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"Endless Love" leads Billboard's top love songs

By Noreen O'Donnell

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When it comes to love, sometimes old songs say it best.

The 1981 Motown ballad "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie topped Billboard magazine's "Top 50 'Love' Songs of All Time" list on Wednesday, just in time for Valentine's Day.

The duet, written by Richie and used as the theme song for Franco Zeffirelli's film of the same name, earned Richie an Academy Award nomination for best original song.

The list is based on the rankings on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart from its start in 1958 until today. As might be expected, every song has the word "love" in the title.

Boyz II Men's 1994 hit "I'll Make Love to You," 2011 pop dance track "We Found Love" by Rihanna and Calvin Harris, 1977's "How Deep Is Your Love," from the Bee Gees and 1976's "Silly Love Songs" by Wings round out the top five.

The oldest song dates from 1958, "To Know Him Is to Love Him" by The Teddy Bears. Rihanna's "We Found Love" is the most recent entry on the list.

Whitney Houston's 1992 version of "I Will Always Love You," Mario's 2004 "Let Me Love You," 1990's "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)" by Stevie B., 1977's "Best of My Love" from The Emotions and the Ray Charles 1962 classic "I Can't Stop Loving You," complete the top 10.

This is the fourth year that Billboard has issued a list for Valentine's Day, although in 2011 its "Love Stinks" compilation took the opposite approach with the 30 biggest heartbreak hits.

Two real-life couples appear this year, Captain & Tennille with 1975's "Love Will Keep Us Together" and Jay-Z and Beyonce with 2003's "Crazy in Love."

Diana Ross, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey have three entries each on the list, along with Paul McCartney with The Beatles and his own band Wings, for "Silly Love Songs," 1973's "My Love" and "She Loves You" from 1963.

The complete list can be seen at http://billboard.com/lovesongs

(Reporting By Noreen O'Donnell; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Xavier Briand)

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