Songs about various aspects of love have been popular ever since there has been music. But especially in the 80s and 90s “Love Songs” had even greater importance than in the complete history of music so far. We all love a good love song and especially the people who grew up in the 80s.
Musicians and bands were quick to react to the new trend and produced love songs on a flowing treadmill to conquer the hearts of listeners. There were different variations of love songs: Besides the typical 80s power ballads, there were many Rock ballads that courted the favor of women’s hearts.
At that time, almost every rock album contained a ballad, which ushered in the birth of “cuddly rock”.
In the following list, we have collected the most popular love songs of the 80s. From stars like Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Phil Collins over Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Richie up to Elton John and Whitney Houston we have put together a colorful mix of Love Songs. Listen to the cult hits of a long-gone musical era!
(At the end of the article, we’ve created a Spotify playlist for you with all the songs listed here.)
01. I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner
This 80’s song was written by Mick Jones in 1984 after the band’s 3-year hiatus. Mick sees this composition as a gift and says the song probably came entirely from a higher power. When it comes to the meaning of the lyrics, the opinions of the listeners are divided.
Some think it’s Mick’s search for the right, real love, others understand the words to mean that only God can give true love at the end of the road. In the charts, this 80s love song reached #1 in Australia, the UK, USA, Canada, Sweden, and Norway. Foreigner was formed in 1976 and has sold over 80 million albums worldwide to date.
02. Forever Young – Alphaville
“Forever Young” was released in September 1984, but reached number 1 in the charts only in Sweden. Keyboardist Bernhard Mertens said in an interview that the message of the song is not clear. In 1984, the cold war and the fear of the atomic bomb were omnipresent. “Forever Young” deals with daily life with the possibility of nuclear annihilation. The song talks about living life to the fullest and making the most of every moment because it can be taken away at any time without the warning or control of the individual.
The lyrics were a criticism of the leadership of the USA and the USSR at that time. “Forever Young” became the anthem of an entire generation, although many young people at the time did not understand what Alphaville actually wanted to express.
03. Careless Whisper – George Michael
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley wrote this ’80s love song in 1981 before going under the name Wham! became known. The song’s most successful release was in 1984, but only under the name of George Michael, as the record company felt the song did not fit with Wham!.
The song is about cheating and the associated feelings of guilt. However, George denies that there is a biographical background for “Careless Whisper”. The single version reached number 1 on the charts in the US, UK, and Switzerland and is one of George Michael’s most successful tracks.
George has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and has been awarded two Grammy Awards.
04. Africa – Toto
“Africa” was released in 1982 and reached 2x gold and 13x platinum status, however number 1 on the charts the song only reached in the US. A UNICEF commercial showing starving children in Africa inspired Toto to write this song. “Africa” should attract attention to their fate. The lyrics are exotic and mysterious.
It tells about the simultaneous love of a man for Africa and a woman and leaves a lot of room for Performeration by ambiguities and not quite clear allusions. The central element of the song is African percussion instruments.
05. Is This Love – Whitesnake
“Is This Love” was written in 1987 by David Coverdale and John Sykes. Originally the title was intended for Tina Turner, but in the end, David Coverdale kept this 80s love song for his band Whitesnake. The song tells about the love for a woman, the question of this love is right and the Longing, to hold this woman in his arms again. “Is This Love” reached #2 on the US charts and #8 in the UK.
06. You’re The Inspiration – Chicago
“You’re the Inspiration” was composed by Peter Cetera and David Foster and appeared on Chicago’s then fourteenth studio album in 1984 – Chicago 17. Actually, the song was written for Kenny Rogers. But when the latter did not release the song, Chicago rewrote the composition a bit and released the hit song himself.
The album reached number 3 in the US charts and number 14 in the UK. The message of the lyrics is love, underlined by lines like “You are the meaning in my life”, “You are the inspiration”.
07. Hello – Lionel Richie
The musician released “Hello” in 1983 on his second album Can’t Slow Down. But it was 1984 single that reached #1 on the charts in the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Belgium. Nominations of “Hello” were the Grammy Award for “Song of the Year” and “Best Male Vocal Performance.
