Looking Back At The Most Popular Songs Each Month In The 1980s

Looking Back At The Most Popular Songs Each Month In The 1980s | I Love Classic Rock Videos

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Neon lights, leg warmers, and epic power ballads – the 1980s were a decade that music exploded with unforgettable sounds. From the synth-heavy anthems to the rockin’ guitar riffs, each month brought a new chart-topping tune that had us all hitting rewind on our cassette players.

Top Culture, a dedicated YouTube channel, has taken a deep dive into the archives and compiled a list of the most popular song for every single month in the 80s. Here’s to a nostalgic ride through a decade of musical innovation, heartbreak hits, and pure dance floor magic.

Are you curious which iconic song dominated the airwaves in the month you were born? Did your favorite artist snag the coveted number one spot in December 1985? Let’s grab our Members Only jackets and dive into the ultimate 80s playlist, one month at a time.

1980 

1980 kicked off with the smooth grooves of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” setting the pace for the dance floor. The year progressed with a diverse mix of sounds, from Queen’s anthemic “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and the thought-provoking “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” by Pink Floyd, to Blondie’s infectious “Call Me” that dominated the airwaves in April.

The summer months sizzled with the funky bassline of Lipps Inc.’s “Funkytown” and the dreamy pop of Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra’s “Xanadu”.

The latter half of the year saw the chart-topping dominance of powerhouse vocals and stadium rock anthems. Diana Ross belted out “Upside Down,” Queen returned with the iconic “Another One Bites the Dust”, and ABBA closed out the year with the soaring melodies of “Super Trouper”, solidifying their place as pop royalty.

January 1980 – “Rock With You” – Michael Jackson

February 1980 – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen

March 1980 – “Another Brick In the Wall, Pt. 2” – Pink Floyd

April 1980 – “Call Me” – Blondie

May 1980 – “Coming Up” – Paul McCartney

June 1980 – “Funkytown” – Lipps Inc.

July 1980 – “Xanadu” – Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra

August 1860 – “The Winner Takes It All” – ABBA

September 1980 – “Upside Down” – Diana Ross

October 1860 – “Another One Bites The Dust” – Queen

November 1980 – “Woman In Love” – Barbra Streisand

December 1980 – “Super Trouper” – ABBA

1981

1981 ushered in a new wave of sounds. The year began with a poignant note as John Lennon’s introspective ballad “(Just Like) Starting Over” topped the charts. It was quickly followed by the upbeat and celebratory “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang, a track that perfectly captured the optimistic spirit of the times.

The year continued with a diverse mix of genres. Synth-pop pioneers Soft Cell delivered the dark and brooding “Tainted Love”, a cover that became more iconic than the original. Power ballads reigned supreme with Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s unforgettable duet “Endless Love” and Olivia Newton-John’s suggestive dance anthem “Physical” closing out the year.

New Wave found its place with The Police’s catchy “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, while pop mainstays like Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” and Bucks Fizz’s Eurovision-winning “Making Your Mind Up” secured their place in the pop culture hall of fame.

January 1981 – “(Just Like) Starting Over” – John Lennon

February 1981 – “Celebration” – Kool & The Gang

March 1981 – “Woman” – John Lennon

April 1981 – “Shaddap You Face” – Joe Dolce

May 1981 – “Making Your Mind Up” – Bucks Fizz

June 1981 – “Bette Davis Eyes” – Kim Carnes

July 1981 – “Stars On 45” – Stars On 45

August 1981 – “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell

September 1981 – “Endless Love” – Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

October 1981 – “Hold On Tight” – Electric Light Orchestra

November 1981 – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – The Police

December 1981 – “Physical” – Olivia Newton-John

1982 

The year 1982 saw a further embrace of the sounds that would define the decade. Earth, Wind & Fire’s infectious groove “Let’s Groove” kicked off the year, setting the stage for dance floor domination. Rock and roll made a powerful comeback with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ rebellious anthem “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”, a song that became a rallying cry for a new generation of music fans.

Meanwhile, the rise of synthesizers continued to shape the pop landscape. The Human League’s synth-driven “Don’t You Want Me” became a global hit, while Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s optimistic duet “Ebony and Ivory” offered a message of unity. Power ballads remained strong with Survivor’s iconic “Eye of the Tiger” becoming a cultural phenomenon thanks to its association with the film Rocky III

Songs like Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” and Toto’s “Rosanna” showcased the evolving sound of rock, while the quirky pop of Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen” closed out the year with a touch of whimsy.

