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The Best British '80s Songs

Updated March 6, 2021 3.6k votes 302 voters 22.7k views39 items

What are the best songs to come from the British Isles during the '80s? Let's not forget, some of the greatest bands of all time originated in Great Britain, and while the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, U2, and many more began long before the 1980s, that doesn't mean the decade doesn't have a lot of hits. Let's rank the best '80s songs from British artists that truly defined the decade not just in the UK, but around the world.

The 1980s was a great decade for British songs, which becomes all the more clear if you've ever heard a little tune called "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. In fact, just about every major hit from Queen was released during the 1980s, but that was hardly the only band to kick out killer tracks in the '80s. George Michael released a few amazing tracks including "Faith" and "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" while Culture Club dropped "Karma Chameleon," which is probably running through your head right now after simply reading the title. Other amazing hits to come from the decade include "Shout" by Tears for Fears, "Leave In Silence" by Depeche Mode, and The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" among many obvious others from artists like Billy Idol and Phil Collins.

Vote up your favorite British '80s songs, and add as many to the list as you like!

  • Let's Dance1

    Let's Dance

    David Bowie
  • Sweet Dreams2

    Sweet Dreams


    AlbumsSweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

    ComposerAnnie Lennox, David A. Stewart

    ProducerDavid A. Stewart

    Length (seconds)3:32

    More Sweet Dreams 

    #63 of 122 Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Originals#9 of 36 The Best & Most Memorable Songs From Scary Movies

  • Love Will Tear Us Apart3

    Love Will Tear Us Apart

    Joy Division
  • Hungry Like the Wolf4


    ComposerDuran Duran

    Length (seconds)5:10

    More Hungry Like the Wolf 

    #13 of 22 These Pop Songs Describe The Plots Of Your Favorite Horror Movies#13 of 73 The Best Rock Music Videos

  • Careless Whisper5

    Careless Whisper

    George Michael, WHAM!

    AlbumsMake It Big

    ComposerGeorge Michael, Andrew Ridgeley

    ProducerGeorge Michael

    Length (seconds)4:49

    More Careless Whisper 

    #10 of 50 The Best Blue-Eyed Soul Songs#29 of 100 The Best R&B Songs Of The '80s, Ranked

  • Under Pressure6

    Under Pressure

    David Bowie, Queen

    AlbumsHot Space, Let's Dance

    ComposerDavid Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor

    ProducerDavid Bowie, Queen

    Length (seconds)3:50

  • The Reflex7

    The Reflex

    Duran Duran

    AlbumsSeven and the Ragged Tiger

    ComposerDuran Duran, Simon Le Bon, Roger Taylor, Nigel John Taylor, Nick Rhodes

    Length (seconds)5:29

  • Shout8


    Tears for Fears
  • Another One Bites The Dust9

    AlbumsThe Game

    ComposerJohn Deacon

    ProducerQueen, Reinhold Mack

    Length (seconds)3:35

    More Another One Bites The Dust 

    #3 of 77 The Best Pop Songs About Death#11 of 20 The Best Bouquet Toss Songs

  • Mad World10

    Mad World

    Tears for Fears

    Date Recorded1982

    AlbumsThe Hurting

    ComposerRoland Orzabal

    ProducerChris Hughes, Ross Cullum

    Length (seconds)3:31

    More Mad World 

    #9 of 113 The Best Alternative Songs Of The '80s, Ranked#2 of 162 The Best Songs with World in the Title

  • Don't You Want Me11

    Don't You Want Me

    The Human League
  • Running Up That Hill12

    AlbumsHounds of Love

    ComposerKate Bush

    ProducerKate Bush

    Length (seconds)5:3

    More Running Up That Hill 

    #2 of 100 The Best Songs with Hill in the Title#5 of 79 The Best Songs About Running

  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love13

    AlbumsThe Game

    ComposerFreddie Mercury, Queen

    ProducerQueen, Reinhold Mack

    Length (seconds)2:41

    More Crazy Little Thing Called Love 

    #8 of 256 The Best Songs with Love in the Title#11 of 174 The Best Songs About Being Crazy

