30+ Best 80s Rock Songs (Music from the 90s)

In this article, we will take a trip down memory lane and revisit the best 80s rock songs that defined a generation. The 1980s was an iconic decade for rock music, with numerous bands and artists producing timeless hits that continue to resonate with audiences today.

From power ballads to energetic anthems, these songs captured the spirit of the era and left a lasting impact on the music industry. So, grab your air guitar and get ready to rock out as we list out some of the greatest 80s rock songs of all time.

1. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses

Starting off our list is “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. This iconic rock ballad, released in 1987, showcases the band’s raw talent and the powerful vocals of lead singer Axl Rose.

The melodic guitar intro, courtesy of Slash, instantly hooks listeners, while the emotional lyrics and explosive chorus make it a timeless classic. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” remains one of the most beloved rock songs of all time, capturing the essence of the 80s rock scene.

2. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard

Next up, we have “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard. This high-energy rock anthem, released in 1987, is a staple of 80s rock music. With its catchy hooks, infectious rhythm, and sing-along chorus, it’s a song that gets everyone on their feet.

Def Leppard’s masterful guitar work and Joe Elliott’s powerful vocals make “Pour Some Sugar On Me” an absolute crowd-pleaser and a must-have addition to any 80s rock playlist.

3. Jump – Van Halen

“Jump” by Van Halen takes the third spot on our list. This synth-driven rock anthem, released in 1984, showcases Van Halen’s signature sound and the impressive guitar skills of Eddie Van Halen.

The infectious keyboard riff and David Lee Roth’s energetic vocals make “Jump” an unforgettable song that embodies the spirit of 80s rock. Its catchy chorus and upbeat tempo will have you jumping along with the music.

4. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi

No list of 80s rock songs would be complete without “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi. Released in 1986, this power ballad tells the story of Tommy and Gina, two working-class individuals striving to make a better life for themselves.

With its anthemic chorus, heartfelt lyrics, and Jon Bon Jovi’s passionate vocals, “Livin’ On A Prayer” became an instant hit and remains one of Bon Jovi’s signature songs.

5. Another One Bites The Dust – Queen

Coming in at number five is “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. This funky rock song, released in 1980, showcases Queen’s versatility and ability to captivate listeners with their unique sound.

With its iconic bassline, infectious groove, and Freddie Mercury’s charismatic vocals, “Another One Bites The Dust” became a massive hit and solidified Queen’s status as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

6. When Doves Cry – Prince

Next on our list is “When Doves Cry” by Prince. Released in 1984, this genre-defying song blends elements of rock, pop, and funk, showcasing Prince’s musical genius.

With its provocative lyrics, distinctive guitar riffs, and infectious rhythm, “When Doves Cry” became one of Prince’s most successful and influential songs, leaving a lasting impact on the 80s music scene.

7. Rock You Like A Hurricane – Scorpions

“Rock You Like A Hurricane” by Scorpions takes the seventh spot on our list. Released in 1984, this hard-hitting rock anthem is characterized by its infectious guitar riffs, powerful vocals, and driving rhythm.

The combination of Klaus Meine’s distinctive voice and the electrifying guitar work of Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs makes “Rock You Like A Hurricane” an unforgettable song that has stood the test of time.

8. Welcome To The Jungle – Guns N’ Roses

Returning to Guns N’ Roses, we have “Welcome To The Jungle” at number eight. Released in 1987, this gritty rock anthem serves as an introduction to the wild and untamed world of Guns N’ Roses.

Axl Rose’s raw and aggressive vocals, coupled with Slash’s blistering guitar solos, create a high-energy experience that perfectly captures the essence of 80s rock. “Welcome To The Jungle” remains a fan favorite and a true rock classic.

9. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits

Next up, we have “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits. Released in 1985, this song features a distinctive guitar riff and satirical lyrics that critique the music industry and the rise of corporate culture.

Mark Knopfler’s smooth vocals and the catchy melody make “Money For Nothing” a standout track of the 80s rock era. Its innovative music video, featuring early computer animation, further cemented its popularity and cultural impact.

10. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey takes the tenth spot on our list. Released in 1981, this power ballad has become an anthem of hope and perseverance. With its uplifting lyrics, memorable piano intro, and Steve Perry’s soaring vocals, “Don’t Stop Believin’” resonates with listeners of all ages.

