In 1987 in the United States you could buy a new Ford Mustang GT for $12,000.00 and fill up the tank for 89 cents a gallon while drinking a Coca~Cola that cost 75 cents. While Star Trek made its long-awaited return to television with The Next Generation, Bart Simpson made his television debut on The Tracy Ullman Show (remember Tracy Ullman?). Dirty Dancing, Full Metal Jacket, Predator, Fatal Attraction and The Princess Bride were amongst the most popular films released in 1987, and VHS tapes were still a thing.
In music, Aretha Franklin became the first female artist inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Beastie Boys became the first act to be censored on American Bandstand, and MTV Europe was launched. We lost artists like Liberace, Buddy Rich, Fred Astaire and Peter Tosh while other future artists like Ke$ha, Hillary Duff and Kendrick Lamar were born.
Although 1987 was not a particularly remarkable year for great love songs, it did have a few tasty musical morsels. The songs on this list are presented in the chronological order of their appearance on the Billboard Top 40 charts.
“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship
What began as Jefferson Airplane in the 1960s, and then morphed into Jefferson Starship in the 1970s became simply “Starship” in the mid 1980s. Although perhaps best known for the somewhat suspect “We Built This City”, this 1987 love song was to be Starship’s second (and last) #1 hit.
“Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” by Glenn Medeiros
This Gerry Goffin penned love song was originally recorded by George Benson, but never charted into the R&B or Pop Top 40. Hawaiian born Glenn Medeiros cover of this poppy love ballad did chart, at #12 on the Billboard Pop Top 40.
“Always” by Atlantic Starr
Of all the love songs on this list, Atlantic Starr’s “Always” is arguably the most quintessential slow-dance ballad of them all. A number one hit in 1987, “Always” is that perfect song for a wedding first dance or a love dedication.
“Doin’ It All For My Baby” by Huey Lewis and The News
Huey Lewis and The News had an impressive string of hits starting in 1982 that wouldn’t fade until the early 1990s, and in the Huey Lewis tradition, his love songs were upbeat, fun and quirky. “Doin’ It All For My Baby” fits that mold to a tee, and peaked on the Billboard charts at #6 in 1987.
“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” by Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett
In the 1980s it was almost assured that a Michael Jackson tune would be somewhere in the Top 40, and in 1987 this tender duet went all the way to the number one spot in the United States, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Italy, the U.K., Norway and The Netherlands.
“I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
From the blockbuster film Dirty Dancing, this award-winning love song holds a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for “Best Original Song” and a Grammy for “Best Pop Performance by a Duo”. Unsurprisingly, it went to #1 and became Certified Gold while becoming one of the most popular wedding selections of it’s time.
“Heaven Is A Place On Earth” by Belinda Carlisle
This tune would be Belinda Carlisle’s second Top 10 solo hit, and the first and only number one Top 40 hit for the former Go-Go’s front girl. “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” is an up-beat and fun love song that resonates everything positive about love.
“We’ll Be Together” by Sting
Sting wrote and recorded this musically quirky Peter Gabriel-esque love song, while lyrically finding a way to say “I love you” in an abstract Cole Porter style… a nod the creative genius of Sting. “We’ll Be Together” rose to #7 on the Billboard Top 40 in late 1987.
“Caught Up In The Rapture” by Anita Baker
This little nugget almost missed the radar when compiling this list because although it charted at #6 on the U.S. R&B charts, it did not place on the Pop Top 40, which serves as the primary resource for these lists. Thanks to the author’s background as a Wedding DJ apprentice in the late 1980s, this late-80s wedding standard and most excellent love song left a profound footprint. Anita Baker got a lot of wedding airplay well into the early 90s, and rightfully so, “Caught Up In The Rapture” is just a great love song.
And so concludes our list; ten great love songs from 1987 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.