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100 Best 80s Songs: The Ultimate 80s Music Playlist

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Best 80s Songs - 80s Playlist

Synthesizers, catchy lyrics, and unique melodies were the foundation of the best 80s songs of the era.

The 80s had much more to offer than just big hair, fanny packs, and neon fashion, as some of the most iconic anthems ever produced came from the decade.

 

Table of Contents

The Best 80s Songs of The Era

We’ve reviewed thousands of 80s classics from pop music to rock ‘n roll to create this ultimate 80s music playlist for dancing, cruising, or simply singing along.

Here’s our playlist of the 100 best songs of the 80s:

 

100. Super Trooper – ABBA

“Super Trooper” features a female singer who hates performing until a special person in her life is in the audience.

ABBA also appears on our best songs about winning and best sweet 16 songs playlists with “The Winner Takes All” and “Dancing Queen.”

The song became the band’s ninth #1 hit in the United Kingdom in 1980.

 

99. Like A Virgin – Madonna

This famous song from Madonna focuses on the glorious feeling of being in love with a new person.

“Like A Virgin” is also featured on our best karaoke songs playlist.

The pop tune hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1984.

 

98. A Little Respect – Erasure

If you like synth-pop music, this is a must-have for your playlist!

In “A Little Respect,” the male narrator is asking his lover to be compassionate and show him some respect.

The track made #5 on the Billboard Dance Single Sales chart between 1988 and 1989.

 

97. Here I Go Again – Whitesnake

“Here I Go Again” is one of the best 80s songs in the hard rock genre.

The lyrics describe the frontman David Coverdale’s heartbreak over his failing marriage. The song also appears on our best songs about loneliness playlist.

In 1987, it made #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

96. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) – Dead Or Alive

“You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” is a stone-cold classic 80s tune featuring synths and catchy lyrics.

It’s about a guy who spots a new love interest and wants to get to know her better.

The song peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984.

 

95. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

Journey has recorded some of the most iconic 80s songs in the music industry, including this one.

“Don’t Stop Believin'” shares stories from people facing different obstacles in life while encouraging listeners to keep believing.

After releasing in 1981, this hit became the highest-selling song of the 20th century.

 

94. Take My Breath Away – Berlin

“Take My Breath Away” was written specifically for the 1986 film Top Gun.

This new wave hit from Berlin talks about the romantic longing that occurs when lovers are separated from each other.

In 1986, it won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

 

93. Ordinary World – Duran Duran

If you’re looking for something in the soft rock realm, look no further than this song from Duran Duran.

Its lyrics discuss the feelings of grief and loss after experiencing the death of a loved one.

“Ordinary World” reached #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart in 1992.

 

92. That’s Entertainment – The Jam

“That’s Entertainment” is a song off The Jam’s fifth album, Sound Affects.

The alternative rock tune focuses on the frustrations of everyday life as a working-class citizen.

It was one of the highest-selling singles in the UK, peaking at #60 in 1983.

 

91. I Feel Love – Donna Summer

If you’re feeling like some disco music, check out this hit from Donna Summer.

“I Feel Love” is a self-explanatory song that talks about the experience of being in love, saying, “it’s so good.”

The track made #1 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK in 1977.

 

90. I’m Still Standing – Elton John

This tune was inspired by John’s painful breakup, emphasizing that he was “still standing” after the heartbreak.

You’ll find another Elton John song, “Friends,” on our best songs about friendship playlist.

“I’m Still Standing” charted at #13 in Canada in 1971.

 

89. Together In Electric Dreams – Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder

This is a new wave song recorded for the 1984 film, Electric Dreams.

“Together In Electric Dreams” talks about a special person who is “miles away” but will always remain in the narrator’s dreams.

In 1984, it reached #3 on the UK Singles and Irish charts and #5 in Australia.

 

88. Temptation – Heaven 17

This is the second single from Heaven 17’s second album, The Luxury Gap.

The lyrics (and even the instrumentation) in “Temptation” are all about sexual desire and tension.

It peaked at #2 on the UK Singles chart in 1983.

