There seemed to be a lot of loving going on in the 80s, so it wasn’t too hard to come up with a list containing some of the best 80s love songs from the period. It was also the decade of diverse music, so I’ve tried to draw from a few different genres to reflect this diversity.
I hope you enjoy this delve into the past. So, let’s get straight to it and take a look at my first 80s love song…
Top 130 Best 80s Love Songs
Endless Love by Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey
I love both of these singers on their own, but when they come together, they’re dynamite. I believe that their version of “Endless Love” is easily the best. However, before we take a look at it in more detail, let’s first pay respect to the original song.
Yes, this is a cover song…
Lionel Ritchie wrote, recorded, and released the original song in 1981. He performed it as a duet with the equally talented Diana Ross. Not surprisingly, it was immediately a big hit and went to #1 in the US as well, going double platinum.
Additionally, it featured as a track on the movie soundtrack for “Endless Love,” which came out in the same year.
The cross-promotion of the movie and soundtrack all helped to propel the song to widespread commercial success. On the way, it also won a bunch of awards and was even nominated for, though didn’t win, an Academy Award.
Now let’s get back to the 1994 cover release from Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey…
Their beautiful interpretation was thankfully very similar, in terms of its arrangement, to the original. That being said, what makes this version so special is the wonderful combination of their voices.
Luther Vandross had a smooth and rich voice that contrasted perfectly with the sweet, crystal-clear vocals of the supremely gifted Mariah Carey.
This mix, in my opinion, told a more convincing story of two people in love when compared to Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross. Frankly, I think a big part of the “problem” was that Diana Ross’s voice was simply too powerful.
I still honestly like both versions…
Although, it’s clear which one I prefer. However, when it comes to the record-buying general public, I’m in the minority. This is because, although the cover sold well, it was the original that sold in more numbers and received more airplay.
This could have all been down to the extra promotion from the soundtrack and movie. Regardless, they’re both wonderful songs. And full credit goes to Lionel Ritchie for writing one of the most memorable 80s love songs.
Hello by Lionel Ritchie
There’s no doubt that Lionel Ritchie was a master when it came to writing love songs. Only a couple of years after writing the incredible “Endless Love,” he comes up with “Hello.” Here’s a guy with a lot of love to give.
“Hello” took a long time for Lionel Ritchie to eventually finish writing. It had been an idea running through his head for several years. He came up with the initial idea when he was still relatively young.
As a young man, he was very shy…
When he walked through the streets, he said that he would often pass by lots of very pretty girls but would be too shy to approach or talk to them. As this happened repeatedly, he kept getting the opening line of the song running through his head, namely, “Hello, is it me you looking for?”
He did nothing with the song until one day, he was idly playing the piano to accompany the line while his record producer was visiting his house. His guest loved it and encourages him to keep working on it and finish it.
And finish it he did…
“Hello” was released in 1984 from the album, Can’t Slow Down. Both were commercially successful and went to #1 in several countries.
However, the album went huge, selling a staggering 20 million copies globally. Hardly surprising since it also contained the hits “Penny Lover,” “Stuck On You,” and “All Night Long.”
The video was also an important component of the song, as it’s since reached iconic status. It features a blind girl who makes a clay head for her teacher, who is secretly in love with her. The piece of pottery ends up being a perfect likeness despite her blindness.
It’s a beautiful and emotional video to go with a beautiful and emotional 80s love song.
Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye was a Soul singing legend. There were so many great Soul singers in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but Marvin Gaye was right at the top of the pile. Additionally, when it comes to love songs, there are very few to match or beat him.
He almost made a career out of singing romantic ballads, and there’s little doubt that some of the best 80s love songs had his name on them. I could have filled this entire list with Marvin Gaye songs, but I’ve managed to restrain myself and just include this absolute belter.
“Sexual Healing” came out in 1982 and was taken from Midnight Love, which was released in the same year. Tragically, the album was the last to be released before he died in 1985. In appalling circumstances, the life of this giant of talent was cut short at the hands of his father in a shooting.
Marvin Gaye specialized in slow Soul songs…
There are plenty to choose from, but I chose this one because, artistically, I believe it’s his best. Plus, it’s also one of, if not the most popular amongst his fans.
“Sexual Healing” had a very recognizable 80s vibe that many of us still love to this day. It had a funky Soul beat that relied heavily on the use of synthesizers. Complimenting the music was the rich baritone of Luther Vandross. It was a great mix that could instantly transport you to another world and feeling.
