Close your eyes, and you can almost hear the familiar crackle of a vinyl record spinning on a turntable, transporting you back to the 80s.
It was an era of big hair, neon colors, and unforgettable music that still holds a special place in our hearts today.
But among the upbeat hits, a collection of melancholic melodies has stood the test of time as some of the saddest songs ever written.
So join me through heart-wrenching tunes from one of our favorite decades – the 80s.
1. With or Without You by U2 (1987)
“With or Without You” by U2 is undeniably one of the greatest songs of the 80s.
Its haunting melody, poignant lyrics, and emotional vocals make it the saddest song of the decade.
The band’s frontman, Bono, sings about a beautiful and heartbreaking love, leaving listeners longing and melancholy.
The track tackles the complexities of relationships, where one person is willing to do anything for love while the other struggles to reciprocate.
This contrast is beautifully captured in the chorus when Bono declares, “And you give yourself away / And you give yourself away / And you give / And you give.”
2. Careless Whisper by George Michael (1984)
“Careless Whisper” by George Michael is widely regarded as one of the saddest songs of the 80s.
Released in 1984, this soulful ballad struck a chord with listeners as it expresses the pain and regret of a lost love.
The sad melody, coupled with Michael’s passionate vocals, beautifully captures the heartbreak and longing that comes with a failed relationship.
The lyrics are raw and honest, reflecting on the consequences of infidelity and how it can destroy a once beautiful connection.
Despite its popularity and catchy saxophone riff, “Careless Whisper” maintains a sense of vulnerability that resonates with people today.
3. Still Loving You by Scorpions (1984)
“Still Loving You” by Scorpions is a timeless classic that touches the hearts of millions with its poignant lyrics and passionate delivery.
Released in 1984, it quickly became one of the most beloved power ballads of all time, capturing the essence of unrequited love and heartbreak with its emotional intensity.
The raw vocals of lead singer Klaus Meine beautifully convey the pain and longing of a lover desperately holding onto what remains of a once-great relationship.
From the heartfelt verses to the soul-stirring guitar solo, every element of this song exudes melancholy and vulnerability, making it stand out as the “Saddest Song of the 80s”.
4. Def Leppard – Love Bites (1987)
Def Leppard’s “Love Bites” is a timeless power ballad that has withstood the test of time as one of the saddest songs to come out of the 80s.
Released in 1987, it quickly became an anthem for heartbreak and unrequited love. The lyrics are hauntingly beautiful, painting a picture of a love that once burned bright but has now faded away.
5. Linda Ronstadt – Hurt So Bad
Linda Ronstadt’s rendition of “Hurt So Bad” is a quintessential 80s sad song that leaves listeners feeling nostalgic and emotional.
This power ballad, originally recorded by Little Anthony & The Imperials in the 1960s, was given new life by Ronstadt with her powerhouse vocals and heartfelt delivery.
The sad lyrics and Ronstadt’s soulful voice make for a heart-wrenching listening experience that captures the pain and longing of lost love.
6. REO Speedwagon – Keep on Loving You
REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You” is a heart-wrenching ballad that perfectly captures the essence of love and loss in the 80s.
The song portrays the pain and longing of a brokenhearted lover who can’t seem to let go. It begins with a slow, sad melody accompanied by lead singer Kevin Cronin’s soulful voice, instantly setting the tone for a sentimental journey.
As the lyrics unfold, we are taken through an emotional rollercoaster, with lines like “But I won’t hold you back now,” conveying the struggle of holding onto someone who no longer wants to stay.
The chorus, “And I’m gonna keep on loving you, ’cause it’s the only thing I wanna do,” hits straight to the heart and expresses the unbreakable commitment and devotion that echoes throughout every verse.
7. The Cure – Disintegration (1989)
Disintegration is a hauntingly beautiful album by British band The Cure, released in 1989.
This album is often regarded as their masterpiece and has become an iconic part of the 80s music scene.
The songs on this album perfectly capture the melancholy and isolation prevalent during the 80s, making it a quintessential sad song of the decade.
The title track, “Disintegration,” portrays a sense of hopelessness and despair in a way that only The Cure can.
8. Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper (1984)
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper is not just a song. It’s an iconic ballad that captured the hearts of millions in the 80s and continues to do so today.
This sad yet beautiful tune tells the story of two lovers who struggle to make their relationship work despite being pulled apart by circumstances.
