These musical Guilty Pleasures of the 80s have stood the test of time. For many they are confined to the back of closets like so many embarrassing high school photos that can’t be parted with. But when dusted off and played at just the right moment, they still pack the dance floor and inspire spontaneous sing-a-longs at weddings, dances and flashback parties everywhere.
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)- Proclaimers
Tagline: But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Like two excited puppies, these bespectacled, Scottish nerd twins just can’t contain their unbridled glee on this infectious anthem celebrating true love. Best thing about this song is that, no matter how drunk you are you can still sing along with the chorus-
“Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da”
Sounds best in a dive bar after a couple of shots.
We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off- Jermaine Stewart
Tagline: A quick hit, that’s your game
But I’m not a piece of meat, simulate my brain
Slow down, girl… not so fast! On this ode to chastity, Jermaine wants to take his time drinking cherry wine and getting to know you as a person. Maybe after some scrapbooking and a peek at each other’s blogs you guys can connect physically. Or not. Still, the infectious melody will have you wanting to dance all night even if you don’t get lucky.
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)- Whitney Houston
Whitney was at the top of her vocal game here, enough to make you overlook the dated 80s production that hinders this Pop smash. Even with the clunky 80’s drum machine sounds and glaring synthesizer riffs, Houston’s voice triumphs and sets the bar for future divas to aspire to.
Too Shy- Kajagoogoo
Tagline: Too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
The seductive beat, swirling keyboards and androgynous singing will have you longing for your can of hair mousse and perhaps a clove cigarette. Sporting more simultaneous hair colors than a peacock, the band scored it’s only big hit here.
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go- Wham!
Tagline: Wake me up before you go-go
‘Cause I’m not plannin’ on going solo
Wake me up before you go-go
Take me dancing tonight
George Michael unofficially comes out of the closet on this #1 hit, belting out fluffy prose with a conviction no straight man could ever approach. It would take George years to finally admit it but after this song, we all knew. You put the boom boom into my heart…
Come On Eileen- Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Tagline: Come on Eileen
Oh, I swear what he means (what he means)
At this moment you mean everything
What happens when you mix an Irish Jig with Rock and Roll? You get the sappiest New Wave ditty ever. Frolicking around in hay bales and thinking “dirty thoughts” with your overalls on has never been so much fun- Toora loora toora loo rye ay!
I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)- Hall & Oates
Tagline: Yeah I’ll do anything that you want me to
I’ll do almost anything that you want me to
But I can’t go for that
No can do
Pop crooners Hall & Oates get their Funk on here, channeling their inner Marvin Gaye. What the song lacks in meaning it makes up for with an irresistible booty shakin’ beat. The sultry sax solo was just made for late night body bumping.
Working For The Weekend- Loverboy
Tagline: You Want To Be In The Show, Come On Baby Lets Go!
Grandiose, pompous and over the top (isn’t that ALL Loverboy songs, really?). These headband sporting, Canadian fratrockers are looking for a new weekend romance on this synth laden tribute to the working man. Hide your sisters until Monday!
Mickey- Toni Basil
Tagline: Oh Mickey, you’re so fine
You’re so fine, you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey Mickey
The greatest cheerleading anthem of all time features a chugging beat that’s more addictive than a crack laced pizza.
Jump- Van Halen
No doubt influenced by the popularity of 80s New Wave, these Metal Heads rely heavily on a simple synthesizer hook to power this rocker. The result is the Popiest song VH has ever done, given added gravitas by Eddie’s signature guitar solo. Still, the lyrics are sing song silly and would have been right at home on a Debbie Gibson album.
Might as well jump. Jump!
Go ahead, jump.
Get it and jump. Jump!
Go ahead, jump.
Jessie’s Girl- Rick Springfield
Tagline: Where Can I Find A Woman Like That?
Technically a 70’s song, Springfield’s take on lovelorn angst has become one of the most popular Guilty Pleasures of all time. Too poppy for FM radio at the time, “Jessie’s Girl” has become a party staple as people always flock to the dance floor from the first few notes. It seems everyone wants to play along with THIS charade!
Like A Virgin- Madonna
Tagline: When Your Heart Beats Next To Mine
Madonna always delighted in pleasing her fans while simultaneously pissing off the establishment. This song’s brazen sexuality, disguised in an innocent wrapper, had conservatives, religious leaders and housewives in a tizzy while their teenage daughters ate the message up.
Girl You Know It’s True- Milli Vanilli
Before these Grammy winning Pop stars were deposed for being frauds, they were one of the hottest acts on the planet. The music is no less catchy and danceable, whoever created it.
Karma Chameleon- Culture Club
Tagline: Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon
You come and go
You come and go
Boy George just wants to be loved, is THAT so wrong? And with harmonica playing like that, it’s hard to resist. This song was one in a string of polished 80s hits including I’ll Tumble 4 U, Miss Me Blind, Church Of The Poison Mind and Time (Clock Of The Heart).
Walking On Sunshine- Katrina And The Waves
Tagline: I’m walking on sunshine (whoa oh)
And don’t it feel good (HEY!)
Saccharine sweet lyrics and a catchy horn riff launch this song into the stratosphere. It doesn’t hurt that the tempo is a blazing 220 beats per minute, enough to make an aerobics instructor gasp for breath! Will raise your mood faster than Prozac and without those nasty side effects.
Your Love- The Outfield
Tagline: I Just Wanna Use Your Love Tonight
Why is Josie on vacation so far away and when will she be back? The Outfield never answers this question as they are too busy lamenting the possibility of “losing your love tonight”. The musical territory here is somewhere between power pop and heartland rocker. Kudos to Katy Perry for doing a great cover version of it on her way to superstardom.
Never Gonna Give You Up- Rick Astley
Try as you might to hate it, you simply cannot resist the silky smooth production and catchy melody! Even Rick Astley’s Howdy Doody looks and terrible white boy dancing couldn’t stop this juggernaut from topping the charts.
The Safety Dance- Men Without Hats
Tagline: We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well, they’re no friends of mine
Sung with a manic edge, safety has never been so appealing. Lead singer Ivan Doroschuk should win an award for best 80s mullet ever (sorry, Bono)!
Footloose- Kenny Loggins
Tagline: Now I gotta cut loose, Footloose
Kick off the Sunday shoes
This classic Guilty Pleasure by the Godfather of cheesy 80s Rock is the reason Kevin Bacon now avoids wedding receptions at all costs. After all these years, it’s still a sure fire dance floor packer. Even the whitest guy on the floor can boogie to this one. Everybody cut footloose!
Sister Christian- Night Ranger
Tagline: Sister Christian
Oh, the time has come
And you know that you’re the only one
To say, okay
Night Ranger’s heartfelt ballad is a great final song for the end of the party. Trying way too hard to be profound, the band implores you to look deep inside and ask yourself, “what’s your price for flight?” Motoring…
Honorable mentions to: “Whip It”- Devo, “Bad”- Michael Jackson, “Bust A Move”- Young MC, “Livin’ On a Prayer”- Bon Jovi, “Cool Places”- Sparks, “Mr. Roboto”- Styx, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”- Wang Chung, “Power Of Love”- Huey Lewis And The News