Instrumental Hits of the '80s

Updated on April 8, 2019
mulberry1 profile image

As a Baby Boomer, I grew up in the '60s and '70s finishing up college in the '80s. Occasionally I like to share some nostalgia.


Remember the Instrumental Hits of the '80s?

Music changed in the '80s, Punk, New Wave, Electronic music, Hip Hop, and more, really hit their stride. These changes even began to show up in the instrumental hits of that time period.

As you look at these non-vocal hits, you will hear electronic keyboards, Moog synthesizers, and even turntable techniques and Hip Hop influences. For this reason, some of these hits were particularly popular in dance clubs. However, both the big and small screens had a heavy influence on our music as well. Many of the other instrumental hits of this period came in the form of theme songs on popular television shows and films.

Below you can sample some of the most popular instrumental tunes from the '80s.

Axel F

Like many instrumental hits of the '80s, Axel F was featured in a popular film. 1984s Beverly Hills Cop was the first of several movies that focused on the antics and crime fighting of Axel Foley, played by Eddie Murphy.

Axel F was written and performed by Harold Faltermeyer and hit the charts in 1985. It's an electronic piece which can be heard below.

Love Theme From St. Elmo's Fire

The 1985 movie "St. Elmo's Fire" produced a couple of musical hits. One was a vocal called "Man in Motion" (performed by John Parr). The other hit was an instrumental (by David Foster) that is known as the love theme. It has of course, been recorded since, including vocal versions.

Hill Street Blues Theme

This instrumental hit came from a very popular television show in the U.S. versus a film. It was the theme song from "Hill Street Blues" a police drama that ran for several years, starting in 1980.

The song was written by Mike Post and can be heard below.

Route 101

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass became popular in the 1960s and on through the '70s. The group disbanded, but then Alpert reformed a group in the early '80s. One of the hits that came from this was Route 101 which hit the charts in 1982.

Like so many instrumentals, you may not know the song by it's name, but if you listen to it, it will likely be familiar.

Chariot's of Fire

The movie Chariots of Fire won numerous awards in 1981 including an Academy Award as well as honors at Cannes. The film included a new composition by Vangelis as the theme. Like the film, the electronic music of the theme song was very popular with audiences.

Crockett's Theme

There were a few popular tunes to come from the television show "Miami Vice". The show's theme song was popular but so was the song later known as "Crockett's Theme". The song enjoyed success in Europe as well.

This instrumental was composed by Jan Hammer and can be heard below.

Peter Piper

The '80s did have a few instrumental hits which were not merely a theme in a popular movie or television show. This song is one example. In 1980, Canadian pianist Frank Mills' "Peter Piper" performed well on the charts, although not as well as his earlier hit "Music Box Dancer".

You can hear this tune below.

Rock It

Herbie Hancock's "Rock It" was a big instrumental hit in 1983. This song introduced turntable techniques, and scratching in particular, to a mainstream audience. It was a huge hit in dance clubs across the country.

Below you can hear it performed.


Saxophonist Kenny G released Silhouette in late 1988 and it was a hit. This instrumental earned him a Grammy nomination in 1989.


Sirius is an instrumental recorded by the Alan Parsons Project in 1982 on the album "Eye in the Sky". It is played as a stand alone tune or as an introduction to the song, Eye in the Sky. It has since been used in movies, television, and at athletic events so it is sometimes recognizable to those who weren't even around at the time of it's release.

Themes From Magnum P.I. and L.A. Law

Like many hit instrumentals from the era, this one is the theme for a television show. It comes from Mike Post who also had success with theme songs from Hill Street Blues, The Greatest American Hero, The Rockford Files, L.A. Law (which you can also hear below) among others.

L.A. Law Theme

© 2010 Christine Mulberry


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      3 months ago

      I've been looking for St. Elmo's fire love theme for ages. Thank you so much!

    • profile image


      14 months ago

      No Art Of Boise Moments In Love or really many of their hits should be on here.

    • mulberry1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Christine Mulberry 

      2 years ago

      Summer Madness was great, but it was from the 90's I think.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Totally left out Kool and the Gang's 'Summer Madness'

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Paul Hardcastle's "RainForest" is quite an omission from this list....

    • charliecrews38 profile image


      6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      nice list, i particularly enjoy axel f and other tracks from beverly hills cop by harold faltermeyer, and crockett's theme from miami vice

    • Brinafr3sh profile image


      8 years ago from West Coast, United States

      The 1980's is a great time to remember of all the good hits. I know this hub is about instrumental hits, I like Herby Handcock hits as well. But I still like the songs of Cindy Lauper, Boy George, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Run DMC, and Atlantic Star. Would these 80s hits still be awesome if they were non-vocal?

    • janices7 profile image

      Janice S 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. Great hub!

    • funmontrealgirl profile image


      9 years ago from Montreal

      Love and appreciate this hub.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wonderful trip down memory lane. It's amazing how clearly you can remember music.

    • pan1974 profile image

      April Seldon 

      9 years ago from New Orleans

      Oh my God, your hub are so awesome, I was just a child when I watch this stuff on tv, all these memories caught my heart, I never seen that movie Chariots of fire though, that bought tears to my eyes.Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I know some of these, might know the rest if I could listen to them. No speakers at work though. maybe tonight... Good memories - it seems so long ago now - hard to believe.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I am just a vintage person. I love these hits.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      9 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Memories. Thanks!

    • irenemaria profile image


      9 years ago from Sweden

      This was a stroll down memory lane for me! Most of the music was in my younger ears.=) Thank you!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)