Welcome to Pop Music Life Support’s first ever “list” blog. This piece took me a few weeks to write. Between my domain blog as well as other stuff I am working on nowadays, this turned into a rather big undertaking. If I had to pick one decade to really sit down and over analyze, it would be the 80’s. As I went through this process, I realized that I actually like some songs a lot more than others I thought I liked more. I really had to dig deep and figure out not only what these songs meant to me in the past, but what they mean to me today. How well have these songs held up in my personal opinion? Were there any great ones I missed that pretty much feel like I grew up with them? This is not meant to be a general “Best of” list. This is a list of songs that have impacted me throughout the years. Many of them I grew up with and can recall where I was and what I was doing when I was hearing them. Some others are gems that I found 10-20 plus years later. I would say a lot of these songs are pretty much placed in chronological order, but could change depending on my mood. At the very least the top 10-20 is pretty much in order. Without further adieu, here is my ultimate top 80 songs of the 80’s list!
80. Live To Tell by Madonna
Madonna has quite the reputation for doing outlandish things over the course of her career. This seems to get mixed in with the reputation that Madonna is a colorful artist who has made lots of dance hits. This is all very true, but I think her ballads are criminally overlooked. Live To Tell has always been a favorite of mine and it still is today. Of all of the great songs she’s recorded, I think this one is her best. Another ballad from the early 90’s, This Used To Be A Playground, comes in a close second on my Madonna list.
79. Lost In Your Eyes by Debbie Gibson
Despite having a piano opening that sounds awfully similar to John Lennon’s Imagine, Lost In Your Eyes stands out as one of the best ballads of the 80’s. How can you not get goosebumps listening to this song. Much like her other ballad, Foolish Beat, this song is performed with an incredible amount of emotion. Especially for a teenager. I think that emotion is what makes this such a great song and a great example of why the 80’s had some of the best ballads of all time.
78. Dare Me by The Pointer Sisters
This may seem like an odd choice considering all of the great songs the Pointer Sisters released, but this has always been a favorite of mine. I find the combination of musical build up and lyrics to be motivational. Especially when I was single. The song basically tells guys to get off their butts and make a move. Something that is much easier said than done. Even if you know the girl likes you. Either way, This is a fantastic song that has seen the repeat button pressed on it a number of times over the years.
77. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
I knew this was an 80’s favorite the day I drove around Washington D.C. with this song blaring so loudly out of my car that I got some stares from the passersby. I can’t think of any song that has a better bass line and groove than this one. Little did I know that Hall & Oates I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) was the inspiration for this song. After learning that, the connection became clear to me. I don’t think I would have made the connection otherwise. To me, this is a great example of MJ’s brilliance.
76. Paper In Fire by John Mellencamp
I remember this song getting a ton of airplay on MTV back in 1987. I felt like I saw this video every hour for a few months during that time period. I would describe this as a rootsy rock song with a rich arrangement. The incorporation of back up singers and accordion takes it all over the place, yet it works so well. It’s probably one of the more unique singles of the decade. I think this song could have been a hit during just about any era over the past 50-60 years. That alone says a lot about how good this song is.
75. Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley by Will To Power
Back in the 80’s, this song was nothing more than a sleepy ballad meant for adult radio and lite radio stations. This wasn’t a “cool” song to like. However, that was way before I knew about the origins of the two songs within this song. Once I got a little older and let the brilliance of this track sink in, it became an 80’s favorite. I would never have put this song on a list like this 10-20 years ago. Perhaps I have finally caught up to Will To Power’s demographic with age!
74. Don’t Cry by Asia
The inclusion of this song is not meant to overlook the greatness of Asia’s two classics Heat Of The Moment and Only Time Will Tell. This was a great minor hit for the band, but more than anything, I love the video they made for it. An overproduced epic with an Indiana Jones type of storyline. That’s what I think they were going for anyway. It was an over the top production and very 80’s. Despite the fact that the other two of their biggest hits were much better songs, this song stands out a little more to me because of the amazing video.
73. We Built This City by Starship
I am completely lost on why people hate this song so much. Sure, it’s a very commercial song. It is the complete opposite of what the original Starship stood for. However, as an 80’s song, this is an absolute classic. I think if you are what I would consider to be an “80’s fan” you will understand this song’s greatness. If you are firm in your fandom for more “artistic” statements, then this song isn’t for you. In my opinion, this song will always stand out as an 80’s favorite. They had some other good ones like Sara and Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now (two tough songs to leave off the list), but this was probably their best statement.
