The 80s were a great time to live in. The era filled with macho biker jackets and big perms had a quirky taste for music too. The 80s dance songs resonate with people all over the world and continue to inspire the new pool of artists even today.
The music industry was at its peak back in the 80s, with the newly discovered upbeat technologies and the rise of MTV. The use of synthetic drums, VOX, and upgraded amplifiers lead to the formation of vibrant new genres like hard rock, punk, gothic rock, heavy metal, and hip hop.
Some of the popular 80s dance songs by artists as rich as Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and Whitney Houston are still considered as favorite tracks to groove and shake a leg.
Be it the iconic Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, or Another One Bites The Dust by Queen, Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley or Push It by Salt n Pepa, these 80s dance songs have reigned forever over people’s hearts.
Top 10 80’s Dance Songs You Must Listen To
1. Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean
Billie Jean was released as the second single for Michael Jackson’s sixth album Thriller. Written and composed by Michael, this song is considered one of the most iconic songs of the king of pop. This post-disco, dance-pop genre song draws inspiration from one of the fan-girls, whom Michael encountered during his time with the Jackson 5.
Billie Jean helped the album become the biggest-selling album of all time after selling over 10 million copies worldwide. The song won the Grammy Awards twice and was a huge hit among the BBC Radio listeners. It also topped both the US and UK singles charts and stayed as number one for the record nine weeks on the R&B chart.
Jackson’s performance of the song in the special Motown 25 show is one of the most unforgettable cultural performances, where he performed his iconic moonwalk for the first time.
2. Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust
Another One Bites The Dust is a funk-rock, disco track by the British band, Queen. It was released in 1980, as a single for their 8th album The Game. It was written by John Deacon and produced by Reinhold Mack. This funky track is the top-selling song of the band with over 7 million copies sold.
It stayed at the top of the US charts for three consecutive weeks and came seventh in the UK Singles Chart. This song also received a nomination for the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group at Grammy Awards. It has been a lively part of pop culture, after being featured in famous shows and movies.
3. The Bangles’ Walk Like an Egyptian
Walk Like an Egyptian was the third track from the album Different Light by The Bangles, released in 1986. This pop-rock track was certified gold, emerged as number three in the UK charts, reached number one in the US, and stayed at the top for four weeks. It was written by Liam Stemberg and was rejected by a few singers before eventually, The Bangles decided to record it after the producer of their album heard a demo of the song.
Even the music video for the song was nominated for the best group video at the 1987 MTV video music awards. It captured the people on the streets dancing to its tunes, in poses similar to the ancient Egyptian mummy relics. It also featured modified images of Princess Diana, the statue of liberty, and Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.
4. Wang Chung’s Everybody Have Fun Tonight
Everybody Have Fun Tonight was released in 1986 by the British Band Wang Chung, as a single for their album Mosaic. This new wave genre track reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, following Walk Like an Egyptian, and also topped the Canada RPM Top 100 Singles chart.
The song was written collectively by the band members Jack Hues, Nick Feldman, and the producer Peter Wolf. The music video for the song features the band singing in a wood-lined room, in a complex flip book-like animation style.
5. 80s Dance Songs: Salt n Pepa’s Push It
Push It was released in 1987 by the hip hop group Salt n Pepa. From rank 19 in the Billboard Hot 100, it gradually rose higher in the charts after the band’s performance at Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday concert, and eventually reached the second position.
This song made Salt n Pepa the first female band to earn certified platinum and was ranked 7th in VH1’s list for the 100 Greatest Songs of hip-hop. The song is widely popular in pop culture after getting featured in popular shows like The Big Bang Theory and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
6. B-52s’ Love Shack
Love Shack was released in 1989, as a single for the album Cosmic Thing, by the B-52s. It was written by Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and Keith Strickland, and produced by Don Was. It was the comeback song for the band, after a long break in the mid-80s, after the death of their lead guitarist Ricky Wilson. The song celebrates life through its groovy dance music.
This song’s popularity has made the song synonymous with the band’s name. The song reached the top of the charts in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. It also ranked number two in the UK charts and number three on the US Billboard Hot 100, upon its release. The song also found a place in the list of 365 Songs of the Century.
7. Rick James’ Super Freak
Super Freak was released as a single in the album Street Songs in 1981 and recognized as the signature song of the artist Rick James. He co-wrote the song with Alonzo Miller. This song found its place among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone. It also earned a nomination for the Grammy in 1981.
This funky dance song ranked number 16 in US Billboard Hot 100 and also is certified gold with over 500,000 records sold. The music video features Rick as a sexually adventurous freak as described in his song’s lyrics.
8.Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody
I Wanna Dance With Somebody was a dance-pop track by the popular singer Whitney Houston in 1987. It was released as a single for her second album titled Whitney. This song was produced by Narada Walden and co-written by George Merril and Shannon Rubicam.
The song received worldwide applause, as it topped the charts in fourteen countries! It reached the Billboard Top 100 in the US and stayed 18 weeks in that position. This song is also a certified Platinum with over 4.2 million copies sold worldwide. The song is considered one of the defining 80s Dance Songs. It is about the wish of a woman to dance for life with someone special.
9. Michael Jackson’s Thriller
Thriller was the final song by Michael Jackson in his album Thriller. This disco-funk song was written by Rod Temperton and produced by Quincy Jones. This song is one of the most remembered 80s dance songs. It is a certified 7x Platinum.
The vocals and the visuals of the song resonated with that of horror films. The music video is considered the most iconic music video of all time and was the first music video to be preserved by the National Film Registry. The video features Jackson in his now-iconic red jacket as a zombie and dancing with a group of dead people.
His iconic dance moves from the video have been recreated several times in many shows and movies and are considered one of the most popular memories of Michael Jackson’s life and career.
10. Never Gonna Give You Up By Rick Astley
Never Gonna Give You Up was the first song by the British artist Rick Astley. It was released in 1987, as the first track of Rick Astley’s debut album. It was both written and produced by Stock Waterman. This dance-pop song was an instant hit due to its catchy tunes and powerful vocals.
It reached the top of both US and UK charts and stayed at the top for five weeks. It topped the charts in 25 countries and was the best-selling single for that year after being certified platinum. The song was chosen by Times Out magazine as one of their 50 Best Songs of the 80s. This song is even more popular in the 21st Century, after finding its way as the popular Rickrolling internet meme.
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The funky beats, upgraded instruments, catchy tunes, and surreal vocals of these 80s dance songs, have kept their freshness and vibrancy alive even after decades. These 80s dance songs have left an unopposed mark on its listener’s memories and have continued to influence some of the most popular artists and frequently streamed songs of the 21st century.