The song’s popularity has endured over the years, earning it a place in pop culture and becoming a staple at sporting events and karaoke nights.

11. Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” is a timeless rock anthem that showcases her powerful vocals and energetic performance. Released as part of her album “Crimes of Passion,” the song quickly climbed the charts, reaching number nine in the US.

Written by Eddie Schwartz, the song features a catchy melody and one of the best guitar solos in rock ‘n’ roll history.

12. Wanted Dead Or Alive – Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive” takes listeners on a journey through the life of a rockstar. The song uses the theme of the old west to narrate the lonely existence of a musician on the road. With its memorable guitar riffs and powerful lyrics, this fan-favorite has become an enduring classic.

13. Rock The Night – Europe

“Rock The Night” by Europe is a Swedish rock band’s second single, and it quickly became one of their best-known songs. With its epic guitar riff and catchy chorus, the song captivated audiences worldwide. It reached number 36 on the US charts, solidifying Europe’s place in rock music history.

14. Born In The USA – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” became an instant hit upon its release in 1984. It was the first song by an American rocker to reach number one on both the US Mainstream and Rock Charts simultaneously. The patriotic and nationalistic lyrics combined with Springsteen’s powerful vocals make this song an exhilarating anthem.

15. Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” showcases his incredible vocal range and soulful delivery. Released in 1982, the song became one of Gaye’s biggest hits. It tells the story of a man abandoned by his wife and his quest to find solace through sexual healing.

The sensual vibe of the song and Gaye’s masterful performance make it a standout in his discography.

16. Back In Black – AC/DC

AC/DC’s “Back In Black” is a rock anthem that resonated with audiences around the world. Released as a tribute to their late lead singer, Bon Scott, the song features powerful vocals, electrifying guitar solos, and a driving rhythm that defines the band’s signature sound. It remains one of the best songs from AC/DC and a true rock classic.

17. I Wanna Know What Love Is – Foreigner

“I Wanna Know What Love Is” by Foreigner is a timeless ballad that explores the depths of human emotions. With its heartfelt lyrics and soul-stirring vocals, the song struck a chord with listeners.

It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of Foreigner’s biggest hits, showcasing its ability to deliver powerful and emotionally charged performances.

18. Every Breath You Take – The Police

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police is an iconic track that explores themes of obsession and longing. With its haunting melody and Sting’s distinctive vocals, the song captivated audiences worldwide.

It topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for eight consecutive weeks and became The Police’s best-selling single. It’s atmospheric sound and introspective lyrics make it a standout song of the ’80s.

19. With Or Without You – U2

U2’s “With Or Without You” is a powerful and emotional rock ballad. It tells the story of a troubled relationship that the protagonist finds difficult to escape from. Bono’s heartfelt vocals combined with The Edge’s distinctive guitar work create a captivating musical experience. The song’s introspective lyrics and atmospheric sound have made it one of U2’s most beloved hits.

20. I Love Rock N Roll – Joan Jett & Blackhearts

Originally recorded by the British band Arrows in 1975, “I Love Rock N Roll” became a massive hit when Joan Jett & Blackhearts released their rendition in 1981. With its catchy guitar riff and infectious energy, the song quickly became a rock anthem. It has since become one of Joan Jett’s most popular and recognizable songs.

21. Hungry Like A Wolf – Duran Duran

“Hungry Like A Wolf” by Duran Duran is a catchy and energetic song that showcases the band’s unique sound. The lyrics depict a woman who transforms into a werewolf after being bitten. With its suggestive lyrics and infectious rhythm, the song became a fan favorite and reached number three on the US Billboard Chart.

22. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds gained immense popularity after being featured in the movie “The Breakfast Club.” The song’s anthemic chorus and memorable melody struck a chord with audiences. It topped the UK Singles Chart for three consecutive weeks, becoming Simple Minds’ best-selling song. Its nostalgic charm and relatable lyrics make it an enduring ’80s classic.

23. Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor

“Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor became an instant hit after being featured as the theme song for the movie “Rocky III.” With its powerful vocals and driving guitar riffs, the song exudes determination and triumph. It has since become synonymous with motivation and is often played during sporting events. The song’s catchy chorus and energetic sound make it a timeless anthem.

