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Music from the ‘80s has remained popular with people of all ages since the ‘80s. Surpassing other decades, the popular songs of the ‘80s feature a unique quality and a remarkable variety of music styles.


Since the ‘80s, music has gradually become more and more corporate and standardized, which is why the incredible music of the ‘80s eclipses and transcends popular music today. Furthermore, music is now categorized into genres to such an extreme degree that people are rarely exposed to different styles of music anymore.


This website focuses on the songs from the ‘80s that are still popular today, as well as the ‘80s songs that were not “popular” back then, but  have become beloved classics: Check out the 100 songs on this list: THE BEST SONGS THAT WERE NOT POPULAR IN THE ‘80S.

Welcome To the 80s!



Music from the ‘80s is much more than just the popular songs! For a comprehensive list of all the best ‘80s songs from all music genres, check out...








New Wave



New Age




Gangsta Rap








Adult Contemporary


The ‘80s had the best music in all categories!!


This playlist features songs by all noteworthy ‘80s artists, including artists you may not be as familiar with, such as Iron Maiden, Enya, Eric B. & Rakim, The Smiths, Tracy Chapman, 10,000 Maniacs, New Order, De La Soul, The Clash, Willie Nelson, Indigo Girls, Luther Vandross, Metallica, Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark, Reba McEntire, The Cure, Ice-T, Depeche Mode, Black Sabbath, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Jungle Brothers, Erasure, Jane’s Addiction, and The Stone Roses (just to name a few).


And, of course this playlist also includes songs from the most popular artists, including Madonna, Prince, Journey, Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, Def Leppard, Whitney Houston, Duran Duran, Van Halen, Elton John, Richard Marx, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Mötley Crüe, U2, Dolly Parton, Tears For Fears, AC/DC, Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Police, Pink Floyd, Patti LaBelle, Eurythmics, Donna Summer, Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benatar, George Michael, Bryan Adams, R.E.M., Queen, Michael Jackson, and many more—all of the best artists from this decade of amazing music!


To listen to 2,000 of the best songs from the ‘80s (in a fun “custom order”), check out THE BEST ‘80S PLAYLIST EVER!

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How Were These Songs Ranked?



To compile this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S, what I primarily wanted to measure was staying power: Which songs have sustained in popularity since the ‘80s?


First, I had to establish the criteria for inclusion on the list, or there would have been well over 10,000 songs from the ‘80s to narrow to 500. For a song to be eligible for inclusion on this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S, it must have entered the United States Billboard Top 40 between January 5, 1980 and November 30, 1989. (For the January 5, 1980 chart, all songs that were already on the chart and ascending were eligible. Songs that entered the U.S. Billboard Top 40 in a December are considered songs from the subsequent year).​


The “Top 40” comes from the Billboard Hot 100 chart, which is the music industry standard by which a song’s popularity is assessed in the United States. The Hot 100 has been published weekly by Billboard magazine since 1958. In the ‘80s, the Hot 100 was determined by radio airplay and retail sales data. Today the Hot 100 is determined using both retail and digital sales data, plus radio airplay data, and streaming activity data provided by online music platforms.

Casey Kasem


American Top 40 is a weekly radio program that airs internationally and features an ascending countdown of the Top 40 songs on the Hot 100 chart. American Top 40 was created by American disc jockey and radio host Casey Kasem, who hosted the program from its inauguration on July 4, 1970 until August 6, 1988.


Casey Kasem left American Top 40 to host a new syndicated radio music program called Casey's Top 40, which debuted on the weekend of January 21, 1989. He hosted that show for nine years, and then returned to American Top 40 on March 28, 1998, and hosted that show again until January 10, 2004. Casey Kasem passed away in 2014.


In the ‘80s, every week I and millions of people all over the world listened to Casey Kasem count down the most popular songs in the United States from 40 to 1.

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In the ‘80s, there were 2,208 songs that entered the American Top 40 chart. Twelve of those songs are not eligible to be included on this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S because even though they charted on American Top 40 in the ‘80s, these songs were originally released in the ‘60s or ‘70s, and are therefore not ‘80s songs. 


Eight of these 12 songs are ineligible because they were descending the first chart of 1980 after reaching their peak popularity in 1979. These are songs from the ‘70s that were decreasing in popularity on the January 5, 1980 chart:

Babe — Styx

Half the Way — Crystal Gayle

Heartache Tonight — Eagles

No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer

Pop Muzik — M

Still — The Commodores

Take the Long Way Home — Supertramp

You’re Only Lonely — J.D. Souther


(Click on a song title to play it on Spotify.)

Four of these 12 ineligible songs entered the American Top 40 chart in the ‘80s, but because they had been American Top 40 hits in the ‘60s, they were deemed ineligible for inclusion on this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S. These songs from the ‘60s are the exact same recordings that had been hits previously, not remakes or re-recordings:


Do You Love Me — The Contours

(an American Top 40 hit in 1962 and again in 1988)


Stand By Me — Ben E. King

(an American Top 40 hit in 1961 and again in 1986)


Twist and Shout — The Beatles

(an American Top 40 hit in 1964 and again in 1986)


What a Wonderful World — Louis Armstrong

(an American Top 40 hit in 1967 and again in 1988)


Excluding these 12 ineligible songs leaves 2,196 eligible songs for this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S.


The 2,196 songs were scored and ranked based on the following 20 categories, using United States data gathered through December 31, 2023:


  1. Retail Sales

  2. Digital Sales

  3. Radio Airplay

  4. Online Streaming

  5. Awards and Nominations

  6. Music Critics’ Lists

  7. Music Industry “Best Of” Lists

  8. Rankings On ‘80s Music Charts

  9. Rankings On Music Charts Since the ‘80s

  10. Uses and References In ‘80s Media

  11. Uses and References In Media Since the ‘80s

  12. Social Media Tracking of Song References

  13. Web Monitoring of Song References

  14. Video Hosting Website Views

  15. Cover Versions

  16. Attested Influence On Other Artists

  17. Music Video Plays

  18. Karaoke Demand

  19. Concert Performances

  20. Backlash (This category represents negative points for songs that decreased in popularity.)


Each song was scored based on these criteria, and that is how they were ranked, which is why you can be sure that this is the definitive list of ‘80s pop music.

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Unfortunately, due to the criteria established (explained in the HOW WERE THESE SONGS RANKED? section), many beloved ‘80s songs were not eligible for inclusion on this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S. These 100 songs have become some of the most popular and iconic ‘80s songs. They are not on the list of the TOP 500 POP SONGS OF THE 1980S because they did not enter the American Top 40 chart.


This Spotify playlist ranks 100 enduring ‘80s classics that were not “popular” in the ‘80s in the United States. (Please note that even though some of the songs on this list are featured on albums that were released in the ‘70s, these songs were released as singles in 1980, and are therefore ‘80s songs.)

