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21 Cheesiest Songs and Music Videos of the 1980s

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Mr. Cheese (Nick Ortman) is a Graduate of Columbia University's MFA program. He's a drummer and frequently writes about the music industry.

Take this playlist one slice at a time; like cheese, it's bad for your heart!

Take this playlist one slice at a time; like cheese, it's bad for your heart!

What Are the Best Cheesy '80s Songs?

This article explores the cheesiest songs and music videos from the 1980s. Don't worry; every generation ends up shaking their heads, wondering what they were thinking.

Let's take a stroll through the era of massive shoulder pads, uncomfortable furniture, and hairdos inspired by electroshock therapy (expect cheesy jokes throughout). Remember, just because they're cheesy that doesn't make 'em bad. Don't be ashamed if you catch yourself dancing . . . badly, that is.

Cheesiest Songs and Music Videos of the 1980s

  1. "The Safety Dance"—Men Without Hats
  2. "Maneater"—Hall and Oats
  3. "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go"—WHAM!
  4. "True"—Spandau Ballet
  5. "Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car"—Billy Ocean
  6. "Girl You Know It's True"—Milli Vanilli
  7. "Agadoo"—Black Lace
  8. "Love Touch"—Rod Stewart
  9. "Total Eclipse of the Heart"—Bonnie Tyler
  10. "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"—Dead Or Alive
  11. "Rock Me Amadeus"—Falco
  12. "Physical"—Olivia Newton-John
  13. "Lady In Red"—Chris de Burgh
  14. "Hip To Be Square"—Huey Lewis & The News
  15. "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" —Milli Vanilli
  16. "The Final Countdown"—Europe
  17. "Is This Love?"—Whitesnake
  18. "Mr. Roboto"—Styx
  19. "Maniac"—Michael Sembello
  20. "Private Eyes"—Hall and Oates
  21. "Africa"—Toto

1. "The Safety Dance"—Men Without Hats

Album: Rhythm of Youth

Release Year: 1982

Genre: Electro-pop

Wondering why this is set in the Shire. Also, why can't he be friends with people who don't dance. That seems rude.

Inessential Lyrics on "The Safety Dance"

We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind
Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance
Well they are no friends of mine

Ah, we can go when we want to the night is young and so am I.

— Colin Doroschuk

2. "Maneater"—Hall and Oats

Album: H2O

Release Year: 1982

Genre: R&B/soul, Rock

Wondering why she only comes out at night. Is she a vampire? Does she sunburn easily?

Inessential Lyrics on "Maneater"

I wouldn't if I were you
I know what she can do
She's deadly man, she could really rip your world apart
Mind over matter
Ooh, the beauty is there but a beast is in the heart

My mustache has become this weird iconic representation of a certain era.

— John Oates

3. "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go"—WHAM!

Album: Make It Big

Release Year: 1984

Genre: Pop

Wondering why his t-shirt says, "choose life." What is this song about again?

Inessential Lyrics on "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go"

Turn a mere spark into a flame,
My beats per minute never been the same.

The whole business is built on ego, vanity, self-satisfaction, and it's total crap to pretend it's not.

— George Michael

4. "True"—Spandau Ballet

Album: True

Release Year: 1983

Genre: Synth-pop

Wondering how he was able to hear his soul. Also, how much does a ticket to the world cost. $20?

Inessential Lyrics on "True"

This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound
I bought a ticket to the world
But now I've come back again

We were on the cover of Women's Wear Daily, which was hardly rock 'n' roll, but it pleased me.

— Gary Kemp

5. "Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car"—Billy Ocean

Album: Tear Down These Walls

Release Year: 1987

Genre: Dance-pop

Just wondering if Billy was arrested after driving up to that woman and demanding she get in his car. Seems, you know, a little creepy.

Inessential Lyrics on "Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car"

Hey Cinderella step in your shoe
I'll be your non-stop lover
Get it while you can
Your non-stop miracle, I'm your man

Success can create more madness than happiness.

