17 Great but Underrated 80s Songs You Need To Add To Your Playlist

Embark on a nostalgic musical journey as we unearth 17 hidden gems from the ’80s that have been quietly tucked away in the recesses of our memory. These songs, often overshadowed by the era’s chart-toppers, are brought to light by enthusiastic users who swear by their enduring appeal. From Billy Squier’s timeless “In the Dark” to the infectious beats of Whodini’s “The Freaks Come Out At Night,” each recommendation promises a trip down memory lane.

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#1 “In the Dark” by Billy Squier

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Billy Squier’s “In the Dark” is a quintessential ’80s rock anthem known for its powerful energy and electrifying guitar riffs. Released in 1981 as part of his album “Don’t Say No,” the song explores themes of desire and attraction. Its enduring popularity can be attributed to Squier’s dynamic vocals, the infectious rhythm, and the song’s ability to capture the essence of the rock music scene during that era. Despite being somewhat overshadowed by mainstream hits, “In the Dark” remains a testament to Squier’s musical prowess and the enduring allure of ’80s rock.

#2 “Cuts You Up” by Peter Murphy

Gothic Girl
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“Cuts You Up” by Peter Murphy, released in 1990, stands out as a post-punk masterpiece rather than a classic ’80s track. The song delves into themes of emotional vulnerability and the complexities of human relationships. With its haunting melody and Murphy’s distinctive baritone vocals, “Cuts You Up” has been hailed as a great song of the ’80s for its atmospheric sound and poignant lyrics. While it may not fit the traditional ’80s mold, its enduring popularity attests to its impact on alternative and gothic music scenes during that era.

#3 Heart & Soul – T’Pau

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“I love that song and they named the band after a Star Trek character.”

T’Pau’s “Heart & Soul,” a powerhouse anthem from the ’80s, intertwines passion and love in its compelling narrative. Released in 1987, the song, led by Carol Decker’s emotive vocals, delivers a memorable blend of rock and pop elements. Its catchy melody and distinctive sound contribute to its recognition as a great song of the ’80s.

#4 “Just Another Day” by Oingo Boingo

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“Just Another Day” by Oingo Boingo, released in 1985, encapsulates the vibrant spirit of ’80s new wave. This quirky anthem, led by Danny Elfman’s charismatic vocals, explores the mundane aspects of daily life against a backdrop of energetic instrumentals that seamlessly blend ska, pop, and rock. Celebrated for its infectious energy and unique sound, the song stands as a testament to Oingo Boingo’s ability to infuse humor and social commentary, earning its place as a great song of the ’80s.

#5 Toy Soldiers – Martika

Toy Soldiers
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“Tory Soldiers” by Martika, released in 1989, stands as a poignant exploration of addiction’s toll on relationships. The song’s metaphorical depiction of addiction as toy soldiers resonates with emotional depth, showcasing Martika’s soulful vocals against a backdrop of a compelling melody. Considered a great song of the ’80s, its powerful narrative, combined with a memorable chorus, establishes “Toy Soldiers” as an enduring and impactful piece within the rich tapestry of ’80s music.

#6 Icehouse – Electric Blue

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“Electric Blue” by Icehouse, a synth-pop gem from 1987, immerses listeners in the realm of romantic longing and desire. Marked by infectious energy and a seamless collaboration with John Oates, the song captures the quintessential ’80s pop sound. Its catchy melodies and polished production have secured its status as a great song of the ’80s, offering a timeless glimpse into the era’s vibrant musical landscape.

#7 Save It for Later – The Beat

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“Save it for Later” by The Beat, released in 1982, is a poignant exploration of the challenges and complexities of relationships. Its emotionally resonant lyrics, coupled with an infectious melody, contribute to its reputation as a great ’80s song. The track captures the era’s new wave spirit and stands out for its relatable themes, earning its place as a timeless gem in the ’80s music scene.

#8 Send Me an Angel by Real Life

Romantic Couple, Desire
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“Send Me an Angel” by Real Life, a captivating synth-pop anthem from the ’80s, delves into themes of yearning and romantic desire. The song’s ethereal sound, combined with its memorable chorus, marks it as a standout in the era’s musical landscape. Considered a great song of the ’80s, “Send Me an Angel” resonates for its evocative lyrics and the band’s ability to create a transcendent sonic experience that continues to captivate audiences.

#9 “Ship of Fools” by World Party

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“Everything about this song screams 80’s.”

