Many people argue that the 1980s produced by far the best music of all time.
Today I’m putting that to the test in the romance genre!
Whether you want a breakup anthem, a sexy song, or a loved-up tune, this list is sure to give you what you need.
Below are the best 80s love songs, for you to listen to at your pleasure.
Table of Contents
- 1. “Careless Whisper” – George Michael
- 2. “I Want To Know What Love Is” – Foreigner
- 3. “Against All Odds” – Phil Collins
- 4. “With Or Without You” – U2
- 5. “Heaven” – Bryan Adams
- 6. “Hello” – Lionel Richie
- 7. “True” – Spandau Ballet
- 8. “Endless Love” – Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
- 9. “Eternal Flame” – Bangles
- 10. “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper
- 11. “It Must Be Love” – Madness
- 12. “Keep On Loving You” – REO Speedwagon
- 13. “I Just Called To Say I Love You” – Stevie Wonder
- 14. “Crazy For You” – Madonna
- 15. “Sexual Healing” – Marvin Gaye
- 16. “Take My Breath Away” – Berlin
- 17. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” – Bonnie Tyler
- 18. “I Would Die 4 You” – Prince and The Revolution
- 19. “Love Action (I Believe In Love)” – The Human League
- 20. “Just Like Heaven” – The Cure
- 21. “Sweet Child Of Mine” – Guns n’ Roses
- 22. “Love Shack” – The B-52’s
- 23. “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” – Dead Or Alive
- 24. “The Power Of Love” – Jennifer Rush
- 25. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division
- 26. “Right Here Waiting” – Richard Marx
- 27. “Rosanna” – Toto
- 28. “Your Love Is King” – Sade
- 29. “You Make My Dreams” – Hall And Oates
- 30. “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” – Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes
- 31. “Woman In Love” – Barbara Streisand
- 32. “All Out Of Love” – Air Supply
- 33. “Never Tear Us Apart” – INXS
- 34. “(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight” – The Cutting Crew
- 35. “Is This Love” – Whitesnake
- 36. “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” – Simply Red
- 37. “Listen To Your Heart” – Roxette
- 38. “Broken Wings” – Mr. Mister
- 39. “Hungry Eyes” – Billy Carmen
- 40. “Take On Me” – A-Ha
- 41. “Love Bites” – Def Leppard
- 42. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – The Police
- 43. “Ain’t Nobody” – Chaka Khan and Rufus
- 44. “Bizarre Love Triangle” – New Order
- 45. “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel
- 46. “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” – Starship
- 47. “The Lady In Red” – Chris de Burgh
- 48. “Saving All My Love For You” – Whitney Houston
- 49. “Faithfully” – Journey
- 50. “Lovesong” – The Cure
- 80s Love Songs – Final Thoughts
“Careless Whisper” is the song that helped George Michael become a credible artist outside of Wham!, and is fully deserving of the top spot.
The song was co-written with Andrew Ridgely when they were just 17 and encapsulated young Michael’s early experiences with girls.
It’s a song of passion and lust, perfect for any romantic occasion.
The band’s most successful hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is” hit number one in both the US and the UK.
Writer Mick Jones even said “I’d say it was probably written entirely by a higher force”, which may not be too far off the mark.
The song is that of the true depth of love.
This power ballad was recorded for a movie of the same name and quickly shot to the top of the US charts.
It was later a hit by the great Mariah Carey with Westlife in the UK.
The song watches Collins as he implores a reconciliation with an ex-lover, despite it being “Against All Odds”.
This classic hit was inspired by Bono’s conflicting feelings about the lives he led as a musician and domestic man.
It rose to the top of the US charts and into the hearts of listeners in 1987, becoming the ultimate love anthem.
Originally appearing on the romantic movie soundtrack for “A Night In Heaven”, the song took a year and a half to reach the US number one.
Adams toured with Journey, leading to this heartfelt tune as he took inspiration from “Faithfully”.
“Heaven” has been remixed many times since, and remains loved.
Despite being one of Lionel Richie’s biggest, most successful hits, he originally thought the song was “corny”!
