A Year-by-Year Playlist of the Best 80s Hits

Ah, the 80s. A decade defined by vibrant fashion, big hair, and, of course, unforgettable music. Whether you lived through it or discovered its treasures later, the 80s left an indelible mark on the music world. From the birth of new wave to the rise of synthpop, the 80s had it all. Let’s take a musical journey through the best hits of each year, starting with 1980. And while we’re at it, don’t forget to check out Newretro.Net for the coolest retro fashion – because what's an 80s playlist without looking the part?

Top Hits of 1980: Kicking Off the Decade

1980 was a landmark year in music, kicking off the decade with some timeless classics. Here are some of the standout tracks that started the 80s with a bang:

  • "Call Me" by Blondie: This hit single from the film "American Gigolo" is a perfect blend of rock and new wave, featuring Debbie Harry's iconic voice. It stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks.

  • "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen: A bass-driven anthem that showed Queen’s versatility. Fun fact: Michael Jackson convinced the band to release it as a single, and the rest is history.

  • "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen: A nod to Elvis Presley, this rockabilly-inspired tune is as catchy as it gets. It also showcases Freddie Mercury’s ability to channel different musical styles.

  • "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc.: This disco track took the world by storm with its infectious beat and futuristic sound, making it a dance floor favorite.

  • "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson: This smooth groove from the King of Pop’s "Off the Wall" album proved that Michael Jackson was just getting started with his solo career.

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1981's Standout Tracks: The Year of New Wave

1981 saw the rise of new wave, a genre that blended pop, punk, and electronic music. Here are the songs that defined this transformative year:

  • "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes: This song dominated the charts and became one of the best-selling singles of the year. Its unique blend of synth and rock elements made it a standout track.

  • "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield: A power pop anthem that still gets everyone singing along. Springfield’s tale of unrequited love is both relatable and catchy.

  • "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell: Originally a 60s soul song, Soft Cell’s synth-driven cover became an 80s staple, embodying the new wave sound perfectly.

  • "Don’t You Want Me" by The Human League: A classic example of synthpop, this song tells the story of a tumultuous relationship, all set to an irresistible beat.

  • "Our Lips Are Sealed" by The Go-Go’s: One of the first all-female bands to achieve major success, The Go-Go’s brought a refreshing energy with this upbeat track.

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Chart-Toppers of 1982: The Rise of Synthpop

Synthpop truly came into its own in 1982, with electronic music dominating the charts. Here are some of the top hits that defined the year:

  • "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor: This powerful anthem, featured in "Rocky III," is the ultimate workout song, guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.

  • "I Ran (So Far Away)" by A Flock of Seagulls: With its iconic guitar riff and synth-heavy sound, this track is quintessential 80s.

  • "Come On Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners: A catchy mix of folk and pop, this song’s infectious chorus made it an instant hit.

  • "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran: This track, with its driving beat and adventurous lyrics, helped solidify Duran Duran as 80s icons.

  • "Let’s Dance" by David Bowie: Produced by Nile Rodgers, this song marked Bowie’s foray into dance music and became one of his biggest hits.

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1983's Greatest Hits: Pop and Rock Classics

1983 was a fantastic year for both pop and rock music, producing some of the decade’s most memorable songs. Here are the hits that dominated the airwaves:

  • "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson: A defining track from the "Thriller" album, this song’s bassline and Jackson’s performance made it an instant classic.

  • "Every Breath You Take" by The Police: Often misinterpreted as a love song, this track’s haunting melody and Sting’s vocals made it a massive hit.

  • "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics: Annie Lennox’s distinctive voice and the song’s hypnotic synths made this an 80s anthem.

  • "Flashdance… What a Feeling" by Irene Cara: The theme song from the movie "Flashdance," this track became synonymous with 80s dance culture.

  • "Africa" by Toto: With its lush production and evocative lyrics, this song continues to be a beloved hit, often covered and referenced in popular culture.

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Stay tuned as we continue our journey through the 80s, exploring more iconic hits and unforgettable tracks that defined a decade. And remember, looking good while enjoying great music is always in style with Newretro.Net!


Memorable Songs of 1984: A Defining Year for 80s Music

1984 was a monumental year in music, giving us some of the most enduring hits of the decade. Let's dive into the tracks that made this year unforgettable:

  • "Like a Virgin" by Madonna: This song catapulted Madonna to superstardom, with its catchy melody and provocative lyrics. It became an anthem for a generation and cemented her status as the Queen of Pop.

  • "When Doves Cry" by Prince: A genre-defying track, this song showcased Prince’s innovative style and musical genius. Its haunting lyrics and unique composition made it a standout hit.

