If there is one theme that seems to inspire more music than any other, it has to be “love“. Love is a very powerful word and it finds its way into the title of many songs. This is certainly not unique to the ’80s decade, but the decade of decadence of course had its fair share. Not all of these songs are necessarily about love as romantic affection, though many obviously are. Some are about the pain and heartache that can be caused by love. Some are about platonic love, physical love or simply describing a strong liking for something. I am a sucker for a sappy love song, but what constitutes a love song can be very subjective.
So I decided to focus on the far less subjective topic of songs which simply use the word “love” somewhere in the title which were released sometime between 1980 and the end of 1989. The list will not include variations of the word, so “lover”, “loving” or even “loves” did not qualify in this case. Each artist will only make the list once, so if there were multiple songs by the same artist they are combined together for ease. As you’d expect, there are lots of candidates so I’m giving you a Top 80 and including some anecdotes on many of them. Per usual, my rankings will be based on a combination of perceived quality of work and pop culture significance, but mostly just my personal taste level both then and now (which admittedly can change daily). With all that being said, here are my TOP 80 SONGS OF THE ’80s WITH THE WORD “LOVE” IN THE TITLE:
80. “Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley” (1988) by Will To Power – This was the last medley to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 combining the Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd classics.
79. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980) by Joy Division – The lyrics were inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis’ marital problems and struggles with mental illness. The single was released the month after Curtis’s suicide.
78. “I Just Called to Say I Love You” (1984) by Stevie Wonder – I always remember the 1986 episode of The Cosby Show (season 2, episode 18) which guest-starred Stevie Wonder and they ended up singing this song in his studio.
77. “Love Stinks” (1980) by J. Geils Band
76. “Sea of Love” (1984) by The Honeydrippers – The Honeydrippers was a super-group including Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Nile Rodgers and Paul Shaffer among others.
75. “Love Bites” (1988) by Def Leppard – It was released as a single a year after its album, Hysteria, was released and became the first and surprisingly only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the band.
74. “Baby Love” (1986) by Regina – The song was written by Regina with Steve Bray (who had written several hits for Madonna) and was originally intended for Madonna, with Regina only deciding to record the song herself when Madonna declined.
73. “Put a Little Love In Your Heart” (1988) by Al Green & Annie Lennox – A cover of the 1968 Jackie DeShannon original that was featured in the 1988 Bill Murray film Scrooged.
72. “Space Age Love Song” (1982) by A Flock of Seagulls
71. “Woman in Love” (1980) by Barbra Streisand – This song was actually written by Barry and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees and went on to be one of Babs’ most successful singles and her fifth and last to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 where it held the top spot for three weeks.
70. “Soldier of Love” (1989) by Donny Osmond – Fearing that the public were not going to buy a new Donny Osmond record, his label decided to release the single with no indication of who the artist was, and radio stations advertised it as being from a “mystery artist”.
69. “Love Me In a Special Way” (1984) by DeBarge – This song was written and produced by El DeBarge and features his recognizable falsetto as well as a harmonica solo by none other than the great Stevie Wonder.
68. “Piece of My Love” (1988) by Guy – From the band’s self-titled debut album which really helped to put new jack swing on the map.
67. “Shake Your Love” (1987) by Debbie Gibson
66. “You’re Lookin’ Like Love to Me” (1983) & “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” (1983) by Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack
65. “Prove Your Love” (1988) & “I’ll Always Love You” (1988) by Taylor Dayne
64. “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me” (1988) by Paula Abdul – As revealed in my interview with the song’s writer, Oliver Leiber, both Paula Abdul and Chaka Kahn got this song within a week of each other through different means and Leiber had the opportunity to cut it with either artist. He made the very counter-intuitive decision to go with the unknown Laker girl which helped change both of their lives.
63. “Real Love” (1989) & “Looking for a New Love” (1987) by Jody Watley
62. “I Love a Rainy Night” (1980) by Eddie Rabbitt – I remember listening over and over to my 45 record of this song which went on to reach the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Country Singles and Adult Contemporary Singles charts in 1981.
61. “That Ain’t Love” (1987) by REO Speedwagon from their 1987 album Life as We Know it.
60. “What About Love” (1985) by Heart – The song which returned Heart to prominence (giving them their first Top 40 hit in three years and first Top 10 hit in five years) includes additional backing vocals from both Starship’s Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas.
59. “Jump (For My Love)” (1984) by The Pointer Sisters – This song wouldn’t have qualified for this list if they went with the original title of just “Jump”. It was modified to add the parenthesis part prior to its release to avoid confusion with the Van Halen song “Jump”, which was released earlier the same year.
58. “I Need Love” (1987) by LL Cool J -The only rap song on the list, this really helped LL and rap continue its crossover into the mainstream.
57. “Is This Love” (1987) by Whitesnake – This power ballad was written by vocalist David Coverdale and guitarist John Sykes and was originally intended to be recorded by Tina Turner.