 

87. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits

Here’s another legendary pop-rock song, which features Sting on background vocals.

It’s a commentary about how spectators think working in the music industry is easy. Dire Straits also makes it onto our best songs about money playlist with this tune.

“Money For Nothing” won a Grammy Award in 1986 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

 

86. How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths

“How Soon Is Now?” is an alternative rock tune written by Steven Morrissey and Johnny Marr of The Smiths.

The lyrics tell a story of an incredibly shy person who can’t seem to find love because of their shyness.

Love Spit Love’s version served as the theme song for the TV series, Charmed from 1998 until 2006.

 

85. Master Of Puppets – Metallica

Do you feel like headbanging a little? If so, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this hit from Metallica.

“Master Of Puppets” is about the struggles of drug addiction, with the narrating voice being the drugs themselves.

In 2007, the song was ranked #3 on VH1’s list of the greatest heavy metal songs ever.

 

84. The One I Love – R.E.M.

“The One I Love” was R.E.M.’s first-ever hit single after its release in 1987.

This alternative rock jam is about how some people use others as props to simply occupy their time.

It hit #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #14 on the Canadian charts throughout 1987 and 1988.

 

83. Ghost Town – The Specials

This groove features a unique blend of reggae and rock sounds, which were rare in the 80s.

“Ghost Town” is a social commentary song discussing violence, unemployment, and deindustrialization.

The tune became the 12th highest-selling single of 1981 in the UK.

 

82. In The Air Tonight – Phil Collins

“In The Air Tonight” was the haunting lead single off Phil Collins’ debut album, Face Value.

Its lyrics describe Collins’s intense anger, despair, and frustration after his first wife divorced him.

The soft rock song took the #2 spot on the Rock Tracks chart in 1981.

 

81. Ace Of Spades – Motörhead

If you’re looking for the best music from Motörhead, this one takes the cake.

“Ace Of Spades” explores the life of a man who loves gambling and risking it all.

It hit #1 on UK Rock & Metal Singles and Albums chart in 2016.

 

80. Super Freak – Rick James

You’ll definitely be feeling the funk in “Super Freak” from Rick James.

The male narrator is enamored with a woman, whom he calls a “super freak,” a term that defines her sexual prowess.

“Super Freak” hit #2 in Belgium and #3 in the Netherlands, and on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart between 1981 and 1982.

 

79. Man In The Mirror – Michael Jackson

You’ll love this inspirational song from one of the greatest pop stars ever.

“Man In The Mirror” speaks of the many tragedies in this world but shows us that we can all do our part to make the world a better place.

It charted #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart in 1988.

 

78. Let’s Groove – Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire breathed life back into the disco scene with this hit!

The lyrics encourage listeners to get lost in the music and focus on the joy of the moment.

“Let’s Groove” also made it onto our best TikTok songs playlist.

 

77. Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top

“Sharp Dressed Man” is a catchy blues-rock song from ZZ Top’s album, Eliminator.

This legendary tune is about how rich and well-dressed men are attractive to most women.

The track made a comeback in recent years, charting at #14 on Billboard’s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs in 2020.

 

76. Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues

This Irish folk-style ballad was released as a single in 1987.

“Fairytale Of New York,” tells the story of Irish immigrants who came to New York to become famous but who wound up homeless.

The song was the most-played Christmas song of the 21st century in the UK.

 

75. Run To The Hills – Iron Maiden

Heavy metal fans, this one’s especially for you!

“Run To The Hills” describes the perspective of the Europeans and Native Americans when they fought each other over American land.

This jam made #7 on the UK Singles chart and also hit #27 in Australia in 1982.

 

74. The Final Countdown – Europe

Interestingly enough, “The Final Countdown” was inspired by David Bowie’s song, “Space Oddity.”

This apocalyptic-themed track talks about leaving Earth and venturing into space to Venus.

It charted #1 in multiple countries throughout 1986 and 1987, including Spain and Sweden.

 

73. In Between Days – The Cure

This alternative rock song is from The Cure’s sixth studio album, The Head on the Door.

