When it comes to defining the 80s, there are many great songs from this decade. These include ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Blue Monday,’ and ‘Straight to Hell.’ However, we’ve also included a few lesser known hits that were big hits during that time, as well.
Billie Jean is one of the most popular and influential songs of the ’80s. The song was a breakout hit in 1983. The lyrics, which tell the story of a paranoid man stalked by a woman, were ground breaking at the time. The song also pioneered high-production videos and changed the concept of song release into a big event.
“Billie Jean” peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks. It was eventually replaced by “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnite Runners. However, Billie Jean remained in the Top 40 for 21 weeks. It ended 1983 as the second-highest-charting song of the year, behind “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears is a popular dance song. It features a pounding beat and powerful vocals. The song was certified platinum seven times by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Another hit from the 80s is “Any Way You Want It” by Journey. The song first rose to popularity on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1982. Today, it is considered a classic in rock music. Meanwhile, Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” from 1986 has been an enduring classic. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks.
Another great love song is “Billie Jean.” It is a slow love song with a dreamy, new-age sound. The song has won an academy award and a golden globe.
In addition to its infectious melodies and catchy hooks, ‘Blue Monday’ had a major influence on the genre of music from the 80s. It was inspired by the electro movement, and the band borrowed elements from artists such as Juan Atkins and Derrick May to create their signature sound. As a result, ‘Blue Monday’ became a staple of the Detroit Techno genre.
The song’s structure is unique, with no traditional verse-chorus structure. The first two verses are contiguous, separated by the second verse’s sound effects. After the second verse, the song goes into a breakdown section that leads into the extended outro.
‘Blue Monday’ was originally released in 1983 and reached number 12 in the UK. It then went on to chart at number 9 in the US and at number four in Australia. ‘Blue Monday’ was so popular that the band licensed it to film and television music supervisors.
One of the best songs from the 80s was by a band called New Order. ‘Blue Monday’ is the third song from their first album, and it is also one of the best-selling singles of all time. The group’s influence is immense and the song has remained popular for decades. The addictive synth notes and pulsating bassline make the song feel timeless.
The band’s second hit, ‘Stand By Me’, was another smash hit. It was originally an instrumental piece that didn’t become a single until 1988. The song features cracking voice from Black Francis and reverb-drenched backing vocals from Kim Deal. This rock classic also has an infectious melody and a simple lead guitar and bass combination.
‘Teen Age Riot’
It was a breakthrough moment for New York City-based experimental rock noise band Sonic Youth when ‘Teen Age Riot’ was released as the lead single off the album Daydream Nation. The song was a critical success for the band and helped them put themselves on the musical map.
The song begins with an arpeggiated guitar arrangement, which then branches into more interesting territory. It features dissonant tuning similar to “Silver Rocket” and shifts back and forth between 10/4 and 9/4 time. The song ends in 4/4 time, with Thurston’s vocals sounding lethargic and unclear.
‘Teen Age Riot’ was also a major breakthrough for De La Soul. It helped launch their career and gave rise to the C86 tape movement. It was a great slice of vintage eighties jangle pop. Its vocals and beats reminded many of the sound and style of the band’s later album Screamadelica. It also became the theme song for the 80s teen drama The Breakfast Club.
The song has a strong emotional resonance. Although Ian Curtis’ song came out a month before his death, the lyrics are often described as a suicide note. This makes the song so effective because it has a sentimental vibe, making it one of the most memorable songs of the 80s.
‘Straight To Hell’
Whether you consider it an era’s best anthem, or the best single of the decade, Straight To Hell is one of the greatest songs of the decade. Written by Paul Simon, the multidimensional song combines lovers rock and ska into a powerful, emotional masterpiece. The lyrics and melody reveal the complexities of Strummer’s temperament and personality. The song’s enduring impact is not just due to its melodic quality but also to its powerful political message.
The song’s lyrics are especially powerful. It depicts the struggles of GI kids coming to America from Vietnam. In particular, it describes the difficulties these immigrants face when seeking asylum in the US. Among the many themes that are discussed in the lyrics of Straight To Hell are war, drugs, and cultural imperialism.
“Manequin” is another great example of an 80s hit. Written by the father of Albert Hammond Jr., this soft rock song dominated the UK singles charts for weeks. It also made Grace Slick the oldest female singer to ever have a Number One single.
‘Straight to Hell’ is another masterpiece from the 80s. Although it’s not a particularly uplifting song, it’s a great example of the 80s’ music scene’s influence on pop culture. The band’s songs often featured guitars reminiscent of ’60s pop’ and paired them with a powerful message.
“I Love a Rainy Night” was actually written 12 years before it was released. The song’s simple country sound draws influence from Elvis Presley’s country side. Although it’s not as bombastic as other big tunes of the 1980s, “I Love a Rainy Night” had a strong pop influence and a memorable chorus.
‘Teenage Riot’ by Sonic Youth is one of the most memorable songs from the experimental rock noise group’s Daydream Nation album. This song features a high-octane guitar riff and spoken-word poetry by Kim Gordon. It also features yelped vocals from Thurston Moore. It’s a powerful track that captures the ennui of youth.
This song was released one month before Ian Curtis committed suicide. The NME called the song “a tombstone” because the lyrics sounded like a suicide note. Yet, the song was a cultural phenomenon, and one of the greatest songs of the 80s.
This song is the voice of a generation of ’80s teenagers. The ’80s were a decade of extremes. Techno and hip-hop were sweeping the world, while rock was a shambles after MTV’s influence. But Nick Cave, the spiritual leader and preacher of pop, was an exception. He was able to blend poetry and fire with righteous rage. This song builds until you can’t take anymore.
The band’s 1982 single ‘Pretty in Pink’ is another classic 80s song. The single was inspired by a John Hughes film and later re-recorded with a radio-friendly version. The song features a visceral production by Steve Lilywhite and has a dark edge despite the strop-pop guitars.
‘Teenage Riot’ by the British synth-pop group Pet Shop Boys is another classic from the 80s. This funky tune was partly inspired by T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. It features a cool annunciated delivery and a hypnotic hip-hop flow.