Are you someone who enjoys listening to music from a certain decade, such as the 80s? We’ve compiled a list of the 35 best songs from 1988, so read below to find out what was hot back then that you might want to add to your playlist!
1. One – Metallica
First on the list is One by Metallica, which comes from their album …And Justice For All. This song is about a World War I soldier who has been wounded, and he cannot see or speak since his arms, legs, and jaw were taken out by a landmine. The guy wants to die and is begging the staff at the hospital to kill him even though he cannot communicate with them. It’s one of their most famous tracks and hit 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
2. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
Poison is next with Every Rose Has Its Thorn from their album Open Up and Say …Ahh! This song was one of their biggest hits and their only number-one track in the US. It hit one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and 11 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The song is about the time lead singer Bret Michaels called his girlfriend while at the laundromat and heard another man in the background, and he was obviously heartbroken over the fact she was cheating on him.
3. Faith – George Michael
Next on the list is George Michael with his hit song Faith, which is one of the top tracks of the decade. This song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was the biggest single in the US in 1988. It’s thought to be one of his signature tracks, and it’s a fan favorite.
4. Wild Thing – Tone-Lōc
While you might not know Tone-Lōc, you know the song Wild Thing, which is from his album Lōc-ed After Dark. This track is incredibly famous, and it’s talking about sex, and landed at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and 21 on the UK Singles chart. When you talk about the best hip hop songs of all time, this is one of the top five on the list.
5. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Next up is Fast Car by Tracy Chapman from her debut album, and this song hit six on the Billboard Hot 100. It also made it onto the UK Singles chart at number five, with it being her signature track and biggest hit to date. It was nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning one, and it’s one of the biggest folk songs of the decade.
6. Cult of Personality – Living Colour
On our list next is Living Colour who had a hit with Cult Of Personality, which comes from the album Vivid. This was their first song on their debut album, and it quickly hit 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart while also going to number nine on the Album Rock Tracks chart. They won two MTV Video Music Awards for Best New Artist and Best Group Video.
7. When It’s Love – Van Halen
Van Halen had a hit with When It’s Love, which has been one of their biggest hits and most popular songs to play in concert. This power ballad hit number one on the Mainstream Rock chart and went to five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It’s considered to be one of the best power ballads of all time, and it also became the biggest song from their OU812 album.
8. Bad Medicine – Bon Jovi
Next up on the list is Bon Jovi who had a hit with Bad Medicine from their album New Jersey. This song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it also made it into the Top 10 in countries such as Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
9. Angel – Aerosmith
Rock band Aerosmith makes the list with Angel from their album Permanent Vacation, and it’s the second-biggest song of theirs behind I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. The track ended up becoming a hit and made it to three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The power ballad is one of their most famous and helped push them back into the spotlight.
10. Straight Up – Paula Abdul
Pop star Paula Abdul released Forever Your Girl as her debut album and Straight Up was one of the biggest hits on it and one of her biggest hits ever. This song made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and also became an international hit. While she didn’t win an award, the track was nominated for over six different Grammy Awards and MTV Music Video Awards.
11. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler
Everyone knows Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler, which was one of the tracks from the movie Beaches, and this tune would become her signature song. It was a worldwide hit and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well as in Australia while landing at two in Iceland. This track helped her win Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
12. Kokomo – The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys had several hit songs but one of their biggest was Kokomo, which can be found in the movie Cocktail and comes from their album Still Cruisin’. This track was the first time in 22 years that they had a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it also went to number five on the Adult Contemporary chart. You probably remember this song because it references a lot of real places including The Bahamas, Aruba, Bermuda, and Jamaica.
13. Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A.
Rap and hip hop group N.W.A. had a hit with Straight Outta Compton, which became one of the biggest songs of their careers. This track contains lyrics that reference attacking the police and other people and talked about the violence happening on the streets of Compton. Due to the lyrics of their music, they were quickly labeled as a dangerous group by the FBI.
14. Candle In The Wind – Elton John
While Candle In The Wind was released by Elton John years prior, there was a live version of the song that was released as a single and topped the charts in 1988. The track once again hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart and landed at number six while hitting the UK Singles chart at number five.
15. She’s Like The Wind – Patrick Swayze
Actor Patrick Swayze was also a singer, and his most famous song was She’s Like The Wind, which comes from the soundtrack to his hit movie Dirty Dancing. The track made it to number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It quickly became a worldwide sensation and is his signature song as well as a track you can still hear today on the radio.
16. Listen To Your Heart – Roxette
The rock group Roxette, from Sweden, had a massive hit with the song Listen To Your Heart, which comes from the album Look Sharp! This track was one of the biggest songs of the year and hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and two on the Adult Contemporary chart.
17. Hungry Eyes – Eric Carmen
You may not know the name Eric Carmen, but you know the song Hungry Eyes, which comes from the Dirty Dancing movie soundtrack. This track hit four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also went to 82 on the UK Singles chart after being imported.
