In the 80s - Top Ten Lists of Eighties Songs

What are your top ten favorite songs from the 80s?

This page currently edited by: Quirk. Past editor: RetroGuyDK, Absolutely Vile, Junior

By: Roger Hepkema
  • 10. Lead Me On by Amy Grant
    A classic and powerful song that got no airplay on other than Christian stations--although it could well have.
  • 9. One Simple Thing by Stabilizers
    A sleeper from a 1-song band.
  • 8. Every Little Kiss by Bruce Hornsby & the Range
    Another tough choice of just 1 song per album
  • 7. The Doctor by The Doobie Brothers
    THE Band returned with this one.
  • 6. Deadman's Party by Oingo Boingo
    Danny Elftman was ahead of his time with Boingo--just look at tht tons of movie credits in the last 15 years--not to mention the Simpson's Theme.
  • 5. These Dreams by Heart
    A Classic
  • 4. Magic by The Cars
  • 3. Running Down a Dream by Tom Petty
  • 2. I Can't Wait by Stevie Nicks
    Had to pick just one that I hadn't seen yet.
  • 1. Changes by Yes
    I almost considered putting every song from this album (the best album release of all time) on the list, but just chose 1.
It should be against the law to limit it to 10 songs. After deciding that I wouldn't make all 10 be stuff from Yes and/or Stevie Nicks and deciding that it would be better to divide things up into 2 categories--"mainstream" and "New Wave", I'll just do the first one first and make an effort to not duplicate too many that are already listed.
By: Pete
  • 10. Here Comes Your Man by The Pixies
    A fantastic, catchy fun song from a criminally overlooked group. All the best bands of the '80s were criminally overlooked, I'd say. The Pixies were odd to say the least but not the point where they didn't put out brilliant, hook-filled alternative songs that *sounded* like they meant something, even if the meaning of the lyrics was completely incomprehensible.
  • 9. One by Metallica
    The song that both put metal on the commercial map and gave it the respect it deserved by the critics. No other band besides Metallia could accomplish such a feat.
  • 8. Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen
    The best song on the masterful Nebraska album. Even on soft acoustic demos the Boss' voice registered a powerful note. His screw-up in the last chorus only adds to it.
  • 7. Fairytale of New York by The Pogues
    Maybe a cliched choice for a Pogues song but it really is a great duet (RIP Kirsty) and a great sarcastic song about Christmastime. There's tremendous interplay between MacGowan and McColl here. Irish folk punk rock. There's only one Pogues.
  • 6. Don't Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
    Tom goes way out into neo-psychedelia here, and it works. No classic rock 'n roller could ever switch genres as masterfully as Petty. Whacked out video, too. I'm a sucker for whacked out music videos.
  • 5. Love Buzz by Nirvana
    I don't know why I love this so much but it really is a great cover of a cheesy Shocking Blue song. Kurt adds a sense of menace and hostility to the lyrics and I love the bass riff. Nirvana could have been a cover band and they still would have been fantastic. All their covers were exceptional.
  • 4. Here Comes a Regular by The Replacements
    A touching acoustic song from a band that's not really known for that type. Or really well known period, sadly. It's a crime the Replacements didn't become bigger than they were. This isn't their exemplary model song, but it is their best.
  • 3. Running to Stand Still by U2
    With or Without You was probably the better song, but everyone else already picked that and these lists could use a touch of variety. Beautifully dark and haunting song about heroin addiction that would have probably been just as big of a hit as the other Joshua Tree songs had it been released as a single. A masterpiece from an album full of masterpieces.
  • 2. Rockin' in the Free World by Neil Young
    There were a number of sardonic anti-American anthems that scored big in the '80s, namely Born in the USA and Pink Houses, but Neil had the best. A sneering, pissed-off Neil at his angriest and loudest. Fantastic stuff.
  • 1. Birdhouse In Your Soul by They Might Be Giants
    Quirky, catchy, bizarre, and just a little touch of creepy fun from the masters of that craft. The best song ever written about a night light.
There are so many classic songs that deserve mention that I couldn't in good conscience put ahead of the songs on this list. "Road to Nowhere" by Talking Heads, "Kinda I Want To" by Nine Inch Nails, "Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo, "World Leader Pretend" and "Stand" by REM, "When Doves Cry" by Prince, "Lost in the Supermarket" and "London Calling" by the Clash, "Brass in Pocket" by the Pretenders...and tons more. Eighties music get a bad rap by many, but if you look past Duran Duran and Dexy's Midnight Runners and all that bilge, you'll find some great and hugely influential stuff.
