The future of music

60 Songs About Forbidden Love (Secret Love Songs)

May 30, 2023
songs about forbidden love

There is nothing more romantic than forbidden love that must be kept secret!

Forbidden love is described as something or someone that you can’t have, and this can create some confusion (yet spicy!) emotions.

Think Romeo and Juliet – these are some of the best songs about secret love that will leave you feeling warm inside.

Table of Contents

1. “Don’t Matter” by Akon

This 2006 reggae fusion–R&B song outlines Akon’s forbidden love with the lyric “Nobody wanna see us together…”

It soon became his first solo US number-one single and second number-one overall.

The chorus interpolates the song “Zimbabwe” by Bob Marley & The Wailers and borrows the melody of “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly in its verse.

It was even ranked number 31 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007!

2. “Forbidden Love” by Madonna

“Forbidden Love” is a song about – you guessed it – forbidden love!

It was released by Madonna from her tenth studio album Confessions on a Dance Floor and was written and produced by Madonna and Stuart Price.

This song is about a futuristic love; it is a space relationship in which Madonna is having second thoughts and doesn’t think they are supposed to be together.

3. “Rewrite The Stars” by Zac Efron and Zendaya

“Rewrite the Stars” is a song about forbidden love performed for the 2017 film The Greatest Showman.

The secret love song sees Efron’s character, Philip,  serenading Zendaya’s character, Anne, trying to convince her that they’re meant to be together, despite their racial.

Anne was treated differently because of the color of her skin, but Phillip genuinely loved her and grew to stop caring about what others thought of their pairing.

4. “Secret Lovers” by Atlantic Starr

This song about secret love was Atlantic Starr’s breakthrough hit in both the US and UK.

Sung as a duet between members Barbara Weathers and David Lewis, it is the story of a man and a woman who are having an affair even though they are both married.

Although they know their actions are wrong and are forced to keep their relationship secret; they love each other too much to let it end.

5. “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)” by Alicia Keys

This song about forbidden love features uncredited background vocals from Canadian rapper Drake, although he is credited on the official remix of the song.

It was Keys’ first single to reach number one on the R&B chart in the United States since 2007’s “Like You’ll Never See Me Again”.

“Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)” spent twelve consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs, becoming the longest-running number-one of 2010.

6. “Lie About Us” by Avant

“Lie About Us” is a song about secret love recorded by Avant and featuring Nicole Scherzinger.

The track was inspired by the time writer Dozier had a secret affair with singer Joss Stone while being in a relationship.

The lyrics chronicle the man’s promise to the mistress and, later, him coming clean about the relationship.

An accompanying music video was released several days prior to the song and portrays the artists as love interests.

7. “As Long as You Love Me” by Justin Bieber

This track features rapper Big Sean and gave Bieber his first number one single on an American airplay music chart.

The song about secret love has sold 2,240,000 copies in the US as of December 2012 and the music video was a hit too, featuring actor Michael Madsen!

8. “I Call It Love” by Lionel Richie

“I Call It Love” is a song about forbidden love by American singer Lionel Richie, written by Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, and Phillip “Taj” Jackson for Richie’s eighth studio album.

The song was released as the album “Coming Home”’s lead single and shot to number one on Billboard’s urban adult contemporary chart. 

Nicole Richie starred in the accompanying music video, which is very popular.

9. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift

Swift was inspired to write this song about forbidden love by a boyfriend who was unpopular with her family and friends.

Using Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as a reference point, the lyrics narrate a troubled romance between two characters who end up in an engagement, contrary to Shakespeare’s tragic ending.

Critics have considered it one of Swift’s best singles and it has sold over six million copies in the US and 18 million copies worldwide.

10. “Slip Away” by Clarence Carter

Slip Away” featured on the 1968 album “This Is Clarence Carter”.

In its musical structure and theme of infidelity, the song about secret love seems to be based on the template of “Steal Away”, the 1964 Jimmy Hughes hit.

The official songwriting credit for “Slip Away” lists three musicians from Clarence Carter’s touring band: keyboardist William Armstrong, bassist Marcus Daniel, and drummer Wilbur Terrell.

11. “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” by The Jaynetts

“Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” is a 1963 hit by The Jaynetts, a Bronx-based one-hit wonder girl group.

