39 Best 80s Love Songs of All Time

Best 80s Love Songs

The '80s were a defining era with a lasting impact on music history, especially in love songs and ballads. Many of the hits from that time continue to feature on today's playlists.

If you're looking for classic love tunes, keep reading to rediscover some of the best choices of all time.


“Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS

Song year: 1987

This often-covered song continues to be instantly recognizable with its Viennese waltz tempo, dramatic beats, and saxophone solo. The lyrics, written by the late vocalist Michael Hutchence, are a sweet and to-the-point ode to a love that can't be broken. It remains a popular choice for couples around the world.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler

Song year: 1983

This is the most well-known hit of Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler and one of the most popular power ballads of all time. Writer and producer Jim Steinman has stated that the lyrics were inspired by the horror film Nosferatu and intended as a vampire love song, with its haunting atmosphere and longing lyrics.

Some verses had already appeared in previous work of Steinman's, and the song later featured in the 1997 musical Dance with the Vampires.

“I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

Song year: 1987

This Scottish hit was released in 1987 but did not become the hit it continues to be until it was featured in the 1993 movie Benny & Joon, which starred the duo of Mary Stuart Masterson and Johnny Depp. Ever since then, it has been part of pop culture and has frequently been used on TV shows and musicals.

The lyrics continue to reach the hearts of lovers everywhere with their message of resilience and selflessness.

“The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News

Song year: 1985

This hit was written for the soundtrack of the hugely popular film Back to the Future, and it resulted in the band's biggest success. Its catchy tune and lyrics have ensured its power has remained the same throughout the decades since.

Songwriter and singer Huey Lewis was approached by the movie's producers and director Steven Spielberg to write the song and despite his initial reservations regarding the scope of the track. He has since described it as the best song his band has ever done.

“Take My Breath Away” by Berlin

Song year: 1986

This song was also written for the soundtrack of another '80s blockbuster, the Tom Cruise-led Top Gun. The track was specifically intended to accompany the movie's romantic scenes and the love story plot, which inspired the lyrics penned by Tom Whitlock.

The music was composed by Giorgio Moroder, and the track went down so well with the producers and director Tony Scott that additional scenes were shot between the leads to go with the romance of the song.

“Hello” by Lionel Richie

Song year: 1983

This song has one of the most well-known choruses in the world, and it continues to be frequently used in media. Singer Lionel Richie stated that he didn't create the song with much planning, as he was playing notes on the piano at random on the day when fellow musician James Anthony Carmichael visited him and asked him to finish the song.

Richie initially considered the lyrics to be corny, but its extended success as one of the most famous love songs in the world has proven its worth.

“True” by Spandau Ballet

Song year: 1983

Spandau Ballet's hit song “True” was written by band member Gary Kemp. It was initially meant to be a tribute to singer Marvin Gaye but was also heavily influenced by Kemp's unrequited and platonic love for Clare Grogan, singer of band Altered Images. Kemp has since mentioned that it's also meant to illustrate the hardship of writing a love song.

“Alone” by Heart

Song year: 1987

This cover by American band Heart is one of the best-known versions of this song, originally written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. The band's version is a power ballad that makes strong use of synthesizer sounds. Tom Kelly provided harmonies on this production of the song he wrote. It continues to be one of the most popular anthems for one-sided love.

“(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight” by The Cutting Crew

Song year: 1986

This is British band The Cutting Crew's biggest hit and was written by their leader, Nick van Eede. This track references the more carnal aspects of love inspired by a night with van Eede's ex-girlfriend. This power ballad has also withstood the passage of time in its original version and numerous covers.

“Is This Love” by Whitesnake

Song year: 1987

The lead singer of Whitesnake, David Coverdale, wrote this power ballad with guitarist John Sykes. The song didn't fit the band's usual sound and was initially intended to become part of Tina Turner's repertoire, but remained part of the band's set once their producer heard it. The song casts light on the band's more emotional side and focuses on the giddy anticipation of waiting around for a lover's call.

