The 1980’s saw a revolution on the music scene, introducing electronic dance music and New Wave.
The time period is known for the use of synthesizers, the rise in hip-hop, and emergence of several female icons that made leaps in the battle for female empowerment.
The 80’s remains one of the most beloved eras when it comes to music. As a consequence, many songs from that decade are perfect for a karaoke night.
From power ballads, to upbeat pop tunes, to synth-dance tracks, here is our list of best 80s karaoke songs that this amazing decade has to offer.
1. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
American rock band Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” was released in the early 80’s as the second single from the group’s seventh album, Escape.
The song has a story-telling aspect that makes it perfect for karaoke: the lyrics tell of a ‘small-town boy’ and ‘small-town girl’ that both ‘take a midnight train going anywhere’.
This uplifting and catchy song was popularly covered by the cast of Glee for their pilot episode, becoming an iconic song for the show.
2. “Africa” by Toto
“Africa” by Toto is a classic feel-good song from the 80’s, bound to go down a treat on karaoke night.
The song reached the No 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It has since been 8 x certified platinum.
The music video features the band in a library, showcasing many traditional aspects of African culture.
3. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears for Fears
English pop rock band Tears for Fears first released this song in March 1985.
It is a new-wave and synth-pop track, with lyrics singing of the corruption of the world, the willingness of people to ‘turn [their] back on Mother Nature’.
It has since become one of the band’s most iconic songs. It was an international success, reaching the top of many charts worldwide.
4. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” was released by Houston as the lead single for her second album, Whitney.
This is an upbeat, happy song that is bound to put all listeners in a good mood, the perfect uplifting 80’s sing-along song for a karaoke performance.
Houston’s performance has been praised by critics but critiqued in its similarities to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’. Despite this criticism, the song became a worldwide chart-topper.
5. “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John
Singing about finding resilience and courage in the face of adversity, Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” became a worldwide hit.
The lyrics are rumoured to be about John’s recovery from a difficult relationship, his ability to still ‘stand’ after the heartbreak.
The song was released as part of John’s Too Low For Zero album in 1983 and peaked at No 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
6. “Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bon Jovi
The first of a few on this list from Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet album, this is a classic 80’s power ballad with a fun concept.
The lyrics sing about a ‘cowboy’ that rides on a ‘steel horse’ and is ‘wanted dead or alive’.
It was written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and released as the third single for the album.
Like the two singles before it, it reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100.
7. “Never Give You Up” by Rick Astley
Featuring an iconic opening, “Never Give You Up” was the debut single from English singer-songwriter Rick Astley and is still known as one of his most famous hits.
The song has had a recent revival as a trending song on Tiktok.
The song has become the subject of an internet meme called ‘rick-rolling’. This involves videos and links leading to the song’s music video.
8. “Red Red Wine” by UB40
“Red Red Wine” was originally written and recorded by Neil Diamond in the 60’s, but was covered by English reggae and pop band UB40 in the 80’s.
UB40’s version reached No 1 in the UK. It was re-released a few years later and hit No 1 in the US, as well.
In 1989, the band performed the song at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert.
9. “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” by Belinda Carlisle
A classic 80’s karaoke song, Carlisle’s “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” was an instant success.
Released as the lead single from Carlisle’s Heaven On Earth album, it reached No 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it Carlisle’s only chart-topper song.
The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1988 but lost out to Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, another of the best 80’s karaoke songs.
10. “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel
The lyrics of this feel good 80’s song tell of a working-class man that is trying to woo an ‘uptown girl’ that is used to a life of privilege and luxury, but now wants to meet a ‘downtown man’.
The storytelling element of this song makes it perfect for a karaoke performance.
The song reached No 1 in the UK but peaked at No 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.
11. “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA
This emotional ballad from the iconic Swedish pop group is perfect for a powerful karaoke performance.
This song featured in the hugely popular Mamma Mia film released in 2008 as a duet between main character, Donna, and her love interest, Sam.
ABBA songs have been popular for decades, but the release of the movie brought them to new heights.
12. “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” by Dead Or Alive
A classic 80’s anthem, this Dead Or Alive tune is perfect for karaoke.
