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80s Love Songs, Ranked: 25 Tubular Tunes to Put You in the Mood

Take a romantic trip back to the future with this playful playlist of hits!

“Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. And what’s wrong with that?” Paul McCartney and Wings threw that question out in 1976, and thankfully a cavalcade of artists a decade later joined him in saying “here I go again,” creating a plethora of great 80s love songs that help form our list of 25 favorites, below.

80s love songs are not going anywhere, promises acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren, who’s penned plenty, including Chicago’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love” (1988), Belinda Carlisle’s “I Get Weak” (1988), Bad English’s “When I See You Smile” (1989) and Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” (1989), just to name a few.

I don’t think there’s any exhaustion point,” she’s explained to CBS News. “There’s only so many notes, right? And so many words. But you can mix ’em up a million different ways and make something great.”

This list of 80s love songs proves her theory. In fact, it’s near impossible to narrow the field down, so there will certainly be some others you think should’ve made the cut. (Let us know your M.I.A. favorites in the comments!)

In the meantime, as Tina Turner put it, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”? When it comes to romantic 80s love songs, quite a lot! So light a candle, pour some wine and cuddle up to your special someone. Then hit play! (Neon headbands and leg warmers optional.)

25. “Let Me Be the One” (1987) by Exposé

Gioia Bruno takes lead vocal duties for the Miami freestyle trio on this seductively sweet track. “Sometimes people play with love, falling in love is just a game,” she sings before delivering a convincing romantic promise to the object of her affection: “You’ll never be alone again… This love I feel will never, ever fade.”

24. “Forever and Ever, Amen” (1987) by Randy Travis

The country crooner promises that he’ll stay faithful and in love “as long as old men sit and talk about the weather, as long as old women sit and talk about old men.” So, for forever. In his memoir, which is titled after the tune, the singer noted that “everywhere we went, we heard heartwarming stories of what the song had meant to someone.”

23. “True” (1983) by Spandau Ballet

“This is the sound of my soul,” belts out lead singer Tony Hadley on this gorgeous track written by bandmate Gary Kemp, who penned it to express his devotion to Altered Image’s Clare Grogan. “‘True’ is about how difficult it is to be honest when you’re trying to write a love song to someone,” Kemp noted, hence, “Why do I find it hard to write the next line?” No need for nerves. We think he nailed it.

22. “Lady in Red” (1986) by Chris de Burgh

De Burgh reportedly wrote the track for and about his wife Diane, though he’s also said it had a more general meaning of just appreciating the ones you love. Either way, with lines like, “There’s nobody here, it’s just you and me, it’s where I wanna be,” and, “When you turned to me and smiled, it took my breath away,” it’s sure to melt any listener’s heart.

21. “I’ll Be There for You” (1989) by Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi wants his lover to know that she can count on him — literally and figuratively. “I’ll be there for you, these five words I swear to you,” he belts in this 80s love song. “When you breathe, I wanna be the air for you…I’d live and I’d die for you, I’d steal the sun from the sky for you.” Yeah, he lays it on pretty thick in this powerful power ballad, but it’ll still make the hair on your arms stand up — almost as high as the band’s hair in the 80s!

20. “Your Love Is King” (1984) by Sade

Anyone can be a smooth operator by hitting “play” on this classy entry. “You’re making me dance inside,” coos the singer, who co-wrote the tune with saxophonist Stuart Matthewman for her debut album, Diamond Life. “I’m crying out for more, your love is king,” she continues in this royally romantic track that’s definitely one of the greatest 80s love songs.

19. “Heaven” (1985) by Bryan Adams

“Love is all that I need, and I found it there in your heart. Isn’t too hard to see we’re in heaven,” sings the Canadian rocker. “Once in your life you find someone who will turn your world around, bring you up when you’re feelin’ down. Yeah nothin’ can change what you mean to me.” Rolling Stone calls this a “lighter-waving power ballad,” and if we had one, it’d be up in the air right now!

18. “Sweet Love” (1986) by Anita Baker

The love is baked right into this entry’s title (see what we did there?). This stunner, co-written by the singer, won the Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1987. “Stay right here, never fear, I will be all that you need. Never leave, ’cause baby, I believe in this love,” she sings, and we’re not going anywhere because she’s giving us the best that she’s got.