56. “Will You Still Love Me?” (1986) by Chicago – This song was Chicago’s first Top 10 hit following the departure of Peter Cetera and it featured new singer and bassist Jason Scheff on lead vocals.
55. “Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire” (1985) by David Foster – The only instrumental on this list, there was also a version on the soundtrack with lyrics called “For Just a Moment”.
54. “One Night Love Affair” (1985) & “It’s Only Love” (1985 w/ Tina Turner) by Bryan Adams – Discussed briefly in my interview with the songs’ co-writer Jim Vallance. “One Night Love Affair” was featured in the film Real Genius.
53. “Love in an Elevator” (1989) by Aerosmith – Just as the title states, Steven Tyler claims the song’s lyrics were inspired by an experience he had at a hotel, in which he was making out with a girl in the elevator and they started having sex as the doors opened.
52. “In the Name of Love” (1982) by The Thompson Twins – The band’s first single to achieve some success on the pop charts.
51. “Freeway of Love” (1985) by Aretha Franklin – This single from her Who’s Zoomin’ Who album became Aretha’s fifteenth Top 10 pop hit in the U.S. (first of three to come in the ’80s) and features the saxophone of the late, great Clarence Clemons.
50. “Is It Love” (1986) by Mr. Mister – Discussed briefly in my interview with Richard Page.
49. “Turn Your Love Around” (1981) by George Benson
48. “Shower Me With Your Love” (1989) by Surface
47. “Love Somebody” (1984) by Rick Springfield – After it peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, this was the final Top 10 hit (of five in the ’80s) for Springfield who is also well known for playing Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital.
46. “Method of Modern Love” (1985) by Hall & Oates
45. “Sweet Love” (1986) by Anita Baker
44. “I Love Rock n Roll” (1982) by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – The song was written and first recorded by The Arrows in 1975, but this version would reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and hold that position for seven weeks.
43. “Love Shack” (1989) by B-52’s – The song’s inspiration was a cabin that Kate Pierson lived in around Athens, Georgia, complete with tin roof, where the band conceived “Rock Lobster”, a single from their first album. The line at the end wailed by lead singer Cindy Wilson, “tin roof…rusted,” was originally an outtake but has become the song’s most memorable.
42. “Stop to Love” (1986), “Any Love” (1988) & “There’s Nothing Better Than Love” (1987 w/ Gregory Hines) by Luther Vandross
41. “Tender Love” (1985) & “Love Is A House” (1987) by Force MDs – “Tender Love” was written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis was featured in the soundtrack for the film Krush Groove.
40. “Love You Down” (1986) by Ready for the World from their 1986 album Long Time Coming.
39. “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” (1987) by Glenn Medeiros – He was just 17 years old when he had a hit with his cover of this song originally recorded by George Benson in 1984. Find out a little more in my interview with Medeiros.
38. “On the Wings of Love” (1982) by Jeffrey Osborne from his 1982 self titled debut album after leaving L.T.D. for a solo career.
37. “Jungle Love” (1984) by The Time – This song is featured in the film Purple Rain and was released on their Ice Cream Castle album.
36. “Don’t Fall In Love With a Dreamer” (1980 w/ Kim Carnes) & “Love Will Turn You Around” (1982) by Kenny Rogers
35. “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” (1985) by Sting – This was the first single released from Sting’s solo debut album The Dream of the Blue Turtles.
34. “Endless Love” (1981 w/ Diana Ross), “My Love” (1983 w/ Kenny Rogers backing) & “Love Will Conquer All” (1986) by Lionel Richie
33. “Higher Love” (1986) by Steve Winwood – This song which features Chaka Khan on vocals with Winwood was his first single to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned two Grammy Awards (for Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance).
32. “Not Enough Love in the World” (1985) by Don Henley – It is rumored that it was about Henley’s relatively short relationship with Stevie Nicks
31. “Addicted to Love” (1986) by Robert Palmer – This was originally intended to be a duet with Chaka Khan but her label at the time wouldn’t grant her release to work on it. It features Andy Taylor on guitar and I always remember it because of its iconic music video and the scene in Cocktail where Tom Cruise has the entire bar singing along.
30. “Love My Way” (1982) by The Psychedelic Furs
29. “Is This Love” (1986) by Survivor – Discussed briefly in my interview with the late, great Jimi Jamison.
28. “Love Plus One” (1982) by Haircut 100
27. “I Don’t Want Your Love” (1988) by Duran Duran
26. “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” (1983), “Lost In Love” (1980), “All Out of Love” (1980) & “The One That You Love” (1981) by Air Supply – The Australian duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock have made a career off of love songs including eight Top 10 hits.
25. “Love Touch” (1986) by Rod Stewart – This song is featured in the Robert Redford film Legal Eagles.