  1. Three Little Birds — Bob Marley & The Wailers

  2. Should I Stay Or Should I Go — The Clash

  3. Last Christmas — Wham!

  4. Comfortably Numb — Pink Floyd

  5. Crazy Train — Ozzy Osbourne

  6. Boys Don’t Cry — The Cure

  7. Blue Monday — New Order

  8. It’s Raining Men — The Weather Girls

  9. About a Girl – Nirvana

  10. Into the Groove — Madonna

  11. It’s the End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) — R.E.M.

  12. Master Of Puppets — Metallica

  13. I Want Candy — Bow Wow Wow

  14. Straight Outta Compton — N.W.A.

  15. Sharp Dressed Man — ZZ Top

  16. Sunday Bloody Sunday — U2

  17. Rebel Yell — Billy Idol

  18. Just Can’t Get Enough — Depeche Mode

  19. Tom Sawyer — Rush

  20. Fight the Power — Public Enemy

  21. I Want To Break Free — Queen

  22. Forever Young — Alphaville

  23. Baby Can I Hold You — Tracy Chapman

  24. Still Loving You — Scorpions

  25. Could You Be Loved — Bob Marley & The Wailers

  26. Hey You — Pink Floyd

  27. The Trooper — Iron Maiden

  28. Love Will Tear Us Apart — Joy Division

  29. What I Like About You — The Romantics

  30. Blister In the Sun — Violent Femmes

  31. How Soon Is Now? — The Smiths

  32. Once In a Lifetime — Talking Heads

  33. Jane Says — Jane’s Addiction

  34. It’s Tricky — Run–D.M.C.

  35. Home Sweet Home — Mötley Crüe

  36. I Wanna Be Sedated — Ramones

  37. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution — Tracy Chapman

  38. I Wanna Rock — Twisted Sister

  39. Mad World — Tears For Fears

  40. London Calling — The Clash

  41. No One Like You — Scorpions

  42. Here Comes Your Man — Pixies

  43. End Of the Line — Traveling Wilburys

  44. Hallelujah — Leonard Cohen

  45. There She Goes — The La’s

  46. Tempted — Squeeze

  47. Closer To Fine — Indigo Girls

  48. Rockin’ In the Free World — Neil Young

  49. New Year’s Day — U2

  50. I Melt With You — Modern English

  51. Redemption Song — Bob Marley & The Wailers

  52. Dancing With Myself — Billy Idol

  53. Through the Fire — Chaka Khan

  54. Hot For Teacher — Van Halen

  55. Handle With Care — The Traveling Wilburys

  56. Trouble Me — 10,000 Maniacs

  57. She Sells Sanctuary — The Cult

  58. Situation — Yazoo [Note: Yazoo is known as Yaz in the U.S.]

  59. And She Was — Talking Heads

  60. I Am What I Am — Gloria Gaynor

  61. Burning Up — Madonna

  62. Peek-a-Boo — Siouxsie and the Banshees

  63. I Don’t Like Mondays — The Boomtown Rats

  64. Bad Reputation — Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

  65. Wouldn’t It Be Good — Nik Kershaw

  66. Learning To Fly — Pink Floyd

  67. Apache — The Sugarhill Gang

  68. Orange Crush — R.E.M.

  69. Meeting In the Ladies Room — Klymaxx

  70. Goodbye To You — Scandal

  71. Lunatic Fringe — Red Rider

  72. Shakin’ — Eddie Money

  73. Rockit — Herbie Hancock

  74. Fire Woman — The Cult

  75. Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But the Rent — Gwen Guthrie

  76. Watermark — Enya

  77. Like the Weather — 10,000 Maniacs

  78. The Killing Moon — Echo & the Bunnymen

  79. Head Like a Hole — Nine Inch Nails

  80. Straight To Hell — Drivin N Cryin

  81. Mr. Brownstone — Guns N’ Roses

  82. If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful — Jermaine Jackson & Whitney Houston

  83. Teen Age Riot — Sonic Youth

  84. Girls On Film — Duran Duran

  85. All At Once — Whitney Houston

  86. Bizarre Love Triangle — New Order

  87. White Lines (Don’t Do It) — Grandmaster Melle Mel

  88. Dear God — XTC

  89. Fire and Desire — Rick James and Teena Marie

  90. This Woman’s Work — Kate Bush

  91. Just Like Honey — The Jesus and Mary Chain

  92. So Many Men, So Little Time — Miquel Brown

  93. Crash — The Primitives

  94. Goodbye Horses — Q Lazzarus

  95. Strokin – Clarence Carter

  96. Enola Gay – Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark

  97. Let the River Run — Carly Simon

  98. Don’t Go — Yazoo [Note: Yazoo is known as Yaz in the U.S.]

  99. Run To the Hills — Iron Maiden

  100. Super Trouper — ABBA

Crucially Iconic Songs
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80s music
80s music



Fight the Power by Public Enemy


This song by American hip-hop group Public Enemy was released in 1989 at the request of American film director Spike Lee, to serve at the musical theme for his film Do the Right Thing. This song has become an enduring anthem about opposition to abusive authority, especially as it pertains to the civil rights of African-Americans, and the United States’ ongoing struggle with systemic racism.


Fight the Power is Public Enemy’s best-known song, and is highly regarded as one of the greatest songs of all-time. Public Enemy (now called Public Enemy Radio) is known for socially-conscious, harsh critiques that reflect the frustrations of the African-American community with the government, the media, and other power structures.


I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow


This song by English new wave group Bow Wow Wow is a 1982 remake of a 1965 song by American band The Strangeloves (click here). Both versions are well-known for using the Bo Diddley beat, popularized by American musician Bo Diddley, who influenced the integration of the blues with rock and roll music in the ‘60s. The Bo Diddley beat is a syncopated musical rhythm that combines elements of Afro-Cuban and Latin music into a dynamic rock beat, making the music sound more energetic.


Bow Wow Wow’s version of I Want Candy was the first and only single from their debut EP The Last of the Mohicans (a reference to their Mohawk hairstyles). The video was played in heavy rotation on American television channel MTV, which launched in 1981, but the song did not enter the American Top 40 chart, and peaked at #62. The song was a hit in the U.K., peaking at #9, and was also a hit in Belgium, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

Bow Wow Wow formed in 1980, comprising former members of English post-punk band Adam and the Ants and 13-year-old Annabella Lwin on vocals. The band became popular for a danceable new wave sound, slightly risqué lyrics, and the unique banshee squeals of the teenage vocalist. In 2012, the band members split from Annabella Lwin, found a new singer, and continued to perform as Bow Wow Wow, all of which was done without the consent of Annabella Lwin. Since then, she has performed as Annabella Lwin of the original Bow Wow Wow.



Fight the Power and I Want Candy are not on the list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S because they did not enter the American Top 40 chart, and are therefore ineligible for inclusion on that list (explained in the HOW WERE THESE SONGS RANKED? section).


However, because these songs have become enduring ‘80s classics, they are included on separate list: THE BEST SONGS THAT WERE NOT POPULAR IN THE 80S (above). On this list, Fight the Power is song #21, and I Want Candy is songs #13.  The 100 (ranked) songs on this list are some of the most beloved ‘80s songs, despite the fact that they were not “popular” in the 1980s. 

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Most Songs


 1. MICHAEL JACKSON* – 14 songs

Billie Jean (#3), Beat It (#31), Thriller (#55), Man In the Mirror (#81), The Way You Make Me Feel (#171), Rock With You (#214), Smooth Criminal (#217), Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (#241)Human Nature (#315), Bad (#322), P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (#347), Dirty Diana (#438), and Say Say Say (#455) with Paul McCartney; plus Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me (#402), on which he performs vocals


 2. MADONNA – 13 songs

Like a Prayer (#27), Like a Virgin (#47), Material Girl (#56), La Isla Bonita (#141), Holiday (#168), Crazy For You (#228), Papa Dont Preach (#235), Live To Tell (#276), Borderline (#280), Open Your Heart (#371),  Express Yourself (#412), Lucky Star (#436), and Cherish (#489)


 3. PRINCE – 11 songs

Kiss (#23), When Doves Cry (#28), Purple Rain (#30), Let’s Go Crazy (#95), 1999  (#113), Little Red Corvette (#117),  Raspberry Beret (#135),  I Would Die 4 U (#330), U Got the Look (#399), and  Sign O’ the Times (#486); plus Stevie Nicks’ Stand Back (#253), on which he plays synthesizers; but not including songs by other artists that Prince wrote: The Bangles’ Manic Monday (#128), Chaka Khan’s I Feel for You (#153), and Sheila E.’s The Glamorous Life (#447)

 4. PHIL COLLINS** – 9 songs

In the Air Tonight (#48), Easy Lover (#183) with Philip Bailey, Against All Odds (#189), Another Day In Paradise (#216), and Sussudio (#383); plus two songs with Genesis:  Invisible Touch (#169) and That’s All (#199); and songs on which he performs backing vocals and drums: Howard Jones’ No One Is To Blame (#363) and Frida’s I Know There’s Something Going On (#494)

 5. GEORGE MICHAEL** – 7 songs

Careless Whisper (#29) [credited to Wham! featuring George Michael], Faith (#51), Father Figure (#174), I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (#281) with Aretha Franklin, and One More Try (#304); plus two songs with Wham!: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (#42) and Everything She Wants (#296)