This song is catchy and upbeat, with the lyrics repeating the phrase ‘you spin me right ‘round, baby, right ‘round / Like a record, baby, right ‘round, ‘round, ‘round’.
It was the English trio’s first UK No 1, after taking 17 weeks to get there.
13. “Kiss” by Prince & The Revolution
Featuring an iconic opening and Prince’s famous high-pitched singing, this song might be more suited to the karaoke singers that are up for a challenge.
The song was written, composed and performed by Prince for his eighth studio album.
The song is ranked No. 85 on the Rolling Stone list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs Of All Time’ in 2021.
NME ranked the song No 4 in their list of the top 150 Greatest Singles of All Time.
14. “Like A Prayer” by Madonna
“Like A Prayer” was released as the lead single for Madonna’s fourth studio album.
The song features gospel music, in line with the lyrics, that tell the story of a young woman that is in love with God.
It became Madonna’s seventh No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and stayed there for three weeks.
The music video shows Madonna playing a young woman witnessing a murder, for which a black man gets blamed.
15. “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
This iconic 80’s sing-along tune was popularized by the hugely successful Dirty Dancing film, which used the song as its theme song.
The song won the Academy Award Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
A song by Lionel Richie was originally going to be used, but choreographer Kenny Ortega and his assistant, Miranda Garrison, selected “The Time Of My Life” instead.
16. “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles
“Eternal Flame” is a song released in 1988 by American band The Bangles for their third album, Everything.
The song became a hit No 1 in nine countries, including the US, UK and Australia.
British girl band Atomic Kitten released a cover of the song in 2001.
The song was written by The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, along with Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly.
17. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
Starting with an iconic guitar opening that’s bound to get the karaoke audience excited, this song was released as a single for the American rock band’s first album.
Lead singer Axl Rose said that Lynyrd Skynyrd was an inspiration for the lyrics to the song.
The lyrics are about the narrator’s romantic feelings for a girl, who is so pure and innocent that they are reminded of their childhood.
18. “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins
“Danger Zone” was a hit single that was popularized by the iconic 1986 Top Gun film.
The song became the best-selling track of the year and is thought of as an emblematic tune of the 80’s music scene.
The lyrics sing about heading into the ‘danger zone’, mirroring the theme of the film, which follows a group of fighter pilots on their mission.
The music video for the song features clips from Top Gun.
19. “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield
“Jessie’s Girl” tells the story of the narrator’s unrequited love for their friend’s girlfriend, and their subsequent jealousy.
After 19 weeks on the charts, the song finally reached No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for two weeks.
The lyrics are based on Springfield’s own experience of having feelings for his friend’s girlfriend.
Springfield was apparently taking a stained-glass class when his friend Gary came in with his girlfriend.
20. “Jump” by Van Halen
“Jump” is Van Halen’s most successful song, reaching No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.
Despite the upbeat tune, the lyrics are actually about something more morbid: Van Halen’s lead vocalist David Lee Roth had watched a news broadcast the night before about a suicidal jumper.
Roth imagined that the onlookers would have been egging the person on to ‘go ahead and jump’.
The lyrics were later – more optimistically – interpreted as being about jumping into life and love.
21. “Holding Out For A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler
“Holding Out For A Hero” comes from Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, and is the perfect 80’s karaoke anthem.
It was created for the soundtrack to Footloose (1984).
The track features synths and piano riffs in a typically 80’s fashion.
The accompanying music video shows Tyler escaping from a burning house and being threatened by evil cowboys, before being saved by an angelic cowboy dressed in white.
22. “Any Way You Want It” by Journey
American rock band Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” was apparently heavily influenced by Thin Lizzy, who was touring with the band at the time.
The bands exchanged rhyme scheme exercises, which went on to inspire the ‘give and take’ element of the song.
The song remains a signature staple for the band.
In 2010, the song is featured in hit show Glee as a mash up with another Journey song, “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”.
23. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benetar
“Hit Me With Your Best Show” is one of Benetar’s most iconic songs, selling over a million copies in the US.
In 2022, Benetar said that she could no longer perform the song in protest of mass shootings in the US.
Even though the lyrics are playful, Benetar still doesn’t feel comfortable singing them any longer.
24. “Like A Virgin” by Madonna
“Like A Virgin” was released as the lead single for Madonna’s album of the same name.
