21 Best 80s Rock Songs
If you like to play air guitar – or even air drums like my dad does (he used to play in a band), then you need to know about the best 80s rock songs! There have never been tracks quite like those of the hair bands decade, and this post lists 21 of the top 80s rocks songs for you to play. At full blast, of course.
The best rock songs from the 80s include stormers from Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, The Boss, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Heart, Journey, Queen and many more. 80s classic rock songs, each and every one of them.
Let’s dive into this 80s rock songs list.
21 of the best 80s power ballads
Girls Girls Girls – Motley Crue
Big hair. Motorbikes. Surely the best of 80s rock personified. If it was all about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, this song just about sums it all up.
Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
Even though I’m now ‘halfway there’ myself (in fact, probably slightly past that if I’m honest, unless I live to 98), the song never fails to get me singing along. Jon is better at hitting the high notes than I am, though. Once of the most classic 1980s rock songs of all.
Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns ‘N’ Roses
If I had to name only three of the most iconic rock ballads of the 80s, this one and Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer’ would be up there for sure.
Let’s Get Rocked – Def Leppard
The best of 80s rock wouldn’t be complete without a song with ‘rock’ in the actual title. Plus it makes me think they mean something else. Such as trashed, or jiggy 😉
I Wanna Rock – Twisted Sister
Another one with ‘rock’ in the name of the track. And also one of the best 80s hair band songs out there.
Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen
Though he wasn’t quite so successful over here in the UK, Bruce Springsteen was The Boss of popular 80s rock songs. Dancing in the Dark is my favourite track of his, though of course I adore his live cover of INXS’s Don’t Change.
Jump – Van Halen
This is a guaranteed floor-filler that belongs on any list of 1980s rock songs. Might as well jump up out of your seat for a boogie – or even a spot of moshing – right?
Another One Bites The Dust – Queen
A Queen track has to make it onto a list of classic 80s rock tracks. Another One Bites The Dust is a great one for moving and shaking, and also shows off Freddie Mercury’s incredible vocal talents.
Living After Midnight – Judas Priest
Another one from a British rock band here. The track from British Steel is a live favourite, but the recorded version from that album is pretty on-the-money too.
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll – Joan Jett
At last, one of the female 80s rock songs. If you love rock ‘n’ roll, ‘put another dime in the jukebox, baby’ and play this storming song.
Is This Love – Whitesnake
Like Foreigner’s I Want To Know What Love Is, there’s something stirringly understated about this tune. It’s really got a hold on me, anyway. One of my top 10 soft rock songs of the 80s for sure.
Dude (Looks Like A Lady) – Aerosmith
Poor old Stuart Broad has Aerosmith classic this sung to him by the Australian cricket team. Anyway, I’m sure once he learns that I had a crush on him at the time, he’ll feel so much better about it.
The Final Countdown – Europe
Another top floor-filler here. Whether we’ll ever leave planet Earth for another – or the moon – or not, this was Joey Tempest et al’s top track and is among the best 80s hair band songs.
Money For Nothing – Dire Straits
More than any other song of its time, this is one of those 80s rock music hits that has the decade stamped through it like a stick of – erm – rock. Microwave ovens, colour TVs, refrigerators – were they really big news back then? Anyway, they’re from the north east, like me, and my dad played Brothers in Arms on vinyl more-or-less constantly following its release.
Poison – Alice Cooper
I remember seeing the video for this on Top of the Pops so many times. Or at least it seems that way. It reached number two here and in New Zealand, though it didn’t do quite so well anywhere else. Why the heck not? Classic.
Never Tear Us Apart – INXS
There’s no way I could talk about the greatest 80s rock songs without mentioning this INXS hit. Written for Michele Bennett, a former girlfriend of Michael Hutchence, she was the last person he ever called. RIP Hutch, we all miss you.
Alone – Heart
One of the best 80s rock love songs came from this female band from Seattle. Somehow it manages that rare feat of being moving without being schmaltzy.
Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins
This is one of the famous 80s rock songs that comes from a film soundtrack. The original Top Gun‘s – and it was also used in the 2022 release Top Gun: Maverick. When I hear this, a I think of fast aeroplanes, motorbikes, leather jackets, blue jeans and Ray-Bans. Who doesn’t?
Ace of Spades – Motorhead
This fast-paced, energetic track is one that belongs on any 80s rock hits playlist. It calls to mind dark, smoky rooms and of course poker games. Either strip poker, or betting away everything you own kind of poker, at that.
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
I first got to know this – one of the 80s’ greatest rock hits – when travelling around New Zealand. It’s always really struck a chord with me. Freedom is very precious indeed, and travelling alone in my early 20s was the most liberating experience ever.
A View To A Kill – Duran Duran
For me there had to be a Bond theme tune in this list the best rock anthems of the 80s. This is edgier and grittier than other Duran Duran tracks, I find. One of the best Bond themes ever – a triumph for Simon Le Bon and co.
80s Rock Songs – FAQs
What rock music came out in the 80s?
The sub-genres of rock that became popular during the 80s include glam and thrash metal, soft rock and shred guitar. Glam metal – often made by what are known as ‘hair bands’ due to their luxuriant locks – became the most successful music genre by the late 80s. Guns ‘n’ Roses, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, for example, were typical glam metal bands.
What was the biggest rock hit of the 80s?
In the UK, The Eye of the Tiger by Survivor was the biggest selling rock track of the decade. It was number 12 on the list of the top 100 best selling singles of the 80s. The song was used for the Rocky III film and soundtrack in 1982.
Which 80s Rock Songs Make Your Playlist?
Whether you prefer 80s rock love ballads, tracks from the popular bands of the 80s with big hair or simply wanted to know the 80s’ greatest rock hits, hopefully some of these 80s rock classics will make your playlist.
If you’re younger and have only seen Top Gun: Maverick so far, I hope you’re impressed by the fact that the original theme song made the final cut for the second film’s soundtrack. 80s rock music really is that classic!
- 21 top 80s karaoke songs
- 21 top 80s power ballads
- Top 100 80s singles
- Best 80s bands
- Best 80s albums
Note – This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy via these, I may earn a small fee. This does not affect the price you pay in any way. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.