January 1982 – “Let’s Groove” – Earth, Wind & Fire

February 1982 – “Centerfold” – The J. Geils Band

March 1982 – “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

April 1982 – “Oh Julie” – Shakin’ Stevens

May 1982 – “Ebony And Ivory” – Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder

June 1982 – “Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League

July 1982 – “Rosanna” – Toto

August 1982 – “Eye Of The Tiger” – Survivor

September 1982 – “Abracadabra” – Steve Miller Band

October 1982 – “Down Under” – Met At Work

November 1982 – “Come On Eileen” – Dexys Midnight Runners

December 1982 – “Words” – F.R. David

1983

1983 was a banner year for pop music, with a diverse range of artists topping the charts. The year opened with the irresistible groove of Daryl Hall & John Oates’ “Maneater”, followed by the enduring classic “Africa” by Toto. March saw the arrival of Michael Jackson’s era-defining “Billie Jean”, a song that showcased his unparalleled talent and helped propel him to superstardom.

The influence of new wave continued to grow with the German synthpop anthem “99 Luftballons” by Nena captivating audiences worldwide. Michael Jackson returned later in the year with the iconic dance track “Beat It”, further solidifying his dominance on the charts.

David Bowie took listeners on a sonic adventure with the infectious “Let’s Dance”, while Irene Cara belted out the empowering “Flashdance… What a Feeling”, the unforgettable theme song to the hit movie Flashdance. The year closed out with a mix of romantic ballads like Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” and Lionel Richie’s smooth serenade “All Night Long (All Night)”.

January 1983 – “Maneater” – Hall & Oates

February 1983 – “Africa” – Toto

March 1983 – “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson

April 1983 – “99 Luftballons” – Nena

May 1983 – “Beat It” – Michael Jackson

June 1983 – “Let’s Dance” – David Bowie

July 1983 – “Flashdance… What A Feeling” – Irene Cara

August 1983 – “Every Breath You Take” – The Police

September 1983 – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” – Eurythmics

October 1983 – “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

November 1983 – “Uptown Girl” – Billy Joel

December 1983 – “All Night Long (All Night)” – Lionel Richie

1984 

1984 was a star-studded year on the charts. The year kicked off with a powerful collaboration between pop legends, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, with their infectious duet “Say Say Say”. Boy George and Culture Club brought their flamboyant style and catchy melodies to the forefront with the global hit “Karma Chameleon”. Cyndi Lauper became a voice for a generation with two iconic songs: the empowering anthem “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and the timeless ballad “Time After Time”.

The year also saw the rise of powerful female voices with Tina Turner leading the pack with her raw energy fueling the anthemic “What’s Love Got to Do With It”. Lionel Richie delivered another classic ballad with the heartfelt “Hello” while Phil Collins’ emotional “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” resonated with listeners; Stevie Wonder did not trail behind and offered a sweet message of love with “I Just Called to Say I Love You”.

The year wouldn’t be complete without iconic movie soundtracks. Prince redefined pop music with the hauntingly beautiful “When Doves Cry” from Purple Rain, and Ray Parker Jr.’s infectious “Ghostbusters” became synonymous with the beloved film. And of course, December 1984 marked the arrival of Madonna, a future queen of pop, with the era-defining “Like a Virgin”.

January 1984 – “Say Say Say” – Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson

February 1984 – “Karma Chameleon” – Culture Club

March 1984 – “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

April 1984 – “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” – Phil Collins

May 1984 – “Hello” – Lionel Richie

June 1984 – “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper

July 1984 – “When Doves Cry” – Prince & The Revolution

August 1984 – “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

September 1984 – “What’s Love Got To Do With It” – Tina Turner

October 1984 – “I Just Called To Say I Love You” – Stevie Wonder

November 1984 – “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” – Wham!

December 1984 – Like A Virgin – Madonna

1985 

1985 offered a beautiful blend of soulful ballads, social commentary, and the continued rise of new wave. The year began with the smooth and sentimental “Careless Whisper” by George Michael, showcasing his talent after departing from Wham! Foreigner delivered the heartfelt power ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is”, while Philip Bailey and Phil Collins joined forces for the funky and sophisticated “Easy Lover”.

