Top 10 Most Underappreciated 80s Songs
VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild
WRITTEN BY: Andy Hammersmith
Regardless of genre, these songs deserve a renewed appreciation from modern audiences. For this list, we'll be looking at some of the best tracks from the decade that deserve more recognition. Our countdown includes “You're the Best”, “The Whole of the Moon”, “Don't Dream It's Over”, and more!
Top 10 Most Underappreciated 80s Songs
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Underappreciated 80s Songs.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the best tracks from the decade that deserve more recognition. Regardless of genre, these songs deserve a renewed appreciation from modern audiences.
Did we forget one of your favorite 80s songs? Let us know in the comments below.
#10: “You’re the Best” (1984)
If you ever need a song for a montage, you can do a lot worse than this track. Joe Esposito’s anthem “You’re the Best” features prominently in the seminal 80s film “The Karate Kid.” Along with its key placement in the movie, the single sometimes gets overshadowed by inspiring soundalikes like “Eye of the Tiger.” Esposito’s proud vocal range hits the upper register as he belts his heart out in a triumphant musical statement. Next to helping Ralph Macchio win a karate tournament, “You’re the Best” brings out the best in all of us and makes us ready to compete at any level.
#9: “Waiting for a Star to Fall” (1988)
Boy Meets Girl
Boy Meets Girl is the fun-loving duo responsible for the single “Waiting for a Star to Fall.” Utilizing all the signature sounds of 80s pop rock, the track manages to use its synths to great effect. The competent and engaging sound took the song to 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Some might also remember it from films like “Three Men and a Little Lady,” which later helped boost the song’s profile. Some might call it another cheesy 80s pop production, but it manages to resonate through the years with a host of different covers.
#8: “Gloria” (1982)
Often considered her signature vocal, Laura Branigan makes “Self Control” her own with a powerful performance. Many people don’t even realize that the single isn’t original, but it’s actually a cover of a composition by Umberto Tozzi. It both went to number 2 on the Hot 100 and achieved a Grammy nomination for its classic presentation. Further appearances in films, such as the iconic “Flashdance,” established the track as another example of the tremendous music from the decade. The platinum release shows up in other pieces of media, but it should be held in high regard with other 80s anthems.
#7: “The Touch” (1986)
Any 80s kid nostalgic for “The Transformers: The Movie” might remember this song off of the film’s soundtrack. The power ballad not only makes for a fantastic score for the Autobots, but it also works as a standalone and forgotten highlight of a single. Only a handful of tracks induce a glorious fist pump like this one. “The Touch” also made the rounds in various films and television shows that remind people how much joy it brings people. Stan Bush might not be a household name, but his contributions to “The Touch” still stand the test of time.
#6: “(You’re A) Strange Animal” (1985)
Lawrence Gowan, also known as Gowan, is known primarily in Canada for songs like “(You’re A) Strange Animal.” The track reached number 15 on the Canadian Top Singles chart in its heyday. Delving into progressive and synth rock, the catchy track walks the line between complicated music and an inviting pop tune. His music could have easily earned international acclaim, but the accompanying album “Strange Animal” only received a major push in his home country. By the end of the 90s, the artist stepped away from his solo career to join Styx as the replacement for singer Dennis DeYoung.
#5: “The Whole of the Moon” (1985)
For anyone outside of the United Kingdom, the Waterboys likely exist only because of this song. "The Whole of the Moon" is no small feat however and it definitely should be on everyone's 80s playlist. The band earned recognition for themselves with other singles and albums, but this particular tune remains their signature. Two key elements of the song are its pristine saxophone and synth parts, in a track that transposes folk and new wave elements into a memorable listening experience. Climbing high on the UK and Irish charts, it also has wonderfully written lyrics that tell a surprisingly moving and effective tale.
#4: “I Ran (So Far Away)” (1982)
A Flock of Seagulls
A Flock of Seagulls are both known for their unique haircuts and for hits like "I Ran." Despite the nationality of the band, their song actually did much better outside of the United Kingdom and scored a top-ten finish in the United States. Everything about the track screams 80s, from its synths to the soaring guitars. The clever wordplay isn't the only thing enjoyable about this release as it also makes for an awesome opportunity to sing along. Featured on their debut album, the single helped skyrocket them to fame and fortune in the decade. Anyone who would put it down hasn't listened to it in a while and clearly doesn't remember the tune's intense and rich production.
#3: “Eighties” (1984)
In the year 1984, post-punk band Killing Joke released the aptly named song "Eighties." It then went on to gain some notice on the UK charts with its notable guitar riff and biting lyrical content. For those unfamiliar with the single, they might recognize its notable influence on other tracks like Nirvana’s "Come As You Are." Making more than a couple of appearances in film and other media, it was also included in the 80s comedy "Weird Science." The subversive statement ultimately features a hard-driving indictment of the decade from an underrated and underappreciated band.
#2: “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (1986)
"Don't Dream It's Over" has been an influential track in certain circles for many years, receiving a couple of covers in the process. The song initially shot up the Billboard Hot 100 charts, rising all the way to number two at its peak. Some would even argue that the hit is the closest thing the 80s have to a pop standard. Even with the added recognition, Crowded House deserves more consideration for their innovative songwriting skills. Neil Finn sings the vocal on a layered, heartbreaking, and beautifully prepared production. The New Zealand group is usually mentioned in the same breath as this signature single, but definitely deserving of even more praise.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“I Can Dream About You” (1984), Dan Hartman
Hartman’s Compelling Vocals Pushes This Song Over the Edge
“Destination Unknown” (1982), Missing Persons
Intriguing Lyrics Play Over Top a Pristine New Wave Production
“Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” (1984), Billy Ocean
A Signature Ocean Song Showcasing His Penchant for Fun & Energetic Pop
“The Ghost in You” (1984), The Psychedelic Furs
A Haunting New Wave Piece That Goes Beyond the Usual Love Ballad
“Forget Me Nots” (1982), Patrice Rushen
A Killer Bass Line Drives This Funky ‘80s Track
#1: “Pale Shelter” (1982)
Tears for Fears
Tears for Fears has a few hits that didn’t escape the 80s vortex, including this one that earned some modest chart attention in both the UK and Canada. It also represents the band’s early and promising sound that would only build with their follow-up albums. The talented duo play with poetic lyrics and elegant pacing that draws in listeners to a well-produced track, doubling as both a pop single and a song for a dance club. You feel the passion of each verse as the words fly out with every ounce of energy the singer has left. “Pale Shelter” makes you remember that the group was much more than a flash in the pan, preparing the world for other recognizable songs like “Shout.”