Just a reminder…
If you want to get your partner in the mood for some adult fun, you could do a lot worse than put this at the top of your playlist. The extremely direct and sexual content of the lyrics will leave no doubt as to what you have in mind. Good luck!
Careless Whisper by George Michael
I loved George Michael, but in the 80s, I sometimes found myself hating him. Why? Because he was so handsome and so talented that he set crazy standards that we mere mortals didn’t stand a chance of getting close to.
Now, if he had come out as gay a lot sooner, we could have explained away, wrongly, of course, his total brilliance as just being down to a gay thing. Luckily, there were still enough drunk girls in the 80s, with low standards, for us to get by.
Back to George Michael…
This was one remarkable guy. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that he had one of the best male voices of all time. He had amazing power, expression, and an impressive range on top. He could sing anything and sound awesome.
“Careless Whisper” demonstrated all of these qualities perfectly. The song came out in 1984 and was co-written with Andrew Ridgley. It appeared on the last track of the album, Make It Big, which was released in the same year.
The album was a huge commercial success reaching #1 in several countries around the world. Additionally, it sold ten million copies in the process.
So, what’s the song all about?
Essentially, it’s about cheating and the associated worry that comes with it. The words in the title are a reference to potential idle gossip that can destroy the deception.
This was autobiographical and goes back to George Michael’s early dating experiences as a teenager. At this time, he was apparently into girls as well as cheating. George Michael sadly died in 2016. Thankfully, he left us with one of the greatest love songs from the 80s.
Love X Love by George Benson
I love George Benson, and I don’t mind telling anyone that cares to listen. Like Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross, he has a beautiful, rich voice, but additionally, he is also a highly capable guitarist and songwriter. His guitar playing, in particular, makes him stand out from many of his peers.
I’d describe his style as a blend of Smooth Jazz, R&B, and Soul. More than any of his other songs, I think “Love X Love” showcases this musical mix. It also happens to be one of his best 80s love songs too.
It was released in 1980 and was taken from the album, Give Me The Night. A fantastic album that also happens to contain another of my favorites, namely the same-titled song, “Give Me The Night.”
“Love X Love” wasn’t a huge success, although it still chartered in the Top 10 in the US as well as the UK. However, “Give Me The Night” was another story that went platinum in the US and also reached the top spot on the US charts.
All in all, “Love X Love” is a touching love song that shows the love between two long-term partners. It’s lyrically a strong endorsement for committed relationships. Musically, it’s well constructed and brilliantly arranged and produced by Quincy Jones.
This is one of the best love songs of the 1980s you’re ever likely to hear.
You Might Need Somebody by Randy Crawford
This lady has a beautiful, clear, and sexy voice. She sang some amazing love songs, but “You Might Need Somebody” was right up there as one of the best. It was released as a cover in 1981 from the album Secret Combination, which was released in the same year.
The original song was recorded in 1980 by Turley Richards, but it received little attention. In contrast, Randy Crawford’s cover got to #11 in the UK. The album got to #2 in the UK and #12 in the US.
This is a great R&B song that is superbly produced…
It feels sophisticated and refined, which, when added to Randy Crawford’s stunning vocals, makes for a perfect combination. Additionally, there are some lovely romantic and heartfelt lyrics throughout the song that leave you with a warm feeling after every listen.
I was lucky enough to see her live in 1982, and I can attest to the fact that she was just as good live. If you don’t believe me take a listen to her Live album, which she recorded with Joe Sample and released in 2012. Despite her being 60 at the time, her voice sounded flawless. A great talent.
I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner
This power ballad is Foreigner’s best-selling single and is very much their signature song. Although they have had a series of hits over the years, this is still the one you’re most likely to hear on the radio even to this day. That’s because it’s one of the best 80s love songs ever.
It was written by Mick Jones, the lead guitarist, although lead singer, Lou Gramm, had some input. There was some dispute about the contribution of Lou Gramm, who eventually decided to sign away his rights more in disgust at the derisory offer of just a 5% share.
It was released in 1984 from the album Agent Provocateur. The single went to #1 in the US and several other countries around the world. It went platinum in the US and the UK. The album only made it to #3 in the US but still managed to sell over three million copies.
The song has an almost dream-like quality…
One which is beautifully enhanced by the excellent guitar work of Lou Gramm. The inclusion of the New Jersey Mass Choir was also a wonderful touch that added a whole new dimension to an already great song.
“I Want To Know What Love Is” was written after a series of failed relationships that left him questioning the very concept of love. I have to say that to lay yourself so publicly open is no easy thing. Therefore, I give full credit to Mick Jones for doing just that.