17. “Never Tear Us Apart” (1988) by INXS

“The eventual lyric that [Michael Hutchence] wrote was truly inspired. Straight from the heart. I know how much that lyric meant to him. It was a personal love lyric very much in the moment for him,” INXS band member Andrew Farriss, who wrote the music for this slow-building power ballad, has shared of the simple, yet impactful words the lead singer penned: “I was standing, you were there, two worlds collided, and they could never tear us apart.”

16. “I Would Die 4 U” (1984) by Prince

Though some argue the religious imagery and references throughout (“You’re just a sinner, I am told. Be your fire when you’re cold” and “I’m your messiah,” for example) steer this away from being a love song, most agree it was just Prince’s unique style and interpretation of creating a track about the boldest promise one human being could make to another: “Darling, if you want me too, I would die for you.”

15. “Islands in the Stream” (1983) by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers

We dare you not to sing along to this gem, which was written by the Bee Gees, by the way! “No more will you cry. Baby, I will hurt you never. We start and end as one, in love forever,” the duo sings on this classic, and we’re smitten. “There’s no question it’s kind of the crown to everything to have done that song with her and had it be accepted so highly worldwide,” Rogers once told ABC. “No matter where I go…the one thing they always ask for is ‘Islands in the Stream.’”

14. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” (1984) by REO Speedwagon

This Billboard No. 1 smash was born from lead singer Kevin Cronin’s crush on a friend’s girlfriend, the musician has confessed about his artistic inspiration. “Everyone goes, ‘Oh, my God, he just wrote the way I feel,’” Cronin told The Palm Beach Post. “It’s pretty overwhelming and pretty humbling to think people have that feeling.”

13. “Saving All My Love for You” (1985) by Whitney Houston

No one said 80s love songs couldn’t be taboo. “No other woman is gonna love you more,” Whitney defiantly sings to the man she’s having an affair with, promising that they’ll “be making love the whole night through.” Despite the protests of the character’s friends — and from real-life mom Cissy Houston, who reportedly wasn’t thrilled with this ode to infidelity — the narrator is content to “be home feeling blue…saving all my love for you.” The heart wants what it wants, it seems, as the song proved to be an international No. 1 smash that topped Billboard’s Hot 100, Hot Black Singles and Adult Contemporary charts.

12. “I Melt With You” (1982) by Modern English, 80s love songs

“There’s nothing you and I won’t do, I’ll stop the world and melt with you.” This entry was a big hit with the alternative crowd, and it’s not hard to figure out why. “The amount of times we get told people got married to our song, made love to that song for the first time…whatever, it’s lovely. But literally the lyrics are about a couple making love as the atom bomb drops and sort of melting together,” Robbie Grey, the band’s frontman, told Yahoo Music. “But that’s quite good. I like the fact that…people can get what they want from it.… I like the fact that it’s like a love song, but with a dark lyric.”

11. “Open Arms” (1982) by Journey, 80s love songs

Steve Perry’s lead vocals packed a punch in this revered power ballad. The first time the band ever played it live, he recalled to Glamour, “the whole place screamed” as soon as they heard the opening notes. One famous fan of the song? Dolly Parton, who duets with Perry on it for her 2023 album Rockstar. “She told me she had always loved the song and wanted to sing it on an album,” Perry told Classic Rock. “Honestly, she killed it. Dolly is singing her tush off.”

10. “Endless Love” (1981) by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

“It was nine weeks at No. 1,” songwriter Lionel Richie proudly told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, “and I am telling you it was the song of life.… Once the movie came in and, of course, the Oscars, it had a life all its own.” Richie, in his first project after leaving the Commodores, penned the tune, which was then used for the controversial 1981 film Endless Love, about two teens (Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt). “My first love, you’re every breath that I take, you’re every step I make,” fit perfectly to the movie, and it earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.

9. “Take My Breath Away” (1986) by Berlin, 80s love songs

The success of this song is as black and white as lead singer Terri Nunn’s trademark hair: It’s as sexy as a love song comes. As part of the hit soundtrack for Tom Cruise’s Top Gun, it soared to the No. 1 position on the Billboard charts, picking up Academy Award and Golden Globe honors as well. Ironically, “One of the reasons that it worked…is because, at the time, I was in such a dark place romantically. I hadn’t gotten laid in probably two years. I didn’t know if I would ever find love again,” Nunn told Spin, adding, “I couldn’t sing it happy because I wasn’t happy. The sadness in my voice gave the song more of the depth that I think it needed.”

