A lot of people enjoy making playlists by year, which is why we’re here to tell you the 35 best songs from 1985. Read our list below and see if you agree with what we think are some of the hottest tunes to put onto your music playlist.
1. Like A Virgin – Madonna
First on our list is Madonna with Like A Virgin, which is a dance and pop song that is all about sex, although you could interpret the lyrics differently since a lot of the innuendos are hidden. The track reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance Club Songs charts. It is one of her most well-known tracks and one of her most successful songs to date.
2. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
Wham! is next with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, which has been ranked as one of the best songs of the 80s by VH1. This track was their first US and UK hit, and it went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also landed on the Adult Contemporary chart at number four and has become one of the signature songs by the George Michael-led British group.
3. How Will I Know – Whitney Houston
The next artist on our list is Whitney Houston who had a hit with How Will I Know in 1985. This song was from her debut album and quickly became a hit. It spent two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also landed at number one in Canada. It also landed within the Top 10 internationally in countries such as Ireland, Norway, and Sweden.
4. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits
Rock band Dire Straits makes the list with Money For Nothing, which comes from their album Brothers In Arms. In the song, there are background vocals that were sung by Sting, and you can hear him in both the chorus in the back and the introduction that’s done in falsetto. It hit number one on the Top Rock Tracks and Billboard Hot 100 charts and won a Grammy Award in the Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocal category.
5. Freeway Of Love – Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin’s song Freeway Of Love was a huge hit, and it comes from her album Who’s Zoomin’ Who? This track hit number one on the Hot Black Singles chart and stayed there for five weeks while also hitting three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. When she died in 2018, there were over 100 Cadillacs in pink that were part of her funeral procession, which was an homage to the lyrics and album cover.
6. The Power Of Love – Huey Lewis & The News
Calling all fans of Back To The Future, the next track is The Power Of Love by Huey Lewis & The News, which was written for this movie. The song went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top Rock Tracks charts and was their first big hit within the US.
7. Walk Like An Egyptian – The Bangles
Girl group The Bangles had a smash hit with Walk Like An Egyptian, which is thought to be their signature song. This track was from the album Different Light and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 while hitting 15 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart. This is an iconic song that made them a household name.
8. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
On our list next is the ballad Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon, which comes from their album Wheels Are Turnin’, and it was famously performed during the Live Aid concert. It went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and this was their second song that went to number one in America. It also went to number three on the Adult Contemporary charts and is one of their most well-known tracks to date.
9. I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner
Rock band Foreigner is on our list with I Want To Know What Love Is, which comes from the album Agent Provocateur. This track is their signature song and the biggest radio hit for the British band. It went to number one in the UK and the US and also landed at number one on the Mainstream Rock chart.
10. Addicted To Love – Robert Palmer
Robert Palmer makes the list with Addicted to Love, which comes from his album Riptide, and it topped both the Billboard Hot 100 chart and Top Rock Tracks chart. This is known as his signature song, and it was an international hit too, landing number one on the Australian charts. The music video for this track is famous and known for having high-end models in it, and that helped the song become one of the most iconic of the 80s.
11. Take On Me – a-ha
On our list next is a-ha with the song Take On Me, which is a pop and synth track that includes keyboards and guitars. This song was a huge hit in America and hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart thanks to a lot of airtime on MTV. The track also was on the UK Singles chart where it hit number two. It is known for its music video, which features an animation of the band in a pencil sketch that was like a live-action film.
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12. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
Attention all fans of The Breakfast Club, Simple Minds had a song in the movie called Don’t You Forget About Me. This track went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock charts and also hit nine on the Dance Club Songs chart. You also can find this in the movie Easy A, which was released in 2010.
13. Everybody Wants To Rule The World – Tears For Fears
Tears For Fears is next with Everybody Wants To Rule The World, and this track comes from their album Songs From The Big Chair. It was the third track on the album, and it’s a mix of both synth-pop and new wave. It is all about corruption and how we all feel like we want control of the world. This song went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and two on the Adult Contemporary chart.
14. Say You, Say Me – Lionel Richie
Calling all fans of the movie White Nights, Lionel Richie makes the list with Say You, Say Me, which was written after he couldn’t come up with a song title using the title of the movie. This track went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, and it also landed on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
15. The Heat Is On – Glenn Frey
Have you seen the movie Beverly Hills Cop? Glenn Frey had a hit with The Heat Is On, which can be found on the soundtrack to the movie. This is a very popular song and could be considered his signature track. It landed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number two and hit four on the Mainstream Rock chart.
16. One More Night – Phil Collins
On our list next is One More Night by Phil Collins, which is a soft rock ballad that hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after seven weeks and stayed number one for two weeks. The song also went to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at four on the UK Singles Chart.
17. Part-Time Lover – Stevie Wonder
Next is Stevie Wonder with Part-Time Lover, which is all about how a guy is cheating on his wife but finds out his wife is cheating on him too. This was the first time an artist hit number one on different Billboard charts at the same time, with it hitting one on the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, Dance, and R&B charts.