He then says “by the time I finished the verse, I fell in love with the song again”, something we can all agree with.
Gary Kemp, the composer of this ballad, wrote this song in his parent’s house, where he lived at the time.
It is partially about Kemp’s platonic relationship with Clare Grogan of Altered Images and pays tribute to Marvin Gaye.
This is the ultimate duo, and the results certainly show it.
The song became the second best-seller of the year. Richie originally wrote the song for Motown; it’s possibly the most romantic song of all time.
This sensitive song was inspired by two eternal flames that meant a lot to writer Billy Steinberg.
The first was at the gravesite of the late Elvis Presley, and the other at a synagogue in Palm Springs.
The powerful meaning was captured in this song and definitely made it the success it is today.
This was one of Cyndi’s first-ever releases, and it has since become known as one of the best love songs of the 80s.
The inspiration came from the relationship troubles of both Lauper and the writer, Rob Hyman of The Hooters.
This is surprisingly not the original version of the song, although it is the most successful.
Labi Siffre first reached number 14 in 1971, and 10 years later Madness followed with their upbeat cover.
This rock power ballad was one of the first videos to be played on MTV.
It takes inspiration from singer Kevin Cronan’s marital issues, in which he found out his wife cheated on him.
He even called it “the most painful song I ever wrote.”
This incredible hit by Stevie reached the top of the charts in nineteen countries!
No wonder this was his biggest hit in ‘84.
It was originally written for the movie “Woman In Red” and helped it to win a Grammy and an Oscar for Best Song.
Madonna was almost unknown when she released this song, but it soon became one of the most loved ballads ever.
It originally came from the movie Vision Quest, but its success is all its own!
This song, while not quite for the innocent romantic, really is the epitome of Marvin Gaye.
It’s incredibly smooth and classy, while obviously being sexual! Unfortunately, Gaye died less than two years after this hit.
From the movie “Top Gun”, this has to be one of the best-loved songs of all time.
It’s incredibly sensitive and soulful, making it easy listening for any romantic.
Berlin quickly topped charts with this ethereal tune.
Possibly one of the most intense ballads to ever be written, this song lends itself to the passionate voice of Bonnie Tyler.
Written by noted composer and songwriter Jim Steinman, the lyrics are assumed to be about love and longing, ergo a “total eclipse of the heart”.
This top 10 hit from the ultimate album “Purple Rain” is upbeat and happy, unlike many love songs of the 80s!
Cash Box described the song as “a practice in restrained ecstasy” in which “Prince delivers one of his finest and most passionate vocal performances”.
It’s no wonder this song danced into our hearts!
This 1981 synth-pop sensation became The Human League’s first-ever top 10 hit.
The song, written jointly by lead singer Philip Oakley and keyboard player Ian Burden, was sampled in 2002 by George Michael in his politically charged hit “Shoot The Dog”.
This upbeat song is sure to be the soundtrack to any happy romance.
This masterpiece, written mostly by the band in southern France in 1987, became The Cure’s first American hit, and one of their biggest successes.
The heartfelt lyrics draw inspiration from frontman Robert Smith and his visits to the shore with his future wife.
This classic rock anthem was written while Slash struggled with alcoholism, and he even joked that the writing of it “interfered with his drinking”.
Slash’s struggles clearly didn’t stop the success of this song, though!
22. “Love Shack” – The B-52’s
The epitome of the 80s, this song is probably the first to come to mind when someone mentions upbeat tunes of the decade.
This song is arguably The B-52s’ most successful, well-known song.
This upbeat song is bound to make you feel like a teenager with a crush again!
It’s incredibly catchy – likely what Dead Or Alive wanted!
This song hit a million sales, and it’s no wonder!
It’s possibly the most soulful, heart-wrenching song on this list and brings a tear to most listeners’ eyes.
This intensely catchy song put Joy Division on the map, so to speak.
It’s definitely a slightly negative outlook, but sometimes that’s just what we need!
Marx really has us dreaming of romance with this sensitive song.
Featured on an episode of The O.C., this song is for sure deserving of being on this list.
This feel-good romance song surely gives you that warm 80s feeling, and that’s just the point.