72. The Sun Always Shines On TV by Aha
Aha is a band that gets labeled as a one hit wonder far too much. Sure, Take On Me was an amazing song. It should easily be on most “Best of the 80’s” lists that are created. If I made an objective “Best Of” list, it would be there. However, this is not that kind of list. I can remember seeing the video on MTV back when it came out. I don’t even think I knew it was Aha. I just knew it was a fantastic song. When I started hearing it again on 80’s radio stations as an adult I was transported back to that era when this amazing, but under appreciated track came and went. That’s too bad, this is an amazing song that deserves to take Aha over the top and away from the One Hit Wonder label.
71. The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats
There are atleast two versions of this song that I am aware of. One of them is the album version that has a slowed down tempo to it and the other version is the single version that I believe most people are familiar with. I very much prefer the latter. Especially when put together with the quirky video. Men Without Hats is another artist that I wish could be appreciated for more than just the one or two hits they have. This was an amazing band. Especially if you like synth pop. Although The Safety Dance was their masterpiece, there are many other good ones in their catalogue.
70. The Search Is Over by Survivor
This song is an absolute masterpiece among all of the rockin’ tracks this band produced. It’s a song that really hits home for me. I know i’ve felt all of the sentiments expressed in this song over the course of my life. So much so that it still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. This is what I would consider a really great musical composition. Truly one of the standout ballads of the 80’s.
69. Crazy by Icehouse
Somehow this song always seems to get stuck in my head. Despite being more or less buried in the 80’s dustbin, this song has remained on my playlist throughout the years. This is a solid rock ballad that should have been enough to keep this band relevant for a few more years. Especially when you pair it up with their other big single Electric Blue. Sadly, this band pretty much came and went without being heard from again. I don’t even think a lot of people remember this band, but they always stood out to me. Listening to more of their stuff is on my music things to listen to in the future.
68. Karma Chameleon by Culture Club
I’ve heard a few different stories about what this song is about. I could have sworn that I heard somewhere that this song was about the relationship Boy George had with Culture Club drummer Jon Moss. It’s possible that a lot of songs were about this topic, but this one always stood out as one of THEE defining songs of that relationship. Putting that aside, this song is a masterpiece. It’s hard to not hit the replay button on this one as i’ve proven many times over the years. A unique song compared to many others released during the early 80’s era and a true 80’s classic.
67. Nobody’s Fool by Cinderella
I don’t think there are many guys who haven’t felt this way at some point in their life. I think the arrangement of the song really captures the mood and feeling that is heard in the lyrics so well. Once again, the video delivers with due to the image of the two girls wearing clock hats on their heads at the beginning. Typical over the top 80’s fashion, but truly a standout hard rock/heavy metal track from the era. I love the guitar work on this song too!
66. Piano In The Dark by Brenda Russell
Whenever I hear this song, I try to dig back in my mind and recall if I did actually hear this song back in the 80’s. I feel like I might have, but probably wrote it off. It may have also been aimed at an older demographic as well. In hindsight, I wish I had heard this song much sooner because it may very well be the best ballad of the 80’s I love the arrangement and the performance by Brenda Russell is perfect. I made a promise to myself to check out more of her catalogue at some point. Something I have yet to do. Hopefully someday soon I will remember to do that. Until then, this song will be rattling around my brain somewhere.
65. The Next Time I Fall by Peter Cetera & Amy Grant
The Next Time I Fall is another amazing ballad that gives me goosebumps. Who hasn’t ached over a missed opportunity in love? I’m sure most of us have. This song expresses that sentiment with perfection. I also think this is the best vocal Amy Grant has ever recorded. Her voice sounds absolutely amazing on this song. That’s saying a lot because her voice always sounds great, but there is something extra special about her vocals on this track. I think that alone pushes this one into the 80’s favorites category for me.
64. You’re A Friend Of Mine by Clarence Clemmons & Jackson Browne
Although I remember hearing this song when it was a hit, I have to admit that I forgot about it for a few years. Then in the early 90’s I started hearing it every morning in the strangest place. I don’t know if they do this anymore, but my school always broadcasted a news program for kids from a network called “Channel One”. Maybe I should do more research on what exactly this was, but they ran a commercial that featured this song. When I heard it, the memories flooded back to me. Especially the parts Daryl Hannah sing on. Those are probably the best parts of the whole song. I don’t know if they are talking about true friendship or a relationship, but I love the sentiment. We need more songs like this in today’s world.
63. Goody Two Shoes by Adam Ant
The bombastic beats of this song never fail to get me pumped up. I can confirm that this is a great song to hear while exercising. More than anything, it is a timeless new wave track that didn’t need to incorporate synthesizers in order to stand out or be hip. I was a little young when this song came out so I don’t really remember it from its heyday. However, much like some other 80’s classics, I do remember seeing this one on MTV and VH1 years after its release. For years, especially as a young kid, I thought this song and video were kind of weird. That obviously changed. I don’t remember when, but I woke up one day and I understood what made this song so great. The fun video didn’t hurt either.