18. Loverboy – Billy Ocean
Billy Ocean is on our list with Loverboy, and it was used in the television show Casualty, which ran on the BBC One channel. This song hit two on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit 15 on the UK Singles Chart. It was a huge hit in South Africa too and stayed on the charts for 26 weeks, with 11 of those weeks staying at number one.
19. Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young
Paul Young makes the list with Everytime You Go Away, which comes from his album The Secret Of Association. It was performed at Live Aid, and then it went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also reached number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and hit 14 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
20. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
Katrina & The Waves had a hit with Walking On Sunshine, which was released on their self-titled album in 1985. This is their signature song and reached number nine on the charts in America and number four in Australia. It’s a very upbeat track that is still played today.
21. We Are The World – U.S.A. for Africa
U.S.A. For Africa had an international hit with We Are The World, which was written by both Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. This song managed to sell more than 20 million copies and sold quicker than any other single in history. It also became the first track to have a Quadruple Platinum certification.
22. We Built This City – Starship
On our list next is We Built This City by Starship from their album Knee Deep In The Hoopla. This song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also topped charts in countries such as Ireland, Germany, and Switzerland. This is their signature track, and it’s the song that made them a household name.
23. These Dreams – Heart
Heart is on our list with These Dreams, which comes from their self-titled album, and this was their first song to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also hit number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and two on the Mainstream Rock chart.
24. You’re The Inspiration – Chicago
Up next is You’re The Inspiration by Chicago, and this song was from their album Chicago 17. It topped the Adult Contemporary chart and hit three on the Billboard Hot 100. You can find this track in various movies and television shows such as Deadpool, Kicking And Screaming, and Karate Kid.
25. Material Girl – Madonna
Next is Madonna who had a hit with Material Girl on her album Like A Virgin. This song is all about her singing about how she wants a guy that can provide her with material objects, which means he is rich. It hit two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and hit the top five in countries including Japan, Canada, and Australia.
26. Smooth Operator – Sade
On our list is Sade who released Smooth Operator on the album Diamond Life. This is the band’s debut album, and this song was the second single released from it in America. It hit number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It became their biggest success on an international level.
27. Freedom – Wham!
Wham! makes the list with Freedom, which was a tribute song to Motown. This track reached number three on the charts in America while hitting number one on the UK Singles chart. This was the second time that the group had a number-one hit in the UK.
28. If You Love Somebody Set Them Free – Sting
Next is Sting with If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, which was from his debut solo album The Dream Of Blue Turtles. The song hit number one on the Album Rock Tracks chart and three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
29. Missing You – Diana Ross
Singer Diana Ross had a hit with Missing You, which was from her album Swept Away. This song went to number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts and four on the Adult Contemporary charts. The track was a tribute from Lionel Richie to Marvin Gaye, who had been killed earlier in the year by his father.
30. Miami Vice Theme – Jan Hammer
Calling all fans of Miami Vice, Jan Hammer makes the list with the Miami Vice Theme. This theme song won two Grammy Awards, and it was part of the game’s soundtrack. The soundtrack ended up becoming the most successful on the charts ever since it was number one for more than 11 weeks, although it was eventually broken by High School Musical in 2006.
31. That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne Warwick
Dionne Warwick had a smash hit with That’s What Friends Are For, which went to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also hit number one on the Soul Chart, and it topped the charts in Australia and Canada too.
32. Run To You – Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams had a hit with Run To You from his album Reckless, and it is about a guy who chooses to run to his side woman instead of his girlfriend. The song hit number one on the Top Rock Tracks chart and six on the Billboard Hot 100.
33. The Boys Of Summer – Don Henley
Next is Don Henley with The Boys Of Summer, which was from his album Building The Perfect Beast. This song topped the Top Rock Tracks chart and was number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was also a success internationally, peaking on the UK Singles Chart at number 12. It remains one of his biggest hits to date.
34. We Belong – Pat Benatar
Pat Benatar is next with We Belong, which comes from her album Tropico. This song hit number three on the Top Rock Tracks chart and five on the Billboard Hot 100. She was nominated for a Grammy Award for the song, although she didn’t win.
35. A View To A Kill – Duran Duran
Last is A View To Kill by Duran Duran, and this track is the theme song for the James Bond movie of the same name. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also hit two on the UK Singles chart. It is the only theme song to a James Bond film to top the Billboard chart.
From the time she was little, Florence loved listening to music and quickly learned how music can make you happy and feel fulfilled. One of her favorite memories is being in the garage with her dad working on classic cars with the local rock station blaring in the background. Ever since Florence was 3, she loved grunge music and spent hours listening to bands such as Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Soul Asylum, and Soundgarden.
She also enjoys classic rock, modern rock, nu metal, alternative rock, and old 90’s R&B. Her love of music grew as she got older, and used music to help her get through tough times in her life. More often than not, you’ll see Florence with earbuds in while she’s writing, cooking, cleaning, and doing other tasks. She also loves to debate music with her friends such as which lead singer is the best vocalist, the most iconic guitar solos in music, and what songs are really the best of the decade.