By far, one of the most popular nights at any club is 80s night. That’s because the decade of neon and teased hair was also the decade of amazing dance music. If you’re looking for the best 80s dance songs, you’ve come to the right place.
We’re giving you pop, rock, and more so you can work up a sweat to some of the most fun tunes of the time. Grab your leggings and get ready.
1. Into the Groove – Madonna
You can’t trust a list of 1980s dance songs that doesn’t start with Madonna. She ruled the decade with her upbeat, alt-pop, girl rocker sound. Artists have been inspired by her for decades. In short, this queen of the stage shaped generations of music and showed the 80s exactly how to express themselves.
2. Thriller – Michael Jackson
If you haven’t seen the music video for “Thriller,” stop what you’re doing and watch it right now. Cinematic, scary, funny, and unforgettable, this song comes complete with its own zombie dance. For a great workout challenge, try learning all the steps.
3. Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper was another pop icon of the 80s whose multi-colored clothing and hair were as memorable as her voice. Long considered a girls’ night out anthem, this song is a must-have for any 80s dance playlist you’re putting together.
4. Let’s Hear It For The Boy – Deniece Williams
This song brings a smile to everyone’s face. It’s the quintessential happy 80s tune. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that it received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in the movie Footloose.
5. Footloose – Kenny Loggins
Speaking of Footloose, this song is permanently connected to Kevin Bacon, thanks to his epic dance moves in the movie. It was up for a Best Original Song Oscar against “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” Neither song won, but the double nominations secured this soundtrack’s place forever in the hearts of dancers.
6. You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) – Dead or Alive
Like all decades, the 80s had a variety of unique sounds. Dead or Alive’s chart-topper is in a minor key, which gives it a slightly goth or alternative rock vibe. Its catchy beat never fails to make the dance floor fill up. That means it’s right at home on this list.
7. Everybody Have Fun Tonight – Wang Chung
Wang Chung was a British “new wave” group, and their 1986 hit stayed at the top or near the top of the charts. It’s still a favorite of 80s fans everywhere. The original draft of this song was actually sad and ironic. Their producer told them to get rid of the irony and make it a party-themed hit.
8. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
Wham! had tons of hits, but this was their first American hit, and it remains one of their most loved. High energy and light-hearted, you’ll likely find yourself bouncing around the dance floor with everybody else as soon as it comes on. The great George Michael wrote and produced this one after his bandmate accidentally wrote the word “up” twice in a note to his parents, asking them to wake him up before they went somewhere. Inspiration can strike in the strangest places!
9. Fame – Irene Cara
The theme song to the film and TV series of the same name, “Fame” introduced the 80s to what it was going to become. The tune won a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1980.
10. Nasty – Janet Jackson
Janet and Michael Jackson basically owned the top charts for the entire 80s. “Nasty” appeared on her hit third album, Control, and it went on to win Favorite Soul/R&B Single at the American Music Awards in 1987.
11. Funky Cold Medina – Tone Loc
What exactly is a “Funky Cold Medina?” It turns out Flavor Flav recommended the phrase to Tone Loc. The song tells the story of a cocktail that has unexpected effects on the drinker, with both shocking and comedic results.
12. How Will I Know? – Whitney Houston
Can you believe this comes from Whitney Houston’s debut album? She was a legendary superstar right from the start. “How Will I Know?” reached number one and remained in the top ten of the charts around the world for weeks.
13. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
MTV played this music video of a band on the beach all throughout the 80s. Beware: the catchy chorus will stay in your head forever.
Next: Best 1980s music videos
14. Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles
Banned in several places because of sensitivity concerns, this song remains a classic favorite from the 80s. The songwriter once remarked that he came up with the idea when he saw people trying to keep their balance on a ferry boat.
15. Don’t You Want Me – The Human League
British synthpop found its stride in the 80s, especially with Human League’s hit. In 1983, Rolling Stone referred to this song as part of the Second British Invasion. Originally a solo, this song got a revision when the lead singer found inspiration from the film A Star is Born.
16. Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
Queen was already well established as a powerhouse in the rock music industry by the time the 80s came around. They never shied away from changes in musical trends. Freddie Mercury and his band were known for setting trends of their own. That’s exactly what they did in 1980 when they won an American Music Award for this iconic dance tune.