By: Richie
  • 10. Don't Worry Be Happy by Bobby Mcferrin
    have to have a purely happy song in there it can't all be ponderous melancholy nonsense
  • 9. New Years Day by U2
    gotta have some u2 in there any song would do but this rules
  • 8. Baby Can I Hold You Tonight by Tracey Chapman
    I really like this song cause the words are simple and there is kind of a message to it but it's not preachy or over the top unlike the boyzone version yuk
  • 7. Another Brick in the Wall Part 3 by Pink Floyd
    great song to get under parents and teachers skin
  • 6. Every Day I Write The Book by Elvis Costello
    I just like it
  • 5. The Thirteenth by The Cure
    sexy song nice to hear a few trumpets
  • 4. Fraction To Much Friction by Tim Finn
    Can't help but dance to it or at least tap your toes
  • 3. Most Of The Time by Bob Dylan
    1989 really cool understated pure genius
  • 2. Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits
    I like how it tells a story and finishes with the same words it started out as irresistable intro
  • 1. The Lady Don't Mind by Talking Heads
    really good lyrics I like all the strange noises the singer makes
By: Stacie
Well i have just turned 16 and i am an 80's freak...i love it.....also incase you hadnt guessed i am a totall Ultravox and Midge ure fan. i wish i could have been born in the 70's so that i could apreciate the 80's music more but i am glad that i was born in the best decade for music (i was born 1985)
By: j mac
  • 10. So Alive by Inxs
  • 9. No Memory by Scarlet Fantastic
  • 8. Touch Me ( i wanna feel your body) by Samantha Fox
  • 7. Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Karnes
  • 6. I'm nin a'loo by Ofra Haza
    She has such a haunting voice.....this song is amazing
  • 5. Land Down Under by Men at Work
    Whenever i hear this.....oh..nevermind, its personal lol
  • 4. Safety Dance by Men Without Hats
  • 3. Self Control by Laura Brannigan
    No 80's top ten should be complete without this classic 80s song !!!!!
  • 2. Vienna Calling by Falco
    I spent hours trying to sing along with Rock me Amadeus...Vienna Calling also.....without success...but i love the song loads
  • 1. Tarzan Boy by Baltimora
    It's such a cheesy song, you gotta love it
By: Dominic Courtois
By: kate lohr
  • 10. Heaven Is A Place On Earth by Belinda Carlisle
    i remember singing this with my best friend and little sis jumping around and dancing....hehe...
  • 9. November Rain by Guns N' Roses
    classic.....plain and simple
  • 8. Missing You by John Waite
    reminds me of him.....
  • 7. Don't You Forget About Me by Simple Minds
    this could've been my high school theme song....
  • 6. I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight by Cutting Crew
    another great one....
  • 5. You Give Love (a Bad Name) by Bon Jovi
    c'mon, after all those love songs....somebody had to have pissed you off???
  • 4. Boys Of Summer by Don Henley
    i love this one!!! it's another one of those summer one's. it makes you think of that summer. you know the one...that one perfect summer....
  • 3. Jack And Diane/ain't Even Done With The Night by Jon Couger Mellon-camp
    it's a great love story. boy meets's deffinately a summer tune.
  • 2. This Wicked Game by Chris Isaac
    this song, despite it's lyrics "i don't wanna fall in love with you" gets me everytime. it's one of the best 'love' songs ever. the video is great too.
  • 1. Endless Summer Nights/hold On To The Nights by Richard Marx
    it's the kind of song you can imagine listening to in your car with the windows down, during night-time after thinking of this one person that makes every bone in your body want to fall in love
man! the 80's were awesome. i'm only 16...i would have loved to be a teenager in the 80's. it had everything, boy george, cindi lauper, def leapord, guns n' roses, KISS, bon jovi, montley crew, twisted sister, iron maiden...then you got billy idol (you gotta love the lip.), heart, the gogo's, madonna (her good stuff...), stix......the 80's were awesome. i wish i could have lived it. big hair, bright makeup, brit's first real rock appearance, i wish i could've been there.
By: keysum
Honorable Mention...anything else by Duran Duran, most songs by Hall & Oates or Prince; "Every Time You Go Away" - Paul Young; "Things Can Only Get Better" - Howard Jones; "Perfect Way" - Scritti Politti; "Live To Tell" - Madonna; "Why Can't This Be Love" - Van Halen; "Break Out" - Swing Out Sister; "Hold On To The Nights" - Richard Marx; "(Don't You) Forget About Me" - Simple Minds; "Send Me An Angel" - Real Life; "Enjoy The Silence" - Depeche Mode; "Everything She Wants" - Wham; "Don't Disturb This Groove" - The System; "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" - Human League; "West End Girls" - Pet Shop Boys; "Easy Lover" - Phil Collins & Philip Bailey; "We Belong" - Pat Benatar; "The Longest Time" - Billy Joel; "Patience" - Guns N' Roses; "Never Tear Us Apart" - INXS; "At This Moment" - Billy Vera & The Beaters
By: J. Hungate
  • 10. Alone (without you) by King
  • 9. Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil
  • 8. Save a Prayer by Duran Duran
  • 7. Love is a Shield / Great Commandment by Camouflage
  • 6. South Central Rain by R.E.M.
