Much like a smell or a picture, a song can bring back so many memories.
Sometimes, it's just the first note that makes you reminisce about the past, especially when it's about relationships long lost or feeling unstoppable in your youth. And one of the best ways to relive the past is by listening to the best love songs from the '80s.
Whether or not you grew up in the '80s, some of the biggest songs of that decade include "Close to Me" by the Cure, "Modern Love" by David Bowie, "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston, and "Free Fallin''" by Tom Petty. These hits bring you back to a time when life wasn't so difficult.
The '80s were known for power ballads — emotional hard rock or heavy metal songs that have a slow tempo. They also feature dramatic vocals and multiple instruments that usually start soft, but then build up with heavy guitar and drums.
Notable hits include "Alone" by Heart, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison, and "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. And while we can't forget about Whitney Houston's cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," the number one love song of all time is widely considered to be "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie. It stayed at number one for nine weeks in 1981.
Now, come take a ride down memory lane as we take on the greatest love songs of the 1980s.
The 100 Best 80s Love Songs Of All Time
Top 10 80s Love Songs
1. “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
Whether it’s about the love for a friend or a romantic partner, knowing they will always be there for you, time after time, is enough to keep your head above water.
2. “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
When you’ve faced so much heartache from past relationships, you sometimes find someone to show you what true love is.
3. “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin
Though this song was written for "Top Gun," if you’ve ever been so swept away by the love you have for your partner, it literally leaves you breathless.
4. "Hello" by Lionel Richie
Dreaming of the object of your affection? Put this Lionel Richie tune in hopes that maybe, someday, they will dream of you, too.
5. "Endless Love" by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross
Ah, first love. Sometimes, it does last forever. And when you have found your soulmate, there is nowhere else you want to be than with them, for the rest of your lives.
6. "Last Christmas" by Wham!
While it may be a holiday tune, this song is great year round. And it’s a good reminder that even if you’ve had your heart crushed, there is someone out there who will love you.
7. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder
Remember to tell the person you love how you feel. Because those words have more power than you think.
8. “Saving All My Love for You” by Whitney Houston
Even when your friends know that the one you want doesn’t feel the same way, you hold onto hope. You know better, but love doesn’t work that way.
9. “Heaven” by Bryan Adams
Cascada famously did a cover of this song in the 2000s. But its message still rings true: being with your love feels a lot like heaven.
10. “Is This Love” by Whitesnake
How do you know if you’re in love? Many wonder if that’s the emotion they are feeling, and there is just no way to shake it off.
Popular 80s Love Songs
11. "What’s Love Got to Do With It" by Tina Turner
When it’s more of a physical attraction than an emotional one, you might want to leave love out of it altogether.
12. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
Falling into a love that’s so tragically beautiful can turn your life upside down, especially when what once had potential is now the cause of heartbreak.
13. “Love Shack” by The B-52’s
It might not be the most glamorous place to be together, but all you need is each other, right?
14. “Need You Tonight” by INXS
If you’re really into someone, you might convince yourself that you just need a minute alone to get their attention. In the end, you are too afraid to do so.
15. “The Power of Love” by Jennifer Rush
Love is the most powerful, deepest feeling you can have for someone. And it can change your life. That’s how influential it is.
Cheesy 80s Love Songs
16. "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon
Have romantic feelings for a friend? Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you can no longer hide how you feel!
17. “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” by Michael Bolton
This song is totally cheesy, but definitely strikes a chord. Because when the one you love leaves, it feels like life will never go on.
18. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship
Being with your soulmate means going through life without ever worrying about losing each other. Nothing will stop you.
19. "Glory Of Love" by Peter Cetera
A song about fairytale love, sing this to your partner as a reminder that you will always be there for them.
20. “You're the Best Thing” by The Style Council
The title says it all: your “person” is the best thing you have in your life. So, don’t let them go.
21. “Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You” by George Benson
When your love is this deep, not a thing in the world can change it. As the lyrics say, “The world may change my whole life through, but nothing's gonna change my love for you.”
