Oh, those aimless '80s crushes and paralyzing breakups, especially the ones when you weren't even really with the person in the first place. Oh, you know what I'm talking about; don't act like you don't. Well, suit yourself, but you should still check out this suggested premium soundtrack for the romantically hopeless among us. There is certainly no shortage of candidates for this collection, but come with me while we reopen old wounds and memories of fetal-position misery. There may be higher-quality '80s love songs than these, but few are more emotionally wrenching or delightfully predicated on heartbreak.
At no time are humans more susceptible to pathetic impulse than after a romantic breakup leaves them ravaged and desperate. Phil Collins illustrates this concept perfectly not only through his lyrics of amorous decimation but also the song's deliberate, almost halting tempo. Waiting by the phone hopefully but stripped of all dignity is most definitely a recurrent theme of this strain of soft rock love song, and this tune does not disappoint.
Unofficially titled "Tail Between His Legs," this lounge crooner piano ballad came out of nowhere to rule the charts in 1987, a full six years after Vera originally recorded the song. Strangely but somehow appropriately, it took a rather overwrought application of the tune on multiple episodes of TV's Family Ties to break the song commercially. But in the subgenre of total surrender of dignity, this song stamped out a place of its own in love song history.
Say what you will about the '80s manifestation of Chicago, but this adult contemporary nugget featuring a very blustery vocal performance from lesser-known bandmember Bill Champlin delivers the goods when it comes to self-involved narcissism. If the singer's ex-lover has indeed rejected him so completely, why would she even notice or recognize him when he walks by? It's a twisted notion that even at your most romantically vulnerable low point the world somehow still revolves around you.
As a Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition, this song does not qualify strictly as an '80s tune, but the Naked Eyes synth pop version has since become so definitive that it simply must make the cut. Unlike Harnen's (cough) contribution, this is without question a high-quality pop song, laced with yearning and some haunting, tasty keyboards. Memories, longing and regret have never seemed as universal as when this optical duo belts out the line, "And I will never be free/She'll always be a part of me."
I'm sorry, but I must include this one, and I'm afraid I'm going to spill personal reasons for doing so. Here goes. When I was in sixth grade and in the midst of one of my earliest obsessive crushes, which involved one of my brother's eighth grade classmates, I was with my parents when they dropped off my brother to depart for his class trip. I remember sitting in the car listening to Lionel Richie and imagining the object of my affection caressing my face, just like in the video. Yeah, I know, ewww!