  • 5. The Unforgettable Fire by U2
  • 4. How Soon Is Now by The Smiths
  • 3. Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order
  • 2. A Night Like This by The Cure
  • 1. Black Celebration by Depeche Mode
By: A.K
  • 10. I Am The Ressurection by The Stone Roses
    They put out a lot of great tracks around this time, this being my favourite.
  • 9. Song For Whoever by The Beautiful South
    Debut single of the best band of recent years.
  • 8. Just Who Is The 5'0 Clock hero by The Jam
    Obvious choice would be 'Going Underground' or 'Town Called Malice', but I really like this one.
  • 7. Melt by Siouxie & The Banshees
    Continued to put out great tracks well into the 80's.
  • 6. Joe by Inspiral Carpets
    The debut single from one of the most criminally underated bands of recent times.
  • 5. It's Going To Happen by The Undertones
    Who said punks can't play, after moving on musically from the style of The Ramones - (which was all great by the way) these lads put out some very nice tracks.
  • 4. Ghost Town by The Specials
    Great band - and this is a masterpiece of a track.
  • 3. Geno by Dexy's Midnight Runners
    Makes a change from everyone namedropping 'Come On Eilein'.
  • 2. Happy Hour by The Housemartins
    Great band, Paul Heaton is up there with the great songwriters now, about 15 years of consistent songwriting - not a duff in sight. Top Man.
  • 1. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths
    Was released as a single in 1992 after The Smiths had split, still an 80's track though - the best song ever written.
Honourable mentions for The Cure, Depeche Mode, UB40, Sade and Swing Out Sister amoung others. The 80's tends to get stick for it's criminal fasion crimes, but that's no different compared to any other decade. The pop music was better in the 80's compared to the 90's I mean I'd rather listen to Bananarama than the Spice Girls.
By: Nina
  • 10. If You Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark
    Oh, how I loved the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, and this was my favorite. I played that tape until it fell apart. I'm pretty sure the tape snapped somewhere in the well-worn section where this music was.
  • 9. Faith by George Michael
    oooh, what a sexy song and video. This one had me drooling for him. Too bad he's gay ;)
  • 8. Take My Breath Away by Berlin
    ::sigh::Top Gun was just it on a stick that summer, and this song was my soundtrack for all of the google eyed daydreaming
  • 7. I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett
    What a rockin' babe! To this day, few songs get me going as consistantly as this one.
  • 6. Beat It by Michael Jackson
    I loved all of Thriller at the time, but this is the song from that album that still compells me to sing along every time. What happened? How did such a promising career go so wrong? I say it was that Pepsi hair fire that sent him off the deep end.
  • 5. Shout by Tears for Fears
    Powerful, simple, wonderful.
  • 4. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
    I dare you not to move when this song comes on.
  • 3. Material Girl by Madonna
    This is the song that made me a Madonna fan. I was so-so about Like a Virgin, Holiday, and Lucky Star, but after this one came out I was a total 5th grade Madonna wannabe. Just fun stuff.
  • 2. Come on Eileen by Dexy and the Midnight Runners
    Just fun, plain and simple. That's what the 80s were all about, right?
  • 1. Take On Me by A-HA
    The even holds up pretty well today. And the song just captured my total attention from the very first moment I heard it. Maybe it's a little cheesy but I love it.
These are the songs from my favorites *then* that I still enjoy. I was young in the 80s, a freshman in high school when the decade ended, and I didn't appreciate everything that came out then just because I was too young to get it. Now that I'm older I've developed a real love of a lot of 80s music that I didn't get into so much back then, but I decided not to include that stuff in this list.
By: nick
  • 10. Jump by Van Halen
    One of the biggest party bands ever that started in the late 70's and saw huge success in the 80's knew they created a classic with such a great guitarist Eddie Van Halen and the star singer 'Diamond' Dave but would slowly fade away after having problems with each other.
  • 9. With Or Without You by U2
    With a classic like this it is hard not to include this band. they created songs that would touch a vast audience and would still be a part of music generations later.
