A song that's more about lust than love, Garbage's "#1 Crush" is a scary/sensual ode to devotion. Riding a sexy, stripped-down beat, lead singer Shirley Manson lets her lover understand in no uncertain terms what she'll do to please him. Is she a stalker or a siren? It's impossible to know for sure, but in terms of pure carnal desire, "#1 Crush" is the sound of hormones run amuck.
Buried near the end of the two-disc epic Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan unleashed his most beautiful romantic pledge. Corgan was always more openhearted than his songwriting contemporaries, and "By Starlight" is the man at his purest, showering his lover with affection and admiration, while at the same time wondering if one person can ever truly know another completely.
You wouldn't expect a straightforward love song from the cryptic Thom Yorke, so it's appropriate that Radiohead's most haunting tale of romance is a twisted little story about two people trapped in unhappy marriages who are mad for one another. "Throw your keys in the bowl/Kiss your husband goodnight," Yorke sings sweetly in "House of Cards," and the swirling beauty of the music makes it impossible to determine if the planned infidelity is pure bliss or utter disaster.
U2 have always been one of rock's most romantic bands, but they were never more heartbreakingly gorgeous than on this track from The Joshua Tree. "With or Without You" starts with muted, aching guitar notes before ascending to a ravishing agony punctuated by Bono's wails. The exquisite uncertainty of love that the singer articulated so perfectly here ("I can't live/With or without you") would be further explored in the group's superb follow-up album, Achtung Baby.
One of the first songs Pearl Jam ever wrote was this crushing tale of a love affair gone bad. Eddie Vedder tries to go through the routine of a regular day, but everything just reminds him of her -- kids at play, sheets of empty canvas. The crystalline guitars convey deep wells of loss and regret, while Vedder lets fly with a vocal performance that's wounded without being whiny. Best of all, this is that rare breakup song that refuses to be bitter. Vedder sums up his still-abiding affection and pain with these eloquent final lines: "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life/I know you'll be the sun in somebody else's sky/But why why why can't it be/Can't it be mine?"