22. “Heaven” by Warrant
When your friends and family doubt your love, you’re set on proving them wrong. And you’ll do it by just being together.
Famous 80s Love Songs
23. “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
When you've finally had enough of the games someone is playing with your heart.
24. “Don't You Want Me” by The Human League
It’s not technically a song about being in love, it’s more so about lost love. Because sometimes, once you find yourself, you outgrow one another.
25. “Careless Whisper” by George Michael
When the one you love breaks your heart, it feels like you’ll never experience that same love with anyone else.
26. “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive
Pursuing a friend or even acquaintance can drive you crazy, especially when you just want them to want you!
27. “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
We’ve all been Rickrolled, but this song speaks to loving someone so much that you would never do anything to hurt them.
28. “Love Is A Battlefield” by Pat Benatar
The song title is a metaphor, describing how much love can hurt, but at the same time, bring happiness.
29. "Romeo and Juliet" by Dire Straits
You’re so deep in love with someone, but the rest of the world seems set against. There's a reason this totally romantic love song has been featured in multiple films. It just doesn't get deeper than this take on the star-crossed lovers, in which Juliet dumps Romeo in favor of fame and fortune. At least, not in the '80s.
30. “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker
There’s no sweeter feeling than being in love, and this song fully encapsulates how amazing it is to feel this way.
Early 80s Love Songs
31. "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker feat. Jennifer Warnes
Love can be difficult sometimes, but it’s all worth it when it’s for the one you really love.
32. "The Heart Of Rock and Roll" by Huey Lewis and the News
A reminder that no matter how much rock and roll music evolves over the years, you'll still be able to hear its roots in the rhythms.
33. “Fall in Love With Me” by Earth, Wind & Fire
You may love someone and they just don’t know it yet. Could they fall in love with you?
34. “You Weren’t In Love With Me” by Billy Field
Another heartbreaking song about unrequited love, this 80s hit is all about what happens when a relationship you thought would last forever, ends.
35. “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago
Couples fight, but when arguments get hot and heavy, it’s hard to apologize. The only way to move forward is to say sorry, because your love is more important than butting heads.
36. “Waiting For A Girl Like You” by Foreigner
Some people wait their entire lives to find a person they can spend the rest of their life with. Are you going to tell this person how you feel?
37. “Heartbreaker” by Dionne Warwick
Okay, it’s not a happy song about love; instead, it’s a song about the one you love breaking your heart. Just remember that you can pull yourself back up and recover.
38. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
This song is famous for being about a stalker, and Sting himself commented on it being used as a wedding song! Still, if you remove the sinister meaning, it can double as a song about being by your partner’s side.
Late 80s Love Songs
39. "When I See You Smile" by Bad English
What would you do without your partner supporting you? Sometimes, all you need is the touch of their hand to reassure you.
40. “A Groovy Kind of Love” by Phil Collins
A groovy kind of love is what we all aspire to find in this life. Just like this love song describes, nothing in the world matters when you’re together.
41. "With Or Without You" by U2
All about having a strained relationship, this song speaks to the conflicting emotions that come as a result. Can you live without your partner, but also not want to have problems anymore?
42. "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dayne
If your partner left you and you still hold out hope that they will come back, this is the perfect song for you. Maybe one day you can be together again.
43. “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx
Missing your partner when they aren’t near you can tear you apart. But true love prevails, and you’ll be there when they return.
44. “All I Want Is You” by U2
All the promises you make to each other just don’t compare to the feeling of wanting to be with one another, physically in their presence.
45. “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley feat. Jennifer Warnes
Famously played in the final scene of "Dirty Dancing," this song joyfully expresses how fulfilling life is with the one you love.
46. “The Flame” by Cheap Trick
A song about first love, you may believe you’ll never love another the same way as this person. And sometimes, it’s unfortunately true.
47. “I Want to Wake Up with You” by Boris Gardiner
Just as the song title suggests, there’s nothing in the world you want more than to wake up next to your one and only.