— Billy Ocean

6. "Girl You Know It's True"—Milli Vanilli

Album: Girl You Know It's True

Release Year: 1989

Genre: Pop

Wondering why she's succulent. So sweet? Does she go well with fries and a coke?

Inessential Lyrics on "Girl You Know It's True"

You're soft, succulent so sweet and thin
That's kind of like a vision upon your skin

I was training to be a trampoline athlete until a neck injury forced me to reevaluate my direction.

— Fabrice Morvan

7. "Agadoo"—Black Lace

Album: Party Party

Release Year: 1984

Genre: Pop

Wondering why... Just wondering why. Also, what?

Inessential Lyrics on "Agadoo"

And down on the shore they gather romance
She showed me much more, not only to dance

Ag-a-doo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree
Aga-doo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees
Come and dance every night, sing with a hula melody

When I went to the girl, come on and teach me to sway.

She laughed and whispered to me, yes come tonight to the bay.

— Black Lace

8. "Love Touch"—Rod Stewart

Album: Every Beat of My Heart

Release Year: 1986

Genre: Pop

No, Rod, I don't want your "love touch."

Wondering why Rod's on trial. I think I'll have to side with the woman on this one.

Inessential Lyrics on "Love Touch"

Why can't I climb your walls
And find somewhere to hide
Can't I knock down your door
And drag myself inside
I'll light your candles baby
And maybe I'll light your life

Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house.

— Rod Stewart

9. "Total Eclipse of the Heart"—Bonnie Tyler

Album: Faster Than the Speed of Night

Release Year: 1983

Genre: Hard rock, Pop

Just wondering if those doves were as traumatized by this video as I was.

Inessential Lyrics on "Total Eclipse of the Heart"

I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight

Families come to my shows, and they all like it. It's really weird.

— Bonnie Tyler

10. "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"—Dead Or Alive

Album: Youthquake

Release Year: 1985

Genre: electro-pop

Wondering why he's wearing that eye patch. Is this what Johnny Depp was channeling for Pirates of the Carribean? I hope so.

Inessential Lyrics on "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"

All I know is that to me
You look like you're lots of fun
Open up your lovin' arms
Watch out, here I come

I had piercings all over my face, which did look dreadful, but I got them done while waiting for my husband Michael to get a tattoo. I was bored.

— Pete Burns

11. "Rock Me Amadeus"—Falco

Album: Falco 3

Release Year: 1985

Genre: Pop

Wondering why he never stopped to worry what the next day would bring (obscurity, most likely).

Inessential Lyrics on "Rock Me Amadeus"

With a bottle of wine in one hand and a woman in the other
'Cause he was a ladies man
He never stopped to worry what the next day would bring
Because the girls would sing:
Rock me Amadeus,
Amadeus, Amadeus, Amadeus,
Amadeus, Amadeus, Amadeus,
Oh oh oh Amadeus.

Don't know what I would do without tricks. Yeah, yeah. Gimme Tricks

— Falco

12. "Physical"—Olivia Newton-John

Album: Physical

Release Year: 1981

Genre: pop

Wondering why she had to keep her hands on the table. Is she dating her grandma or something?

Inessential Lyrics on "Physical"

I've been patient, I've been good
Tried to keep my hands on the table
It's gettin' hard this holdin' back
If you know what I mean

The only weights I lift are my dogs.

— Olivia Newton-John

13. "Lady In Red"—Chris de Burgh

Album: Into the Light

Release Year: 1986

Genre: Adult contemporary, Pop

Wondering what would happen if she wasn't wearing red. "Green? No thank you, we're done here!"

Inessential Lyrics on "Lady In Red"

I've never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight
I've never seen you shine so bright
I've never seen so many men ask you if you wanted to dance
They're looking for a little romance, given half a chance
And I have never seen that dress you're wearing
Or the highlights in your hair that catch your eyes
I have been blind

I love myself. I'm not saying this in a narcissistic way.

