27 Best Songs From 1980

“Shining Star” by The Manhattans

Song Year: 1980

When you take some kids from New Jersey, have them sing Philly soul, and name them after a place in New York, you’ve got a lot going on. But it worked, and the Manhattans had 45 Billboard hits since 1965.

“Shining Star” hit the airwaves in early 1980 and was an instant hit. It earned the group its only Grammy and got to number two on the US Black Oriented Singles chart, an actual Billboard chart in the 1980s.

“Little Jeannie” by Elton John

Song Year: 1980

The last hit the world had heard from Elton John (he wasn’t a knight yet) was “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” his classic duet with Kiki Dee. That was in 1976, and for a songwriter as prolific as Elton, four years is a long time to go without a hit.

But then came his 1980 album 21 at 33, which spawned “Little Jeannie,” a lilting diddy that bordered on easy listening but had some bombast in the chorus. It spent 17 weeks on the charts.

“One Fine Day” by Carole King

Song Year: 1980

Originally recorded in 1963 by The Chiffons, “One Fine Day” was a top-five hit for the girl group. Carole King, who co-wrote it with Gerry Coffin, played piano and sang on the Chiffons’ version, though her vocals didn’t end up on the final version.

King covered her own song in 1980, providing lead vocals that couldn’t be cut. The song didn’t do quite as well on the charts as the original recording, but it still ended as the 73rd biggest hit of the year.

“Don’t Fall In Love With a Dreamer” by Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes

“Don’t Fall In Love With a Dreamer” by Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes

Song Year: 1980

Kim Carnes began writing songs for other artists in the 1960s, and while she worked towards having her very own singing career, it took until 1980 for the world to notice her.

She wrote “Don’t Fall In Love With a Dreamer” with her husband, and Kenny Rogers chose it to be part of his 1980 album Gideon and drafted Carnes to sing it with him. It was a top-five Billboard hit and earned the pair a Grammy nomination.

“Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc.

Song Year: 1980

“Funkytown” was as ubiquitous a hit as there ever was in 1980. Its disco rhythms and hyper-catchy synth riff made it a number-one hit in the States seemingly within minutes of its March 1980 release, but Lipps, Inc. didn’t stop there.

The song was a global smash, reaching number one on the charts from Australia to Israel, Canada to Belgium, and New Zealand to Switzerland. That’s just a few of the countries that fell in love with this song.

Not bad for a one-hit wonder, no?

“(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon

Song Year: 1980

When “(Just Like) Starting Over” dropped as a single in late 1980, John Lennon had been out of the recording industry. The song came from 1980s Double Fantasy, which followed 1975’s Shaved Fish.

It came out weeks before Lennon’s murder by a deranged fan, and while it was already on its way up the charts, the tragic news drove it to become a worldwide number one.

“Lady” by Kenny Rogers

Song Year: 1980

It was one of the odder pairings of the year: R&B master Lionel Richie from the Commodores? Meet Kenny Rogers, country superstar. Write a song for him.

Richie wrote “Lady” for Rogers, who included it on his Greatest Hits album, and it not only propelled Richie’s solo career, it gave Rogers his tenth number-one hit as a solo artist.

“Lady” ended up in the number one spot on three Billboard charts, and Richie’s cred with a decidedly non-country audience helped it get to number 42 on the R&B chart.

“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen

Song Year: 1980

With that iconic bassline, how would “Another One Bites the Dust” not have been a hit? It was an unusual sound from Queen, but no one seemed to care because it was such a cool piece of music.

It was one of three singles from 1980’s The Game, alongside “Play the Game” and “Crazy Little Thing Caled Love.” The song was certified quintuple-platinum in the States and sold nearly 8 million copies worldwide.

“Celebration” by Kool & The Gang

Song Year: 1980

You’d have to argue pretty hard to convince anyone that “Celebration” wasn’t THE party anthem of all time.


Even though it was Kool & the Gang’s only number-one hit, it was such a big piece of music history that, in 2021, the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry.

“Celebration” appeared in the number one spot on five separate US charts and was an international top-five smash.

“Kiss On My List” by Hall & Oates

Song Year: 1980

The blonde and the mustachioed one ruled the 1980s with hits like “Maneater,” but they started the best of all musical decades with “Kiss on My List,” the duo’s second number-one hit after “Rich Girl.”

The recording was a one-take demo, as Daryll Hall wrote the song for his then-girlfriend to sing. He made the demo, and someone from the studio found it and insisted Hall & Oates add it to their album Voices. They liked how it sounded, so they didn’t change much about it.

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