The accompanying video, in which Richie plays an art teacher who falls in love with a blind art student, won the 1985 American Music Award for Best Music Video. Lines like “Is it me you’re looking for?” or “You’re all I ever wanted” characterize the lyrics and make “Hello” one of the best love songs of the 80s.
08. Up Where We Belong – Jennifer Warnes & Joe Cocker
The music is by Buffy Sainte-Marie and Jack Nitzsche, and the lyrics were written by Will Jennings in 1982. The theme song from the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman” was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and #7 on the annual chart in the UK. “Up Where We Belong” received numerous awards, including the 1983 Academy Award for “Best Movie Song” or the Golden Globe Award for “Best Original Song”.
Also in 1983, Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker were awarded the Grammy Award for “Best Performance by a Duo in the Pop Category”.
09. The Lady In Red – Chris De Burgh
In 1986 Chris de Burgh wrote the music and lyrics to the 80’s love song “The Lady In Red”. The single sold eight million copies and became number 1 on the charts in over 20 countries. The lyrics are about a couple who are arguing because they are going to be late for a party.
At the party, the two go their separate ways, but then he sees his wife in a red dress, swarmed by countless admirers. He realizes that his wife looks stunning and he understands that he has been paying way too little attention to her lately. The 80s song received a nomination at the BRIT Awards for “Best British Single”.
10. Take On Me – A-ha
“Take On Me” is the debut single of the Norwegian band a-ha from 1984. At first, only 300 copies were sold. Only the second music video directed by Steve Barron made the song famous.
On 16. In September 1985, the single was released across Europe, reaching #1 on the charts in 36 countries and selling more than eight million copies. In total, the song achieved 5× gold and 1x platinum. The video for “Take On Me” won six awards at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1986 and was nominated for two others.
In the video, Morten Harket, the lead singer of a-ha, plays a comic book hero who dies a tragic death, only to appear as a flesh and blood human being to the comic book’s pretty reader.
11. We Don’t Need Another Hero – Tina Turner
The song was released in 1985 and received nominations at the Golden Globe Award for “Best Movie Song” and at the MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Female Video”. With “We Don’t Need Another Hero” Tina Turner reached numerous top ten places in the charts, in Germany and Switzerland even number 1. The song was written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten and is the theme song of the movie “Mad Max – Beyond the Thunderdome”.
The film is about the lost souls in the Thunderdome, the liberation of the children, and Max’s continued life as a legend. The film, in which Tina Turner plays alongside Mel Gibson, and the song made Tina a world star for good.
12. Total Eclipse Of My Heart – Bonnie Tyler
“Total Eclipse Of My Heart,” written and produced by Jim Steinman, was released by Bonnie Tyler in 1983. The song was originally composed for the singer Meat Loaf, but his record company didn’t want to pay for the title. The 80s song sold five million copies and reached #1 in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, and Norway. In England, the song won the Variety Club Award for the best single of the year in 1983.
Bonnie Tyler sings about the total darkness in her heart and that she needs someone to catch her.
13. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
The single was released in August 1988 and was the band’s only number-one single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Axl Rose wrote “Sweet Child O’ Mine” for the model Erin Everly, with whom he had fallen head over heels in love at a concert. The music was awarded in many magazines, the guitar riff was even chosen as one of the best of all times.
The song was also nominated for “Best Group Video” at the MTV Video Music Awards.
14. Nikita – Elton John
This 80s song was released in 1985. The music came from Elton John, the lyrics from Bernie Taupin.
George Michael as a singer and Nik Kershaw on the guitar supported Elton with the recording. The song reached number 1 on the charts in many countries. Nikita is posted as a Soviet border guard at the Berlin Wall but is inaccessible to Elton John due to the division of East and West. Allegedly “Nikita” has an autobiographical background.
It is said that Elton John fell in love with a border guard of the GDR at that time, he is said to have processed the inaccessibility in this work.
15. The Power of Love – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
“The Power of Love” was released in late November 1984 and was the band’s third № 1 hit in the U.K. The song was written by Peter Gill, Mark O’Toole, and Holly Johnson. Frankie Goes To Hollywood also lets irony into the title. The villain in the song is a cartoon character, the maxi-single tells about the supposed censorship in the U.S.