The song does have a happy ending for Mick Jones, though…
When he wrote the song, he was in a relationship with Ann Dexter, who would become his future wife. They had a family together, and though they divorced in 2007, they married again ten years later. I don’t get the remarrying thing, but I think we can still assume the happy ending bit.
You can hear versions of this popular 1980s love song every day of the week being slaughtered in a karaoke bar near you.
I Just Called To Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder had had a lot of hits in his lifetime, but this was his biggest. It was released in 1984 and went to #1 in 19 countries. It also went Gold and Platinum in most of these countries. In other words, one of the most successful love songs from the 80s.
The single was released from the album, The Woman in Red. This was a soundtrack album featuring Dionne Warwick from the movie of the same name. The soundtrack went to #4 in the US and #2 in the UK.
“The Woman in Red” was one of those instantly forgettable romantic comedies. It starred Gene Wilder and loads of other highly forgettable stars. The link is there if you want to give it a shot, but I’d honestly not bother.
Back to the song…
“I Just Called To Say I Love You” is essentially about calling your significant other for no other reason than to tell them that you love them. It then goes on to list all the possible days and occasions when you might want to do this.
These include birthdays and major holidays like Christmas and New Year. However, it reasons that phoning up on a random unimportant day shows a much deeper sense of love. True or not, this is potential advice for all your relationships, guys and girls.
All in all, it has a great melody and chorus. It’s uncomplicated, with simple lyrics to match. There are no hidden meanings or metaphors anywhere to be found. It still all sounds well cheesy to me.
Is This Love by Whitesnake
Whitesnake was formed in 1978 and is often referred to as a Hair Metal Band, although Glam Metal might be a more fitting definition, even though they actually started out as a blues-rock band. They had a series of big hits, including “Here I Go Again” and “Still of the Night.” But, for my money, I think “Is This Love” was the cream of the crop.
It was released in 1987 at the peak of their career and with their hair looking very big and at its very best. “Is This Love” was the second song to be released from the album Whitesnake.
The single and album got to #2 on the US Billboard charts. The album sold particularly well, as it notched up over eight million sales in the US alone.
That’s a lot…
The song was written by the only ever-present member of the band, David Coverdale, along with the then-guitarist John Sykes. The song was originally penned for Tina Turner, whom I can see singing it, but they decided to keep it for themselves.
Probably a good idea since they also did a great job with this catchy power/love ballad. The video that accompanies the song features David Coverdale with his then ridiculously beautiful girlfriend, actress, and model, Tawny Kitaen.
Just to save any confusion, she was the one with the dark hair, and David Coverdale was the one with the big blonde hair. The 80s were confusing times. I love this song, and as I recall, it was a huge hit with hairdressers all over the world.
How Am I Supposed To Live Without You by Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton is a three times Olympic medalist for male vocal belting. This wonderful love ballad was released in 1989 but won him his second gold medal three years later in the Barcelona Olympics.
Whitney Houston won the female vocal belting gold medal in the same year, and then in every subsequent Olympics until her death.
These are jokes, people, feel free to laugh…
“How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” was #1 in the US, and the album it was taken from, Soul Provider, made it to #3. It also sold over six million copies in the US and featured his other major hit, “How Can We Be Lovers?”.
“How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” was co-written by Michael Bolton and Doug James in 1982. What most people probably don’t know is that it was initially recorded by Laura Branigan in 1993.
Frankly, this wasn’t a great version, as she managed to warble her way through most of it. Overall, it was a pretty poor performance for a strong song with a powerful message.
There’s no getting away from it…
The lyrics are also as cheesy as hell. Laura Brannigan just couldn’t get away with it, but Michael Bolton could. His voice is so powerful, and he sings it with such conviction that we completely buy into it. That is some magic and something that we should all thoroughly respect.
Eternal Flame by The Bangles
The Bangles were formed in 1981 in Los Angeles. What I like about The Bangles is that they are one of the very few all-girl Pop/Rock bands that play all their instruments. Plus, they predominantly write their own songs.
That last point should kind of be clarified…
Their first four hit singles were written by other artists, which included the immensely talented Prince and Paul Simon. However, The Bangles did go on to produce a series of other Top 10 hits, so the original statement stands.
“Eternal Flame” was released in 1989 from the album, Everything. The single became a hit and topped the charts in nine countries worldwide. It subsequently became a fan favorite and received extensive airplay in the US and the UK.
The song was different from a lot of The Bangles songs that went before and came after. Most of their songs were Soft Rock, but “Eternal Flame” was more of a gentle ballad. Additionally, unlike most songs of just about any genre, it doesn’t contain a chorus.
