The 80s were a time where the cold war was at its peak and technological advancement was in progress. But amidst the flashy neon lights, the synth-pop, and the hair gel, there was a somber side to the era. The pop charts were filled with ballads of heartbreak, loss, and melancholy.
These sad 80s songs featured poetic lyrics and haunting melodies that hit the emotional sweet spot. The nostalgia-inducing tunes may have you reaching for your tissues, but they certainly stand the test of time.
“Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M.
The number one entry on our sad 80s songs list is a masterful example of emotional songwriting. It’s a prime contender for anyone looking to have a good cry. The sorrowful melody accompanied by Michael Stipe’s melancholic voice, take listeners on a journey of despair and pain.
The use of beautiful chord progressions in the background only contribute to the already heartbreaking lyrics. It’s no wonder that R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” is a classic for a reason.
“Careless Whisper” – George Michael
“Careless Whisper” by George Michael is a heart-wrenching 80s ballad filled with melancholic saxophone melodies and soulful vocals that will leave listeners emotionally drained.
The song paints a picture of love and betrayal, as Michael sings about his lover’s infidelity and the resulting pain it has caused him. It’s a nostalgic anthem that captures the essence of 80s romanticism and sad love songs.
“Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler
“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler is a poignant 80s ballad that captures heartache and sorrow at its most intense. Tyler’s raw, anguished vocals possess a palpable sense of longing and desperation as she sings about a lost love.
With its soaring, melodramatic chorus and moody instrumentation, the song perfectly encapsulates the melancholy spirit of the era, reflecting a longing for something that has been irretrievably lost. Its theme of heartbreak and regret makes it a quintessential selection for any playlist devoted to the most poignant and sad songs of the 1980s.
“Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” – Phil Collins
The Phil Collins song from 1984, “Against All Odds,” is a gorgeously bleak track that speaks to a sense of betrayal and loss that permeated much of the decade’s balladry. Collins’ vocals are as wounded and pained as the lyrics themselves, and the melancholy instrumentation only underscores the despair at the heart of this song.
It’s a testament to his skills as both a singer and a songwriter that the track remains so enduringly powerful more than 30 years after its initial release.
“Hello” – Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie’s “Hello” is a melancholy ballad filled with raw and honest emotion. The track is characterized by its slow and steady tempo that gives off a sense of sadness and longing, but also a yearning for something that seems unattainable.
The lyrics are introspective and introspective, as they express the feelings of a speaker who is haunted by unrequited love. The simplistic and heartfelt delivery of the melody makes “Hello” a quintessential track of the sad 80s songs era.
“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston
Now, this next ballad is a classic heartbreaker from the 80s. With Whitney Houston’s passionate vocals and a powerful arrangement that tugs at your heartstrings, it’s hard not to feel a sense of longing and sadness.
The song speaks to the pain of lost love and the struggle to let go of someone who will always hold a special place in your heart. It’s unquestionably a timeless anthem for anyone who’s experienced a devastating breakup.
“Alone” – Heart
Heart’s ‘Alone’ is a classic heart-wrenching ballad of the 80s with soaring vocals and lush synth-pop instrumentation. The lyrics convey the depths of loneliness and longing, speaking to anyone who has experienced the heartache of a failed relationship.
Ann Wilson’s emotive delivery captures the song’s raw emotion, making it an enduring anthem of lost love and despair that will resonate with melancholic souls even today.
“I Want to Know What Love Is” – Foreigner
This particular track is a melancholic masterpiece from the 80s that speaks of love and longing. Its poignant melody perfectly encapsulates the theme of yearning for a missed opportunity.
The song’s vivid lyrics and powerful vocals lay bare the emotions of heartbreak and the pain of unrequited love. Its poignant message is still relevant today, inspiring a new generation of music-lovers with its immersive sound and meaningful lyrics.
“The One You Love” – Glenn Frey
This tragic ballad from the late 80s delivers a heart-wrenching message about lost love and the pain of yearning for someone who’s gone. The artist’s powerful vocals and emotive lyrics stir up feelings of melancholy and despair, drawing the listener into their tale of heartache and unrequited love.
With its timeless message and soulful delivery, this song continues to touch the hearts of people of all ages and backgrounds, proving that sadness is a universal feeling that can be expressed through the power of music.
“All Out of Love” – Air Supply
“All Out of Love” by Air Supply is a heart-wrenching 80s classic that captures the emotional emptiness of a lost love. The melancholic lyrics and soft, soaring vocals of singer Russell Hitchcock make this ballad a timeless hit that pulls at the heartstrings and resonates with listeners of all ages.
Air Supply’s masterful use of rich harmonies and emotive instrumentation adds to the song’s poignancy, making it a perfect addition to any playlist dedicated to the saddest 80s songs.