17. Super Freak – Rick James
Deliberately created to be a popular dance song, “Super Freak” has been sampled and referenced in countless subsequent songs. Perhaps most notably, recognizable riffs play in MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”
18. 1999 – Prince
Plenty of these songs are dated by their unmistakable 80s sound. However, this 1982 hit slaps a date in the chorus that’s supposed to be way in the future. Listening to it now is a bit like reading the book 1984, only with a lot more dancing and fun. After Prince died, the song found its way back to the top 100 list, proving Prince has never gone out of style.
19. Tainted Love – Soft Cell
Hold up—the original “Tainted Love” came out by Gloria Jones way back in 1964! That’s right. The famous recording we all know and love is a cover. It wasn’t until British synthpop band Soft Cell recorded their reworked version that this song flew to the charts and became a permanent sound of the 80s.
20. Faith – George Michael
Number one on the Billboard chart for a whole month, this song didn’t even need George Michael in tight jeans to make it a hit. That didn’t hurt, though.
21. Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
All the way from Australia, Rick Springfield’s song took a little while to become a hit in the states, but when it got there, it was there to stay. The lyrics were based on a real person Springfield had a crush on, but he never got to know her.
22. Pump Up the Jam – Technotronic
Officially the first song of the house genre to hit the US charts, this song was unavoidable throughout the 80s. Every party, club, and bar played it, and every radio station fielded regular requests to play it. Technotronic’s 1989 Eurodance sound may mark the shift as the 80s transitioned to the 90s.
23. Tell Her About It – Billy Joel
Billy Joel’s another artist who’s been on the charts for decades. The 80s, in particular, were a good time for this piano man. This certified gold single hit number one on the charts in 1983.
24. Walk This Way – Run-D.M.C. Featuring Aerosmith
Aerosmith had a good run in the 70s, but it was in the 80s, when Run-D.M.C. collaborated with them on a cover of “Walk This Way,” that they officially became a multi-generational band. This hit also demonstrated the popularity of rock/hip-hop mashups. Before, the genres had often remained separate.
25. Mickey – Toni Basil
The Monkees choreographer Toni Basil had her controversial moment of fame with this song. She swears it’s a simple song about someone with a crush. However, some critics have read into the lyrics and decided they’re dirty. The song is also not, Basil said, about Micky Dolenz from The Monkees.
26. Invisible Touch – Genesis
For a thirteenth album, “Invisible Touch” sure manages to get the job done. Genesis wasn’t interested in putting out duds when they released this in 1986. The title song spent three weeks in a row at the top of the charts.
27. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
Australian rockers AC/DC may not have entered the pop scene, but they certainly knew how to get people dancing. This one landed number 10 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s.
28. Come On Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners
If it weren’t for Dexys Midnight Runners, Michael Jackson would have had two number-one singles in a row. “Come On Eileen” swooped in and replaced “Billie Jean” at the top spot in 1983.
29. Take Me Home Tonight/Be My Baby – Eddie Money
Pulling from a 60s hit “Be My Baby,” Eddie Money took home the title of 14th most played song of all time on American radio with “Take Me Home Tonight.” Surprisingly, though, this peaked at number four on the Billboard chart when it came out in 1986.
30. Love Shack – The B-52s
Play this at your next 80s night, and you will experience the entire dance floor shouting “tin roof, rusted!” They said that phrase was their vision of what the love shack looked like. The band has said their inspiration came in part from the club in the film, The Color Purple.
31. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes
This multi-award-winning song conjures images of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the film, Dirty Dancing. If anything is the perfect 80s dance song, it’s this. Just make sure you’re ready to do that run and lift at the end.
32. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
English rockers Def Leppard released what would come to be known as their signature song in 1987 when this came out. VH1 listed it as number 2 in their 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s.
33. Dancing In the Dark – Bruce Springsteen
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed this among their 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Bruce Springsteen used synth sounds for the first time in 1984 when he released this, and fans loved the nod to 80s trends. Though he’s an American singer, “Dancing In the Dark” gained international popularity and spent time near the top of the charts worldwide.
34. Mony Mony – Billy Idol
Here’s another song from the 60s that got a reversion in the 80s with excellent results. This time, we can thank the original band, Tommy James and the Shondells, when they released this track way back in 1968. It wasn’t until Billy Idol in the UK decided to cover it that it got an 80s rock adjustment.
35. Blister In the Sun – Violent Femmes
Folk-punk/alternative rock was alive and well with the Violent Femmes in the 80s. This head-bopping tune is a fan favorite, and it never fails to slay on the dance floor.
In many ways, the 80s embraced dance club culture more than any generation before, and the fever for fun spread across all genres of music. From hard rock to light pop, songs from the 80s aimed at getting fans dancing all night long.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
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