62. Let The Music Play by Shannon
Sadly, this is another song that is on my list of great songs I don’t really remember hearing. I was only 5-6 years old when this song came out so you’ll have to forgive me for that. It amazes me that this song didn’t grab my attention more. Even at that age. This song pretty much commands you to get up and dance. This is what 80’s dance music is all about. An incredibly catchy beat and synth lines to go with it. I don’t think this song really start to stick out for me until I started hearing it on the radio over the past few years. My memories of this song don’t go back too far, but it is easily one of my favorites from the 80’s. How can anybody not love this irresistible track?
61. Wipeout by The Fat Boys
This another one of those songs that all of us kids loved. From the silly video to the Beach Boys harmonies, this was an unlikely pairing that managed to work out well. As far as I can recall, it is one of the first examples of sampling that I was introduced to. Just hearing this song takes me back to those carefree days of growing up in the late 80’s. It may not be what most people would consider a great song, but it has remained a nostalgic favorite of mine throughout the years.
60. Wait by White Lion
Music videos always had a way of planting impressions in my young mind thanks to the music and images I was seeing. If you combine that with the missed opportunities and crushes I had in my younger days, you get a song I can easily relate to. The pop/metal urgency of this song also made it song that was easy for an 80’s kid like me to grow attached to. I wouldn’t consider this an uptempo song, but I wouldn’t consider it a ballad either. It’s somewhere in-between all of that.
59. If This Is It by Huey Lewis & The News
I remember hearing this song on the radio a lot before I knew who Huey Lewis & The News was. As a very young child, I would listen to the radio without necessarily knowing who most artists were. The exceptions would be artists like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna. As I grew up and started seeing their videos on MTV, I became aware of who they actually were and their great talent. These guys were one of the very best at using MTV to promote themselves. They did this buy producing great music and by not taking themselves too seriously in their videos. They produced so many great singles throughout the decade, but this one always stands out as my favorite from this band. Even more so than the awesome Power Of Love.
58. Summer Of 69 by Bryan Adams
Who doesn’t love this song? From beginning to end, this is about as perfect of a rock n roll song as you can get. The video was also very well done which certainly helped the songs success. Even as a 6 year old kid, this song was very memorable right from the time it was released. The video received a lot of airplay on VH1 into the early 90’s. This one is well liked today for a reason. Richard Marx told a great story about this song at an acoustic gig I went to in the DC area a few years ago. He said a fan of his kept yelling up at him to play this song because they thought it was his. Oddly enough, this is one of my favorite memories of this song. I think it says a lot about how classic this song is.
57. Never Surrender by Corey Hart
This song has become a source of inspiration to me as i’ve gotten older. Most people probably only remember Corey Hart for his song Sunglasses At Night, but to me, this is the best song he recorded. The video also does a nice job of telling the story of the song through pictures. This song always helps to keep me going if I am feeling a little bit down about life. It’s a little overlooked compared to his biggest hit, but I’m happy to know that this song still receives a decent amount of airplay on 80’s stations today.
56. We Don’t Need Another Hero by Tina Turner
If I’ve ever seen the movie Mad Max, I can’t say I recall much from it. What I do remember is hearing this song everywhere during the mid 80’s. For as well loved as some of Tina Turner’s other classics are, this has always been the best of the bunch in my opinion. It stands up as one of the top songs I think about when I think of 80’s music. The incorporation of the choir adds so much to the emotion to this song. For as well loved as What’s Love Got To Do With It is, I don’t think it is in this song’s league.
55. Notorious by Loverboy
Not only is this a very overlooked track by Loverboy, it also taught me about life thanks to the video….or so I thought 30 years ago. As a pre-teen kid, for some strange reason, I thought that my adult life would be similar to lives portrayed by Loverboy in this video. You know, hanging out with your bros, checking out all of the beautiful women passing by, getting into mischief, boys will be boys, etc. I am now 10 months away from turning 40 and I can confirm that being an adult isn’t like this. At all. But they did do a great job of capturing that spirit in the video. For all of these reasons, this song has been a standout track of the 80’s for me. I still like to crank this one up to 11 and reminisce about how I thought adult life would be.
54. Hourglass by Squeeze
Most people probably know this band for their biggest hit Tempted, but I think this song is much better. It is a fun, uptempo song from beginning to end. The video for this song is one of my all time favorites as it uses all kinds of optical illusions throughout. I can’t think of any other video that used this theme. That makes this song extra special in my book. I really wish this song would get more airplay as I think more 80’s fans remember this one than some radio stations might think.