The year also saw music used for a powerful purpose. USA for Africa’s star-studded charity single “We Are The World” became a global phenomenon, raising awareness for famine relief in Africa. On the pop front, Madonna continued her reign with the infectiously danceable “Crazy For You”, while Tears For Fears offered a more introspective approach with the thought-provoking “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”.

Summer brought the soaring vocals of Bryan Adams with “Heaven”, followed by Tears For Fears’ anthemic “Shout”. The year closed out with a diverse mix of sounds – the classic rock collaboration of David Bowie and Mick Jagger on “Dancing In The Street”, Madonna’s dance floor dominance with “Into The Groove”, the arrival of A-ha’s unforgettable synth-pop masterpiece “Take On Me”, and Lionel Richie’s sweet serenade “Say You, Say Me”.

January 1985 – “Careless Whisper” – George Michael

February 1985 – “I Want To Know What Love Is” – Foreigner

March 1985 – “Easy Lover”- Philip Bailey & Phil Collins

April 1985 – “We Are The World” – USA For Africa

May 1985 – “Crazy For You” – Madonna

June 1985 – “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Tears For Fears

July 1985 – “Heaven” – Bryan Adams

August 1985 – “Shout” – Tears For Fears

September 1985 – “Dancing In The Street” – David Bowie & Mick Jagger

October 1985 – “Into The Groove” – Madonna

November 1985 – “Take On Me” – A-ha

December 1985 – “Say You, Say Me” – Lionel Richie

1986 

1986 was a year of powerful voices, innovative sounds, and a touch of controversy. The year kicked off with a star-studded collaboration for the charitable anthem “That’s What Friends Are For”, featuring Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder. Whitney Houston, a rising star, showcased her incredible vocals with the romantic ballad “How Will I Know”, while Billy Ocean delivered the motivational anthem “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going”.

New Wave continued to evolve, with Falco’s quirky and danceable “Rock Me Amadeus” taking the airwaves by storm. Synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys rose to fame with the sophisticated and stylish “West End Girls”. Houston returned to the top of the charts with the empowering “Greatest Love Of All”.

The year also saw the rise of music videos that pushed boundaries. Peter Gabriel’s visually stunning and surreal “Sledgehammer” redefined the art form, while Madonna courted controversy with the suggestive themes explored in “Papa Don’t Preach”. Bananarama’s catchy “Venus” became a summer staple, while Chris de Burgh’s “The Lady In Red” offered a dose of timeless romance. The year closed out with the epic rock anthems “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin and Europe’s “The Final Countdown”, leaving a lasting mark on the music scene.

January 1986 – “That’s What Friends Are For” – Dionne Warwick ft. Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder

February 1986 – “How Will I Know” – Whitney Houston

March 1986 – “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” – Billy Ocean

April 1986 – “Rock Me Amadeus” – Falco

May 1986 – “West End Girls” – Pet Shop Boys

June 1986 – “Greatest Love Of All” – Whitney Houston

July 1986 – “Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel

August 1986 – “Papa Don’t Preach” – Madonna

September 1986 – “Venus” – Bananarama

October 1986 – “The Lady In Red” – Chris De Burgh

November 1986 – “Take My Breath Away” – Berlin

December 1986 – “The Final Countdown” – Europe

1987 

1987 offered a vibrant mix of pop anthems, soulful duets, and the continued evolution of music video as an art form. The Bangles took us on a trip back in time with the playful “Walk Like An Egyptian”, while Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” became a stadium anthem for the ages.  Collaborations proved powerful, with the legendary Aretha Franklin teaming up with George Michael for the soulful and sophisticated “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”. Starship delivered the optimistic and uplifting “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, a perfect soundtrack for chasing dreams.

The year also saw established pop icons solidify their status. Whitney Houston’s powerhouse vocals soared on the dancefloor-friendly “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, while Michael Jackson’s duet with Siedah Garrett, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, showcased his unmatched talent for ballads.

He later returned solo with the funky and controversial “Bad”, further cementing his status as the King of Pop. Los Lobos paid tribute to a legend with their cover of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba”, a song that transcended generations. Tiffany’s bubblegum pop hit “I Think We’re Alone Now” dominated the airwaves, while George Michael, fresh off his success with Aretha Franklin, launched a successful solo career with the introspective and genre-bending “Faith”.

