Are you a fan of ’80s music and want to discover more great tunes from the iconic era?
We’ve got you covered – our extensive list has all the best ’80s songs.
From familiar earworms (those songs that get stuck in your head) and disco hits to rock anthems, get ready for a trip down memory lane.
1. “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi
It seems only fair that we start this ’80s playlist with VH1’s Greatest ’80s Song.
After all, along with MTV, VH1 is considered an important cultural source; and it was founded in 1985.
When it comes to the best songs from the ’80s, according to VH1, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” (1986) holds the throne.
2. “Take On Me” by A-ha
The 1980s also saw the emergence of electronic dance music.
And although “Take On Me” by a-ha is essentially a synthpop song, you should definitely include it in your ultimate ’80s dance playlist.
By the way, the song reached #1 in 27 countries, and that’s quite impressive.
3. “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
“Don’t Stop Believin’” is one of the most streamed ’80s songs.
But Journey’s most enduring song also has an important (and timeless) message: don’t give up on your dreams.
4. “Africa” by Toto
“Africa” by Toto is another iconic song from the ’80s.
Toto’s David Paich said that the song is about a man’s love of the continent Africa, rather than a personal romance.
5. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
When you think about the best music from the ’80s, Michael Jackson immediately comes to mind.
And his “Billie Jean” changed history – after all, it taught us how to moonwalk.
In case you didn’t know, the song is about a girl who claimed Jackson was the father of her child.
6. “Purple Rain” by Prince
According to Time Out magazine, “Purple Rain” is the best ’80s song ever written.
And that doesn’t come as a surprise – it’s undeniably one of the most beloved songs of all time.
7. “Like A Virgin” by Madonna
Released in 1984, Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” became a timeless ’80s classic.
And it was an absolute hit right away – the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it remained there for six weeks.
8. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston is considered one of the greatest female R&B pop vocalists of all time.
And her ’80s hit “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” became her signature song.
9. “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners
One of the best ’80s songs that stand the test of time is “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners.
The moment you hear it, you feel carefree and optimistic. And it never gets old.
10. “With Or Without You” by U2
Not all songs from the eighties sound like ’80s music.
For example, U2 was one of the bands that emerged in the ’80s with their authentic sound.
And their “With Or Without You” is arguably one of their most affecting songs from that era (and in general).
11. “Girl Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cindy Lauper
On the other hand, this is undoubtedly a song that sounds like the ’80s.
“Girl Just Wanna Have Fun” is familiar, fun, and pretty danceable. But it feels free – as it was meant to be.
12. “Modern Love” by David Bowie
And what is a good ’80s playlist without Bowie?
“Modern Love” is taken from Bowie’s iconic album ‘Let’s Dance’ released in 1983.
One thing is for sure: this changed music history.
13. “This Must Be The Place” by Talking Heads
Talking Heads also had a huge impact on music in the ’80s.
And their timeless 1983 song “This Must Be The Place” sounds like one big happy memory.
14. “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen
We don’t need to write a big introduction for Queen.
The legendary band released “Another One Bites The Dust” in 1980 – an appropriate beginning of the iconic music era.
15. “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy
A music genre that was also popular in the 1980s is rap/hip-hop.
One of the tracks that marked that genre is Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power”.
For many artists and young musicians, this was a life-changing release.
16. “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club
Nothing feels like the ’80s quite like Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”.
Although it’s a song about the fear of alienation, it sounds very positive and uplifting – and it simply doesn’t get old.
17. “Master Blaster (Jammin)” by Stevie Wonder
Nothing will get you jammin’ like Stevie Wonder’s music from the 1980s.
And “Master Blaster (Jammin)” sounds like a beautiful blend of genres.
After all, Stevie Wonder is credited as a pioneer and influence by musicians across a range of genres such as blues, pop, soul, funk, jazz, and so on.
18. “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
There’s a long story behind “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” – but the most important thing is that it became a hit in 1981.
And it’s arguably one of the best classic rock anthems, not to mention a classic rock love song.
19. “Blue Monday” by New Order
The 1980s also saw an emergence of new wave and alternative rock, and New Order redefined the meaning of certain genres.