53. Faithfully by Journey
Although 80’s ballads hold a special place in my heart, some took more time to grow on me than others. For as great as this song is, it took time for me to really appreciate its greatness. As a very young kid, very slow tempo ballads tended to sound too boring to me. Sadly, this song fell into that category for awhile. You’ll have to forgive me since I was born in 1979 and probably wasn’t quite ready for some of the deeper songs I was exposed to. As the years went by I started I hear this song over and over thanks to my siblings. With all of that repetition, the greatness of this song finally started to sink in and is now a song that holds a lot of meaning to me. I also love cranking this one up to 11!
52. Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses
The opening riff for this song is my ringtone. This song and album, Appetite For Destruction, were everywhere during the late 80’s. Although Welcome To The Jungle was a great breakthrough track, this one was their masterpiece on the album. I will never get tired of this song. One reason I know this is because i’ve been using the ringtone for three years and haven’t gotten tired of it yet.
51. Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran
There isn’t much I can say about this song that hasn’t been said already. In over 30 years of hearing this song, I’ve never once felt compelled to turn it off or change the channel. If anything, I crank it all the way up. This is probably one of the few artists I know of that has a huge hit like this that I just can’t get enough of. They have many other great songs, but this is clearly not only their best song, it is one of the best of the 80’s.
50. I Found Someone by Cher
I listened to this song during one of my recent walks around the neighborhood and noticed something I didn’t really hear in the past. That backing band for this track is really good. Especially the drum work. No wonder this song stuck out to me so much growing up. Cher‘s 1987 self titled album is filled with great songs. This song and We All Sleep Alone were its two biggest songs. Both songs also had great instrumentation. This is an album that might be worth revisiting down the road.
49. Parents Just Don’t Understand by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
As far as I can recall, this was the first rap song I ever heard. The song and video couldn’t have sent a more perfect and identifiable message. If there was ever a formula on how to make a hit kids would easily devour, I believe these two found it. This song was an instant hit with me and all of my friends from the first time we saw the video on MTV. The Fresh Prince hasn’t looked back since.
48. I Need Love by LL Cool J
I message like this from a rapper, let alone LL Cool J, was a little taboo when it first came out in 1987. LL Cool J typically had a bit of a hardcore image, especially by 80’s standards. However, this song proved to be pretty groundbreaking. It is, as far as I know, the first love rap song I had ever heard. It’s just a great song in general. The theatrics and acting in the video is also worth noting. Much like a lot of songs from this era, the video really helps to make this track so memorable. However, it can and does stand on its own as a great song.
47. Superstitious by Europe
You might think that The Final Countdown would be among one of my 80’s favorites, and it is, but this song edges it out thanks to an amazing guitar solo by former band member Kee Marcello. The song probably isn’t all that memorable otherwise, but I can’t get enough of that amazing solo. For me, it makes the list despite everything a song like The Final Countdown gives you. In my opinion, that is how awesome this solo is.
46. Let’s Go All The Way by Sly Fox
If you’re going to make a hit you might as well put everything you have into it and go out with a bang. I feel like that is exactly what Sly Fox did on this song. An amazing, bombastic track that you can really get lost in and get pumped up. Some might consider this cheesy since it is a pop song, but believe me this song rocks pretty hard.
45. Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears
As a person who feels like they are very driven and motivated to succeed, this song is pretty much on the soundtrack of my life. I think their intent was to speak more about what was going on in society at the time, but I view it as a song I look to when I need a reminder of what kind of attitude I want to have about life and what I want to accomplish. I don’t necessarily want to rule the world, but I want to feel like I do. No other song that I can think of makes me feel that way. The opening and middle guitar riffs help to make this a memorable track even if you don’t hear the message the same way I do.
44. Black Velvet by Alannah Myles
When this song came out I loved it. Then it got overplayed. I got tired of it and more or less forgot about it for a long time. Years later, I started hearing this on 80’s radio stations again and started to fall in love with it all over again. I have no idea what else Alannah Myles has done, but I do know that this song has held up extremely well over the years. With a big pulsating beat and seductive vocals, this song rocks without really rocking too hard. It’s a rocking, bluesy number that is hard to resist. This song fit in well with the “blue eyed” soul genre that was so popular in the late 80’s and is probably one of the few songs of that genre that has truly stood the test of time.
43. Let’s Go by Wang Chung
This was a fun song that came at the perfect time in my life. The grade school kid in me still likes this song a lot more than the overplayed Wang Chung classics Dance Hall Days and Everybody Have Fun Tonight. It’s certainly not among one of their most memorable singles, but it was a good one that tends to get overlooked. I’ll even be honest and say that it probably deserves to be in the “lost hit” realm of the 80’s landscape, but it is a personal favorite of mine as this song always brings back good memories for me.
