Revisit your first mixtape with these love songs from the 1980s

You better bust out that cassette deck.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

From first kisses to heartbreaks, there are a lot of firsts you experience in high school. What encapsulated these teenage feelings better than music? As a teen in the '80s, not only could you listen to the artists that most definitely knew exactly how you were feeling, but you could even record those songs into a cohesive mix to give to your crush.

Who knows… maybe you still have the first mixtape you received (or made but chickened out when the time came to give it away) buried in a long-forgotten cardboard box.

Were any of these songs on there?

1. “Keep On Loving You” by REO Speedwagon (1980)


REO Speedwagon’s first No. 1 hit, and arguably one of its biggest, was the perfect way to kick off a mixtape for the girl in your math class. After all, you don’t want to learn the Pythagorean Theorem, because loving her is the only thing you want to do.

2. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen (1980)


Who would have expected that a little ditty written in tribute to Elvis Presley in ten minutes would have become Queen's first No. 1 hit in the States? While the '80s were a great time for new wave and hair metal, this track proves there was still space for a good ol' rockabilly song.

3. "Kiss On My List" by Hall & Oates (1981)


Daryl Hall may have been in his 30s when he wrote the Hall & Oates hit "Kiss On My List," but listen to the lyrics and it really does sound like a high schooler who's getting hassled by his friends about the girl he likes. Apparently, Hall actually considers it an "anti-love song," but it still fits.

4. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police (1983)


Opinions on what went on to become The Police's defining track are polarizing. While some people can't imagine anything more romantic than Sting watching every step they take, others find it incredibly creepy. So, hopefully, you didn't put this on a mixtape for someone you admired from afar. But a list of '80s love songs wouldn't  be complete without "Every Breath You Take."

5. "Crazy For You" by Madonna (1985)


Though the legacy of Vision Quest has waned, Madonna's appearance as a nightclub singer — and more importantly, the song she sings — has lived on. There's a reason it's been covered by multiple pop acts over the years. You definitely slow danced to this song if you were in high school in the '80s and if you didn't include it on a mixtape, well, you missed out.

6. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds (1985)


This track by Simple Minds, popularized by The Breakfast Club, had a special kind of poignancy if you were graduating in 1985. What'll happen when you and your beau go to different colleges in the fall? Obviously, the answer was to put this song on a mixtape and listen to it when you're missing each other.

7. "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel (1986)


Though we learned in 1989's Say Anything... that Peter Gabriel's uber-romatic track isn't necessarily a foolproof method for winning someone over, that doesn't mean it wasn't a staple for '80s teens. (And honestly, people are so enamored with that scene that they forget that the boombox-outside-the-window trick didn't actually work.)

8. "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" by The Smiths (1986)


Let's be honest, the melodramatic teens will always be the ones making mixtapes and playlists for their beloveds. And was there anyone in the '80s who was more melodramatic than Smiths frontman, Morrissey? You don't have to admit it, acknowledge there was a time when "...if a double-decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die…" made you swoon. 

9. "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure (1987)


There never has been and never will be another song that so accurately exemplifies those "butterflies in your stomach" whirlwind feeling of the beginning of a teenage romance than "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure. That is just a fact. After all, it's still added to Spotify playlists — the modern mixtape — to this day.

10. "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles (1988)


Is the "Light That Never Goes Out" the same "Eternal Flame" of The Bangles? We'll never know. What we do know, though, is that this track is certainly one of the most heavy-handed love songs of the 1980s, making it the ultimate teenage mixtape song. 

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Amalthea 40 months ago
You couldn't PAY me to have either #5 or #10 on any mix tape of mine. I can't stand Madonna, and the Bangles only ever really came out with 2 decent songs ("Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Hazy Shade of Winter"). Oh, and #4 is NOT a love song...even THEY say so.
knightwing 67 months ago
None of those songs were on my first mixed tape or any there after.
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