102 Greatest 80's Songs
Over One Hundred 80s Songs for Your Listening Pleasure
This is my curated collection of the Greatest 80s Songs, with audio clips for each song. I have been building this collection for over 20 years. In this article, I have done my best to avoid the over-played songs that you'll find most "top music of the 80s" lists. This is not an "obscure 80s songs" list either; I hope you'll recognize a good portion of them, and maybe rediscover a few you forgot about. As a bonus, if you have an Amazon Prime Membership, you'll be able to download well over half of these 80s songs for free. (!)
I am a child of the 80s and love all 1980s nostalgia, but as anyone who knows me personally could tell you, I am completely obsessed with 80s music. Something about the combination synthesizers, note swelling, and catchy melodies got me hooked at an early age. This collection includes 102 of the creme de la creme of 80's pop, 80's new wave, 80s dance music, 80s movie soundtrack songs and 80s rock songs. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
80s Poll! - How much do you love the 80s?
How much do you love the 80s?
How I Fell in Love with The 80s
I grew up in a music centric household. My father has strange affinity to speakers and has always played music at the highest possible volume setting. My youth was chock full of Michael Jackson, Prince, U2, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, UB40, and a TON of Motown. Still, to this day, my mother refers to R&B music as "Motown" (it's so cute). I guess you could say that this is in my blood.
It wasn't until I was 16, at the dawn of digital downloading, that I developed a real thirst for collecting 80s songs. When I first got my license, I would listen to mostly classic rock stations (I still do) and I would hear songs from time to time that I instantly connected with and vaguely recognized, but was not able to name. I would go home, and do an Internet search* for a few of the lyrics that I understood, to find the song to download.** From time to time, my lyric translation was so far off that I had to find the song via 80s music message boards. Thank you early adopters of Social Internet. You were my heroes.
As I got older, Napster turned into Morpheus, Kazaa, and Limewire (which maybe gave my first college computer a virus? Who knows!). Enter 1 dollar downloads from iTunes. I could buy my 80s songs individually and LEGALLY. Thank you iTunes. You saved my hell-bound soul.
*This was before the heyday of Google. The verb "to Google" hadn't been invented yet!
**This was WAY before the invention of Shazam (possibly the best smart phone app ever).
How Did you Choose These Songs?
I did not look at ANY 1980s lists anywhere to create this article. I generally avoid them, and I figure it's been done so much before, why wouldn't I do my own thing? Every song on this list was, in a sense, "collected" by me at some point in my life. These songs all live on my computer in a playlist simply titled "80s".
So here they are...
Greatest 80s New Wave Songs and Synth Pop Songs - ...and other post-punk goodies
1 Take On Me - a-ha
2 Nowhere Girl - B Movie
3 No More Words - Berlin
4 The Killing Moon - Echo & The Bunnymen
5 Lips Like Sugar - Echo & The Bunnymen
6 A Little Respect - Erasure
7 Always - Erasure
8 Oh L'Amour - Erasure
9 Great Southern Land - Icehouse
10 Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
11 Dead Souls - Joy Division
12 True Faith - New Order
13 Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order
14 Just Another Day - Oingo Boingo
15 Major Tom (Voellig Losgeloest) - Peter Schilling
16 Kiss Them for Me (Single) - Siouxsie & The Banshees
17 Cities in Dust - Siouxsie & The Banshees
18 Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go - Soft Cell
19 Voices Carry - 'Til Tuesday
20 Road to Nowhere - Talking Heads
21 Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
22 Head Over Heels - Tears for Fears
23 Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears
24 Mad World - Tears for Fears
25 Break It Down Again - Tears for Fears
26 Town Called Malice - The Jam
27 Only You - Yaz
I could not find the original version of "Nowhere Girl" by B-Movie as a single. I did find it on Amazon, unfortunately it's only available if you buy the whole 1000 Cigarettes Soundtrack, which is actually a pretty good collections of songs.
Great Southern Land - Icehouse
The Best of Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode was the first 80s band that I fell head over heels for. I really do believe they embody the quintessential "80s sound," even into the early 90s, so please excuse me if some of the following songs bleed over the decade line:
28 Never Let Me Down Again - Depeche Mode
29 Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode
30 Strangelove - Depeche Mode
31 Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode
32 Policy of Truth - Depeche Mode
33 World In My Eyes - Depeche Mode
34 Stripped - Depeche Mode
The Best of The Cure
I Decided that The Cure needed its own category on my greatest 80s songs list. If you aren't familiar with The Cure, but enjoy 80s music, you're in for a treat:
35 Close to Me - The Cure
36 Just Like Heaven - The Cure
37 Lovesong - The Cure
38 A Forest - The Cure
39 Lullaby - The Cure
40 In Between Days - The Cure
41 The Figurehead - The Cure
42 Six Different Ways - The Cure
Greatest 80s Dance Songs
So these may not all be in the dance genre - some are definitely new wave or synth pop. I can tell you one thing: they are definitely all songs that you can dance to. HARD. DANCE LIKE IT'S YOUR JOB:
43 Obsession - Animotion
44 Come on Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
45 Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant
46 Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Eurythmics
47 Good Thing - Fine Young Cannibals
48 Cars - Gary Numan
49 Disappear - INXS
50 Escapade - Janet Jackson
51 Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo
52 Raspberry Beret - Prince & The Revolution
53 U Got the Look - Prince
54 I Can't Wait - Nu Shooz
55 Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' - Michael Jackson
56 Situation - Yaz
57 Don't Go - Yaz
Yes, I realize a handful of the songs here are not actually 80s songs and are technically early to mid 90s (I'm looking at you INXS, Siouxsie, Erasure). I've had some songs in the 80s part of my brain for so long that I couldn't possibly leave them off this list. It would be like if I took my 100 children to Disneyland but decided to leave a few in the parking lot.