42. The Boys Of Summer by Don Henley
I don’t know if I can add much to this song that hasn’t been said already. Amazing guitar work and a meaningful message makes this one hard to resist. As a person who likes to reflect on the past and uncover the meaning behind the ups and downs of my life, I find this song to be extremely relatable. Others must have felt the same way as it received heavy airplay on VH1 well into the 90’s (before they changed to a more modern, hip format that is).
41. This Time I Know It’s For Real by Donna Summer
Back when this song came out the LA Lakers were on top of the basketball world. I’ve misheard a lot of lyrics over the years, but even to this day, all I can hear is “This time I know it’s Kareem”. The Kareem that always came to mind is none other than Kareem Abdul Jabbar. I was a huge basketball fanatic so it’s possible that my ears just heard what they wanted to hear. Putting that aside, this was a great late 80’s dance track. Probably one of the last great dance songs with that 80’s sound. She Works Hard For The Money was obviously a great Donna Summer track, but this one has always been a favorite of mine.
40. Fascinated by Company B
This is another one of those songs I didn’t discover until the 80’s were over. I started hearing this song a lot on Jack FM back when they had an 80’s format (for all I know they still do have this format). For whatever reason, this station seemed to put this song in the rotation a lot. As a huge fan of 80’s music, I couldn’t believe that I had missed out on such a great, high energy song. MTV must not have played this song very much because i’m pretty sure I would have remembered this great song if they had. Oh well, better late than never. I’m glad I got to discovery this one at all!
39. I’m Gonna Miss You by Milli Vanilli
Even after all these years it still feels taboo for me to like any of their songs. At the very least, I love all of their singles. Regardless of how you feel about the grammy scandal, you have to admit that the songs they recorded were good. I don’t know who the actual singers were, but they did a good job with these songs. I have a soft spot for a great power ballad and this one definitely delivers.
38. Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo
I was a little young when this song came out so I don’t really remember it being played on the radio. I do remember picking up a cassette in the early 90’s that had this song on it. I gave it one listen and said “this is way too weird for me” and didn’t listen to it again for a number of years. As time went by and I started hearing it on the radio, I started to realize that this quirky song was actually very good. It has gotten a lot of airplay from me over the years as it has grown on me more and more. At this point, it is easily an 80’s favorite. We never heard from Wall of Voodoo again after this song, but they sure knew how to make themselves standout.
37. Steppin’ Out by Joe Jackson
I would consider this one of my first “favorite songs” as a kid. The opening of the song always made me feel like I was being transported into another universe. The song itself has a really great message that we all probably need to hear more of in this digital age. This in itself has made this track even more of a favorite of mine as I’ve gotten older.
36. In My House by The Mary Jane Girls
Not only did many 80’s artists perfect the ballad, they also perfected the dance song too. This song is a great example of what I would consider a “perfect” dance track. If you want to get people on the floor to dance, this is one of those songs you need to play. It has a fantastic beat and bass line that just drives through the whole song.
35. Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen
One of my first music memories is of Bruce’s 1984 album Born In The USA. Much like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the singles from this album were all over radio and MTV for a few years during the mid 80’s. Glory Days was one of the most played songs from this album. I think most of us can either relate to reflecting on the “Glory Days” or know somebody who spends too much talking about it. I love the feel good arrangement and message of this song. I think most of his songs stand up well today, but it is hard to resist the greatness of this track.
34. King For A Day by The Thompson Twins
King For A Day is one of the first songs I think of when I reflect on my early grade school years. It may not even be their best song by a lot of people’s standards, but it’s always been one of my 80’s favorites. It’s also a slight departure from their early new wave synth sound to something that uses more of a variety of instrumentation.
33. Jump by Van Halen
Much like Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine, I’ve been using this song as an alarm song for quite a few years. There is nothing like waking up to the opening instrumental part of this song. There is a reason I haven’t swapped it out for something else. You can’t ask for a much better track to wake you up. I can remember seeing this video on MTV and VH1 for years after it was released. There is a good reason why that was. It is the perfect cross between rock and dance. When listening to this song with headphones, you can really hear that driving rock beat under the dancey new wave synth sounds.
32. Holding Back The Years by Simply Red
This song displays the kind of heart and soul that is missing from a lot of today’s pop music. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of many modern artists, but there is no denying the fact that it is missing some of the magic that I love about pre 21st century music. This is another example of how the video and music compliment each other so well. It’s not easy to let go of some of the bad times we all go through. I can relate to the loneliness that the young Simply Red goes through in his school days. In a lot of ways, I was that kid.