In fact, their hit “Blue Monday” drew inspiration from many genres and artists.
But ultimately, the song simply sounds like “Blue Monday”.
20. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division
Before New Order, there was Joy Division.
And their iconic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was one of the highlights of the post-punk era.
The song was released one month before Ian Curtis’ death, and NME‘s original review called the song a “tombstone”, as it weirdly predicted the future.
21. “Tainted Love” by Soft Love
Soft Love’s “Tainted Love” is definitely one of the most played songs in the ’80s.
The song became a mainstream hit in 1981.
It’s about a toxic or ‘tainted’ relationship that no longer works.
22. “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics
Sweet dreams are made of this, Who am I to disagree…
The 1980s – a decade of unforgettable melodies and danceable tunes.
“Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics should definitely be on your ultimate ’80s party playlist.
23. “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie
And you might as well dance all night long.
Lionel Richie’s familiar vocals, Caribbean-influenced rhythms, and iconic dance moves… It’s all you need to dance your troubles away.
24. “Super Freak” by Rick James
Another smash hit from the ’80s is “Super Freak” by Rick James.
It was the peak of Rick James’ career.
And of course, MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” only made the song more popular.
25. “Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran
Duran Duran’s signature song is another ’80s song we can’t skip.
“Hungry Like The Wolf” is taken from the band’s 1982 album “Carnival”.
It was written by the band and basically evolved during their sessions for their second album.
26. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds
No, we didn’t forget about this song.
“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is one of the ’80s classics.
The song was written by English songwriter and producer Keith Forsey for the famous 1985 film ‘The Breakfast Club’.
27. “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa
In a way, “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa really changed the definition of what’s considered danceable.
The song became an inevitable ’80s party hit.
And it’s still one of people’s favorite ’80s throwbacks.
28. “Call Me” by Blondie
Speaking of changing music history… Blondie’s “Call Me” was definitely an important historic landmark.
The band was a pioneer in the American new wave scene of the mid-1970s, and it proved that they can also conquer the ’80s.
29. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” is a beloved ’80s ballad.
It was written by Jim Steinman, who also wrote numerous hits for Meat Loaf.
The song is still a popular choice in karaoke bars – for those who feel ambitious.
30. “What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner
Tina Turner won three Grammys for “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, although she didn’t like the song at first.
But it turned out to be one of her most popular hits and an ’80s classic.
31. “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye
It seems like Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” is a natural follow-up from the previous song.
Gaye won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance.
And that wasn’t a big surprise – it was a soulful hit everybody needed.
32. “Sweetest Taboo” by Sade
Another smooth, soulful song from the eighties is “Sweetest Taboo” by Sade.
The song is taken from Sade’s multi-platinum-selling second album, “Promise”.
Sit back, turn the volume up, and relax…
33. “Sweet Child O Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
Another ‘sweet’ hit from the ’80s era is “Sweet Child O Mine” by Guns N’ Roses.
It was released on the band’s debut studio album “Appetite For Destruction” in 1987.
But it was not until the following year that the album became a commercial success – including the singles “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine”.
34. “Jump” by Van Halen
“Jump” is Van Halen’s biggest hit and one of the ’80s favorites.
The song is allegedly about a TV news story where a man was about to kill himself by jumping off a building.
Well… You probably didn’t expect that.
35. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
It doesn’t get more iconic than that – it’s an ultimate ’80s melody.
The song was a part of the blockbuster film of the same name.
36. “Walk This Way” by RUN DMC and Aerosmith
Together with Run-DMC, Aerosmith created a famous rap-rock version of “Walk This Way”.
In one of the interviews, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler admitted that in a way, RUN DMC saved Aerosmith back in the 1980s.
Whether that’s true or not, “Walk This Way” certainly became legendary.
37. “Fairytale Of New York” by The Pogues
And when you think about Christmas classics from the ’80s, “Fairytale Of New York” is one of the first songs that comes to mind.
We certainly can’t imagine Christmas without it.
38. “Don’t You Want Me” by Human League
“Don’t You Want Me” topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US in 1982, where it stayed for three weeks.
Without a doubt, Human League’s smashing pop hit became one of the most iconic ’80s songs.
