Welcome to the 1980's Tunes Lists!
The 80's were the decade of the beginning of the rest of my life in many ways. I started high school in '79, graduated in '83, met my future wife and married her in '87, had my first 2 kids, and started a job where I still work today. I'm a big music fan- I really get off on the tunes I like. To me, the best ones are the ones that have a real feeling come across- they seem to live forever. Music's kinda funny in some ways. For some, it's become part of the landscape of our lives. For others, a particular song takes us to a particular moment in time. This is true for me too, but I rather like to keep them in a special place, like a photo album, to pull out now and then, reminisce some, and get that feeling all over again. I wonder how folks can keep tuning in to oldies stations, and hear the same stuff day after day- to me it's like getting stuck on a deserted island, and you're cut off from the here and now. I should add here that I was a BIG heavy metal fan in the 80's too- imagine that LOL. A guy who not only liked Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Metal Church, but also Ultravox, Madonna, and Duran Duran. I have a big, no, BIG prejudice of the dance floor. Slow songs with the wife, sure, but no boogie-woogie for me! These days, I keep in the groove that holds Green Day, Creed, Limp Bizkit, Oasis, The Vines, Blink 182, Audioslave, and so on. Life goes on, you know!
OK- on with the show. I've put together here the best list of popular 80's songs you'll find anywhere on the web. I challenge you to find one better! This goes way beyond the Billboard Top 100 lists you see floating about. The titles I have here are from many different sources- 45's, cassettes, and some local hit lists I have. I've also done an extensive search over the Net from many different reference sites. I don't dare say that the list is complete, just a wider range of popular music which not only lists the best sellers, but the well known too.
Even the term "well known" can be misleading. Being a Canadian, I have on this list a good number of tunes from Canadian artists that probably weren't well known in other parts of Canada, let alone other parts of the world. There are songs and artists listed that are well known in the USA that I've never heard of before. An example of this is "Double Dutch Bus" by Frankie Smith back from '81 (apparently, this became rather popular). Well, I could ramble on about this for some time, but I think you get my meaning.
Back in the day, if you tuned in the radio, it was the probably the local pop AM station, which played just about everything except jazz and classical, so to speak (I generalize here). It wouldn't be uncommon for a popular country track to leak in now and then. By the end of the decade, the switch to FM radio was pretty well complete. Splintering had gotten its start, and now there are stations dedicated to one style of popular music, be it rap, heavy metal, alternative rock, R&B, dance, or whatever.
I could give a detailed account on the history of popular 80's tunes over the decade. Would it help to understand if you didn't live through it? I don't know…but there is a definite evolution that occurred over the years. Perhaps a generalized review is in order here (besides, it's a lot less work, and that's not what this site is about). 1980 saw a huge change in the style of not only the music, but the culture as well. It was a time of hope for a new decade, and there was a lot of creative energy going on out there. Disco had taken the reign for the 70's, and it was time to knock it off its throne! (For some hideous reason, it would return like the curse of the mummy in the 90's, along with all the rest of those hideous 70's trappings…so much for common sense…)
Back to 1980. Fresh views, and renewed creativity. There was a lot of energy in those songs, and the sound was not only fresh, but exciting as well. New things were being tried, and met with success as well. '81 to '83 seemed to water down in many respects, but there were some gems spaced out here and there. 1984, on the other hand, seemed to explode with music- it certainly show in my 45 collection LOL. TONS of music was released, '85 and '86 followed in much the same tradition. However, 1986, to me at least, seemed to be the end of an age. Pop had gone high tech, mega produced, and soft to a large degree. It was still good, but was the start of a long slide downhill. Not to say that everything was junk, not at all, but the honeymoon was definitely over, and the feel had gone to style instead of substance. The love ballad would never have respect again, that's for sure! By the end of '89, almost any kind of hard rock music being put out really did give the impression rock finally did die. The 90's would be a long decade of slim pickings, especially compared to its illustrious past…but that's a whole different story…
Well…I hope you like the work I did in compiling everything- it took me 5 years, on and off, to make what you see today! I've divvied out the tunes by year, and let me tell you, I pulled my hair out on more than one occasion trying to figure out where some stuff went, without repeating. I've also added a couple links to the sites I used the most, which not only helped me compile this list, but they also give a very good background on the artists' histories as well.
Creator- Russ Longhurst
Email me! If you like. Be patient for a response!
Last updated- August 25th-2006