“What’s Love Got to Do with It” – Tina Turner
Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It” paints a picture of confusion and uncertainty. The muddling feelings of love and angst are conveyed through powerful vocals and a catchy melody. The 80s pop hit embodies the decade’s trend of cheesy romanticism, while also addressing the pain that comes with heartbreak.
It is almost difficult to classify if it’s a happy or a sad song. The complex mix of contrasting emotions might leave one bewildered about what a person might be feeling while listening to it.
“The Winner Takes It All” – ABBA
“The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA is an emotionally rich ballad that delicately balances melancholic melodies with lyrical complexity. The song’s narrative details the sadness and heartbreak of a failed relationship, capturing the longing and regret that comes with love gone awry.
With poignant piano riffs and somber string sections, the track weaves a tapestry of emotion that resonates even beyond its decade of origin.
“I Just Died in Your Arms” – Cutting Crew
This heart-wrenching 80s ballad will leave you with all the feels. The cutting melody and anguished lyrics are sure to make you ache. The chorus comes in like a sudden downpour, contrasting with the somber verses and leaving you breathless. You’ll find yourself humming this melancholic tune for days on end.
“Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper
So, there’s this one song from the 80s that makes me feel really blue, man. It’s like, the beat is so catchy but the lyrics are real heavy, you know? The tune is called “Time After Time” by this artist named Cyndi Lauper. It talks about how time changes everything, even love.
The lyrics are like a bittersweet reminder that we can’t hold onto things forever. It’s a total masterpiece, but it’ll bum you out for sure.
“Eternal Flame” – The Bangles
This next song just screams melancholy. It’s like a never-ending cycle of heartache and despair. The vocals are hauntingly beautiful and the lyrics evoke an incredible amount of emotion. You can feel the pain and sorrow of the singer through every word.
It’s the kind of song that makes you want to curl up under a blanket and just let your tears fall. If you’re looking for an 80s song that will make you feel all the feels, this one’s for you.
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” – Bonnie Raitt
Yo, have you heard that Bonnie Raitt song “I Can’t Make You Love Me”? It’s a straight-up heartbreaking ballad from the 80s. The lyrics capture the pain of unrequited love and rejection, and Raitt’s soulful vocals really drive it home.
It’s the kind of song you listen to when you’re feeling down and need to embrace the sadness for a minute. Trust me, give it a listen and you’ll feel all the feels.
“Missing You” – John Waite
“Missing You” by John Waite is a heart-wrenching 80s ballad that leaves you yearning for a lost love. Waite’s melancholic voice is accompanied by a sorrowful guitar riff, emphasizing the raw emotions of the song.
The lyrics invoke a sense of longing and regret, perfectly capturing the pain of a breakup. It’s a melancholy masterpiece that will leave you with tears in your eyes and a lump in your throat.
“Right Here Waiting” – Richard Marx
Okay, I understand. “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx is a popular 80s ballad that is guaranteed to leave you feeling a tad emotional. The song talks about a long-distance relationship and how hard it can be to be apart from someone you love.
With heartfelt lyrics and Marx’s smooth vocals, this song has the power to tug at your heartstrings and bring a tear to your eye. It’s the kind of song you listen to when you’re feeling a bit blue and need a good cry.”
“Broken Wings” – Mr. Mister
“Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister is a melancholic ballad filled with sorrowful emotions that permeate through the soul. The lyrics lament over a failed relationship, and the desperate yearning to mend the once-broken bond.
The somber melody and the haunting vocal delivery of lead singer Richard Page tugs at the heartstrings and leaves a lasting impression of heartbreak and regret. The song’s poignant message of love lost and the pain that follows makes it a perfect addition to any sad 80s playlist.
“Never Tear Us Apart” – INXS
INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” is a hauntingly beautiful ballad that stirs emotions from within. With its lush instrumentation and sultry vocals, the song perfectly captures the melancholic essence of the ’80s.
The lyrics depict a love that will never die, no matter what life throws at them. Its profound and touching message about the power of love makes it a perfect addition to any sad ’80s playlist.
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” – Crowded House
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House, an 80s song that seems to mourn the end of a romantic relationship that was filled with love and magic. The lyrical imagery in the track takes its audience on a journey through the highs and lows of love and heartbreak, with a touch of melancholy that lingers long after the song is over.
It’s a must-listen for anyone looking to reminisce and indulge in a little nostalgia.
“True Colors” – Cyndi Lauper
Okay, so like, if you’re searching for some totally gut-wrenching tunes from the 80s, you gotta add “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper to your playlist. It’s super emotional, and you can feel the raw honesty in her voice as she sings about showing your true self and being vulnerable even when it’s scary.