8. “Woman” (1981) by John Lennon, 80s love songs

“Please remember my life is in your hands, and, woman, hold me close to your heart. However distant, don’t keep us apart. After all, it is written in the stars.” The former Beatle wrote this song as an ode not only to wife Yoko Ono, but to all women, so bonus points for that. “Women really are the other half of the sky,” Lennon said in a Rolling Stone interview, shortly before his death. “I saw what women do for us. Not just what my Yoko does for me,” he shared.

7. “When You Say Nothing at All” (1988) by Keith Whitley

When the opening line of a song is “It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart, without saying a word you can light up the dark,” you know it’s going to be a winner. The country star scored big with this track written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, and it boasts such other winning lines as, “A touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall, yeah, you say it best when you say nothing at all.” Play it for your someone special and watch them melt. Best part? You personally don’t have to say anything at all.

6. “Ain’t Nobody” (1983) by Chaka Khan and Rufus

To paraphrase the lyrics, we always hope this song will last forever. “Ain’t nobody loves me better, makes me happy, makes me feel this way,” newly inducted Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Chaka Khan sings on this funk classic. “Timeless! Unbelievable! Everybody goes in” after hearing the first four notes, the singer raves about the song, which won her and Rufus a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

5. “Crazy for You” (1985) by Madonna, 80s love songs

The Material Girl showed her softer, more romantic side with this No. 1 single off the Vision Quest soundtrack, which Billboard called “perhaps the ultimate slow-dance song.” “Touch me once and you’ll know it’s true, I never wanted anyone like this. It’s all brand new, you’ll feel it in my kiss, I’m crazy for you,” she sang, earning her first Grammy nomination for this smash.

4. “Sexual Healing” (1982) by Marvin Gaye, 80s love songs

Put the kids to bed! Marvin Gaye is feeling hot just like an oven on this smoking, sensual Grammy-winning tune. “Honey, I know you’ll be there to relieve me. The love you give to me will free me,” he sings. Smooth Radio declares it “one of the sexiest songs of all time, and quite possibly the sexiest song ever.”

3. “Time After Time” (1984) by Cyndi Lauper, 80s love songs

“It’s really about testing love,” Lauper has said about this fan favorite, which she co-wrote with The Hooters’ Rob Hyman. “If you love somebody you’re there…whatever happens, you’re there. I think that is what grabbed people and the fact that there were real moments of humanity in it,” she added. With heartfelt lines like, “If you’re lost you can look and you will find me, time after time. If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting, time after time,” it’s no wonder it became her first No. 1 hit off of She’s So Unusual.

2. “The Best” (1989) by Tina Turner

With its driving, thumping heartbeat intro and rhythm, this smash from Tina is a stellar standout even within this list of 80s love songs. It’s a cover of a 1988 Bonnie Tyler single, but the queen of rock ’n’ roll truly made it her own, asking the writers to add a key change and the bridge: “Each time you leave me, I start losing control. You’re walking away with my heart and my soul.” The song blew up again in 2018 thanks to Schitt’s Creek, after Patrick (Noah Reid) stuns David (Dan Levy) with a stripped-down acoustic version during an open mic night in one of TV’s most romantic scenes of all time.

1. “In Your Eyes” (1986) by Peter Gabriel, 80s love songs

“In your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches.” That line alone nearly qualifies this Peter Gabriel track for the top position on this list of 80s love songs, but it contains plenty more winners. And who can forget it in Say Anything, as Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusack) holds up his boom box to play it for his love (Ione Skye) inside? To borrow a line from another 80s movie, turn that boom box up to 11, Lloyd. “I want to touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes.”

For more song recommendations, keep reading!

20 Greatest Country Love Songs of the Past 50 Years

80s Country Songs, Ranked: 10 Heartfelt Hits That Defined The Decade

The Judds Songs: 15 of the Duo’s Most Iconic and Heart-Healing Hits

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