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Number One Songs - 1980s

by Amy Gold

The number one songs of the 1980s, which total 229, are listed in the table below in descending order by the total number of weeks they stayed on the Billboard Pop/Rock charts. "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield tops the list at 32 weeks. Listed at the bottom is "Dirty Diana" by Michael Jackson which stayed on the charts for 14 weeks. Three #1 hits from the 1960s and 1970s were re-recorded in this decade by different artists whose versions also topped the charts: "Venus" (Bananarama), "Lean On Me" (Club Nouveau), and "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (Kim Wilde).

The 1980s was the era of MTV, punk rock, synth pop, and New Wave music, and in the latter part of the decade, rap and hip hop were also on the rise. The two top charting performers who practically defined the 1980s were Michael Jackson and Madonna - with Whitney Houston not far behind. Some old familiar faces from previous decades who also topped the charts during the 1980s included Stevie Wonder, Hall and Oates, Diana Ross, Olivia Newton-John, the Beach Boys, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Chicago, George Harrison, Paul McCartney/Wings, Starship, the Steve Miller Band, the J. Geils Band, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Heart, Boston, Queen, and Yes.

New Wave and synth pop (as well as punk rock and other related styles) originated in the late 1970s and really took off with the introduction of MTV in 1981. Top charting New Wave and synth pop bands and artists included Blondie, the Culture Club, Duran Duran, the Human League, a-ha, Simple Minds, Dire Straits, the Eurythmics, the Pet Shop Boys, Tears For Fears, Bananarama, and Berlin. Classic and hard rock also continued to flourish throughout the 1980s as heard in the top hits of U2, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses, INXS, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Poison, the Police, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Whitesnake, and Will To Power.

Although the 1980s saw the birth of many new forms of rock, this decade also had its fair share of pop bands and artists that were more mainstream. Besides Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Whitney Houston, top pop acts of the 1980s included Prince, George Michael/Wham!, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Phil Collins, New Kids On The Block, the Bangles, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Deniece Williams, John Cougar Mellencamp, Kim Carnes, Peter Cetera, Robert Palmer, Sheena Easton, Survivor, Toni Basil, Christopher Cross, Cyndi Lauper, and Gloria Estefan/Miami Sound Machine. Last but not least was Rick Springfield (famous star of “General Hospital”) who had a smash hit with "Jessie's Girl," the quintessential pop song of the 1980s.

As pop and rock were branching out into new directions, R&B and country were evolving steadily as well. Besides Michael Jackson, top charting R&B bands and artists of the 1980s also included Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, Bobby Brown, and Billy Ocean. Country-pop also continued to flourish throughout the decade with Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Eddie Rabbitt, and Bonnie Tyler. Duets and larger combos made up of mostly famous artists from previous eras were also very popular. Top charting hits by such acts included “That's What Friends Are For” (Dionne and Friends: Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder), “Say Say Say” (Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson), “Ebony And Ivory” (Paul McCartney with Stevie Wonder), and “Islands In The Stream” (“Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton”). Sometimes, artists from earlier times paired up with more contemporary ones, such as with “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (Aretha Franklin and George Michael).

Many of the top songs of the 80s could be heard at the movies. Movie titles songs included "Chariots Of Fire - Titles" (Vangelis), "Endless Love" (Diana Ross and Lionel Richie), "9 To 5" (Dolly Parton), "Flashdance... What A Feeling" (Irene Cara), "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" (Christopher Cross), "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)" (Phil Collins), "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" (John Parr), "Ghostbusters" (Ray Parker Jr.), "The Power Of Love" (Huey Lewis and the News), "A View To A Kill" (Duran Duran), and "Who's That Girl" (Madonna, from the movie by the same name in which she also starred). Other memorable #1 movie hits were "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes (from "An Officer And A Gentleman"), "Maniac" by Michael Sembello (from "Flashdance"), "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds (from "The Breakfast Club"), "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (from "Dirty Dancing"), and "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler (from "Beaches," a movie in which Midler also co-starred).

