Best Love Songs of 2018 (Staff Picks)

The Internet, Noname, Daniel Caesar, and more—our favorite love songs of 2018.
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Best of 2018: Best Love Songs

Say what you like, 2018 has been a marked year for music. While critique is very serious business, we are also human and what we like is all the more special than the critical appraisal of an album. For the next month, every day, you will find our staff picks for our favorite facets of music from best features to worst songs and everything in-between, based solely on what strikes us as diehard music fans first, and critics second. It's been an incredible year for hip-hop.

These are our favorite love songs of 2018.

"Alan Forever" — Lupe Fiasco ft. Crystal Torres

“Alan Forever” is not a traditional love song, but it is a perfect song about the capabilities of love in music. One of Lupe Fiasco’s most genuine qualities as an artist has always been his ability to write compassionately about those whose stories were never given light. Alan Kurdi was a Syrian child refugee who drowned at sea while fleeing his war-torn country with his parents for a better life. In the best way that he knew how, Lupe honored Alan’s life by writing a fictionalized retelling of it as if he had survived his own perils. It is the purest of love for a person Lupe never even met; a young soul that received as much care and compassion to his unfinished life as any one of us could ever dream for. —Matt Wilhite

"Black Love" — Masego

Make no mistake, this song will be played at my wedding. Masego’s voice ascends to the heavens as the backing choir propels him upward, over intimate piano notes that waft through the proverbial chapel with a pure, holy warmth. Rejuvenating, relaxing, and filled with passion, it’s everything you could want in a love song, and so much more. Kenan Draughorne

"bless ur heart" — serpentwithfeet

serpentwithfeet’s debut full-length project soil is a harrowing journey through the intricacies of modern love. While Josiah Wise spends much of the album reflecting on his experiences of pain and sorrow, he uses “bless ur heart” to remind us of the more empowering side of romance. On the song, he matures in front of our very eyes, growing increasingly comfortable with his unique qualities. He communicates that love is what has allowed him to express himself so eloquently: “With you I can empty myself of all my rivers and become a remarkable sky / How could I keep these love documents to myself? / How could I restrict what’s given me life?” —Stephen Barston

"Come Over" — The Internet

There is no existing proof that I did not write this song myself. I mean, look at these lines: "Puppy love / Butterflies / Made you blush / You made me smile" and "You’re beautiful babe / You’re really something / Stylin’ I gotta say / T-shirt, designer jeans." Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am evidently Syd's hopelessly romantic ghostwriter. I adore love, and this is the pinnacle of a timid love on the verge of blossoming. A song as shy and devoted as I am? Count me in. Plus, the video is a queer love-fest. Excellence personified. —Donna-Claire Chesman

“Don’t Forget About Me” — Noname

When I think of a love song, I don’t necessarily think of the warm, fuzzy romantic song. Noname’s “Don’t Forget About Me” is the perfect love song because it perfectly captures Fatimah’s feelings of mortality and brokenness, consoling the thought of her own death with the belief that her family will remember her. As the centerpiece of Room 25, Noname theologizes that we can all live eternally if our souls are carried on by those who love us, if not our names. —Ben Taylor

"It Gets Better (With Time)" — The Internet

2018 is proof positive that no love is more important than self-love. Syd of The Internet agrees, sending an emotional care package to her younger self on Hive Mind standout “It Gets Better (With Time).” Life is hard and effort can seem harder, but Syd’s resilience speaks volumes to a tale as old as time over production set to start the waterworks. Plus, Dungeon Family legend Big Rube’s interlude is the TED Talk of the year, case closed. —Dylan "CineMasai" Green

“LOVEHAPPY” — THE CARTERS

I’m not entirely sure what it says about me that my favorite love song of the year is one in which a couple talks candidly about the consistent effort required to maintain a healthy relationship, but the older I get, the less inclined I am to put stock in the meaningless platitudes repeated throughout most love songs. While these songs seem to talk primarily about the type of intense but fragile love that blooms inside of bubbles, “LOVEHAPPY” paints a picture of the exact opposite: a love that has been tried by the elements but has not broken. Listening to Jay and Bey crack jokes about Jay’s infidelity is endearing—aspirational even—not because I want to endure a similar trial myself, but because it demonstrates that it is possible to build a relationship fulfilling enough to warrant the work it would require to do so. —Hershal Pandya

"Ooou" — Young Thug

As is often the case, Young Thug put out a number of projects this year, and one of his best releases remains a homeless effort released to WorldStar after springing a leak. Produced by London On Da Track, taking 66% of a Young M.A hit as its title, and recorded during the BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS sessions (if Genius annotations are to be believed), "Ooou" is a love song only Young Thug could craft. Aqueous, glittering, and stuffed with dueling ideals of love and lust, from the profound ("I wanna know what you thinkin' every time you think") to the carnal ("I wanna fuck you on the bleachers"), "Ooou" is Peak Thug: a brilliant love song left to live the lonely life of a leaked throwaway. —Brendan Varan

"War" — SiR

SiR has been married for almost a decade (he’s 32), yet that flame within him still burns intensely. “War,” a standout from his full-length TDE debut November, is a battle cry of love from the Inglewood crooner as he strives to turn a fling into a sure thing. “I’m ready to fall for you,” he professes from the edge of the proverbial cliff as the jazzy production gently submerges you. This isn’t your typical love-at-first-sight cliché, though. “My ammunition just wasn’t sufficient / The bullets in my pistol kept missing your heart,” he sings in beautifully poetic detail, acknowledging both his own shortcomings and his lover’s hesitancy. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and SiR isn’t leaving without putting up a fight: “I’m never giving up until I sweep you off your feet.” This is how you shoot your shot. —Andy James

"Who Hurt You?" — Daniel Caesar

Love of any kind is sacred. With that said, there’s a special, spontaneous love that’s possible among exotic dancers and their smitten patrons. Daniel Caesar’s “Who Hurt You?” captures the momentary, yet palpable sense of intense intimacy between Caesar and the woman who holds his eyes and wallet. He is enamored, a feeling revealed with an arresting passion. If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is. —Yoh

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