James L Komi is an online researcher and freelance writer who loves writing about music and music history in his free time.
'80s songs are often extremely upbeat. It's no surprise they usually put you in a good mood. These songs are great to use at parties or while you're working out. But, which '80s songs are the best to listen to when you're in need of motivation? Here's a great list that can help you out!
Top 10 Most Inspirational Songs of the 80s
- "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
- "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor
- "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi
- "The Warrior" by Patty Smyth with Scandal
- "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins
- "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by The Eurythmics
- "Working for the Weekend" by Loverboy
- "Invincible" by Pat Benatar
- "Bit it" by Michael Jackson
- "Don't Worry Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin
1. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
Journey is an American rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1973, composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch.
Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" is easily one of the most motivational '80s songs. The title of the song was actually inspired by keyboard player Jonathan Cain's father, who delivered the message whenever Cain felt like giving up on his musical dreams. There's a reason this song is a favorite of campaigning politicians, it has a built-in rallying cry. You stand for something, and Journey's Steve Perry doesn't want you to forget it. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. Take that midnight train "goin' anywhere."
In 2007, the song gained press coverage and a sharp growth in popularity for its use in the famous final scene of HBO's The Sopranos series finale "Made in America." Steve Perry was initially hesitant to allow the song to be used in The Sopranos, but later agreed. Digital downloads of the song soared following the episode's airing, and the exposure motivated the band members to overcome the struggles they were having at the time and find a replacement lead singer after Perry's departure.
Just a small-town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere
— "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
2. "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor
Album: Eye of the Tiger
I'm pretty sure everyone has shadowboxed at least once in front of their mirror to this song. If it hasn't happened yet, you still have a lot of life ahead of you. This song will fortify you with the strength and cunning of a wild jungle cat.
Survivor is an American rock band, formed in Chicago in 1978 around Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan. The band achieved its greatest success in the 1980s, producing many charting singles, especially in the United States.
It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he's watchin' us all with the eye of the tiger…
— "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor
3. "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi
Album: Slippery When Wet
"Livin' on a Prayer" is Bon Jovi's second chart-topping single from their third album, Slippery When Wet. Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and Desmond Child, the single, released in late 1986, was well received on both rock and pop radio stations. Its music video was given heavy rotation on MTV, giving the band their first No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and their second consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit.
The song is the band's signature song, topping fan-voted lists and re-charting around the world decades after its release. In 2013 the song was certified Triple Platinum for receiving over three million digital downloads. The official music video has over 640 million views on YouTube as of January 2020.
Bon Jovi is an American rock band formed in 1983 in Sayreville, New Jersey. It consists of singer Jon Bon Jovi, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, guitarist Phil X, and bassist Hugh McDonald. Previous bassist Alec John Such was dismissed in 1994, and longtime guitarist and co-songwriter Richie Sambora left in 2013.
Woah, we're half way there
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it I swear
Woah, livin' on a prayer…
— "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi
4. "The Warrior" by Patty Smyth with Scandal
Released: August 1984
Genre: Power pop rock
This song calls up the powerful archetype of the unbreakable warrior, soldiering through adversity, locked in a primal struggle for dominance. While Patty is probably talking about a romantic conquest, this archetype is so badass that it's almost impossible not to let this song buoy you through any other insurmountable task you might encounter today.
"The Warrior" is a song by American rock band Scandal, featuring Patty Smyth, from the album Warrior, written by Holly Knight and Nick Gilder. The song went to No. 1 in Canada and No. 7 in the United States, as well as No. 1 on the U.S. Rock Top Tracks chart, and won a BMI Airplay Award in 1984. It was also a hit in Australia, where it peaked at No. 6, and in New Zealand and South Africa, peaking in both countries at No. 11. The music video of the song depicts the apocalypse in a warehouse.
The song is used in the opening credits to the first episode of each of the first three seasons of the Netflix show GLOW.
Shooting at the walls of heartache bang, bang
I am the warrior
Well, I am the warrior
And heart to heart you'll win…
— "The Warrior" by Patty Smyth with Scandal
5. "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins
Album: Top Gun
Nominations: Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance
Genres: Classic Rock, Rock, Folk, Pop
There's a reason this song was featured in the movie Top Gun—it's impossible not to imagine yourself walking in slow motion away from an explosion while it's playing.