— Chris de Burgh

14. "Hip To Be Square"—Huey Lewis & The News

Album: Fore!

Release Year: 1986

Genre: Rock

Wondering why everyone in this video looks so drunk and disoriented. Although, if I had a cameraman smacking me in the face every three seconds, I'd be disoriented too.

Inessential Lyrics on "Hip To Be Square"

I like my bands in business suits, I watch them on TV
I'm working out 'most everyday and watching what I eat
They tell me that it's good for me, but I don't even care

I went to engineering school, I went to physics class. I said, 'Screw this, I don't want to be here. I'd much rather be at a club playing music.'

— Huey Lewis

15. "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" —MIlli Vanilli

Album: Girl You Know It's True

Release Year: 1989

Genre: House, Pop

Wondering why they didn't stick to modeling.

Inessential Lyrics on "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You"

Like a honey bee, you took the best of me
Now I can't erase those memories
Like a fairy tale, you are so unreal
You left a scar that's so hard to heal
When you had a taste of paradise
Back on earth can feel as cold as ice
I'm gonna miss you

Musically, we’re more talented than any Bob Dylan or Paul McCartney. Mick Jagger can’t produce a sound. I’m the new Elvis.

— Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli

16. "The Final Countdown"—Europe

Album: The Final Countdown

Release Year: 1986

Genre: Hair metal

Wondering what would happen if this was the first song aliens ever heard from Earth.

Inessential Lyrics on "The Final Countdown"

We're leaving together,
But still it's farewell
And maybe we'll come back
To earth, who can tell?
I guess there is no one to blame
We're leaving ground (leaving ground)
Will things ever be the same again?

When you look for independence and you get what you want, how come you look back thinking 'what have I done?'

— Joey Tempest

17. “Is This Love?”—Whitesnake

Album: Whitesnake

Release Year: 1987

Genre: Rock

Wondering why, after watching this video five times, I still have no idea what the setting is.

Inessential Lyrics on “Is This Love?”

I can't stop the feeling
I've been this way before
But, with you I've found the key
To open any door

The critics love to get out their knives and dine on Coverdale. But the worse the criticism gets, the more successful I become.

— David Cloverdale

18. "Mr. Roboto"—Styx

Album: Kilroy Was Here

Release Year: 1983

Genre: Classic rock

Wondering if Dr. Who sued them after this.

Inessential Lyrics on "Mr. Roboto"

I've got a secret I've been hiding under my skin
My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain IBM
So if you see me acting strangely, don't be surprised
I'm just a man who needed someone and somewhere to hide
To keep me alive, just keep me alive

Winners are losers who got up and gave it one more try.

— Dennis DeYoung

19. "Maniac"—Michael Sembello

Album: Bossa Nova Hotel

Release Year: 1983

Genre: Rock

Wondering why she never went on medication.

Inessential Lyrics on "Maniac"

Locking rhythms to the beat of her heart
Changing movement into light
She has danced into the danger zone
When the dancer becomes the dance

She's a maniac, maniac, I sure know.

— Michael Sembello

20. "Private Eyes"—Hall and Oates

Album: Private Eyes

Release Year: 1981

Genre: Pop

Wondering what a Hall and Oates detective agency would be like. Would they be biased against rich girls and maneaters?

Inessential Lyrics on "Private Eyes"

What my head overlooks
The senses will show to my heart
When it's watching for lies
You can't escape my

Private eyes

Obscurity is just obscurity. There's no romance in obscurity.

— Daryl Hall

21. "Africa"—Toto

Album: Toto IV

Release Year: 1982

Genre: Classic rock, Pop

Ok, I legitimately love this song

Nevertheless, why are they in a library. Also, is he dating that librarian? So many unanswered questions.

Inessential Lyrics on "Africa"

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what's right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become

It's not that you want to sing, it's that you have to sing.

— Joe Williams