48. “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’Arby
Starting out as friends can eventually turn romantic. And all you have to do is take that next step.
Sad 80s Love Songs
49. "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply
When a relationship ends, it hurts both partners. How do you fix a relationship when you feel this way?
50. “When Doves Cry” by Prince
The late, great Prince paints a picture of arguing lovers throwing hurtful words, and why it feels like doves, a symbol of peace, can feel so tragic in this moment.
51. "Look Away" by Chicago
After a breakup, you may have your heart set on getting back together. But what happens when your ex finds a new lover?
52. “Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)” by Cinderella
You made mistakes you can’t take back, and now you have to deal with the consequences. It’s true that you really don’t know what you have until it’s no longer there.
53. “Pictures of You” by The Cure
A song about missed chances, high expectations and regret, all that is left are pictures of what once was.
54. “Still Loving You” by Scorpions
Forgiveness is hard to come by, and expecting it from another person can seem impossible. Still, as the lyrics suggest, you’ll do anything you can to fight for their love again.
55. “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper
Used as an anthem in the LGBT+ community, this song is more about seeing a person’s true character, and loving them regardless of their supposed flaws.
56. “Missing You” by John Waite
Whenever you think of the one who left, it leaves you breathless. And there’s nothing you can do but think about them.
57. “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths
When you find the love you’ve been searching for, you’ll do anything to keep that good feeling going. Especially when life has been full of despair up until that moment.
58. “True” by Spandau Ballet
A song about writing a song, “True” is about the thought of the one you want listening to it, but struggling to find the words. That much you know is true.
Power Ballads From the 80s
59. “Crazy for You” by Madonna
Being so incredibly in love with someone, especially when it’s new love, is incomparable to anything else. All you need is their touch to remind you.
60. “Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon
Years into a relationship or marriage, you’ll still keep your promise to love your spouse forever, even when their actions don’t always show it.
61. “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles
With a new love replacing a lonely life, does the one you want feel the same way you do?
62. “Every Rose Has Its Thorns” by Poison
While your love may be beautiful at times, at others there are “thorns” that cause conflict. Because every relationship has its ups and downs.
63. “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins
The devastation felt after a breakup is obvious, but there’s a feeling of helplessness as well. All you can do is think about being with your ex... against all odds.
64. “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA
It’s technically a song about a breakup, but reminds us how much love can change our lives, good or bad. You can still move on from a relationship while healing from the hurt it caused.
65. “Faithfully” by Journey
Even when two lovers are miles apart, loyalty is never a cause for concern. Not when your relationship is rock solid like this.
66. “Amanda” by Boston
Your partner’s name might not be Amanda, but you still want to express your love to her. The words are hard to find, especially when you aren’t sure if they love you back.
R&B 80s Love Songs
67. “Secret Lovers” by Atlantic Starr
While this is a song about cheating, sometimes you can’t help who you love. In the meantime, that love has to be a secret.
68. “So Amazing” by Luther Vandross
What does love feel like? It feels amazing, of course. It’s the highest of highs in this tune.
69. “Is It A Crime?” by Sade
When the one you love has cheated or lied, it’s hard to let go. That’s why Sade asks if it’s a crime to still want to be together, despite the wrongdoings.
70. “If Only for One Night” by Luther Vandross
If a love is forbidden, you may still wish to be with one another, even if it’s just for one night.
71. “Love Come Down” by Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King
The lyrics describe being under someone’s spell, unable to break free or control how they feel. And that’s all you really need to know about love.
72. “Never Knew Love Like This Before” by Stephanie Mills
Past relationships may have made you feel inadequate, but that’s nothing to worry about now that you’ve found someone who treats you the way you deserve!
73. “I Feel for You” by Chaka Khan
There’s that overwhelming feeling that you feel for another person, where you just want to hold them, while at the same time wanting that physical intimacy.
