This was the year that the drug known as “crack” was first acknowledged by the media and law enforcement, Iran-Contra was a thing, a man named Osama bin Laden formed a group called Al-Qaeda, the first computer virus – the worm – was unleashed on the internet, George H. W. Bush was elected as President of the United States and a group of NASA scientists announce the existence of something called “global warming”. Not a very promising year.
In 1988 the average movie ticket cost $3.50, gasoline cost 91 cents a gallon in the U.S. and a Logitech Mouse cost $89.99… Oh how times have changed. In music we lost Andy Gibb, Chet Baker, Son House and Roy Orbison while some someday-to-be artists like Rihanna and Adele were born.
Insofar as love songs in popular music 1988 was an interesting and eclectic year with the early-eighties sound quietly giving way to a newer sound that would carry into the next decade. Below you will find a list of some of the best love songs released in 1988, so scroll to the bottom of the page, click play, and re-live the memories.
“Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison
Twenty-four years after he topped the chart with another loving song “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, and seven years after his last Top 40 appearance, former Beatle George Harrison rocketed to the number one spot with this upbeat love ditty released in late 1987, which remained on the Billboard Top 40 for fifteen weeks, and it would be the last of three #1 solo hits for the artist.
“The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson
Some might argue this is the best Michael Jackson song ever, although there is no argument that it is likely his best and highest charting love song, reaching #1 on almost every U.S. chart. This is a fun and danceable love song which, like any other great love song, finds a new way to say “I love you”.
“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
With a powerful voice and a face like Richie Cunningham British pop sensation Rick Astley burst on the scene Rick-rolling us all before we even knew what that meant. The third love song on this list to reach #1 on the Billboard Pop charts, and the first hit for Astley altogether went Certified Gold in 1988, and as the title suggests, sings of unfaltering love.
“Out Of The Blue” by Debbie Gibson
Sometimes known as the original Britney Spears, Debbie Gibson was the quintessential pop girl, filling the late 80s with bubblegum and love. “Out Of The Blue” reached the number three spot on the Billboard Pop 40 charts in early 1988.
“Together Forever” by Rick Astley
Back again, Rick Astley’s second Top 40 hit climbed to #1 on the charts only months after his first hit, and was perhaps an even more powerful love song than “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Two number one hits in less than three months is an impressive feat in itself, but two strong (and danceable) love songs is especially unique.
“Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’arby
Terence Trent D’arby was a true 1988 man, with “Sign Your Name” being one of three Top 40 hits he had that year, and then he quietly disappeared into chart oblivion. This interesting and pseudo-sexy love song reached #4 on the Billboard Pop charts in mid to late 1988.
“I’ll Always Love You” by Taylor Dayne
This is the first song on our list suitable for a slow dance, so it’s no surprise that it was a wedding first dance classic. The title pretty much sums up the spirit of the tune, and although it peaked at #3, “I’ll Always Love You” was Certified Gold selling over a million records. Unquestionably one of the best ballads on this list.
“Groovy Kind Of Love” by Phil Collins
Another slow ballad and another Certified Gold record, “Groovy Kind Of Love” reached #1 on the Billboard Top 40, and was also a popular wedding selection through the late 80s and early 90s. The lyrics are filled with fuzzy love, although Phil Collins may have slightly overused the word “blue” in the lyrics just a bit, it’s still a great love song.
“Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS
In the spirit of INXS and the late Michael Hutchence, this is the INXS interpretation of a love song, and it’s pretty awesome. Although it only reached #7 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1988, it is a quintessential representation of what is typically considered the sound of the 80s, and an outstanding love song to boot.
“Giving You The Best That I Got” by Anita Baker
Anita Baker put out a string of great love songs in the mid to late 1980s, and 1988 was no exception. “Giving You The Best That I Got” made its appearance on the Billboard Top 40 in October of 1988, climbing to #3 shortly after. This is a fine slow R&B/Jazz-infused love ballad and a great wedding selection for a first dance, cocktails, or just great background for a romantic dinner.
So there’s the list; ten great love songs from 1988 in the order of their appearance on the Top 40 charts. Each song has been vetted, listened to (again and again) and evaluated with the lyrics read and scrutinized to weed out any proper nouns (girls/guys names) troubled love like breakups, infidelity, done-me-wrong or lost love lyrics or and sort of unrequited love (like when the person doesn’t love you back). They’re safe for a wedding first dance, or just to dedicate to someone you love.
Love the love…
Sources: The Billboard Book of Top 40 [Pop] Hits and The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B Hits by Joel Whitburn and Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits by Fred Bronson.