Are you down with ol’school songs? Yay! 80s rock; the decade of pop, leather jackets, shoulder pads and sequins. It’s the decade that set the benchmark for music videos and blended cinematography with music production. Sex appeal was heightened around this period in music with daring artists like Freddie Mercury, Madonna and Prince spurning controversies with some of their music videos.
80s was when Michael Jackson won nine Grammys in one night, on one stage. You can’t be a serious music fan and not know something from this period.
It’s now 2024 and we can’t shake off the memories. Here are some of the hits that defined the period- now in its 40th year.
- Tina Turner’s ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’
Written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, this song was recorded by American singer Tina Turner for her fifth studio album, Private Dancer (1984). It was meant to be a rock song but after repeated studio work, Turner was persuaded to do a pop record. Rock is her comfort zone and wouldn’t trade it for the world, except that the world was crazy about pop at that time in history. Anyway, Capitol Records released it as a single from her comeback album as a solo artist Private Dancer in May 1984 and it eventually became her biggest-selling single of all time.
“What’s Love Got to Do with It” received three awards at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards namely Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
- Phil Collins’ ‘Against All Odds’
This song is popular with karaoke singers around the world with another hit remix performed by singer-songwriter, Mariah Carey. Originally recorded by English drummer, singer and songwriter Phil Collins, this powerful ballad was the soundtrack to the 1984 film of the same name.
The single reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, the first of seven US No. 1’s for Collins in his solo career.
- Deniece Williams’ ‘Let’s Hear it For the Boy’
“Let’s Hear It for the Boy” is a soundtrack to the feature film Footloose. Released as a single from both the soundtrack and her album of the song’s same name on February 14, 1984, by Columbia Records, the song became a global hit.
Written by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford, the song was produced by George Duke and became Williams’ second number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 on May 26, 1984, also topping the dance and R&B charts, and peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and was certified platinum in the US and gold in Canada and the UK by the Recording Industry Association of America, Music Canada and the British Phonographic Industry, respectively. The music video was released in mid-April 1984.
- Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’
Prince’s first No. 1 single, staying there for five weeks, and was also a worldwide hit. According to Billboard, it was the top-selling single of 1984. It is certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).It was the last single released by a solo artist to receive a Platinum certification before the certification requirements were lowered in 1989. “When Doves Cry” was ranked number one on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1984. Following Prince’s death, the song re-charted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number eight, its first appearance in the top 10 since the week ending September 1, 1984.
The music video, directed by Prince, premiered on MTV in June 1984. “When Doves Cry” is ranked number 37 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
- Stevie Wonder’s ‘I just Called to Say I love You’
The song, now a classic, was a major international hit, and still is Wonder’s best-selling single till date, having topped a at least 19 charts.The song also became Wonder’s only solo UK number-one success, staying at the top for six weeks. It became Motown Records’ biggest-selling single in the UK and won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the movie titled “The Woman in Red.” The song also received three nominations at the 27th Grammy Awards in these categories: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
- Billy Ocean’s Carribbean Queen
Accompanies by heavy bassline and pop sound, Carribbean Queen is a 1984 song by Trinidadian-British singer Billy Ocean. The song was initially titled “European Queen” but afterwards, it was changed. Co-written and produced by Keith Diamond, it reached number one on both the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Billboard Black Singles chart, and number six on the UK Singles Chart. The song fetched Ocean the 1985 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, making him the first British artist to win in that category.
- Sade’s Smooth Operator
Smooth Operator is a song recorded by English band Sade from their debut studio album, Diamond Life (1984), co-written by Sade and Ray St. John. Released on August 28, 1984, it is the album’s third single in the United Kingdom. It also reached number 19 on the UK Singles Chart.
The song became Sade’s first top-10 entry in the US, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in May 1985. It spent 13 weeks in the top 40, and also topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for two weeks.
Although “Your Love Is King” remains Sade’s highest-peaking single in the UK to date, “Smooth Operator” is the band’s breakthrough single on the US charts, and the band’s most successful single internationally.
- New Edition’s Cool it Now
“Cool It Now” is a 1984 hit single by R&B/Pop group New Edition from their eponymous self-titled second album, New Edition. The song peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Black Singles in Autumn of 1984, number 4 in January 1985 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 43 on the UK Singles Chart.
The song was the group’s first top 10 pop single, peaking at number four on the pop chart, and their second number one R&B hit.