What Are the First Songs That Enter Your Mind When You Think “80s” ?


What are the

first songs that

enter your mind

when you think


Don’t think about it! Just rattle ’em off! These are the first 15 that came to my mind:

“Lust For Love” by Images In Vogue

Chances are good that you don’t remember this Canadian entry in the mid-80s “New Romantic” sweepstakes, but it’s generally the first song I hear in my head when I think back to that period–largely because it’s such a sincere artifact of the time that it almost sounds like a parody of the music it exemplifies.

“Bonzo Goes to Bitburg (My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down)” by The Ramones

The Ramones are my all-time favourite band, so it’s no surprise that they’re one of the first bands I think of in any situation, but I specifically think of this song because it’s one of the few overtly political songs they ever recorded. “Bonzo” being a reference to then-President Ronald Reagan, who had famously starred in a movie called Bedtime for Bonzo about a professor raising a chimp for a science experiment. Joey, the band’s lead singer, specifically wrote the song to annoy Johnny, their guitarist, who was not only a hardcore right-winger, but who had also stolen the love of Joey’s life (which resulted in the earlier classic “The KKK Took My Baby Away”). Being 100% on Team Joey, this song reminds me of every time an act of pure passive-aggression has gotten me through the day.

“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper

My favourite love song from the 80s (and probably of all time).

“I Wonder If I Take You Home” by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

This has less to do with the song than it does the fact that I believe “Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam” is the most 80s band name of all time.

“When Doves Cry” by Prince and The Revolution

See also: The entire Purple Rain soundtrack.

“Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band

You gotta love a decade where everyone just listened to the chorus and beat and turned a song about how the United States completely failed its veterans into an anthem of patriotic pride.

“Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar

Greatest. Video. Ever.

“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey

Bet you thought I was going to go with “Don’t Stop Believing”, didn’t you? Well, does that song have an awful video where the band embarrasses themselves pretending to play phantom instruments? No? Now, you understand why this is the one.

“Into the Groove” by Madonna

I may have once got into an argument with a friend about this song because he refused to accept that I felt confident in describing it as “transcendent”.

“Hello” by Lionel Ritchie

SHE WAS ABLE TO SCULPT A MODERATELY ACCEPTABLE VERSION OF HIS FACE EVEN THOUGH SHE IS A BLIND PERSON WHO CAN’T SEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson

Arguably the weakest song on the biggest album the decade ever saw, this one makes my list because of the 20x I watched that ubiquitous making-of video that EVERYONE I knew owned (except me).

“Babooshka” by Kate Bush

I had a poster of Kate Bush in the pseudo-Valkryie outfit she wears in this video on the wall of my bedroom throughout my teens. ‘Nuff said.

“Round and Round” by Ratt

You can’t think of the 80s without thinking of hair metal and this is the first first hair metal song that always hits my mind, because Milton Berle.

“Rapper’s Delight” by Sugar Hill Gang

Released as a single in 1979, this classic was rereleased a year later on the group’s first LP, so it totally counts. It’s also probably the most influential song on the list–to this day when white people try to rap, they do so to the rhythm of this track.

“We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner

Tina Turner WAS the Queen of Bartertown.

Okay, I could literally go on forever, but I have to go to bed soon. Good news is I haven’t even come close to scratching the surface here.

What are the songs that you most strongly associate with this era? (And that includes those of you who weren’t even alive when they came out.)

About Allan Mott

Allan Mott was once accused of being a narcissistic goth lesbian by a disgruntled Amazon reviewer. That pretty much sums up his writing career (which includes 12 and 1/2 books and frequent contributions to such sites as XOJane, XOJaneUK, Canuxploitation, Bookgasm and Flick Attack,). His most personal writing can be found at VanityFear.com, where he uses the subject of B-Movies to mostly talk about boobs and stuff. Tweet him on the Twitter at @HouseofGlib.