24. The Final Countdown – Europe

“The Final Countdown” by Europe is an iconic rock song that remains a staple at sporting events and concerts. Released in 1986, the song’s powerful synthesizers and memorable melody captured the imagination of listeners worldwide.

It reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and solidified Europe as one of the biggest rock bands of the ’80s.

25. Is This Love – Whitesnake

“Is This Love” by Whitesnake is a heartfelt ballad that showcases the band’s softer side. Released in 1987, the song explores the emotions of a protagonist struggling to let go of a past love. With its soulful vocals and powerful guitar solos, the song struck a chord with audiences. It remains one of Whitesnake’s most popular and enduring songs.

26. Start Me Up – The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” is a timeless classic that kicks off our journey through the best 80s rock songs. Released in 1981, this song has an infectious energy that can instantly uplift your mood. While its exact meaning is open to interpretation, many believe it speaks about the allure of a certain lifestyle.

Originally intended as a reggae song, “Start Me Up” was later transformed into a rock anthem, becoming one of the Rolling Stones’ most popular tracks.

27. Don’t You Want Me – The Human League

Next on our list is The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” Released in 1981 as part of their album “Dare,” this song features catchy vocals and an irresistible beat. Despite its upbeat sound, the lyrics reveal a deeper meaning.

Lead singer Phil Oakey has stated that the song is not about love but rather about power dynamics and politics. It quickly became a massive hit, reaching number one in 1983 and remaining at the top of the charts for three weeks.

28. Planet Rock – Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force

Afrika Bambaataa, often referred to as the “Godfather of Hip Hop,” released “Planet Rock” in 1982, revolutionizing the music scene. This groundbreaking song was one of the first to combine rock with rap, creating a new genre known as electro.

With its infectious beats and mesmerizing rhythms, “Planet Rock” became a universal hit that transcended boundaries. It remains a favorite among music enthusiasts and continues to ignite dance floors to this day.

29. Photograph – Def Leppard

“Photograph” by Def Leppard takes us on a journey through the realm of love and desire. Released in 1983, this song is a testament to Def Leppard’s musical prowess. Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, renowned for his work with AC/DC and The Cars, “Photograph” reached the top of the charts, becoming Def Leppard’s first number-one hit.

Its captivating lyrics and memorable melody have solidified its place among the best rock songs of the 80s.

30. We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister

If you’re looking for an anthem of rebellion, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister is the perfect choice. Released in 1984, this song resonated with teenagers who used it as an expression of defiance.

The catchy chorus and energetic instrumentals made it a staple at Twisted Sister’s concerts. Originally planned as a rendition of “Come All Ye Faithful,” the song took a different turn, becoming an iconic rock anthem that still ignites the rebellious spirit within us.

31. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is a rock masterpiece that demands your attention. Released in 1980, this song boasts quick beats and straightforward lyrics that make it a perfect addition to any workout playlist.

The inspiration for the song came from overhearing a conversation among women in the Bahamas discussing men’s visual nature. With its electrifying energy and memorable guitar riffs, “You Shook Me All Night Long” continues to be a fan favorite.

32. Here I Go Again – Whitesnake

Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” is a power ballad that captures the essence of the 80s rock scene. Written in 1981 during a UK tour, the song gained popularity in 1987 after the band revamped its lineup.

With its infectious beats and relatable lyrics, “Here I Go Again” quickly climbed the charts, reaching the top spot. This song remains a symbol of resilience and determination, making it one of the best inspirational rock songs of all time.

33. You Give Love A Bad Name – Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” is a high-energy rock anthem that dominated the airwaves in the 80s. Co-written by Jon Bon Jovi and Desmond Child, this song became an instant hit with its catchy chorus and powerful vocals.

Featured on an episode of “How I Met Your Mother,” the song resonates with people of all ages. Its memorable melodies and relatable lyrics continue to make it an iconic rock song from the 80s.

34. One – Metallica

Metallica’s “One” stands out as a powerful and emotionally charged rock song. Released in 1988, it tells the story of a soldier who suffers severe injuries in war and is left in a comatose state. The song’s intense lyrics and heavy guitar riffs perfectly capture the tragic tale.

“One” climbed the charts and solidified Metallica’s position as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Its enduring popularity continues to resonate with fans worldwide.

