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Back to the 80's: 50 party songs to transport you back in time

The 1980s were a golden era for music, a period and probably where my love for music truly blossomed. This decade was an explosive time for genres such as pop, rock, new wave, and hip-hop, birthing tracks that not only defined a generation but have also withstood the test of time, continuing to resonate with audiences today.

Before I dive into my 80s party song playlist, I want to take a moment to just highlight and show some appreciation for some of the iconic songs across the genres.


The pop scene of the 80s was dominated by larger-than-life icons whose hits remain timeless:

  • "Thriller" by Michael Jackson - An epic masterpiece that transcended music to become a global phenomenon.

  • "Like a Virgin" by Madonna - This track not only catapulted Madonna to stardom but also became a defining anthem of the decade.

  • "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by WHAM! - Its infectious energy and catchy melody really captured the 80s pop’s joyful spirit.

Rock Anthems

Rock music in the 80s delivered anthems that became the soundtrack of the era, characterised by memorable hooks and sing-along choruses:

  • "Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi - A sing-along anthem that captures the spirit of the 80s rock scene. I think everyone at least knows the chorus.

  • "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses - Featuring one of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time, this song is a must-have for any 80s rock playlist.

  • "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey - An enduring rock anthem that continues to inspire dreamers across generations.

New Wave Hits

The new wave genre brought a fresh, innovative sound to the music scene, blending elements of pop and rock with a new electronic vibe.

  • "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode - A synth-pop classic that's as infectious today as it was in the 80s.

  • "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell - This track's unmistakable opening bars are instantaneously recognisable, a true new wave gem.

  • "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds - Immortalised by "The Breakfast Club," this song captures the essence of 80s youth culture.

Dance Floor Fillers

The 80s were also about tracks that just got people up and on the dance floor. 

  • "Into the Groove" by Madonna - Arguably one of the best dance tracks of the decade, Madonna invites listeners to hit the floor and find their groove.

  • "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson - With its driving beat and smooth vocals, this track is a dance floor magnet.

  • "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins - Another track that dares you not to dance, embodying the decade’s spirit of freedom and fun.

Pioneering sounds of Hip Hop 

In the 80s, hip-hop was characterised by its raw energy, innovative beats, and lyrical prowess. Artists like Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, and LL Cool J became household names, each bringing their unique style and message to the forefront.

  • "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five - Often hailed as a turning point in hip-hop, this track was one of the first to detail the struggles and realities of life in the inner city. Its famous line, "Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge," captured the tension and desperation felt by many at the time.

  • "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy - Serving as an anthem for resistance and empowerment, this track was groundbreaking for its politically charged lyrics and its role in the soundtrack for Spike Lee's film "Do the Right Thing," amplifying its impact.

  • "Walk This Way" by Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith - This collaboration between a hip-hop group and a rock band was revolutionary, breaking down musical and cultural barriers. It played a significant role in bringing hip-hop to a wider audience and showcased the genre's versatility.

Heartfelt Ballads

Amidst the high-energy beats, the 80s also gave us ballads that touched the heart:

  • "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler - A powerful ballad that showcases the emotional depth of 80s music.

  • "With or Without You" by U2 - This beautiful song captures the complexity of love and longing.

  • "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper - A tender, timeless track that speaks to the enduring nature of love.

Top 50 80's party songs

Compiling a playlist from a defining era for me feels like a privilege, It’s like opening a time capsule of memories. Whether you’re throwing an 80s-themed party or simply in the mood for nostalgia, this ultimate 80s playlist promises to transport you back to the decade. After much deliberation and several delightful detours down memory lane, I've curated a selection that reflects the broad spectrum of 80s music.

So with about further ado, here’s my ultimate 80s party song playlist:

  1. "Billie Jean" - Michael Jackson

  2. "Sweet Child o' Mine" - Guns N' Roses

  3. "Into the Groove" - Madonna

  4. "Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey

  5. "Livin' On a Prayer" - Bon Jovi

  6. "Beat It" - Michael Jackson

  7. "Tainted Love" - Soft Cell

  8. "Take on Me" - a-ha

  9. "Just Can't Get Enough" - Depeche Mode

  10. "Like a Virgin" - Madonna

  11. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" - WHAM!

  12. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - Bonnie Tyler

  13. "The Message" - Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

  14. "Thriller" - Michael Jackson

  15. "Uptown Girl" - Billy Joel

  16. "With or Without You" - U2

  17. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" - Eurythmics

  18. "Under Pressure" - Queen & David Bowie

  19. "Dancing in the Dark" - Bruce Springsteen

  20. "Every Breath You Take" - The Police

  21. "Eye of the Tiger" - Survivor

  22. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" - Cyndi Lauper

  23. "Hungry Like the Wolf" - Duran Duran

  24. "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" - Whitney Houston

  25. "Let's Dance" - David Bowie

  26. "Purple Rain" - Prince

  27. "I Love Rock 'N Roll" - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

  28. "Footloose" - Kenny Loggins

  29. "Another One Bites the Dust" - Queen

  30. "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang

  31. "Faith" - George Michael

  32. "How Will I Know" - Whitney Houston

  33. "Paid in Full" by Eric B. & Rakim

  34. "Children's Story" by Slick Rick

  35. "Love Shack" - The B-52's

  36. "Man in the Mirror" - Michael Jackson

  37. "Material Girl" - Madonna

  38. "Never Gonna Give You Up" - Rick Astley

  39. "Summer of '69" - Bryan Adams

  40. "Take My Breath Away" - Berlin

  41. "Time After Time" - Cyndi Lauper

  42. "Walk Like an Egyptian" - The Bangles

  43. "You Shook Me All Night Long" - AC/DC

  44. "Your Love" - The Outfield

  45. "Africa" - Toto

  46. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" - Simple Minds

  47. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" - Tears for Fears

  48. "What's Love Got to Do with It" - Tina Turner

  49. "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" - Belinda Carlisle

  50. "The Final Countdown" - Europe

And there you have it, my eclectic mix of 80s party songs. If you believe there's an iconic song that should have been included but didn't make it onto the list, please feel free to mention it in the comments section below.

Until next time, enjoy! 


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