The stripped-down arrangement really adds to the melancholy feels, and it’s impossible not to have all the feels when that chorus hits. Trust me, you need this song in your life.
“Every Breath You Take” – The Police
This 80s tune from The Police is a total heartbreaker. At the surface, it sounds kinda romantic, but once you really tune in to the lyrics, you realize it’s actually sorta creepy and stalkerish. But the music itself is so hauntingly beautiful that you can’t help but feel moved by it.
Whenever this song comes on, I get all teary-eyed and think about all the things I’ve lost and will never get back. It’s like a time capsule of sadness that transports me back to a time and place where everything sucked.
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – U2
Now, this 80s music sure has its shenanigans, and “Every Breath You Take” by The Police is one absolute shakedown of emotions. It’s got a deceitful kind of vibe to it, with Sting’s words depicting love as a dangerous game. And even though it’s got that reggae beat that makes you want to sway, the lyrics force you to acknowledge the darkness lurking beneath the surface of the song.
Nonetheless, it remains a beloved track in the melancholic genre, and one that has certainly left its mark in music history.
“The Promise” – When In Rome
This track evokes a peculiar sense of sorrow despite its upbeat tempo and colorful production. Its emotive lyrics perfectly complement the melody’s melancholic vibe, leaving listeners feeling a mix of nostalgia and heartache.
The song’s bittersweet narrative is enhanced by the band’s experimental sound, which features an array of ethereal keyboards and haunting guitar riffs. It’s a mesmerizing listen that taps into the angst and uncertainty of the 80s in a way that only a handful of songs from that era can achieve.
“Glory of Love” – Peter Cetera
This melancholic 80s hit is a soulful portrayal of a love that once existed but is now long gone. With heartfelt lyrics and a powerful melody, the song captures the sadness and longing that we all feel after a painful break-up.
Despite its emotional intensity, the song leaves the listener with a glimmer of hope, reminding us that though love may be fleeting, it is nonetheless worth fighting for.
“Wind of Change” – Scorpions
“Wind of Change” from Scorpions is a poignant and emotional song that captures the sense of turmoil and change in the world during the late 80s. The song is characterized by its melancholic melody and introspective lyrics that speak of the uncertainty and upheaval of the time.
The soaring guitar solos and evocative vocals lend an air of wistfulness to the track, making it a powerful meditation on the human condition and the inevitability of change.
“Total Control” – The Motels
This 80’s song that just hits you in all the feels. Martha Davis’ haunting vocals and the melancholic synth-pop melody just make it a perfect fit for our blog on “sad 80s songs”. Totally epic how the song explores the emotional turmoil of losing oneself to possessive relationships. Definitely a must-listen for anyone who loves 80s classics that tug at the heartstrings.
“Forever Young” – Alphaville
This is an 80s song that’s all about being forever young, but the lyrics are actually pretty sad when you listen closely. It’s got this awesome New Wave sound, with upbeat synths and catchy melodies, but the singer’s voice is so full of longing and melancholy.
It’s like this contradiction between feeling young and carefree and knowing that time will inevitably catch up to you. It’s a total bop, but it hits different when you’re in your 20s and just starting to realize that youth is fleeting.
“Take My Breath Away” – Berlin
“Take My Breath Away” by Berlin is a heart-wrenching ballad that captured the essence of longing and desire. The song’s moody and atmospheric sound, combined with Terri Nunn’s haunting vocals, make this track an 80s classic that still resonates with listeners today.
The song’s melancholic tone and yearning lyrics create a sense of sadness that is both poignant and cutting-edge. “Take My Breath Away” is a must-listen for anyone looking for a dose of bittersweet nostalgia from the 80s.
“I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” – Elton John
This Elton John joint from the 80s will get everyone up with their feelings. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” is a heart-wrenching ballad that perfectly captures the melancholy mood of the era. It’s a tune that’ll have you shedding tears into your shoulder pads as you reminisce about lost love and missed chances.
With soulful lyrics, sweet melodies, and Elton’s signature croon, this song will leave you a total mess.
“Say You, Say Me” – Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me” is a melancholic 80s ballad that expresses the complexities of love and the challenges of communication. The song’s mellow and introspective melody complements its intricate lyrics that allude to the ephemeral nature of relationships and the vulnerability of the human heart.
Richie’s soulful voice amplifies the song’s emotional intensity and conveys its message of hope and despair with an unmatched rawness and honesty.
“Say You, Say Me” is a timeless masterpiece that continues to connect with listeners of all ages and backgrounds.
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – Poison
Okay, let me give it a shot. So, this one track from the 80s is a real tearjerker, man. It’s called “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison. The lyrics just hit you right in the feels, you know? The singer talks about a love that couldn’t last and the pain that comes with it.
