."
"Be Alright" - Dean Lewis
If you don't know Dean Lewis from his 2017 hit song, "Waves," allow us to introduce you to the Aussie dreamboat and his newest single, "Be Alright." This heartbreaking song about betrayal and moving on will give you the good cry you need.
"R.E.M." - Ariana Grande
If you don't have a crush, "R.E.M." will make you want to find one immediately. A single listen and you actually understand how Grande and ex-fiancé Pete Davidson's whirlwind romance moved so quickly. It's one of the better hits on her highly-praised album, Sweetener.
"Lucid Dreams" - Juice WRLD
Juice WRLD's "Lucid Dreams" is so unexpectedly good—not because of Juice WRLD himself (he released an incredible studio album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, in May), but because the song makes you feel an unprecedented mix of nostalgia and bitterness about a person you don't necessarily want to miss. Yet here we are.
"Better" - Khalid
If Drake is the resident good guy for Millennial fans, Khalid is the resident good guy of the Gen-Zs. In less than two years, the 20-year-old has crafted an authentic, wholesome image for himself, showcasing his incredible talent beginning with last year's release of his debut studio album, American Teen. The momentum continued in 2018 when he dropped his EP, Suncity, which includes feel-good, I-love-love hits like "Better."
"Us" - James Bay
The "Let It Go" singer (once an opening act for Hozier) is now an acclaimed performer back with another soulful single off his new album, Electric Light. "Us" feels hopeful and optimistic, a departure from many songs on Chaos and the Calm (2015).
"Mariner's Apartment Complex" - Lana Del Rey
As Lena Dunham so eloquently put it, "The new Lana song is perfect. Why are all the songs I wanna cry about boys to produced by my ex-boyfriend CC @jackantonoff." "Mariner's Apartment Complex" is Lana's first single from her upcoming album Norman Fucking Rockwell set for release next year, which will be entirely produced by Antonoff. It's rip-your-heart-out-worthy, but just focus on how good it is and you won't feel sad.
"Come See About Me" - Nicki Minaj
After much anticipation, Nicki released her fourth studio album Queen this summer. Surprisingly, most people don't seem to be talking about "Come See About Me"—a rare, intimate look at Nicki's soft side. It's slow, emotional, and I absolutely need more of this.
"I'll Never Love Again" - Lady Gaga
When your dad repeatedly tells you to put on "I'll Never Love Again," you know it's a song for the ages. Cry alone in your room to it, but first see A Star Is Born—where the song originates from—to make sure you get every single tear you can out of it. Honestly, it was hard to choose between this and "Shallow," so don't @ me.
"Who Hurt You?" - Daniel Caesar
Do not sleep on Daniel Caesar. I repeat: Do not sleep on Daniel Caesar. He's been around for a few years now and is so incredibly talented, and "Who Hurt You?" is his first single of the year after his highly-praised Freudian album debut in 2017. The song is sexy and cool. Plus, Caesar's angelic vocals will probably remind you of Frank Ocean. You'll see what I mean.
"Trip" - Ella Mai
If you don't know who Ella Mai is, it's time to queue up her playlist on Spotify. The 23-year-old British R&B singer released her biggest single, "Boo'd Up," in 2017 and this year Nicki Minaj and Quavo joined the young artist to make a sultry remix of it. Then came "Trip," released in August, which hit #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 before she debuted her 16-track self-titled album. To say it's been The Year for Mai would be an understatement.
"The End of Love" - Florence + The Machine
"I've always been in love with you / Could you tell it from the moment that I met you?" Feel the depths of your soul come alive when you listen to "The End of Love" from Florence + The Machine's new album, High As Hope. This song is as delicate as it is heartbreaking—maybe because Florence is a literal walking angel (definitive proof here), or because it's her most intimate album yet.
"Back to You" - Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez made her first true summer anthem with "Back to You," which is accompanied by a very Old Hollywood rom-com-esque music video (see above). As MarieClaire.com's culture editor notes, "stylistically it's very Call Me By Justin Bieber’s Name." For a more lighthearted but still lovey vibe, hit play on this one with the windows down.
