27 Best Songs From 1983

11. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson

Song Year: 1983

Of course the King of Pop makes another appearance on this list. In the wake of Thriller, the biggest-selling album of all time, he ruled the world.

Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work was a new wrinkle for any song involving MJ, and the use of real gang members in the video— an idea looking to unite rival gangs and curb rising street violence— made headlines aside from the song’s reign in the number one spot on the charts and its two Grammys.

12. “Flashdance…What A Feeling” by Irene Cara

Song Year: 1983

Few movies have a song on the soundtrack sung by an actor from a similarly themed film. Fewer still have those songs win Grammys, Oscars, and Golden Globes.

Irene Cara took the world by storm as Coc Hernandez in “Fame,” but then “Flashdance… What a Feeling” made her a household name as it spent time in the number-one spots on charts worldwide.

13. “Photograph” by Def Leppard

Best 1983 songs

Song Year: 1983

Taking British rockers with a handsome frontman and throwing them at American audiences was formulaic. That doesn’t mean Def Leppard wasn’t awesome.

“Photograph” showed the band’s unique approach to having two guitarists. Rather than a lead and a rhythm player, Steve Clark and Phil Collen played two distinct guitar parts, creating an intricate sound instantly identifiable as Def Leppard, Joe Eliot’s distinctive vocals aside.

14. “She Blinded Me With Science” by Thomas Dolby

Song Year: 1983

“She Blinded Me With Science” was so quirky that it was almost a novelty hit (and would render Thomas Dolby a one-hit wonder), but it was everywhere in 1983. Dolby was an electronic music pioneer, so the song is rife with synthesizers and hi-tech wizardry. This translates to the video, which had Magnus Pike, a British scientist and TV personality, shouting, “Science!” periodically.

Since then, it’s remained ubiquitous, appearing in various commercials and TV shows for decades. It was also temporarily the theme song for TV’s “The Big Bang Theory.”

15. “King of Pain” by The Police

Song Year: 1983

The second hit from The Police’s smash hit (and final) album Synchronicity, “King of Pain,” perhaps more than any other song, showed the scope of the band’s evolution from New Wave kids mashing up punk and reggae into sophisticated songwriters.

It was also a pretty personal look at songwriter Sting’s state of mind at the time— he was divorcing his first wife and feuding with fellow band members, so he was generally unhappy with his lot. It’s a sad song.

16. “Is There Something I Should Know?” by Duran Duran

Song Year: 1983

“Is There Something I Should Know?” occupies an odd place in the history of Duran Duran in that it wasn’t included on any album. These days, it’s packaged as part of the band’s self-titled debut album, but in 1983, it was a stand-alone single that came out shortly before the band released Rio.

The video makes a point of acting as a bridge between albums, intercutting footage from videos from the first and second albums with images of the Fab Five singing in a white room. With matching ties.

17. “Union of the Snake” by Duran Duran

Song Year: 1983

So 1983 was kind of a banner year for Duran Duran, with singles flying up and down the charts seemingly monthly. In November of that year, the band released its third studio effort, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, and dropped this lead-off single a month earlier.

Like many Duran Duran songs, it’s hard to say what it’s about, but with videos as cool as these and the harmonies these guys put over their stellar songs, who cares?

18. “Delirious” by Prince

Song Year: 1983

Prince’s third single from 1999 was “Delirious,” and it became his second top-ten hit. Like many Prince songs, it was highly sexual in content, but since he sang about sex using metaphors and innuendo, it slipped by censors and uptight parents.

How they all missed the meaning of the baby cooing at the end of the song is anybody’s guess.

19. “Goody Two Shoes” by Adam Ant

Song Year: 1982

Released near the summer of 1982, “Goody Two Shoes” had a long life as a single, climbing charts for a full year before falling off, so it qualifies as a song from ‘83. It was Adam Ant’s first solo single after stepping away from punk outfit Adam and the Ants.

The song’s chorus came from the questions the press kept lobbing at him: “Adam, if you don’t drink or smoke, what exactly do you do?”

He was handsome and had a bad-boy persona. So we can all guess what he did.

20. “99 Luftballons” by Nena

Song Year: 1983

That keyboard was to die for. A cute German girl singing lord knows what in a language we yanks don’t understand? Yes, please. A version with English lyrics went nowhere, but audiences worldwide lapped up the German original.

Nena was only foiled by Van Halen, whose “Jump” occupied a number one spot that “99 Luftballons” never could get to.

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