“Listen to Your Heart” by Roxette

Song year: 1988

This song became famous when it was included as part of the soundtrack of Pretty Woman, playing during one of the movie's pivotal scenes. The track is an alternative rock ballad written by Per Gessle and Mats Persson. It was influenced by one of Gessle's friends and the transitional period between letting go of an old relationship and beginning a new one.

“Careless Whisper” by George Michael and Wham!

Song year: 1984

George Michael wrote this song alongside Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley, and it marked the beginning of a successful solo career for Michael. The iconic saxophone riff and the continued relevance of the lyrics have ensured the success of this pop ballad. The inspiration behind it is the complexity and messiness of young love.

“If You Don't Know Me by Now” by Simply Red

Song year: 1989

This song was originally written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, but this cover by English band Simply Red is one of the best known. The cover shot all the way up to number one in the 1989 Billboard Hot 100 and also dominated several other charts. It appeared in several movies and other media.

The lyrics are inspired by long-term relationships and the doubts that can creep into them as time takes its toll.

“I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder

Song year: 1984

This is singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder's best-selling song. It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song after appearing in the movie The Woman in Red. Wonder mentioned that the lyrics were inspired by the universal feeling of being in love and always wanting to hear the voice of a loved one, rather than one case in particular.

“(I've Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

Song year: 1987

The movie Dirty Dancing became an instant pop-culture classic when it came out in 1987, and this song was featured as its theme. It received numerous awards, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, and continues to be a boisterous and joyful love anthem.

“I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner

Song year: 1984

This song was written by the band's guitarist, Mick Jones, at around 3am one night in 1984. He has since stated that while it was initially inspired by his divorce and his new relationship at the time with the woman who would become his next wife, it ended up becoming a more spiritual experience that spoke to a universal feeling.

“Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister

Song year: 1985

This song was inspired by the doomed love depicted in Khalil Gibran's novel of the same name. The heartbreak of moving on from a relationship forced to end by social norms continues to be a universal feeling that has converted the track into an anthem that has surpassed its time.

“Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen

Hungry Eyes is a top 80s love song

Song year: 1987

This is another song written for the highly successful Dirty Dancing movie and part of the soundtrack for the pivotal romantic interludes between the two leads. The lyrics tell the universal story of falling in love and the giddy beginnings of new relationships.

“With or Without You” by U2

Song year: 1987

Despite being initially inspired by the struggle of living in the public eye, this song has since become synonymous with the conflict at play in dying relationships that seem inescapable. A darker take on love filled with universally known feelings.

“Eternal Flame” by The Bangles

Song year: 1988

Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles co-wrote this song along with Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. As the title suggests, the lyrics were inspired by the concept of eternal flames that burn forever and how that translates when it comes to loves that can withstand any obstacle.

“Take on Me” by A-ha

Song year: 1985

This song went through several different versions before becoming the hit single it continues to be today. This track became immensely popular, particularly due to the love story portrayed in the music video, and the lyrics reinforce the message of a love that can conquer all.

“Against All Odds” by Phil Collins

Song year: 1984

This Phil Collins song tells the story of the heartbreak following a break-up and about desperately fighting for a second chance to fix the relationship. The song was featured in the movie of the same name and became a long-lasting hit.

“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper

Song year: 1983

This song is one of the most powerful love songs of the '80s, with its take on facing difficulties in relationships and fighting for love. It was co-written by Lauper and Rob Hyman, inspired by the difficult current relationship of the former and a failed relationship of the latter.

“Love Bites” by Def Leppard

Song year: 1987

This rock power ballad is a raw take on the obsessive and all-encompassing nature of love while also providing a play on language. The song is full of yearning, from the lyrics to the music, and it continues to be a point of reference on love song playlists.

