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300 Best Dance Songs of the ‘80s

I have been an online writer for over six years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

You can't discuss '80s dance music without discussing Madonna.

You can't discuss '80s dance music without discussing Madonna.

The glitzy ‘80s were a memorable decade in dance music. Some of the biggest dance hits emerged in the decade. As the disco craze of the ‘70s lost steam in the early ‘80s, a number of dance music artists started exploring new musical landscapes that paved the way for a hybrid dance scene. As the use of digital recording increased, the sounds of synthesizers became the defining sound across electronic genres. Indeed, the ‘80s were an amalgamation of diverse musical styles that gave dance songs new meaning.

The list below showcases a massive collection of ‘80s dance songs from different dance genres. If you are a dance music buff of this nostalgic era, you will want to speak your mind. Feel free with your views, opinions, and song suggestions in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Dance Songs of the ‘80s

1. “Like a Virgin”—Madonna

2. “Billie Jean”—Michael Jackson

3. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”—Cyndi Lauper

4. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”—Whitney Houston

5. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”—Wham!

6. “Pump Up the Jam”—Technotronic

7. “Take on Me”—A-ha

8. “Funkytown”—Lipps Inc.

9. “Part-Time Lover”—Stevie Wonder

10. “Tarzan Boy”—Baltimora

New Wave in the ‘80s

The sounds of new wave became epic in the ‘80s. While numerous bands associated with the genre adopted a pop-oriented style, certain artists infused a polished rock sound with punk influences. The pop-rock electronic embellishments brought to life with aesthetically employed synthesizer sounds give distinctive identity to new wave in the realms of dance music. While the genre became prominent in the late ‘70s, it was the early ‘80s that gave new wave acts breakthrough success with their crossover dance hits. While numerous new wave artists did achieve commercial success with their dance songs, a large number of these artists were attributed to being one-hit wonders.

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The start-stop structures encompassed with poppy guitar riffs, keyboards, and melodic high pitched vocal delivery gave certain dance-rock artists associated with new wave aesthetics unique identity. Certain new wave bands that experimented with diverse influences of power pop, synth-pop, funk, disco, electronic, bubblegum pop and glam punk brought to life a unique robotic dance sound that synonymous with synth-pop bands and artists in the decade. The style and fashion exhibited by new wave artists in their music music videos became a cultural lifestyle identity with urban youth.

#11—20

11. “Self Control”—Laura Branigan

12. “Material Girl”—Madonna

13. “Never Gonna Give You Up”—Rick Astley

14. “Beat It”—Michael Jackson

15. “Let’s Hear it for the Boy”—Deniece Williams

16. “She Drives Me Crazy”—The Fine Young Cannibals

17. “Let’s Dance”—David Bowie

18. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”—Eurythmics

19. “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”—Dead or Alive

20. “Super Trouper”—ABBA

Synth-Pop in the ‘80s

A subgenre of new wave music, Synth-pop came into prominence in the ‘70s, and had astounding mainstream success in the ‘80s. Synth-pop songs formed an integral part of the mainstream pop in the 80s. A number of synth-pop acts had tremendous chart-topping success on club dance charts. The textural instrumentation with aesthetically employed dance beats and emotive vocal delivery gave unique flavor to synthpop songs. Themes associated with anomie, isolation, and emotional feelings were exceeding popular in in synth-pop songs of the ‘80s.

With the development of digital audio, creating and employing electronic sounds in the realms of dance music became easier as different types of synthesizers were available at affordable prices. This indirectly influenced the do-it-yourself philosophy where musicians started making music individually primarily with the use of synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers. While music purists criticized synth-pop musicians severely for their limited musical skills and their sole-dependence on technology to reproduce music, the fact remains that synth-based productions of the ‘80s had some of the most popular dance songs in dance music history.

