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The 10 best 80s love songs for your Valentine's playlist


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Valentine’s Day is upon us.

Whether you’re cosying up with a loved one or are going single this year, immerse yourself in a selection of some of the most cheesy love lyrics that the 1980s had to offer. 

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1. The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

The ultimate alternative love song, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, expectedly showcases the best of Morrisey’s depressing, poetic lyrics. Not even death could surpass such a romanticised infatuation, “And if a double-decker bus / Crashes into us / To die by your side / Is such a heavenly way to die”. Paired with a quintessentially ‘The Smiths’ bassline, flowy strings and subtle flute twinkles, you can’t go wrong with this timeless classic.

2. George Michael – Careless Whisper

No Valentine’s Day playlist could be complete without this track. Perhaps one of the most recognisable and clichéd saxophones ever, this track is born a mood-maker. Looking beyond the amount it’s been overplayed, ‘Careless Whisper’ is arguably one of George Michael’s best. With a slow-grooving bassline, that saxophone solo that will be stuck in your head for days, a catchy chorus and Michael’s irresistibly smooth vocals, this song is the embodiment of liquid velvet.

3. Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You

‘Thinking Of You’ is easily one of Sister Sledge’s most overlooked tracks, turned to gold by the touch of Nile Rodgers’ production. One of Rodgers’ most slick and wiggly guitar offerings is endowed with infectious bongo beats, crisp strings and a seriously groovy bassline. Although it’s one of Rodgers’ more mid-tempo tracks, ‘Thinking Of You’ utterly shimmers even before the vocals begin, re-establishing themselves in an instrumental moment, as if the rest of the track holds its breath in admiration. Sister Sledge provide effortless soul, ethereal harmonies and perfect execution of its lyrics, “it's you / and the things you do to me / that make me love you / now I’m living in ecstasy”.

4. Spandau Ballet – True

Another cliché that cannot go unmentioned; ‘True’ is another mid-tempo slow-burner. The iconic love-song builds into crescendos, with layers of 80s-style synths, guitar strums and keyboard chords. The lyrics are wrapped up in vocals that utterly exemplify everything that 80s-pop stands for.

5. Kool & The Gang – Cherish

Almost unrecognisable from the larger-than-life, upbeat disco tracks that Kool & The Gang are associated with, ‘Cherish’ shows the band’s mastery of synth-ballads. The track is rich with soul and emotion, synth-soaked melodies and all-female backing vocals, “Cherish the love we have/ For as long as we both shall live”, once again embodying a timeless love-classic.

6. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes

‘In Your Eyes’ sounds like it could sound-track an infinite number of old-school rom-coms. With its subtly distorted hooks and understated reverb, Gabriel delivers genuine emotion with his lyrics, “In your eyes/ the light, the heat/ I am complete”, personifying the romantic moment in which film characters’ eyes meet for the first time.

7. Whitney Houston – Saving All My Love

One of Houston’s most famous ballads, ‘Saving All My Love’ seeps in reverb, synth-keyboard twangs and sultry saxophone melodies. The background is relatively subtle, however, as Houston’s voice is easily the main focal point of the song. Effortlessly shifting from ethereal high notes to gritty soulful deliverance, Houston shows that she is one-of-a-kind. ‘Saving All My Love’ has shamelessly romantic lyrics, too – Cause tonight is the night for feeling alright / We'll be making love the whole night through / So I'm saving all my love for you”.

8. Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You

An undeniably catchy track, ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ embodies what Valentine’s Day is all about; I just called to say I love you / And I mean it from the bottom of my heart”. With the slight swing-rhythm of the synth-soaked, upbeat bassline that carries it, synth and keyboard heavy foundations, the track is one of Wonder’s most blatantly cheesy tracks, fortified by the key change towards the end.

9. Michael Jackson - Baby Be Mine

One of Jackson’s most groovy tracks, ‘Baby Be Mine’ is slick and glossy, chock-full of syncopated wiggly synths, underpinned by a wonderfully wavy bassline. Jackson’s incredible vocal range is showcased, as one as his iconic rich and soulful tone, bringing the track’s yearning lyrics alive: “Darlin', let me hold you warm you in my arms, and melt your fears away / Show you all the magic that a perfect love can make / I need you night and day, so baby be mine”.

10. Madness – It Must Be Love

‘It Must Be Love’ is characterised by its stompy, staccato piano chords, bombastic brass and quietly confident bassline. With Pet Shop Boys-style vocal distortion, reggae infused-rhythms and distortion experimentation all wrapped up in such a catchy chorus, this infectious track lives on in several generations. It must be love, after all.

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