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41 Best Songs From 1986

Have you been trying to figure out what tracks from 1986 to add to your playlist but need help coming up with some chart-topping hits? Below, we are going to discuss the 41 best songs from 1986 that you might want to listen to and add to your 80s music playlist. 

1. Say You, Say Me – Lionel Richie 

Lionel Richie - Say You, Say Me

First on our list is Lionel Richie with Say You, Say Me, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and Adult Contemporary chart. This track was featured in the movie White Nights and was released on his album Dancing On The Ceiling. For Richie, this was the ninth song that peaked at number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and is one of his most popular tunes. 

2. That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne Warwick feat. Elton John, Gladys Knight, And Stevie Wonder

Dionne Warwick - That's What Friends Are For

Dionne Warwick makes our list with That’s What Friends Are For, which is a song she released with her friends including Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Elton John. This track was released for AIDS prevention and research and it quickly became a hit. It was the biggest single in 1986, and it won multiple Grammy Awards including Song of the Year. It went to one on the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. 

3. Addicted To Love  – Robert Palmer 

Robert Palmer - Addicted To Love (Official Music Video)

Robert Palmer makes our list with Addicted To Love, which is on the album Riptide and it was the second song released from this album. It went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Top Rock Tracks chart. It was also an international hit and became number one in Australia but only peaked at number five on the Singles chart in the UK. The music video is famous and features very high-end fashion models, and that is in part why it is known as his signature song. 

4. How Will I Know – Whitney Houston 

Whitney Houston - How Will I Know (Official HD Video)

Pop star Whitney Houston is on our list with How Will I Know. This song is from her debut album and is one of her most famous tracks to date. It went to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart as well as one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song had originally been for Janet Jackson, but she didn’t want it, which is how Houston ended up with it. It’s all about whether a boy whom the girl likes will like her or not. 

5. I Miss You – Klymaxx 

Klymaxx - I Miss You (Official Music Video)

Klymaxx makes our list with their song I Miss You from the album Meeting In The Ladies Room. This track hit five on the Billboard Hot 100, and in Canada, went to number one on the Top Singles chart. This song lasted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for more than 29 weeks, which then led it to become one of the biggest Billboard-charting tracks of the year. 

6. On My Own – Patti Labelle Feat. Michael McDonald 

Patti LaBelle - On My Own ft. MICHAEL MCDONALD

Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald had a hit song with On My Own from her album Winner In You. It’s all about a relationship that ended and the possibility that one day these two people will find their way back together. It landed at number one on the Dance Single Sales chart and Billboard Hot 100 chart. What’s interesting is that when they recorded this track, they did so in different cities, and then they were mixed together to create the duet. 

7. Party All The Time – Eddie Murphy 

Eddie Murphy - Party All the Time

Comedian Eddie Murphy is someone you wouldn’t expect to see on our list, but he released a hit song called Party All The Time, which is from his debut album How Could It Be. This track was released because Murphy and Richard Pryor made a bet worth $100,000 over whether he could sing or not. It ended up becoming a sensation and landed at two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was recorded at the studio at Rick James’ house, and he even sings backup on it.

8. Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna 

Madonna - Papa Don't Preach (Official Video) [HD]

Madonna makes our list with her song Papa Don’t Preach, which comes from her album True Blue. This track made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and four on the Dance Club Songs chart. Even though it landed at 16 on the Adult Contemporary chart, it’s one of her most well-known tracks that is all about a teenager being pregnant. 

9. Walk This Way – Aerosmith 

Aerosmith - Walk This Way (Audio)

Next on our list is Walk This Way by Aerosmith, and this song is from their album Toys In The Attic. It has been famously covered by Run DMC, and Aerosmith collaborates with them for this cover. This track won a Soul Train Award for Best Rap Single, and you can find the Aerosmith version and Run DMC version in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

10. Why Can’t This Be Love – Van Halen 

Why Can't This Be Love

Rock group Van Halen is on our list with the song Why Can’t This Be Love, which comes from their album 5150, and it’s notable since it’s the first track to be released that has Sammy Hagar on vocals. This song was an instant hit and landed at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and one on the Mainstream Rock chart. This track helped the album become number one on the Hot Albums chart, and it hit the Top 10 in the UK too

11. Nasty – Janet Jackson 

Janet Jackson - Nasty

Pop singer Janet Jackson is on the list with Nasty, which is from her album Control, and it hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This pop-funk track won an American Music Award in the Soul/R&B Single category and lands on multiple lists of the best songs of the 80s, including by VH1. This is thought to be one of her signature tracks, and it’s no wonder it made it to number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. 