  • "Jump" by Van Halen: Featuring one of the most iconic synth riffs in rock history, this energetic track became an instant classic and a staple of 80s rock.

  • "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins: The title track from the film "Footloose," this song’s infectious energy made it perfect for dancing and celebrating.

  • "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper: A beautiful ballad that highlighted Lauper’s vocal range and emotional depth, it remains one of the most beloved love songs of the era.

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1985's Biggest Hits: From Ballads to Dance Tracks

1985 brought a diverse array of music, from heartfelt ballads to infectious dance tracks. Here are some of the year’s top hits:

  • "We Are the World" by USA for Africa: Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, this charity single brought together some of the biggest names in music to raise funds for famine relief in Africa.

  • "Take On Me" by A-ha: Known for its innovative music video and catchy synth melody, this song became an international hit and remains a beloved 80s anthem.

  • "Careless Whisper" by George Michael: This sultry ballad, with its iconic saxophone riff, showcased George Michael’s vocal talents and songwriting skills.

  • "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears: A thoughtful and reflective song with a powerful message, it became a defining track of the mid-80s.

  • "Summer of ’69" by Bryan Adams: An upbeat rock anthem that reminisces about the good times of youth, it remains a favorite for many.

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Top Tracks of 1986: Iconic 80s Anthems

1986 continued the trend of producing iconic 80s anthems that we still love today. Here are some of the standout tracks:

  • "Livin’ on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi: This song’s powerful lyrics and anthemic chorus made it one of the biggest rock hits of the decade.

  • "Papa Don’t Preach" by Madonna: Tackling social issues head-on, this track solidified Madonna’s reputation as a boundary-pushing artist.

  • "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel: With its funky beat and groundbreaking music video, this song became a massive hit and a staple of 80s pop culture.

  • "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer: Known for its catchy hook and stylish music video, this song became one of Palmer’s biggest hits.

  • "Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles: This quirky and fun song topped the charts and became an instant dance floor favorite.

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1987's Hit Songs: Pop Culture Phenomena

1987 saw the release of several songs that became pop culture phenomena. Here are the hits that defined the year:

  • "With or Without You" by U2: A hauntingly beautiful song that showcased U2’s emotional depth and musical talent, it became one of their signature tracks.

  • "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston: This upbeat dance track highlighted Houston’s incredible vocal range and infectious energy.

  • "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake: An epic rock ballad with powerful vocals and a memorable guitar solo, it became a defining song of the 80s rock scene.

  • "Faith" by George Michael: With its catchy beat and confident lyrics, this song marked George Michael’s successful transition to a solo artist.

  • "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley: This track’s catchy melody and Astley’s deep voice made it an instant hit. Plus, it’s now famous for the internet phenomenon known as "Rickrolling."

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Best Songs of 1988: The Evolution of 80s Sound

1988 saw the evolution of the 80s sound, with artists experimenting and pushing boundaries. Here are some of the best songs from that year:

  • "Sweet Child o’ Mine" by Guns N’ Roses: Featuring one of the most recognizable guitar riffs in rock history, this song propelled the band to stardom.

  • "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman: A poignant and powerful song that showcased Chapman’s storytelling ability and soulful voice.

  • "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa: A pioneering track in the hip-hop genre, its catchy beat and empowering lyrics made it a huge hit.

  • "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson: A reflective and inspiring song that encouraged listeners to make a positive change in the world.

  • "Don’t Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin: This feel-good track, with its simple message and catchy tune, became an international sensation.

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1989's Music Highlights: Closing the Decade in Style

1989 closed out the decade with a bang, giving us some of the most memorable songs of the 80s. Here are the highlights:

  • "Like a Prayer" by Madonna: A powerful and controversial track that showcased Madonna’s ability to blend pop music with deeper themes.

  • "We Didn’t Start the Fire" by Billy Joel: A rapid-fire history lesson set to music, this song became an instant classic.

  • "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles: A beautiful ballad that highlighted the band’s vocal harmonies and songwriting skills.

  • "Rhythm Nation" by Janet Jackson: A socially conscious dance anthem that showcased Jackson’s talents as both a singer and a dancer.

  • "Love Shack" by The B-52’s: An upbeat and fun track that became a party staple, thanks to its catchy chorus and quirky lyrics.

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Conclusion: The Lasting Impact of 80s Music

The 80s were a transformative decade for music, giving us a rich tapestry of genres and unforgettable hits. From the birth of new wave to the rise of synthpop and the continued dominance of rock and pop, the 80s had something for everyone. As we look back on these iconic songs, it's clear that their influence is still felt today. Whether you’re rediscovering these tracks or hearing them for the first time, the magic of 80s music is undeniable.

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