Best Songs From The 1980s: Top 5 ‘Greatest Hits’ Most Beloved By Music Experts

Think back to the music of the 1980s…do you remember MTV and Night Tracks videos?  What about Casey Kasem’s weekly American Top 40 countdown? OH…and let’s not forget the movie soundtracks! The “best” and most popular songs of the times dominated movie screens, TV channels, radio airwaves, and fashion too. The music of the ’80s will forever be connected to BIG hair, electronic keyboards, parachute pants, leg warmers, heavy eyeliner, neon EVERYTHING, and so much more! There are so many options, it’s hard to choose the best ’80s songs.

Then there’s dancing…’80s music introduced so many new dance crazes! There’s the infamous Moonwalk, The Cabbage Patch, The Running Man, Breakdancing, and The Electric Slide, just to name a few. A recent study reports that two in three people believe the key to a stronger mind is physical activity, and health experts agree. If you’re feeling worried or anxious, aerobic activities such as dancing, may be a great way to relieve tension and get your heart rate up in a good way. So, start doing The Electric Slide more often! Whether it was rhythms on a synthesizer, a bass-heavy drumbeat, crazy riffs on a guitar, or catchy lyrics, many songs of the 80s made you get up and dance!

If dancing just isn’t your thing, simply listening to music can have the same benefits. A new study of 711 people found music improved mood, adding to evidence that our favorite tunes are a great antidote for anxiety. Putting on your favorite tune, whether from the ’80s or not, can take the edge off — and who doesn’t need that?

So, what are the Top 5 Best ’80s songs? There are thousands of songs from this decade, and many experts have taken the time to research and put together playlists and compilations. Studyfinds looked at nine expert websites and took the best songs from the 1980s listed from each. Since some lists actually ranked the songs, and others just randomly listed the most popular songs. Our final Top 5 were the songs that appeared most often across the sites we consulted.

Please keep in mind that each list had 50 to 200 songs listed so picking only 5 for the top ones left out many favored classics. What’s your favorite ’80s song? Let us know in the comments below.

The List: Best ’80s Songs, According To Experts

1. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Eurythmics

“Annie Lennox is a goddess, and she and the band created one of the most intense, thrilling pop songs ever with this eternal banger,” stated Anna Moesleinin in her article about 80s hits. There’s no doubt this one makes you want to sing along and dance around the room! 

Audio Captain ranked it number four: “Here’s a fun tune that’ll encourage you to chase your dreams! In the lyrics, the narrator motivates listeners to work hard to achieve their goals in life, no matter how hopeless it feels.”

“If you don’t get excited hearing those opening notes, you’re soulless,” adds Glamour.

2. “Take On Me” – A-ha

This mega-hit “rose to international popularity in 1985 on the strength of its groundbreaking video,…which won six MTV Video Awards,” according to Andrzej Lukowski and Andy Kryza in an ode to 80s music. “The song’s masterfully infectious synth riff would be enough to secure it a spot on any list of ’80s classics.”

“The song’s masterfully infectious synth riff would be enough to secure it a spot on any list of ’80s classics,” adds Timeout. “But ‘Take On Me’ is also distinguished by Harket’s improbably octave-spanning vocals, whose seeming effortlessness has inspired countless screeching karaoke wipeouts.”

This one is certainly still one of the most favorite and recognized songs across the entire world! “‘Take on Me’ is a classic karaoke song, and we partially have Just Dance 3 to thank. This synthpop gem is an evergreen pop hit that still slaps today,” according to Elle.

3. “Sweet Child o’ Mine” – Guns N’ Roses

“You’ll know this Guns N Roses hit by the famous guitar riff in the intro. ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ was a love song dedicated to Axl Rose’s then-girlfriend, in which he details how her beauty makes him feel,” says Audio Captain. “The track charted #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988 and #6 on the UK Singles chart in 1989.”

There is no denying the distinct sound of not only the opening guitar line but also of the vocals and the rest of the tune. Elle adds, “It’s also the one song that influencers who wear Guns N’ Roses T-shirts claim to know.”

4. “Africa” – Toto

This chart-topping hit will leave a long-lasting legacy in the music world. “In 2012, “Africa” was listed by music magazine NME in 32nd place on its list of “50 Most Explosive Choruses,” according to Wikipedia. In 2021, “the song reached 1 billion plays on the streaming site Spotify,” and, “it was listed at No. 452 on Rolling Stone’s “Top 500 Best Songs of All Time.” Most recently, in 2022, “the song was revealed as the third most streamed song of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s in the UK.”

“The song is about a man’s decision between two things he loves dearly: the continent of Africa and his woman,” explains Audio Captain.

Timeout describes the band: “Wrapped in chest hair, sunglasses and terry cloth, these feathery dudes were too anonymous to be deserving of the term supergroup. ‘Africa’ was their contribution to the wave of telethon pop that clogged the Reagan era, another patronizing plea for charity like ‘We Are the World’ and Band Aid.”

5. “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi

According to The Bash, this major hit depicting “…Bon Jovi’s tale of guitarist turned dock worker Tommy and his diner-waitress main squeeze, Gina, is essentially flawless, right down to guitarist Richie Sambora’s iconic talk-box–assisted opening hook and that vertigo-inducing key change after the bridge.” 

Timeout adds, “For a good decade there, it seemed as though ‘Born to Run’ was the absolute final word in blue-collar rock & roll mythmaking – but then along came the Boss’s fellow Jerseyans Bon Jovi, who slathered the old story of two hard-luck dreamers longing for escape with a thick coat of glam-era bombast.”

Now you have an excellent start to some great music for your next party or workout. Get on it and have fun! 


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