The way the guitars play in the background is like pouring salt in the wound, but in a good way, if that makes sense. Overall, it’s just a really sad song that captures that feeling of heartbreak from the 80s.
“Heaven” – Bryan Adams
“Heaven” by Bryan Adams is truly a heart-wrenching ballad that epitomizes the melancholy of the 80s. With his soulful voice and emotive lyrics, Adams takes listeners on a journey of longing and loss.
The song’s gentle melodies and melancholic tone conjure feelings of longing and a sense of loss that is characteristic of the painful situations in which people often find themselves. It’s expressive and powerful while also delivering a deeply emotional message to its listeners, a lament for a love that is lost.
“Broken” – Tears for Fears
“Broken” by Tears for Fears is a poignant song that captures the essence of heartbreak and despair through its haunting melody and evocative lyrics. Roland Orzabal’s smooth vocals and emotive delivery perfectly complement the somber and melancholic instrumental arrangements, creating a sense of raw emotions that tug at the heartstrings.
With its reflective and deeply personal lyrics, “Broken” is a quintessential ’80s track that continues to resonate with fans even today.
“The Flame” – Cheap Trick
“The Flame” by Cheap Trick is a melancholic ballad that speaks about love lost. It features the signature vocal style of Robin Zander with heartfelt lyrics that can tug at one’s heartstrings. The instrumentation is balanced, with a soft piano intro and a gradual build-up of drums, bass, and guitar, culminating in a powerful chorus that elicits an emotional response.
Despite its age, the song’s timeless quality continues to resonate with listeners today, encapsulating the melancholy sentiment that many 80s songs are known for.
“Never” – Heart
This song is a real tear-jerker that will leave you feeling down for hours. It’s got this intense, raw emotion that hits you straight in the heart. The lyrics explore the pain of a love that’s lost, and the singer’s voice is just so haunting and beautiful. You can feel the heartache in every note.
It’s the kind of song that reminds you of all the times you’ve felt heartbroken and lost, but in a way that makes you appreciate those feelings and find comfort in shared sorrow.
“Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol
Yo, for real though, “Eyes Without a Face” by Billy Idol is like a seriously deep and vividly mesmerizing tune, you know? Like, it’s all about unrequited love and the emptiness one feels when they can’t have the person they desire.
The lyrics paint a picture of someone who’s got everything in life, except the one they really want, and they’re just left staring into the void, with nothing but the sound of their own heartbeat to keep them company. It’s like the pinnacle of 80s synth-pop melancholy, for real.
“If You Leave” – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
This song from the 80s has got me feeling all the feels. It’s like this really sad, but beautiful track that just gets you right in the gut. The vocals are haunting and there’s this melancholic synth melody going on that just adds to the overall sadness. Definitely a must-listen for anyone who’s feeling a bit down and wants something to commiserate with.
“I’ll Be There for You” – Bon Jovi
This ballad from a rock band we know as Jovi Bon will hit you right in the feels. Its repetitive melody seeps into your soul as the lead singer croons about being there for someone else.
The intensity of the lyrics, matched by the emotive guitar riffs in the chorus, will leave you feeling gutted for a while. It’s the perfect song for those moments when we feel alone and the world seems to be closing in around us.
“What About Love” – Heart
This heart-wrenching ballad from Heart, “What About Love,” paints a picture of a love story that has come to an end. The emotions that flow through the lyrics and soaring vocals evoke a sense of heartache and desperation, making it a perfect addition to any playlist of melancholic ’80s songs.
“Unchained Melody” – The Righteous Brothers
This track from the Righteous Brothers is an absolute heartbreaker. It was originally recorded in 1955 and was remade in the 1980s for the movie “Ghost,” where it took on a whole new life.
The soaring vocals and haunting melody make it a classic, and it’s the kind of song you listen to when you’re feeling down and need to wallow in your emotions. It’s a beautiful, yet devastating track that will leave you reaching for the tissues.
“With or Without You” – U2
This heart-rending classic from U2 is a quintessential ’80s power ballad and a go-to soundtrack option for melancholic souls. With its soaring melodies and poignant lyrics about love and longing, “With or Without You” embodies the complex emotional landscape of sad ’80s songs.
Whether you’re nursing a broken heart or simply craving a cathartic cry, this timeless anthem will surely strike a chord.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor
The final piece on this list is one of the most heart-wrenching songs in the 80s by Sinead O’Connor. It’s a soulful, stripped-down ballad in which O’Connor’s haunting voice delivers a deep and raw emotional performance that captivates listeners with every word.
The track’s deep and relatable lyrics, combined with its soulful and mellow instrumentation, makes it one of the most mournful songs of its time, which will surely resonate with anyone going through a difficult time in their life.