 6. RICHARD MARX – 7 songs

Right Here Waiting (#59) and Hold On To the Nights (#311); plus three songs on which he performs backing vocals: John Parr’s St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion) (#133), and two of Lionel Richie’s songs: All Night Long (All Night) (#68) and You Are (#471); plus two of Whitney Houston’s songs on which he performs backing vocals and guitar: Saving All My Love For You (#120) and Greatest Love Of All (#138)

 7. LIONEL RICHIE* – 7 songs

All Night Long (All Night) (#68), Endless Love (#91) with Diana Ross, Hello (#179), Say You, Say Me (#201), Stuck On You (#306), Truly (#368), and You Are (#471) 

 8. WHITNEY HOUSTON – 6 songs

I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) (#12), Saving All My Love For You (#120), How Will I Know (#125), Greatest Love Of All (#138), One Moment In Time (#258), and So Emotional (#344)

 9. DEF LEPPARD – 6 songs

Pour Some Sugar On Me (#16), Photograph (#99), Rock Of Ages (#157), Hysteria (#275), Love Bites (#288), and Animal (#500)

10. TOTO – 6 songs

Africa (#19) and Rosanna (#297); plus songs on which most members of the band perform: Michael Jackson’s Beat It (#31), John Parr’s St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)  (#133), Michael Jackson’s Human Nature (#315), and Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgettin’ (#319) 

11. STEVIE WONDER* – 6 songs

I Just Called To Say I Love You (#80), Part-Time Lover (#233); and Ebony and Ivory (#397) with Paul McCartney; plus Dionne and Friends’ That’s What Friends Are For (#178); and songs on which he plays harmonica: Chaka Khan’s I Feel For You (#153) and Elton John’s I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues (#247)

12. STEVIE NICKS – 6 songs

Edge Of Seventeen (#84) and Stand Back (#253); plus four songs with Fleetwood Mac: Gypsy (#289), Little Lies (#339), Everywhere (#389), and Sara (#413)



You Make My Dreams (#86), I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) (#112), Maneater (#159), Out Of Touch (#192), Kiss On My List (#226), and Private Eyes (#310)

14. ELTON JOHN – 6 songs

I’m Still Standing (#131), I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues (#247), Sad Songs (Say So Much) (#396), Little Jeannie (#408), and Candle In the Wind (Live 1986) (#476); plus Dionne and Friends’ That’s What Friends Are For) (#178)

15. STEVE PERRY* – 6 songs

Oh Sherrie (#285); plus five songs with Journey: Don’t Stop Believin’ (#1), Faithfully  (#104), Any Way You Want It (#127), Open Arms (#151), and Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) (#155)

16. JOURNEY – 5 songs

Don’t Stop Believin’ (#1), Faithfully (#104), Any Way You Want It (#127) Open Arms (#151), and Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) (#155)

17. BON JOVI – 5 songs

Livin’ On a Prayer (#2), You Give Love a Bad Name  (#24), Wanted Dead Or Alive  (#110),  Bad Medicine  (#313), and I’ll Be There For You (#364)

18. CYNDI LAUPER* – 5 songs

Time After Time (#10), Girls Just Want To Have Fun (#14), True Colors (#210),  All Through the Night (#267), and She Bop (#497)

19. U2** – 5 songs

With Or Without You (#22), Pride (In the Name Of Love) (#94), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (#111), Where the Streets Have No Name (#137), and Desire (#349)

20. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN* – 5 songs

Dancing In the Dark (#49), Born In the U.S.A. (#64), I’m On Fire (#165), Glory Days (#225), and Hungry Heart (#332)

21. BELINDA CARLISLE – 5 songs

Heaven Is a Place On Earth (#66) and Mad About You (#470); plus three songs with The Go-Go’s: We Got the Beat (#227), Our Lips Are Sealed (#373), and Vacation (#418)

22. PETER CETERA – 5 songs

Glory Of Love (#251) and The Next Time I Fall (#409) with Amy Grant; plus three songs with Chicago: Hard To Say I’m Sorry / Get Away (#221), You’re the Inspiration (#248), and Hard Habit To Break (#451)

23. QUEEN – 4 songs

Another One Bites the Dust (#5), Under Pressure (#41) with David Bowie, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (#44), and Radio Ga Ga (#495)

24. THE POLICE – 4 songs

Every Breath You Take (#6), Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (#147), Don’t Stand So Close To Me (#282), and King Of Pain (#317)

25. GUNS N’ ROSES – 4 songs

Sweet Child O’ Mine (#8), Welcome To the Jungle, (#32), Paradise City (#96), and  Patience (#204)

26. TEARS FOR FEARS – 4 songs

Everybody Wants To Rule the World (#9), Head Over Heels (#162), Shout (#254), and Sowing the Seeds Of Love (#422)

27. BRYAN ADAMS – 4 songs

Summer of ’69 (#20), Heaven (#40), Run To You  (#249), and Straight From the Heart (#354)


Jack & Diane (#46), Hurts So Good (#101), Pink Houses (#144), and Small Town (#329)

29. TOM PETTY – 4 songs

Free Fallin’ (#69), I Won’t Back Down (#187), and Don’t Come Around Here No More (#380) with the Heartbreakers; plus Roy Orbison’s You Got It (#334), on which he performs backing vocals and acoustic guitar

30. DURAN DURAN** – 4 songs

Hungry Like the Wolf (#74), Rio  (#382), A View To a Kill (#411), and The Reflex (#419)

31. TINA TURNER* – 4 songs

What’s Love Got To Do With It (#77), Private Dancer (#448), We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) (#477), and Better Be Good To Me (#490)

32. PAT BENATAR – 4 songs

Love Is a Battlefield (#100), Hit Me With Your Best Shot (#106), We Belong (#123), and Heartbreaker (#161)


The Power Of Love (#170), Stuck With You (#407), Do You Believe In Love (#417), and I Want a New Drug (#430)

34. BILLY JOEL* – 4 songs

Uptown Girl (#207), It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me (#220),  We Didn’t Start the Fire (#260), and The Longest Time (#333)

35. CHICAGO – 4 songs

Hard To Say I’m Sorry / Get Away (#221), You’re the Inspiration (#248), Hard Habit To Break (#451), and Look Away (#464)

36. AEROSMITH – 4 songs

Dude (Looks Like a Lady) (#237), Love In an Elevator (#395), and Angel (#444); plus Walk This Way (#45) with Run-D.M.C. [Note: Aerosmith bandmembers Steven Tyler and Joe Perry perform with Run-D.M.C on this remake of Aerosmith’s original Walk This Way, which was an American Top 40 hit in 1977.]

37. MICHAEL MCDONALD – 4 songs

On My Own (#279) with Patti LaBelle, and I Keep Forgettin’ (#319); plus two songs on which he performs backing vocals: Christopher Cross’ Ride Like the Wind (#164), and James Ingram and Patti Austin’s Baby, Come To Me (#283)

38. FLEETWOOD MAC – 4 songs

Gypsy (#289), Little Lies (#339), Everywhere (#389), and Sara (#413)


39. JANET JACKSON – 4 songs

Nasty (#290), When I Think of You (#316), What Have You Done For Me Lately (#403), and Miss You Much (#466)

40. WHAM! – 3 songs

Careless Whisper (#29) [credited to Wham! featuring George Michael], Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (#42), and Everything She Wants (#296)

41. VAN HALEN – 3 songs

Jump (#34), Panama (#62), and Why Can’t This Be Love? (#303)

42. EURYTHMICS – 3 songs

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (#36), Here Comes the Rain Again (#255), and Would I Lie To You? (#491)

43. DAVID BOWIE – 3 songs

Under Pressure (#41) with Queen, Let’s Dance (#93), and Modern Love (#114)

44CULTURE CLUB** – 3 songs

Karma Chameleon (#50), Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (#152), and Time (Clock Of the Heart) (#472)

45. BLONDIE – 3 songs

Call Me (#53), The Tide Is High (#252), and Rapture (#453)

46. KOOL & THE GANG** 3 songs

Celebration (#54), Cherish (#307), and Get Down On It (#440)

47. KENNY LOGGINS* – 3 songs

Footloose (#60), Danger Zone (#182), and I’m Alright (Theme From “Caddyshack”) (#434)

48. REO SPEEDWAGON – 3 songs

Keep On Loving You (#61), Can’t Fight This Feeling (#85), and Take It On the Run (#156)

49. POISON – 3 songs

Every Rose Has Its Thorn (#73), Nothin’ But a Good Time (#270), and Talk Dirty To Me (#336)

50. THE BANGLES – 3 songs

Walk Like an Egyptian (#75), Manic Monday (#128), and Eternal Flame (#305)

51. INXS – 3 songs

Need You Tonight / Mediate (#87), Never Tear Us Apart (#188), and What You Need (#482)

52. THE CARS – 3 songs

Drive (#90), You Might Think (#378), and Shake It Up (#478)

53. DIANA ROSS* – 3 songs

Endless Love (#91) with Lionel Richie, I’m Coming Out (#158), and Upside Down (#242)

54. THE POINTER SISTERS* – 3 songs

I’m So Excited (#92), Jump (For My Love) (#324), and Slow Hand (#473)

55. DON HENLEY – 3 songs

The Boys of Summer (#116) and Dirty Laundry (#414); plus I Can’t Tell You Why (#427) with the Eagles

56. HEART – 3 songs

Alone (#121), These Dreams (#143), and Never (#479)

57. DIRE STRAITS – 3 songs

Money For Nothing (#150), Walk Of Life (#381), and Tina Turner’s Private Dancer (#448)

58. CHAKA KHAN – 3 songs

I Feel For You (#153); plus Ain’t Nobody (#197) with Rufus; and Steve Winwood’s Higher Love (#130), on which she performs vocals

59. THE PRETENDERS – 3 songs

Brass In Pocket (I’m Special) (#186), Back On the Chain Gang (#377), and Don’t Get Me Wrong (#384)


Ride Like the Wind (#164), Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) (#177), and Sailing (#245)

61. BILLY IDOL – 3 songs

White Wedding (#160), Eyes Without a Face (#166), and Mony Mony (Live) (#401)

62. AIR SUPPLY – 3 songs

All Out Of Love (#180), Making Love Out Of Nothing At All (#295), and Lost In Love (#369)

63. PHILIP BAILEY – 3 songs

Easy Lover (#183) with Phil Collins; plus Let’s Groove (#172) with Earth, Wind & Fire; and Stevie Wonder’s Part-Time Lover (#233), on which he performs backing vocals

64. KENNY ROGERS* – 3 songs

Islands In the Stream (#212) with Dolly Parton, Lady (#362), and Coward Of the County (#498)

65. THE GO-GO’S – 3 songs

We Got the Beat (#227), Our Lips Are Sealed (#373), and Vacation (#418) 

66. THOMAS DOLBY – 3 songs

She Blinded Me With Science (#342); plus Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is a Place On Earth (#66), on which he performs keyboards; and Foreigner’s Waiting For a Girl Like You (#240), on which he performs synthesizers

67. GLENN FREY – 3 songs

The Heat Is On (#367); plus I Can’t Tell You Why (#427) with the Eagles; and Bob Seger’s Against the Wind (#346), on which he performs harmony vocals

* These artists were a part of We Are the World (#203) by USA For Africa, which is not included in these song totals.

** These artists were a part of Do They Know It’s Christmas?  (#236) by Band Aid, which is not included in these song totals.

The ranking of the artists with the same number of songs is based on which artist has the highest-ranking song on the list of the THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S.

Joan Jett Vegan


* These artists were a part of We Are the World (#203) by USA For Africa, which is not included in these song totals.

** These artists were a part of Do They Know It’s Christmas?  (#236) by Band Aid, which is not included in these song totals.

The ranking of the artists with the same number of songs is based on which artist has the highest-ranking song on the list of the THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S.

Bryan Adams Vegan


On this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S, not only will you find the popular artists you expect, such as Michael Jackson, Prince, and Madonna, but you will also find artists you might not expect (listed below), who also had American Top 40 hits in the ‘80s. You’ll find this kind of variety in popular music only in the ‘80s.

Led Zeppelin


James Brown

Beastie Boys

The Kinks

Kenny Rogers

Diana Ross


Tracy Chapman


Mötley Crüe

Roy Orbison

Guns N’ Roses


The Sugarhill Gang

Steely Dan

Dolly Parton

Depeche Mode

Anita Baker


Grateful Dead

Rick James

Paul Simon


The Rolling Stones


The Beach Boys

New Order



The Clash

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians


Willie Nelson

Pink Floyd

Marvin Gaye

Aretha Franklin

John Lennon

Blue Öyster Cult


Bette Midler

Bob Seger

Neil Diamond


Los Lobos

Jackson Browne

ZZ Top

Tom Tom Club

Earth, Wind & Fire

Suzanne Vega

Steve Miller Band


Midnight Oil

The Cure

Juice Newton


Adam Ant

Talking Heads

Dionne Warwick

Joe Cocker

Van Halen

Kate Bush

The Who

Crosby, Stills, & Nash

Best Of '80s Metal
Best Of '80s Hip-Hop
Best Of 80s Rhythm & Blues
Best Of '80s Country
Rikki Rockett Vegan


Here is the breakdown of the number of songs from each year that are on the list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S:

1984 – 66 songs (13.2%)

1985 – 62 songs (12.2%)

1983 – 58 songs (11.8%)

1982 – 53 songs (10.8%)

1986 – 49 songs (9.6%)

1987 – 47 songs (9.4%)

1981 – 42 songs (8.4%)

1980 – 42 songs (8.4%)

1988 – 41 songs (8.2%)

1989 – 40 songs (8.0%)

Best Of 80s Mild & Mellow
Best Of 80s Dance Club
Best Of 80s College Rock
Tom Scholz Vegan



Here are the 200 songs (ranked from 501 to 700) that almost made the list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S.


Click HERE to play THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S plus these 200 songs on Spotify!

It’s noteworthy to mention the artists who have three or more songs among songs 501 to 700:


  • Phil Collins has an additional six songs (including three songs with Genesis).

  • Tom Petty has five additional songs (including four songs with the Heartbreakers and one of those with Stevie Nicks).

  • The following artists have three additional songs among songs 501 to 700: Don Henley (including one song with the Eagles), Huey Lewis and the News, Duran Duran, Stevie Wonder, Kool & the Gang, Madonna, Bryan Adams, John (Cougar) Mellencamp, Whitney Houston, and Def Leppard.