Abner Spector asked J&S owner, Zelma “Zell” Sanders, to write a vocal ensemble to record a girl group style record, and Sanders wrote the song “Sally…” with Spector’s wife Lona Stevens.

It draws inspiration from the well-known classic nursery rhyme “Ring around the Rosie.

12. “Confessions Part II” by Usher

Written by Usher, Dupri and Cox, the song about secret love is a confession of a man to his woman about his impregnated mistress.

It is a continuation of “Confessions Part I” which relates to a man’s infidelity.

The lyrical content evoked rumors and early responses from the public even before its release, believing that Usher was asserting the truth.

Dupri later divulged that the story behind the album is about himself.

13. “Angel of the Morning” by Merrilee Rush

“Angel of the Morning” is a song about secret love, with the first charting version by Merrilee Rush.

The song was composed by Chip Taylor, who said: “I wrote ‘Angel of the Morning’ after hearing The Rolling Stones song ‘Ruby Tuesday’ on the car radio when I was driving into New York City. I wanted to capture that kind of passion.”

The song has been covered by many artists, most recognisable by Juice Newton.

14. “Last Time” by Trey Songz

This forbidden love song is the third single from R&B recording artist Trey Songz’s album, Trey Day.

It debuted at number 118 on the US R&B chart on its second week of release, becoming his second consecutive top ten hit after “Can’t Help But Wait”.

15. “This Kiss” by Carly Rae Jepsen

This song was written by Jepsen, Matthew Koma, Kelly Covell and Redfoo through emails, text messaging and telephone calls.

The mid-tempo dance-pop track lyrically describes a kiss being something Jepsen can’t resist.

“This Kiss” was strongly compared to Jepsen’s other singles, but failed to shoot to success in the same way.

To promote its release, Jepsen performed the forbidden love song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Late Show with David Letterman, among others.

16. “Uncover” by Zara Larsson

“Uncover” is a forbidden love song by Swedish singer Zara Larsson, released in 2013.

It topped the official Swedish Singles Chart quickly upon release, also soaring to number one in Norway.

The song was certified 6x Platinum by Universal Music Sweden the same year – a huge success for Larsson!

17. “Secret Love Song” by Little Mix

Featuring guest vocals from singer-songwriter Jason Derulo, this song about secret love is a slow ballad.

It was met with mixed reviews from music critics, but the group was praised for their vocal performance.

Lyrically the song tells of unrequited and forbidden love, with Derulo’s verse being about his personal experience of having a real-life affair.

It has come to be regarded as a gay anthem, and has helped people to accept their own sexuality.

18. “Your Secret Love” by Luther Vandross

This 1996 song by Luther Vandross received extremely positive feedback!

Alan Jones stated that Vandross “is back on form” on “a slow-burning R&B plodder”.

He added that it “has a warmly familiar feel, and Luther’s honeyed vocals lend it a pedigree few can match.”

Ralph Tee commented, “Luther’s still got one of the best voices in the business, and here he sounds as good as ever on a brand new beat ballad.”

19. “Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston

This song was written by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin, originally recorded by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. in 1978.

Houston’s 1985 version of the song about forbidden love garnered positive critical response, with reviewers praising her vocal performance.

The song became a global success and represented a commercial breakthrough for Houston, topping the charts in four countries and winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 29th Annual Grammy Awards.

20. “4am” by Melanie Fiona

“4 AM” is a song about forbidden, late-night love by Canadian R&B singer Melanie Fiona from her second studio album, The MF Life (2012).

A music video to accompany its release was first put onto YouTube in 2011, and this helped the song soar to popularity.

Fiona released an official remix, “6 AM” featuring T-Pain, which peaked at number. 73 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

21. “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn

This electropop ballad by Swedish recording artist Robyn garnered positive reviews from critics, who praised it for its heartfelt message.

In the song, Robyn portrays a woman who begs her new partner to break up with an old girlfriend, and advises on how to do it gently.

In the United States, the song about secret love reached number one on Hot Dance Club Songs, becoming Robyn’s highest-peaking song on the chart.

22. “Magnets” by Disclosure ft. Lorde

“Magnets”, an Electronica and Dancehall song with influences of Reggae fusion, is by duo Disclosure and features vocals from Lorde.

Its lyrics chronicle the risk taken by two lovers forbidden from being together for moral reasons.