39. “9 To 5” by Dolly Parton
Starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton, the 1980 film “9 To 5” portrayed three working women who live out their fantasies.
And Dolly Parton wrote the theme song.
The song soon became a chart-topping hit and an anthem for working women.
40. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard
Released in 1987, Def Leppard’s signature song had a somewhat delayed success.
Nevertheless, the song was ranked #2 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s” in 2006.
41. “Walk Like An Egyptian” by The Bangles
Of course, we can’t skip one of the most memorable tunes of the 1980s: the unique and catchy “Walk Like An Egyptian”.
After all, the song became Billboard’s number-one song of 1987.
42. “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” by The Clash
With “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”, The Clash showed how diverse they can be as a band.
Plus, the track became one of the best rock songs from the ’80s.
And the recent ‘Stranger Things’ show made it popular among younger generations too.
43. “Whip It” by Devo
Another ’80s song from ‘Stranger Things’ is “Whip It” by Devo.
And the song’s music video is a whole other story… It’s fascinating how these kinds of videos were pretty standard back then.
44. “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” is another nice example of weird ’80s music videos.
And we love it.
After all, the song won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Visual Effects.
45. “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode
Although Depeche Mode can’t (and shouldn’t) be judged by this song, “Just Can’t Get Enough” became a big hit in the eighties.
Therefore, it seems fair to include it on our best ’80s songs playlist.
46. “Where Is My Mind” by Pixies
Although this tune sounds more like the ’90s, it was actually released in 1988.
In fact, it’s a part of the band’s debut album.
And it ended up being “Fight Club’s” signature song.
47. “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon
Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” is another proof that the ’80s was a historic decade for music.
Simon’s whole 1986 studio album “Graceland” became legendary and undeniably influential.
48. “Need You Tonight” by INXS
And now, of course, INXS.
That iconic guitar riff will make you dance right away.
And that’s what music in the ’80s was partially all about – just letting go and feeling the music.
49. “Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” by Dead Or Alive
And we have another proof for the previous statement: “Spin Me Round” by Dead Or Alive.
This song is an absolute ’80s dance hit.
“Spin Me Round” has been re-released three times since its original release (1984) and achieved success each time.
50. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears
This popular new wave and synth-pop song by Tears For Fears was released in 1985.
Lorde also made a cover version, and it’s a pretty good one too.
51. “Love Shack” by The B-52’s
American new wave band the B-52 released “Love Shack” on their fifth studio album, “Cosmic Thing”, in 1989.
And the song is now considered their signature song.
It was also named one of the 365 Songs of the Century in 2001.
52. “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Daryll Hall & John Oates
The moment “You Make My Dreams Come True” comes up, it’s impossible not to feel hopeful.
It’s a catchy, cheerful tune released in 1981.
The song was used in numerous movies and TV shows including ‘500 Days Of Summer’.
53. “Killing Moon” by Echo & The Bunnymen
Echo & the Bunnymen is an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1978.
And “Killing Moon” is one of their signature songs.
Although this is not a typical ’80s song, it’s a true gem made in that music era.
54. “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
Another familiar gem from the eighties is “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins.
The song is taken from Phil Collins’ debut solo album “Face Value ”released in 1981.
And it soon became an international hit.
55. “Careless Whisper” by George Michael
Whether you find “Careless Whisper” too cheesy or not, you have to admit that George Michael’s hit is one of the most popular songs of the ’80s.
Plus, George Michael wrote Careless Whisper at 17, but it was released when he was 21.
56. “Abracadabra” by Steve Miller Band
Released in 1982, “Abracadabra” by Steve Miller Band is a typical ’80s classic rock tune.
And there’s a rumor that Steve Miller wrote it right after accidentally meeting Diana Ross while skiing.
57. “Upside Down” by Diana Ross
“Upside Down” was written and produced by Chic members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, and recorded by Diana Ross.
The song became a universal hit, and it still somehow sounds fresh.
It seems to be one of the timeless ’80s hits.
58. “Centerfold” by J. Geils Band
Even if you don’t know the name of the song, you’ll certainly recognize the melody of “Centerfold” by J. Geils Band.
And perhaps the story behind it.