Holly Johnson, frontman of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, explains to this day that “The Power Of Love” was not intended as a Christmas song was intended. But the timing of its release and the reenacted Christmas story in the video made it one of the most successful Christmas songs in pop history.
16. Glory Of Love – Peter Cetera
“Glory of Love” was written in 1986 by Peter Cetera, David Foster, and Diana Nini. It is also the soundtrack to the movie “Karate Kid II”. In the USA, Canada, and Sweden the song became a number 1 hit. “Glory Of Love” was nominated for an Academy Award in 1987 in the “Best Song” category and for a Grammy Award in the “Best Male Vocal Performance” category.
Peter Cetera separated from the band Chicago in 1985 and immediately landed a world hit with “Glory Of Love”. The lyrics to the music are a declaration of love with the promise that he will fight for her honor and be the hero that she dreams of.
17. More Than I Can Say – Leo Sayer
After mega-hits like “When I Need You” or “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” Leo Sayer had little success in the following years. So Leo took one of his favorite songs from earlier years and made a contemporary version of it.
This was a song of the 50s with sad prehistory. Members of the band Crickets composed the song only a few days after the tragic accidental death of their frontman Buddy Holly. Lyrics like “I miss you more than I can say” or “Why is my life filled with so much pain, I love you more than I can say” explain the pain at that time.
Leo Sayer brought the title back into the charts and landed a huge hit with his version.
18. Crazy For You – Madonna
“Crazy for You” was written by Mike Stoller, John Bettis, and Jon Lind in 1985. The music is also featured in the soundtrack to the movies “Vision Quest” and “30 Overnight”. The lyrics allude to the sexual desire of two lovers. “Crazy for You” became Madonna’s second № 1 hit in the U.S. after “Like A Virgin”.
The song also reached the top of the charts in Canada and Australia. In 1986 the song was nominated for the Grammy Awards in the category “Best Female Vocal Performance – Pop”.
19. What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner
The song was originally written for Phyllis Hyman by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle in 1984. However, due to Tina Turner’s divorce, the writers decided to let Tina sing this song. The track spent three weeks at № 1 on the U.S. charts.
At the 1985 Grammy Awards, “What’s Love Got To Do With It” won awards for “Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female” and “Best Song of the Year 1985”. The lyrics speak for themselves: “What is love but a second-hand emotion?….What is love but a sweet old notion?….Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?….What does love have to do with it?”
20. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) – Phil Collins
“Against All Odds” was released by Phil Collins in 1984 and is from the soundtrack of the movie “Against All Odds”. The lyrics are about a man who desperately wants to reconcile with his ex-lover even though he knows that this reconciliation doesn’t stand a chance. “Against All Odds” won in the “Best Male Vocal Performance” category at the 1985 Grammy Awards and was nominated for an Oscar in the “Best Song” category.
Places 21-117 of the best love songs from the 80s:
Each song is linked to its accompanying music video via the title.
