In the 80s, pop music was ignited by new wave, romantics and other formulations, just as rock began to diverge on various paths – from rage Back in black from metal and songs that have crept from iconic movie soundtracks to more stadium-filled anthems. The 1980s fueled some of the greatest rock songs in history.
In the era of rotary phones, neon bracelets, side ponies and other teasing updos, Pound Puppies and those long-outdated Cavaricci stockings, some of the most memorable rock songs marked the decade and kept your hands up.
While the catalog of ’80s songs is plentiful — and one that could be broken down by year, alone — here’s a chronological rundown of just 10 of the most anthemic rock songs spanning every year, from 1980 to 1989.
1. 1980: “You shook me all night” AC/DC
Opening the 1980s, AC/DC delivered one of the best shots they could come out of the 1970s and into the new decade with their awe-inspiring “You Shook Me All Night Long,” from the band’s seventh album, Back in black. Although the title track is one of AC/DC’s most primitive rock classics, the tongue-in-cheek humor of “You Shook Me All Night Long” was just the song to wake up the masses for the decade to come. .
2. 1981: “I like rock’n’roll” Joan Jett
Later in the decade, Joan Jett released an explosive hit of “I Hate Myself For Loving You”, from her sixth album, Up your driveway, but his very first solo hit “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”, the highest (No. 3, Hot 100) – originally written by Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker and first recorded by British rockers The Arrows in 1975 – just said it all. Released two years after Jett parted ways with The Runaways to pursue her solo career, the song is still a universal anthem… to rock.
3. 1982: “Africa” Toto
Reaching #1 on the Hot 100, “Africa,” on Toto’s fourth album Toto IV, is just one of those songs that most people can’t help but sing, preferably in unison, whenever it comes up. In 2018, Weezer granted fan demand to cover 1982 tube (along with a video featuring Weird “Al” Yankovic) and also released their rendition of another Toto IV press “Rosanna”.
4. 1983: “Bloody Sunday” U2
In his punches and heavier subject matter – “Bloody Sunday”, a term given to the January 30, 1972 incident in Derry, Northern Ireland, where British soldiers shot dead 28 unarmed civilians – “Sunday Bloody Sunday paid more attention to this “newish” band from Dublin. On the band’s third album, War“Sunday Bloody Sunday” remains a classic in the U2 catalog and with the War single “New Year’s Day”, opened the band to a wider audience.
5. 1984: “We’re not going to take it” Twisted Sister
Written by Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider for the band’s 1984 album stay hungry, the chorus of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” came to Snider fairly quickly but it took three more years to flesh out the song’s lyrics before its release. The song remains one of the heaviest protest songs in metal and is still used by bands in need of the perfect rallying cry.
We have the right to choose, and
There’s no way to lose it
It’s our life, it’s our song
We’ll fight the powers that be, just
Don’t choose our destiny, because
You don’t know us, you don’t belong
6. 1985: “Forget Me Not” Simple Minds
By mid-decade, 80s music flourished, as did films, including the 1985 teen cult classic John Hughes. The breakfast club. The film’s soundtrack centered on Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me”, written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff for the film.
7. 1986: “Livin’ On A Prayer” Bon Jovi
Slippery when wet spawned several stage hits for Bon Jovi – “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Wanted Dead or Alive” and the power ballad “Never Say Goodbye”, as well as their second highest charting hit “Livin’ On a Prayer”. Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child, “Livin’ on a Prayer” remains a hallmark Bon Jovi song.
8. 1987: “Pour Sugar on Me” Def Leppard (1987)
1987 was a tectonic year for rock with INXS’ KickU2 Joshua tree, and the early metal breakthrough of Guns N’ Roses appetite for destruction. And then there was Def Leppard with their work Hysteriaspawning several hits, including the band’s biggest “Pour Some Sugar on Me”.
9. 1988: “One” Metallica
Metallica’s first album after the death of bassist Cliff Burton, …And justice for all was a more progressive release for the band with longer tracks, including the seven-plus-minute “One”, written by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist James Hetfield. “One” was the band’s first song to chart in the United States and was also the first song to win a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
ten. “Free Fall” Tom Petty (1989)
Tom Petty closed the 1980s with a smooth hit from his first solo album, full moon fever. In addition to the hits “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, the opening track “Free Fallin'”, written with Traveling Wilbury bandmate and longtime Heartbreakers producer Jeff Lynne, peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart and is Petty’s longest song.
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