  1. im smiling so hard reading the names of these tracks from different genres. such beautiful music

    Ray Parker, Jr. – Ghostbusters

    ‘bustin’ makes me feeel goood’
    i bust my hip trying to bodypop lolol jk

  2. “Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran

    “Something About You” – Level 42

    “Don’t You Want Me” – Human League

    “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” – Culture Club

    “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell

    “”Middle of the Road” – Pretenders

    “Rapture” – Blondie

    “Every Move You Make” – The Police

    “Two Hearts” – U2

  3. Melt With You, Modern English

    The quintessential 80’s song.

  4. Mostly_123 says:

    So many good ones on everybody’s playlists already.

    Mine would be…

    “99 Red Balloons” by Nena (the english version, because that’s the one that got the most play back in the day and the one I saw first)

    “Der Kommisar” by Falco (english version, again, the same reason as above)

    “New Moon on Monday” by Duran Duran

    “Head over Heels” by Tears for Fears

    “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls

    “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates

    “867-5309 (Jenny)”  by Tommy Tutone

    “Fortress Around Your Heart” by Sting

    “Radio Ga Ga” by Queen

    “No More Lonely Nights” (from “Give my Regards to Broadstreet”) by Paul McCartney 

    “Electric Avenue” by Eddie Grant (artist depicted in linked video may not be Eddie Grant…)

    “The Power of Love” by Jennifer Rush

    “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals 

    “Wild Boys” by Duran Duran

    “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes

    “Romantic Traffic” by the Spoons

    “Doctor, Doctor” by Thompson Twin

    “Eyes Without a Face” by Billy Idol

    “Steppin’ Out” by Joe Jackson

    “Some Like It Hot” by Power Station

    “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer

    “Strut” by Sheena Easton

    “Burning Heart” by Survivor 

    “Be Good Johnny” by Men at Work

    “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” by Billy Ocean

    “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister

    “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat

    “Overkill” by Men at Work

    “Rio” & “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran

    “Live is Life” by Opus

    “In a Big Country” by Big Country

    “Smuggler’s Blues” by Glen Frey

    “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” by Don Henley 

    …needless to say, lots of memories from the 80s… 

  5. Girls on Film – Duran Duran
    Islands in the Stream – Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers
    Gloria – Laura Branigan
    Magic – Olivia Newton John
    Come Go with Me – Expose
    I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany
    Blue Monday – New Order
    Cars – Gary Neuman
    Push It – Salt N Pepa
    Girls Girls Girls – Motley Crue
    Hot for Teacher – Van Halen
    Glamorous Life – Sheila E
    Feel for You – Chaka Khan
    Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
    People Are People – Depeche Mode

    • Allan Mott says:

      If I hadn’t stopped at 15, “Gloria” would have been the next on my list. I also wanted to put a Gary Numan song on there, but I was afraid that it would have become all new wave once I started in that direction.

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        I loved that song Gloria. Was obsessed. But recently I played “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for the kids nd was like, “THIS SONG IS AWESOME!” whereas Gloria seemed sort of weird and annoying.

        • Allan Mott says:

          “Total Eclipse of the Heart” would have been 19th, right after “Jesse’s Girl” and “Sunglasses At Night”.

        • Joanna, I was obsessed with Gloria too – and it IS weird on playback now. But it was SO much fun to sing back in the day.

          Allan – agreed. I had to stop myself from favoring any one genre within the 80s spectrum – there were happy/odd memories amongst all of them 😉

          • Allan Mott says:

            I would have been happier if I had the stamina to take this to 30 songs, but it was midnight and I needed to go to bed.

  6. Men at Work’s “Down Under”
    Duran Duran’s “Is There Something I Should Know?”
    Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy”
    Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”
    Flock of Seagulls’ “Space Age Love Song”

  7. Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”
    Wham! “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
    Michael Jackson “Thriller”
    Paul Simon “You Can Call Me Al” (or really just all of Graceland)
    Prefab Sprout “King of Rock and Roll”
    Prince “1999”
    Cyndi Lauper “Time After Time”
    Huey Lewis and the News “Power of Love”

    It’s not 15, but without trying too hard, that’s what came to mind.

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