  • 8. Every Breath You Take by The Police
    The song that became the most played song on radio of all time had one of the most ketchy beats and guitar riffs ever.
  • 7. Beat It by Michael Jackson
    This song represents the gangs of the 80's and just to get along. Also became loved by middle America and people who didn't know anything about the street.
  • 6. Like A Virgin by Madonna
    She was the material girl who made a fad for little girls to dress up like. THis song was the start of a women who would still be around into the new millenium and had every guy drooling over her.
  • 5. You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi
    The metal band that parents could let their children listen to dominated late 80's radio and billboard. They would be the center for the metalwave and the fall for being to pop.
  • 4. Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard
    The band from England that crossed the Atlantic Ocean after taking over Europe and came into the lives of every teenage girls hearts in America. They also made classics for guys to get laid which was always good.
  • 3. Born In The U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen
    Straight out of NJ the Boss made his way through America like a bat out of hell with his classic songs and ketchy verses and became huge all across the world.
  • 2. Welcome To The Jungle by Guns'N Roses
    The metal band that came on the rock scene like a rapid pitbull and dominated the late 80's with its air metal all the way into the early 90's and captured the hearts of early Generation X with their rebellious attitude and their leader Axl Rose.
  • 1. Thriller by Michael Jackson
    Thriller the album became the biggest selling album of all time and the song of the same title became one of the hugest songs ever and propelled Michael to a level above all almost like the Beatles he captured a huge audince and dominated pop rock
By: demski
  • 10. Hells Bells by Ac/dc
    I'm gonna get ya, Satan get ya, hells bells, ah, hells bells
  • 9. Private Idaho by B 52's
    Woo hoo woo hoo woo hoo, woo hoo woo hoo
  • 8. Bobby Brown by Frank Zappa
  • 7. Leave It Open by Kate Bush
    Harm is in us - harm in us, but power to arm
  • 6. Nipple To The Bottom by Grace Jones
    From the nipple to the bottle now the cow must die
  • 5. Never Tell by Violent Femmes
    I stood right up in the heart of hell, I never tell
  • 4. Do You Feel My Love by Eddy Grant
    How do you feel my love - doo doom doo doom doo doom doo doom
  • 3. And She Was by Talking Heads
    The world was moving, she was right there with it and she was
  • 2. Lullaby by Cure
    the spiderman is having me for dinner tonight
  • 1. Born, Never Asked by Laurie Anderson
    And they were all asking themselves the same question: What is behind that curtain?
there's about 100 more top ten songs like depeche mode/personal jesus,smalltown boy/bronski beat,i believe in you/talk talk,word up/cameo,the one i love/r.e.m.,walk this way/run-d.m.c.,jesus walking on the water/violent femmes....oh think i must stop somewhere
By: Alex Arias
  • 10. Major Tom(Coming Home) by Peter Schilling
    Peter Schilling's masterpiece
  • 9. People Are People by Depeche Mode
    Has so much feeling to it!
  • 8. One Night In Bangkok by Murray Head
    This song reminds me of She blinded me with Science
  • 7. Let's Dance by David Bowie
    Hate the guy, but got to love the song!
  • 6. What's Going To Happen Now? by The Smiths
    One of the best voices of the 80's
  • 5. Cars by Gary Numan
    Don't understand the song but has the best beats.
  • 4. Our House by Madness
    "Our House in the middle of the street our house", beats stick in your head.
  • 3. Don't You Want Me by Human League
    Best 80's duet by far
  • 2. Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol
    best song by Idol by far
  • 1. She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby
    Has the Best 80's beat
By: Paul
  • 10. Merry Xmas Mr Lawrence by Ryuchi Sakamoto
    Instrumental, and still so perfect ( the Bowie versioon is good but not great)
  • 9. Don't Change by INXS
    RIP Michael
  • 8. Heat of the Moment by Asia
    Great intro
  • 7. Jeopardy by Greg Kin Band
    Girlfriends favorite - but very good
  • 6. Its My Life by Talk Talk
    Classic 80's - but not really popular
  • 5. Life in a Northern Town by Dream Academy
    Typical 80's song - holds well today
  • 4. Blue by Mi Sex
    Great aussie ballad - Love them
  • 3. Under The Milky Way by The Church
    I was a pizza boy then every time I hear it reminds me
  • 2. Holy Grail by Hunters and Collectors
    Awesome band
  • 1. Affter the Fire by Roger Daltrey
    Nicole Churi thats all - what a song, brings back happy memories
Honourable mention to Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil (Outside World) and to Pet Shop Boys. None of their songs on my list but probably personified the 80's. PS Duran Duran deserve a mention too.
