The 1980s were a golden age for music, with the advent of new genres, music videos, and even the walkman. In fact, a 2021 survey by Ipsos found that 40% of Americans still thought the best music was that produced in the 1980s.
The ‘80s pop scene featured iconic artists like Tina Turner and Diana Ross, as well as legendary bands like Queen and Blondie. Musicians began to utilize electronic instruments, prompting catchy dance hits, opening up a new world of sound, and setting the stage for future decades of pop music.
To determine the biggest pop hits of the 1980s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Songs were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Chart data is current through the week of August 20, 2022. (Christmas songs were not included.)
The biggest pop hits of the 1980s not only performed well on the Hot 100, but also received prestigious accolades. A dozen of the 80’s hits ranked on this list won Grammy nominations, and seven brought home Grammys. The winners included No. 2, Young M.C.’s “Bust a Move,” and No. 16, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. The music video for No. 7, “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John – a montage that famously featured leotard-clad actors exercising together – earned her a Grammy for Video of the Year,
In fact, of all of the biggest ‘80s pop hits, “Physical” remained at the No. 1 position on the Hot 100’s for the longest amount of time, 10 weeks in total. Not far behind were No. 17, Diana Ross & Lionel Richie’s, “Endless Love,” and No. 15, Kim Carnes’s, “Bette Davis Eyes,” both of which remained at the top spot for nine weeks. (These are the artists with the most No. 1 hits.)
While many of the biggest pop hits from the 1980s came from bands, 15 of the songs on our list were either performed by solo artists, or duets between two solo artists. The duet “Endless Love,” No. 17, between Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, was nominated for a Grammy. Diana Ross also had a solo hit: No. 7, “Upside Down.” (These are solo artists who were more successful than their bands.)
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