31. Love Touch by Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart is known for a lot of great songs, but this isn’t one of them. This might be due to the fact that this song was aimed primarily at promoting another movie i’ve never seen, Legal Eagles. Most of his 80’s work tends to get a little overlooked these days, but I actually feel like he put a lot of good songs out during this era. This is one of many songs I secretly wanted MTV to replay so badly when it was popular. It’s a great catchy song with instrumentation that made it stand out ahead of some of the new wave sounds we were hearing during this time period.
30. Everything She Wants by Wham
This song always had a creepy magic to it that I loved due to the synthesizer work. A truly unique song that teleports me right back to 1985 every time I hear it. Wham recorded a lot of great songs, but I think this was their best statement and most artistic moment. It’s hard to imagine the mid 80’s without this one blaring out of my jukebox.
29. It’s My Life by Talk Talk
I am ashamed to say that I wasn’t aware of this song until No Doubt’s 2003 cover for their greatest hits collection. It actually took until I started listening to this version before I realized that No Doubt’s version was inferior to this one. I actually think No Doubt did a good job with this song, but Talk Talk‘s version is really great. This is another song I probably missed out on due to being a little young. For as much great music as I remember, there were clearly some songs that I missed over the years.
28. Sign Your Name by Terrence Trent D’Arby
This is the kind of song that makes it known that something deep is going on. He is feeling something very deep for the woman he is singing about here. A soulful performance plus a great, romantic arrangement makes this a stellar track for me. I could never understand why we never heard much from Terrence Trent D’Arby after this outstanding debut album. In hindsight, it really seemed like he had the kind of talent that could have maintained his career for a few decades. I am thankful for this outstanding song. It is another awesome song that taught me a little something about tasteful, seductive soul.
27. Red Red Wine by UB40
With all due respect to Neil Diamond, his version has nothing on this one. While I appreciate the authenticity of Neil Diamond’s original, I feel like UB40 took it to another level. Putting a reggae twist on this pop/rock ballad was brilliant. I’m pretty sure Neil Diamond couldn’t have imagined any of his songs turning into something this magical. I don’t know what made UB40 want to record this song, but i’m glad they did. They added so much to a song that was meant to be way more stripped down and raw.
26. Fallen Angel by Poison
Fallen Angel probably isn’t one of Poison‘s most well known songs, but its always been a standout track to me. The video really captures the “runaway to make a better life” storyline very well. It’s also amusing to see Seinfeld’s Wayne Knight, i.e. Newman in the video as the young girl’s dad. As a kid, it was a little shocking to see the brutal reality of the swift kick to the balls that girl gives the man who is using her. Thanks to the great storytelling in the song and video, this one has always stood out a little further to me than fan favorites like Talk Dirty To Me or Nothing But A Good Time.
25. In My Dreams by REO Speedwagon
This is one of those minor hits by an artist that should have been much more loved and remembered than it is. When I dreamed about finding the perfect match for me, this is the song I always wanted to hear. Even as a kid I knew this song was something special. Sure, Their earlier work was great. Can’t Fight This Feeling is obviously one of those quintessential 80’s songs everybody remembers. However, this was the best single they released and is without a doubt one of my 80’s favorites.
24. Brand New Lover by Dead or Alive
Most people probably remember Dead or Alive for their mega hit You Spin Me ‘Round (Like A Record), which is justifiable, but I always liked this song a lot more. I think this is one of the best dance songs of the 80’s. Despite the fact that this song takes a backseat to it’s other more well known hit, I am happy that it still receives the airplay it deserves.
23. Private Eyes by Hall & Oates
One of the first albums I can remember listening to front to back is Hall & Oates 1981 album Private Eyes. I may have secretly listened to my sister’s cassette when she was at school in the early-mid 80’s. When I revisited this album on Apple Music a few years ago, every song was very familiar to me instantly. As for the song? It really found the balance between being an insanely catchy song and maintaining it’s integrity. I say that because it is very easy for me to visualize hearing this song in a commercial. It almost sounds like they were hired to write this as a jingle, yet it is a legitimately great song.
22. Causing A Commotion by Madonna
Who’s That Girl may not have been a great movie, but the movie sure did try its best by opening up with this song. It’s pretty difficult to overlook all of the other great dance songs by Madonna, but I this song made the biggest impression on me out of all of them. The only downside to this song is that she never made a video for it. Perhaps the movie’s title track was a big enough hit that it wasn’t necessary to put one together. If i’m remembering correctly, before music streaming became a thing, this was one of the first songs I ever downloaded on Apple Music.
21. Don’t Mean Nothing by Richard Marx
Although this song was written about surviving the Hollywood record scene, I like to relate it back to my own life. I also enjoy the filtering they used for this video. Probably one of my favorite videos of the decade just for the fact that it was shot so well. Between all of the heavy metal and synthy pop sounds that were all over the place, somehow Richard Marx made himself standout just by being the talent that he is. He is proof that you don’t have to create the most trendy sound to be successful. Sometimes it’s enough to just be damn good. That is what this song is to me.
