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The 200 Best Songs of The 1980s

The greatest hits of music’s wildest decade – hip-hop, synth-pop, indie rock, metal, Chicago house, Miami freestyle, ska, goth, reggae, acid house, and more

200 best songs of the 1980s


WELCOME TO THE jungle. We got fun and games. The Eighties are one of the weirdest eras ever for music. It’s a decade of excess. It’s also a decade of INXS. It’s got big hair, big drums, big shoulder pads. Not to mention massive stars: Prince, Madonna, Michael, Bruce, Janet, Sade, Cher. New sounds and beats explode everywhere. Hip-hop takes over as the voice of young America. Glam-metal rocks the Sunset Strip. New Romantic synth-pop invades MTV. Thriller becomes history’s biggest hit. Music gets louder, crazier, messier. Do you know where you are? You’re in the Eighties, baby.

So let’s break it down: the 200 best songs of the Eighties, music’s most insane decade. The hits, the deep cuts, the fan favorites. A mix tape of pop classics, rockers, rappers, soul divas, new wavers, disco jams, country twangers, punk ragers, dance-floor anthems, smooth operators, and karaoke room-clearers. There’s all-time legends and one-hit wonders. There’s new rebel voices that expoded out of nowhere. There’s cheese. There’s sleaze. Axl meets Slash. Salt meets Pepa. Echo meets the Bunnymen. Frankie goes to Hollywood. Public Enemy brings the noise. Madonna brings the sex. There’s Chicago house, Detroit techno, Miami freestyle, D.C. go-go. There’s ska, goth, reggae, acid house. But just one song per artist, or half the list would be Prince.

Some of these Eighties songs remain famous around the world. You hear them at weddings, parties, clubs, the karaoke bar. Others make people run and scream in terror. Many are songs you remember; some you desperately try to forget. But every one is a brilliant tune, and each one is part of the unsolvable Rubik’s Cube that is Hair Decade pop.

So welcome to the Eighties. Put this mix tape in the boombox, pump up the volume, and hit play. Push it. Push it real good.

From Rolling Stone US


Prince, ‘Kiss’

Who else? Prince spent the Eighties as the most maddeningly brilliant and unpredictable genius in the game. He kept the world trying to guess his next move, while everyone was still catching up with what he was doing a few moves ago. If 1999 isn’t the decade’s best album, that’s just because it’s Sign o’ the Times—still a tough call. Prince has a couple dozen songs that could top this list, but “Kiss” is the sound of Prince showing off, his most playful and perverse hit, proving he’s 6 or 7 of the planet’s best singers. “Kiss” is deceptively minimal funk, a total surprise when it hit the radio in the spring of 1986, after the triumph of 1999 and Purple Rain, then the candy fluff of Around The World In A Day. There’s no bass at all, giving him room to peacock all over the avant-purple electro-slither. He coos “You can’t be too flirty” in the flirtiest falsetto imaginable, saving his sex-crazed screams for the end. When “Kiss” hit Number One, another Prince song was runner-up: The Bangles’ “Manic Monday.” But all over “Kiss,” he does the twirl with the future.