10 Songs You Need to Know From the 80s
We’ll provide you with the best and greatest tracks from different decades, hits that made history and that were representative of their times. In this occasion and for the first article of this new section we’ll talk about the 80s, the expressions that made this decade a big one for human history and the tracks that were lit back them.
So, let’s get this countdown started and we hope you enjoy this post as much as we did:
10) “Beat it” by Michael Jackson (1983). This track was the third track from his successful album ‘Thriller’ to be released as a single. “Beat it” is a warning to avoid fighting and violence at all cost, especially when it looks like honor could be lost. Jackson gets dangerously close to the limits of his vocal register while singing this song. As a curious fact: Van Halen, has a small appearance in the track playing a guitar solo in the bridge of the song, Van Halen did his part in just two takes.
9) “Girls just wanna have fun” by Cyndi Lauper (1983). This is one the feminist anthems from the 80s, considered to be one of the best tracks of Pop music by the Rolling Stone magazine, by MTV and VH1 networks. The song was written by Robert Hazard, from a very masculine point of view: he’s a young womanizer that excuses himself with his parents because girls just want to have fun (if you know what that means); totally far from the feminine anthem the song is known for. Hazard later approved the changes of the song to become a song that supports women’s role in society.
8) “Sweet child o’ mine” by Guns N’ Roses (1988). This track is ripped out from their first album ‘Appetite for destruction’. It was their first single that managed to reach the first place on the Billboard hot 100 in which it lasted for two weeks in the summer of that year. This track was written by Axl for his girlfriend and then wife Erin Everly. The group has said to compose the whole song in five minutes and all out of a joke that Slash started playing random riffs on his guitar.
7) “Every breath you take” by The Police (1983). This song was written by Sting when his marriage with Frances Tomelty failed. Even though it may look like a romantic song, it’s actually about a completely different topic: A sinister person that is watching even ‘every breath you take and every move you make’. (Creepy, isn’t it?)
6) “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi (1986). This is one of the most iconic songs from this band. In that time, the group was just starting to take presence in the mainstream scene, they were looking forward to earning a reputation in the music industry and they did so with their third album ‘Slippery when wet’. At first, the track wasn’t meant to be a part of the album because Jon Bon Jovi thought it wasn’t good enough, but guitarist Richie Sambora convinced him otherwise.
5) “I want to break free” by Queen (1984). The video for this song is one of the most memorable videos from this band. All the band members parody a British soap opera named ‘Coronation Street’ and they were all cross-dressing. This video also features London’s Royal Ballet. The video didn’t air on American screens until 1991 since it was censured by MTV in the USA; this caused Queen to exclude the country from ‘The Works Tour’.
4) “You spin me around” by Dead or Alive (1985). The vocalist, Pete Burns wrote this song from two other songs in order to create something new. He heard “I want your love” by Luther Vandross and “See you ‘round like a record” by Little Nell. Burns said in his autobiography that he had to take a loan to record the song and the video because the record label didn’t like the track and qualified it as ‘horrible and garbage’. This song has been remixed and covered by several artists, it’s considered one of the greatest one-hit wonders of the 80s by VH1.
3) “We’re not gonna take it” by Twisted Sister (1984). This song was written by Dee Snider, the glam metal band’s singer. It’s about not letting yourself be influenced by alien forces and stand your ground. The video created a certain controversy due to the violence that was displayed on it towards parental figures. The band defended the video stating that it just portrays the hardships and frustrations of growing up and its purpose was to show empathy with the kids and teenagers that felt these frustrations by being constantly reproached by their parents.
2) “Need you tonight” by INXS (1988). This song has a funny story behind it: Andrew Farris said that the famous riff appeared on his mind while he was waiting for a cab to go to the airport. He asked the driver to wait for him for a few minutes while he brought something from his motel room. He was actually recording the riff and came back one hour later with a tape, the taxi driver was mad for waiting so long.
1) “Never gonna give you up” by Rick Astley (1987). This song was a huge hit back in the 80s; this song was number 1 in charts of countries like Australia, United Kingdom, in Europe and the USA. The video became a popular joke on the internet known as “rickroll”. That were fake links that directed you to this music video. This practice became viral in 2007 and became even more popular in 2008 after the April’s fool day since it was used by a lot of companies and websites, even YouTube rickrolled all of their highlighted videos that day. In just a couple of days around 13 million people were rickrolled according to the BBC. Astley responded to this in March of 2008 saying: “Internet is brilliant”.
About the Author
Jose is a student of musicology and a big fan of books and science.
He lives in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and works as a freelance writer. His main profession is writing articles about music-related topics like music therapy, how music can cure diseases and what it does to the human brain.