The lyrics describe the narrator’s feelings about his current relationship as he realizes his love for his woman has grown cold.

“In Between Days” reached #16 on the Australian charts and #15 in the UK during 1985.

 

72. Back In Black – AC/DC

Ready for some good, old-fashioned rock ‘n roll? AC/DC has the song for you.

“Back In Black” was written for a former frontman, Bon Scott, as a celebration of his life after he died in 1980.

The popular anthem earned a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 at #37 in 1981.

 

71. Push It – Salt-N-Pepa

“Push It” is one of those tunes that will instantly get stuck in your head.

While many believe this is completely sexual, it’s actually more so about “pushing it” on the dance floor.

The band is also featured on our best 90s songs playlist with their hit, “Whatta Man.”

 

70. Fools Gold – The Stone Roses

This fun dance-rock tune was The Stone Roses’ biggest hit in 1989.

“Fools Gold” focuses on humanity’s greed and how it’s foolish to run after money and material things.

The song remained on the UK Singles chart for fourteen weeks, eventually peaking at #8 in 1989.

 

69. It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls

Whip this one out at the karaoke bar, and you’ll have everybody dancing!

“It’s Raining Men” describes the excitement of a single woman who has many different men to date.

The song soared to #1 on the Billboard Dance chart for two weeks in 1983.

 

68. Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson makes yet another appearance on this list with his popular R&B hit, “Smooth Criminal.”

The tune tells the story of a woman assaulted by a criminal in her home.

In 1988, it charted #1 in Spain, Iceland, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

 

67. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves

“Walking On Sunshine” is all about the joy of living life and being in love.

This one-hit-wonder also appears on our best summer songs playlist. You’ll also find it on our best happy songs playlist.

The upbeat new wave song reached #4 in Australia and #8 in the UK in 1986.

 

66. Could You Be Loved – Bob Marley & The Wailers

“Could You Be Loved” is a great song offering relaxing reggae.

Although it’s interpreted as a love song, it’s truly about the poverty Marley witnessed throughout his lifetime.

The tune charted at #2 in Switzerland, #3 in Ireland, and #6 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in 1980.

 

65. Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor

If you’re searching for a solid pump-up jam, this is just what you need.

“Eye Of The Tiger” is featured on the Rocky III soundtrack and focuses on fighting for your dreams.

The song took #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles chart in 1982.

 

64. Summer Of ’69 – Bryan Adams

Want to relive one of the best summers you’ve ever had? This song should do the trick.

In the lyrics, Bryan Adams recalls fond summer memories of wonderful times spent with a former lover.

“Summer of ’69” won a Socan Classics Award for reaching 100,000 radio plays in Canada in 2000.

 

63. White Wedding – Billy Idol

“White Wedding” is one of Billy Idol’s most iconic songs, released as a single in 1982.

The male narrator is disappointed that his ex just married someone else in a “shotgun” wedding.

It peaked at #10 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart in 1982.

 

62. (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

You’ll quickly recognize this classic hit from the famous film, Dirty Dancing.

The duet is about how each person has fallen in love with the other after spending more time together. It’s also on our best karaoke duets playlist.

“(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1988.

 

61. Thriller – Michael Jackson

This post-disco/funk hit is similar to a horror movie.

“Thriller,” tells a tale about a woman being followed by an evil creature.

It was #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982, while the music video was the first video ever to be included in the National Film Registry.

 

60. Celebration – Kool & The Gang

There’s no better way to celebrate a significant moment in your life than with this song from Kool & The Gang.

“Celebration” motivates listeners to party it up and enjoy themselves, no matter the occasion.

It took the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

 

59. Footloose – Kenny Loggins

If you’re in the dancing mood, “Footloose” will have you up and moving in no time!

This was the theme song for Footloose, in which a teenage boy moves to a town where dancing is illegal.

The tune topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Canadian charts in 1984.

 

58. Start Me Up – The Rolling Stones

“Start Me Up” was the lead single of The Rolling Stones’ 1981 album, Tattoo You.

