25 seriously underrated rock songs from the ’80s

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File photo / Mark Weins

By the 1980s rock & roll had expanded to dramatic angles and hues. While some hairstyles and clothes haven’t aged well, the music is doing better than one might have imagined. Like other decades of the rock era, the ’80s had no shortage of quintessential songs. But also, perhaps more than any other period, a surplus of guitar-music which, without being so emblematic, remains exceptional. And deserves to be celebrated. Below are 25 of those songs that deserve more praise. I spent more time reaching this list than shopping for a suit to wear for my wedding or studying for some of my math classes in college. Still, you’ll likely be thinking of a pick of underrated ’80s rockers that weren’t on the list, so feel free to add those suggestions in the comments section.

“La Chanson Française” Joan Jett & Les Cœurs Noirs

Released: 1983

A powerful ode to … well, google the translation of the chorus.

AC / DC “Nerve shaking”

Released: 1983

Yes, “Flick of the Switch” is a smaller AC / DC album, but most rockers would trade their hair for that big bang.

Queen “The Hero”

Released: 1980

The closest to Queen’s “Flash Gordon” soundtrack is schizophrenic, supersonic.

Saxon “Jeans and leather”

Released: 1981

A love letter to the ever-loyal heavy metal fans.

“The Ultimate Sin” Ozzy Osbourne

Released: 1986

This stylish headbanger features brilliant melodies and striking guitars.

Living Color “Memories Can’t Wait”

Released: 1986

A hot funk-metal cover of Talking Heads.

“A girl like you” Smithereens

Released: 1989

The New Jersey jangle-smiths cranked up the amp’s distortion for a signature song.

“The turbo lover” Judas Priest

Released: 1986

Once upon a time, the metal community in general viewed synthesizers as weaklings, but the synths from Priest’s once-maligned LP “Turbo” have aged well.

Girls’ school “Broken down”

Released: 1980

Such a hot and badass groove that I listened to this song three times in a row earlier.

“Waters Section” Let’s Be Active

Released: 1984

Ringing, shimmering, gold university radio.

“What’s my scene” Hoodoo Gurus

Released: 1987

It’s either brilliant pop-rock or the theme song for a sitcom that never made it past the pilot stage.

“Going To A Go-Go” The Rolling Stones

Released: 1982

A sexy, sloppy version of Stonesy from the 1965 Miracles party jam.

“Rock N Roll Is King” Rose Tattoo

Released: 1981

Looks like a plastered houenanny between AC / DC by Bon Scott and Faces by Rod Stewart.

“Ladies’ nite in Buffalo?” »David Lee Roth

Released: 1986

The Quicksilver Steve Vai guitar punctuates Roth’s ironic lyrics and R&B swagger.

April wine “Sign of the gypsy queen”

Released: 1981

Serene and mystical Canadian hard-rock, now available with a “Breaking Bad” cosign.

Heart “Bebe Le Strange”

Released: 1980

The Wilson sisters were clearly listening to a lot of Greta Van Fleet when they wrote this.

“I can survive” triumph

Released: 1980

As far as this Boston-style anthem goes, the ’70s deserved more than 10 years.

Screaming trees “The night comes to crawl”

Released: 1988

Screaming Trees was more talented than many more famous alternative rock bands.

“The real world” The bracelets

Released: 1982

Retro folk-rock with solar sister harmonies.

“Over my head” King’s X

Released: 1989

Hendrix-y, blues-metal current of conscience.

“Little Suzi” Tesla

Released: 1989

Soul rock and blue collar arena which is part Aerosmith, part Skynyrd.

Kiss “Tears flow”

Released: 1985

The makeup-free years can be a tough sell even with some die-hard Kiss fans, but the group released a few melodic stars during this time.

“The New World” X

Released: 1983

As simple and melodic as art-punk can get, just ask the dudes from ’90s mega-band Pearl Jam, who covered this song.

Hanoi “tragedy” rocks

Released: 1981

The brash look of this Finnish band had a huge visual influence on the early Guns N ‘Roses, and GNR probably showed some talent for songwriting that also mixed danger and glamor.

“The hardest part is at night” Bon Jovi

A draft of “Livin ‘on a Prayer” (subtract talking guitar, add “Strange Things” synth) is still Spandex Springsteen.


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