Complete Ultimate 80’s Playlist

I was born in 1978, so the 80’s were formative on my musical tastes more than anything else. I adore 80’s music because it is so unique compared to any other decade. It’s the tremendous dominance of the synthesizers, but also what the artists and bands did with them. The melodies of 80’s songs are very strong. The lyrics and performances are so unabashedly honest and yes, cheesy. But, it is that lack of irony that makes the 80’s so special. I’ve always said the ultimate 80’s song is “Puttin On The Ritz” by Taco. When else in history would the song not only be taken seriously, but also become a big hit? Only the 80’s.

When Napster first came on the scene, one of the first things I attempted to do was create my own personal 80’s compilation. Any store bought compilation is unsatisfactory. There will be four or five songs that I love, a couple I like, and then a bunch I never cared for. And, no compilation has the big artists like Madonna or Michael Jackson. At the time, 1999, I was able to gather about four CDs worth of 80’s music, 70 or 80 songs. Two years ago, I decided to re-download the songs because the sound quality of Mp3s has gotten so much better. With the advent of iTunes and Amazon Mp3, you can now buy single songs and not have to waste money anymore. I then began a list of my absolute favorite 80’s songs. Over the past two years I have turned to this list and added more songs. This is more of a challenge than you may think. Since a lot of 80’s songs come from one-hit wonders, it can be hard to figure out what a song is called or who did it. You can just recall the melody. Do you know who did “Two Of Hearts”? What about “Somebody’s Watching Me?”. Or “Obsession”? No, but I bet you know the songs though. I consider this list a service to people in part.

So, what constitutes an “80’s song”? I think for the most part it is intuition. You know it when you hear it. I’d say my general rules were: 1) Is it evocative of that decade and would it sound out of place if released at any other time? 2) Was it a single or video? 3) Does it recall my personal childhood memories? Those are the guiding principles for this list. Furthermore, in researching this list, I often turned to YouTube, because the videos are what much of my memories and love for these songs come from.

I have childhood memories, like when I was nine or ten of “Burning Down The House” and “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads. Not so much “Crosseyed And Painless”, as incredible of song that is. The only R.E.M. song I am including is “Stand” because the video is deep in my memory, and along with “Shiny Happy People” is one of their purely pop songs. I hope these examples illustrate some of the choices I have made in compiling this list.

Some notes:
1) It would be very easy for me to sit here and list tons of music like The Smiths, New Order, Jesus And Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Pixies, Siouxsie And The Banshees, etc. You know those bands aren’t “80’s music”.
2) I also am not including other music I was into when I was young, like Metallica, Slayer, Nine Inch Nails, etc.
3) I never liked Hair Metal. I still don’t.
4) That whole “New Jack Swing” movement, New Edition, Tony Toni Tone, Guy, etc didn’t age well at all.
5) I’m very tired of these songs: “With Or Without You” by U2, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, and “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper. Ten years ago I may have included these songs on the list.
6) I’ve never been big into “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Sorry.
7) I’ve never cared much for The Cure, Tom Petty, or Prince. Those may be glaring omissions to people.
8 ) There isn’t much rap on here because I didn’t listen to much as a child. I loved “Around The Way Girl” by LL Cool J, but that is from 1990.
9) Elton John’s career tanked after 1975. I’ve heard entire 80’s albums by him, they’re not very good.

Otherwise, feel free to make suggestions of songs I may have missed. I’ll let you know if I truly missed them or just don’t care for them. This list is not meant as a “Best Of” list. These are songs I love, and they are dear to my heart. This is an emotional list, not an intellectual one. I have no interest in hearing, “That song sucks!”

And yes, I own all these songs.