January 1987 – “Walk Like An Egyptian” – The Bangles

February 1987 – “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi

March 1987 – “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” – Aretha Franklin & George Michael

April 1987 – “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” – Starship

May 1987 – “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” – Cutting Crew

June 1987 – “La Isla Bonita” – Madonna

July 1987 – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” – Whitney Houston

August 1987 – “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” – Michael Jackson & Siedah Garrett

September 1987 – “La Bamba” – Los Lobos

October 1987 – “Bad” – Michael Jackson

November 1987 – “I Think We’re Alone Now” – Tiffany

December 1987 – “Faith” – George Michael

1988 

1988 brought a wave of remakes, the rise of new pop stars, and a feel-good anthem that perfectly captured the mood. The year opened with Pet Shop Boys’ synth-pop take on Elvis Presley’s classic “Always On My Mind”, proving a timeless song could be reimagined for a new generation. Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s embarked on a successful solo career with the optimistic and danceable “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”.

Rick Astley, a newcomer to the scene, became an instant sensation (and forever the king of music memes, and yes, this is an elaborate rickroll) with the unforgettable synthpop jam “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Another rising star, Kylie Minogue, took the charts by storm with the infectious “I Should Be So Lucky”, a song that launched her global pop stardom.

Veteran artists like Billy Ocean returned with the smooth and soulful “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car”, while George Michael delivered the introspective ballad “One More Try”. Glenn Medeiros offered a heartwarming love song with “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”, and Yazz brought high energy to the dance floor with “The Only Way Is Up”.

Phil Collins dipped his toes into worldbeat with the catchy “A Groovy Kind Of Love”, while Enya’s ethereal and mystical “Orinoco Flow” ushered in a new sound. The year ended on a positive note with Bobby McFerrin’s a cappella masterpiece “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, a song that transcended genres and became a universal anthem of joy.

January 1988 – “Always On My Mind” – Pet Shop Boys

February 1988 – “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” – Belinda Carlisle

March 1988 – “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Rick Astley

April 1988 – “I Should Be So Lucky” – Kylie Minogue

May 1988 – “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” – Billy Ocean

June 1988 – “One More Try” – George Michael

July 1988 – “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” – Glenn Medeiros

August 1988 – “The Only Way Is Up” – Yazz

September 1988 – “A Groovy Kind Of Love” – Phil Collins

October 1988 – “Orinoco Flow” – Enya

November 1988 – “Girl You Know It’s True” – Milli Vanilli

December 1988 – “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin

1989

1989 was a year dominated by iconic pop stars, the return of the power ballad, and the emergence of global sounds. Michael Jackson defied gravity and intrigued audiences with the smooth and suspenseful “Smooth Criminal”. Newcomer Paula Abdul brought her infectious energy and choreography to the forefront with the dance-pop anthem “Straight Up”. 

Mike + The Mechanics, featuring guitarist Mike Rutherford of Genesis, delivered the emotional and nostalgic ballad “The Living Years”, a song that resonated with listeners of all ages. The Bangles returned to the charts with the beautiful and enduring “Eternal Flame”.

Madonna, ever the pop provocateur, pushed boundaries with the controversial and thought-provoking “Like A Prayer”. Swedish duo Roxette rose to international fame with the sweet and optimistic “The Look”, followed by the equally catchy “Listen To Your Heart” later in the year.

Prince soundtracked the summer blockbuster Batman with the dark and energetic “Batdance”. Richard Marx delivered another heart-wrenching power ballad with “Right Here Waiting”, while Kaoma’s “Lambada” brought the sensuality of Latin rhythms to the forefront, becoming a global dance craze. Billy Joel closed out the decade with the fast-paced and informative “We Didn’t Start The Fire”, a song that perfectly captured the whirlwind of events that shaped the 1980s.

January 1989 – “Smooth Criminal” – Michael Jackson

February 1989 – “Straight Up” – Paula Abdul

March 1989 – “The Living Years” – Mike + The Mechanics

April 1989 – “Eternal Flame” – The Bangles

May 1989 – “Like A Prayer” – Madonna

June 1989 – “The Look” – Roxette

July 1989 – “Express Yourself” – Madonna

August 1989 – “Batdance” – Prince

September 1989 – “Right Here Waiting” – Richard Marx

October 1989 – “Lambada” – Kaoma

November 1989 – “Listen To Your Heart” – Roxette

December 1989 – “We Didn’t Start The Fire” – Billy Joel