Playlist With The Best Songs of the 80s – Over 100 Hits To Listen To

Greatest 80s Hits

The 80s were shrill and colorful. Whether carrot jeans, neon jackets, or shoulder pads, the fashion of the time combined with the perm popular with many women were the eye-catcher par excellence. So it’s no wonder that in the music world, especially at the beginning of the 1980s, there were a lot of shrill characters in the music charts as well.

Who can still remember the single “Ich Will Spaß” by “Markus”? Or the many hits of the Austrian singer “Falco,” who even stormed the American singles charts with “Rock Me, Amadeus?

In the 80s, pop music undoubtedly had the upper hand. Thus produced z. B. the King of Pop Michael Jackson with “Thriller,” the world’s best-selling music album of all time. On the female front, Madonna had her breakthrough with hits like “Like A Virgin” and “La Isla Bonita.”

For many, the 80s are considered the revolution of the music business. No other decade has had a more significant musical impact on our times. The hits from the 80s are probably the most played and best-known songs ever until today.

One reason was undoubtedly the T.V. For the first time; fans could watch their idols live on T.V. and sing along to their favorite songs.

Notice: At the end of the article, we have compiled a Spotify playlist for you with all the songs listed here.

Below are the greatest 80s hits:

Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’

Thanks in no small part to its use on countless soundtracks, Journey’s emotional 1981 arena rocker has established itself as a timeless hit. When first the iconic keyboard of Jonathan Cain and finally also singer Steve Perry kicks in, it is at parties to this day around large parts of the audience done! However, “Don’t Stop Believin'” already proved to be one of the most successful songs of the U.S. band upon its release: both in the United States (#9) and in the United Kingdom (#6), it cracked the top ten of the respective singles charts.

Michael Jackson – Thriller

Thriller” was released in January 1984 as the seventh and last single from the album of the same name, which had already been released at the end of 1982. The accompanying music video was nothing less than a revolution for its time, and its elaborate zombie dance choreography and Jackson’s red leather jacket are firmly etched in pop culture memory.

In the singles charts, “Thriller” enjoyed reasonable success, reaching #4 in the U.S. and #1 in France, Belgium, and Spain. However, the influence on the sales of the album, which is still the best-selling album in the history of music, is more important!

New Order – Blue Monday

After the abrupt end of Joy Division at the beginning of the 1980s, the remaining band members managed the difficult feat of continuing their creative high as New Order almost seamlessly: The single “Blue Monday,” released in 1983 via the cult label Factory Records, represented for many listeners the perfect link between the disco sound of the previous decade and the increasingly popular synth-pop. In the charts, the style-defining song held its own in the top ranks in many European countries – places in the top five were achieved in Ireland, Austria, Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands, among others.

Soft Cell – Tainted Love

Originally released in the middle of the 60s The song, which was recorded by Gloria Jones at the time, first became popular through Cover version from Soft Cell to one of the biggest 80s hits ever. The synth-pop duo consisting of Marc Almond and David Ball landed their biggest success with their Performeration. It placed “Tainted Love” at the top of the singles charts in no less than 17 countries – including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Belgium, South Africa, and Canada.

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Few synthesizer lines today are as synonymous with the decade as the one that introduces this globally acclaimed number!

Van Halen – Jump

Since the late the 70s Van Halen, led by namesake and guitar virtuoso Eddie, had established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the hard rock and heavy metal genres. Accordingly, the decision to rely more on keyboards was not without controversy – but it was to bring the band its most significant success and only top spot in the U.S. singles charts in the form of “Jump” (1984).

According to his own statements, singer David Lee Roth likes to combine happy music with a comparatively sad background: “Jump” was inspired by a man who went to the roof of a skyscraper with suicidal intent.

Hall & Oates – I can’t go for that (No can do)

The second single from their 1981 album “Private Eyes” also meant another (and the fourth) top placement in the domestic Billboard charts for Daryl Hall and John Oates. Listeners might be rightly tempted to mistake the smooth blend of pop and R&B for a song about the unwillingness of interpersonal bonding – but according to Hall, his writing was more about taking a critical look at the music business and maintaining artistic integrity.

