102 Greatest 80's Songs

Updated on January 2, 2017
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Shay's hobbies include recommitting Alanis Morissette lyrics to memory, pretending like she understands Mr. Robot, and Jeff Goldblum.

102 Greatest 80s Songs
102 Greatest 80s 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.

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Yes, this photo is me, a tiny 80s me with a tiny Dorothy Hamill wedge cut.
Yes, this photo is me, a tiny 80s me with a tiny Dorothy Hamill wedge cut.

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).


Source

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

Nowhere Girl
Nowhere Girl

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.

Graceland (2011 Remaster)
Graceland (2011 Remaster)

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
Thriller

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."

 
Bad (Remastered)
Bad (Remastered)

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

So (25th Anniversary Remaster)
So (25th Anniversary Remaster)

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

Valley Girl: Music From The Soundtrack
Valley Girl: Music From The 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

"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:

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Shay Marie

    Comments - These are my favorite 80s songs. Did I leave out yours?

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      • profile image

        Josh 

        23 months ago

        Lol this is ossum, reminded me of a lot of songs I had forgotten about, thanks!

      • profile image

        Shea 

        2 years ago

        How on Earth could you leave out The Smiths! How Soon Is Now, Panic, etc. ! Wow!!!

      • three rdworldman profile image

        three rdworldman 

        4 years ago

        Well yes you did! Which ones you ask? I'll get back to you on that! But kudos for having the amazing PETER GABRIEL on the list, as well as the under-rated HOWARD JONES. As Arnie would say..."I'LL BE BACK!"

      • RestlessKnights profile image

        RestlessKnights 

        4 years ago

        Nice work, lots of good stuff here for sure.

      • smine27 profile image

        Shinichi Mine 

        4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

        Wow thanks for the trip back memory lane. I grew up listening to the 80s music. I love Depeche Mode and Major Tom is a gem!

      • esmonaco profile image

        Eugene Samuel Monaco 

        4 years ago from Lakewood New York

        My favorite music is from the 70's, of course I do like it all, the 80's also had great music. I do love your picture that is very cute!!! Thanks

      • Dave Lynch profile image

        David Edward Lynch 

        4 years ago from Port Elizabeth, South Africa

        I enjoyed/enjoy the 80's songs.

      • Diana Wenzel profile image

        Renaissance Woman 

        4 years ago from Colorado

        I love that you did your own thing here. You are a true original. Enjoyed your compilations. That "You Can Call Me Al" video is too wild.

      • Meganhere profile image

        Meganhere 

        4 years ago

        I'm a Peter Gabriel fan so I was glad to see him here. "So" is awesome.

      • lollyj lm profile image

        Laurel Johnson 

        4 years ago from Washington KS

        I'm from an earlier era -- 50s and 60s -- but do enjoy music from every era.

        Enjoyed your list.

      • Gloriousconfusion profile image

        Diana Grant 

        4 years ago from United Kingdom

        Not my era (Elvis, Chirping Crickets,Bill Haley et al), but brings back happy memories of the loud (like "overwhelmingly loud") music which pervaded the house when my kids were young - I still play some of it

      • FloridaDino profile image

        FloridaDino 

        5 years ago

        I listen to pretty much all of those now...still remain a huge Cure fan to this day.

      • Ben Reed profile image

        Ben Reed 

        5 years ago from Redcar

        Mines in your list - A-ha

      • profile image

        AdriatiX 

        5 years ago

        Great choices. These are the real songs and not that Lady Gaga and Bieber shi*t that we are hearing today. :)

      • shay-marie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shay Marie 

        5 years ago from Southern California

        @AdriatiX: Lady what? BiebWHO?

      • Jack2205 profile image

        Jack 

        5 years ago

        These songs were all great back then and they still are.

      • shay-marie profile imageAUTHOR

        Shay Marie 

        5 years ago from Southern California

        @thingz1: All these songs make me smile - I'm glad to see you enjoy them! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the tweet!

      • thingz1 profile image

        thingz1 

        5 years ago

        Impressive list of 80s songs. Back in the day I was a fan of Talking Heads, XTC, Peter Gabriel, Genesis and Fine Young Cannibals, to name a few. Fun to see your compilation.

      • Nithya Venkat profile image

        Nithya Venkat aka Vellur 

        5 years ago from Dubai

        Great song list!

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