"Danger Zone" was composed by Giorgio Moroder. The lyrics were written by Tom Whitlock. American singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins recorded and released the song in 1986. The song was one of the hit singles from the soundtrack to the 1986 American motion picture Top Gun (the bestselling soundtrack of 1986 and one of the bestselling of all time). According to Allmusic, the album "remains a quintessential artifact of the mid-'80s" and the album's hits "still define the bombastic, melodramatic sound that dominated the pop charts of the era."
Highway to the danger zone
I'll take you
Ridin' into the danger zone…
— "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins
6. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by The Eurythmics
Album: Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (Steve Angello Bootleg)
Genre: Pop rock
Awards: MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist
It's true, "Some of them want to use you. Some of them want to be used by you." Whichever it is, you've got this, and Annie Lennox has your back.
"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" is a song written and performed by the British new wave music duo Eurythmics. The song is the title track of their album of the same name and was released as the fourth and final single from the album in early 1983. The song became their breakthrough hit, establishing the duo worldwide. Its music video helped to propel the song to No. 2 on the U.K. Singles Chart and No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It was the first single released by Eurythmics in the U.S.
Eurythmics were a British pop duo consisting of members Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart. Stewart and Lennox were both previously in the band the Tourists, which broke up in 1980; the Eurythmics were formed later that year in Wagga Wagga, Australia.
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world
And the seven seas…
— "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by The Eurythmics
7. "Working for the Weekend" by Loverboy
Album: Get Lucky
This foot-tapper has an infectious rhythm that will spill over into your professional life and leave your officemates wondering what's gotten into you. When they ask you what's up with you, explain that you're listening to Loverboy, and they'll understand. Then, you'll probably have a dance-off.
"Working for the Weekend" is a song by Canadian rock band Loverboy, from their second studio album Get Lucky (1981). It was written by guitarist Paul Dean, vocalist Mike Reno and drummer Matt Frenette, and produced by Bruce Fairbairn and Dean. It was released as the lead single from the album in October 1981. It has more of a power pop feel than the band's other songs, but this new sound proved to generate success; the song reached No. 29 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and No. 2 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart in January 1982.
Everybody wants a little romance
Everybody's goin' off the deep end
Everybody needs a second chance, oh…
— "Working for the Weekend" by Loverboy
8. "Invincible" by Pat Benatar
Album: Seven the Hard Way
Genre: Classic Rock
Pat Benatar is the queen of melodrama (she's also the queen of the synthesizer). "Invincible" makes you honestly believe she's in a life-or-death situation that she's trying to sing her way out of, possibly against hostile keytar-wielding enemies. It'll put you in the zone. It'll make you feel...wait for it...invincible.
"Invincible" is the Grammy-nominated lead single from Pat Benatar's sixth studio album, Seven the Hard Way, released on July 6, 1985. The song was written by Holly Knight and Simon Climie (Knight also co-wrote "Love Is a Battlefield"), and was used as a theme song for the film The Legend of Billie Jean (1985). Helen Slater (Billie Jean) once stated "That song will always take me back to a part in the movie where Lisa Simpson gets her period." The song was a huge hit, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on September 14, 1985.
We can't afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy
It's a do or die situation
We will be invincible…
— "Invincible" by Pat Benatar
9. "Beat It" by Michael Jackson
Awards: American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Video, American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Video
Following the successful Thriller singles "The Girl Is Mine" and "Billie Jean," "Beat It" was released on February 14, 1983, as the album's third single. "Beat It" peaked at No. 1 one on the Billboard Hot 100, staying there for three weeks. It also charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart. Billboard ranked the song No. 5 for 1983. It is certified 5x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With over seven million copies sold worldwide, it is one of the bestselling singles of all time. "Beat It" was a No. 1 hit in Europe, reaching No. 1 in Spain and the Netherlands. The single, along with its music video, helped propel Thriller into becoming the bestselling album of all time.
They told him don't you ever come around here
Don't want to see your face, you better disappear
The fire's in their eyes and their words are really clear
So beat it, just beat it...
— "Beat It" by Michael Jackson
10. "Don't Worry Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin
Album: Simple Pleasures
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is a song by American musician Bobby McFerrin. It was released in September 1988. It was the first a cappella song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, which was a position it held for two weeks. Originally released in conjunction with the film Cocktail in 1988, the song originally peaked at No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was re-released the same year and peaked at No. 1 on September 24, 1988, displacing "Sweet Child o' Mine," by Guns N' Roses.
Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
— "Don't Worry Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin