Kenny Loggins – “Footloose” – (1984)

If you don’t love this song you should probably see a doctor. Kenny Loggins had a real knack for recording catchy film songs in the 80s – this was a #1. It’s basically just him encouraging you to “cut footloose.” Whenever I hear it I picture Kevin Bacon doing something like this. This song has since popped up everywhere and was the inspiration for “Brett’s Angry Dance” on Flight of the Conchords.

Thompson Twins – “Hold Me Now” – (1984)

The Thompson Twins weren’t quite a one-hit wonder – but this song was much bigger than their others. This is one of those great new wave grooves that the 80s pumped out seemingly endlessly and an iPod Must Have for any true fan of 80s music. And I feel that I have to respect, for whatever reason, any song that manages to successfully incorporate a xylophone. It hit #3 in the U.S. and #4 in the U.K.

Don Henley – “The Boys of Summer” – (1984)

I love the opening to this song. There’s just something about it that really draws me in. I can picture everything he’s talking about – people on the beach, etc. This is another Don Henley song about the end of youth and entering middle age (see also: “The End of the Innocence”). This song has been covered to near-death, the most famous probably being The Ataris’ version in 2003. The original is perfectly fine with me, thanks.

The Cars – “Drive” – (1984)

This was The Cars’ highest charting single (it hit #3 in the U.S. and #1 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart) – and their best. The rest of their music, well, pretty much annoys me. I’m no fan of The Cars – at all. This song, however, I love. I mean, their other work doesn’t even come close. Oh, and the cover of Heartbeat City has a picture of a Plymouth Duster 340 which is an underwhelming but fairly sporty-looking car.

#2 – Wham! featuring George Michael – “Careless Whisper” – (1984)

But George Michael was already on this list. Well, in the U.S., this song was credited to Wham! featuring George Michael, plus it was released on a Wham! studio album. But it doesn’t matter – listen to that sax. This song screams “80s” louder than just about any song I can think of. George Michael’s vocals are amazing. This song was a #1 in ten countries. It’s a tremendous break-up song and I don’t know what else to say about it other than how good it is, so I’ll just give you the lyrics of the chorus: “I’m never gonna dance again / guilty feet have got no rhythm / though it’s easy to pretend / I know you’re not a fool. / I should’ve know better than to cheat a friend / and waste this chance that I’ve been given. / So I’m never gonna dance again / the way I danced with you.”

#5 – Billy Ocean – “Caribbean Queen” – (1984)

This song makes me so very happy whenever I hear it. The 80s had a lot of tropical-ish music hit the charts and I honestly can’t tell if this song has that feeling or not – I think it’s mostly the title, which sounds kind of pathetic, but I love it – leave me alone. So yeah, it’s more of an upbeat post-disco R&B track. I love the way Billy sings the word “Caribbean.” It sounds more like “Carrie-Byoon.” Sometimes this song is subtitled “No More Love on the Run.” Interestingly, there were different versions of this song recorded for different markets. “European Queen” and “African Queen.” I like Caribbean better, probably because it’s the one I know. This was a #1 hit. From Scrubs: “Ah Billy! After the Arctic and the Pacific, you’re my favorite Ocean.”

#8 – Harold Faltermeyer – “Axel F.” – (1984)

Beverly Hills Cop is absolutely one of the best movies of the 80s. I honestly do not see you anyone could argue otherwise. This was the theme from that movie and it too is amazing (the title comes from the movie’s main character Axel Foley). It’s instrumental synthpop but it is so recognizable. It’s popped up all over the place since and has to be the most instantly recognizable songs from the 80s. Harold Faltermeyer is a German film composer who did this and the theme from Top Gun. But as far as mainstream success goes, this was it.

#27 – John Waite – “Missing You” – (1984)

What’s with the vampire pose on the album cover? And then in the music video he looks a lot like Annie Lennox. What’s that? He’s British? Oh, that makes it okay then. “Missing You” was his biggest (and more or less only) solo hit – a #1 in 1984. While I don’t find the music to be anything too spectacular, the lyrics… “and there’s a storm that’s raging through my lonely heart tonight… I ain’t missing you at all…” are great. A great example of an 80s soft rock ballad-ish thing.

#43 – Bryan Adams – “Summer of ’69” – (1984)

Does this qualify as Bryan Adams biggest hit? It hit #5 (and he’s had other #1s) but this has to be the best known, right? I’d certainly say so. If someone said, “Name a Bryan Adams song,” I’d like to think most people would say “Summer of ’69.” Then there’s the whole controversy about what it is he is referring to in the song title. Bryan Adams was 10 years old in 1969 and, unless he was some kind of prodigy – which he wasn’t (sorry, Bryan) – he probably wasn’t in bands where the members were old enough to “quite and get married.” But then again, everyone involved with this song has come out and said, at some point, that it is most certainly about sex.

#45 – Sheena Easton – “Strut” – (1984)

The music in this song (especially the beginning) sounds like it was lifted straight from a Peter Gabriel song, like “Sledgehammer” or something. The music video is just plain awful (did any sax player ever wear a shirt with sleeves in the 80s? because I’ve yet to see one), but the song is catchy as hell, especially the chorus: “Strut, pout, put it out, that’s what you want from women / Come on baby, what you takin’ me for? / Strut, pout, cut it out, all takin’ and no givin’ / Watch me baby while I walk out the door.” I guess this qualifies as dance-pop, but I file it under “guilty pleasure.”

#63 – Dan Hartman – “I Can Dream About You” – (1984)

“Mo-ving side-walks – I don’t see under my feet.” Dan Hartman, the one-time bassist for the Edgar Winter Group, had a moderately successful solo career in the 1980s with interesting songs like this. This song was featured in the film Streets of Fire, which is a part-musical that stars Rick Moranis – so yeah, it is completely understandable if you’ve never heard of it, much less seen it. This song was Hartman’s biggest hit, although he followed it with a few dance hits before passing away in 1994.

#85 – Steve Perry – “Oh Sherrie” – (1984)

I love randomly shouting “Should’ve been gooone.” The music video may be the farthest thing from exceptional, but this track certainly is not. Steve Perry has an amazing voice. This was Perry’s first solo single (at the time he was still in Journey) and it hit #3 in the U.S. It was definitely his biggest solo hit – and it is better than a handful of Journey hits. I guess I could just keep doting on Steve Perry but I think I should probably stop.

#92 – Murray Head – “One Night in Bangkok” – (1984)

This song has always struck me as just plain weird. The singing is done by a Swede (Anders Glenmark) and all that Murray Head does is the talking bits (“a show with everything but Yul Brynner”)… which is very weird in and of itself. The song is from the musical Chess and all I know about Chess is that it’s some kind of love story between chess players. Where Bangkok comes in is beyond me. But the song has a strong beat and the difference between the well-sung chorus and the somewhat loony “raps” by Mr. Head. The sung parts actually have a slight haunting quality to them. I like this song. It’s very 80s.