12. Kiss – Prince & The Revolution 

Prince & The Revolution - Kiss (Official Music Video)

Coming in at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and Dance Club Songs chart is Kiss by Prince, which makes our list. The track is from his album Parade, and it’s considered one of the best songs of all time by Rolling Stone. This was a worldwide hit as with most of his tracks, and when he died, it made the charts again and peaked at 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

13. Land Of Confusion – Genesis 

Genesis - Land of Confusion (Official Music Video)

Rock band Genesis makes our list with the song Land Of Confusion, which comes from their album Invisible Touch. This song had puppets in it that were in the UK television show Spitting Image. It landed at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and 11 on the Album Rock Tracks chart.

14. Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston 

Whitney Houston - Greatest Love Of All (Official 4K Video)

Calling all fans of The Greatest, you may remember hearing Greatest Love Of All in the biopic, which is a song by Whitney Houston that was written for this film. The track plays during the opening scene of the movie, which is all about Muhammad Ali. It was a hit and made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Adult Contemporary charts. 

15. The Final Countdown – Europe 

Europe - The Final Countdown (Official Video)

Europe makes the list with The Final Countdown, which went to eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and landed at number 18 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. This song was inspired by Space Oddity by David Bowie and is on their album The Final Countdown. It’s one of their most famous and well-known tracks and still receives a lot of airplay today. 

16. Take My Breath Away – Berlin

Berlin - Take My Breath Away (Official Video - Top Gun)

Berlin had a hit with Take My Breath Away, which was featured in the movie Top Gun, and this track won an Academy Award in the Best Original Song category. This track was requested for a love scene in the movie where a slower song was needed to fit the mood. It made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and went to three on the Adult Contemporary chart. 

17. Push It – Salt-N-Pepa 

Salt-N-Pepa - Push It (Official Music Video)

Hip hop female group Salt-N-Pepa makes our list with Push It, which went to number one on the Dance Singles Sales chart. This track was one of their biggest songs and is listed as one of the best tracks of the decade and of all of hip hop. It made it to 18 on the Dance Club Songs chart and 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This is thought to be one of their signature tracks and one of the fan favorites. 

18. You Give Love A Bad Name – Bon Jovi 

Bon Jovi - You Give Love A Bad Name (Official Music Video)

Bon Jovi makes our list with the hit track You Give Love A Bad Name from their Slippery When Wet album. This song was the first to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and made it to nine on the Album Rock Tracks chart. It’s about the lover of a woman that feels jilted, and it’s a relatable song that has stood the test of time. 

19. Sweet Love – Anita Baker 

Anita Baker makes our list with the song Sweet Love from her album Rapture, and this track was the first single to be released from that album. It was her biggest hit, and it placed two on the R&B chart while peaking at three on the Adult Contemporary chart. Even though it only made it to eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, she won a Grammy Award in the Best R&B Song category for this track. 

20. These Dreams – Heart 

Heart - These Dreams

Heart is on our list with These Dreams, which comes from their self-titled album, and this song was the first track for the group to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also landed at the number one spot on the Adult Contemporary chart and two on the Mainstream Rock chart. This is one of their most famous songs and a fan favorite still to this day. 

21. Manic Monday – The Bangles 

The Bangles - Manic Monday (Official Video)

Manic Monday by The Bangles reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is one of their most well-known songs. It comes from their album Different Light and was written by Prince as a track about a woman who was going to work on Monday and wished it was still Sunday. This song hit number 10 on the Adult Contemporary chart and number two in other countries including Germany, Ireland, the UK, and Canada. 

22. Wanted Dead Or Alive – Bon Jovi 

Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead Or Alive (Official Music Video)

Next on the list is Bon Jovi with the song Wanted Dead Or Alive, which comes from the album Slippery When Wet. This track was one of their biggest songs, and it has become an anthem for the band. It hit seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and 13 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. You may recall this is the theme song for the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch

23. True Colors – Cyndi Lauper 

Cyndi Lauper - True Colors (Official HD Video)

On our list next is Cyndi Lauper with True Colors, which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and she never had another song make it to number one on this chart afterward. She also was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for it, although she didn’t win. 

24. In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel 

Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes

Calling all fans of the movie Say Anything, Peter Gabriel is on this list with In Your Eyes, which comes from his album So. This song references being in love with someone and loving God, which draws inspiration from African culture. It went to number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 26. This song had a lot of radio airplay and MTV play, which is how it became as popular as it was. 

25. Amanda – Boston 

Boston was one of the biggest rock bands of the 80s, and one of their most famous songs was Amanda, which can be found on the album Third Stage. This track hit number one on the Mainstream Rock chart and Billboard Hot 100 chart and was the only number one song of theirs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

26. Dreams – Van Halen 

Van Halen is next with Dreams, which comes from their album 5150, and it famously was in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. The song hit six on the Top Rock Tracks chart and 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was often played in concert during the Sammy Hagar years since the song was written during this time and was also part of the reunion tour with him. 

27. Burning Heart – Survivor 

Survivor - Burning Heart (Audio)

Reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart is the next song, which is Burning Heart by Survivor, and this track can be found in Rocky IV. There are references to the Cold War in the song, and it matches the theme of the movie where Ivan Drago and Rocky are fighting in the ring. This track also was a hit in Canada, the UK, and Germany, placing within the top 15 in those countries. 

