40 Songs about Forbidden Love (Modern, R&B, Punk & More)

Foundations of Music

40 Songs about Forbidden Love (Modern, R&B, Punk & More)

Love is an infinite inspiration for songwriters and musicians. The unrequited, secret, and hidden love is among the most emotional and moving love songs – artists and listeners bond over the frustration and longing that forbidden love brings.

Couples like Romeo and Juliet come to mind when thinking of forbidden love, but lovers are kept apart for many reasons. Laws and public opinion keep many apart because of sexual orientation, age gaps, race, religion, and many other reasons. But not much can stop love.

I. Modern songs about forbidden love

The latest songs of forbidden love are all about trying to progress past (historical) barriers to love. Lovers want to prove their love is stronger than the people or things separating them. And for recent audiences, this music is famous and well-received.

1) 1950

Artist: King Princess
Album: Make My Bed EP
Year: 2018
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King Princess wrote a love song for a couple who lived in years like the 1950s when society did not accept LGBTQ couples. King Princess sings about how loveless and loved couples must have felt when they were together or apart in public.

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2) Illicit Affairs

Artist: Taylor Swift
Album: folklore
Year: 2020
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In this hit song, Taylor Swift describes how couples manage their secret affairs – all the effort that goes into meeting and maintaining this hidden love.

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3) Forbidden

Artist: Alexa Cappelli
Album: Forbidden
Year: 2012
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Can someone you love in secret really know you? Cappelli wonders if the appeal of their love is that it’s forbidden and unattainable.

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4) Rewrite the Stars

Artist: Zac Efron ft. Zendaya
Album: The Greatest Showman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Year: 2017
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What if you could rewrite the reality that keeps you apart from them? Zac Efron and Zendaya made a movie-goer’s dream come true, but music listeners can also appreciate their forbidden love.

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II. R&B songs about forbidden love

This genre is all about love, sex, and rhythm – and these songs are no different. These couples need to hide their (often adulterous) affairs, but their commitment and desire are hard to hide.

1) Lie About Us

Artist: Avant ft. Nicole Scherzinger
Album: Director
Year: 2006
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On the brink of breaking up with his girlfriend, Avant needs to reassure his love not to give up and imagine what it will be like when they no longer have to “lie about us.”

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2) I Call It Love

Artist: Lionel Richie
Album: Coming Home
Year: 2006
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This classic hit needs no introduction.

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3) Part-Time Lover

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: In Square Circle
Year: 1985
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It’s easy to get lost in Stevie Wonder’s upbeat tempo, but it’s a story of part-time love is a story many can relate to.

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4) Saving All My Love For You

Artist: Whitney Houston
Album: Whitney Houston
Year: 1985
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Whitney’s frustration, desire, and need for an unattainable man are written and played out in one of her first worldwide hits.

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III. Punk songs about forbidden love

Other genres may romanticize the reasons for forbidden love, but this genre doesn’t sugar-coat the cruel or crude rationalities two people might not be together.

1) Dirty Little Secret

Artist: The All-American Rejects
Album: Move Along
Year: 2005
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Here, the speaker wants you to know that being a ‘dirty little secret’ can be an opportunity to be more open and free together as well as an excuse to leave the other – who’s going to know but us?

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2) Queen

Artist: Perfume Genius
Album: Too Bright
Year: 2014
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This song is less about the love but the reason it’s forbidden and secret. Perfume Genius’ lyrics can be misheard, ‘don’t you know you’re queen’ becomes  ‘don’t you know you’re queer.’ In this unsettling melody, the harsher realities of queer love are felt.

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3) Can You Feel My Heart

Artist: Bring Me the Horizon
Album: Sempiternal
Year: 2013
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“Can you hear the silence? Can you see the dark? Can you fix the broken? Can you feel, can you feel my heart?” – In one’s lowest and most secret moments, can love be felt and seen?

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4) The Drug In Me Is You

Artist: Falling In Reverse
Album: The Drug In Me Is You
Year: 2011
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“Your secrets keep you sick, your lies keep you alive” – what’s more intoxicating and energizing than a secret love affair?

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IV. Pop songs about forbidden love

There’s no better genre for love songs, and these Pop stars are known for writing their love stories for listeners to connect to. From affairs to queer relationships to one-night stands, the reasons for this love being forbidden are infinite.

1) As Long As You Love Me

Artist: Justin Bieber
Album: Believer
Year: 2012
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2) Uncover

Artist: Zara Larson
Album: Uncover
Year: 2012
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A song with beautiful vocals and lyrics, Uncover is the story of hidden love in the 2010’s unique Pop sound.