This jam is one big sexual innuendo talking about the male narrator’s sexual energy and prowess.

It reached the #2 spot on the Canadian chart and the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981.

 

57. You Make My Dreams – Daryl Hall & John Oates

This loveable pop-rock tune is perfect for any good day!

“You Make My Dreams Come True” is a pure expression of happiness and a declaration of love to a significant other.

This track took #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981 and has exceeded 154,000 in digital sales.

 

56. Should I Stay Or Should I Go – The Clash

Are you more of a punk-rock fan? If so, you’ll appreciate this hit from 1982.

“Should I Stay Or Should I Go” was written about Mick Jones’ problems with his then-girlfriend, Ellen Foley.

The song soared to #1 in the UK and broke the top ten around Europe in 1991.

 

55. Uptown Girl – Billy Joel

“Uptown Girl” was inspired by Billy Joel’s current girlfriend, Elle Macpherson.

Its lyrics talk about a working-class guy trying to win the affection of a wealthier, more material girl.

The pop-rock track was the 19th highest-selling single of the 1980s in the UK.

 

54. West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys

This synth-pop tune was based on part of T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land.

This song is a social commentary, discussing class issues and the struggles of living in the inner-city.

The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters named this hit the Song of the Decade in 2005.

 

53. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley

“Never Gonna Give You Up” was Rick Astley’s debut single and signature hit from 1987.

This famous love song features a male narrator telling his woman that he will always be faithful to her.

It won Best British Single at the Brit Awards in 1988 and the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Act Ever in 2008.

 

52. Love Shack – B-52’s

If you’re looking for a fun groove, this song will quickly get you in the party mood!

“Love Shack” describes a club where people can come and dance, flirt, and be free. You’ll also see it on our best easy songs to sing playlist.

It reached #1 worldwide, including in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the U.S. Billboard Alternative Airplay chart in 1989 and 1990.

 

51. All Night Long (All Night) – Lionel Richie

This hit from the legendary Lionel Richie is sure to make you smile!

“All Night Long (All Night)” describes the world’s best party, including dancing, music, and endless fun.

The reggae-pop song made #1 on Billboard’s Pop, R&B, and Adult Contemporary charts in 1983.

 

50. Jump – Van Halen

Van Halen released “Jump” as the lead single off their album, 1984.

The lyrics address a person who thinks their life is hard, encouraging them to take a leap of faith and do something to change it.

The song charted #1 in Australia and on the Billboard Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock chart in 1984.

 

49. Total Eclipse Of The Heart – Bonnie Tyler

Here’s a tune that will spark some romance and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

“Total Eclipse Of The Heart” is a love song originally written for a vampire-themed musical called Nosferatu.

This hit became the fifth best-selling single of 1983 in the UK.

 

48. Under Pressure – Queen

This song focuses on the fact that the anxieties and stress we experience in this world are inescapable.

Queen also appears on our best songs about memories playlist with “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

“Under Pressure” reached #1 in Canada, the Netherlands, and the UK in 1981.

 

47. Physical – Olivia Newton-John

This one will have you dancing right from the start!

“Physical” describes the singer’s infatuation with a man she wants to “get physical” with.

The dance-pop hit spent ten straight weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981.

 

46. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds

You’ll recognize this hit from the opening and closing credits of the 1985 film, The Breakfast Club.

The male narrator begs his friend or significant other to remember them even when they’re apart.

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 in 1985.

 

45. Every Breath You Take – The Police

“Every Breath You Take” may sound lovely, but it’s actually about an obsessive stalker.

The lyrics describe a jealous man who is constantly watching his ex-lover.

It won a Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance By Duo or Group With Vocal in 1984.

 

44. Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye

If you’re in the market for something sensual, “Sexual Healing” is about as spicy as it gets.

This R&B groove concentrates on the stress-relieving aspect of sex, which the narrator believes will solve his problems.

It was ranked #233 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

 

43. What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner

Listen to it once, and you’ll be humming this Tina Turner song all day!