In short, the song is about a guy who discovered that his high school crush appeared in a centerfold spread for a men’s magazine.
59. “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes
Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” came out in 1981 and it became Billboard’s #1 single.
The song is all about ’80s vibes, Kim Carnes’ unique vocals, and catchy rhythm.
60. “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon
Written and performed by John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over” was released in October 1980.
It reached number one in both the US and UK after Lennon was murdered on 8 December 1980.
And it remained one of his most memorable songs.
61. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
Written by Sting, “Every Breath You Take” became the band’s signature song.
It was the biggest US and Canadian hit of the year when it was released in 1983.
And in May 2019, it was recognized (by BMI) as being the most played song in radio history!
62. “Back In Black” by AC/DC
Despite the death of original singer Bon Scott, AC/DC had a proper comeback at the beginning of the ’80s.
In fact, “Back In Black” marked the highlight of their best years (in our opinion).
The song simply sounds like the essence of what the band strived to be.
63. “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A.
The 1980s also saw the emergence of hip hop and rap stars.
And one of the most significant hip-hop tracks from the ’80s is “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A.
This undoubtedly made an impact on today’s hip hop and gangsta rap scene.
64. “The Mercy Seat” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Catchy pop hits, classic rock anthems, evolving rap… And then there’s Nick Cave.
Cave’s music certainly added a different flavor to the ’80s music mix.
And what’s even more fascinating, he’s still making music and evolving.
65. “It’s A Sin” by Pet Shop Boys
One of the bands that also made an impact on the ’80s music scene is Pet Shop Boys.
In fact, they were listed as the most successful duo in UK music history.
So, it would be a sin not to include them on this list.
66. “This Charming Man” by The Smiths
When thinking about songs that influenced today’s alternative rock, The Smiths definitely come to mind.
And their memorable hit “This Charming Man” is arguably one of the best tracks they made in the ’80s.
67. “Close To Me” by The Cure
And the same goes for The Cure.
Although they weren’t strangers to sad music, one of their most famous songs is surprisingly sweet.
“Close To Me” is also unforgettable; its spot on this list is well-deserved.
68. “Fools Gold” by The Stone Roses
This ‘80s rock song actually doesn’t sound like ’80s music at all.
And there’s something exciting about it – you can feel the new 90s music era around the corner.
Also, “Fools Gold” somehow still feels fresh, even today!
69. “Ghost Town” by The Specials
Are you searching for the best Halloween songs for the upcoming season?
Besides being a beloved Halloween tune, “Ghost Town” by The Specials also marked 1981 – it spent three weeks at number one.
70. “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty
It’s sometimes interesting to hear songs that sound like they’re from another year.
And Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” definitely doesn’t sound like the typical ’80s song.
In a way, it’s one of the songs that heralded a new music era.
71. “I Don’t Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
On the other hand, some songs feel like the ’80s to the core.
Foreigner’s “I Don’t Know What Love Is” is one of them – it’s a classic ’80s ballad.
Lyrically, the song is about a singer who feels alone and lost in his own life.
72. “Love Is A Battlefield” by Pat Benatar
Pat Benatar released “Love Is A Battlefield” in 1983.
It’s a song about youth, rebellion, and heartache.
And it got Benatar the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
73. “Buffalo Stance” by Neneh Cherry
In the 1980s, many artists experimented with different genres.
And Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” is one of the examples.
The song turned out really well though; it’s an absolute banger.
74. “Edge Of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks
“Edge Of Seventeen” is taken from Stevie Nicks’ debut solo album released in 1981.
And the song undoubtedly stands the test of time – it still sounds very powerful.
75. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
Let’s wrap it up with typical ’80s sounds and Olivia Newton-John’s global hit.
Olivia Newton-John was a four-time Grammy Award winner, an activist, and an actress.
She died of cancer in August 2022, so this is also a small tribute to her musical legacy.
’80s Songs – Final Thoughts
As you can see, the ’80s were a very diverse and interesting decade.
It was full of musical surprises; from catchy pop hits to alternative rock gems and new electronic sounds.
Nevertheless, we hope you enjoyed our ultimate ’80s playlist.
Long live the ’80s!