35. Girls Girls Girls – Mötley Crüe

The song “Girls Girls Girls” by Mötley Crüe was released in 1987 and written by Nikki Sixx. It serves as a tribute to seven nightclubs mentioned in the lyrics, showcasing the band’s wild and indulgent lifestyle. Interestingly, the lead singer, Nikki Sixx, had a tattoo of the song’s title and even owned a strip club in Japan with the same name.

The song’s beats and extraordinary rendition make it an irresistible track that will have you swaying along. Notably, the producer recorded motorcycle sounds to add an edgy vibe to the song.

36. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison

“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison is a timeless ballad that struck a chord with listeners when it was released. The song explores the pain of lost love and how time heals all wounds. It was inspired by the lead vocalist Bret Michaels’ own failed relationship and the sacrifices he made for his career.

Combining heavy metal with an electric sound, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” became a chart-topping hit and solidified Poison’s place in rock music history.

37. Angel – Aerosmith

In 1993, Aerosmith released their rendition of “Angel.” Originally performed by Charlie Rich, Aerosmith put their own spin on it with Steven Tyler taking over lead vocals. The song was co-written by Steven Tyler and Desmond Child, one of the most successful songwriters of that period.

“Angel” showcases a different side of Aerosmith, deviating from their trademark humor and delving into a more heartfelt and introspective sound.

38. The Look – Roxette

“The Look” by Roxette is a catchy pop-rock track that resonated with audiences worldwide. Released as a single from Roxette’s debut studio album, “Look Sharp,” the song gained popularity in their native Sweden before breaking through in the US.

“The Look” explores the theme of reminiscing about past memories and trying to forget someone who keeps reappearing in one’s thoughts. With its infectious melodies and energetic performance, it quickly became a favorite among fans of ’80s music.

39. Africa – Toto

“Toto – Africa” is a song that has stood the test of time, captivating generations with its enchanting melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Written by David Paich and Jeff Porcaro, the song tells the story of a person torn between leaving someone behind to pursue their dreams and the desire to be together.

The chorus of “Africa” has sparked debates over its interpretation, adding a layer of intrigue to the song. The harmonious blend of vocals and captivating beats makes it a true ’80s classic.

40. Breaking The Law – Judas Priest

Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law” is an iconic rock anthem that embodies the rebellious spirit of the ’80s. Released in 1980 as part of the album “Unleashed in the East,” the song tells the story of a person who decides to break the law, only to face the consequences.

With its addictive beats and catchy lyrics, “Breaking The Law” became one of Judas Priest’s most beloved tracks and a fan favorite during their live performances.

41. Ace Of Spades – Motörhead

“Ace Of Spades” by Motörhead is a high-octane rock song that continues to energize listeners to this day. The lyrics depict a person unafraid to face death head-on, embracing a life of thrill and adventure. Released in 1980 on the album of the same name, “Ace Of Spades” gained widespread recognition when it was featured in the popular video game “Grand Theft Auto.”

With its fast-paced tempo and powerful vocals, the song is a perfect choice for those seeking a burst of adrenaline and motivation.

The ’80s produced an abundance of remarkable rock songs, and this list only scratches the surface. Some honorable mentions include Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

These songs, along with many others, have become synonymous with the ’80s music scene and continue to resonate with fans across the globe.


The ’80s were a golden era for rock music, giving rise to unforgettable songs that have stood the test of time. From energetic and rebellious anthems to heartfelt ballads, these songs continue to capture the hearts of music lovers.

Whether you’re reliving the nostalgia or discovering these timeless classics for the first time, the best 80s rock songs offer a window into an era of exceptional musical creativity and emotional resonance.


What was the #1 rock song of 1980?

The #1 rock song of 1980 was “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen. The song was written by Freddie Mercury and was released as a single in October 1979, but it reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States in 1980, making it the #1 rock song for that year.

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” showcased a more rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll-inspired sound from Queen and became one of their most popular and enduring hits.

What is 80s rock music called?

The rock music of the 1980s is often referred to as “80s rock” or “1980s rock.” It was a diverse and influential era for rock music, featuring various subgenres and styles.

During the 80s, rock music continued to evolve, incorporating elements of pop, glam, hard rock, heavy metal, new wave, and more. Many iconic bands and artists emerged during this decade, and the 80s rock scene had a significant impact on the music industry and popular culture.

Some of the prominent 80s rock bands include Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, U2, Duran Duran, and many others.

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