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Top 10 Slow Dance Songs of the 1980s

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Aaron Cameron. Grab your partner and load up on hair spray, boys and girls. For this list, we’re basing our choices on those songs that were popular at high school dances and/or prom celebrations during the decade in question. They’re sure to bring back lots of memories, whether they’re good, embarrassing or something else entirely. This is a part of a series of slow dance songs ranging from the 1970s to the 2000s. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 slow dance songs of the 1980s.Special thanks to our users This Chick, Jacob Levy and undying for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Aaron Cameron.

Top 10 Slow Dance Songs of the 1980s


Grab your partner and load up on the hair spray, boys and girls. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 slow dance songs of the 1980s.

For this list, we’re basing our choices on those songs that were popular at high school dances and/or prom celebrations during the decade in question. They’re sure to bring back lots of memories, whether they’re good, embarrassing or something else entirely. This is a part of a series of slow dance songs ranging from the 1970s to the 2000s.

#10: “I Want to Know What Love Is” (1984)
Foreigner

Show us, won’t you? Written primarily by guitarist Mick Jones and inspired by his future wife, this is unquestionably the band’s biggest hit. In the UK, it cruelly booted “Do They Know It’s Christmas” off the top spot, and dethroned Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” in the U.S., but it’s the soft rock track’s powerful emotion and excellent dance-ability that really catch our attention. From the cold ‘80s keyboards to the soulful quality of Lou Gramm’s vocals and the spiritual feel of the New Jersey Mass Choir, “I Want to Know What Love Is” has blossoming romance written all over it.

#9: “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” (1988)
Poison

While roses in fact have prickles and not thorns, this song remains a textbook example of the ‘80s power ballad. The Bret Michaels-penned number mixes in a bit of country flavoring to the band’s signature glam metal sound - an untested recipe that earned the band their first, and only, #1 hit. The heartbreak and sorrow expressed by Michaels was genuine as he had just learned that his stripper girlfriend had been unfaithful to him. And this, for an ‘80s rocker, was undoubtedly the biggest hurt of all.

#8: “True” (1983)
Spandau Ballet

Mixing the unlikely influences of Marvin Gaye and Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita,” Gary Kemp reportedly crafted this song to win the attention of Altered Images’ singer Clare Grogan. Despite being a British #1 and a top 5 entry in the U.S., Kemp’s attempt at attention went unnoticed. You win some, you lose some but you’ll always feel like a winner when you’re swaying in good company to this ‘80s classic.

#7: “Right Here Waiting” (1989)
Richard Marx

While many ‘80s hits are notable for their heavy use of synths and the gated drum sound, this Billboard #1 is known for just the opposite. Stripped back and as basic as the decade would allow, Richard Marx wrote the song as a love letter to his actress wife Cynthia Rhodes, who was then working in South Africa. One of Marx’s multiple Hot Adult Contemporary chart-toppers, the soft rocker didn’t only find a home on dance floors during this decade, but into the discographies of several artists who’ve deemed it cover-worthy throughout the years.

#6: “I’ll Be There for You” (1989)
Bon Jovi

Hard rock loved to show its soft side in the ‘80s and nothing was more tender in that decade than a guy from New Jersey power-ballading his way through a huge chorus or two. “I’ll Be There for You” was a #1 hit in the U.S. and is actually the last Bon Jovi song to reach that spot to date. But this love-dusted hunk of glam metal is a hit all over again anytime it’s played near a dance floor.

#5: “The Lady in Red” (1986)
Chris de Burgh

Firmly Chris de Burgh’s signature song, “The Lady in Red” would never have had the memorable title it has today if the Irish-British singer hadn’t remembered seeing his future wife across a room dressed in the color. With its soft sound and sweeping sentimental and romantic feel, the tune was a number one hit in many countries, including Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. It was also an American top 5 hit.

#4: “Faithfully” (1983)
Journey

With so much temptation on the road, it can be hard for any man, even a rock keyboardist, to stay true. Keys man Jonathan Cain wrote this ode to his wife after hearing the melody in a dream. Although a top twenty hit for the band, it did not have the desired effect at home and Cain and his wife later divorced. But if your dancing partner isn’t up on his or her Journey trivia, a slow dance to this number might just be the start of something beautiful.

#3: “Careless Whisper” (1984)
Wham!

Credited as a George Michael solo single in some countries, this song was also included on Wham!’s Make It Big album in 1984. It’s one of the duo’s few singles to be co-written with Wham-er Andrew Ridgeley, as Michael usually wrote their songs himself. The singer claims to have composed the track - sax solo and all - mentally while riding on a bus. Still viewed - along with “Father Figure”- as one of the most definitive songs in Michael’s career, “Careless Whisper” has since sold 6 million copies and nabbed the top spot in much of the music-loving world.

#2: “Take My Breath Away” (1986)
Berlin

Forever etched in even the most macho of minds as the love theme from “TopGun,” this Oscar-winning song was a top 10 hit in many countries and a chart-topper in both the U.S. and the UK. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock - the same team that wrote Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”- “Take My Breath Away” was first offered to The Motels before being recorded by Berlin. With its synth drones and sterile drums, it is unmistakably ‘80s but thanks to its soft sound and gentle vocals, it’s also the perfect song to share a dance to.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “Purple Rain” (1984)
Prince and The Revolution
- “Still Loving You” (1984)
Scorpions
- “Save a Prayer” (1982)
Duran Duran
- “Endless Love” (1981)
Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
- “Lost in Your Eyes” (1988)
Debbie Gibson

#1: “Time After Time” (1984)
Cyndi Lauper

Our last dance for the evening is the ballad that really put the “unusual” girl on the map. Although Lauper had already recorded the eventual hits “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “She Bop,” producer Rick Chertoff felt her debut album needed just one more song. The result of that request was this timeless and enduring collaboration between Lauper and Rob Hyman. The track came together in the studio very quickly and went on to be a Billboard #1 - even being covered by jazz legend Miles Davis the next year.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite ‘80s slow dance song? For more gnarly Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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