Rosanna gives you the feeling of falling in love, which Toto was apparently aiming for.
This jazzy number is super sultry, and you just can’t help but smile while listening!
Sade’s slightly rough voice works incredibly well with this tune, and I can’t stop listening.
Is there really a more catchy song than this hit?
The duo reached 1 million sales in the UK, despite never taking to the charts, which goes to show just how brilliantly successful this song is.
Probably the most well-known song on this list, Medley and Warnes really got it right with this one.
Of course, part of its success is owed to Dirty Dancing, but I’d bet it’d be just as successful without it.
Taken from Streisand’s 1980 album “Guilty”, this song sure is guilty of sticking in our heads!
Incredibly catchy and joyful, this song is the fourth of her four platinum records and is considered Streisand’s greatest international hit.
This song is definitely not upbeat, and the lyrics really tug on your heartstrings.
That’s what makes it such a good breakup song – it is sure to bring you to tears if you belt it out in your car!
This song, with its intense beats and synth-like notes, is one of the most passionate love songs of the 1980s.
Its meaningful lyrics hit many of us close to home, making this a well-loved song.
34. “(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight” – The Cutting Crew
Written by their frontman Nick van Eede, this is The Cutting Crew’s biggest hit to date.
It references a night with van Eede’s girlfriend and is quite a soul-breaking tune due to its intense meaning.
This power ballad didn’t fit the band’s usual sound, and was originally meant for Tina Turner!
The song focuses on awaiting a lover’s call, which was definitely a new approach for Whitesnake. We’re not mad, though!
Despite not being the original song, this cover is definitely the most successful and popular.
Inspired by doubts about long-term relationships, the cover dominated charts in many different countries.
Made famous in its debut on the soundtrack for the movie “Pretty Women”, the song is influenced by the transitional period between old relationships and new relationships.
We can all relate to this, lending to the popularity of the song in 1988.
The song, inspired by Khalil Gibran’s novel of the same name, tells the story of a love broken by social norms.
The song has survived through the years, though!
Yet another Dirty Dancing hit, Hungry Eyes tells the story of the love between the two main characters in the movie, and highlights the giddiness of the beginning of a relationship.
A song that we all know and Love, “Take On Me” has aged brilliantly.
It is still as popular as it was in the 80s, and has gone through many remasters and covers.
It is a happy take on love and makes us all feel youthful.
This song is incredibly clever, featuring a play on language not only in the title but throughout the song too.
It speaks about the obsessive nature of love and its duality, making it incredibly popular with those who are listening.
The Police definitely worked hard on this song!
Band member Sting started writing it in the ‘70s, but it was totally worth it when it got released in 1981.
It has definitely stuck with us through the years.
This song remains as popular as it was in the 80s due to its constant covers and remasters!
It’s grown with us and is still well loved. It signifies being with the perfect partner, a heart-warming feeling.
This love song brings a unique sound and is loved by critics because of this.
The love affair it is based on is weird and wonderful, and definitely keeps us listening.
Gabriel wrote this song about how love conquers all, and has no bounds or limits.
That may be the cause of the success of the 1986 hit – or it may just be that it’s catchy!
This feel-good anthem owes a lot of its success to the rom-com “Mannequin” and came to life when writer David Warren finalized his divorce after seven long years.
It’s a must to listen to this tune when in the mood for a celebration!
Chris de Burgh wrote this song in honor of his wife, and the first time he saw her.
It quickly became his biggest success and will remain in our hearts for many years.
This song is definitely conflicting for fans, due to the adulterous nature of the lyrics and the love it describes.
Nonetheless, it is still incredibly loved and listened to in the modern day.
This rock ballad is just what you need when you need to blow off some steam.
It encourages listeners to stay loyal during difficulties, and that love is never beyond repair.
Written as a wedding gift to lead singer Robert Smith, this song is about devotion and commitment, and is well-loved.
80s Love Songs – Final Thoughts
There you have it: the FIFTY best 80s love songs!
I hope now you’ll never be lost when you need a romantic tune to sing to, cry to, or scream to.