20. Got My Mind Set On You by George Harrison
Got My Mind Set On You was my introduction to the Beatles without really knowing it (ok maybe with the exception of Paul McCartney’s contribution to Michael Jackson’s The Girl Is Mine). I believe it was around this time that I started hearing a little bit more about the Beatles, but still didn’t know just how significant they were. From MTV to Look Who’s Talking Too, this song was everywhere for a few years in the late 80’s. I don’t know if this is George Harrison‘s best work, but it is hands down the best song he recorded during the 80’s. When I think of the late 80’s, this is one of the first songs that come to mind.
19. Kissing A Fool by George Michael
Of all the hits George Michael had between his time in Wham and his solo career, this was probably his best track. This song has aged very well due to it’s jazz influenced sound. This is one of those songs that could probably be a hit today. It’s not the kind of upbeat dance track that I think he is remembered for most, but it has stood the test of time more than anything else he did. That is not a put down on the rest of his great work. This song is just a little greater than the rest of his catalogue.
18. Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
Whenever I hear this song I always flashback to 1986 when this song was played everywhere. The success Bon Jovi found with their album Slippery When Wet took the band to a superstar level after two moderately successful debuts. This band has done nothing but evolve and adapt with the changing of the times, but this one will always be their signature song. I still get goosebumps every time I hear it. As a video production nerd, I also love the transition from black and white at the beginning of the video the color when the second chorus kicks in.
17. You Got It All by The Jets
This is another one of those songs where it makes you feel like falling in love is the most perfect thing in the world. Unfortunately, the road to getting over a relationship isn’t always this blissful, but for a few minutes it sure does feel that way. The Jets recorded a few really nice pop songs during the mid-late 80’s, but this is hands down their best. Sadly, I feel like this song doesn’t get quite enough airplay on 80’s stations these days, but it absolutely should. As 80’s ballads go, you can’t get much better than this one.
16. Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac
Gypsy has to be one of the most beautifully arranged songs i’ve ever heard. Especially the middle of the song. The whole song is otherworldly. The song makes you feel like you are being transported to some mystical place nobody has ever seen, but they can only imagine it in their mind. Stevie Nicks is known for having this type of aura. She delivers that perfectly on this track. This song gives me major goosebumps to this day.
15. Love Bites by Def Leppard
I didn’t need a reminder of how great Def Leppard is, but the fact that they finally landed a deal with streaming services in 2018 didn’t hurt. There are many great songs in the Def Leppard catalogue, but nothing tops this gut wrenching song about how much love can suck. It’s a very direct dialogue with a woman who has clearly broken somebody’s heart (i believe this was written by Joe Elliot if i’m not mistaken). Their producer, Mutt Lange, was always great at helping to bring out the best in the artists he worked with. This was especially true in regard to ballads. This one might have been the best ballad he was ever involved with.
14. I Heard A Rumor by Bananarama
One of many songs that was included in a movie I have never seen. I mostly remember it for the fact that it was a great pop song and the fact that the girls show the word “WOW” on their butts when they yell it in the middle of the song. If you had asked me what Bananarama song i’d put on a “Best Of” list 20-30 years ago, I might have made a different pick. However, oddly enough, I feel like this song has aged pretty well. This is just one of many great songs this band recorded during their heyday.
13. Heaven Is A Place On Earth by Belinda Carlisle
This song was my introduction to Belinda Carlisle. She was also my first crush thanks to the video. This is a carefree love song that just grabs your attention right from the beginning. This song is filled with irresistible hooks and verses that have made this a favorite of mine from the first time I heard it. I can’t imagine anybody disliking such an amazingly uplifting song, but I guess there is a first time for everything. This song actually helped me to eventually discover the Go Go’s who rank somewhere on my list of all time favorite bands.
12. When I Think Of You by Janet Jackson
Although this is arguably Janet Jackson’s best song, I can’t help, but to think of the cranky old man and the dancing police officers from the video every time I hear it. Putting that aside, she really got it right with this track. It has a nice build up and a catchy hook. This song just flows from beginning to end. Sadly, I don’t hear this song as much as I’d like. It was such a big hit when it came out, but it seems to have fallen off the radar a little bit. That’s unfortunate because this song deserves a lot more airplay than it gets.
11. Talking in Your Sleep by The Romantics
Not only is this a great track, it is also another sentimental favorite of mine. I can still remember the Rock A Fire band “playing” this song at Showbiz Pizza around the time this song came out in the 80’s. For that reason alone, I have a hard time getting sick of this one. This is a great jangly guitar driven track, but it is especially great to me because it takes me back to a time we will never see again. If I could go back to 1983/1984, this is one of the first songs I’d want to hear when I stepped out of the Delorean.