The B-52’s – Private Idaho
Blondie – Call Me
Blondie – Atomic
The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star
Christopher Cross – Ride Like The Wind
Devo – Whip It
English Beat – Mirror In The Bathroom
Kool And The Gang – Celebration
Lipps Inc. – Funkytown
Gary Numan – Cars
The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me
Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime
Blondie – Rapture
Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed
Go-Go’s – We Got The Beat
Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
The Human League – Don’t You Want Me
Billy Idol – Mony Mony
Rick James – Super Freak
Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
The Police – Spirits In The Material World
The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure
Soft Cell – Tainted Love
Kim Wilde – Kids In America
A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes
Toni Basil – Mickey
Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy
The Clash – Rock The Casbah
Duran Duran – Rio
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Fleetwood Mac – Gypsy
The Go-Go’s – Vacation
Hall & Oates – Maneater
Don Henley – Dirty Laundry
Billy Idol – White Wedding
INXS – The One Thing
Billy Joel – Allentown
Billy Joel – Pressure
Joe Jackson – Steppin’ Out
Men At Work – Down Under
Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance
Modern English – I Melt With You
Stevie Nicks – Edge Of Seventeen
Quarterflash – Harden My Heart
Romeo Void – Never Say Never
Donna Summer – Love Is In Control (Finger On the Trigger)
Donna Summer – State Of Independence
Taco – Puttin’ On The Ritz
Toto – Rosanna
Toto – I Won’t Hold You Back
Yaz – Situation
David Bowie – China Girl
David Bowie – Let’s Dance
Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science
Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
Eddie Grant – Electric Avenue
Herbie Hancock – Rockit
Corey Hart – Sunglasses At Night
Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination
Icicle Works – Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)
Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Billy Joel – Tell Her About It
Billy Joel – Uptown Girl
Billy Joel – An Innocent Man
Journey – Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
Madness – Our House
Madonna – Lucky Star
Madonna – Borderline
Madonna – Holiday
Men At Work – Overkill
The Motels – Suddenly Last Summer
Naked Eyes – Always Something There To Remind Me
Stevie Nicks – Stand Back
The Police – Wrapped Around Your Finger
The Police – Synchronicity II
Lionel Richie – All Night Long
Michael Sembello – Maniac
Spandau Ballet – True
Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money
Talking Heads – Burning Down The House
Toto – Africa
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart
ZZ Top – Legs
Bryan Adams – Run To You
Laura Branigan – Self Control
The Cars – Drive
Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
Thomas Dolby – Hyperactive!
Echo And The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
Eurythmics – Here Comes The Rain Again
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes
Go-Go’s – Head Over Heels
Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer
Huey Lewis And The News – I Want A New Drug
Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
INXS – Original Sin
Madonna – Material Girl
Madonna – Like A Virgin
George Michael – Careless Whisper
Nena – 99 Luftballoons
Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters
Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls
The Pointer Sisters – Automatic
The Pointer Sisters – I’m So Excited
The Pointer Sisters – Jump (For My Love)
Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me
Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark
Bruce Springsteen – Born In The U.S.A.
Tears For Fears – Shout
Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Van Halen – Jump
Van Halen – Hot For Teacher
Wang Chung – Dance Hall Days
Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
Wham! – Everything She Wants
A-ha – Take On Me
Animotion – Obsession
The Bangles – Manic Monday
The Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian
Phil Collins – Take Me Home
Commodores – Nightshift
Dire Straits – Money For Nothing
Gloria Estefan – Conga
Eurythmics – There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)
Eurythmics – Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves
Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To The Pleasuredome
Aretha Franklin – Freeway Of Love
Heart – Never
Katrina And The Waves – Walking On Sunshine
Huey Lewis And The News – The Power Of Love
Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes
Level 42 – Something About You
Mr. Mister – Broken Wings
Mr. Mister – Kyrie
Run DMC – Walk This Way
Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking
Simple Minds – Don’t You (Forget About Me)
Bruce Springsteen – Glory Days
Starship – We Built This City
Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels
‘Til Tuesday – Voices Carry
Tina Turner – We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)
Beastie Boys – Fight For Your Right (To Party)
Bon Jovi – You Give Love A Bad Name
Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer
Belinda Carlisle – Mad About You
Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over
Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town
Duran Duran – Notorious
Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
Peter Gabriel – Big Time
Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes
Genesis – Invisible Touch
Debbie Gibson – Only In My Dreams
Heart – These Dreams
Bruce Hornsby And The Range – The Way It Is
Human League – Human
Janet Jackson – What Have You Done For Me Lately
Janet Jackson – Nasty
Janet Jackson – When I Think Of You
Janet Jackson – Control
Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
Madonna – Open Your Heart
Madonna – Live To Tell
Robert Palmer – Addicted To Love
Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
Simply Red – Holding Back The Years
Stacey Q – Two Of Hearts
Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It
Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight
Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up
Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive
Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth
Cutting Crew – (I Just) Died In Your Arms
Echo And The Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar
Gloria Estefan – Rhythm Is Gonna Get You
Fleetwood Mac – Little Lies
Guns N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle
Genesis – Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
Heart – Alone
INXS – New Sensation
INXS – Devil Inside
Madonna – La Isla Bonita
Pet Shop Boys – What Have I Done To Deserve This?
Carly Simon – Coming Around Again
Carly Simon – All I Want Is You
Starship – Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now
T’Pau – Heart And Soul
Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now
U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name
Aerosmith – Rag Doll
Edie Brickell – What I Am
Bobby Brown – My Prerogative
Belinda Carlisle – I Get Weak
Belinda Carlisle – Circle In The Sand
Terrance Trent D’arby – Wishing Well
Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar On Me
Def Leppard – Love Bites
Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere
Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
Living Colour – Cult Of Personality
George Michael – Father Figure
George Michael – Monkey
Billy Ocean – Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car
Robert Palmer – Simply Irresistible
Aerosmith – Love In An Elevator
Aerosmith – Janie’s Got A Gun
B-52’s – Love Shack
B-52’s – Roam
The Bangles – Eternal Flame
Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing
Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City
Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire
Billy Joel – I Go To Extremes
Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation
Janet Jackson – Escapade
Janet Jackson – Black Cat
Janet Jackson – Love Will Never Do (Without You)
Madonna – Like A Prayer
Madonna – Express Yourself
Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U
R.E.M. – Stand
Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love


One Comment to “Complete Ultimate 80’s Playlist”

  1. thank you for sharing this one!

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