The 20 Greatest Love Songs of the 80s, Ranked

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Depending on our mood, there’s nothing like a playlist of love songs.

Here’s the best of what the die-hard romantics of the decade have given us …

  • Fat Larry Group – ‘Zoom’

    A Smooth favorite, this is a classic ballad that takes us straight back to a school disco slow dance.

    Easily their remarkable success, he reached number two in the UK in 1982. Sadly, Fat Larry passed away five years later.

  • Madonna – ‘Crazy for You’

    You would be forgiven for not remembering the movie where this song came from (it was Vision Quest).

    Madonna was still relatively unknown when she was first offered the song, and it became one of her greatest ballads of all time.

  • Stevie Wonder – “I just called to say I love you”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiRj5m63oig

    It became Stevie’s biggest hit in 1984 and topped the charts in 19 different countries.

    The song was written for the movie The woman in red, and ended up winning a Grammy and an Oscar for Best Song.

  • REO Speedwagon – “Keep Loving Yourself”

    One of the earliest examples of the 1980s rock power ballad, it was also one of the first videos to air on MTV. It was written after singer Kevin Cronin found out his wife Denise had cheated on him before they were married.

    Instead of leaving her, he decided that he would continue to love her no matter what happened next. He called it “the most painful song I have ever written”. It didn’t work, as he and his wife separated a few years later.

  • The Style Advice – ‘You are the best thing’

    After leaving The Jam, Paul Weller adopted a much more soulful sound with his upcoming band The Style Council.

    From their first album, this romantic tune is arguably their most famous song.

  • Jennifer Rush – “The Power of Love”

    Released in 1985, “The Power Of Love” was the very first million sales by a female soloist in Britain. He held the record for the best-selling single ever by a woman until Whitney Houston crushed “I Will Always Love You” in 1992.

    Celine Dion later recorded a hit with this song, which is about as good a 1980s power ballad as you’re likely to hear!

  • Madness – ‘It must be love’

    Labi Siffre first reached number 14 with this love song in 1971, and 10 years later Madness was a huge hit with a ska-infused cover.

    Siffre made an appearance in the Madness music video for the track as a violinist.

  • Cyndi Lauper – ‘Time after time’

    It was one of Cyndi’s very first singles, and it was written with Rob Hyman from The Hooters. It became one of the best love songs of the 1980s.

    The inspiration for the song came after the two songwriters went through similar situations in their own relationships: he was coming out of a relationship, while she was having issues with her then-boyfriend, David Wolff. .

  • Bracelets – ‘Eternal Flame’

    Bangles member Susanna Hoffs teamed up with veteran songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly to write this powerful ballad.

    The song was inspired by two Eternal Flames: one at Elvis Presley’s grave the Bangles saw when the group visited Graceland, and one at a local Palm Springs synagogue that Steinberg attended as a child.

    Hoffs later revealed that she sang the recording completely naked after producer Davitt Sigerson played a prank on her by saying that Olivia Newton-John did the same.

  • Lionel Richie & Diana Ross – ‘Endless Love’

    Probably the greatest duo of all time? Certainly one of the most successful.

    Ross and Richie recorded this song for Motown, and it was used as the theme for the film adaptation of Scott Spencer’s novel. Everlasting love. While the film was a modest box office success, the song became the second best-selling single of the year.

  • Soft Cell – “Say hello, say goodbye”

    This song has had its meaning debated, from a simple breakup to a gay man coming out of the closet.

    In 1981, Marc Almond was inspired by his apartment in Soho by saying: streets. it was what Non-sop erotic cabaret was sure, what Soft Cell was, what I was.

  • Spandau Ballet – ‘True’

    This ballad was composed by Gary Kemp, who wrote the song in his parents’ house, where he lived at the time.

    It pays homage to Marvin Gaye, who is mentioned in the lyrics, and also in part to Kemp’s platonic relationship with Altered Images singer Clare Grogan.

  • Whitney Houston – “I keep all my love for you”

    This song was originally a minor hit for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr in 1978, before Whitney became a huge hit in 1985.

    When co-writer Michael Masser learned he might not be releasing as a single, he proposed that if all the women stand up when Whitney sang it at a club, then Clive Davis would be okay with that. this will be the next single. The rest is history.

  • Lionel Richie – ‘Hello’

    One of Lionel’s greatest hits, this song went number one in the UK and US in 1984.

    Richie initially thought the song was “cheesy” but “by the time I finished the verse, I fell in love with the song again.” And you must love this music video!

  • Bryan Adams – “Heaven”

    First appearance on the romantic film soundtrack One night in paradiseBryan Adams included it on his LP Reckless a year later. It reached number one in the United States a year and a half after its first outing.

    The song was inspired by Journey’s “Faithfully” after Adams toured with the band. DJ Sammy reached number one in the UK in 2002 with an uptempo dance version, while a stripped-down “Candlelight” remix featuring the vocals of Dutch singer Do also became popular.

  • U2 – with or without you ‘

    From the Album of U2 Joshua tree, this love song was inspired by Bono’s conflicting feelings about his life as a musician and servant at the time.

    It became one of U2’s greatest songs, reaching number one in the United States in 1987.

  • Phil Collins – “Against All Odds”

    The ultimate ballad of power sees Phil imploring an ex-lover to “take a look at me now”, knowing the reconciliation is “against all odds” while considering it to be worth it.

    It was recorded for the film of the same name and reached number one in the United States. He went on to be number one in the UK for Mariah Carey with Westlife in 2000 and X Factor winner Steve Brookstein in 2005.

  • Stranger – ‘I want to know what love is’

    The group’s biggest success, it reached number one in the UK and US. Writer Mick Jones said of the song: “I don’t know where it came from. I consider it a gift that was sent to me. I think there was something greater than me behind it. I’d say it was probably written entirely by a higher force. “

    Bonus: it features the keyboard work of Thompson Twins frontman Tom Bailey.

  • George Michael – “The carefree whisper”

    This is the song that made people stand up and consider George a credible artist outside of Wham’s fun pop!

    Released while still in the boy band with Andrew Ridgeley, the song topped the charts around the world. Co-written with Andrew when they were 17, the song was inspired by stories of Michael’s early romantic experiences with two different girls.

  • ABBA – “The winner takes it all”

    Bjorn Ulvaeus has denied that his heartbreaking ballad is about his divorce and that of Agnetha Faltskog. However, he said it was about divorce in general and the emotions that come with it.

    The song put Agnetha in the odd situation of being asked to perform a breakup song, written by her ex-husband, soon after. However, Bjorn had no intention of it happening that way. She later said it was her favorite ABBA song to perform.


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