|24.||All Night Long (All Night)||Lionel Richie|
|25.||The River||Bruce Springsteen|
|26.||The Power of Love||Frankie Goes To Hollywood|
|27.||Ich Liebe Dich||Clowns & Helden|
|28.||What About Love?||Heart|
|29.||We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)||Tina Turner|
|30.||A Question of Lust||Depeche Mode|
|31.||One Of Us||ABBA|
|32.||Halt mich||Herbert Grönemeyer|
|33.||True Colors||Cyndi Lauper|
|34.||Sweet Child O’ Mine||Guns N’ Roses|
|35.||I Want To Know What Love Is||Foreigner|
|36.||Straight From The Heart||Bryan Adams|
|38.||Human Nature||Michael Jackson|
|40.||Black Velvet||Alannah Myles|
|41.||Kleine Taschenlampe brenn’||Markus|
|42.||(I Just) Died In Your Arms||Cutting Crew|
|43.||Greatest Love of All||Whitney Houston|
|46.||Listen To Your Heart||Roxette|
|47.||Wind Of Change||Scorpions|
|48.||If You Don’t Know Me By Now||Simply Red|
|49.||Cherish||Kool & The Gang|
|50.||Don’t Stop Believin’||Journey|
|51.||The Lady In Red||Chris De Burgh|
|52.||Chariots Of Fire||Vangelis|
|53.||Up Where We Belong||Jennifer Warnes & Joe Cocker|
|54.||Hard To Say I’m Sorry||Chicago|
|55.||Total Eclipse of the Heart||Bonnie Tyler|
|58.||Tell It To My Heart||Taylor Dayne|
|59.||What’s Love Got to Do with It||Tina Turner|
|60.||Still Loving You||Scorpions|
|62.||You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul||Modern Talking|
|64.||Brand new toy||Jeremy Days|
|65.||Out of Touch||Hall & Oates|
|66.||You’re A Woman||Bad Boys Blue|
|67.||Eyes Without a Face||Billy Idol|
|68.||With Or Without You||U2|
|70.||It’s A Real Good Feeling||Peter Kent|
|71.||Can’t Fight This Feeling||REO Speedwagon|
|72.||Sealed with a Kiss||Jason Donovan|
|73.||St Elmo’s Fire||John Parr|
|74.||A Different Corner||George Michael|
|75.||Waiting For A Star To Fall||Boy Meets Girl|
|76.||She’s Like the Wind||Patrick Swayze feat. Wendy Fraser|
|77.||Don’t Stop the Dance||Bryan Ferry|
|78.||The Way To Your Heart||Soulsister|
|79.||Right Here Waiting||Richard Marx|
|80.||Herz aus Glas||Münchener Freiheit|
|81.||Take My Breath Away||Berlin|
|82.||Tausendmal berührt||Klaus Lage Band||—|
|83.||A Groovy Kind Of Love||Phil Collins|
|84.||Caravan Of Love||The Housemartins|
|86.||Ohne Dich||Münchner Freiheit|
|88.||Brothers in Arms||Dire Straits|
|89.||Song For Whoever||The Beautiful South|
|90.||Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird||Will to Power|
|91.||Baby Can I Hold You||Tracy Chapman|
|92.||Der Blaue Planet||Karat|
|93.||What Is Love?||Howard Jones|
|95.||Teardrops||Womack & Womack|
|96.||Crazy For You||Madonna|
|97.||First Time||Robin Beck|
|98.||Hunting High And Low||a-ha|
|99.||Promise Me||Beverly Craven||—|
|100.||Love Is A Shield||Camouflage|
|101.||Zruck zu dir (Hallo Klaus) (Original)||Nickerbocker & Biene|
|102.||Show Me Heaven||Maria McKee|
|103.||In The Air Tonight||Phil Collins|
|104.||Nothings Gonna Change My Love For You||Glenn Medeiros|
|107.||Say You Say Me||Lionel Richie|
|109.||Two People||Tina Turner|
|110.||Don’t Dream It’s Over||Crowded House|
|111.||Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now||Starship|
|112.||If I Could Turn Back Time||Cher|
|113.||Every Rose Has Its Thorn||Poison|
|116.||Turn Back The Clock||Johnny Hates Jazz|
1980s love songs Spotify playlist:
In 1987 appeared the dance film “Dirty Dancing”, which is now one of the most popular romances in the whole history of cinema. Seven love songs alone were composed especially for the film. With the song “She’s Like the Wind” Patrick Swayze sang and danced his way into the hearts of every woman with the help of singer “Wendy Fraser”.
A perfect ballad to reminisce about the memories.
The song “All Night Long (All Night)” was released in 1983 and was written by musician “Lionel Richie” himself. “Richie” sang this song 1984 At the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics in front of a television audience of about 2.3 billion people. Even today, “All Night Long (All Night)” is the most played song by “Lionel Richie”.
Of course, love songs are always about the theme of love. However, the 80s songs listed above show that it doesn’t always have to be about the love of man for woman. Love of peace, fellow man, and love of God are often themes in 80s love songs.
If you want to take a very general look at the most successful songs of the 80s, we recommend our page: The most popular hits of the 80s.