30 Best Songs of the 1980’s – Part 2

By on August 4, 2014
best songs of the 80s part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my countdown of the 30 Best Songs of the 1980’s! So far we’ve covered hits by Madonna, Prince and Whitney Houston, and it’s about to get even better!

15. “Smooth Criminal” – Michael Jackson

Released as the seventh single from the Bad album, it became one of Jackson’s signature songs. The music video is famous for featuring the Jackson’s anti-gravity lean, where he leans forward at a 45 degree angle. The song reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.

14. “Whats Love Got To Do With It” – Tina Turner

This became Turner’s most successful single ever, winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 1985 Grammy Awards, along with reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

13. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – U2

Released as the second single from their album The Joshua Tree, many critics have hailed this as one of the greatest songs of all time. Its lyrics about yearning and searching resonate with everyone which lead it to become one of U2’s most popular songs. It went on to become their second consecutive #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 1988 Grammy Awards.

12. “Rhythm Nation” – Janet Jackson

After asserting her independence on her previous album, Control, Jackson wanted to try and break color barriers and bring about change in other areas, through her music. It wasn’t just a pop song; it was a movement, a call to arms, and one of the best Janet Jackson songs ever. The song claimed many accolades including a Grammy Award for Best Music Video – Long Form, Best Choreography and Best Dance Video at the MTV Video Music Awards. Jackson was also presented with the Video Vanguard Award for her contributions to pop culture.

11. “Little Red Corvette” – Prince

This classic Prince song from his album, 1999, was his first to reach the Top-10 in the United States peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. While the song is about sex, the references are just obscure enough anyone to care. The video was also one of the first music videos by a black artist to receive heavy rotation on MTV.

10. “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson

Released as the second single from his Thriller album, “Billie Jean” shot to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for seven weeks. It won the Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Male Performance and has since been certified 2X Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It is also famous for being the song Jackson performed when he premiered his famous “moonwalk” at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever concert.

9. “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi

This classic Bon Jovi song became one of the defining songs of the 80’s and the band’s signature song. The music video was given heavy rotation on MTV leading to their second consecutive #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2013 the song was certified Triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for more than 3 million digital downloads.

8. “Bad” – Michael Jackson

Released as the second single from his album of the same name, it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for two weeks in 1987, also becoming his seventh #1 on the charts overall. The song and album are credited with helping give Jackson an edgier image.

7. “Like A Prayer” – Madonna

After dominating pop music during the 80’s, Madonna closed out the decade with one of her biggest hits ever; “Like A Prayer” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for three weeks in 1989. The Like A Prayer album and song was Madonna’s attempt to cater to a more adult audience than she did with her previous releases.

6. “Hungry Like The Wolf” – Duran Duran

This is the song that catapulted Duran Duran to international success. With its music video’s heavy rotation on MTV, it peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. The music video was also the first music video to win the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1984.

5. “How Will I Know” – Whitney Houston

This was Houston’s second #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. The music video’s heavy rotation on MTV helped her break out and find a bigger audience, which was difficult for some African-American artists at the time. The video also won Best Female Video at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

4. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson

No 80’s countdown would be complete without, arguably, Michael Jackson’s most popular song ever. “Thriller” changed the landscape of pop music, pushed the boundaries of what was comfortable at the time and became one of the most revolutionary and popular songs in history. It was Jackson’s seventh Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 from the Thriller album and has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

3. “Papa Don’t Preach” – Madonna

“Papa Don’t Preach” was the second single from Madonna’s third album, True Blue, and was her fourth #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The music video won Best Female Video at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards. Madonna dedicated the song to Pope John Paul II when he urged the Catholic Church to boycott her 1987 Who’s That Girl World Tour dates in Italy.

2. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

Considered one of the best power-ballads ever, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is one of the best-selling singles of all time, selling over 9 million physical copies. The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983 and has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

 

And coming in at Number 1 is….

 

1. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds

This classic is the theme to one of the most popular 80’s movies, John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, and a quintessential 80’s song with one of the most memorable choruses in music history. It gave a voice to those wanting to make a mark on the world and promised that they would not be forgotten — much like the 80’s itself. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985.

 

Well there you have it! Hope you all enjoyed this trip down memory lane. The 80’s was one of the most important times for music; it pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable, paved new ways for upcoming artists, and without it we definitely wouldn’t have the music we have today.

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