The 80s saw a lot of changes in music, and one of the biggest changes was in the arena of love songs.
In the 70s and early 80s, love songs were often ballads that were soft and mellow and were usually about a guy singing to his heart’s desire. They would be songs like “Bye, Bye Love” by the Everly Brothers or “The Way You Do The Things You Do” by The Temptations.
This changed considerably in the mid-80s with a new generation of musicians (many of whom had been around for a bit), taking on their own version of what love songs should be about.
Think about it – when you think about 80s love songs, what do you think of? If you’re an avid music fan, I’m willing to bet that many of your thoughts are probably centered around some song from this time period. And here’s why: these are songs that are about being young and being in love – or lust at least! These are also songs that often took the term “love song” literally (wink wink). These are also songs that were very popular during this time period because they made people feel good – even if the love songs were sad.
I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that some of these love songs are about the break-up of a couple. After all, “break-up” songs were very popular during this time period as well. But I’ll bet you are surprised to hear that many of these love songs aren’t even about being in a relationship! In fact, many are about the desire to be in one!
These are all 80s ballad songs and while they’re not necessarily sappy like their predecessors, they are still very much love songs. Have a look at this list and see if your favorites made the cut!
“I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
“I Want To Know What Love Is” is a power ballad by the American rock band Foreigner. It was released in November 1984 as the lead single from their album, Agent Provocateur. The song was written by Mick Jones and produced by Lou Gramm and recorded in Hamburg, Germany. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in March 1985, where it stayed for five weeks. In the United Kingdom, “I Want to Know What Love Is” reached number three on the UK Singles Chart in early 1985. The song has been covered by many artists including Wynonna Judd and Mariah Carey, whose version of the song was released on her 1997 album but not released as a single.
“What I Am” by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
“What I Am” is a 1988 song by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians from their self-titled debut album. The song was written and sung by Brickell and Paul Simon’s guitarist Vincent Nguini and reached #8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in February 1989, it also spent two weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart.
“What I Am” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1989.
“I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meat Loaf
“I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” is a power ballad performed by American rock singer Meat Loaf. It was the first single from his album Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell. The song reached number one in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and Canada and number two in the United States, where it received a nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1993.
The music video features actress Katey Sagal as the angel watching over him while he sleeps.
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” is a power ballad performed by American rock band Poison. It was released in September 1988 as the third single from their multi-platinum selling second studio album, Open Up and Say… Ahh!. In 1989, it reached number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for two weeks, while reaching number six on its Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and also #1 on its Hot 100 Airplay chart. It achieved similar success around the world including reaching number one in Australia and Canada while peaking at #2 in Germany, South Africa and Sweden. The song is about the pain of love, and that every rose has its thorn.
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” won the 1989 Billboard Music Award for Top Rock Track. It was one of two songs to be nominated both for Best Rock Vocal Performance and Song of the Year in 1989, the other being “Love Bites” by Def Leppard. It also won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance in 1989. VH1 ranked it #17 on their list of 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s.
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” is a hit song by New Zealand rock band Crowded House, written by Neil Finn. The song was released in July 1986 as a single from their self-titled debut album (although it did not appear on the original Australian version of the album). The single reached number one in both Australia and New Zealand in 1986, where it remains the highest-selling single from a self-titled album.
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” is well known for its video, directed by Neil Finn, which features a live performance by the band. The video has been voted number 38 on VH1’s “Top 100 Videos That Broke The Rules”, and was nominated for two MTV Music Video Awards in 1987 (for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Video), and an Australian Film Institute Award in 1988. It was also ranked at #7 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Videos” countdown.