“Ship of Fools” by World Party, released in 1986, is a social commentary on the state of the world, touching on themes of political disillusionment and societal critique. Its infectious melody and thought-provoking lyrics contributed to its acclaim as a great song of the ’80s. The track’s ability to blend catchy pop sensibilities with substantive content showcases World Party’s musical prowess, making it a timeless piece that resonates with listeners for its depth and societal reflection.

#10 Under the Milky Way by the Church

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“Under the Milky Way” by the Church, a mesmerizing composition from 1988, is a dreamy exploration of introspection and cosmic contemplation. The song’s ethereal sound, combined with evocative lyrics, makes it a standout in the ’80s music landscape. Considered a great song of the era, its atmospheric quality and poetic themes create a timeless piece that transports listeners to a contemplative space, solidifying its status as a classic ’80s track.

#11 It’s a Sin by the Pet Shop Boys

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“It seems like I mostly only hear West End Girls or maybe Always on My Mind from them, but It’s a Sin was a great track.”

“It’s a Sin” by the Pet Shop Boys, released in 1987, is a bold exploration of guilt, sin, and societal condemnation. The song’s catchy synth-pop beats and poignant lyrics address themes of rebellion and self-reflection. Widely regarded as a great ’80s song, its infectious sound, coupled with the duo’s distinctive style, creates a memorable piece that goes beyond the chart-topping hits typically associated with the Pet Shop Boys, showcasing their ability to infuse social commentary into a danceable anthem.

#12 Nothing but Flowers by Talking Heads

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“Nothing but Flowers” by Talking Heads, a thought-provoking track from 1988, serves as a satirical commentary on modernity and the consequences of industrialization. The song’s unconventional lyrics and infectious rhythm showcase Talking Heads’ artistic innovation. Considered a great song of the ’80s, “Nothing but Flowers” stands out for its unique blend of social critique and musical creativity, offering listeners a distinctive and memorable experience that solidifies its place in the era’s musical landscape.

#13 Punk Rock Girl – Dead Milkmen

Punk rock girl
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“Punk Rock Girl” by Dead Milkmen, a spirited offering from 1988, is a humorous ode to rebellious love and counterculture. Filled with irreverent wit and catchy punk energy, the song captures the essence of ’80s punk rock. Considered a great song of the era, its lighthearted yet rebellious nature distinguishes it, offering a playful commentary on the punk ethos and making it a standout track that resonates with the fun and subversive spirit of the ’80s.

#14 No Myth – Michael Penn

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“No Myth” by Michael Penn, a melodic gem from 1989, delves into the complexities of love and relationships with heartfelt sincerity. The song’s catchy hooks and Penn’s emotive vocals contribute to its status as a great ’80s track. Considered a standout for its relatable lyricism and timeless melody, “No Myth” showcases Penn’s ability to craft a poignant ballad that transcends the decade, earning its place as a classic love song that continues to resonate with audiences.

#15 “I Love You” – Climax Blues Band

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“Here’s one that’s a little slower-paced but damn groovy and catchy: “I Love You” (Climax Blues Band). This thread is killin’ me because I can absolutely just hear each of these songs in my imagination. In fact the only thing hard to imagine is that anyone wouldn’t remember them!”

“I Love You” by Climax Blues Band, a groovy and catchy slow-paced track from the ’80s, carries a timeless allure. With its soulful melody and heartfelt lyrics, the song explores the theme of love in a way that’s both smooth and memorable. A testament to the era’s musical richness, “I Love You” provides a laid-back yet emotionally resonant experience, earning its recognition as a hidden gem that effortlessly transports listeners back to the romantic and groovy vibes of the ’80s.

#16 The Freaks Come Out At Night – Whodini

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“The Freaks Come Out at Night” by Whodini, a classic in ’80s hip-hop, brings a vibrant energy to the era. Released in 1984, the track is an anthem for nightlife, celebrating the unique and diverse characters who come alive after dark. Its infectious beats and innovative style contribute to its recognition as a great ’80s song, embodying the creativity and dynamism of the hip-hop scene during that time. With a timeless appeal, “The Freaks Come Out at Night” remains a standout piece in the tapestry of ’80s music.

#17 Cry – Godley and Creme

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“Cry” by Godley and Creme, a haunting composition from 1985, intertwines innovative visuals with a unique sonic landscape. This lyric depicts the pain of separation and the intense feelings of loss and sadness. The song’s distinctive use of technology in the music video, featuring morphing faces, reflects the duo’s avant-garde approach. Considered a great song of the ’80s, “Cry” stands out for its experimental nature and emotionally charged lyrics, creating a lasting impact that lingers in the memories of those who experienced its blend of artistry and musical expression.

Source: Reddit.

Disclaimer – This list is solely the author’s opinion based on research and publicly available information.

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