24. “Lawyers in Love” (1983) by Jackson Browne
23. “I’ve Been In Love Before” (1986) by Cutting Crew – Find out more about this song in my interview with Nick Van Eede of Cutting Crew .
22. “Look of Love” (1982) by ABC from their 1982 debut studio album Lexicon of Love.
21. “Love is a Battlefield” (1983) by Pat Benatar – Discussed in my interview with the song’s co-writer Holly Knight
20. “Sowing the Seeds of Love” (1989) by Tears for Fears – Curt Smith said this was probably the most complete song they’d done as far as writing AND production working so well together in my interview with him.
19. “If It Isn’t Love” (1988), “Helplessly in Love” (1987), “Lost in Love” (1984) & “Popcorn Love” (1983) by New Edition
18. “You Can’t Hurry Love” (1982) & “Groovy Kind of Love” (1988) by Phil Collins – Both are cover versions of the 1966 Supremes and 1965 Mindbenders songs respectively.
17. “I Want to Know What Love Is” (1984) by Foreigner – The song, written by Mick Jones, was the first and only to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the band and features backing vocals by Jennifer Holliday, Tom Bailey (of The Thompson Twins) and the New Jersey Mass Choir of the GMWA.
16. “What’s Love Got To Do With It” (1984) by Tina Turner – This song was a huge success serving notice of Turner’s comeback and received three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
15. “The Glory of Love” (1986) by Peter Cetera – This was the first single released after he left Chicago to pursue a solo career and was featured in the film The Karate Kid Part II.
14. “You Give Love a Bad Name” (1986) by Bon Jovi – This was the first single released from the Slippery When Wet album and became the band’s first #1 (of 4 during the ’80s) on the Billboard Hot 100.
13. “Bizarre Love Triangle” (1986) by New Order
12. “Chains of Love” (1988) by Erasure – After much success in the UK, this became Erasure’s mainstream breakthrough in the U.S. peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
11. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” (1984) by U2 – The first single released from the Unforgettable Fire album, most listeners may know was written about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but a little known fact is that The Pretenders’ lead singer Chrissie Hynde actually sings backing vocals on the track.
10. “Greatest Love of All” (1985), “Saving All My Love For You” (1985) & “You Give Good Love” (1985) by Whitney Houston – All of these were on her self-titled debut album with “Greatest Love of All” being the seventh and final single released
9. “Why Can’t This Be Love” (1986), “Love Walks In” (1986) & “When It’s Love” (1988) by Van Halen – The first two are both from the album 5150 which is the first released after Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth on lead vocals.
8. “What Is Love” (1983) & “Everlasting Love” (1989) by Howard Jones – Find out more in my interview with producer Rupert Hine
7. “Tainted Love” (1981) by Soft Cell – This was such a big hit that many may not realize that this was actually a cover of a little-known song originally released in 1965 by Gloria Jones.
6. “I Love You” (1980) by Climax Blues Band – Discussed thoroughly in my interview with Derek Holt, the song’s writer from Climax Blues Band.
5. “Lessons in Love” (1986) by Level 42 – In my interview with Mark King, he confirmed that they rushed this song to be released because a female German artist was going to release her version before them and, ironically, the Level 42 version ended being #1 in Germany for seven weeks.
4. “Do You Believe In Love” (1982) & “The Power of Love” (1985) by Huey Lewis & the News
3. “Modern Love” (1983) by David Bowie
2. “Let My Love Open the Door” (1980) by Pete Townshend – This song came from his first totally solo album, Empty Glass, which also was his most successful outside of The Who and peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1. “Your Love” (1986) by The Outfield – The second single released from their triple-platinum debut album, Play Deep, it peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has always been one of my favorite songs of the decade despite a subject matter I do not personally relate to. All I need to hear is the first couple of notes and I am immediately transported back to 1986 and that is just one example of the magic of music.
There’s my list. They are all special in their own way. As usual and as I mentioned earlier, these are based on my personal preferences and the order could very well change a little depending on my mood or nostalgia on a given day. I’m sure I might have missed some all together. Are there any ’80s songs with the word “love” in the title that you feel I have overlooked? If so or if you’d rank any differently, please leave them in the comments section below. There are several songs that just missed being in the ’80s which would’ve surely made the list like “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen and “After the Love Has Gone” by Earth, Wind & Fire from 1979 or many from 1990 like “Cradle of Love” by Billy Idol or “Love Will Lead You Back” by Taylor Dayne. This does not even include the songs about love that don’t use the word in the title or the ones using variations of the word like loving or lovers. They say that love makes the world go ’round. Well at least now you have over 80 songs from the ’80s that help prove that is the case when it comes to music. “Love is a many-splendored thing”, it “lifts us up where we belong” and as the Beatles so eloquently sang back in 1967, “All You Need is Love”. It also goes without saying, I LOVE the ’80s.
Here is a Spotify playlist featuring all 100 songs listed above!