20 Most Memorable Songs of the '80s (PHOTOS)

20 Most Memorable Songs of the '80s (PHOTOS)

Madonna. Michael Jackson. Bruce Springsteen. Guns N Roses. Prince. Need we say more? OK, you twisted our arm: When it comes to music, the '80s were awesome, creating tons of enduring hits. 

Here are 20 individual pieces of evidence. Enjoy!

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  • "Take on Me" (A-ha)


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    With its fast beat, happy synth hook, and innovative animated video, "Take on Me" by A-ha remains the 80s' biggest anti-depressant. It swept the MTV Video Music Awards in 1986.



  • "Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson)


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    Instantly recognizable, and endlessly singable and danceable, Billie Jean also launched a thousand claims from women who said Michael Jackson had fathered their child. The King of Pop, though, said he was inspired by seeing groupies hang around backstage for his brothers when he was with the Jackson Five. Whatever the inspiration, it's a classic. 

  • "Livin' On a Prayer" (Bon Jovi)


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    Never mind that it's about a union worker and his waiter girlfriend: Raise your lighter, baby! Livin' On A Prayer is everybody's song, a huge number one hit, off Slippery When Wet, that made it impossible not to blast in the car and made Bon Jovi arena rock stars. 

  • "Like a Virgin" (Madonna)


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    The moment Madonna rolled around onstage wearing a wedding dress  while she sang "Like a Virgin" at the 1984 MTV Video Music awards, was the moment she became a global star. But even before then, the song was a sensation through the mere use of the word "virgin." Girls everywhere could claim their sexual independence in the safety of their own suburban rooms.

    More from The Stir: 20 Most Awesome Movie Songs From the '80s (PHOTOS) 



  • "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (Cyndi Lauper)


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    Cyndi Lauper's 1983 anthem "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," off her breakout album She's So Unusual, remained a worldwide hit until 1984. Like its thematic twin, Madonna's "Like a Virgin," it was all about sexual and personal freedom but Lauper wrapped her message in fun rather than seduction. 

  • "Sweet Child O'Mine" (Guns N' Roses)


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    They may have been hard-partyin', hard drinkin' rock band but the world got a taste of Guns N' Roses' soft side (and Slash's melty guitar style) thanks to their massive hit, "Sweet Child O'Mine." We were hooked. 

  • "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" (Whitney Houston)


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    The hit song off the album Whitney became Whitney Houston's fourth number one single -- but easily her most joyous. And that's how we wanna remember her.

    More from The Stir: 27 Normal Things Every'80s Kid Did in School That Would Never Fly Today (PHOTOS) 

  • "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Bonnie Tyler)


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    We have to admit the video for Bonnie Tyler's hit song "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (1983) was a bit odd.  Who can forget the dancing ninjas? But that didn't stop the song from becoming a huge hit and a karaoke staple.

    More from The Stir: 18 Favorite Cartoons of the '80s We Wish Would Come Back (PHOTOS)

  • "With or Without You" (U2)


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    Every song off U2's seminal The Joshua Tree is pure gold, OK? But With or Without You was just ethereal, and signaled the band's ability to not just make on-point social commentary but tug at heartstrings.

  • "Born in the USA" (Bruce Springsteen)


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    The Boss, aka Bruce Springstreen, dominated music in the '80s (along with Michael Jackson and Madonna), and this emotional rock banger, about the devastating effect of war on soldiers, was a huge reason why. 


  • "Push It" (Salt-N-Pepa)


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    Rolling Stone called Salt-n-Pepa's Push It one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and it's easy to see why. Not only is it fun to dance to but it also was the 1988 song was the first by a female rapper to challenge male dominance in hip hop. 

    More from The Stir: 8 Most Romantic Lines From '80s Love Songs (PHOTOS)

  • "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" (Dead or Alive)


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    Remember Dead or Alive? Nope. Can you sing the chorus from "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"? Yes. Yes you can. Classic case of one hit wonderhood.

    More from The Stir: 19 'Cutting-Edge' Gadgets From the '80s That Seem So Lame Now (PHOTOS)

  • "Don't Stop Believin'" (Journey)


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    The 1981 live-your-dreams anthem "Don't Stop Believin'" by ultimate arena rock band Journey will never, ever go out of style. Not as long as we have hopes and dreams. 


  • "Pump up the Volume" (M/A/R/R/S)


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    At some point during this 1987 song, we're informed that "M/A/R/R/S needs women," which we didn't actually need to know, because we were fine with just jamming to this pulse-quickening club banger. Pump up the volume! 

  • "Buffalo Stance" (Neneh Cherry)


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    This song came out of nowhere to infect us. Still have no idea what it's about, really. But infected? Yes, we are.

    More from The Stir: 20 Female '80s Pop Stars: What They're Doing Now (PHOTOS)

  • "When I Think Of You" (Janet Jackson)


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    Janet is a legend and it all started in the 1980s, when emerged out of the Jackson boys' shadow and became a bonafide star with songs like her bubbly hit single "When I Think of You".  

    More from The Stir: The Best '80s Movies to Watch With Your Kids (PHOTOS)

  • "Upside Down" (Diana Ross)


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    Of course "Upside Down" made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 list after its release in 1980.  The song is as cool as the supreme Ms. Ross.

  • "When Doves Cry" (Prince)


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    On his now classic album Purple Rain, iconoclastic pop lord Prince made room for a funky tune that's part love song, part plea for personal liberation, and all awesome.  



  • "Nothing Compares 2 U" (Sinead O'Connor)


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    An unkown Irish singer called Sinead O'Connor recorded a Prince song and put it on her breakthrough album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, and thoroughly made it her own, thanks in part to a soul-baring video.

  • "Walk This Way" (Run DMC feat. Aerosmith)


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    Hip hop pioneers Run DMC took an old Aerosmith hit, complete with sick guitar hook, and covered it with the help of the band. Result: A genre-hopping hit and a watershed moment for hip hop.

    More from The Stir: 18 Heartthrobs Whose Pinups Were Plastered on Our Walls in the '80s (PHOTOS)

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