"Summer Games" - Drake
We learned two things from Drake when he dropped his new album, Scorpion, on June 29: 1) He's officially a #daddy and 2) "Summer Games" is one of the best songs on his 25-track album. Yes, it has a semi-upbeat mix, but don't let that distract you from the heartbreaking lyrics like, "You said 'I love you' too fast / So much for that, girl, summer just started / And we're already done." It's relatable for anyone who has ever ended a relationship before it even started.
LOVE TALKING ABOUT POP CULTURE?
"New Light" - John Mayer
When you're not laughing at John Mayer's music video for "New Light"—which deserves to be played at every bar mitzvah until the end of time—you'll be reminded that, at its core, the song is a wholesome plead to his crush to see him in a new way.
"Stay" - Post Malone
Question number one: Why am I crying in the club? Question number two: How did Post Malone go from "White Iverson" to "Stay?" The simple answer: He's always tired, and probably wanted to tone it down a bit from the rest of his album, Beerbongs & Bentleys.
"Girls Like You" - Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B
Enter: the moment in the club where every single girl is like, "Oh my god, I love this song!" Maroon 5's Adam Levine created a catchy love song dedicated to women everywhere with his band's single, "Girls Like You." The music video features 25 badass women, but let us not forget he's really singing the song to his wife, Behati Prinsloo.
"Help Us to Love" - Tori Kelly ft. The Hamiltones
Like I mentioned earlier, 2018 has been one hell of a year between Trump's blatant mock of the #MeToo movement, his immigration policy that kidnaps children from their parents, a series of tragic acts of gun violence that have yet to inspire action from Congress, and his wife Melania Trump's tone-deaf jacket, amongst many other things.
All of which makes Tori Kelly's "Help Us to Love" required listening now more than ever. We very much appreciate its soothing gospel vibes and lyrics like, "This world is weeping, hurting, broken and begging for change / Oh yeah / But still we marching, praying, dying, and things stay the same / When will we see / Till everyone's free / There'll never be peace between you and me."
"Call Out My Name" - The Weeknd
The Weeknd's My Dear Melancholy is essentially a six-song love note dedicated to his exes Selena Gomez and Bella Hadid (though he's now back together with the latter). "Call Out My Name" is specifically directed at Gomez when he sings, "I almost cut a piece of myself for your life / Guess I was just another pit stop," referring to her kidney transplant. It's definitely one of those "you'll regret losing me" songs all of us need to play on-repeat every once and a while.
"Moon River" - Frank Ocean
Certified charmer Frank Ocean dropped this soothing ballad on Valentine's Day. The song is a cover of the Oscar-winning tune that made its debut in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's, and it may or may not make you tear up on the spot from its goodness.
"Love Lies" - Khalid & Normani
"Sorry if it's hard to catch my vibe / I need a lover to trust, tell me you're on my side / Are you down for the ride?" Khalid's unique voice paired with Fifth Harmony member Normani's powerful vocals create a sultry vibe on their new song, "Love Lies." As I mentioned earlier, Khalid made his big debut with his 2017 album, American Teen, and I've never been the same since.
"I Like Me Better" - Lauv
Lauv isn't as popular as the two artists above, but the 24-year-old's music certainly doesn't disappoint. "I Like Me Better" is an upbeat head-bobber (yeah, you know) and will make you think of all the good feelings that come with love. Oh, and the scene on the bus in To All of the Boys I've Loved Before when Lara Jean and Peter head on their ski trip.
"Faded Love" - Tinashe ft. Future
Tinashe put herself on the map with her hit 2014 single, "2 On," and has been working on new music ever since. Several highly anticipated singles have been released this year—the first of them here, with rapper Future (a.k.a. the music duo you didn't know you needed).
"You Make It Easy" - Jason Aldean
Can't forget about the country lovers out there. Jason Aldean's single from his album Rearview Town is very romantic. "With every little thing you do / You're my sunshine in the darkest days / My better half, my saving grace / You make me who I wanna be / You make it easy." Sigh.
Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.
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