Quiz: Which Iconic '80s Song Are You?

Updated on March 12, 2018
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Lauren is a virtual adventurer and late night philosopher, as well as a voracious consumer of technology.

The 1980s churned out some of the most classic and memorable tunes, with synthesizers and hair bands aplenty. Whether you love or hate the music that supercharged a decade, at some point we all have to answer the question: If I was reincarnated as an ‘80s song, which one would I be?


Which Iconic '80s Song Are You?

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About the Songs

In curating music for this quiz, I looked at the overall popularity of the songs as well as their iconic value. In other words, I looked at how well they encompassed the style and feel of the decade. There are tons of tunes from the ‘80s that could easily be classified as iconic, but here’s a little more information and background on the songs that made the cut.

Billie Jean by Michael Jackson

This heart thumping classic was released in 1983, and remains one of the best selling singles of all time. Jackson claimed that the character of Billie Jean was fictitious, and that the idea of the woman was a conglomeration of groupies who had harassed his older brothers during their time of fame in the Jackson 5.

Michael Jackson performed this song live for the first time in a TV special commemorating Motown’s 25th anniversary. (See preceding video.) This performance, as well as the music video for Billie Jean, featured Jackson performing the moonwalk and wearing a singular white glove, elements which went on to define his iconic style.

Lyrics:

She was more like a beauty queen
From a movie scene
I said, "Don't mind, but what do you mean
I am the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round?"
She said I am the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round

She told me her name was Billie Jean
As she caused a scene
Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round

People always told me, "Be careful of what you do.
And don't go around breaking young girls' hearts."
And mother always told me, "A-be careful of who you love,
And be careful of what you do
'Cause the lie becomes the truth."

Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one
But the kid is not my son

For forty days and for forty nights
Law was on her side
But who can stand
When she's in demand
Her schemes and plans
'Cause we danced on the floor in the round
So take my strong advice
Just remember to always think twice
(Do think twice, do think twice.)

She told, "My baby, we'd danced 'til three."
Then she looked at me
Then showed a photo of a baby cry
His eyes looked like mine, oh, no
Do a dance on the floor in the round, baby

A-people always told me, "Be careful of what you do
And don't go around breaking young girls' hearts."
(Don't break no heart.)
A-but she came and stood right by me
And just the smell of sweet perfume
And this happened much too soon
And she called me to her room

Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
(No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.)
Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one
But the kid is not my son

Take on Me by A-ha

This track and its accompanying video are as charming as they are weird. The hit by the Norwegian synthpop band rose to popularity due in large part to the music video receiving numerous awards as well as heavy airtime on MTV. Much of the video was rotoscoped. Scenes were filmed first in live action and then traced over frame by frame.

Lyrics:

We're talking away
I don't know what
I'm to say I'll say it anyway
Today's another day to find you
Shying away
I'll be coming for your love, okay?

Take on me, (take on me)
Take me on, (take on me)
I'll be gone
In a day or two

So needless to say
I'm odds and ends
I'll be stumbling away
Slowly learning that life is OK
Say after me
It's no better to be safe than sorry

Take on me, (take on me)
Take me on, (take on me)
I'll be gone
In a day or two

Oh the things that you say
Is it live or
Just to play my worries away
You're all the things I've got to remember
You're shying away
I'll be coming for you anyway

Take on me, (take on me)
Take me on, (take on me)
I'll be gone
In a day

I'll be gone (take on me)
In a day

Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

If there was any doubt that this song is one of the most iconic hits of the ‘80s, consider the fact that it is the most downloaded song ever. Whether it be athletes, drama kids, or mafia members, this track has the power to inspire and energize. Instead of following the most used structure for a pop song (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus), it builds up until it reaches the powerful chorus in all its glory. It has been blasted at numerous sporting events and been featured in many movies and TV shows.

The song’s title came from something keyboardist Jonathan Cain’s father often told him when he was still a struggling musician on the verge of giving up. Now we can all glean encouragement from his father’s words, in timeless, rousing song form.