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3) Forbidden Love

Artist: Madonna
Album: Confessions on a Dance Floor
Year: 2005
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4) Fools

Artist: Troye Sivan
Album: Blue Neighborhood
Year: 2015
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V. Country songs about forbidden love

Country singers are the best at plot twists and heartbreaking lyrics. It’s no surprise then that these artists can write great songs about forbidden love.

1) Love Story

Artist: Taylor Swift
Album: Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
Year: 2021
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Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden love, and Taylor Swift sang it in this country classic song.

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2) Holding Her and Loving You

Artist: Clay Walker
Album: Live, Laugh, Love
Year: 1999
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3) The Long Black Veil

Artist: Johnny Cash
Album: Unearthed
Year: 2003
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Loving your best friend’s wife is your only alibi, but nobody can know, so you have to die. It doesn’t get more country than that!

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4) Who You Thought I Was

Artist: Brandy Clark
Album: Your Life Is A Record
Year: 2020
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When you can’t have your beloved, at least you can learn to love yourself as they did.

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VI. Rap/hip hop songs about forbidden love

This genre celebrates clever wordplay and rhythm, so it’s no surprise that these rappers have fun with a topic while other genres sing melancholy melodies.

1) Forbidden Fruit

Artist: J Cole ft. Kendrik Lamar
Album: Born Sinner
Year: 2013
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J. Cole is an artist that has set the standard for upcoming rappers, but this early song shows his teenage take on relationships.

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2) Slumber Party

Artist: Ashnikko ft. Princess Nokia
Album: DEMIDEVIL
Year: 2021
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This viral TikTok song describes the forbidden love between girl-friends who are girlfriends to someone else.

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3) THAT’S WHAT I WANT

Artist: Lil Nas X
Album: MONTERO
Year: 2021
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What happens when you figure out what you want too late? What happens when who you want says they can’t be with you? What happens when they’re too scared to come out? This song doesn’t give you the answers, but it helps express them.

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4) Don’t Matter

Artist: Akon
Album: Konvicted
Year: 2006
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VII. Jazz songs about forbidden love

This genre is infamous for revolutionary takes on classic compositions, and jazz’s take on forbidden love is as unique as you’d expect. Some of these artists embrace the sin in some forbidden loves, and others lament the unfairness of hiding something so special.

1) Just Friends

Artist: Amy Winehouse
Album: Back to Black
Year: 2006
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2) (You Can Have My Husband But Please) Don’t Mess With My Man

Artist: Irma Thomas
Album: The Age of Northern Soul
Year: 2012
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3) Just Friends

Artist: Slip Away
Album: This Is Clarence Carter
Year: 1968
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4) Freedom! ‘90

Artist: George Michael
Album: Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged
Year: 1998
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VIII. Sad songs about forbidden love

Sometimes forbidden love will never become a public and tender relationship, and these songs sing that sad story.

1) Waiting Game

Artist: BANKS
Album: Goddess
Year: 2014
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2) 4 AM

Artist: Melanie Fiona
Album: The MF Life
Year: 2012
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3) Thinking of You

Artist: Katy Perry
Album: One Of The Boys
Year: 2008
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4) Can I Be Him

Artist: James Arthur
Album: Back From The Edge
Year: 2016
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IX. Songs about secret love affairs

A mix of genres and tempo’s each of these songs offers a different insight into secret love affairs and relationships

1) August

Artist: Taylor Swift
Album: folklore
Year: 2005
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This song tells the story of ‘the other woman’ in an affair and how she feels knowing he’ll go back to his girlfriend after a month or so.

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2) Strange Love

Artist: Halsey
Album: Badlands
Year: 2015
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3) She Don’t Have to Know

Artist: John Legend
Album: Get Lifted
Year: 2005
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4) Magnets

Artist: Disclosure ft. Lorde
Album: Get Lifted
Year: 2005
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X. Songs with secret love in lyrics

Listening closely to these lyrics offers a chance to understand how secrets exist in regular relationships and compound in forbidden relationships.

1) Secrets

Artist: One Republic
Album: Waking Up
Year: 2009
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2) Diary

Artist: Alicia Keys
Album: The Diary of Alicia Keys
Year: 2003
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3) Secrets

Artist: The Weeknd
Album: Starboy
Year: 2016
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4) Secret Love Song

Artist: Little Mix
Album: Get Weird
Year: 2015
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