The 80’s: an era filled with luminescent colors, crazy hairstyles, and fashion-oriented influences. This decade was especially well-known for its variety of music that people still listen to today.
As a product of two parents who were teenagers in the 80’s, I feel that this decade of music left a mark on my life. It feels as if I grew up with this decade of music, as well.
Not many of us today understand how much of an influence this decade has brought towards fashion, music, television, and political stances in the 21st century. With that being said, those who are interested in listening to music from the 80’s feel unsure where to begin. Lucky for you, I have created a playlist to start you off with some of the most memorable songs of the 80’s to pique your interest.
To begin our list of 15 songs, let’s begin with the meme-worthy track:
1. “Take on Me” by A-Ha
This beloved track was released in 1985 off of their album, Hunting High and Low. From what I know, this track was placed in a famous vine and later grew in popularity for its trendy sound. In my opinion, this is one of those songs that you’ll want to sing a-long at a karaoke cafe.
2. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!
If you haven’t heard this song before, I assure you that this is one of the most uplifting songs that I’ve ever heard. George Michael’s vocals in this song impress me so much during the higher notes of this song. Though George Michael passed away in 2016, fans of his vocals can continue to dance to these famous hits written by Wham!
3. “Our Lips are Sealed” by The Go-Go’s
This song is a bit more well known to those who have heard the Hilary & Haylie Duff cover from 2004. However, hearing the original version really helps you envision the 80’s feel that this song exudes. This 1981 hit started off the series of songs that would always be remembered from the 80’s.
4. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M
By far. this song struck a political accord onto everyone who heard this 1987 track. R.E.M has lyrics that were considered to focus on a seemingly stream of consciousness with a number of diverse references throughout the song. In all honesty, this is your go to song when you are also struggling to handle all the social and political issues that occur today.
5. “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol
This new wave/post-punk artist brings his own flair onto this well-known Rock-band featured track. My mother told me how Billy Idol was the first artist she had ever seen live back when she was a teenager, and to this day she has no regrets. The type of music he created was very central to a punk/rock style that influenced fans to show up in bright colored hairstyles and mohawks.
6. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson
While there is some controversy going around about Michael Jackson’s past, most of us can say that the 80’s was nothing with this hit song. This Grammy Award winning track was written in 1982, which came off of his Thriller album. If you never were given the opportunity to listen to Michael Jackson’s music, I honestly feel bad for you.
7. “The Metro” by Berlin
You cannot have an 80’s playlist without this amazing track by Berlin. Every time I hear this song, I feel like I have been zapped into another dimension as it has a synthesizer in the background of the track. I feel that this should be one of the songs that people remember the most as it is very unique and has a very vintage feel.
8. “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners
I’m certain that this 1982 track played at almost everyone’s high school dances. This track is also featured in the Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack. If I could say one thing about this song to sway you into hearing it, it would be this: listen after 2:55 and tell me that this does not make you want to dance.
9. “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins
As a fan of both Top Gun and the television series, Archer, this song is one of those feel good tunes you want to blast in your car after a long week. This is the first song I ever heard by Kenny Loggins and it was all thanks to an animated adult-series that referenced “danger zone” so often.
10. “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds
Thanks to the film, The Breakfast Club, we all should know this very memorable 80’s song. Every time someone played this song, you can tell they are expressing a very sincere emotion for this tune. Plus, you really can’t forget about this song…
11. “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
Okay, I know what you are thinking…this is not a rick roll. This is the one song that I know every single person on the planet knows about thanks to meme culture and Wreck It Ralph 2. Whether you enjoy the song or not, we would not have the meme culture of today without this man. Cheers to Mr. Astley!
12. “Rock Lobster” by the B-52’S
Based on my survey with people I talked to, most have never heard of the group the B-52’S. Though, I know this song was very popular because of Family Guy‘s reference to the song & Dance Dance Revolution featuring it. While I know this song came out in 1979, this could still pass for a famous 80’s track.
13. “I Love Rock N’ Roll” by Joan Jett
For all my rock fans out there, Joan Jett is the very reason I was able to get into rock music. I feel that her influence on the rock genre in the 80’s is the reason we have such amazing rock music today. If you don’t believe me, please listen to her.
14. “La Bamba” by Los Lobos
As a Mexican-American student, this was one of the songs that my family would love to play. Even though this song was originally written by Ritchie Valens, their cover for this song is just as amazing if not memorable in my eyes. This was a way to bring back the memory of Ritchie Valens.
15. “Livin’ On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
You are lying if you say you haven’t done karaoke to this song at all! I faintly remember the day my friend and I sang this on Guitar Hero. This song will empower you and get you through the rest of your week. Honestly though, I mean it…”Woah, we’re halfway there.”
I understand that there are other songs that should be recognized on this list; however, everyone has their own unique tastes within this genre. With the emergence of rock, punk, or new wave being introduced to the mainstream during this era of music, it is safe to say that almost everyone will love something from the 80’s.