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“Sweet Love” by Anita Baker (1986)
Legend has it your Sunday breakfast will taste 10 times better if this track is playing in the background.
“If Only You Knew” by Patti LaBelle (1983)
Listening to LaBelle— her honeyed, soulful vocals sounding as buttery and sweet as her famous sweet potato pie—pour out her heart to her crush makes me want to fall in love over and over again.
“Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly and Maze (1981)
When Maze released “Before I Let Go,” they probably didn’t realize the song would go on to be the official Black anthem, played at every wedding, BBQ, reunion, and birthday party. Then, earlier this year, Beyonce re-made the classic song into an even more upbeat tune that not only makes you want to two-step but twerk as well.
“Take on Me” by A-Ha (1985)
“Take on Me” is a classic karaoke song, and we partially have Just Dance 3 to thank. This synthpop gem is an evergreen pop hit that still slaps today.
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper (1983)
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston (1987)
If you’ve never held your best friend’s hand while singing, “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY,” you need to reevaluate your life’s trajectory.
“When Doves Cry” by Prince (1984)
If Prince’s hit single “When Doves Cry” didn’t make this list, would you ever trust ELLE dot com ever again?
“Every Breath You Take” by The Police (1983)
Listen to the addicting strings on one of The Police’s biggest (and creepiest??) hits, and mourn for the days before Sting decided to leave the band.
“Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners (1982)
It’s truly not a trip to a piano bar if at some point you’re not screaming, “Come on Eileen!” at the top of your lungs.
“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper (1984)
*Cue all the memories of you singing this song into a hairbrush*
“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi (1986)
I swear, every high school dance has wrapped the night by playing this song, and I am not complaining!!!
“Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield (1981)
Are you really a living, breathing human if you never thought about being Jessie’s girl?
“All Night Long” by Lionel Richie (1983)
A staple of ’80s music, Lionel Richie gave us all the classics: “All Night Long,” “Hello,” “We Are the World,” “Truly,” “My Love.” But this post is a finite length, so here we are.
“Like a Virgin” by Madonna (1984)
The dance-y title track off her second album was a definitive moment in Madonna’s discography—and our memory of the ’80s.
“Purple Rain” by Prince (1984)
The stunning title track from Prince’s career-defining sixth album, “Purple Rain” will forever remind the world of Prince’s legacy in American music.
“Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa (1986)
Our queens gifted us with “Push It” and the world of female-led rap and hip hop was never the same again.
“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler (1983)
Sorry, can’t talk, I lost my voice trying to replicate Tyler’s raspy, perfect chorus.
“Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses (1988)
You know it from the very first guitar lick and can somehow sing every lyric. (It also probably made you cry when they covered it in Captain Fantastic.) It’s also the one song that influencers who wear Guns N’ Roses T-shirts claim to know.
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! (1984)
The kind of song you always play when you’re having a bad day, even 15 years later.
“Call Me” by Blondie (1980)
Me, to my boyfriend, but also to Michael B. Jordan.
“What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner (1984)
According to this video, the higher the hair, the closer to being Tina Turner.
“Bust a Move” by Young MC (1989)
“She’s dressed in yellow,
She says ‘Hello, come sit next to me you fine fellow.’
You run over there without a second to lose,
and what comes next? Hey, bust a move!!!!”
“We Got the Beat” by The Go-Go’s (1980)
With songs like “We Got the Beat,” The Guardian‘s Priya Elan writes, the Go-Go’s became the “first all-female band to achieved chart success through writing their own songs and playing their own instruments,” paving the road “for a generation of women in rock.”
“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey (1981)
Before it was the most-known performance to come out of Glee, “Don’t Stop Believin'” was your regular ’80s jam.
“It’s Tricky” by RUN DMC (1987)
“It’s Tricky” is one of those songs you can’t start singing because you will actually never stop.
“Love Is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar (1983)
If this doesn’t immediately make you think of this scene in 13 Going on 30, we cannot be friends.
“How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston (1985)
“How will I know if he really looooves me?” Answer: He’ll let you play this song on repeat, no questions asked.
“Physical” by Olivia Newton-John (1981)
The music video probably wouldn’t pass muster now due to the fact that it’s definitely not body positive, but that butt vibrating at :14 is still pretty iconic.
“Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (1981)
It’s been called the biggest duet of all time. It was nominated for an Academy Award. It was one of the biggest singles for both Ross and Richie. Basically what I’m trying to say is: It’s a classic.
“Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes (1981)
I, too, wish my hair was Harlow gold and my hands were never cold.
“Like a Prayer” by Madonna (1989)
“Like a Prayer” is not only one of Madonna’s most popular hits, it’s also her most controversial music video, to the point that it was even condemned by the Vatican.
“Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen (1984)
Call your mom and tell her that her favorite song made it on this list!
“You Got It (The Right Stuff)” by New Kids on the Block (1988)
The ’80s boy band is still making music to this day, including their 2019 music video that chronicles the history of boy bands, including themselves.
“Candy Girl” by The New Edition (1982)
One of the boy bands featured multiple times in New Kids on the Block 2019 video? The New Edition!
“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen (1980)
If you ever took a jazz dance class as a child, there’s a 75 percent chance you’ve performed to this song.
“Any Way You Want It” by Journey (1980)
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this whole post could also double as a Glee set list.
“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (1982)
If you’ve never heard it, you’ve clearly never watched a sports movie with any sort of vigorous-training-before-the-final-competition montage scene.
“Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League (1981)
As one comment on the above YouTube video says: “The tragedy of growing up in the ’80s is you didn’t realize at the time how awesome it was, and when you finally do, it’s already over.”
“Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles (1986)
If you were born in the ’80s, you know this song. If you were born in the ’90s, you probably know this song and you know The Bangles from that time Rory and Paris went to their concert on Gilmore Girls.
“Faithfully” by Journey (1983)
May I remind you about the Glee set list?
“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins (1984)
Even if you’ve never seen the film Footloose, you’ve definitely heard Loggins’ upbeat single that he wrote for the score. (I also recently learned there’s a line dance that goes along with this song? That everyone at weddings seems to know? Mind blowing!)
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics (1983)
Sweet dreams are made of this.
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears (1985)
You might know this song from growing up in the ’80s, but you also might know this song as the one Lorde covered for the Hunger Games soundtrack. Who’s to say which one you are!
“Jump” by Van Halen (1983)
One of Van Halen’s most popular hits for a REASON.
“Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats (1982)
You might not know Men Without Hats, but you for sure know “Safety Dance.”
“Blister in the Sun” by Violent Femmes (1983)
“When I’m out walking, I strut my stuff, and I’m so strung out.” Clap clap! Clap clap!
“867-5309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone (1981)
Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to dial 867-5309 in real life.
“You Make My Dreams” by Daryl Hall & John Oates (1980)
Unfortunately, now we can’t hear this song without thinking of (500) Days of Summer.
“Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol (1981)
Billy Idol walked so Robyn could run.
“Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 (1983)
From U2’s album War, this track is one of the band’s most political, describing some of the violence experienced during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves (1983)
I dare you to listen to this first thing in the morning and then not have an incredible day.
“I Melt With You” by Modern English (1982)
And here you thought this was a Bowling For Soup original.
“Africa” by Toto (1982)
I don’t care what year you were born, if you don’t know this song, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.
“Love Shack” by The B-52’s (1989)
Besides being a certified bop, “Love Shack” was a defining song for The B-52’s, who released it a few years after the death of their guitarist, Ricky Wilson.
“Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie (1981)
Though (fun fact!) neither Queen nor David Bowie appear in the music video, the track is still a timeless rock song that stands out from the decade.