You Can Call Me Al
"You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon is one of the first music videos I can remember seeing as a child.
Paul Simon's Graceland is one of my favorite albums of all time. My dad must have played it non-stop when I was a kid. Hits include "Graceland" and "You Can Call Me Al."
Greatest 80s "Slow Dance" Songs
For those times when you want to dance, just not very fast. Grab a partner and hold them awkwardly at arms length, or fly solo, interpretive dance style. Just go with it.
58 Forever Young - Alphaville
59 All Through the Night - Cyndi Lauper
60 Drive - The Cars
61 Everywhere - Fleetwood Mac
62 One More Try - George Michael
63 Never Tear Us Apart - INXS
64 Human Nature - Michael Jackson
65 Man In the Mirror - Michael Jackson
66 I'll Stand By You - Pretenders
67 When Doves Cry - Prince
Greatest 80s Pop Songs
68 Caribbean Queen - Billy Ocean
69 I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman
70 She Drives Me Crazy - Fine Young Cannibals
71 Things Can Only Get Better - Howard Jones
72 Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson
73 The Boy In the Bubble - Paul Simon
74 Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
75 Big Time - Peter Gabriel
76 Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell
77 Infatuation - Rod Stewart
78 Africa - Toto
My Favorite 80s Pop Album
Okay, I couldn't choose one... and they're both Michael Jackson. I couldn't help myself. Each of these albums is solid from start to finish. He is the King of Pop for a reason.
Thriller is often considered Michael Jackson's best album. Originally released in 1983, Thriller contains the hits "Wanna Be Startin' Something," "Thriller," "Beat It," "Billie Jean," and "Human Nature."
Originally released in 1987, this is probably my favorite of the two MJ albums. The Hits include "Bad," "The Way You Make me Feel," "Man in the Mirror," "Dirty Diana," and "Smooth Criminal."
My Favorite 80s Music Video - I couldn't leave out Genesis!
Genesis's "Land of Confusion" is everything I love from the 80s rolled into one music video. The wonky puppets are awesomely terrifying.
Peter Gabriel of the 80s is best described as pop/rock and "So" is Gabriel's most iconic album. "So" is a must own for any lover of 80s music. Hits include "Sledgehammer," "In Your Eyes," "Big Time," and "Red Rain."
Greatest 80s Songs from 80s Movies - "Hey, isn't this song from that one movie?"
Why yes, yes it is...
79 The Goonies 'R' Good Enough - Cyndi Lauper - "The Goonies"
80 Cry Little Sister - G Tom Mac - "The Lost Boys"
81 Weird Science - Oingo Boingo - "Weird Science"
82 In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel - "Say Anything"
83 Send Me an Angel - Real Life - "Teen Wolf"
84 Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now - Starship - "Mannequin"
85 Burning Down the House - Talking Heads - "Revenge of the Nerds'
86 A Million Miles Away - The Plimsouls - "Valley Girl"
87 Pretty In Pink - The Psychedelic Furs - "Pretty in Pink"
88 If You Were Here - Thompson Twins - "16 Candles"
My Favorite 80s Soundtrack
While I love 80s movies and I love 80s songs in 80s movies, The Valley Girl Soundtrack is my favorite 80s Soundtrack from start to finish. EIGHTIES. There are some popular favorites on here, but also some gems that you've maybe never heard before. Some of the songs are super quirky and weird. Fabulous.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - The Dance Off!
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun has some ridiculous 80s music in at, as well as young Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt. The song in the beginning of this clip is called "Dancing in Heaven" by Q-Feel. It is one of my favorites, but sadly I couldn't find the original version on iTunes. It lives in the movie though!
Greatest 80s Rock Songs
You'll notice that my 80s rock song list is void of a lot of the huge rock bands of the era. I did this on purpose for one very simple reason: I HATE 80s Butt Rock. I really really hate it. I do have one Scorpions song on here - I promise you I am not the devil:
89 The Boys of Summer - Don Henley
90 Veronica - Elvis Costello
91 Man on the Corner - Genesis
92 Do You Wanna Touch Me - Joan Jett
93 Beds Are Burning - Midnight Oil
94 Sister Christian - Night Ranger
95 Dumb Things - Paul Kelly
96 Back On the Chain Gang - Pretenders
97 Radio Free Europe - R.E.M.
98 Addicted to Love - Robert Palmer
99 Still Loving You - Scorpions
100 Moving In Stereo - The Cars
101 Don't Stand So Close to Me - The Police
102 Walking On the Moon - The Police
"Young Einstein" is a ridiculous 80s movie about a young Albert Einstein and how he invented The Theory of Relativity, beer, and Rock and Roll. Einstein, played by Yahoo Serious, also falls in love with Marie Curie and is Australian (somehow). The soundtrack is awesome and I've included a few songs in this article ("This Southern Man" in the New Wave section, and "Dumb Things" in the Rock section, directly above this blurb).
This is the best scene in the whole movie:
© 2013 Shay Marie