With lyrics like “If you’re lost, you can look, and you will find me / Time after time,” the song perfectly captures the longing and yearning for someone we love.
The haunting melody, combined with Lauper’s powerful vocals, creates a sense of raw emotion that is hard to ignore.
9. Drive by The Cars (1984)
“Drive” by The Cars is a classic 80s sad song that is sure to tug at your heartstrings.
With its catchy synth-pop melody and melancholic lyrics, it perfectly captures the struggles of unrequited love and the feeling of being stuck in a one-sided relationship.
The lead singer’s smooth vocals add an emotional depth to the song, making it a favorite among many music lovers.
The memorable chorus will have you singing along and feeling every word, reminding you of your own past heartbreaks.
Even though it was released over three decades ago, “Drive” remains relevant and relatable, making it a timeless hit that resonates with listeners today.
10. I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner (1984)
“I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner is a timeless classic that perfectly captures the essence of love and longing in the 80s.
This iconic song starts with a gentle piano melody, creating a sad yet captivating atmosphere.
The lead singer’s powerful vocals kick in, expressing his deep yearning to understand true love.
As the chorus hits, the emotional intensity builds up as the choir joins in, further emphasizing the raw emotions behind the lyrics.
With heartfelt lines like “In my life, there’s been heartache and pain, I don’t know if I can face it again”, this song resonates with anyone who has ever experienced heartbreak or uncertainty in a relationship.
11. Faithfully by Journey (1983)
“Faithfully” by Journey is a classic song from the 80s that evokes nostalgia and longing.
With its heartfelt lyrics and powerful vocals, it has remained one of the most beloved sad songs of the era.
The song tells the story of a musician constantly on tour, always away from his loved one.
It speaks of the sacrifices and struggles of a long-distance relationship and highlights the enduring love and loyalty between two people.
The soaring guitar riffs and Steve Perry’s emotive voice make for an unforgettable listening experience.
12. Pictures of You by The Cure (1989)
“Pictures of You” is a hauntingly beautiful song by the iconic band The Cure that has the power to evoke a sense of melancholy in anyone who listens to it.
Released as a single from their album Disintegration, this track immediately became a fan favorite and cemented as one of the band’s most beloved songs.
Its ability to capture emotions and memories through vivid imagery sets “Pictures of You” apart from other sad songs.
The lyrics paint a picture of lost love and longing, while the music creates an ethereal atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re drifting through old photographs.
13. Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) by Cinderella (1988)
“Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” is a timeless American rock band Cinderella ballad.
Released in 1988, this song quickly became one of their most popular and enduring hits.
With its emotionally charged lyrics and powerful vocals from frontman Tom Keifer, the song reminds us to appreciate what we have before it’s too late.
The melody is hauntingly beautiful, and the guitar solo towards the end adds more emotion to the poignant lyrics.
The song reflects on a lost love and how only after it’s gone do we truly realize its value.
14. True Colors by Cyndi Lauper (1986)
“True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper is a song that touches the hearts of many. It captures the essence of embracing one’s true self and encouraging others to do the same.
With its robust and emotional lyrics, this song reminds us that it’s okay to show vulnerability and let our true colors shine through.
When we let go of societal expectations and judgments, we can fully embrace our authentic selves and find strength in our differences.
15. Cheap Trick – The Flame (1988)
“The Flame” by Cheap Trick is a sad yet powerful ballad that showcases the band’s versatility and vibrant storytelling.
Released in 1988, this song became their highest-charting single and is still considered one of their most iconic hits.
The lyrics tell a story of unrequited love and longing for someone who has moved on, accompanied by a heartfelt vocal performance from lead singer Robin Zander.
The blend of acoustic guitar, piano, and orchestral elements creates a hauntingly beautiful melody that intensifies the emotions conveyed in the lyrics.
16. I Know It’s Over by The Smiths (1988)
“I Know It’s Over” by The Smiths is a hauntingly beautiful song that captures the pain and heartache of lost love.
Morrissey’s melancholic vocals and Johnny Marr’s dreamy guitar riffs make this song a must-listen for anyone going through a difficult breakup.
The lyrics paint a vivid picture of someone who is struggling to accept that their relationship has come to an end.
The line “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind” perfectly captures the conflicting emotions one feels after a breakup.
17. XTC – Dying (1986)
“Dying” by XTC is a heart-wrenching track that captures the melancholy of losing someone you love.