Lyrics:

Just a small town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train
Goin' anywhere
Just a city boy
Born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train
Goin' anywhere

A singer in a smokey room
The smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on, and on, and on

Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching
In the night
Streetlight people
Livin' just to find emotion
Hidin' somewhere in the night

Workin' hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice
Just one more time
Some will win
Some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on, and on, and on

Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching
In the night
Streetlight people
Livin' just to find emotion
Hidin' somewhere in the night

Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people
Don't stop believin'
Hold on
Streetlight people
Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people

Thriller by Michael Jackson

What? Another Michael Jackson song? Yes. Considering that the King of Pop is the biggest music, dance, and fashion icon to come out of the ‘80s, that warrants another one of his songs on the list.

As well as being a staple on everyone’s Halloween party playlist, Thriller is especially inspiring for anyone who dreams of cavorting with zombies by leading them in a killer dance sequence.

Lyrics:

It's close to midnight and something evil's lurkin' in the dark
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,
You're paralyzed

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one's gonna save you from the beast about to strike
You know it's thriller, thriller night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

You hear the door slam and realize there's nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you'll ever see the sun
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination, girl
But all the while you hear a creature creepin' up behind
You're outta time

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
There ain't no second chance against the thing with the forty eyes, girl
Thriller, thriller night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

Night creatures call
And the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There's no escaping the jaws of the alien this time (they're open wide)
This is the end of your life

They're out to get you, there's demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change that number on your dial
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together
All through the night I'll save you from the terror on the screen,
I'll make you see

That this is thriller, thriller night
'Cause I can thrill you more than any ghoul could ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, thriller, chiller
Thriller here tonight

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
Girl, I can thrill you more than any ghoul could ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, thriller

I'm gonna thrill you tonight

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'all's neighborhood
And whomsoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell

I'm gonna thrill you tonight...

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grisly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller

Eye of the Tiger

This catchy rock tune is most often associated with Rocky lll, but was originally written as the intended theme song for the Karate Kid. It was ultimately passed up for “You’re the Best Around.” Alternately, the intended theme song for Rocky lll was “Another One Bites the Dust,” but Queen refused Stallone permission to use it. But millions of us are glad that Eye of the Tiger ended up as the theme song of something, otherwise we wouldn’t have anything to wail to while practicing boxing moves in our basement.

Lyrics:

Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all with the eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hanging tough, staying hungry
They stack the odds still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all with the eye of the tiger

Rising up, straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all with the eye of the tiger

Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns n’ Roses

This accidental hit was essentially written by the band in an hour, instigated by lead guitarist Slash fooling around on his guitar. The opening guitar riff was basically a joke, and the band thought the track would likely just be a filler song on the record. 20 years later and it’s still a classic, with millions replicating that lick on real and air guitars everywhere.

Lyrics:

She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky

Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long
I'd probably break down and cry

Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I'd hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain

Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder and the rain
To quietly pass me by

Sweet child o' mine
Sweet love of mine

Where do we go?
Where do we go now?
Where do we go?
Sweet child o' mine

Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler

Bonnie Tyler’s raspy voice drives home the emotion of this song about conflicted love. Jim Steinman originally wrote it as a vampire love song for a musical. This rousing ballad has received generous attention from media, other artists, and karaoke bars alike, and in 2013 the UK voted it the most popular song to sing in the shower.

Lyrics:

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I get a little bit lonely
And you're never coming round

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I get a little bit tired
Of listening to the sound of my tears

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I get a little bit nervous
That the best of all the years have gone by

(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit terrified
And then I see the look in your eyes

(Turn around, bright eyes)
Every now and then I fall apart
(Turn around, bright eyes)
Every now and then
I fall apart

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I get a little bit restless
And I dream of something wild

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I get a little bit helpless
And I'm lying like a child in your arms

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I get a little bit angry
And I know I've got to get out and cry

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I get a little bit terrified
But then I see the look in your eyes

(Turn around, bright eyes)
Every now and then
I fall apart
Turn around, bright eyes
Every now and then
I fall apart