501. Talking In Your SleepThe Romantics

502. Land Of Confusion – Genesis

503. Stand — R.E.M.

504. Gimme All Your Lovin’ – ZZ Top

505. What Have I Done To Deserve This?

         Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield

506. The Long Run – Eagles

507. Hip To Be Square – Huey Lewis and the News

508. Save a Prayer — Duran Duran

509. Me Myself and I — De La Soul

510. I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World) – Donald Fagen

511. On the Road Again – Willie Nelson

512. Secret Lovers — Atlantic Starr

513. Burning Heart – Survivor

514. Together Forever – Rick Astley

515. If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Simply Red

516. Refugee – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

517. Do That To Me One More Time – Captain & Tennille

518. Runaway – Bon Jovi

519. We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off

         Jermaine Stewart

520. 18 and Life – Skid Row

521. A Little Respect – Erasure

522. Lean On Me — Club Nouveau

523. Master Blaster (Jammin’) – Stevie Wonder

524. When I See You Smile – Bad English

525. C’est La Vie — Robbie Nevil

526. Give It Up – KC and the Sunshine Band

527. Woman In Love – Barbra Streisand

528. Poison – Alice Cooper

529. Hold On Loosely - .38 Special

530. Shattered Dreams – Johnny Hates Jazz

531. Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson

532. Is This Love – Whitesnake

533. Watching the Wheels – John Lennon

534. Brilliant Disguise – Bruce Springsteen

535. Never Say Goodbye – Bon Jovi

536. Magic – Olivia Newton-John

537. Being With You – Smokey Robinson

538. Big Log – Robert Plant

539. Obsession – Animotion

540. Automatic – The Pointer Sisters

541. Don’t Talk To Strangers – Rick Springfield

542. On the Wings Of Love – Jeffrey Osborne

543. Once Bitten Twice Shy – Great White

544. Dress You Up – Madonna

545. Cherry Bomb – John (Cougar) Mellencamp

546. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car – Billy Ocean

547. Wrapped Around Your Finger – The Police

548. You Give Good Love – Whitney Houston

549. Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

         Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine

550. In Too Deep – Genesis

551. If Ever You’re In My Arms Again – Peabo Bryson

552. Sign Your Name – Terence Trent D’Arby

553. Who’s Crying Now – Journey

554. Please Don’t Go – KC and the Sunshine Band

555. Shining Star – The Manhattans

556. Close My Eyes Forever – Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne

557. Too Hot – Kool & the Gang

558. Amanda – Boston

559. Lost In Your Eyes – Debbie Gibson

560. She’s a Bad Mama Jama – Carl Carlton

561. Love Song – Tesla

562. Never Knew Love Like This Before – Stephanie Mills

563. Don’t Do Me Like That

         Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

564. While You See a Chance – Steve Winwood

565. Endless Summer Nights – Richard Marx

566. Say It Isn’t So – Daryl Hall and John Oates

567. Ladies’ Night – Kool & the Gang

568. Never Too Much – Luther Vandross

569. I Need Love – LL Cool J

570. Union Of the Snake – Duran Duran

571. Blame It On the Rain – Milli Vanelli

572. Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves

         Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin

573. Don’t Know Much – Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville

574. Too Late For Goodbyes – Julian Lennon

575. Tarzan Boy – Tarzan Boy

576. Tonight I Celebrate My Love

         Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack

577. When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going

         Billy Ocean

578. When I’m With You – Sheriff

579. Juke Box Hero – Foreigner

580. The Search Is Over – Survivor

581. Good Thing – Fine Young Cannibals

582. I Can’t Drive 55 – Sammy Hagar

583. Heart and Soul – T’Pau

584. Shadows Of the Night – Pat Benatar

585. Guilty – Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb

586. Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) – Cinderella

587. Under the Milky Way – The Church

588. Foolin’ – Def Leppard

589. Kiss Me Deadly – Lita Ford

590. When the Children Cry – White Lion

591. The Breakup Song – The Greg Kihn Band

592. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free – Sting

593. Point Of No Return – Exposé

594. The Best – Tina Turner

595. Wild Wild Life – Talking Heads

596. I’ve Got a Rock N’ Roll Heart – Eric Clapton

597. Sara – Starship

598. You Are My Lady – Freddie Jackson

599. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight – Genesis

600. Solid – Ashford & Simpson

601. He’s So Shy – The Pointer Sisters

602. Joanna – Kool & the Gang

603. Things Can Only Get Better – Howard Jones

604. Spirits In the Material World – The Police

605. All I Need Is a Miracle – Mike + the Mechanics

606. You Can’t Hurry Love – Phil Collins

607. Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty

608. Take Your Time (Do It Right) – The S.O.S. Band

609. Girls, Girls, Girls – Mötley Crüe

610. You Got It All – The Jets

611. New Sensation – INXS

612. Biggest Part Of Me – Ambrosia

613. Carrie – Europe

614. Dancing On the Ceiling – Lionel Richie

615. Songbird – Kenny G

616. I Love a Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbitt

617. Everybody Wants You – Billy Squier

618. What About Love? – Heart

619. The End Of the Innocence – Don Henley

620. Do I Do – Stevie Wonder

621. Seventeen – Winger

622. Just Once – Quincy Jones

623. Longer – Dan Fogelberg

624. Don’t Make Me Over – Sybil

625. I Remember You – Skid Row

626. I Wonder If I Take You Home

         Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force

627. It’s a Sin – Pet Shop Boys

628. It’s Only Love – Bryan Adams and Tina Turner

629. Saturday Love – Cherrelle

630. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around – Stevie Nicks

         and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

631. Let’s Go All the Way – Sly Fox

632. Ain’t Even Done With the Night

         John (Cougar) Mellencamp

633. Who’s That Girl – Madonna

634. Only the Lonely – The Motels

635. Urgent – Foreigner

636. Stray Cat Strut – Stray Cats

637. Tell Her About It – Billy Joel

638. I Won’t Forget You – Poison

639. Metal Health (Bang Your Head) – Quiet Riot

640. Leader Of the Band – Dan Fogelberg

641. Oh Sheila – Ready For the World

642. She’s a Beauty – The Tubes

643. Tomorrow People

         Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers

644. Devil Inside – INXS

645. Giving You the Best That I Got – Anita Baker

646. Everyday I Write the Book – Elvis Costello

647. R.O.C.K. In the U.S.A. – John (Cougar) Mellencamp

648. The Heart Of Rock and Roll

         Huey Lewis and the News

649. Piano In the Dark – Brenda Russell

650. That Girl – Stevie Wonder

651. Heaven – Warrant

652. Armageddon It – Def Leppard

653. Hands To Heaven – Breathe

654. I Love You – Climax Blues Band

655. Coming Around Again – Carly Simon

656. Notorious – Duran Duran

657. Tuff Enuff – The Fabulous Thunderbirds

658. The Warrior – Scandal

659. Hazy Shade Of Winter – The Bangles

660. Nikita – Elton John

661. Games People Play – The Alan Parsons Project

662. Turn Up the Radio – Autograph

663. Didn’t We Almost Have It All – Whitney Houston

664. All She Wants To Do Is Dance – Don Henley

665. Forever Young – Rod Stewart

666. Heart and Soul – Huey Lewis and the News

667. Rock Steady – The Whispers

668. Never Surrender – Corey Hart

669. Lay Your Hands On Me – Thompson Twins

670. Fallen Angel – Poison

671. Take Me Home – Phil Collins

672. Heartbreaker – Dionne Warwick

673. All Those Years Ago – George Harrison

674. Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone) – Glass Tiger

675. In a Big Country – Big Country

676. Cuts Like a Knife – Bryan Adams

677. One More Night – Phil Collins

678. Here and Now – Luther Vandross

679. Never Gonna Let You Go – Sergio Mendes

680. Foolish Beat – Debbie Gibson

681. We’ve Got Tonight

         Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton

682. Rocket – Def Leppard

683. Where Do Broken Hearts Go – Whitney Houston

684. Your Wildest Dreams – The Moody Blues

685. I Wanna Be Your Lover – Prince

686. You May Be Right – Billy Joel

687. Always – Atlantic Starr

688. Cool Change – Little River Band

689. Keep On Movin’ – Soul II Soul

690. NeverEnding Story – Limahl

691. True Blue – Madonna

692. Xanadu – Olivia Newton-John and

         Electric Light Orchestra

693. Somebody – Bryan Adams

694. Tusk – Fleetwood Mac

695. What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)

          Information Society

696. The Waiting – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

697. Jane – Jefferson Starship

698. Toy Soldiers – Martika

699. 19 – Paul Hardcastle

700. Don’t Mean Nothing – Richard Marx

Songs That Almost Made the List
Richard Marx Vegan
Play the Songs


Below is an alphabetical listing of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S. Song descriptions are added periodically.

1999 by Prince — Song #113

867-5309/Jenny by Tommy Tutone — Song #224

9 To 5 by Dolly Parton — Song #76

99 Luftballoons by Nena — Song #243

Abracadabra by Steve Miller Band — Song #175

Addicted To Love by Robert Palmer — Song #184


Africa by Toto

Song #19


Right now, this song is playing on a never-ending loop somewhere in Africa. In 2019, a sound installation powered by solar batteries was set up by Namibian artist Max Siedentopf, in an undisclosed location in the Namib Desert (the world’s oldest desert, roughly 55 to 80 million years old), to play the song for eternity. Africa is a timeless pop staple that surged in popularity in the late-2010s and early-2020s. If this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S measured popularity only since 2017, this song would probably be #1! Africa is the subject of many internet memes, entire Reddit pages, and relentless millennial pop culture references. It is one of the most streamed and digitally downloaded songs of the past few years. According to Billboard magazine, “Internet culture has kind of taken it and really shot it into the stratosphere...people started bonding over their love of this song.” Many recent pop culture moments (detailed below) have spiked Africa’s popularity to an astonishing degree.


