As you read through my list of favorite 80’s songs you’ll find yourself asking many questions, like: Where’s Prince? Where’s “The Boss”? Where’s Michael Jackson? Madonna? Have you never heard The Pixies or R.E.M.? Talk Talk is on here, but not “It’s My Life”? Think you’ve got enough songs by The Cure? My answer to you is to keep in mind that this is not a list of “The Best Songs of the 80’s”. This is a list of My Favorites. Completely subjective.
I was 6 years old when the 80’s came to a close; If I had made this list back then, not only would I have been a very strange child, but “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles and “Jump” by Van Halen probably would have topped this list. I discovered most of these songs well after the end of 80’s, although I vaguely remember hearing several of them all throughout childhood. So, put on your neon spandex, here we go:
40. “Secret Ambition” – Michael W. Smith (1988)
Album – i 2 (EYE)
You think 80’s music, in general, was over-the-top? Check out this track. “Secret Ambition” somehow manages to be cheesy and overblown, yet serious and epic.
39. “Valentine” – Bryan Ferry (1985)
Album – Boys and Girls
This song is just so relaxing. Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits, adds some beautiful guitar that really makes this track special.
38. “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel (1986)
Album – So
The first radio hit to appear on my list, this new-age sounding ballad peaked at number 26 on the pop charts.
37. “Lorelei” – Cocteau Twins (1984)
Album – Treasure
Weird, beautiful, and atmospheric; “Lorelei” may be one of the most unique tracks of the decade.
36. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police (1983)
Album – Synchronicity
Ah, the most famous stalker-anthem-disguised-as-a-love-song. I fell in love with this riff thanks to Puff Daddy (Not a joke, unfortunately).
35. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2 (1983)
Album – War
This was on one of the first mix-CDs I ever made, and I still like it. U2 steadily went further and further off the rails as time went on, but in the 80’s they had some great tunes.
34. “Rip In Heaven” – ‘Til Tuesday” (1988)
Album – Everything’s Different Now
Everything’s Different Now is an 80’s pop/rock masterpiece, and this is one of a few tracks from that album that I’ll be highlighting on this list.
33. “I Know It’s Over” – The Smiths (1986)
Album – The Queen is Dead
Morrissey is so good at wallowing that sometimes I actually enjoy hearing it.
32. “Candy” – Talk Talk (1982)
Album – The Party’s Over
Talk Talk are most-known these days for being pioneers of the post-rock genre, but they were originally Duran Duran-esque synth-poppers. As you’ll see on this list, I happen to believe they had more great songs than most of their more popular peers.
31. “Reptile” – The Church (1988)
Album – Starfish
I first heard this genius riff over the speakers at IHOP. Not sure if the thought of stuffed french toast when I hear it has any impact on its ranking.