18. So Emotional – Whitney Houston
Legend Whitney Houston had a hit with So Emotional, and this song comes from her self-titled album. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, this track went to number one and also hit number one on the Dance Songs chart. Reaching eight on the Adult Contemporary chart, it quickly became an international hit, with it hitting five on the UK Singles chart.
19. I Need You Tonight – INXS
INXS had quite a few hit songs, but I Need You Tonight from the album Kick may be one of the best, and it’s thought of as their signature track. This song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also went to two on the UK Singles chart after it was re-released.
20. Heaven – Warrant
Warrant makes our list with their song Heaven, which was one of the glam metal band’s biggest tracks, and a power ballad that is thought to be one of the best of the decade. It comes from their debut studio album and is considered their most successful commercial single to date. It went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at three on the Mainstream Rock Track chart.
21. Mother – Danzig
Next on the list is Mother by Danzig, which comes from his self-titled debut album. It’s one of his most well-known songs, and it went to number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100. On the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, it landed at number 17 and it also hit 62 on the UK Singles chart.
22. My Prerogative – Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown makes the list with My Prerogative, which is from his album Don’t Be Cruel. This track was one of his most famous, and he had been nominated for a Soul Train Music Award because of it. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it reached number one, and it also went to number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
23. Patience – Guns N’ Roses
Patience is next on the list, which is a song by Guns N’ Roses from their album G N’ R Lies, and it’s one of the best ballads of all time with three different acoustic guitars used in the track. It’s one of their signature songs, and the lyrics are about lead singer Axl Rose and his former wife Erin Everly. It went to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has recently been covered by the late Chris Cornell.
24. Desire – U2
The rock group from Ireland, U2, had a hit with Desire, which comes from the album Rattle And Hum, and it was the first single from the album to be released. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it reached number three while landing at number one on both the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and the Modern Rock Tracks chart. They won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for this song.
25. A Groovy Kind Of Love – Phil Collins
Phil Collins enters the list with A Groovy Kind Of Love, which was part of the movie soundtrack to Buster: The Original Motion Picture. This is a cover of the song by The Mindbenders, and when he covered the track, it landed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number one and also number one on the UK Singles chart.
26. There She Goes – The La’s
The La’s had a hit song with There She Goes, which is one of the most well-known indie tracks of the 80s. This song hit 13 on the UK Singles chart and is their most successful track to date, while also considered to be one of the best songs of all time. They never had a track as popular as this one, and they are thought to be a one-album wonder band.
27. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
Calling all fans of the movie Cocktail, you may not know Bobby McFerrin, but you know the song Don’t Worry Be Happy, which was released on his album Simple Pleasures. This track hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and seven on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also won Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.
28. Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) – Cinderella
Glam metal was still popular in the late 80s, and one of the most popular songs was Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) by Cinderella. This track is a power ballad from their album Long Cold Winter. It was one of their most successful songs and hit number 10 on the Mainstream Rock chart while peaking at 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
29. The Flame – Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick released The Flame in 1988, which is a power ballad that comes from their album Lap Of Luxury. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also hit number one in countries such as Canada and Australia. This is one of their most well-known and popular songs to date.
30. She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals
Fine Young Cannibals makes the list with She Drives Me Crazy, which is from their album The Raw & The Cooked. The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and also on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart. It also went to number one internationally in countries including Canada, Spain, and Australia.
31. Hold On To The Nights – Richard Marx
Next on our list is Hold On To The Nights by Richard Marx, which was from his debut album, and it hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It stayed on the charts for 21 weeks and hit three on the Adult Contemporary chart. It quickly became one of his most popular songs, and it’s a track that he regularly performs in concert since it’s a fan favorite.
32. I Hate Myself For Loving You – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts make the list with I Hate Myself For Loving You from her album Up Your Alley. This song was one of her band’s biggest tracks and stayed on the charts six weeks more than I Love Rock N’ Roll, which was their biggest hit at the time. It peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number eight and hit 39 on the Rock Digital Songs chart.
33. Tell It To My Heart – Taylor Dayne
Taylor Dayne is on the list with Tell It To My Heart, and this song was from her first album. It peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 after spending 10 weeks on the chart. In total, this track stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 25 weeks and also hit the UK Singles chart where it landed at number three. This is thought to be one of her most well-known songs, and this track helped make her a household name.
34. Red Red Wine – UB40
UB40 is on our list with Red Red Wine, which comes from their album Labour Of Love. This was a cover song, and it’s one of the most famous versions of the track since it’s more reggae than the Neil Diamond version, and because of that, it went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
35. Roll With It – Steve Winwood
Last on our list is Roll With It by Steve Winwood, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for four weeks. It also landed at number one on the Adult Contemporary chart and the Mainstream Rock chart. While it was nominated for several Grammy Awards, such as for Best Male Vocal Pop Performance and Record of the Year, it did not win any awards. You can find this track in movies such as Nuns On The Run.
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.