When asked why the song is experiencing such a wild resurgence, Toto guitarist Steve Lukather said, “I haven’t a f*cking clue and you can quote me on that, but it’s got a great groove. I mean it’s a happy thing. The message of the song doesn’t have anything to do with, ‘Oo baby I love you,’ so there’s no depression there. It’s not political, so there’s no depression there. It’s a fantasy song. It’s like a Disneyland song or whatever. We just went in there and had fun and made this record... People latch onto it. It’s kitschy enough and the lyrics are weird enough that people will remember it.”


Africa was recorded by American rock band Toto, and is featured on the band’s fourth studio album Toto IV. Released as the album’s third single, Africa hit #1 on the American Top 40 chart in 1983, displacing Australian rock band Men at Work’s Down Under (song #65 on this list), another ode to a continent. Africa was a major hit in Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, South Africa, and Switzerland.


Toto formed in 1977. The band broke up in 2008, but then got back together in 2010, and disbanded again in 2019. Toto’s musical style combines elements of pop, jazz, soul, R&B, and rock. The original six members were reputable session musicians, hired for recording sessions and live performances for a variety of artists, which is how they met and decided to form their own band. Members of Toto worked with American jazz rock band Steely Dan (whose Hey Nineteen is song #298 on this list), American soft rock duo Seals and Crofts, American pop duo Sonny and Cher (Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time is song #196 on this list), and American blue-eyed soul singer Boz Scaggs. Four of the Toto guys are featured on Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, including two songs on this list: Human Nature, song #315 [see the description of that song for details] and Beat It, song #31. Toto band members also perform on English singer John Parr’s St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion), song #133; American rock band Chicago’s Hard to Say I’m Sorry / Get Away, song #221; and American blue-eyed soul musician Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgettin’, song #319.


The six original Toto members were David Paich (keyboards and vocals); brothers Jeff Porcaro (drums) and Steve Porcaro (keyboards and vocals); Steve Lukather (guitars and vocals); David Hungate (bass guitar); and Bobby Kimball (lead vocals). Mike Porcaro (bass guitar) joined his brothers’ band in 1982. Six additional members were added over the years, as members left and re-joined, and a few of them died. Why the band is named “Toto” depends on which members of the band you ask. In the early ‘80s, some of them said that the band was named after Toto the dog from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. But Jeff Porcaro apparently wrote the word “Toto” on the band’s first demo tapes, in order to distinguish them from other bands who worked in the same studio. And some band members say that “Toto” came from the Latin phrase in toto, which means “all-encompassing” or “in total,” with the significance being that the band members brought together many different styles of music from their extensive experience with other musicians.


Africa was written by David Paich (who performs lead vocals on the song) and Jeff Porcaro, neither of whom had ever been to Africa when they wrote the song. According to Jeff Porcaro, the song is about “a white boy...trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past.” David Paich said, “At the beginning of the ‘80s I watched a late-night documentary on TV about all the terrible death and suffering of the people in Africa. It both moved and appalled me and the pictures just wouldn’t leave my head. I tried to imagine how I’d feel about if I [were] there and what I’d do.” Because he’d never been to the continent himself, he based the song’s landscape descriptions on an article in venerable American magazine National Geographic: “I was a big reader of National Geographic. I’ve just always kind of been fascinated with Africa. I just kind of romanticized this story about a social worker that was over there, that falls in love having kind of a paradox, trying to tear himself away from Africa to actually have a life.” David Paich attended Catholic school as a child, where several of his teachers did missionary work in Africa. Their missionary work became the inspiration behind the famous line, “I bless the rains down in Africa.”


But some of the Toto guys were not fans of the song originally. Steve Lukather said, “I thought it was the worst song on the album. It didn’t fit, the lyrics made no sense, and I swore that if it was a hit record, I’d run naked down Hollywood Boulevard! That’s how good I am at picking singles! I mean, I love the song now but, to be honest with you, at the time I thought it was really the oddball song on the album. It almost didn’t make the record, and it was a #1 worldwide single, and still gets played everywhere today. No matter where I go in the world, people know that song. It’s bizarre!” Steve Porcaro described the song as a dumb experiment with goofy lyrics that were just temporary placeholders, particularly the line about the Serengeti: “As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.” Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, located in Tanzania. The Serengeti is an ecosystem, a geographical region in Africa that spans both Tanzania and Kenya. The Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro are both located in the northern part of Tanzania, but you can’t actually see Kilimanjaro from the Serengeti, which is about 200 miles (320 km) away.


Toto has released 14 studio albums, seven live albums, one soundtrack album (for the 1984 film Dune, written and directed by David Lynch), 19 compilation albums, and 65 singles. Only 10 of those singles entered the American Top 40 chart, and all except one of those 10 are from the ‘80s. Africa is featured on Toto IV, the band’s fourth (and most commercially and critically successful) album, released in 1982. Rosanna (which is song #297 on this list), was the lead single from Toto IV, and peaked at #2 on the American Top 40 chart. The second single was Make Believe, which peaked at #30. Africa was the third single, and the final single released from Toto IV was I Won’t Hold You Back, which peaked at #10 on the American Top 40 chart. Toto’s other hit songs in the United States are 1978’s Hold the Line, 1980’s 99, 1984’s Stranger In Town, 1986’s I’ll Be Over You, 1986’s Without Your Love, and 1988’s Pamela.


Toto IV was the final album with the original Toto lineup, and it received seven Grammy nominations in 1983, winning five of them, including Album of the Year. The other nominees for Album of the Year were American rock musician John (Cougar) Mellencamp’s American Fool, which features two songs on this list: Jack & Diane at #46 and Hurts So Good at #101; American pop musician Billy Joel’s The Nylon Curtain; American jazz/rock musician  Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly; and English pop musician Paul McCartney’s Tug of War, which features his duet with American R&B/pop musician Stevie Wonder, Ebony and Ivory, song #397 on this list. Toto also won 1983’s Record of the Year (which is awarded to the artist, producer, and others who were involved in the actual recording of the song), but not for Africa—The winner of Record of the Year was Rosanna. The other nominees were English jazz/pop musician Joe Jackson’s Steppin’ Out, song #429 on this list; Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s Ebony and Ivory; American country singer/guitarist Willie Nelson’s Always on My Mind, song #450; and Greek composer Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire, song #314. Rosanna was also nominated for Song of the Year (which is awarded to the songwriters), but lost to Willie Nelson’s Always on My Mind. The other nominees were Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s Ebony and Ivory, American rock band Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, song #13 on this list; and Donald Fagen’s I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World), which did not make this list, but came close at #510. Toto was nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1979, but lost to American disco group A Taste of Honey.


Africa has been covered by many artists. The most well-known cover is by American alternative rock band Weezer in 2018, after a teenager’s viral Twitter campaign (@WeezerAfrica) implored the band to do the cover for nearly six months with tweets like, “It’s about time you bless the rains down in Africa,” and the hashtag #WeezerCoverAfrica. Before covering Africa, Weezer covered Toto’s Rosanna (click here) as a way of trolling fans clamoring for Africa. Ultimately, the band gave in to fans’ demand, and Weezer’s version of Africa (click here) peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Weezer’s video for Africa is a mirror-image parody of their 1994 debut single Undone – The Sweater Song. The parody features American musical comedian “Weird Al” Yankovic as Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo, with his band members replacing Weezer. “Weird Al” is known for his lampoons of hit songs. On January 1, 2019, Weezer performed Africa live on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (click here). In response to Weezer’s cover of Africa, Toto did a cover of Weezer’s 2001 song Hash Pipe (click here for Toto’s version).


Other artists who have covered Africa include experimental collaboration Zo! and Tigallo (featuring American rapper Phonte) in 2008 (click here); American musician Scott Bradlee’s jazz-oriented collective Postmodern Jukebox in 2011 (click here); American Christian rock band Relient K in 2011 (click here); English comedy lounge band The Lounge Kittens in 2016 (click here); American musical comedy duo Ninja Sex Party in 2017 (click here); American soul musician CeeLo Green in 2018 (click here); and jazz vocalist Robyn Adele Anderson, who did a bluegrass version in 2019 (click here).


