My 48 Favorite Songs Of The 80s

I celebrated my 48th birthday by holding a 24 hour Zoomathon.

Yes, I was on Zoom for 24 hours straight. I celebrated my birthday virtually with family and friends. The catch? Each half hour I announced a favorite song from the 80s. Started at 48 and counted down to 1.

Some of my selections were well received and some were panned. Didn’t matter- each song choice was dissected, Wikipedia was consulted, lyrics discussed and just like that 30 minutes had passed and I had to announce my next selection.

The Fav 48

These are not the TOP songs of the 80s. They are my favorite songs of the 80s. (Here’s the YouTube playlist with all 48 songs.)

Below is the full list, including a brief explanation of why I chose the song. Please note that I had a rule in place: No more than 1 song per artist/band. Of course I broke that rule when both a Chicago and Peter Cetera song showed up on the list. But hey, it’s my birthday so nyah nyah.

If you want to know how one of friends rated my list, here’s his “BS  Or Not” spreadsheet.

And now to the list…

48. Tarzan Boy by Baltimora. Great one hit wonder (plenty of those on this list). Awesome 80s song. I originally heard it on a mixtape.

47. Heaven Is A Place On Earth by Belinda Carlisle. I don’t think you can fault me for including this one. Belinda had other hits in the 80s but this was the obvious choice.

46. A Good Heart by Feargal Sharkey. This song is not only a one-hit wonder but I’ve only met 2 people in the last 35 years who know the name Feargal Sharkey. Might as well go for obscure while I’m at it.

45. Everybody Have Fun Tonight by Wang Chung. Forget that it’s a great song. It’s also the theme of one of my favorite Cheers scenes.

44. Holiday Road by Lindsay Buckingham. From the movie Nation Lampoon’s Vacation. Starring Chevy Chase. Which of course reminded me of my favorite Chevy Chase line.

43. You’re The Inspiration by Chicago. Narrowly beat out Will You Still Love Me. 

42. Small Town by John Mellencamp. Fantastic song. Also, I grew up in a small town (shoutout to New London, CT!) so this song resonates with me.

41. The Power Of Love by Huey Lewis And The News. How could this NOT have made it onto the list?!

40. We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister. Happy birthday to me: Dee Snider liked my tweet about this song. Also led to a discussion of Snider’s testimony on Capitol Hill back in the 80s. If you’ve never seen it, watch the whole thing. He rips everyone a new one. It’s fabulous.

39. Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. Duh.

38. The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics. Beat out Silent Running and All I Need Is A Miracle. 

37. The Warrior by Scandal. Check that: Scandal, Featuring Patty Smyth. Thankfully a participant in my Zoom corrected my initial error.

36. Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. Dirty Dancing is a top 3 soundtrack from the 80s. Jennifer Warnes had another hit duet back in 1982 when she and Joe Cocker sang Up Where We Belong.

35. Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen. Always liked this song more than Born In The U.S.A. which I recently read more about. That song was originally meant as a protest song but ended up being co-opted by everyone as a feel good about being American song. 

34. Dressed For Success by Roxette. One of my fav bands. At one point I had all of their CD’s. I regret not attending their NYC concert back in 1993. I only went to my first concert in 2016. More about that soon…

33. Shout by Tears For Fears. That opening! Also, an anthem for Coronaworld. Beat out their other hits Head Over Heels and Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

32. What About Love by Heart. Very tough choice here given all their hits, including Alone and Never. 

31. Strange Animal by Gowan. So maybe you’ve never heard of Lawrence Gowan. My junior and high school years were spent in Toronto and he was very big there. Today? Gowan is the lead singer for the Styx.

30. Shine On by Chris de Burgh. I’m guessing you’ve never heard this song. I heard it repeatedly as the CTV television station in Canada used the chorus as its theme for the 1988 winter Olympics held in Calgary. I thought it was a specially made song for just before and after commercials. Nope. Turns out there’s a full version as well.

29. Karma Chameleon by Boy George. Is there any other song of his that I should have chosen? Nope.

28. Papa Don’t Preach by Madonna. Of course Madonna had to be on this list. Why this particular song from all her 80s megahits? Because of this reply to my tweet about the song.

