30 Best Songs of the 1980’s – Part 1

By on July 28, 2014

The 80’s is the Holy Grail of musical eras. It’s the decade that introduced us to Madonna and Whitney Houston, made Michael Jackson a household name, and saw the rise of new wave and glam rock. There are so many amazing songs from that decade that I could make a list 800 pages long, but for the sake of time (and sanity) I have compiled 30 of the best songs (split into two parts so that your brain can recover from the synthesizers) to come from that era. Let’s get started!

30. “Always Something There To Remind Me” – Naked Eyes

Kicking off our list is a classic by the band, Naked Eyes. Released in 1983, the British band took a Lou Johnson song from 1964 and turned it into a synth-pop masterpiece. The song peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1983.

29. “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” – Cutting Crew

This 80’s gem was written by Cutting Crew lead singer, Nick Van Eede, after a night of passion with his girlfriend. It was Cutting Crew’s biggest hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.

28. “Love Is A Battlefield” – Pat Benatar 

One of Pat Benatar’s many 80’s hits, the song was the anthem for the generation, perfectly capturing the trials, tribulations and pain of adolescence and young love. It was her second million selling song and peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1983.

27. “If I Could Turn Back Time” – Cher

After waning music success in the 80’s, this was Cher’s career comeback and has since become one of her most beloved songs, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The music video famously takes place on the USS Missouri, where Cher sings to a deck full of sailors. Her attire in the video caused controversy prompting MTV to ban the video, later playing it only after 9 p.m. on their rotation.

26. “Call Me” – Blondie 

This was the bands biggest hit, and theme song for the Richard Gere movie American Gigolo. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for six consecutive weeks and also stayed at #2 on the US dance charts for four weeks, along with being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1981. 

25. “When Doves Cry” – Prince 

This 1984 Prince classic was the first single from his album Purple Rain and film of the same name. The song showed that he was a force to be reckoned with in the 80’s and was his first Billboard Hot 100 #1 in the United States, staying there for five weeks.

24. “Under Pressure” – Queen & David Bowie 

Before Vanilla Ice took over the baseline, Queen and David Bowie, two of musics biggest acts ever, ruled it by creating one of the most iconic songs for both of their careers. It reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1981.

23. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” – Eurythmics 

This was the Eurythmics break into commercial success; with it’s irresistible synth bass line and iconic music video’s heavy rotation on MTV, it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.

22. “Take On Me” – a-ha 

This was a-ha’s debut single in the U.S. in 1985. With it’s groundbreaking music video and rotation on MTV it catapulted to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and led to it becoming one of the best selling singles of all time, selling over 7 million copies worldwide.

21. “True Colors” – Cyndi Lauper 

Spending two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, “True Colors” is one of the most popular self-acceptance anthems of all time. It became especially popular with the LGBT community upon its release. It was also nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 1987 Grammy Awards.

20. “Take My Breath Away” – Berlin 

Made famous by being the theme for Top Gun, it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 along with winning Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards in 1987.

19. “Nasty” – Janet Jackson 

This was the song that proved she wasn’t the only Jackson that was able to create a hit, becoming one of her signature songs. It was written after she was verbally abused by men on the streets of Minneapolis in an attempt to flirt with her. It’s famous for the line, “No, my first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet — Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty.” “Nasty” peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

18. “Dancing In The Dark” – Bruce Springsteen 

The first single from Springsteen’s classic Born In The U.S.A. album spent four weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, sold over 100 million singles in the U.S., and won Springsteen his first Grammy in 1985 for Best Rock Male Vocal Performance. The music video also famously features a young Courtney Cox before her Friends days.

17. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” – Whitney Houston

With the her flawless vocals and soaring chorus, Whitney gave us one of the most brilliant and irresistible pop songs ever. It was Houston’s fourth consecutive #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and it won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 30th Grammy Awards in 1988.

16. “Like A Virgin” – Madonna 

“Like A Virgin” is the song that cemented Madonna’s place in music and pop-culture history and is one of her most popular songs ever. Her performance of the song on the very first MTV Video Music Awards is considered one of the most iconic performances in VMA history, being rousing and provocative for the time. It was her first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for six weeks in 1984.


Well that wraps up Part 1 of our list! Part 2 coming next week!

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