Cindy Lauper – Time After Time

Cindy Lauper’s devotional ballad is undoubtedly one of the most well-known Female power songs of the 80s and helped the singer-songwriter to her first number one in the U.S. singles charts – a success that even the previous hit “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” did not achieve. It also cracked the Top Ten in Germany or the United Kingdom, while “Time After Time” was even nominated for a Grammy for Best Song a year after its release (1984).

In the end, however, Lauper had to admit defeat to Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”

Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine

With their hit debut “Appetite for Destruction,” the hard rockers from Guns N’ Roses took the music world by storm in 1987. Especially through their two charismatic front figures, singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash, the band embodied the unrepentant sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle like no other.

The single cut “Sweet Child O’ Mine” did best in this regard: Supposedly the result of a spontaneous string exercise, the number served as the third single from the hit album and reached the top of the U.S. Billboard charts, something the group never managed to do again after that.

Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

When it comes to the most famous drum fill of the 80s – if not of all time – there’s no way around the first single from Phil Collins’ solo debut “Face Value” (1981). Genesis’s former drummer and singer create a dense atmosphere with comparatively minimalist instrumentation and partly angry and bitter-sounding lyrics, heading towards the almost redemptive drum fill.

Collins has legends according to which the lyrics of an omitted Help act, denying and instead of pointing out that at the time of writing he was particularly preoccupied with his ongoing divorce.

Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True

Milli Vanilli is usually associated with one of the biggest frauds in modern music history – but before the world learned that Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus had never actually gotten behind the microphone, the R&B duo put together by Munich producer Frank Farian had reached the top: The dance-pop number “Girl You Know It’s True,” released in 1988, called the top of the German charts and helped the album of the same name go six times platinum in the U.S. The Grammy Award for “Best New Artist,” which Milli Vanilli also won, was revoked after the playback scandal.

AC/DC – Back in Black

Only five months after the death of their frontman Bon Scott the Australians were back in 1980 with their seventh and most successful album – only Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” has to this day crossed the counters of the world more frequently. The title track opens the second side of the vinyl L.P. and is meant as a tribute to the late bandmate; the group put his successor Brian Johnson in charge of the lyrics at the time.

Back in Black” is known and loved mainly because of its dry intro riff, which has long captivated not only devoted hard rock fans to this day.

Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

When Queen was working on their album “Hot Space” in Switzerland, they had invited David Bowie to contribute some background vocals. However, the result of their joint sessions was instead one of the most legendary duets in rock history: In the fall of 1981, Freddie Mercury and his singing partner finally reminded listeners to give love a chance – even and especially when you’re under pressure.

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Buyers in the U.K. took the single to the top of the charts, while Vanilla Ice was “inspired” by the song’s world-famous bass line a few years later.

a-ha – Take on me

There is no second chance for the first impression – and the Norwegians of a-ha succeeded in the form of a genuine 80s hit! The single premiere from the debut album “Hunting High and Low” (1985) put the synth-pop trio at the top of the charts in more than 30 countries, thanks to millions of sales.

The success was significantly fueled by the innovative music video for the song, which mixes rotoscoping and real film. It has won numerous awards and has since been widely adapted or satirized in other media.

Metallica – Master of Puppets

When it comes to the 1980s and their music, most people think of the often synthesizer-driven pop. Away from the dance floor, however, complex guitar music soared to new heights, as the title track of Metallica’s third album from 1986 impressively proves: “Master of Puppets” is an over eight-minute thrash metal full-on and, between tons of heavy riffs and Kirk Hammett’s frenetic solo, deals with the suppressing influence of Drugs on the own personality.

The song was the only single from the album and regularly finds its way into the endless best lists of recognized trade publications.