The following songs contain samples or interpolations of Africa:


  • 1992’s Steady Me by German pop singer Sandra

  • 1999’s New World by American rapper Nas

  • 1999’s Tempo Critico by Italian rap group Sacre Scuole

  • 2002’s Heart of Man by American rapper Xzibit

  • 2003’s Murder Reigns by American rapper Ja Rule

  • 2007’s Anything by American pop singer JoJo

  • 2008’s Africa by Lebanese-Canadian pop singer Karl Wolf featuring Culture

  • 2009’s The 12 Days of Christmas by American a cappella group Straight No Chaser (which became one of the very first viral videos and made the group famous)

  • 2010’s Huey Newton by American rapper Wiz Khalifa featuring Curren$y

  • 2010’s vaporwave-genre song A1 by experimental electronic musician Chuck Person, aka Oneohtrix Point Never

  • 2011’s Fight for You by American pop singer Jason Derulo

  • 2011’s How I Feel by American rapper Lil B

  • 2012’s Keep Ballin by American rapper Red Café

  • 2013’s Reloaded by American rapper Rich Homie Quan

  • 2016’s Africa by Swedish production duo Bacall & Malo featuring Nigerian singer Prince Osito

  • 2017’s Be Right Back! by American rapper Ezri

  • 2018’s Ocean To Ocean by American rapper Pitbull featuring Rhea

  • 2019’s Selfish by Belgian DJ and record producer Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, with Kosovo-Albanian singer Era Istrefi


Africa has been featured in quite a few television shows, including the very first episode of Stranger Things; Scrubs (click here); Family Guy (click here); Community (with American actress Betty White: click here); and South Park (in two episodes of its 20th season: click here and here). In 2013, American pop singer Justin Timberlake and American talk show host Jimmy Fallon performed it in a sketch on The Tonight Show (click here). In 2013, Africa was used by CBS during coverage of the funeral of South African president Nelson Mandela, which even the Toto guys thought was inappropriate: David Paich stated publicly that CBS should have used actual South African music instead.

Against All Odds by Phil Collins — Song #189

Against the Wind by Bob Seger — Song #346

Ain’t Nobody by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan

Song #197

Michael Jackson almost recorded this song for the Thriller album! Producer Quincy Jones wanted Ain’t Nobody, and he almost got it. Rufus keyboardist David Wolinski wrote the song, and the other members of the group didn’t like it, but they recorded it anyway, to be included as a bonus track on the band’s 1983 live album Stompin’ at the Savoy, which was to be the group’s final album because the band members had decided to split up. David Wolinski wanted the song to be released as the album’s first single, and threatened to pull the song from the album and give it to Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson if the band did not agree. Executives at Warner Bros. Records and the band ultimately agreed, and Ain’t Nobody was released in November 1983; it reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart and #22 on the American Top 40 chart. The song was also included on the soundtrack for the 1984 breakdancing film Breakin’, and is featured in a sequence in the film (click here).

Rufus was an American funk band that formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1970. Rufus had 10 American Top 40 hits, including 1974’s Tell Me Something Good (written by Stevie Wonder) and 1975’s Sweet Thing. Chaka Khan joined as lead vocalist in 1972, and quickly became the focus of the band’s image. Chaka Khan became so popular that Rufus became “Rufus featuring Chaka Khan,” one of the most influential funk bands of the 1970s, with four consecutive #1 albums on the U.S. Billboard R&B album chart, and five #1 songs on the R&B singles chart. Chaka Khan signed a solo contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1978, but she remained part of the band until 1982. Chaka Khan’s real name is Yvette Marie Stevens. At the age of 14, she joined the Black Panthers, one of the most influential political organization of the 1960s. Known as the Queen of Funk, Chaka Khan has won 10 Grammy Awards, including two as a member of Rufus—both in the category of Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Tell Me Something Good and Ain’t Nobody.


Ain’t Nobody has been covered several times, and some of these versions became dance hits around the world. Examples include British singer Jaki Graham’s 1994 version (click here); Jamaican singer/songwriter Diana King’s 1995 version (click here); a 1996 interpolation of the song (click here) for the soundtrack of the film Beavis and Butt–Head Do America by American rapper LL Cool J; Richard X vs. Liberty X’s 2003 song Being Nobody, which combines the lyrics of Ain’t Nobody with the music of Being Boiled by The Human League (whose Human and Don’t You Want Me are songs #404 at #39, on this list, respectively); and the most successful cover of the song, German DJ Felix Jaehn’s 2015 worldwide hit Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better) featuring vocals by English singer Jasmine Thompson.


In 2018, Ain’t Nobody was adopted by fans of Nottingham Forest Football Club (a professional football club based in Nottinghamshire, England), and the song has previously been used by supporters of Arsenal Football Club, Wales national football team, and West Ham United Football Club. Chaka Khan has two more songs on this list of THE TOP 500 POP SONGS OF THE 1980S: Her biggest solo hit I Feel For You (written by Prince and featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica), is song #153, and she sings with Steve Winwood on Higher Love, song #130.

Ain't Nobody

Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds – Song #456


All Night Long by Lionel Richie — Song #68

All Out Of Love by Air Supply — Song #180

All Through the Night by Cyndi Lauper — Song #267

Alone by Heart — Song #121

Always On My Mind by Willie Nelson — Song #450

Always On My Mind by Pet Shop Boys – Song #459

Always Something There To Remind Me by Naked Eyes — Song #134

America by Neil Diamond — Song #475

Angel by Aerosmith — Song #444

Angel Of the Morning by Juice Newton — Song #370

Def Leppard Vegan

Animal by Def Leppard — Song #500

Another Brick In the Wall (Part II) by Pink Floyd — Song #15

Another Day In Paradise by Phil Collins — Song #216

Brian May Vegan

Another One Bites the Dust by Queen

Song #5

This song is Queen’s biggest hit in the United States, even though its funky disco sound was a major departure in style for this British hard rock band. Another One Bites the Dust actually led to a dwindling of Queen’s popularity in the U.S., as a part of the backlash toward disco in that genre’s dying days. Another One Bites the Dust hit #1 on the American Top 40 chart in 1980, and was a surprise crossover hit, peaking at #2 on two other U.S. Billboard charts: the Hot R&B/Soul Singles chart and the Hot Dance/Disco Club Play chart. Fans of the song who didn’t know the band thought that the singer was black guy. The song was also a hit in Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Austria, South Africa, Australia, Spain, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the U.K. Another One Bites the Dust is the highest ranking of four Queen songs on this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S, and three of those songs are in the Top 50. The other songs are Under Pressure with English singer/songwriter David Bowie at #41,  Crazy Little Thing Called Love at #44, and Radio Ga Ga at #495.


Queen is a British rock band that formed in London in 1970. The band’s music is difficult to classify. Queen’s earliest work is oriented toward hard rock and heavy metal, but the band’s sound evolved dramatically over the years, incorporating elements of symphonic rock, glam rock, operatic pop, arena rock, dance/disco, and rockabilly. The band is known for complex multi-layered vocal harmonies and elaborate, orchestral production values. The original lineup was Brian May (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, guitar, keyboards, vocals), Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, keyboards, piano, guitar), and John Deacon (bass, guitar, keyboards). Before forming Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor were in the band Smile, which formed in 1968 and disbanded in 1970. They met Freddie Mercury, who suggested forming a new band. John Deacon join the band in 1971. Freddie Mercury and Brian May wrote the bulk of the band’s material, but all four contributed to the songwriting. In 1991, at the age of 45, Freddie Mercury died of bronchopneumonia, a complication of HIV/AIDS. John Deacon retired from music in 1997. Brian May and Roger Taylor have continued to tour as Queen, with English-Canadian singer Paul Rodgers from 2004 to 2009, and American singer Adam Lambert from 2011 to present.


