Crazy in Love
With a killer Chi-lites horn sample and an irresistibly percussive beat, Ms. Knowles uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh-oh-nonos her way into our hearts. Call us loco, but it's the most joyful four minutes of summer lovin' in recent memory. Props go to her boyfriend, Jay-Z, who lays down a blazing rap interlude in the middle. And especially that impressive, tireless set of pipes: Once our girl B. gets to those Woah-oh's at the end, it approaches pure ecstasy.
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell (1967)
While the tune's euphoric crest may be burned into our collective musical DNA, it's the flirty valleys that make this Motown classic really kick, with Gaye's effervescent ad-libbing bringing everything to another joyous peak.
If Not for You
Bob Dylan (1970)
In the vast catalog of Dylan tunes about matters of the heart, only a few qualify as unambiguous love songs, with this the loveliest. While George Harrison's guitar gently weeps in the background, Zimmy speaks his heart: ''I'd be sad and blue, if not for you.'' Who says his lyrics are inscrutable?
Time After Time
Cyndi Lauper (1984)
When it first hit radio, Lauper's gorgeous choruses surprised everyone who knew her only as that girl who just wanted to have fun. Listen again to her haunting lament and you'll be reminded why 20 years ago Lauper was considered the Christina Aguilera to Madonna's Britney Spears.
Elton John (1970)
The complex chord progression belies Bernie Taupin's straightforward lyrics, but it's John's ability to deliver those simple words with such unassuming (and unjaded) ardor that makes this his first American hit single so enduring.
From the moment he strums those jangly opening chords, is it possible to resist this sweet metaphor for redemptive love? For further spine tingles, rewatch his electrifying performance from the titular movie. You'll even believe that he once flipped for Apollonia.
Stevie Wonder (1976)
Wonder probably warrants a top-50 list all his own. Forced to pick just one, we had to go with this churchy celebration from Songs in the Key of Life a giddy declaration of devotion that never hits a cheesy chord.
Just Like Heaven
The Cure (1987)
Turns out guys who wear black eyeliner can be happy. Just ask Robert Smith, who penned this mopey ode to Goth love. One question: Just what is this scream/laugh/hug-inducing trick?
No Ordinary Love
You may consider this one of the ultimate boudoir mood-grooves, but Sade's not your ordinary Barry White. Listen closely when she seductively sighs ''I gave you all that I had inside, and you took my love.'' It's that sliver of pain buried in Sade's silky refrain that elevates this from carnal to sublime.
More Than This
Roxy Music (1982)
Say you're at a bar and your crush wants to call it a night. Try punching some Roxy Music into the jukebox. Bryan Ferry's dreamy trilling would melt an ice cube. (For the world-weary, there's Bill Murray's touchingly cracked version in Lost in Translation.)