The 1980’s Songs – Top 100 Picks

man singing with guitar

From It to Stranger Things, the modern day love for the 1980s is certainly real. And who could blame us?

The 1980s, for many, is reminiscent of a simpler time. A time when you could ride your bike with your friends around the neighborhood, and you just might stumble across some adventure.

Where films were about kids helping aliens phone home or adventurers brave the Temple of Doom. However, where the real nostalgia lies for many is in the music.

Synthesizers and big hair dominated the top charts of 1980s pop music. Sandwiched between the grandiose, macho rock of the 1970s and the moody, loud grunge of the 1990s, the 1980s had a more carefree, loose sound that’s always been more prone to reminiscence. And thanks to Billboard, you can track and measure the hits easily.

So whether you were a metalhead, loved a good power ballad, or simply wanted to dance, we’ve put together the top songs of the 1980s. To make things more palatable and to see the development of the decade, we’ve broken these down into individual years and pulled our top songs from Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles chart.



  • “Call Me” by Blondie
  • “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II” by Pink Floyd
  • “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John
  • “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson
  • “Do That to Me One More Time” by Captain & Tennille
  • “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
  • “Coming Up” by Paul McCartney
  • “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc
  • “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel
  • “The Rose” by Bette Midler

These first ten songs that dominated the airwaves at the end of the 1970s still shows holdovers from classic rock giants like Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, and Pink Floyd. We can also see that Queen and Michael Jackson have started to enter the charts—which will become more common throughout the decade.

Other songs from 1980 that didn’t make this list include offerings from Elton John, Air Supply, Stevie Wonder, and more. For more on 1980, head over to Billboard’s Hot 100 for a blast to the past.



  • “Endless Love” by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
  • “Lady” by Kenny Rogers
  • “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon
  • “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield
  • “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang
  • “Kiss on My List” by Hall & Oates
  • “I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt
  • “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
  • “Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon

1981 was a different sort of year for the 80s—with Reaganomics just beginning to enter full swing and many of the classic 80s movies not quite out yet. Still, classics by Kool & The Gang, Rick Springfield, and Hall & Oates can still be heard and played to this day. Dolly Parton’s entry into this list also shows a little bit of country making some radio play.

The electronics haven’t come out in full swing yet, but trust us. They will.



  • “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
  • “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
  • “I Love Rock ’n Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
  • “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
  • “Centerfold” by The J. Geils Band
  • “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League
  • “Jack &Diane” by John Cougar
  • “Hurts So Good” by John Cougar
  • “Abracadabra” by Steve Miller Band
  • “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago

1982 was clearly John Cougar’s year, but it’s no small feat that McCartney and Wonder were able to return to the charts so quickly. Joan Jett’s classic song made its debut at this time, along with the infamous “Eye of the Tiger.”



  • “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
  • “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson
  • “Flashdance…What a Feeling” by Irene Cara
  • “Down Under” by Men at Work
  • “Beat It” by Michael Jackson
  • “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
  • “Maneater” by Hall & Oates
  • “Baby, Come to Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram
  • “Maniac” by Michael Sembello
  • “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics

There’s no denying it; 1983 was when the 80s really started.

Michael Jackson’s full-on assault of the charts, topped with classics from The Police, Men at Work, as well as Bonnie Tyler, make this a premiere year for any music fan to go back to and try to take in. It’s hard to imagine a top 10 as strong as this, but the decade’s not out yet.



  • “When Doves Cry” by Prince
  • “What’s Love Got to Do with It” by Tina Turner
  • “Say Say Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
  • “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins
  • “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” by Phil Collins
  • “Jump” by Van Halen
  • “Hello” by Lionel Richie
  • “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes
  • “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
  • “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club

Halfway through the decade already and Collins, Jackson, and McCartney remain kings of the charts. Although, Turner’s classic love salad and Van Halen’s fun rock anthem are still worthy of praise and recognition.



  • “Careless Whisper” by Wham! featuring George Michael
  • “Like a Virgin” by Madonna
  • “What Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!
  • “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
  • “I Feel for You” by Chaka Khan
  • “Out of Touch” by Hall & Oates
  • “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
  • “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits
  • “Crazy for You” by Madonna
  • “Take on Me” by a-ha

While 1983 was perhaps more quintessentially 80s, the welcome arrival of Madonna to the charts shows that the back half of this decade still have quite a few classics in store for us. Wham!’s arrival (and frustrating name punctuation) combined with Tears for Fears show that fun songs seem to be the stable of this decade.



  • “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends
  • “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie
  • “I Miss You” by Klymaxx
  • “On My Own” by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald
  • “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister
  • “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston
  • “Party All the Time” by Eddie Murphy
  • “Burning Heat” by Survivor
  • “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister
  • “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer

As the decade winds down, we can see a few repeat artists from earlier in the decade. Whitney Houston also makes her top 10 debut here, and will most likely be back for more in a later year. Of course, Mr. Mister deserves some recognition for two slots as well. The surprising one to most might be comedian Eddie Murphy’s arrival into the charts. For those not from the 80s, the comedian did indeed have a stint into music.



  • “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles
  • “Alone” by Heart
  • “Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott
  • “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston
  • “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship
  • “C’est La Vie” by Robbie Nevil
  • “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake
  • “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range
  • “Shakedown” by Bob Seger
  • “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi’s number 10 slot is only surprising when you consider the likes of Starship, Gregory Abbott, and Whitney Houston coming up near the top of this list. While “Walk Like an Egyptian” took the crown, anyone could find something to love on this list.



  • “Faith” by George Michael
  • “Need You Tonight” by INXS
  • “Got My Mind Set on You” by Georgi Harrison
  • “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley
  • “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
  • “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston
  • “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” by Belinda Carlisle
  • “Could’ve Been” by Tiffany
  • “Hands to Heavy” by Breathe
  • “Roll with It” by Steve Winwood

Continuing her trend on earlier lists, Whitney Houston is more than proving herself at this point as one of the top contenders of pop anthems. Also, not be outdone by Paul McCartney’s performances earlier this year, George Harrison makes a welcome appearance.

Finally, we have “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which would later go on to “Rickroll” millions in the Internet age. Which brings us to our final year, and the final batch of top songs of the 1980s:



  • “Look Away” by Chicago
  • “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown
  • “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison
  • “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul
  • “Miss You Much” by Janet Jackson
  • “Cold Hearted” by Paula Abdul
  • “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
  • “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli
  • “Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley” by Will to Power
  • “Giving You the Best That I Got” by Anita Baker

With the 1990s and Nirvana just around the corner, the 80s comes to a close with appearances by Janet Jackson and the rise of Paula Abdul. While the biggest and most important years came earlier, this transitional time with hits by Bobby Brown and others would prove to pave the way for some truly spectacular music to come. And that’s it! The top songs of the 1980s, broken down and laid out.

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