Another One Bites the Dust was written and composed by John Deacon. He plays most of the instruments: bass, lead and rhythm guitars, reversed piano, and extra percussion. “I listened to a lot of soul music when I was in school, and I’ve always been interested in that sort of music,” he told Bassist & Bass Techniques in 1996. “I’d been wanting to do a track like Another One Bites the Dust for a while, but originally all I had was the line and the bass riff. Gradually I filled it in and the band added ideas. I could hear it as a song for dancing but had no idea it would become as big as it did. The song got picked up off our album and some of the black radio stations in the U.S. started playing it...” Brian May contributed some of the sound effects, running his guitar through an Eventide Harmonizer processor. No synthesizers were used when the song was recorded. All of the effects were created with piano, electric guitars, and drums. Sound effects were run through the harmonizer for extra processing. Subsequent tape playback of some of the sounds in reverse and at various speeds added to the song’s unique sound. And of course, Freddie Mercury’s vocals are over-the-top and irresistible. About Freddie Mercury’s vocals, Brian May said, “A fantastic bit of work from Freddie really... Fred just went in there and hammered and hammered until his throat bled... He really was inspired by it and took it to a new height, I think.”


According to Brian May, “John Deacon, being totally in his own world, came up with this thing, which was nothing like what we were doing. We were going for the big drum sound: you know, quite pompous in our usual way. And Deakey says, ‘No, I want this to be totally different: It’s going to be a very tight drum sound.’ It was originally done to a drum loop. This was before the days of drum machines. Roger did a loop, kind of under protest, because he didn’t like the sound of the drums recorded that way. And then Deakey put this groove down. Immediately Freddie became violently enthusiastic and said, ‘This is big! This is important! I’m going to spend a lot of time on this.’ It was the beginning of something quite big for us, because it was the first time that one of our records crossed over to the black community. We had no control over that; it just happened. Suddenly we were forced to put out this single because so many stations in New York were playing it. It changed that album from being a million-seller to being a three-million seller in a matter of three weeks or so.”


John Deacon’s bassline in Another One Bites the Dust was inspired by R&B group Chic’s #1 1979 hit song Good Times. In an interview with the New Musical Express, Chic bass player Bernard Edwards said, “Well, that Queen record came about because that bass player spent some time hanging out with us at our studio. But that’s okay. What isn’t okay is that the press started saying that we had ripped them off! Can you believe that? Good Times came out more than a year before, but it was inconceivable to these people that black musicians could possibly be innovative like that. It was just these dumb disco guys ripping off this rock ‘n roll song.” In 2014, Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers told The Guardian, “John Deacon was with me in the studio when I wrote the damn thing.” Good Times was one of the biggest hits of the summer of 1979. The Sugar Hill Gang’s landmark hip-hop song Rapper’s Delight (song #195 on this list) also uses the bassline of Good Times (Chic members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards received songwriting credits). Interestingly, when Another One Bites the Dust hit #1 in the U.S., it replaced Diana Ross’ Upside Down (song #160 on this list), which was written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards.


Queen was reluctant to release Another One Bites the Dust as a single. It was the King of Pop himself Michael Jackson who convinced them that it would be a hit. After attending a Queen concert in Los Angeles, Michael Jackson came backstage. “I remember Michael and some of his brothers in the dressing room going on and on about Another One Bites the Dust. They kept saying we must release it as a single,” Roger Taylor told the magazine in 2009. Freddie Mercury said, “Credit for the song should go to Michael Jackson in many ways. He was a fan and friend of ours and kept telling me, ‘Freddie, you need a song the cats can dance to.’ John [Deacon] introduced this riff to us during rehearsal that we all immediately thought of disco, which was very popular at the time. We worked it out and once it was ready, played it for Michael. I knew we had a hit as he bobbed his head up and down. ‘That’s it, that’s the gravy. Release it and it will top the charts,’ he said. So we did, and it did.”


Another One Bites the Dust is notable for other reasons. In the early-‘80s, it was one of the main songs that Christian evangelists alleged contained secret subliminal messages through a technique called backmasking. They claimed that the chorus, when played in reverse, is heard as, “It’s fun to smoke marijuana.” Listen for yourself here. Another One Bites the Dust is also known for its use in the ‘80s as part of the training for medical professionals to provide the correct number of chest compressions per minute while performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The song was chosen because the bassline has close to 110 beats per minute, and 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute is the recommendation of the British Heart Foundation.


During an interview on In the Studio with Redbeard, Brian May said, “I always thought there was an instant where we were the biggest thing in the world. Another One Bites the Dust sort of clinched it because it suddenly crossed over to the black/R&B market. Suddenly instead of a million albums, we were [selling] three or four million albums. And at that time, that was about as much as anyone had ever done...” Another One Bites the Dust won an American Music Award for Favorite Rock Single of 1981, beating nominees Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) (song #15 on this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S), and Diana Ross’s Upside Down (song #242). Another One Bites the Dust was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, but lost to Bob Seger’s Against the Wind (song #346). The other nominees were Blondie’s Call Me (song #53), The Pretenders’ Brass in Pocket (song #161), and the Pink Floyd album The Wall, which features Another Brick in the Wall (Part II).


Another One Bites the Dust has been sampled and interpolated by many musicians, primarily comedic artists and rappers. The song is sampled in the following songs:


Another One Bites the Dust is interpolated in the following songs:

Another One Bites the Dust has been covered by the following artists:


  • German Eurodance group Captain Jack for the Queen tribute compilation album Queen Dance Traxx in 1996 (click here)

  • Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean in 1998 (click here)

  • Argentine music duo Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas in 2001 (click here)

  • The cast of American TV show Glee in 2010 (click here)

  • Underground group Hidden Citizens in 2016 (click here)    


Another One Bites the Dust was used in a preliminary cut of the 1982 film Rocky III, in a pivotal scene in which Rocky is training for a fight, but because the producers could not get permission to use the song in the film, it was ultimately replaced with Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger (song #13 on this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S. Another One Bites the Dust is featured in the following movies: 1981’s Modern Romance, 1989’s Sea of Love, 1998’s Small Soldiers, 1999’s 200 Cigarettes, 2000’s Circus, 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, 2010’s Iron Man 2, 2011’s Skateland, 2016’s Everybody Wants Some!!, and of course, the 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Another One Bites the Dust has been featured on many TV shows as well, including WKRP in Cincinnati, Fame, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Everybody Hates Chris, American Dad!, My Name is Earl, Cold Case, Family Guy, Lucifer, American Crime Story, and numerous sporting events and reality competition shows.


Queen is one of the world’s best-selling bands, with 73 singles, 15 studio albums, 10 live albums, two soundtrack albums, 16 compilation albums, and 11 box sets. Thirteen of Queen’s songs were American Top 40 hits (although two pairs of those songs were “double side” singles, explained below). Queen’s first hit song in the U.K. was Seven Seas of Rhye, which peaked at #10 on the U.K. Singles Chart in 1974, but the band’s first hit in the U.S. and worldwide was 1974’s Killer Queen, which peaked at #12  on the American Top 40 chart.


Queen’s biggest worldwide hit is the six-minute rock epic Bohemian Rhapsody, which peaked at #9 in the U.S. in 1975; 16 years later, it re-entered the Billboard chart and peaked at #2, after its use in the 1992 film Wayne’s World (watch the film clip here). In 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody was an American Top 40 hit for a third time and peaked at #33, due to the release of the film Bohemian Rhapsody (American actor Rami Malek won an Oscar for portraying Freddie Mercury in the film). For its original release, the song Bohemian Rhapsody stayed at #1 in the U.K. for nine weeks, from November 1975 to January 1976, and then hit #1 again for another five weeks after Freddie Mercury died in 1991. Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the most popular and best-selling songs of all time, and is widely considered one of the greatest rock songs, which is why it’s odd that originally, it only got as high at #9 on the American Top 40 chart. Similarly, Journey’s 1981 song Don’t Stop Believin’, which is the #1 song on this list of THE TOP 500 POPULAR SONGS OF THE 1980S, also peaked at #9. Two of the most popular songs of all time barely entered the Top 10 in the U.S. when they were originally released.


Queen’s next U.S. hit