The haunting lyrics and dreamy melody create an atmosphere of emotional pain and despair.
As the song progresses, the lead singer’s vocals become more desperate, delivering each line with raw emotion.
The haunting guitar riffs add to the overall sense of longing and sadness, while the drums provide a steady beat that echoes the rhythm of a broken heart.
18. David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes (1980)
“Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie is a haunting and reflective song that explores the themes of reflection, regret, and existentialism.
Released in 1980, it quickly became one of the most iconic and saddest songs of the 80s due to its melancholy lyrics and sad melody.
Through his powerful vocals, Bowie delves into the psyche of Major Tom as he reflects on his past mistakes and struggles with the present reality.
19. Bruce Springsteen – The River (1980)
“The River” by Bruce Springsteen is undoubtedly one of the saddest songs of the 80s.
Released in 1980, it tells a poignant story about love, loss, and the harsh realities of life.
The song follows the journey of a working-class man who dreams of escaping his complicated life with his lover by his side.
However, their dreams slowly fade away as they face unexpected challenges and responsibilities.
Which song makes you cry?
For me, there is one specific song that never fails to bring tears to my eyes every time I listen.
It’s “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. The hauntingly beautiful melody and the raw and emotional lyrics continuously stir up a mix of emotions within me.
From heartache and sorrow to hope and acceptance, this song captures the essence of human vulnerability like no other.
It reminds me of loved ones no longer with us and the bittersweet memories we hold onto.
What songs do I listen to when I’m sad?
When I’m feeling sad, my taste in music completely changes. I gravitate towards slower, more melancholy songs that reflect my mood.
One of my go-to artists is Adele; her powerful and passionate voice and heart-wrenching lyrics always tug at my heartstrings.
I also find solace in listening to Ed Sheeran’s acoustic tracks. Their stripped-down nature allows me to immerse myself in each song’s emotions fully.
Sarah McLachlan’s angelic voice and haunting melodies also comfort me when I’m feeling down.
But sometimes, instead of delving into sadness even further, I opt for uplifting songs with a positive message.
Artists such as Beyoncé and Taylor Swift never fail to uplift my spirits with their empowering lyrics and inspiring melodies.
And when all else fails, I turn to nostalgic tunes from my childhood or songs with special memories of loved ones.
Why do old songs make me cry?
Old songs uniquely evoke powerful emotions, often making us feel nostalgic and sad.
This is because music can transport us back in time and bring back memories that we thought were long forgotten.
Every song we listen to holds a special place in our hearts as it becomes intertwined with moments from our past.
Old songs carry a sense of familiarity and comfort, reminding us of people, places, and experiences that are no longer a part of our lives.
They serve as a gentle reminder of the passing of time and how things have changed.
Moreover, older songs tend to have more meaningful lyrics and deeply relatable melodies, making them all the more emotional for us.
Should I listen to sad songs?
In my opinion, listening to sad songs is a personal preference and ultimately depends on your mood and its effect on you.
Some people find comfort in listening to sad songs as it allows them to express and process their emotions. It can also bring a sense of catharsis and provide a space for reflection.
However, if you are feeling down or going through a difficult time, constantly listening to sad songs may worsen your mood and make you even more upset.
In such situations, listening to uplifting music that can lift your spirits would be beneficial.
Why does 80s music make me cry?
Have you ever shed tears while listening to music from the 80s? You’re not alone.
There’s something uniquely emotional about the sounds and lyrics of this era that can evoke strong feelings in listeners.
One reason for this could be nostalgia – the longing for simpler times and memories of youth associated with these songs.
The 80s was a decade filled with iconic musicians and bands who created powerful, heartfelt ballads and anthems that still resonate with us today.
The music of this era also often tackled deep and relatable themes such as love, loss, and personal struggles, which can strike a chord with our emotions.
The 80s were a decade filled with iconic music still beloved and remembered today.
While some songs from this era may bring back fond memories and make us want to dance, some tug at our heartstrings and bring tears to our eyes.
These sad songs from the 80s touched on various emotions and experiences, showing us that music can connect us all in our vulnerabilities.
Whether you’re feeling nostalgic or looking for comfort in your sadness, these top saddest songs of the 80s will surely strike a chord with you.
So go ahead and listen to them, let yourself feel the emotions they evoke, and remember that even during our most challenging moments, we are not alone.
Thank you for reading this post, and we hope it brought back some bittersweet memories for you!