74. “Let's Wait Awhile” by Janet Jackson
Starting a relationship over means taking things slow, as Jackson suggests in this song. Because anything worth having comes with difficulty.
75. “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going” by Jennifer Holliday
A powerful song from "Dreamgirls," lead character, Effie, sings to her manager, Curtis, that she won’t let him leave her behind, telling him she isn’t going anywhere and he will love her in the end.
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Classic Rock 80s Love Songs
76. “Forever” by KISS
You may have had bad relationships in the past, but eventually you find someone you can never live without. And that feeling will last forever.
77. “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
The person you wanted left, but you still can’t help but love them. And because you can’t let go, you kick yourself for not having a level head.
78. “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure
What starts as a dreamy song about spending the day together on the seashore turns into a song about heartbreak by the end. This song is a reminder to tell your partner just how much you truly love them, every single day.
79. “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC
This sexy song is about having that steamy, passionate connection in the bedroom. And that connection can be earth-shattering!
Other 80s Love Songs
80. “Alone” by Heart
A song about longing, it describes wanting to be with someone so badly that it’s bone-chilling.
81. "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye
As a ladies' man, Gaye wrote this song in 1981 as he was relaxing and recovering from his drug issues.
82. "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" by Celine Dion
This love song is about two hearts that are meant to be together. How do these hearts continue to beat without the other?
83. "Tonight I Celebrate My Love" by Roberta Flack
This romantic ballad celebrates true love shared between a couple.
84. "Every Time You Go Away" by Paul Young
This song is about a narrator who is romantically interested in someone. There are instances where the narrator implies she's with someone else, wants to be the only one for her, and doesn't want her to leave.
85. "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler
Midler recorded her version of this song in 1988 for the movie "Beaches." This song brings to light the love we have for those who guide us in life.
86. "Woman in Love" by Barbra Streisand
In this song, a woman is coming to terms that she's in love, as she gets ready to embrace her romance.
87. "Lost in Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson
Gibson's piano ballad is about discovering love and looking forward to seeing what happens with that special person.
88. "Never Thought (That I Could Love)" by Dan Hill
When you're madly in love, like the narrator of this song is, things can be complicated by an age gap.
89. "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel
Inspired by African traditions, "In Your Eyes" has a double meaning, referring to a romantic relationship or a divine relationship a person has with God.
90. "Your Love Is King" by Sade
Sade confesses in her song that she loves her partner so much, while also inadvertently praising his intimate abilities.
91. "Lovesong" by The Cure
Robert Smith wrote this song as a wedding present for his fiancée, Mary Poole, right before they got married. He had been in love with her since he was 14, when they first met.
92. "Listen to Your Heart" by Roxette
This song was written in the midst of a divorce as the narrator begs you to "listen to your heart" and hash things out with your partner instead of just walking away.
93. "Baby Can I Hold You" by Tracy Chapman
This song is about forgiveness, and how the narrator hopes that they can hold the one they love again after making up.
94. "Cherish" by Kool & The Gang
Being in love is a blessing from God, and this song is all about how that should be something we cherish.
95. "The Search Is Over" by Survivor
This is the perfect song to share with the one you love when you realize that you have found the one.
96. "Shower Me With Your Love" by Surface
When you've got so much love to give, you want someone who will do the same for you.
97. "I Need Love" by LL Cool J
When you're in need of something romantic and introspective, LL Cool J instead talks about your feelings of loneliness and regret for your past relationships.
98. "Angel" by Aerosmith
In this rock song, a man cries for his love after they had an argument. He wants to make up and fix their relationship, and begs her to come back.
99. "Shining Star" by The Manhattans
A song about undying love for someone, you know you'll never leave the person you adore this much. Because they are your shining star, and nothing is brighter than them.
100. "More Than I Can Say" by Leo Sayer
This love ballad is about how much a man misses the woman he loves after she's gone away. And it's a feeling we all certainly relate to.
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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who has written hundreds of articles about relationships, trending news and entertainment, numerology and astrology. Follow her on Twitter for more.