The secret love song was well received by music critics, with many praising its production and Lorde’s vocal delivery.

 An accompanying music video was directed by Ryan Hope in 2015 and critics praised its dark story line and visuals.

23. “My Little Secret” by Xscape

This Xscape song reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, being their last single to reach the top ten on both charts.

It describes a sexual relationship that is “on the side”, with lyrics about cheating, infedelity, and secret love affairs.

“My Little Secret” was the last official single from the group before they disbanded shortly after the release of the album.

24. “Thinking of You” by Katy Perry

In “Thinking of You”, Perry deals with a break-up in which she does not want to move on from but has no choice, and feels nostalgic of a previous lover while in a relationship with another man. 

The song about secret love has been described as a favorite among her fans.

25. “Holding Her and Loving You” by Clay Walker

“Holding Her and Loving You” was a song originally written by Walt Aldridge and Tom Brasfield.

It was recorded by American country music artist Earl Thomas Conley in 1983, reaching number 1.

In 1998, Clay Walker charted a live recording of this song, reaching number 68 on the same chart.

26. “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder

This song about secret love is by American R&B singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder.

The forbidden love song’s chart successes made him the first artist to score a number-one hit on four different Billboard charts – impressive!

Lyrically, Wonder tells the story of a man who is cheating on his wife with a mistress, only to find out in the end that his wife is cheating on him as well.

27. “I Honestly Love You” by Olivia Newton-John

“I Honestly Love You” is a secret love song recorded by Olivia Newton-John in 1974.

The song about secret love quickly became a worldwide pop hit, becoming her first number-one single in the United States and Canada.

28. “Lips of An Angel” by Hinder

This forbidden love song was rock band Hinder’s breakthrough hit, charting within the top ten on several US Billboard genre charts and peaking at number one in Australia and New Zealand.

It had sold 3.6 million copies in the US as of 2015, making it one of the most downloaded rock songs of all time.

29. “Even Now” by Barry Manilow

This was Barry Manilow’s ninth number one on the easy-listening chart, and rightly so!

Billboard Magazine described this 1978 song about secret love as”one of Manilow’s classiest efforts.”

In his autobiography “Sweet Life”, Manilow said that the song was “one of my personal favorites, which never fails to move me. It reminded me of the great times I had collaborating with Marty Panzer”.

30. “Secrets” by OneRepublic

This song about secret love was released as single in Germany and Austria, owing to its appearance on the soundtrack of the popular film “Zweiohrküken”. 

For unknown reasons, the song was due for a UK release in April of 2011 but was later canceled!

31. “Dirty Little Secret” by the All-American Rejects

This forbidden love song was written by Nick Wheeler and Tyson Ritter, who claimed that, because they were both in long-term relationships at the time, they had to “concoct some histrionics”.

Wheeler said “We come from a small town, and until now we’ve both had steady relationships. So, you know, sometimes there’s not enough drama or turmoil to write about, so he simply writes stories. And that’s where the lyrics come from.”

32. “Secrets” by Mary Lambert

“Secrets” is a song recorded by Mary Lambert which features confessional lyrics based on her real-life insecurities, ranging from family situations to her homosexuality.

The song has a universal message of acceptance and self-empowerment.

A remix featuring hip hop artist B.o.B was released in 2014, becoming very popular in the US and the UK.

33. “Diary” by Alicia Keys

The song tells listeners that they can reach Keys by calling a number; it was her former telephone number when she lived in New York City, according to her publicist.

Callers who used the correct area code would receive a voicemail from Keys herself!

The secret love song was received interestingly by critics, with Mark Anthony Neal of PopMatters saying the “sparse production” of the song “gives Keys ample space to work out her ideas.”

34. “Talking In Your Sleep” The Romantics

Talking in Your Sleep” is a song by rock band The Romantics, and it quickly became the band’s most successful single in the US.

The secret love song’s popular music video, widely aired at the time on MTV and elsewhere, featured the band performing while surrounded by women who were dressed in sexy lingerie.

35. “Little Secrets” by Passion Pit

Former Washington Nationals pitcher Dan Haren has used the song as his run-out music, and the song about secret love is also featured in several video games.

Two music videos have been released for the song; the first features an abstract remake of the Stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the second features the band performing to an exuberant crowd of people wearing paper bags painted with faces.