And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if you only hold me tight
We'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right
'Cause we'll never be wrong

Together we can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time (all of the time)

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
Forever's gonna start tonight
(Forever's gonna start tonight)

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart

Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

(Turn around, bright eyes)
(Turn around, bright eyes)

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I know you'll never be the boy
You always wanted to be

(Turn around)
But every now and then
I know you'll always be the only boy
Who wanted me the way that I am

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I know there's no one in the universe
As magical and wondrous as you

(Turn around)
Every now and then
I know there's nothing any better
There's nothing that I just wouldn't do

(Turn around, bright eyes)
Every now and then I fall apart
(Turn around, bright eyes)
Every now and then I fall apart

And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if you only hold me tight
We'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right
'Cause we'll never be wrong

Together we can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time (all of the time)

I don't know what to do
I'm always in the dark
Living in a powder keg and giving off sparks

I really need you tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight
(Forever's gonna start tonight)

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart

Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

A total eclipse of the heart

It’s the End of the World as We Know It by R.E.M.

This stream of consciousness song, released in 1987, is equal parts social commentary and rambling nonsense. Its ability to mean nothing yet everything and its decided apathy in the midst of chaos have made it a charming and gritty narrative to the progression of the world.

Lyrics:

That's great! It starts with an earthquake,
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane;
Lenny Bruce is not afraid.

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn.
World serves its own needs, don't mis-serve your own needs.
Speed it up a notch, speed, grunt, no strength.
The ladder starts to clatter with fear of fight, down height.
Wire in a fire, represent the seven games
In a government for hire and a combat site.
Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry
With the furies breathing down your neck.

Team by team reporters baffled, trump, tethered crop.
Look at that low plane! Fine, then.
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group,
But it'll do. Save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed.
Tell me with the rapture and the rev-'rent in the right, right.
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light;
Feeling pretty psyched.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Six o'clock. TV hour.
Don't get caught in foreign tower.
Slash and burn, return,
Listen to yourself churn.
Lock him in uniform and book burning, bloodletting.
Ev'ry motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
Light a candle, light a motive.
Step down, step down.
Watch a heel crush, crush.
Uh oh, this means no fear; cavalier.
Renegade and steer clear!
A tournament, a tournament,
A tournament of lies.
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives
And I decline.

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)
I feel fine

It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)

The other night I tripped a nice
Continental drift divide.
Mountains sit in a line.
Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev,
Lenny Bruce, and Lester Banks
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly beans, boom!
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam, but neck, right? (Right!)

It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper

This fun and lighthearted tribute to feminism was originally recorded in 1979 by Robert Hazard. Lauper’s version was released in 1983 and was her breakthrough hit, launching into stardom and the public eye. The music video featured a cast mostly made up of volunteers, including Lauper’s own mom who fittingly played the mother.

Lyrics:

I come home in the morning light
My mother says, "When you gonna live your life right?"
Oh, mamma, dear, we're not the fortunate ones
And girls—they wanna have fun
Oh, girls just wanna have fun

The phone rings in the middle of the night
My father yells, "What you gonna do with your life?"
Oh, daddy, dear, you know you're still number one
But girls—they wanna have fun
Oh, girls just wanna have

That's all they really want
Some fun
When the working day is done
Oh, girls—they wanna have fun
Oh, girls just wanna have fun

Girls—they wanna
Wanna have fun
Girls wanna have

Some boys take a beautiful girl
And hide her away from the rest of the world
I wanna be the one to walk in the sun
Oh girls they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have

That's all they really want
Some fun
When the working day is done
Oh, girls—they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have fun,

Girls—they wanna
Wanna have fun
Girls wanna have

They just wanna
They just wanna
Girls
Just wanna
Girls just wanna have fun
They just wanna
Girls just wanna have fun

*Note: As of 2/26/2018, if you want to retake the quiz you should refresh the page instead of clicking the 'retake the quiz' button as sometimes that action gives you the same result regardless of how different your answers might be.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Lauren Flauding

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