Prince – Purple Rain

In the feature film “Purple Rain,” Prince plays the equally self-centered and talented kid who wants to make it from the stage of the First Avenue music club into the glittering business world. The semi-autobiographical work from 1984 is particularly captivating, with its title track giving Prince his first top ten placement in the German-speaking world.

Prince and his band The Revolution were also honored with a Grammy Award for the entire soundtrack to the film and for “Purple Rain” itself. According to the now-deceased artist extraordinaire, his power ballad is about experiencing the end of days with a loved one. One of the most poignant 80s songs!

Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a Prayer

While many flamboyantly coiffed bands of the mid-’80s focused on catchy music with lyrics about parties and women, Bon Jovi combined their complex rock-glam metal sound with the story of Tommy and Gina – a hard-working couple from New Jersey – on “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Released in 1986, the ode to the lower class of their homeland is characterized by the talkbox intro and the hopeful hook, which is still sung along loudly and with pleasure not only by contemporary witnesses.

In the United States, New Zealand, Canada, or Norway, the single was granted the top of the charts!

Laura Branigan – Self Control

In the early summer of 1984, Germany apparently couldn’t get enough of “Self Control.” While Italian artist Raffaele “Raf” Riefoli’s dance version took second place on the charts, U.S. artist Laura Branigan’s rendition held its own at the top. Moreover, her cover, which was co-produced by Jack White and was somewhat rocky compared to the original, was successful in mainland Europe – Branigan made it into the top five with her biggest hit both in her home country and in the top five the United Kingdom.

Run DMC & Aerosmith – Walk this Way

Originally, “Walk this Way” dates back to 1975 and first appeared on Aerosmith’s hit album “Toys in the Attic.” Eleven years later, the song was brought to the attention of the New York rap group Run DMC by their producer Rick Rubin, who eventually set up a collaboration between the two bands.

In the music video for the joint cover, they first rehearse in adjoining rooms before Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler smashes the wall between them – a not necessarily subtle but highly effective metaphor for the genre-crossing character of the song, which was to serve as a blueprint for many crossover acts in the years that followed. In the Billboard charts, it climbed up to number 4.

Men at Work – Down Under

It is an equally creative and catchy song by an Australian band, which amusingly deals with all kinds of Australian idiosyncrasies – it doesn’t seem surprising that Men at Work scored with the second single from their debut album. From 1981, especially in the country “Down Under.” However, the slang-influenced lyrics on reggae and ska-inspired music also found favor in the rest of the world, as number one placements in the U.S. and the U.K. demonstrate.

In 2000, the band performed their best-known song live at the conclusion of the Sydney Olympics!

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Huey Lewis and the News – The Power of Love

In the mid-1980s, Huey Lewis and the News were at the height of their popularity, to which this number – not to be confused with the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song of the same name – contributed decisively. It was written in 1985 for the soundtrack of the science fiction comedy “Back to the Future,” was nominated for an Academy Award in this course, and was also placed in the film plot itself. The top spot in the U.S. singles charts was thus a formality, so to speak; in the U.K., it was still enough for 9th place.

Below, we have compiled the 10 most popular songs from each year of the 1980s.

Each song is linked to the corresponding music video via the title.

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1980:

1.Escape (The Pina Colada Song)Rupert Holmes
2.MaybeThom Pace
3.Call MeBlondie
4.Der NippelMike Krüger
5.Another Brick In The WallPink Floyd
6.Rock With YouMichael Jackson
7.FunkytownLipps Inc.
8.Sun Of JamaicaGoombay Dance Band
9.Crazy Little Thing Called LoveQueen
10.WeekendEarth & Fire

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1981:

1.Angel Of MineFrank Duval
2.Bette Davis EyesKim Carnes
3.In The Air TonightPhil Collins
4.Endless LoveDiana Ross and Lionel Richie
5.Super TrouperABBA
6.Jessie’s GirlRick Springfield
7.Ja, Wenn Wir Alle Englein WärenFred Sonnenschein und seine Freunde
8.(Just Like) Starting OverJohn Lennon
9.Fade To GreyVisage
10.Stars On 45Stars On 45

