When I say ’80s music, what songs come to mind? If you said “Don’t Stop Believin'” or “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” then you’ve come to the right place. Don’t get me wrong, those are both great songs — but there are so many other amazing songs from the ’80s that are completely underrated by our generation. Luckily for you, I made a (digital) mixtape with some deeper cuts that should be on any self-respecting ’80s playlist.
- “Borderline” – Madonna
Something in the way you love me won’t let me be
I know what you’re thinking: Madonna is anything but underrated. But when you think of her biggest hits from the ’80s, “Material Girl” and “Like A Virgin” are probably the first to come to mind. “Borderline” is a great song with an even better music video, notable for its portrayal of a relationship between the singer and her Latin-American boyfriend — quite the risk for a budding artist at a time when many still considered that taboo.
- “Girls On Film” – Duran Duran
Lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling
There are infinite reasons to love Duran Duran, from their iconic music videos to John Taylor’s…well, everything. “Girls On Film” is yet another reason, and it’s one that should be on every ’80s playlist!
- “Opposites Attract” – Paula Abdul
It ain’t fiction, just a natural fact; We come together cuz opposites attract
If you watched Paula Abdul’s iconic performance at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, then you may have also heard me in the distance shrieking at my TV. Why? Besides the fact that it was all-around amazing, she also reunited with MC Skat Kat, her cartoon alley cat boyfriend from the music video for “Opposites Attract.”
P.S. Keanu Reeves stans, go watch the music video for “Rush, Rush” and thank me later.
- “Space Age Love Song” – A Flock of Seagulls
For a little while, I was falling in love
I’ll see your “I Ran” and raise you one “Space Age Love Song,” a much less appreciated (and much better) song by A Flock of Seagulls. Do the lyrics make sense? No. Does it matter? Also no.
- “Head Over Heels” – The Go-Go’s
Head over heels, no time to think; Looks like the whole world’s out of sync
Not only are the Go-Go’s the most successful all-female rock band ever, but they’ve also released one of my personal favorite songs ever: “Head Over Heels!” You can’t go wrong with pretty much any song by the Go-Go’s, but this one is particularly good — and it has a cute and colorful music video to boot!
- “Head Over Heels” – Tears For Fears
I’m lost in admiration, could I need you this much? Oh, you’re wasting my time
- “What Have You Done For Me Lately” – Janet Jackson
You ‘ought to be thankful for the little things, but little things are all you seem to give
Publishing an ’80s music article without at least mentioning Janet Jackson is a crime, and it’s a crime I will never commit. “What Have You Done For Me Lately” is the quintessential I deserve better anthem that you should blast for all of your friends who keep going back to that one ex. You know the one. (Keep an eye out for Paula Abdul in the music video too — she choreographed it!)
- “Hungry Heart” – Bruce Springsteen
Everybody needs a place to rest, everybody wants to have a home
“Hungry Heart” is basically the textbook definition of a feel-good song. It has big “driving with the windows down in a car full of my friends” energy, and it’s also woefully unappreciated — so unappreciated that it doesn’t even have a music video! (It’s okay Bruce, I forgive you. You can do no wrong.)
- “Never Say Never” – Romeo Void
Sunlight landin’ on the street; some say girls must be discreet
Pretty much everything about Romeo Void is underrated beyond belief, and their best song is no exception. “Never Say Never” is a post-punk masterpiece with a great bassline and iconic feminist lyrics. Just as underrated as the song is Romeo Void’s frontwoman, Debora Iyall, one of the most prominent Native American women in music.
- “Do You Believe In Love” – Huey Lewis and the News
I was walking down a one-way street, just a lookin’ for someone to meet
Huey Lewis and the News stans, make some noise! Honestly, I could have filled this entire article just with their music. For the sake of journalism, I resisted — but I could never resist including “Do You Believe In Love,” my favorite song by HLATN. At the risk of sounding like that one scene in American Psycho, I’ll spare you the rant and just tell you to listen.
If these 10 songs weren’t enough to scratch your ’80s itch, feel free to follow me on Spotify for more!