It’s a highly emotional love song…
One with the singer laying her feelings bare for all to see. She is besotted with a love interest and is hoping and internally pleading it this will be reciprocated. She is also trying to get an actual answer from her lover as to his feelings for her.
It all sounds a bit needy, quite frankly. Atomic Kitten did a cover version in 2001, but don’t listen to it because it’s crap.
When Doves Cry by Prince
Prince’s contribution to music was immense. There are honestly very few songs he wrote that I dislike. However, “When Dove’s Cry” is, I think, his best song. Now, before you start throwing things at the screen, shouting, “Purple Rain,” let me explain.
“When Doves Cry” was recorded in just 16 hours, and other than the handwritten lyrics, Prince first went into the studio with just an idea in his head. Such was the brilliance of the man he put together the whole track himself with only a single recording engineer present.
The finished recording was incredibly rich and multilayered. It felt big and like nothing else coming out of the 80s at the time. Musically, it was a masterpiece. But, lyrically, it was on another level.
Allow me to explain…
Unlike a lot of the love songs released in the 80s, this was complex. There were numerous metaphors, lots of symbolism, and complex and clever writing that hinted at a series of possible meanings.
So, what is it most likely about?
It is most probably about the fallout of people who fall out of love. In some respects, it might be seen as a sad song, but it goes much, much deeper than that. It also contains a message of hope for renewal and the beginning of a new life after the death of an old one.
An incredible song. Tragically, in 2016 Prince lost his life at 57 years old due to an accidental Fentanyl overdose.
Still Loving You by The Scorpions
The Scorpions are one of my favorite Rock bands. What I can say, somewhat embarrassingly, is that they’re my favorite German Rock band, though Rammstein comes a close second.
So, why embarrassing?
Because until around ten years ago, I never knew they were German, and I’d always assumed they were. In fairness, that is a huge compliment to Klaus and his ability to sing in such a flawless accent. And, by the way, he’s also got one of the most amazing high-range voices in Rock.
“Still Loving You” was released in 1984 from the album Love at First Sting. The single enjoyed the most sales in Germany and Europe, although the album was more successful in America. It reached #6 on the Billboard charts and ended up as a triple-platinum album.
The song is a power ballad that reaches screeching highs thanks to the imperious vocal performance of Klaus. It’s played in a slow tempo, with some delicate sections, but still rocks out towards the end of the song, which also contains a classic Scorpions guitar solo.
The meaning of the song relates to a fading relationship…
The words are a little ambiguous, but most probably, there has been some infidelity, and the cheater is asking for forgiveness. He’s asking for a way to reconnect and try to put things back to how they were. He’s telling his partner that he’s made a mistake and that he still loves her.
Woman in Love by Barbara Streisand
This, like many of the best 80s love songs, was written by The Bee Gees, more specifically by Barry and Robin Gibb at the specific request of Barbara Streisand.
Additionally, she also asked if The Bee Gees would write an entire album for her. They duly agreed and wrote, Guilty, from which the single was taken. “Woman in Love” was released in 1980 and went to #1 pretty much everywhere.
It also received a huge level of critical acclaim…
And it won an Ivor Novello Award in the same year as its release. The album was equally as successful and sold over 12 million copies globally. Subsequently, it won a Grammy in 1991.
The song is about the emotions of a woman being hopelessly in love and trying to hold everything together. There’s no coming back from the position she’s in. That ship has sailed, and she’s in as deep as it’s possible to be.
Whether she’s separated by a physical distance, through circumstances, or is waiting for her lover to reciprocate her feelings is uncertain. However, the mixture of her joy and simultaneous suffering is very certain indeed.
Barbara Streisand gives an incredible and heartfelt performance that the song truly deserves. I’m not the biggest Barbara Streisand fan, but I can honestly say that there is no other person on earth that I’d rather hear sing it.
You Love is King by Sade
Sade Adu is the name of the lead singer of the English band Sade. They were formed in 1982 and specialized in Smooth Jazz, Soul, and R&B. It’s also fair to say that they released a good number of love songs too.
The most famous of these was “You Love is King,” which came out in 1984 as a single from the hugely successful album Diamond Life. Although the single only made it to #54 on the Billboard Hot 100 US charts, the album got to #5 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold ten million copies.
The album won much critical acclaim…
And it also became the best-selling debut album in the UK for a female vocalist. However, in some ways, this record, which stood for 24 years, is slightly contentious since the album was released as a band. That is despite Sade’s obvious upfront presence as the lead vocalist.