By: diogenes
By: Michael Thompson
  • 10. I Promise You by Not sure who sang this one
    Being born in 1983, I never was able to fully apprecaite the bountiful supply of great music the 80's generated. In fact, the Reagan Decade deserves accolades like no other. This song just contains a lot of veracity to me. When you make mistakes like all humans do, some songs glaring stick to you more so than others. This is one of them. Hate that it is superseded by 9 other songs that mean even more.
  • 9. With or Without You by U2
    Spring Break '98 will always be rekindeled after this one. Although it doesn't mean what it did then, the lyrics contain within them, such fervor and vehemently suggest that Bono cared about where this song would be etched in our collective mindsets. Timeless
  • 8. Lady In Red by Chris Debrugh
    Sorry if I spelled last name wrong, but this song evokes such passion, and exudes intamacy to a degree that can't be attained everyday. A great song to have a party and after a few "seditious" songs, play it to enhance the Romantic feel of the evening.
  • 7. Little Red Corvette by Prince
    "Purple Rain's" antagonist couldn't be excluded from a list that immortalize's a decade he helped begin.
  • 6. Thriller by Michael Jackson
    Forebearer to Techno.
  • 5. Safety Dance by Men without Hats
    Great song, that one can listen to again and again.
  • 4. If You Leave by OMD
    Still remember the first time I viewed "Pretty in Pink," on TBS. This song entrenched 80's music into my conscious.
  • 3. Drive by The Cars
    The music and the lyrics complement each other to a degree few songs can attain.
  • 2. Faithfully by Journey
    Played the most opulent love songs. Steve Perry's voice is enchanting in this one.
  • 1. Heat of the Moment by Asia
    Though they came in late 70's, this song has the most powerful opening to myself personally.
The innocent the 80's projected, the carefreeness, nostalgic feelings one can still conjure up just by a few cords of a song that had personal meaning to them: that is irreplacable. Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds deserves recognition.
By: Stephen Hock
  • 10. The Beastie Boys by Fight for Your Right (to Party)
  • 9. Walk this Way by Run-DMC & Aerosmith
  • 8. Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
  • 7. With or Without You by U2
    Top group of the '80s.
  • 6. A-Ha by Take on Me
  • 5. Land Down Under by Men at Work
  • 4. Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
  • 3. 1999 by Prince
    Prince is the greatest artist of our time. The only trouble is picking which song to list.
  • 2. Like a Virgin by Madonna
  • 1. Beat It by Michael Jackson
    Accept it: MJ is THE top artist of the '80s.
I feel bad about not putting any '80s hair metal bands on this list, but I just ran out of room. Consider Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Guns 'n' Roses all runners-up.
By: RA
  • 10. White Wedding by Billy Idol
    barely beat out "Rebel Yell"
  • 9. Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns and Roses
    another song worth stopping everything for
  • 8. Come on Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners
    same comment on number 4
  • 7. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
    same comment as number 6
  • 6. Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds
    links to a top 10 movie of the 80s
  • 5. Oh Shelia by Ready for the World
    this song needs to be remembered
  • 4. Kids In America by Kim Wilde
    A song worth stopping everything for.
  • 3. Borderline by Madonna
    I could have a ton a Madonna here, but went with the one that started it all (for me at least).
  • 2. Beat It by Michael Jackson
    Don't let all the night show jokes make you forget the king of pop. This song made MTV.
  • 1. 99 Red Balloons by Nena
    great song, huge issue in the 80s, and comes in two languages!
10 is way too small for an 80s list: 11-"Billy Jean" MJ 12&13-"Young Turks" and "Forever Young" Rod Stewart 14-"No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" Beasties Boys 15-"1999" Prince and The Revolution 16-"Fall on Me" best REM song ever 17 & 18- "Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go)" and "Father Figure" Wham! and George Michael 19-"I'm Still Standing" Elton John 20-"Karma Chameleon" Culture Club 21-"Roxanne" Police 22-"Rhythm of the Night" DeBarge
By: jorge
  • 10. Neverending Story by Limahl
  • 9. Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes
  • 8. Forever Young by Alphaville
  • 7. Pride (in The Name Of Love) by U2
  • 6. Live is life by Opus
  • 5. I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner
  • 4. Africa by Toto
  • 3. We Don't Need Another Hero by Tina Turner
  • 2. Video Kill The Radio Star by Buggles
  • 1. Our House by Madness
Special mention to: "More than this"-Roxy Music "Everything counts"-Depeche Mode "Everywhere"-Fleetwood Mack "Invisible touch"-Genesis "Heaven is a place on earth"-Belinda Carlisle "Enola gay"-O.M.D. "Right beetween the eyes"-Wax

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