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1982:

1,WordsF.R. David
2.Eye Of The TigerSurvivor
3.Skandal Im SperrbezirkSpider Murphy Gang
4.Jack And DianeJohn Cougar
5.Ein Bißchen FriedenNicole
6.Don’t You Want MeHuman League
7.Der KommissarFalco
8.AbracadabraSteve Miller Band
9.Ich Will SpaßMarkus
10.CenterfoldJ. Geils Band

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1983:

1.Major Tom (Völlig Losgelöst)Peter Schilling
2.Every Breath You TakePolice
3.Beat ItMichael Jackson
4.99 LuftballonsNena
5.Total Eclipse Of The HeartBonnie Tyler
6.BruttosozialproduktGeier Sturzflug
7.ManeaterDaryl Hall and John Oates
8.Down UnderMen At Work
9.I Like ChopinGazebo
10.Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)Eurythmics

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1984:

1.People Are PeopleDepeche Mode
2.What’s Love Got To Do With ItTina Turner
3.I Just Called To Say I Love YouStevie Wonder
4.RelaxFrankie Goes To Hollywood
5.Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)Phil Collins
6.Self ControlLaura Branigan
7.Such A ShameTalk Talk
8.JumpVan Halen
9.HelloLionel Richie
10.Send Me An AngelReal Life

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1985:

1.Like A VirginMadonna
2.We Don’t Need Another HeroTina Turner
3.Wake Me Up Before You Go-GoWham!
4.You’re My Heart, You’re My SoulModern Talking
5.I Want To Know What Love IsForeigner
6.Rock Me AmadeusFalco
7.Everybody Wants To Rule The WorldTears For Fears
8.Take On MeA-ha
9.I Feel For YouChaka Khan
10.Out Of TouchDaryl Hall and John Oates

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1986:

1.Say You, Say MeLionel Richie
2.Burning HeartSurvivor
3.Lessons In LoveLevel 42
4.How Will I KnowWhitney Houston
5.The Final CountdownEurope
6.I Miss YouKlymaxx
7.KyrieMr. Mister
9.Lessons In LoveLevel 42
10.Secret LoversAtlantic Starr

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1987:

2.I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)Whitney Houston
3.Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us NowStarship
4.It’s A SinPet Shop Boys
5.Livin’ On A PrayerBon Jovi
6.Never Gonna Give You UpRick Astley
7.The Way It IsBruce Hornsby and The Range
8.Voyage VoyageDesireless
9.C’est La VieRobbie Nevil
10.La Isla BonitaMadonna

Top 10: The most popular songs from the year 1988:

1.Girl You Know It’s TrueMilli Vanilli
2.FaithGeorge Michael
3.Sweet Child O’ MineGuns N’ Roses
4.Tell It To My HeartTaylor Dayne
5.Could’ve BeenTiffany
6.Never Gonna Give You UpRick Astley
7.Need You TonightINXS
8.Ella, Elle L’aFrance Gall
9.Heaven Is A Place On EarthBelinda Carlisle
10.So EmotionalWhitney Houston

Top 10: The most popular songs from 1989:

1.The LookRoxette
2.First TimeRobin Beck
3.Every Rose Has Its ThornPoison
4.Miss You MuchJanet Jackson
5. Look AwayChicago
6.If I Could Turn Back TimeCher
8.Looking For FreedomDavid Hasselhoff
9.Das Omen (Teil 1)Mysterious Art
10.Swing The MoodJive Bunny & The Mastermixers

80s Spotify Playlist:

It’s hard to make an “objective” list of the best 80s songs – mainly when it’s limited to just over 100 slots. The decade had a lasting impact on modern pop and laid the foundation for many genres that are now firmly entrenched in our understanding of music. Starting with the big hits, it’s, therefore, still worth giving a little listen to the countless other gems of the decade today!

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