Sade became known for her super smooth and silky vocals…
“Your Love is King” demonstrated these perfectly. It also showcased the band’s restrained drumming, subtle guitar playing, and light production. Stuart Colin Matthewman was also a standout as the band’s saxophonist and guitarist.
“Your Love is King” shows a mutual love between two people that encompasses everything. There is no wavering in her devotion to him and him to her. It has all the hallmarks of a perfect relationship, and there is no downside hinted at.
The song also contains plenty of sexual innuendos, which might make you believe that this is the most successful relationship in the history of the world.
Beat It by Michael Jackson,
Take On Me by A-ha,
Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds,
Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper,
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson,
Material Girl by Madonna,
Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses,
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) by Whitney Houston,
With or Without You by U2,
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor,
Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler,
Like a Prayer by Madonna,
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2,
Faith by George Michael,
Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison,
The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News,
Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle,
Take My Breath Away by Berlin,
True Colors by Cyndi Lauper,
The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson,
Kiss by Prince,
I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany,
Need You Tonight by INXS,
Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley,
Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles,
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics,
Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears,
The Look of Love by ABC,
She Drives Me Crazy by Fine Young Cannibals,
Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order,
New Year’s Day by U2,
West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys,
What’s Love Got to Do with It by Tina Turner,
Everytime You Go Away by Paul Young,
The Flame by Cheap Trick,
More 80 Best 80s Love Songs
- I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner,
- Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) by Journey,
- Here I Go Again by Whitesnake,
- Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard,
- I’ll Be There for You by Bon Jovi,
- Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House,
- Kyrie by Mr. Mister,
- All Night Long (All Night) by Lionel Richie,
- Take It on the Run by REO Speedwagon,
- Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic by The Police,
- My Sharona by The Knack,
- Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield,
- You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi,
- Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes,
- Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer,
- Rock the Casbah by The Clash,
- Tainted Love by Soft Cell,
- Physical by Olivia Newton-John,
- Beat’s So Lonely by Charlie Sexton,
- We Built This City by Starship,
- Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel,
- The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats,
- I’m Still Standing by Elton John,
- Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners,
- You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive,
- Mickey by Toni Basil,
- Straight Up by Paula Abdul,
- Never Too Much by Luther Vandross,
- The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby and the Range,
- I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz,
- Jump (For My Love) by The Pointer Sisters,
- Ain’t Nobody by Chaka Khan,
- Papa Don’t Preach by Madonna,
- Cruel Summer by Bananarama,
- Like a Virgin by Madonna
- I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston
- We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel
- The Look by Roxette
- The Reflex by Duran Duran
- Something About You by Level 42
- Nasty by Janet Jackson
- Push It by Salt-N-Pepa
- She’s Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze
- Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes
- Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant
- Red Red Wine by UB40
- Walk of Life by Dire Straits
- True by Spandau Ballet
- I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters
- Don’t You Want Me by The Human League
- Take My Breath Away by Berlin
- Holding Back the Years by Simply Red
- Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship
- You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive
- Borderline by Madonna
- The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson
- Like a Virgin by Madonna
- Rock With You by Michael Jackson
- Maneater by Hall & Oates
- Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners
- Need You Tonight by INXS
- Karma Chameleon by Culture Club
- It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls
- 99 Red Balloons by Nena
- Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes
- Separate Ways by Journey
- Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.
- One Night In Bangkok by Murray Head
- The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats
- Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean
- Flashdance… What a Feeling by Irene Cara
- Always Something There to Remind Me by Naked Eyes
- Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
- Say It Isn’t So by Hall & Oates
- I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) by Hall & Oates
- Rosanna by Toto
- Maneater by Hall & Oates
- Love Shack by The B-52’s
- You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi
- Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
Looking for More Great Love Songs?
Well, take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About Falling In Love, the Best Country Love Songs, the Top Guitar Love Songs, the Best 90s Love Songs, the Best Love Songs For Him, and the Best Songs With “Love” In The Title for more incredible song selections.
Of course, you need to listen to them. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best True Wireless Earbuds, as well as the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds you can buy in 2023.
Best 80s Love Songs – Final Thoughts
So, there you have it. I’ve enjoyed looking back and rediscovering some of the best 1980s love songs, and I hope you have too.
It was a great time for love songs and music in general. It’s a fact that’s often overlooked, as many seem to be more focused on the music from the previous two decades.
This was only a short list, so apologies for any glaring omissions. Hopefully, there are still a few of your favorites included, and there were also enough to get you started in putting together a larger playlist.
Until next time, happy listening.