36. “Long Black Veil” by Johnny Cash

This song is a story, told from the point of view of a man falsely accused of murder and executed.

He refuses to provide an alibi, since on the night of the murder he was having an extramarital affair with his best friend’s wife, and would rather die than admit the truth.

In 2019 it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

37. “You Don’t Know Me” by Ray Charles

This song about secret love was originally written by Eddy Arnold and Cindy Walker in 1955. 

The best-selling version of the song is by Ray Charles, who took it to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1962, after releasing it on his number 1 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.

The song has been performed or recorded by hundreds of artists, including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson.

38. “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations

“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” was originally performed by The Undisputed Truth in 1972, though it became much better known after a Grammy-award winning cover by The Temptations was issued later the same year.

Singers Dennis Edwards, Melvin Franklin, Richard Street and Damon Harris shared alternate vocal lines, taking the role of siblings questioning their mother about their now-dead father.

Their pointed questions, and the mother’s response, paint a tragic picture for the children.

39. “Luka” by Suzanne Vega

“Luke” remains Vega’s highest-charting hit in the United States, reaching number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.

A worldwide hit, the song charted the highest in Sweden, peaking at number 2, and reached the top 10 in Austria, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The song about secret love earned Vega nominations at the 1988 Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

40. “On The Other Hand” by Randy Travis

This secret love song, written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz and recorded by country music artist Randy Travis, was Travis’ first number one hit in the United States and Canada.

“On the Other Hand”, however, only achieved chart success after being released for a second time following Travis’ hit “1982”.

41. “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul

This 1972 soul song about forbidden love was written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert, and originally recorded by Billy Paul.

It is about an extramarital affair between a man and his lover, Mrs. Jones, and describes how the two meet in secret “every day at the same cafe”, at 6:30, where they hold hands and talk.

42. “Say Goodbye” by Dave Matthews Band

About this song, Dave said:

 “So one time, uh, so one time, I’m stuck in a room, in a little house, and we’re kinda snowed in (…) and there’s a girl with me, who’s a good friend of mine, and we’re all alone, and she’s got a boyfriend, and I got a girlfriend, but then one thing leads to another, and next day we’re all kinda uncomfortable. *Ahem.* So that’s, this song’s called Say Goodbye.”

43. “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” by Bright Eyes

This forbidden love song by Bright Eyes was released as a single in 2002 on the album “Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground”.

The line “I asked your name, you asked the time” is a reference to the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

44. “Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes

Treat You Better” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes, released through Island Records on June 3, 2016, as the lead single from his second studio album, Illuminate (2016).

It was co-written by Mendes with Teddy Geiger, and Scott Harris, while Geiger produced the song alongside Dan Romer, and Daylight.

The music video was released on July 12, 2016, and features a storyline about an abusive relationship.

45. “Amor Prohibido” by Selena

“Amor Prohibido” (Spanish for “Forbidden Love”) is the title song of American Tejano singer Selena’s 1994 studio album of the same name.

The lyrical themes of the song have been studied by authors, musicologists, and journalists, who found them relevant to issues facing the LGBT community.

A popular interpretation compares it to Romeo and Juliet, who are of course are the focus of many songs about forbidden love!

46. “Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann” by Nena

“Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann” (German for “somehow, somewhere, sometime”) is a 1984 motivational song written and recorded by the band members of Nena.

It was included on the band’s 1985 album “Feuer und Flamme” and was a huge commercial success in Europe.

Many foreign language versions of the inspirational song have appeared, most notably the English “Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime”.

Its various incarnations have charted over a 37 year period and in three different languages!

47. “Jubel” by Klingande

“Jubel” (“cheers”, “jubilance” in German), is an inspirational song by French duo Klingande, features uncredited vocals by Lucie Decarne and saxophone by British musician Snake Davis.

It was released in 2013 and reached number-one in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Switzerland – impressive!

The motivational song also reached number three on the UK Singles Chart in 2014, and became the number-one song of 2014 in Slovenia.

48. “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift

Inspired by a phone call between a friend of hers and his girlfriend that she overheard, the lyrics of this forbidden love song are about an unrequited love for an out-of-reach interest.

 A country and power pop song about secret love, “You Belong with Me” reached the top of many charts around the world.

Critics had mixed opinions; they applauded the radio-friendly appeal and emotional sentiments, though some felt that it demonstrated Swift’s repetitive songwriting.

