The year 1984 holds a special place in the history of popular music. It was a time when new wave, synth-pop, and post-punk were all the rage, and many of the greatest songs of all time were released. Here are 20 of the best tracks from that unforgettable year.
1. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!
This is one of the most iconic pop songs of the 1980s, and it’s still just as catchy today. George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley were at the height of their powers with this global smash hit.
The song is US-certified platinum, having sold over 2 million copies. It’s a song that you can dance to in the disco, or sing in the car with your friends. It’s perfect for any occasion.
2. “When Doves Cry” by Prince and The Revolution
The song is known for its unique synth sound and drums. It’s a classic 1980s pop song that has stood the test of time and is one of Prince’s most well-known tracks.
It was released as the lead single from his best-selling album, “Purple Rain.” Experimental pop music at its finest, “When Doves Cry” is a must-listen.
3. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
Movie junkies and music lovers alike will enjoy this 1984 classic. “Ghostbusters” is the perfect song to sing along to, and it’s impossible to resist its catchy hook.
The song was written specifically for the “Ghostbusters” movie, and it went on to top the charts and was even nominated in the Academy Awards for Best Original Song. Through the years, the song has been recorded in different versions, but the original is still the best.
4. “Missing You” by John Waite
This is a soft-rock track that has achieved great success, both in 1984 and in the present day. Despite being released over two decades ago, “Missing You” still captures the hearts of many with its relatable lyrics about heartbreak, loss, and denying all the pain.
The song was co-written by Eric Kaz, and it has been used in various movies like ‘Warm Bodies’ and ‘Selena.’ Tina Turner made her version which also topped the charts. Listen to this song if you need a good cry.
5. “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner
This is one of the most empowering pop anthems of all time. Tina Turner’s raspy voice and unforgettable dance moves made this song a hit around the world.
The lyrics talk about how attraction can only be confused with love. The iconic track has won three Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. This R&B song would make you want to sing along.
6. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams
Funky soul music at its finest, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” is the perfect song to get you moving. The lyrics are all about uplifting the spirits of the partner despite his imperfections and it’s a feel-good track that will put a smile on your face. William’s vocals are top-notch, and the production is superb.
7. “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder
Unexpectedly calling your loved ones just to say “I love you” is a lovely gesture, and this 1984 classic by Stevie Wonder will make a great track for long distance lovers.
The infectious beat and happy-go-lucky lyrics make it the perfect song to show your loved ones how much you appreciate them.
As a multi-instrumentalist, Wonder wrote, arranged, and produced the entire song by himself, like what he does to most of his tracks. This song was featured in the movie “Woman in Red.” His lovely vocals and lyrics will make you fall in love with the song.
8. “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen
This dance-rock track was released as the lead single from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” album. The song is all about having fun and enjoying life to the fullest despite the challenges. It was a commercial success, topping the charts in several countries.
As the part of Springsteen’s best-selling album, It’s hard not to dance along with this 1980s classic.
9. “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell
A synth-pop song with the message, “Somebody’s Watching Me” is about paranoia and feeling like you’re being watched all the time. The lyrics were inspired by Rockwell’s own experience with fame and paparazzi.
This song topped the charts internationally, and it featured Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson as guest vocals.
10. “Self Control” by Laura Branigan
Italian singer Raf originally composed and released “Self Control” in 1984. Laura’s version of the piece features her sultry, deep voice that is unmistakable throughout the synth-pop song. The lyrics explore the idea of resisting temptation and being restrained during an exciting night.
“Self Control” is a catchy track with great production, and Branigan’s vocal performance and beauty made this track an unforgettably iconic song from the 80s.
11. “I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman
A love song with a lively beat, “I Can Dream About You” is the perfect track to listen to when you’re missing your partner. The lyrics are all about how the singer can dream about being with his loved one even when they’re apart.
This song was used in the 1984 film “Streets of Fire.” It’s a great track to listen to when you’re in your feels.