Much like the late 1960s, the late 1980s was a time of experimentation, and this decade also saw the emergence of many types of alternative and indie rock bands such as R.E.M., the Replacements, and other non-mainstream acts that were very popular on college campuses. Although many of these bands made the Billboard Pop/Rock charts (with songs by R.E.M. often reaching the Top 40), none made the list of number one songs shown below. Some of these newer forms of rock gave way to Grunge and other edgier styles of the 1990s and beyond.

Back to: Top Songs By Decade

Jessie's GirlRick Springfield3/28/1981
Baby, Come To MePatti Austin (With James Ingram)10/16/1982
Another One Bites The DustQueen8/16/1980
CelebrationKool And The Gang10/25/1980
Upside DownDiana Ross7/12/1980
Total Eclipse Of The HeartBonnie Tyler7/16/1983
Wind Beneath My WingsBette Midler3/4/1989
I Love A Rainy NightEddie Rabbitt11/8/1980
Keep On Loving YouREO Speedwagon11/29/1980
Chariots Of Fire - TitlesVangelis12/12/1981
Don't You Want MeThe Human League3/6/1982
What's Love Got To Do With ItTina Turner5/19/1984
Here I Go AgainWhitesnake7/4/1987
KokomoThe Beach Boys9/3/1988
Endless LoveDiana Ross And Lionel Richie7/11/1981
Who Can It Be Now?Men At Work7/10/1982
MickeyToni Basil9/4/1982
Take On MeA-HA7/13/1985
The FlameCheap Trick4/9/1988
Wild, Wild WestThe Escape Club8/20/1988
The Tide Is HighBlondie11/15/1980
9 To 5Dolly Parton11/29/1980
Bette Davis EyesKim Carnes3/28/1981
PhysicalOlivia Newton-John10/3/1981
Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)Eurythmics5/14/1983
Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)Billy Ocean8/11/1984
I Just Called To Say I Love YouStevie Wonder8/18/1984
Don't Worry Be HappyBobby McFerrin7/30/1988
Another Brick In The Wall Part IIPink Floyd1/19/1980
Call MeBlondie2/16/1980
LadyKenny Rogers10/4/1980
CenterfoldJ. Geils Band11/7/1981
AbracadabraSteve Miller Band5/29/1982
Eye Of The TigerSurvivor6/5/1982
Down UnderMen At Work11/6/1982
Beat ItMichael Jackson2/26/1983
Flashdance... What A FeelingIrene Cara4/2/1983
Islands In The StreamKenny Rogers With Dolly Parton8/27/1983
Need You TonightINXS10/24/1987
Wishing WellTerence Trent D'Arby1/16/1988
Red Red WineUB408/13/1988
Groovy Kind Of LovePhil Collins9/3/1988
Straight UpPaula Abdul12/3/1988
Woman In LoveBarbra Streisand9/6/1980
Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)Christopher Cross8/15/1981
Hard To Say I'm SorryChicago6/5/1982
Billie JeanMichael Jackson1/22/1983
All Night Long (All Night)Lionel Richie9/17/1983
HelloLionel Richie2/25/1984
Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)Phil Collins2/25/1984
Missing YouJohn Waite6/23/1984
Wake Me Up Before You Go GoWham!9/8/1984
Everybody Wants To Rule The WorldTears For Fears3/16/1985
We Built This CityStarship9/7/1985
You Give Love A Bad NameBon Jovi9/6/1986
I Think We're Alone NowTiffany8/29/1987
Never Gonna Give You UpRick Astley12/19/1987
Sweet Child O'MineGuns N' Roses6/25/1988
Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)Will To Power9/10/1988
Look AwayChicago9/24/1988
My PrerogativeBobby Brown10/22/1988
FunkytownLipps, Inc.3/29/1980
MagicOlivia Newton-John5/24/1980
Kiss On My ListDaryl Hall And John Oates1/24/1981
Private EyesDaryl Hall And John Oates8/29/1981
Up Where We BelongJoe Cocker And Jennifer Warnes8/21/1982
ManeaterDaryl Hall And John Oates10/16/1982
Come On EileenDexys Midnight Runners1/22/1983
Owner Of A Lonely HeartYes11/5/1983
FootlooseKenny Loggins1/28/1984
Out Of TouchDaryl Hall And John Oates9/29/1984
Everytime You Go AwayPaul Young5/11/1985
That's What Friends Are ForDionne And Friends: Elton John, Gladys Knight And Stevie Wonder11/9/1985
How Will I KnowWhitney Houston12/7/1985
On My OwnPatti LaBelle And Michael McDonald3/22/1986
Holding Back The YearsSimply Red4/5/1986
Walk Like An EgyptianBangles9/27/1986
Anything For YouMiami Sound Machine3/12/1988
Love BitesDef Leppard8/13/1988
She Drives Me CrazyFine Young Cannibals1/28/1989
Blame It On The RainMilli Vanilli10/7/1989
How Am I Supposed To Live Without YouMichael Bolton10/28/1989
Opposites AttractPaula Abdul12/16/1989
(Just Like) Starting OverJohn Lennon11/1/1980
Jack And DianeJohn Cougar Mellencamp7/24/1982
ManiacMichael Sembello6/4/1983
Every Breath You TakeThe Police6/4/1983
Say Say SayPaul McCartney And Michael Jackson10/15/1983
Karma ChameleonCulture Club12/3/1983
Don't You (Forget About Me)Simple Minds2/23/1985
St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)John Parr6/22/1985
Money For NothingDire Straits7/13/1985
Saving All My Love For YouWhitney Houston8/17/1985
Miami Vice ThemeJan Hammer9/7/1985
Broken WingsMr. Mister9/21/1985
Addicted To LoveRobert Palmer2/8/1986
Higher LoveSteve Winwood6/14/1986
The Way It IsBruce Hornsby And The Range9/20/1986
Shake You DownGregory Abbott10/18/1986
Nothing's Gonna Stop Us NowStarship1/31/1987
AlwaysAtlantic Starr3/28/1987
Mony Mony "Live"Billy Idol9/5/1987
Got My Mind Set On YouGeorge Harrison10/24/1987
I'll Be There For YouBon Jovi3/4/1989
Forever Your GirlPaula Abdul3/11/1989
If You Don't Know Me By NowSimply Red5/6/1989
Listen To Your HeartRoxette8/26/1989
When I See You SmileBad English9/16/1989
Coming Up (Live At Glasgow)Paul McCartney And Wings4/26/1980
It's Still Rock And Roll To MeBilly Joel5/24/1980
SailingChristopher Cross6/14/1980
Morning Train (Nine To Five)Sheena Easton2/14/1981
MedleyStars On 454/11/1981
I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)Daryl Hall And John Oates11/14/1981
JumpVan Halen1/14/1984
The ReflexDuran Duran4/21/1984
When Doves CryPrince6/2/1984
GhostbustersRay Parker Jr.6/16/1984
I Want To Know What Love IsForeigner12/8/1984
Careless WhisperWham! Featuring George Michael12/22/1984
Crazy For YouMadonna3/2/1985
Oh SheilaReady For The World8/3/1985
Part-Time LoverStevie Wonder9/7/1985
Separate LivesPhil Collins And Marilyn Martin10/5/1985
There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)Billy Ocean4/19/1986
SledgehammerPeter Gabriel5/10/1986
Glory Of LovePeter Cetera6/7/1986
Take My Breath AwayBerlin6/21/1986
The Next Time I FallPeter Cetera With Amy Grant9/20/1986
At This MomentBilly Vera And The Beaters11/8/1986
Livin' On A PrayerBon Jovi12/13/1986
You Keep Me Hangin' OnKim Wilde3/28/1987
La BambaLos Lobos6/27/1987
Heaven Is A Place On EarthBelinda Carlisle9/26/1987
(I've Had) The Time Of My LifeBill Medley and Jennifer Warnes9/26/1987
Hold On To The NightsRichard Marx5/21/1988
Every Rose Has Its ThornPoison10/29/1988
When I'm With YouSheriff11/26/1988
Rock OnMichael Damian3/18/1989
I'll Be Loving You (Forever)New Kids On The Block4/1/1989
Baby Don't Forget My NumberMilli Vanilli4/29/1989
Cold HeartedPaula Abdul6/24/1989
Right Here WaitingRichard Marx7/8/1989
Girl I'm Gonna Miss YouMilli Vanilli8/5/1989
I Love Rock 'N RollJoan Jett And The Blackhearts2/6/1982
Let's DanceDavid Bowie3/26/1983
Time After TimeCyndi Lauper4/14/1984
Everything She WantsWham!3/23/1985
Say You, Say MeLionel Richie11/9/1985
KyrieMr. Mister12/21/1985
These DreamsHeart1/18/1986
West End GirlsPet Shop Boys3/1/1986
True ColorsCyndi Lauper8/30/1986
HumanThe Human League9/13/1986
Head To ToeLisa Lisa And Cult Jam4/11/1987
Lost In EmotionLisa Lisa And Cult Jam8/1/1987
FaithGeorge Michael10/24/1987
Seasons ChangeExpose11/28/1987
Could've BeenTiffany11/28/1987
Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My CarBilly Ocean2/13/1988
Foolish BeatDebbie Gibson4/23/1988
Bad MedicineBon Jovi9/24/1988
Living YearsMike And The Mechanics1/7/1989
Toy SoldiersMartika5/20/1989
Miss You MuchJanet Jackson9/2/1989
The One That You LoveAir Supply5/16/1981
Ebony And IvoryPaul McCartney (With Stevie Wonder)4/10/1982
Let's Hear It For The BoyDeniece Williams4/7/1984
Let's Go CrazyPrince And The Revolution8/4/1984
Like A VirginMadonna11/17/1984
HeavenBryan Adams4/20/1985
ShoutTears For Fears6/15/1985
The Power Of LoveHuey Lewis And The News6/29/1985
Stuck With YouHuey Lewis And The News8/2/1986
When I Think Of YouJanet Jackson8/9/1986
(I Just) Died In Your ArmsCutting Crew3/7/1987
So EmotionalWhitney Houston10/31/1987
Lost In Your EyesDebbie Gibson1/21/1989
Eternal FlameBangles2/4/1989
The LookRoxette2/11/1989
We Didn't Start The FireBilly Joel10/14/1989
TrulyLionel Richie10/9/1982
Tell Her About ItBilly Joel7/30/1983
Can't Fight This FeelingREO Speedwagon1/19/1985
One More NightPhil Collins2/9/1985
We Are The WorldUSA For Africa3/23/1985
KissPrince And The Revolution2/22/1986
Greatest Love Of AllWhitney Houston3/29/1986
Live To TellMadonna4/12/1986
Papa Don't PreachMadonna6/28/1986
Open Your HeartMadonna12/6/1986
With Or Without YouU23/21/1987
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)Whitney Houston5/16/1987
ShakedownBob Seger5/23/1987
The Way You Make Me FeelMichael Jackson11/21/1987
Where Do Broken Hearts GoWhitney Houston2/27/1988
One More TryGeorge Michael4/16/1988
Together ForeverRick Astley4/16/1988
Roll With ItSteve Winwood6/11/1988
Two HeartsPhil Collins11/19/1988
Don't Wanna Lose YouGloria Estefan7/8/1989
Another Day In ParadisePhil Collins11/4/1989
SussudioPhil Collins5/11/1985
A View To A KillDuran Duran5/18/1985
Rock Me AmadeusFalco2/8/1986
Invisible TouchGenesis5/31/1986
Lean On MeClub Nouveau2/14/1987
I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)Aretha Franklin And George Michael2/21/1987
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking ForU26/13/1987
Didn't We Almost Have It AllWhitney Houston8/1/1987
Father FigureGeorge Michael1/16/1988
Man In The MirrorMichael Jackson2/6/1988
Good ThingFine Young Cannibals5/6/1989
Who's That GirlMadonna7/11/1987
MonkeyGeorge Michael7/9/1988
Like A PrayerMadonna3/18/1989
Hangin' ToughNew Kids On The Block7/15/1989
Jacob's LadderHuey Lewis And The News1/17/1987
SatisfiedRichard Marx5/6/1989
I Just Can't Stop Loving YouMichael Jackson8/8/1987
BadMichael Jackson9/19/1987
Dirty DianaMichael Jackson5/7/1988