“What’s Love Got To Do With It” describes Turner’s romantic interest in a man but also showcases that she doesn’t want to fall in love with him.

This hit was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012.

 

42. Free Fallin – Tom Petty

Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin” describes the singer’s regret over doing a good girl wrong.

Petty expresses his desire to live a free lifestyle, but at the same time, he’s thinking about his former lover.

It topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990.

 

41. Fight The Power – Public Enemy

This is a political hip hop jam written for the 1989 movie, Do The Right Thing.

“Fight The Power” is an empowerment anthem for the black community and a message to challenge authority.

This song hit #1 on the Hot Rap Singles chart and earned the #20 spot on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart in 1989.

 

40. I Love Rock ‘N Roll – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Joan Jett is one of the best female rock stars from the 80s, and this hit proves it!

“I Love Rock ‘N Roll” is about a girl who pursues a guy at the bar and takes him home for the night.

It became the #3 song of 1982 and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same year.

 

39. Another One Bites The Dust – Queen

“Another One Bites The Dust” is a great tune to listen to after a victory!

In it, the narrator tells listeners that he refuses to bow to his enemies and will succeed in defeating all of them.

The Queen anthem won an American Music Award for Favorite Rock Single in 1981.

 

38. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) – Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys managed to create a mega-hit out of a big joke.

“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” was actually written to make fun of rock songs and the stereotypical “party boys.”

The ironic rap-rock song soared to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.

 

37. Africa – Toto

“Africa” was a single released off of Toto’s fourth studio album, Toto IV.

The song is about a man’s decision between two things he loves dearly: the continent of Africa and his woman.

It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart in 1983.

 

36. Call Me – Blondie

Blondie is the perfect artist to listen to if you’re on a new wave kick.

“Call Me” is about a woman telling her love interest that she is available for an intimate night with him.

This song hit #1 in the UK and the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.

 

35. With Or Without You – U2

“With Or Without You” is the third song on U2’s fifth studio album called The Joshua Tree.

This track is believed to be based on Bono’s struggle between his family and music career.

The song soared to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.

 

34. Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.

If rap is more your style, you’ll likely enjoy this hit from the 80s.

Although it’s received significant criticism, this song describes the life of a gangster on the L.A. streets.

“Straight Outta Compton” charted at #9 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in 1988.

 

33. Red Red Wine – UB40

“Red Red Wine” was originally recorded by Neil Diamond; however, UB40 covered it in 1983.

Its lyrics talk about how wine helped relieve the singer’s pain caused by a difficult breakup.

The reggae jam soared to #1 in the UK and on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988.

 

32. Come On Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners

“Come On Eileen” was actually based on the real-life romantic relationship between Kevin Rowland and a girl named Eileen.

The lyrics ride the line between love and lust as Rowland describes his sexual feelings for her.

The song made #1 in Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 between 1982 and 1983.

 

31. Hungry Like The Wolf – Duran Duran

“Hungry Like The Wolf” is one of Duran Duran’s finest tunes, mixing rock and synth-pop sounds.

It uses hunting terminology to depict the singer’s sexual appetite for an attractive female.

The music video won a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1984.

 

30. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses

You’ll know this Guns N Roses hit by the famous guitar riff in the intro.

“Sweet Child O Mine” was a love song dedicated to Axl Rose’s then-girlfriend, in which he details how her beauty makes him feel.

The track charted #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988 and #6 on the UK Singles chart in 1989.

 

29. I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder is no stranger to light-hearted love songs like this one.

“I Just Called To Say I Love You” features Wonder offering a sweet and simple message of adoration to his special someone.

This smooth tune topped the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and R&B charts in 1984.

 

28. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard

Glam metal fans, we’ve got the perfect anthem for your next jam session!

“Pour Some Sugar On Me” is Def Leppard’s signature song, which alludes to intimate bedroom activities.

In 2006, VH1 ranked it #2 on their list of the 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s.

 

27. Endless Love – Diana Ross ft. Lionel Richie

This beautiful duet appears in the 1981 movie, Endless Love.

“Endless Love” is essentially a sappy love song in which both singers declare their commitment to one another.

It won a Favorite Pop/Rock Single award at the 1982 American Music Awards and charted #1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart between 1981 and 1982.

 

26. Like A Prayer – Madonna

“Like A Prayer” is one of Madonna’s best-known and most controversial tracks.

The song tells the tale of a girl who loves God and who believes he is the only one she can count on.

In 1989, it soared to #1 on charts in Australia, Canada, and many other countries.

 

25. When Doves Cry – Prince & The Revolution

Interestingly enough, this tune is one of few that don’t have a bass line.

“When Doves Cry” is about a man in a troubled relationship, which is harming his emotional stability.

Billboard named it the top-selling single of 1984. It also charted #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016.

 

24. Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” is about a woman who is sick of following the rules and wants to let loose.

You’ll also find Cyndi Lauper on our best prom songs playlist (“True Colors”) and best party songs playlist (“Girls Just Want To Have Fun”).

It won an American Video Award for Best Female Performance in 1983 and reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same year.

 

23. Born In The U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen released this song off his Born In The USA album in 1984.

This rock track described the economic difficulties faced by Vietnam veterans after they came home from the war.

“Born In The U.S.A.” was #5 on the UK Singles chart and #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985.

 

22. Walk This Way – Run DMC. ft. Aerosmith

Here’s an excellent rap version of Aerosmith’s 1975 song, “Walk This Way.”

This jam shares different stories of intimacy in which sexually inexperienced young males finally get lucky.

It won Best Rap Single at the 1987 Soul Train Music Awards.

 

21. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

Your feet will be tapping to this one right from the first beat!

This popular tune is based on the true story of a woman who accused Jackson of fathering her child and is also on our best songs of all time playlist.

It earned a Grammy award for Best Male Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song in 1984.

 

20. Everybody Wants To Rule The World – Tears For Fears

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is a great song for cruising in the car.

It talks about how humans are power-hungry, which usually leads to a corrupted world.

It charted #1 in Canada and on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985.

 

19. Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac

This Fleetwood Mac hit was the second single off the band’s album, Mirage.

“Gypsy” is about the free and fearless aspect of someone’s personality, which became a tribute to Stevie Nicks’ friend who died of leukemia.

The song peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982 and appeared in the 2017 Netflix drama Gypsy.

 

18. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

Australian hard rock band AC/DC has many hits, and this one is among the greatest!

“You Shook Me All Night Long” focuses on the beauty and sexuality of women while also describing sexual encounters.

It charted at #11 on the U.S. Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart in 2017.

 

17. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi has released some of the best songs the world has ever heard, including “Livin’ On A Prayer.”

This glam metal anthem tells stories of people struggling in life while encouraging them to keep their faith.

It earned the #1 spot on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock chart in 1986.

 

16. I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

“I’m Coming Out” is a disco tune that’ll immediately put you on your feet.

The lyrics focus on the freedom of people embracing a homosexual lifestyle.

The song hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot Disco Singles and #6 on the Hot Soul Singles chart in 1980.

 

15. Gold – Spandau Ballet

Searching for a different-sounding song? Look no further than “Gold” by Spandau Ballet.

This new wave jam is actually a spoof of “Goldfinger,” the James Bond theme song.

It charted #3 in the Netherlands and France and #2 on the UK Singles chart between 1983 and 1984.

 

14. I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston

This pop song is all about a woman’s desire to find true, long-lasting love.

Another classic hit from Houston, “I Will Always Love You,” is also on our best songs about missing someone playlist.

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” earned a Grammy award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1988 and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.

 

13. Two Tribes – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

“Two Tribes” should definitely be on your playlist if you’re looking for something in the disco-rock genre.

This anti-war song describes war as a vain endeavor while encouraging listeners to love and not hate.

It received an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically in 1984.

 

12. Poison Arrow – ABC

“Poison Arrow” is a new wave song released from ABC’s debut studio album, The Lexicon of Love.

It centers around a love that went wrong, blaming Cupid for causing the narrator so much pain.

The song charted #4 in Australia, #5 in New Zealand, and #6 on the UK Singles chart throughout 1982 and 1983.

 

11. Fade To Grey – Visage

Visage’s most successful single was this synth-pop sensation released to the masses in 1980.

“Fade To Grey” tells the story of a lonely man who seems to be suffering from depression due to a painful situation from his past.

This dance jam soared to the top of the Official German and Swedish charts throughout 1980 and 1981.

 

10. Take On Me – a-ha

“Take On Me” by the Norwegian band a-ha, is famous for its hard-to-sing chorus, in which lead singer Morten Harket hits a high falsetto E note.

This new wave tune features a shy male narrator asking his love interest to take a chance with him.

The song won six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, including Best New Artist in a Video and Viewer’s Choice.

 

9. Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode

English electronic band Depeche Mode released “Personal Jesus” off their album, Violator.

The song describes a religious counseling hotline center and implies that anyone can be a godlike figure to us if we are in love with them.

This synth-rock jam reached #13 in the UK and #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1989.

 

8. Vienna – Ultravox

This synth-pop song was released in 1981 as the third single from the album of the same name.

“Vienna” talks about the reflection and despair of a man who has had a fleeting love affair.

It won Single of the Year at the Brit Awards in 1981 and spent four weeks at #2 on the UK Singles Chart in the same year.

 

7. Purple Rain – Prince & The Revolution

“Purple Rain” features a beautiful blend of rock, R&B, and gospel sounds worth listening to.

This Prince hit actually talks about the apocalypse and the feeling of having your significant other by your side.

The song hit #1 in Belgium and the Netherlands and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984.

 

6. Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics 

Here’s a fun tune that’ll encourage you to chase your dreams!

In the lyrics, the narrator motivates listeners to work hard to achieve their goals in life, no matter how hopeless it feels.

“Sweet Dreams” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 in the UK in 1983.

 

5. Blue Monday – New Order

“Blue Monday” is an alternative dance song that became a commercial hit worldwide.

It refers to the narrator’s constant maltreatment by a person he trusts.

This jam topped the UK Indie chart and earned the #5 spot on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart between 1983 and 1985.

 

4. Beat It – Michael Jackson

This MJ hit talks about a man who avoids violence by walking away from a fight.

“Beat It” is also featured on our best songs to wake up to playlist.

This track won a Grammy award for Record of the Year and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1984.

 

3. Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

As you can see, the 80s were filled with synth-pop hits, and this one also proved successful!

“Relax” is believed to be an overtly sexual song, describing the frustrations of delayed pleasure in the bedroom.

The tune won Best British Single of 1984 at the Brit Awards in 1985. It also charted #1 in France, Greece, Israel, and Thailand between 1983 and 1985.

 

2. Smalltown Boy – Bronski Beat

“Small Town Boy” is the debut single from British synth-pop group Bronski Beat, released in 1984.

The song is based on a young man’s naivety about the world due to his sheltered life.

It topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart and the Dutch Top 40 between 1984 and 1985.

 

1. Don’t You Want Me – The Human League 

This Human League hit was released as the fourth single from their album, Dare.

Its lyrics describe a disagreement between two individuals, in which one of them is bitter about helping the other gain popularity.

As of 2013, it became the 23rd highest-selling single in UK history and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982 for three weeks.

 

Summary

We hope you enjoyed our best 80s songs playlist. 

Whether you’re a fan of electronic music or hip hop, hopefully, you’ll discover something here that suits your taste.

What’s the best 80s song, in your opinion? Leave a comment below. 

Emily is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and ukulelist who has graced the stage at countless venues across the Midwest and Southern U.S. Throughout her career, she’s opened for artists including Eric Paslay, Stars Go Dim, Love & The Outcome, and Sierra Hull. She writes relatable, original music in various genres, from country and folk to cinematic pop, hoping to inspire and uplift her listeners. Outside of music, Emily enjoys hiking with her husband and playing with her comical cat, Olive.

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