#21—40

21. “Flashdance…What a Feeling”—Irene Cara

22. “The Way You Make Me Feel”—Michael Jackson

23. “All Night Long (All Night)”—Lionel Richie

24. “Express Yourself”—Madonna

25. “Mickey”—Tony Basil

26. “Together Forever”—Rick Astley

27. “It’s Raining Men”—The Weather Girls

28. “Musique Non-Stop”—Kraftwerk

29. “The Safety Dance”—Men Without Hats

30. “Footloose”—Kenny Loggins

31. “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”—Wang Chung

32. “Bad”—Michael Jackson

33. “Whip It”—Devo

34. “Blue Monday”—New Order

35. “Super Freak”—Rick James

36. “Brother Louie”—Modern Talking

37. “Hungry Like the Wolf”—Duran Duran

38. “Rumors”—Timex Social Club

39. “Bust a Move”—Young MC

40. “Love Sensation”—Loleatta Holloway

Dance-Pop in the ‘80s

The catchy musical structure of dance-pop made it exceedingly popular with contemporary radio stations and nightclubs. While the origins of the genre are rooted in the ‘70s, the development of the genre took shape after the disco craze diminished in the early ‘80s. Combining diverse elements of pop music and dance music with disco, synth-pop, and post-disco influences, dance-pop came into its own in the ‘80s. This mainstream style of music characterized by its strong uptempo beats and club-ready production ruled the music charts in the decade.

Aesthetically aligned with genres such as, contemporary R&B, house, techno, trance, new jack swing, electropop, funk, and Hi-NRG, dance-pop showcased a broad spectrum of aesthetics that made it highly popular with youth. The freeform uncomplicated musical structure of dance-pop songs became hugely popular with teens and young adults globally. The young brigade of pop musicians, women in particular, took dance-pop to new heights in the ‘80s. A great number of female artists associated with the genre had phenomenal success with their singles and albums.

#41—60

41. “High Energy”—Evelyn Thomas

42. “Fame”—Irene Cara

43. “Tell It to My Heart”—Taylor Dayne

44. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”—Michael Jackson

45. “Genius of Love”—Tom Tom Club

46. “I Like Chopin”—Gazebo

47. “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)”—Information Society

48. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”—Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

49. “Only in my Dreams”—Debbie Gibson

50. “Celebration”—Kool & the Gang

51. “Into the Groove”—Madonna

52. “When I Think of You”—Janet Jackson

53. “Axel F”—Harold Faltermeyer

54. “Word Up!”—Cameo

55. “Kiss”—Prince

56. “Walking on Sunshine”—Katrina and the Waves

57. “Cheri, Cheri Lady”—Modern Talking

58. “Like a Prayer”—Madonna

59. “Thriller”—Michael Jackson

60. “Let’s Groove”—Earth, Wind & Fire

Italo Disco in the ‘80s

Italo disco a music genre which developed in Italy in the late ‘70s had a great deal of success in European countries. Italo disco dance songs are characterized by catchy pop melodies, electronic sounds, drum machines, synthesizers, vocoders and heavily accented lyrics in English. Popular themes associated with love, space and robots are brought to life with these songs. Although the genre had a cult following in the underground music movement of the ‘70s it never managed to attain mainstream status. However, fortunes changed in the ‘80s, as the Italo disco movement spread from Italy to the regional dance music scene across Europe and US.

The efforts of German record label ZYX Music GmbH & Co. KG who began licensing and marketing Italo disco outside Italy played a pivotal role in shaping the Italo disco blueprint in UK and US. The astatically laid out smooth disco-pop sounds of the genre hit hard with the dance music aficionados globally. Along with Euro disco, Italo disco had significant success on the dance music charts. While artists associated with the genre did not have success with albums, numerous Italo acts scored big with their dance singles.

#61—80

61. “This Time I Know It’s for Real”—Donna Summer

62. “Sledgehammer”—Peter Gabriel

63. “Mercedes Boy”—Pebbles

64. “Papa Don’t Preach”—Madonna

65. “You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul”—Modern Talking

66. “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”—Indeep

67. “Round and Round”—New Order

68. “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”—Michael Jackson

69. “Let the Music Play”—Shannon

70. “Stomp!”—The Brothers Johnson

71. “Lay All Your Love On Me”—ABBA

72. “Control”—Janet Jackson

73. “Tainted Love”—Soft Cell

74. “Love Shack”—B-52s

75. “That’s the Way Love Is”—Ten City

76. “Fresh”—Kool & the Gang

77. “19”—Paul Hardcastle

78. “Open Your Heart”—Madonna

79. “Give It to Me Baby”—Rick James

80. “Swept Away”—Diana Ross

Post-Disco in the ‘80s

Post-disco also referred to as electro-funk, came to life through the dying disco scene in the early ‘80s. As the sounds of disco began to fade away, the electronic sounds of new disco came alive through hi-ENRG and Euro disco. At the same time a music movement with stripped down electronic aesthetics and radically sonic sounds emerged in the East Coast, and this style of music gradually shaped into the post disco scene. Post-disco songs were known for their funk-oriented basslines encompassed with keyboard-centric passages, synth sounds, and lush orchestration similar to disco songs of the ‘70s.

The urban sounds of post-disco struck the right chords with young audiences globally. The technologically centric songs associated with the genre were marketed by major record labels and independent record producers in the singles-driven music market. While post-disco was catered to niche urban markets, the genre achieved major mainstream-driven popularity in the mid-80s. Different forms of dance-pop, house, alternative dance, and techno emerged through the post-disco era. The funky dance R&B style that mushroomed through post-disco had phenomenal chart-topping success towards the end of the decade.

#81—100

81. “Miss You Much”—Janet Jackson

82. “Girl You Know It’s True”—Milli Vanilli

83. “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)”—Billy Ocean

84. “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”—Samantha Fox

85. “Girlfriend”—Pebbles

86. “Respectable”—Mel and Kim

87. “Push It”—Salt-n-Pepa

88. “Monkey”—George Michael

89. “Freeway of Love”—Aretha Franklin

90. “Brand New Lover”—Dead or Alive

91. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”—Tears for Fears

92. “Me Myself and I”—De La Soul

93. “Call Me”—Spagna

94. “Dance Hall Days”—Wang Chung

95. “Nobody’s Diary”—Yazoo

96. “We Close Our Eyes”—Go West

97. “In the Name of Love”—Thompson Twins

98. “Smalltown Boy”—Bronski Beat

99. “Out of Touch”—Hall & Oates

100. “Talking in Your Sleep”—The Romantics

Best Dance Songs of the ‘80s #101—200

101. “(Keep Feeling) Fascination”—The Human League

102. “New Attitude”—Patti LaBelle

103. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”—Simple Minds

104. “West End Girls”—Pet Shop Boys

105. “How Will I Know”—Whitney Houston

106. “Situation”—Yazoo

107. “I Can’t Wait”—Nu Shooz

108. “The Second Time Around”—Shalamar

109. “Good Thing”—Fine Young Cannibals

110. “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”—The S.O.S. Band

111. “Double Dutch Bus”—Frankie Smith

112. “I Should Be So Lucky”—Kylie Minogue

113. “So Many Me – So Little Time”—Miquel Brown

114. “High on Your Love”—Debbie Jacobs

115. “The Telephone Call”—Kraftwerk

116. “Give Me Tonight”—Shannon

117. “So Emotional”—Whitney Houston

118. “Real Love”—Jody Watley

119. “Two of Hearts”—Stacey Q

120. “Baby Talk”—Alisha

121. “Holiday”—Madonna

122. “Keep on Movin’”—Soul 2 Soul

123. “Showing Out (Get Fresh on the Dancefloor)”—Mel and Kim

124. “Get on the Dance Floor”—Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock

125. “Do You Want Me”—The Human League

126. “Karma Chameleon”—Culture Club

127. “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”—The Gap Band

128. “Wild Thing”—Tone Loc

129. “Show Me”—The Cover Girls

130. “Hustle! (To the Music…)”—The Funky Worm

131. “Strangelove”—Depeche Mode

132. “Ain’t Nobody Better”—Inner City

133. “In My House”—Mary Jane Girls

134. “Looking for a New Love”—Jody Watley

135. “In Love with Love”—Debbie Harry

136. “Oh Sheila”—Ready for the World

137. “I Want to Be Your Property”—Blue Mercedes

138. “She Works Hard for the Money”—Donna Summer

139. “Fading Away”—Will to Power

140. “Human”—Human League

141. “Let it Roll”—Doug Lazy

142. “French Kiss”—Lil Louis

143. “The Right Stuff”—Vanessa Williams

144. “Electric Avenue”—Eddie Grant

145. “Tina Cherry”—Georgio

146. “Let it Whip”—Dazz Band

147. “No Parking (On the Dance Floor)”—Midnight Star

148. “Living on Video”—Trans-X

149. “Secret Rendezvous”—Karyn White

150. “Atlantis is Calling (S.O.S. for Love)”—Modern Talking

151. “Just Can’t Get Enough”—Depeche Mode

152. “Poison Arrow”—ABC

153. “Rapture”—Blondie

154. “You Came”—Kim Wilde

155. “Someone Like You”—Sylvester

156. “Do You Love What You Feel”—Inner City

157. “Love Comes Quickly”—Pet Shop Boys

158. “Some Kind of Lover”—Jody Watley

159. “Can’t Fake the Feeling”—Geraldine Hunt

160. “Touched By the Hand of God”—New Order

161. “Beat Dis”—Bomb the Bass

162. “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”—Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield

163. “Love Will Save the Day”—Whitney Houston

164. “Thinking of You”—Earth, Wind & Fire

165. “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But the Rent”—Gwen Guthrie

166. “Instinctual”—Imagination

167. “Upside Down”—Diana Ross

168. “Come Go with Me”—Expose

169. “All She Wants Is”—Duran Duran

170. “Lucky Star”—Madonna

171. “Theme from S-Express”—S’Express

172. “Victim of Love”—Erasure

173. “Point of No Return”—Nu Shooz

174. “On and On and On”—ABBA

175. “Dare Me”—The Pointer Sisters

176. “We Are the Young”—Dan Hartman

177. “Fascinated”—Company B

178. “Prove Your Love”—Taylor Dayne

179. “Let’s Go Crazy”—Prince and the Revolution

180. “Do You Wanna Get Away”—Shannon

181. “Trapped”—Colonel Abrams

182. “Divine Emotions”—Narada Michael Walden

183. “K.I.S.S.I.N.G.”—Siedah Garrett

184. “We Call it Acieed”—D Mob featuring Gary Haisman

185. “Spy in the House of Love”—Was (Not Was)

186. “You’re the One for Me”—D. Train

187. “Like a Child”—Noel

188. “One Look (One Look Was Enough)”—Paul Parker

189. “Sending All My Love”—The Jets

190. “This Is My Night”—Chaka Khan

191. “Adventure”—Eleanor

192. “Catch Me (I’m Falling)”—Pretty Poison

193. “Big Fun”—Inner City

194. “This is Acid”—Maurice

195. “Head to Toe”—Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam

196. “When Smokey Sings”—ABC

197. “Loverboy”—Billy Ocean

198. “Say It’s Gonna Rain”—Will Power

199. “The Promise”—When in Rome

200. “Go Home”—Stevie Wonder

Best ‘80s Dance Songs #201—300

201. “Baby Love”—Regina

202. “Diamonds”—Herb Alpert featuring Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith

203. “Batdance”—Prince

204. “The Real Thing”—Jellybean

205. “Pump Up the Volume”—MARRS

206. “Big in Japan”—Alphaville

207. “Certain Things Are Likely’—Kissing the Pink

208. “Say It Isn’t So”—Hall & Oates

209. “Break 4 Love”—Raze

210. “Say It, Say It”—E.G. Daily

211. “Let’s Go All the Way”—Sly Fox

212. “Good Life”—Inner City featuring Paris Grey

213. “I Like You”—Phyllis Nelson

214. “Sugar Walls”—Sheena Easton

215. “I’m Beggin’ You”—Supertramp

216. “Turn Around and Count 2 Ten”—Dead or Alive

217. “Just Wanna Dance / Weekend”—The Todd Terry Project

218. “Shout”—Tears for Fears

219. “Love on Top of Love”—Grace Jones

220. “Don’t You Want Me”—Jody Watley

221. “Relax”—Frankie Goes to Hollywood

222. “I Don’t Want Your Love”—Duran Duran

223. “C’est la Vie”—Robbie Nevil

224. “Hold Me Now”—Thompson Twins

225. “Love’s Gonna Get You”—Jocelyn Brown

226. “Din Daa Daa”—George Kranz

227. “Baby, Don’t Forget My Number”—Milli Vanilli

228. “Point of No Return”—Expose

229. “1999”—Prince

230. “Can You Feel It”—The Jacksons

231. “Trouble”—Nia Peeples

232. “System of Survival”—Earth, Wind & Fire

233. “It’s My Life”—Talk Talk

234. “The Pleasure Principle”—Janet Jackson

235. “I’m Coming Out”—Diana Ross

236. “Rockit”—Herbie Hancock

237. “Whenever You Need Somebody”—O’Chi Brown

238. “Breakin’… There’s No Stopping Us”—Ollie & Jerry

239. “Never Let You Go”—Sweet Sensation

240. “White Horse”—Laid Back

241. “Shake Your Love”—Debbie Gibson

242. “Let’s Work”—Prince

243. “Call Me Mr. Telephone (Answering Service)”—Cheyne

244. “The Great Commandment”—Camouflage

245. “Glad to Know You”—Chaz Jankel

246. “Jump to the Beat”—Stacy Lattisaw

247. “A Lovers Holiday”—Change

248. “Just Got Paid”—Johnny Kemp

249. “Lovely One”—The Jacksons

250. “Call Me”—Go West

251. “I’m in Love”—Evelyn King

252. “Loveride”—Nuance

253. “Hold Tight”—Change

254. “Do I Do”—Stevie Wonder

255. “Boys (Summertime Love)”—Sabrina

256. “Electric Youth”—Debbie Gibson

257. “Buffalo Stance”—Neneh Cherry

258. “If You Should Ever Be Lonely”—Val Young

259. “Out of Time”—Noel

260. “The Glamorous Life”—Sheila E.

261. “No Frills Love”—Jennifer Holliday

262. “Slave to the Rhythm”—Grace Jones

263. “Beat Box—Art of Noise

264. “Shoot Your Best Shot”—Linda Clifford

265. “Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Too Good to Be True)”—Jermaine Jackson featuring Michael Jackson

266. “Bad Habits”—Jenny Burton

267. “Thinking About Your Love”—Skipworth & Turner

268. “Nasty Girl”—Vanity 6

269. “I’m Not Gonna Let You”—Colonel Abrams

270. “Lies”—Thompson Twins

271. “Right on Target”—Paul Parker

272. “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”—Aretha Franklin

273. “Love Come Down”—Evelyn King

274. “You Can”—Madleen Kane

275. “The Medicine Song”—Stephanie Mills

276. “Murphy’s Law”—Cheri

277. “Deep in Vogue”—Malcolm McLaren

278. “Jeopardy”—The Greg Kihn Band

279. “Never Give You Up”—Sharon Redd

280. “I Want a New Drug”—Huey Lewis and the News

281. “Breaking and Entering”—Dee Dee Sharp

282. “Try It Out”—Gino Soccio

283. “Menergy”—Patrick Cowley

284. “Don’t Come Crying to Me”—Linda Clifford

285. “Heartbeat”—Tanna Gardner

286. “I Wonder If I Take You Home”—Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

287. “Sidewalk Town”—Jellybean

288. “I Can’t Go for That (No One Can Do)”—Daryl Hall and John Oates

289. “Angel Man (G.A.)”—Rhetta Hughes

290. “So Fine”—Howard Johnson

291. “Wordy Rappinghood”—Tom Tom Club

292. “Thanks to You”—Sinnamon

293. “Do You Love Me”—Patti Austin

294. “Red Light”—Linda Clifford

295. “You’re Too Late”—Fantasy

296. “Dynamite!”—Stacy Lattisaw

297. “The Look of Love”—ABC

298. “Dancin’ the Night Away”—Voggue

299. “Zulu”—The Quick

300. “Walk Right Now”—The Jacksons

© 2022 Ansel Pereira

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