  • Lovecats14


    The Cure
  • Another Brick in the Wall, Part 215

    AlbumsThe Wall

    ComposerRoger Waters

    ProducerRoger Waters, Bob Ezrin, James Guthrie, David Gilmour

    Length (seconds)4:0

    More Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 

    #5 of 138 The Best Pink Floyd Songs#8 of 61 The Best Rebel Songs

  • Money For Nothing (Full Length Version)16

    AlbumsBrothers in Arms

    ComposerSting, Mark Knopfler

    ProducerMark Knopfler, Neil Dorfsman

    Length (seconds)8:25

    More Money For Nothing (Full Length Version) 

    #30 of 89 The Best Ever Grammy Winning Records#9 of 16 16 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

  • I Want to Break Free17

    AlbumsThe Works

    ComposerJohn Deacon

    Length (seconds)3:18

    More I Want to Break Free 

    #3108 of 3,867 The Best Songs Of All Time, Ranked#78 of 284 The Best Rock Songs Of The '80s, Ranked

  • In the Air Tonight18

    In the Air Tonight

    Phil Collins

    AlbumsFace Value

    ComposerPhil Collins

    ProducerPhil Collins, Hugh Padgham

    Length (seconds)4:0

    More In the Air Tonight 

    #12 of 84 The Best Songs About Betrayal#1 of 102 The Best Songs with Tonight in the Title

  • Rebel Yell19

    Rebel Yell

    Billy Idol

    AlbumsRebel Yell

    ComposerWilliam Michael Albert Broad, Steve Stevens

    Length (seconds)4:46

    More Rebel Yell 

    #8 of 133 The Best Workout Songs#45 of 182 The Best '80s New Wave Songs

  • Karma Chameleon20

    Karma Chameleon

    Culture Club

    AlbumsColour by Numbers

    ComposerBoy George, Culture Club, Roy Hay, Mikey Craig, Jon Moss

    ProducerSteve Levine

    Length (seconds)3:52

    More Karma Chameleon 

    #179 of 193 The Worst Freakin' Songs of the '80s, Ranked#27 of 52 The Best 1980s Music Videos

  • Cars21


    Gary Numan

    AlbumsThe Pleasure Principle, The Pleasure Principle / Warriors

    ComposerGary Numan

    ProducerGary Numan

    Length (seconds)3:37

    More Cars 

    #128 of 161 The Best Songs to Sing at Karaoke#1 of 105 The Best Songs with Car in the Title

  • Wake Me Up Before You Go Go22

    Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

    George Michael, WHAM!

    AlbumsMake It Big

    ComposerGeorge Michael

    ProducerGeorge Michael

    Length (seconds)3:49

    More Wake Me Up Before You Go Go 

    #11 of 20 The Best Happy Songs of All Time#41 of 114 The Best Party Songs Of The '80s, Ranked

  • You Spin Me 'Round (Like a Record)23


    ComposerPete Burns, Dead or Alive, Wayne Hussey, Steve Coy, Mike Percy

    ProducerPete Waterman

    Length (seconds)3:14

    More You Spin Me 'Round (Like a Record) 

    #183 of 246 The Greatest Pop Songs by One-Hit Wonders#2 of 45 The Greatest Dance Songs by One-Hit Wonders

  • Dancing With Myself24

    AlbumsKiss Me Deadly

    ComposerWilliam Michael Albert Broad, Tony James

    Length (seconds)3:47

    More Dancing With Myself 

    #80 of 115 The Best '80s Dance Songs#52 of 98 The Best Songs About Dancing

  • I Melt With You25

    I Melt With You

    Modern English

    AlbumsAfter the Snow, Pillow Lips

    ComposerModern English

    Length (seconds)3:49

    More I Melt With You 

    #11 of 107 The Greatest Songs by '80s One-Hit Wonders#10 of 142 The Greatest Songs by One-Hit Wonders