An icon of the 80’s music scene, Madonna’s songs were often provocative and groundbreaking.
The music video features Madonna on a gondola in Venice.
The song became Madonna’s first No 1 in the US, as well as in many other countries across the world.
25. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
“Physical” was originally offered to Rod Stewart and then Tina Turner before it was recorded and released by Olivia Newton-John.
The music video is an iconic 80’s image: it features many scantily-clad people exercising in a black tiled room.
The song is catchy and lighthearted, making it perfect for karaoke.
Olivia Newton-John sadly passed away recently, on August 8, 2022.
26. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” was originally written, recorded and released by Robert Hazard in 1979, but Cyndi Lauper’s version became much better known when she covered the song in 1983.
The Grammy-winning music video was made largely using a volunteer cast.
It features Lauper as a punky daughter, rebelling against her traditional parents.
The song captures the second-wave feminism ideologies of the 80’s, challenging the social gender norms and conventions for women.
27. “Lay All Your Love On Me” by ABBA
Iconic Swedish pop band ABBA released “Lay All Your Love On Me” for their seventh studio album, Super Trouper.
The song became the highest selling 12-inch record in UK chart history, where it peaked at No 7.
ABBA recently made history for releasing their first album in 40 years.
The band then announced ABBA Voyage, a concert residency featuring the band as motion capture digital avatars, the first concert of its kind.
28. “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners
“Come On Eileen” is a song from English band Dexys Midnight Runners, and has since become one of the UK’s favourite songs.
The song won “Best British Single” at the 1983 Brit Awards and was Britain’s best-selling single of 1982.
It was also successful in the US, reaching No 1 on the charts.
The song’s clear popularity and repetitive lyrics make it perfect for a karaoke performance.
29. “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol
“Dancing With Myself” was originally released by British punk rock band Gen X in 1980, where it reached No 62 on the singles chart.
The lead singer, Billy Idol, released the song as a solo artist in the US, where it reached No 27 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Party play chart.
The song was apparently inspired by something the band witnessed while touring in Japan: a crowd of young partygoers were dancing with their own reflections in walled mirrors.
30. ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police
“Don’t Stand So Close To Me” is about a relationship between a teacher and a student.
It became the band’s third number-one single in the UK charts and became the UK’s best-selling single of 1980.
The song was covered in popular TV Show Glee, following a storyline where a teacher is romantically interested in her teacher.
31. “Don’t You Want Me Baby” by The Human League
This song’s synth open makes it immediately recognisable, part of the New Wave sound of the 80’s.
It was released in 1981 and became the band’s most commercially successful song.
It was the biggest-selling UK single of 1981 and was the Christmas No 1 for that year.
Featuring both male and female vocals, this song would be perfect for a karaoke duet.
32. “Islands In The Stream” by Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers
“Islands In The Stream” is one of the world’s most popular karaoke songs and makes for an excellent karaoke duet.
The song was originally written by the Bee Gees for Diana Ross but was instead reworked into a duet for country singers Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in 1983.
The song reached No 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.
33. “With Or Without You” by U2
If you’re wanting something more mellow and emotional for your karaoke performance, “With Or Without You” could be a great choice.
It was released by Irish rock band U2 as the lead single for their fifth album, Joshua Tree (1987).
The song became the band’s first No 1 single in the US and Canada.
In 2004, the song was ranked No 131 on Rolling Stone’s list of “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
34. “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross
The perfect 80’s song to sing on karaoke night to get everyone in a good mood, this song was released by Ross in 1980.
It was written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, who recently revealed that the lyrics are about the LGBTQ+ community.
The writers were apparently inspired to write this song for Ross after seeing drag queens dressed as her at a New York club.
35. “Faith” by George Michael
“Faith” was written and released by Michael for his debut album in 987.
The song topped the charts in the US, remaining in the No 1 spot for four weeks.
In 2001, the song placed at No 322 on the ‘Songs of the Century’ list by the RIAA.
36. “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty
“Free Fallin’” is from Petty’s 1989 debut album, Full Moon Fever.
The lyrics are about a sweet and innocent girl, that the narrator ends up falling for, despite him being a ‘bad boy’ that broke her heart.
It is one of Petty’s most famous songs, having peaked at No 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song ranked at No 219 on the Rolling Stone ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ list.
37. “The Power Of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News
“The Power of Love” was written for Back To The Future, an iconic 80’s film released in 1985.
The music video shows the band playing in a nightclub, when Doc Brown (a character from the film) appears in his time-travelling DeLorean.
The song became the band’s first No 1 hit in the US.
38. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House
A more melodic and downbeat song for a karaoke performance, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” was released in 1986 for the band’s debut album.
The song became their biggest hit, reaching No 2 on the Billboard chart.
39. “Super Trouper” by ABBA
With “Super Trouper”, ABBA proves again their ability to make perfect sing-along disco classics.
The song title refers to a brand of followspot, a powerful stage lighting tool similar to a spotlight.
“Super Trouper” became ABBA’s fourth No 1 in the UK, making them the fourth most chart-topping in UK history at the time.
40. “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany
“I Think We’re Alone Now” was originally written and released by Tommy James and the Shondells.
As with many of James’ songs, it was popularly covered by a later artist, Tiffany.
Tiffany’s recording of the song reached No 1 in the US, UK, Canada, and New Zealand.
41. “9 To 5” by Dolly Parton
“9 To 5” was written and recorded by Parton for a comedy film of the same name, that Parton starred in.
The song and film focus on the frustration of working in an office under a difficult, misogynistic boss.
It’s the perfect song for an end-of-the-week karaoke night, when hard workers want to let their hair down.
42. “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls
“It’s Raining Men” comes from American duo the Weather Girls, for their third album Success (1983).
The lyrics sing about imagining that its ‘raining men’ of ‘every specimen’, a metaphor for the idea of women enjoying the excitement of meeting lots of men.
VH1 listed the song as one of ‘the Greatest Songs of the 1980s’.
43. “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi
Here is another song from Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet (1986).
It became their second chart-topping single from the album.
It has since become the band’s most famous song, with the lyrics telling the story of a struggling couple, one working in the docks and one at a diner, that are working hard to make ends meet.
44. “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen
This song is immediately recognisable from its iconic bass guitar intro.
It hit the top spot on the US charts and stayed there for three weeks.
The song spent 31 weeks in the charts in total, which was longer than any other song that year.
“Another One Bites The Dust” sold over 7 million copies, making it Queen’s best-selling single.
45. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
“Total Eclipse Of The Heart” is another song from Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler.
With the male backing vocals, the song can easily be sang as a duet, making it perfect for karaoke.
The song became Tyler’s biggest success, selling over 6 million copies and becoming certified platinum by the RIAA.
46. “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves
“Walking On Sunshine” is one of the most famously upbeat songs of all time, making it the perfect song for a fun karaoke night.
The lyrics sing about the excitement and joy of new love, how it can feel like you are ‘walking on sunshine’.
47. “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
“I Love Rock ‘N Roll” was originally written and recorded by British band The Arrows in 1975.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ version was released in 1981 as a cover and became their biggest hit, reaching No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The music video became very popular, featuring Joan Jett performing the song in a bar.
48. “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
“I Want To Know What Love Is” remains Foreigners most known song, after reaching the No 1 spot in the charts in the UK and the US.
The lyrics sing about the power of love to prevail after heartache.
The narrator is wanting to be shown about the joys of love, despite facing heartbreak before.
49. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard
Iconic 80’s rock band Def Leppard released their signature song in 1988.
It reached No 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was ranked No 2 on VH1’s ‘100 Greatest Songs of the 80s’.
The success of the single allowed the Hysteria album to reach No 1 on the Top Pop Albums chart a year after release.
50. “You Give Love A Bad Name” by Bon Jovi
“You Give Love A Bad Name” is another brilliant karaoke-worthy song from Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet album.
The lyrics are about a villainous woman that has betrayed the trust of the narrator.
The song was the band’s first No 1 hit in the US.
The melody of the song was originally written for Bonnie Tyler under a different title, but after an unsuccessful release it was re-written for the American rock band.
80s Karaoke Songs – Final Thoughts
For good reason, the iconic songs of the 1980’s are often revisited and have been covered many times in decades since.
Hopefully, you yourself now feel inspired to put your own take on some of the decades favourite sing-along songs.