12. “Like A Virgin” by Madonna
The ’80s have been heavily defined by Madonna’s rebellious image and catchy tracks. “Like A Virgin” is one of her most iconic songs, and it talks about how love can make you feel alive and new. The album with the same title has sold over 21 million units worldwide.
This pop track has been covered by multiple artists and has been used in various shows over the years, this only means that Madonna’s influence is still relevant up to this day. Whenever this song comes up, you can’t help but groove along and remember Madonna.
13. “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry
The powerful and flawless vibrato, the emotion in every word sung. The lyrics are all about how the singer will always love his partner no matter what. The song was for his then-girlfriend Sherrie Swafford.
It’s a track off of Perry’s debut solo album that he released while he was the vocalist of Journey. Steve Perry’s voice is a high ‘tenor altino’ that is widely acclaimed, and this song is one of his best vocal performances.
14. “I Want to Break Free” by Queen
“I Want to Break Free” is an anthemic rock song with heavy metal influences. The song was written by John Deacon that features Freddie Mercury’s vocals. The single sold over 200,000 units in the UK.
The music video featured the band members in drag, which caused controversy at the time. Nevertheless, it remains one of Queen’s most iconic tracks because it is a track about freedom and fighting oppression.
Queen has a great reputation in the music industry, and this song is one of their many hits that is still being played today.
15. “Hello” by Lionel Richie
“Hello” is a love song with beautiful and poetic lyrics. The track was written by Lionel Richie and produced by James Anthony Carmichael. It was released in 1984 as the third single from his album “Can’t Slow Down.” This beautiful track has topped the music charts worldwide.
The song starts with a simple piano melody that gradually builds up, adding different instruments as it goes along.
Lionel Richie’s smooth and soothing voice is the perfect complement to the track. This song gets better with time; it’s all about the singer longing for their loved one and professing their love.
16. “Better Be Good to Me” by Tina Turner
Tina Turner is a legend, and this track is one of her many hits. “Better Be Good to Me” is a rock song with blues influences. The lyrics are about how the singer wants their partner to be good to them. Turner won a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance – Female.
This song is the perfect mix of Turner’s rough and powerful vocals with a catchy beat. It’s a great track to listen to when you’re in the mood for some classic rock.
17. “Careless Whisper” by George Michael
“Careless Whisper” is a pop ballad written by George Michael and Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley The lyrics are about how the singer regrets cheating on his partner. The track has sold over six million units worldwide.
The song features a saxophone solo that has become iconic. It’s a beautiful and emotional track that will stay with you long after it’s over.
18. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon
This power ballad has been one of the greatest tracks of the ’80s. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” talks about how the singer can’t fight their feelings for someone. It topped the charts in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.
The song starts with a soft piano melody and builds up to a powerful chorus. Kevin Cronin’s vocals are emotive and moving, which makes this track even more touching.
This track was used in the movie Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who!” If you’re looking for a song to listen to when you’re feeling nostalgic, this is the perfect track.
19. “I Feel for You” by Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan’s cover of Prince’s song “I Feel for You” is a funky R&B track. It won a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
This feel-good song is perfect for when you’re in the mood to dance. The lyrics are about how the singer is attracted to someone.
The track features a rap by Melle Mel, which was groundbreaking at the time. Chaka Khan’s vocals are electrifying, and this track is one of her best.
20. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins
“Footloose” is a song about dancing and letting loose. The lyrics are about how the singer just wants to dance away. The track was co-written by Kenny Loggins and was released in 1984. It topped the charts in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
The song has a catchy beat that will make you want to get up and dance. Loggins’ vocals are upbeat and optimistic, which makes this track even more fun.
If you’re looking for a song to listen to when you want to have a good time, “Footloose” might be the ultimate track to get you moving.
1984 was a great year for music, with many iconic tracks being released. Genres like pop, new wave, synth-pop, rock, and R&B thrived. Ranging from love songs to party anthems, there’s a track for everyone on this list.
So put on your dancing shoes and get ready to enjoy some of the best music from one of the most iconic years in history.
Wham! Featured Image (Bottom) by: Louise Palanker, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons