I think it’s safe to admit that I am an 80s baby at heart. Despite my 1998 birthdate, the 80s were made for me.
My hair is naturally frizzy. I rocked band tees, mom jeans and scrunchies before VSCO existed. What would high school have been like for me if I wasn’t a social outcast who was discovering Joy Division, The Smiths, The Cure and New Order?
My parents lived their formative teenage years in the 80s. If my dad hadn’t gotten me into most of the bands on this list, and if my mom’s enthusiasm for “Love Shack” didn’t light up my life, I don’t know what kind of person I would be.
The 80s were some of the most formative, most experimental and also the most tacky times in music, bringing us everything from “Africa” by Toto to the brilliance of Bowie’s pop era, Prince’s “Purple Rain” and every John Hughes movie. The 80’s brought us post-punk, goth, new wave and the synth.
But if you want to know all about the 80’s, take Dave Moskowitz’ Rock 101 class. Here’s the songs from the 80’s that I personally couldn’t live without.
Nothing will cure depression faster than “Love Shack” by the B-52’s. I will never forget, as a little kid, seeing my mom sing all the words to this song when it came on our oldies radio station at home. Since then, the song hasn’t gotten old.
Yet, for all its fun, I’ve yet to meet someone brave enough to sing this song at karaoke with me. Today’s youth just don’t appreciate it like they should. “Tin roof, rusted!”
Yes, I chose an entire album for this. This 1981 masterpiece showcases the best of the Go-Go’s. On songs like “Skidmarks on My Heart” and “How Much More,” you can hear how the band created very instrumental punk formulas and rocked out in a very powerful feminine way – all while having fun. There’s not a bad track here.
This might as well be my favorite song of all time. No other song on this list can rival the synth on this song, or the fierce, bittersweet lyrics. I’m also taking karaoke requests for this absolute hit.
This song is perfect, beginning to end. The repetitive bass anchors the song in a beautiful way, while the guitar and synth bring melody back to the song at just the right intervals. I’ll never forget the late night drives where I would play this on repeat. It’s a perfect song request.
The world simply would not be the same without this song. It’s the perfect pop song beginning to end. You bop to the beat and sing to the lyrics, before you even realize how melancholy the lyrics are. No matter your age, your gender or your musical ability, this song is meant for you.
For The Cure, it was a tie between this and “Friday I’m In Love” for the song I chose, but I went with this one for the personal memories. The story of throwing your arms around your loved one’s neck and running away together is just blissful. While this is one of their more poppy songs, I love their goth hits just as equally.
Of course, I had to throw in a Smiths song. Where would I be without them? What would the world be without the iconic scene from “Pretty In Pink” where Duckie lays in bed listening to “Please Let Me Get What I Want?” It’s safe to say the misfits of the world would be even more lost without listening to the eternal moanings and croonings of Morrissey.
Yes, this is the final song in the cult classic “Napoleon Dynamite.” Yes, I can hit all the deep tenor notes. Yes, I’ve had a night where I played this one song on repeat for four hours. No, I do not want to talk about it.
This hit song was featured on “Valley Girl,” a movie where Nicolas Cage plays “Randy, a punk from the city,” who falls for a California valley girl. My dad and I love to laugh at this movie. This is a great one-hit wonder of a song.
This almost nine-minute-long remix of Soft Cell’s greatest hits is a perfect showcase of the 80s. It never fails to stick in my head and it’s also a great song to sing in the shower.