#2 – Metallica – “Enter Sandman” – (1991)

While grunge was gaining steam and becoming the newest form of popular music, good old heavy metal was coming down off of its hair-crazed 80s-ness and resuming just being heavy and metallic. This is one of Metallica’s most popular songs and if you come across someone that has never been introduced to the music of Metallica, this is the song to send them to as it is the perfect introductory course. It hit #10 on the Mainstream Rock chart and then it went mainstream, hitting #16 on the Hot 100 and #1 in countries such as Canada, Finland and Norway. The song itself is about children’s nightmares. There is an eerie part where a kid is saying his bedtime prayers, and then the lyrics turn a lullaby into this: “Hush little baby, don’t say a word. And never mind that noise you heard. It’s just the beasts under your bed, in your closet and in your head.” And then right on into the chorus, “Exit light, enter night. Take my hand, we’re off to never never land.”

#15 – Metallica – “Ride the Lightning” – (1984)

I prefer Metallica of the 1990s, but if I had to pick a favorite from the 80s, this would be it. This is definitely heavier than, say, Bon Jovi. This song wasn’t even a single, but I’m pretty sure people know what it is – if not, well then, good – as that’s the intention of this site: so you can find music that exists and you may have forgotten about or never even knew in the first place. Maybe people know it because it’s the title track of the album. Fun fact: this is 1 of 2 songs on the album that credits Dave Mustaine, who was no longer with the band.

#16 – Judas Priest – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” – (1982)

Judas Priest are heavy metal legends and I’m pretty sure it’s because of songs like this (I’m not a Judas Priest expert and 80s heavy metal fans tend to be strangely loyal and die-hard and I don’t want their ire). But, this is the best song by the band that I can think of. What I find kind of strange is that this hard, heavy, crazy rock song was recorded, along with the rest of the album, in Ibiza, Spain – now home to crazy, crazy clubs featuring the best of house music. Regardless of this, Ibiza is still a little too scenic for heavy metal, isn’t it? Shouldn’t heavy metal be recorded in an abandoned factory or some dungeon somewhere? Not paradise.

#17 – Dio – “Rainbow in the Dark” – (1983)

Ronnie James Dio died a little over a year ago (this was the band that bore his name, obviously). Because it’s hair metal from the 80s, songs like this tend to get mocked every now and then. But Ronnie James Dio was the replacement for Ozzy Osbourne at Black Sabbath. And this song is awesome. Don’t mock the man or the tune.

#20 – Motörhead – “Ace of Spades” – (1980)

Are there other Motorhead songs? (Yeah, I didn’t put the umlaut on the O… it’s too much effort). Motorhead are from England, which you wouldn’t be able to discern because of the deep-voiced yelling going on in this song. I’m not a fan of metal, especially speed metal – but this song is awesome. It’s the song they are most known for.

#21 – Iron Maiden – “2 Minutes to Midnight” – (1984)

It just occurred to me how metal-oriented the first five songs on this list have been. Journey is a rock band, but they would seem grossly out of place on this “rock” countdown (don’t worry, they don’t show up). Here is Iron Maiden’s appearance on this list, which is appropriate as they are widely considered one of if not the best metal band of all time. The title of this song is actually quite an interesting reference to the Doomsday Clock, which is pretty interesting in and of itself. Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer (although I associate that name more with Christopher Walken’s character in the “More Cowbell” SNL skit), flies 757s for an airline – I guess “in his spare time.” I find this incredibly weird.

#24 – Anthrax – “Madhouse” – (1985)

From glam metal to thrash metal we arrive at Anthrax, a band known mainly for their guitarist, Scott Ian (the bands only consistent member from the beginning), who shows up regularly on those VH1 shows where they countdown lists of stuff or mock a certain decade. This song didn’t even chart, but for some reason it’s one of their more well known songs. Maybe it’s because the video they made for this song was banned by MTV.