One thing the 80s didn’t lack was love songs. Sure, many had a high cheese factor, but some were actually pretty good.
We’re focusing on the greatest ballads of the heart released in the 1980s. There are some solid classic rock artists on this list, not just bubblegum pop stars.
You may not have thought about some of these 80s love songs in a while. So get ready to have your heartstrings pulled.
Let’s hit it!
Love Songs of the 80s
The end of the 1970s and the disco craze led right into the 80s, with ultra pop music taking the spotlight. Artists like Madonna, Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul, and Boy George certainly took center stage in music.
With the new decade came new genres of music. While new wave, glam rock, synth-pop, and hip hop have roots in 70s music, they came to maturity in the 80s. And there were love songs created by artists in each of these categories.
The birth of MTV and music videos in 1981 helped give visual life to many ballads. Each love song on this list has a corresponding popular 80s video to go along with it. We bet you even remember most of them!
So, let’s get into it and learn more about the greatest love songs from the 1980s.
Saving All My Love For You – Whitney Houston
About the Song: Many people don’t realize this isn’t a Whitney Houston original song. In fact, this ballad was originally written by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin in the 70s and recorded by a singing duo in 1978.
Masser would eventually meet Houston at one of her shows at the Sweetwater Club in New York City. When he heard her perform The Greatest Love of All, also a Masser song, he knew she would do justice to any music presented to her.
Houston’s version, released in 1985, became a global hit. It earned Whitney her first Grammy Award in 1986.
I’ve got to get ready just a few minutes more
Gonna get that old feeling when you walk through that door
‘Cause tonight is the night for feeling alright
We’ll be making love the whole night through
First Appearance: Singing duo Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. recorded this ballad for their 1978 album Marilyn and Billy.
Careless Whisper – Wham!
About the Song: Here’s a love song filled with heartbreak. From the saxophone solo to the passionate vocals, emotions fill every note of this ballad.
Singer George Michael and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley wrote this tune together. In his autobiography, Bare, Michael stated that the lyrics came from memories of multiple concurrent girlfriends from his teenage years.
Careless Whisper reached #1 on music charts in over 20 countries.
Tonight the music seems so loud
I wish that we could lose this crowd
Maybe it’s better this way
We’d hurt each other with the things we’d want to say
First Appearance: Wham! released this classic 80s love song in 1984 for their second album, Make It Big.
I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner
About the Song: A list of love songs from the 80s wouldn’t be complete without including this power ballad. Foreigner’s keyboardist, Mick Jones, wrote and composed most of this tune. He also collaborated a portion of it with lead vocalist Lou Gramm.
Part of what makes this a great 80s song, love or otherwise, is the addition of the New Jersey Mass Choir on backing vocals. Their voices help this number reach the emotional heights needed to create a powerful love song.
Gotta take a little time
Little time to look around me
I’ve got nowhere left to hide
Looks like love has finally found me
First Appearance: Foreigner included this as a track on their fifth album, Agent Provocateur, released in 1984.
Keep on Loving You – REO Speedwagon
About the Song: REO Speedwagon’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Kevin Cronnin, wrote this tune during a band rehearsal. He played it for his bandmates, who didn’t initially like it and thought it wasn’t representative of their style.
The band worked through the song, with Cronnin passionately insisting they add it to their next album. When they released the single in March 1981, it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
And though I know all about those men
Still I don’t remember
‘Cause it was us
Baby, way before then, and we’re still together
First Appearance: REO Speedwagon released this song in November 1980 on their ninth studio album, Hi Infidelity.
Alone – Heart
About the Song: Little did we know this isn’t an original song from the classic rock band Heart. Two previous recordings existed before Anne and Nancy Wilson turned it into a global hit in 1987.
Songwriting duo Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly originally wrote and recorded this tune for their band i-Ten in 1983. The following year, the CBS sitcom Dreams included it on the show’s soundtrack, with actors John Stamos and Valerie Stevenson singing the vocals.
You don’t know how long I have wanted
To touch your lips and hold you tight, oh
You don’t know how long I have waited
and I was going to tell you tonight
First Appearance: Epic Records released the original version of Alone recorded by the band i-Ten for their 1983 album Taking a Cold Look.
Eternal Flame – The Bangles
About the Song: The Bangles’ lead singer Susanna Hoffs wrote this sweet 80s love song with our previous song’s writers, Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. It’s worth mentioning here they also wrote Madonna’s hit Like a Virgin.
Elvis Presley’s gravesite at Graceland inspired Hoffs to write some of the lyrics. In fact, she and her Bangles bandmates visited Graceland and saw where the eternal flame is lit to honor The King of Rock and Roll’s legacy.
Eternal Flame reached #1 in nine countries and earned The Bangles their second number one hit after Walk Like an Egyptian in 1986.
Close your eyes, give me your hand
Do you feel my heart beating?
Do you understand? Do you feel the same? Am I only dreaming?
Or is this burning an eternal flame?
First Appearance: The Bangles released Eternal Flame as a track on their 1988 album Everything.
Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
About the Song: Cyndi Lauper launched her music with her 1983 debut album, She’s So Unusual. Time After Time was a track on that album, along with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and She Bop.
This is one of the best love songs of all time, according to Rolling Stone and MTV. In addition, it’s a signature song for the eccentric singer. Lauper wrote the lyrics with songwriter Rob Hyman. They shared similar relationship woes, which led to the song’s creation.
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
First Appearance: Lauper released this song as a track for her debut album, She’s So Unusual, in 1983.
You’re the Inspiration – Chicago
About the Song: Chicago lead singer Peter Cetera co-wrote this song with musician David Foster. Longtime fans of Chicago felt this song wasn’t representative of the band’s traditional releases. But it still became a chart-topping hit.
It might not come as a surprise to learn Cetera and Foster originally wrote this song for country music star Kenny Rogers. In fact, after they completed composing the song, the country singer decided against using it. Chicago picked up the rejected tune to make it their own.
You know our love was meant to be
The kind of love to last forever
And I want you here with me
From tonight until the end of time
First Appearance: Chicago released this 80s love ballad in 1984 on their fourteenth album, Chicago 17.
Faithfully – Journey
About the Song: Written by Journey’s keyboardist Jonathan Cain, this 80s love song speaks of remaining faithful to the love at home while being out on the road.
A religious man, Cain felt the spirit move through him to complete the song so quickly. Cain finished the song in a half-hour, going from a simple line scratched on a napkin on a tour bus to the recording in the studio the next day.
And being apart ain’t easy on this love affair
Two strangers learn to fall in love again
I get the joy of rediscovering you
Oh girl, you stand by me, I’m forever yours, faithfully
First Appearance: Journey included Faithfully as a track on their second studio album, Frontiers, released in 1983.
Which 80s Love Song is Your Favorite?
We know these nine ballads only scratch the surface of all the great love songs from the 80s. Hopefully, these tunes bring up good memories for you, as they did for us.
What other love songs from the 1980s would you add to this list?