28. Secret Lovers – Atlantic Starr 

Atlantic Starr - Secret Lovers

Atlantic Starr had a hit with Secret Lovers, and this was their breakthrough song that managed to become a hit in both the UK and the US. It went to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart, three on the Billboard Hot 100, and four on the Hot Black Singles chart. The track is about a woman and a man who are in relationships of their own but are having an affair with one another and love each other.

29. Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins 

Kenny Loggins - Danger Zone (Official Video - Top Gun)

Everyone who has seen Top Gun knows Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins as it’s the biggest song from the movie, and even appears in Top Gun: Maverick. This track made it to two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and hit 45 on the UK Singles chart. It not only is one of the biggest songs of the 80s but remains one of the most iconic tracks ever because of the popularity of Top Gun. 

30. Rock Me Amadeus – Falco 

Falco - Rock Me Amadeus (Official Video)

Rock Me Amadeus by Falco is a song that almost everyone knows, and that’s why it’s on this list since it is their signature track and the only song by him to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This track also went to number one on the UK Singles chart and was his only hit in the UK too. 

31. Words Get In The Way – Miami Sound Machine 

Words Get In the Way

Miami Sound Machine is on our list with the song Words Get In The Way, which is on the album Primitive Love, and as you might expect, this is a ballad. Becoming the biggest track from this album, it went to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

32. There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) – Billy Ocean 

Billy Ocean - There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) (Official Video)

Next up on the list is Billy Ocean with There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry), which comes from his album Love Zone. This track hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, R&B chart, and Adult Contemporary chart. The song is about his wife’s friend who heard the track Suddenly while at a party and she broke down thinking of her ex-boyfriend, which was the inspiration behind it. 

33. Take Me Home Tonight – Eddie Money 

Eddie Money - Take Me Home Tonight/Be My Baby

One track that you probably know on this list is Take Me Home Tonight by Eddie Money, which was the biggest hit he would have in the US. This song went to number one on the Album Rock Tracks chart and hit four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He was also nominated for a Grammy, although he didn’t win. Once it was released, his career started turning upward again, and this song has since become his signature track. 

34. Love You Down – Ready For The World 

Ready For The World - Love You Down (Official Music Video)

Ready For The World makes the list with Love You Down, which was released on their album Long Time Coming. This slow song mixed both R&B and pop, which is why it made it to number one on the R&B chart and ended up in ninth position on the pop chart. It also reached 24 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and on the UK Singles chart, it landed at number 60. 

35. Something About You – Level 42

Level 42 - Something About You

You may not have heard the band Level 42 before, but there’s a good chance you know the song Something About You since it was number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and hit number six on the UK Singles chart. This track also has been featured in the video game titled Grand Theft Auto IV but only on the PC version of the game. 

36. Higher Love – Steve Winwood 

Steve Winwood - Higher Love (Official Music Video)

You’ve probably heard the song Higher Love by Steve Winwood as this track was incredibly popular, and it made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well as the Mainstream Rock chart. It won him two different Grammy Awards including Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Record of the Year. 

37. Stuck With You – Huey Lewis & The News 

Huey Lewis & The News - Stuck With You

Huey Lewis & The News had a massive hit with Stuck With You from the album Fore! This song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, number 12 on the UK Singles Chart, and was in the Top 10 in multiple other countries. He wrote this track about a woman he liked, but he learned that after he let her hear the song, she didn’t like it, which is sad. 

38. No One Is To Blame – Howard Jones 

Howard Jones - No One Is To Blame

Howard Jones had a hit with No One Is To Blame, which is on his album Dream Into Action. Made to be a radio-friendly song, this was his biggest hit and landed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number four position. It also went number one on the Adult Contemporary chart, with it being only one of two tracks he released that would land on this chart. In the UK, the song placed 16, and it stayed within the top 10 in Australia. 

39. Live To Tell – Madonna 

Madonna - Live To Tell (Official Video)

On our list is Madonna with Live To Tell, which is from her album True Blue, and this song was made famous for being in the movie At Close Range. When she wrote this track, she was thinking about her parents’ relationship, and the lyrics talk about mistrust and lies. 

40. Talk To Me – Stevie Nicks 

Stevie Nicks - Talk To Me (Official Music Video) [HD Remaster]

Stevie Nicks makes it on our list with the song Talk To Me from her album Rock A Little. This solo track was a huge hit, and it topped the Mainstream Rock Songs chart while also hitting number four on the Billboard Hot 100. 

41. Word Up – Cameo 

Cameo - Word Up (Relaid Audio) (Official Music Video)

Cameo is last on our list with Word Up from their album of the same name. This song is their signature track, and it was on MTV, which helped it become such a hit. The funk song made it to number one on the Hot Dance Singles chart and six on the Billboard Hot 100.

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