“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police

Song year: 1981

This song spent several years in the works until it became the hit it is known as today. Band member Sting started writing it in the '70s, and several arrangements followed. The song's mix of soft and boisterous sounds, along with the catchy, almost hypnotic succession of verses, have made the song a long-lasting favorite.

“Ain't Nobody” by Chaka Khan and Rufus

Song year: 1983

This song is about being with the perfect partner, and it has been covered numerous times since it was released, but the original remains as popular as it did when it came out. At the time, it shot straight to the top of the R&B charts.

“What's Love Got to Do with It” by Tina Turner

Song year: 1984

This song became Turner's first and only number-one single on the Billboard Top 100, which set the tone for her powerful comeback following her divorce. It focuses on notes of disillusionment with love and only focuses on the physical aspects of love affairs as a form of self-preservation. This strong tune continues to make a difference.

“Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order

Song year: 1986

This song is a favorite of music critics worldwide and depicts a consuming and riveting ode to a unique love affair. A must-have addition for those looking for a different sound.

“Your Love Is King” by Sade

Song year: 1984

This is a sultry and sensual love song steeped in romance and tenderness. The smooth jazz quality of the track made it an instant classic when it came out and continues to set the mood for lovers everywhere.

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure

Song year: 1987

This perennial favorite is about the magic of love, seduction, and losing oneself to the art of kissing a partner on an idyllic day out at the beach. A sweet and light track to keep you company.

“Sweet Child O' Mine” by Guns N' Roses

Song year: 1987

This popular love song with an instantly recognizable guitar riff was written by Axl Rose, who was inspired by his love for his girlfriend at the time. This is the band's biggest hit, and its idealization of love and beautiful childhood memories remain favorites among listeners.

“Crazy for You” by Madonna

Song year: 1985

This ballad was written for the movie Vision Quest and then given to Madonna, a relative unknown in those days. The song was intended to fit a specific scene where the leads are having an intimate moment while dancing in a nightclub. It conveys that atmosphere of closeness.

“The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Song year: 1984

This song is about passion and spirituality, about a love that is both salvation and protection. Its powerful lyrics continue to affect listeners, no matter what the context, whether sensual or religious.

“In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel

Song year: 1986

This song became even more of a hit when it was included on the soundtrack of the classic romance movie Say Anything. Peter Gabriel wrote it both about spiritual love and the love possible between people, the kind that takes over everything else.

“Lovesong” by The Cure

Song year: 1989

This was written as a wedding present from lead singer Robert Smith to his fiancée Mary Poole. It's a song about devotion, about the enduring bond of love even if two partners are separated by time and circumstances.

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship

Song year: 1987

This feel-good anthem about all-conquering love was featured on the soundtrack of the romantic comedy Mannequin. Still, it was originally written to celebrate co-writer David Warren’s impending nuptials after seven years of divorce proceedings from his previous wife.

“The Lady in Red” by Chris de Burgh

Song year: 1986

De Burgh wrote this love song for his wife, Diane, inspired by the first time he ever saw her and what she was wearing that day. It quickly turned into the song that defines de Burgh’s career, as well as one of the most well-known love songs of all time.

“Saving All My Love for You” by Whitney Houston

Song year: 1985

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr originally wrote this song about the bittersweetness of adulterous love. Still, it reached new heights of fame when it was included on Whitney Houston’s debut album. The woman's perspective waiting for her married lover was a controversial one, but it allowed for a layered view that is not often included.

“Faithfully” by Journey

Song year: 1983

This rock power ballad is about staying loyal despite the difficulties of a long-term relationship when one of the parties is also always traveling. It also has spiritual layers that represent an unbreakable love, and it is a frequent presence at weddings despite the breakdown of songwriter and keyboard player Jonathan Cain’s marriage.

Top 80s Love Songs Ever – Final Thoughts

The ‘80s produced some of the most well-known love songs of all times, from the heartbreaking to the idealized. There are plenty of choices to browse through and add to your playlists, depending on your mood.

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