This week, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O releases her debut solo album, and it happens to have a very specific theme that caught our attention here at Flavorwire HQ: songs about crushes. “When I was 27, I crushed a lot,” Karen O wrote in a note announcing Crush Songs a few months back. “I wasn’t sure I’d ever fall in love again. These songs were written and recorded in private around this time [2006-2007]. They were the soundtrack to what was an ever continuing love crusade. I hope they keep you company on yours.”
The lo-fi album definitely captures the pleasure and pain of walking around with your heart wide open, ready to crush and be crushed. But Karen O’s oftentimes sad, solemn songs only represent one side of the experience of having a crush. So we got to thinking: what songs about longing stick with us after the thrill of the chase turns into something deeper? Which serve as a salve when you find out that your crush isn’t mutual? What about the ones that give you the nerve to try and steal your crush away from someone else? Or how those that capture the thrilling promise of something new?
All of these oh-so-complicated scenarios are represented here, in our unranked list of the 50 greatest crush songs ever written. The list spans all genres throughout the last 50 years, as nominated by Flavorwire staff. — Jillian Mapes
(FYI: A Spotify playlist of almost all our picks appears on the last page.)