One thing about the 80s can take away from the decade was that the music was just fun. There was something for everyone. The decade of decadence and over-indulgence did just that with the music. Ask anyone who either grew up in those neon day-glow simpler times or just played the now-classic Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and they’ll tell you: you just get a happy feeling hearing some of these now iconic songs.
Eighties songs can help turn a boring road trip or even just a drive to the store into a real fun and silly time! With the Summer season in full swing, it’s time to let the top down, grab some Aquanet and get on the open road. Here are ten of the best driving songs of the era.
10 Michael Jackson - “Wanna Be Starting Somethin’”
The King Of Pop could command a room like no other. In a concert in Mexico City, he had the crowd nearly rabid, just by standing on stage in silhouette. That’s how powerful of an entertainer he was!
“Wanna Be Starting Something” didn’t quite get the love that other tracks on Thriller did. But it was still considered a massive hit, as were most Songs Jackson put out during this time.
9 A Flock Of Seagulls - “I Ran”
It doesn’t get more eighties than A Flock Of Seagulls’ “I Ran.” Right from the beginning of the song, the synthesized guitar sounds are a perfect example of what a song from the decade sounded like.
The song is about alien abduction, a phenomenon that has transcended decades but had a lot of steam during this time thanks to Steven Spielberg and movies like Close Encounters. The song’s pounding synthesized sound helps all road trips and if played loud enough, will get nearby drivers to quickly change the track in their own cars to this catchy tune.
8 Prince - “When Doves Cry”
According to billboard.com, the Purple One charted more top 100 songs than any other artist between 1980-1999. To be fair, just about any hit song from Prince is good for driving and putting on a full-on dance party in your car!
“When Doves Cry” from Purple Rain, despite some of its somber lyrics, is one of his most iconic songs. When you’re crafting your driving mix, grand sweeping commercial hits are exactly what you need.
7 Motley Crue - “Wild Side”
Even for people who claim they don’t like the genre, everyone needs a little 80s Hair Metal in their lives. Bands like Poison, Dokken, Warrant, and of course Bob Jovi permeated the radio waves all throughout the decade (and classic rock stations now).
Motley Crue might have embodied what it meant to be rock stars during the decade more than any other band. The embodiment of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, Motley Crue’s “Wild Side” from 1987’s Girls, Girls, Girls became one of their signature songs pretty quickly.
6 Toto - “Africa”
Toto’s “Africa” isn’t just played on radios and clubs to this day, the song has been remixes and remade by all kinds of people - the sign of any great song.
Most recently and perhaps famously was a campaign to have the band Weezer cover this song, which they did with Weird Al; but only after trolling fans with a cover of Toto’s other hit, “Suzanna” first.
5 A-Ha - “Take On Me”
The video is one of the most memorable of all time. But we’re driving here, not watching music videos. A-Ha’s “Take On Me” is the most perfect pick-me-up on those long road trips where there’s nothing but highway.
The catchy beat is enough to get a driver’s energy back up and the entire car rocking out, no matter how many hours you’ve been cooped up in a car or how bad the traffic is.
4 Queen + David Bowie - “Under Pressure”
The most notorious baseline in all of rock. The greatest frontman of all time. Ziggy Stardust. “Under Pressure” is one of the most rousing anthems you’ll ever hear and it’s straight out of the eighties album Hot Space.
The song instantly became a classic and Queen would perform it live at every show until Freddie Mercury’s death. There’s a performance of the song going on right now somewhere, live, in a car driving somewhere in the world.
3 Guns N Roses - “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
Guns N Roses were the perfect band to merge 70s and 80s glam rock with heavy metal to evoke the spirit of a 60s rock supergroup. Before imploding in the early 90s, they had the world in the palm of their hand.
Songs like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” just proved how good their collaborative efforts were and the beauty of improv. The band was so good that it was literally Slash playing around on his guitar, Izzy riffing off of that and Axl writing lyrics for it all within an hour. The song is one of their best and the decade’s best, and a must for any mixtape or Spotify list.
2 Def Leppard- “Pour Some Sugar On Me”
There’s an old joke amongst some heavy metal kids - “what has five arms and stinks?” It's an allusion to Def Leppard’s drummer only having one arm. But Rick Allen certainly doesn’t stink and neither does Def Leppard!
If you grew up during the 80s, you probably had a few hot and heavy sessions with “Pour Some Sugar On Me” providing the backdrop. The song's also fun to hear at parties right before dessert. But the best time to hear it is blaring out of a convertible careening down Mulholland Drive in Laurel Canyon on a clear summer day.
1 Madonna - Any Song You Want
With four albums released during the decade, Madonna was the undeniable Queen Of Pop. Her music transcended cultures, even if the hardest heavy metal fan would try to hide the fact they’d be rocking out to “Lucky Star.”
With ten giant hits to choose from across those four albums, just pick a few songs and start howling on the road! You might even get a couple of nearby drivers to join in the fun and “Get Into The Groove,” celebrating the summer “Holiday” and expressing themselves.