49. “Stuck Like Glue” by Sugarland

“Stuck Like Glue” is a secret love song co-written and recorded by American country music duo Sugarland.

It was released in 2010 as the first single from their album The Incredible Machine, and debuted at number 44 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for a week.

The song about secret love went on to sell 2,629,000 digital copies by May 2013!

50. “Girlfriend” by Avril Levigne

Lyrically, “Girlfriend” revolves around its protagonist having a crush on someone who is in a relationship, believing she should be his girlfriend.

The forbidden love song received generally positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its catchiness.

The song was a worldwide success, peaking at the top spot of the charts in eight countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and was Lavigne’s first number-one song in the US.

51. “Crush” by Mandy Moore

“Crush” is a song about secret love by singer and actress Mandy Moore from her second studio album, named after herself in 2001.

The single was a modest chart hit, it debuted at number thirty-five on the US Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart, and number twenty-five in Australia.

The music video to go with the song ends with Moore wearing a replica of the jacket Michael Jackson wears in the “Thriller” music video.

52. “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis

“Bleeding Love” is a song recorded by Leona Lewis for her debut studio album Spirit, released in the UK and Ireland in 2007.

It soon became a major international hit and was the best-selling single of 2008 worldwide.

The single reached number one in 35 countries, including Japan, France, Germany and the US, making it only the second song in history to achieve this feat, Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997” being the first.

53. “Teardrops On My Guitar” by Taylor Swift

Swift wrote the lyrics for the track (a gentle, acoustic guitar-driven ballad), inspired by her unrequited love for a high school classmate.

Music critics have conflicting opinions about the song’s country-music classification; many disagreed, pointing out the pop music production.

Critics reacted positively to the track, complimenting Swift’s vocal delivery and songwriting style.

“Teardrops On My Guitar” was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

54. “Tryin’ to Love Two” by William Bell

“Tryin’ to Love Two” was a hit song about forbidden love by R&B singer William Bell in 1977. 

The secret love song became his biggest hit, reaching number one on the R&B charts and crossing over to the pop charts.

 It eventually sold over one million singles!

The single was written and produced by William Bell and Paul Mitchell and was the first song recorded by Bell after a three-year hiatus from recording.

55. “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town

This secret love song, written by Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose, was performed by country music group Little Big Town.

The song received mostly positive reviews from music critics, won five music awards, including two Grammys (Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Country Song), and reached number one on US country radio.

It ended up being the second-most played song of 2015 country radio, and is certified Quintuple Platinum in the US!

56. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” by Prince

“I Wanna Be Your Lover” is a song about secret love by the well-known American artist Prince.

It was released in 1979, as the lead single from his second, self-titled album.

The forbidden love song was Prince’s first major hit single in the US, reaching number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, holding the position for two weeks, and peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart for two weeks.

57. “Touch My Body” by Mariah Carey

This secret love song was co-written and recorded by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, released as the lead single from her eleventh studio album, E=MC² in 2008.

Lyrically, “Touch My Body” features a double message; It describes sexual fantasies with her lover, while also jokingly warning him against recording or releasing information regarding their rendezvous.

58. “Can I Be Him” by James Arthur

“Can I Be Him” is a song about love performed by British singer and songwriter James Arthur.

It was released in the UK digitally in 2017 as the third single from his second studio album, Back from the Edge.

The song became a moderate hit on a number of charts and, as of 2021, it had sold 652,698 copies in the UK alone.

59. “How Do I Get There” by Deana Carter

“How Do I Get There” is a song written by Chris Farren, and co-written and recorded by American country music artist Deana Carter.

The song became her third single to reach the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

It was Carter’s last Number One hit on the country chart, and one of her signature songs.

60. “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police

This hit song about forbidden love by the rock band The Police was released in 1980 as the lead single from their third album Zenyatta Mondatta.

It concerns a teacher who has a sexual relationship with a student, which in turn is discovered.

Songs About Forbidden Love – Final Thoughts

If you ever find yourself tangled up in a confusing forbidden love, this list of songs could bring you some inner peace.

Even if you’re not engaged in a secret love affair, there’s no harm in pretending like you are!

No matter what your situation, I hope this list of songs about secret relationships will evoke some emotions within you.

Similar Playlists:

Best Love Songs

Best Songs About Falling In Love

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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