27. If You Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Fantastic 80s one-hit wonder. Also took a look at their Wiki page to find an explanation about the name of the band. Interesting reason. 

26. Crying Over You by Platinum Blonde. BIG HAIR! Beat out Situation Critical and Somebody Somewhere. Birthday bonus: Platinum Blonde retweeted my tweet that I posted during my Zoom.

25. What’s Love Got To Do With It by Tina Turner. We looked online and she’s turning 80 in a few months. Holy crap.

24. Higher Love by Steve Winwood. Beat out Valerie and Back In The High Life Again.

23. We Built This City by Starship. I took a lot of heat for choosing this song over Sara (or Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now). But come on- this is a huge 80s song! Also was voted worst song of the decade in a Rolling Stone poll and voted worst song ever by a different music magazine. I get it. But still…

22. How Will I Know by Whitney Houston. What a voice! Beat out I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

21. Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler. Definitely beats out Holdin Out For A Hero. But only narrowly squeaks by the Literal Video Version. Watch it. It’s hilarious!

20. Burning Heart by Survivor. Narrowly beat out Eye Of The Tiger. Why is it here? First walkman I ever owned was made by Sony and was red. I first used it in May 1986 on a school trip to Boston. First cassette I listened to? Either the Rocky IV soundtrack or Bryan Adams Reckless. Rocky IV soundtrack is a top 3 80s soundtrack.

19. Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds. I mean, it’s the Breakfast Club anthem. How could it not be included?!

18. Amanda by Boston. Because Boston is my favorite city in the U.S. And because it’s a great song.

17. Beat It by Michael Jackson. How many hits did he have in the 80s? And though Thriller was the best seller, this song tops them all.

16. Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. Because Top Gun is a top 3 80s soundtrack. I did get some flak for this choice because Footloose. So yes, Footloose would’ve been great here but the Top Gun soundtrack won out.

15. Eternal Flame by The Bangles. Look, Walk Like An Egyptian and Manic Monday could’ve made this list easily. I just went with the power ballad.

14. We Are The World. No explanation needed.

13. Forever Young by Alphaville. So at age 44 I went to my first concert: Alphaville in Tel Aviv. And yes, I love their music but I went to hear this song and sing it at the top of my lungs. Mission accomplished.

12. I Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon. I LOVE this song. Can’t believe it only made it to number 12.

11. A View To A Kill by Duran Duran. Plenty of great 80s songs to choose from but I chose this one because View To A Kill was the first James Bond movie I saw in the theater. Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Grace Jones. Good times.

10. Goonies Are Good Enough by Cyndi Lauper. I LOVE that movie! Narrowly beat out Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

9. Kyrie by Mister Mister. Just a fantastic song and better than Broken Wings.

8. I’m So Excited by Pointer Sisters. This song always gets me up dancing and singing. Loved it since the first time I heard it.

7. Glory Of Love by Peter Cetera. Don’t be shocked- you’ve seen the rest of the list! My bad because he was also lead singer of Chicago in song 43. If I had to choose, this one wins hands down.

6. Africa by Toto. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m obsessed with this song. Some of that can be contributed to the best 9 minutes and 55 seconds on YouTube: Steve Almond takes down the lyrics to this song.

5. Man In Motion by John Parr. An excellent one-hit wonder. Holds up as well as Demi Moore’s hair in St. Elmo’s Fire.

4. Summer Of 69 by Bryan Adams. Great song. Just fantastic. Beat out Heaven.

3. Take On Me by Aha. I mean, you can’t be shocked this made the top 3, right?

2. Thin Red Line by Glass Tiger. Glass Tiger is my favorite alltime band. They were huge in Canada in the 80s. I had all their CD’s, knew every single song of theirs by heart.

And my favorite song of the 80s…

Actually, lets’ start with My Life by Billy Joel from 1978. That’s my favorite alltime song. Why? Because it’s the first song I ever learned the full lyrics too. Fav song of the 80s?

Invincible by Pat Benatar. Besides being a great song, the video for this song is the first one I ever watched on MTV. Saw it at my friend’s house in the summer of 1985.

So there you have it! Might not be the songs you would have chosen but I had fun figuring out the list and remembering the greatest decade.