10. If She Knew What She Wants by The Bangles
I’ve always been a huge Bangles fan, but I have to admit that this one got overlooked among all of the other great singles off their breakthrough album Different Light. It’s not my favorite Bangles song, but it is my favorite one that they recorded during the 80’s. If you had asked me 10-20 years ago, I probably would have selected another Bangles song for this list.
9. Touch Of Grey by The Grateful Dead
Is it strange that my love for this song is growing more and more as I get older? I’m only 39, but I feel like this song gives me something to embrace about aging. I suppose this is one of the reasons this song became such a big hit. It also has the luxury of being a top 10 hit despite being over five minutes long. That doesn’t happen everyday. Especially in today’s radio landscape. Despite not have a quintessential 80’s sound, it stands as one of the most memorable songs of the era.
8. Devil Inside by INXS
INXS was pretty big in the late 80’s. Their album Kick produced a number of hits that were everywhere for quite awhile. So much so that I think I am still a little tired of some of them. Devil Inside isn’t one of them. I especially love the little instrumental jam that they did at the end of the track. Probably my favorite part of the song. I liked it when it came out, but I actually think this song grew on me a lot as I got older. I’m glad it wasn’t too overlooked by the general public since I still hear it on the radio today.
7. Right On Track by The Breakfast Club
Right On Track ranks as yet another song I was obsessed with in 1987. Much like a lot of 1 and 2 hit wonders of the 80’s, I thought these guys were the coolest. An upbeat sound and a hip, colorful video made these guys irresistible to the 8 year old me. Their song Kiss and Tell is another great one that is worth checking out. After that, much like a lot of bands that exploded onto the scene, they sadly disappeared.
6. Keep Feeling Fascination by Human League
This was probably one of my first favorite songs. I can still remember hearing this song during car rides and days at the pool during 1983. It must have been a great song because I used to get teased by my siblings for singing it anytime it came on the radio. This song makes me feel good every time I hear it.
5. Funky Town by Pseudo Echo
This is probably an odd song to have in my top ten. Especially considering most people probably only remember the version of Funky Town that was recorded by Lipps Inc (which was also very good). However, this song has a lot of sentimental value to me. It’s a rockin’ cover with a very simple video. I actually thought these were the coolest guys on the planet for awhile thanks to their video and style. They were just a bunch of guys rockin’ a really great song. The keytar usage also makes this extra awesome. This is a song I can’t help, but to crank up really loud and roll down the car windows when I hear it. Just the way great rock n’ roll should be!
4. Your Wildest Dreams by The Moody Blues
This might be one of my favorite videos from the 80’s. A gut wrenching storyline that goes along with the message of the song so well. I think most people have found themselves in the situation this song and video does such a good job of talking about. It would have been an amazing song without the video, but the fact that they did something special with that too doesn’t hurt. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the epic conclusion to this video via their other 80’s hit I Know You’re Out There Somewhere.
3. We Are The World by USA For Africa
I am floored by how much this great song has been forgotten about. Sure, this song has some amazing star power within it, but it is so much more than that. The ability to take all of these unique voices and arrange them in a way that fits the tone so perfectly is brilliant. I think this was Michael Jackson‘s best moment as an artist. The way MJ and some of the others behind this song came together and got all of these unique voices and personalities to come together and create this type of magic is amazing. This song deserves so much more credit and airplay than it gets. It is not uncommon for me to hit the replay button on this song. The only question I have after all these years is: who invited Dan Aykroyd?
2. Under Pressure by Queen
When I came up with the idea of making this list, I knew this song would fall somewhere in the top 20. However, when I really thought about what this song means to me and how it makes me feel every time I listen to it, I had to place it pretty high on my list. I get goosebumps every time I hear this song. It’s hard to imagine that anybody wouldn’t be moved by this song. It’s a powerful message with an equally powerful arrangement. I often hit the replay button on this one. This song may not necessarily have a lot of those classic 80’s sounds, but it is a stellar track that deserves all the recognition in the world.
1. Heart and Soul by T’Pau
Of all the songs I fell in love with during the 80’s, this was probably the biggest one of them all. There is so much going on in this multilayered song. Because of the video, I actually thought it was two different girls singing on this track when it was popular. I think it took until I started using Youtube before I realized that Carol Decker was doing all of the vocals. Putting that aside, I couldn’t get enough of this song in 1987. I probably should have begged my parents to get the 45 for me because I was actually pretty obsessed with this song. A very well produced track that still holds up as my favorite from the 80’s.