23 Best Songs From 1986

The music industry is constantly changing in styles and sounds – and 1986 was no different. The year saw a flood of new bands on the scene from England, up-and-coming artists in America, and superstars in the making.

Here is a list of the best songs from 1986 in various genres.

1. “Kiss” by Prince

What better way to start this list than with one of the best and most popular songs of 1986 by one of the most talented and respected artists of all time? Prince was in a class by himself among many musical artists during his time. His musical talent and skills were exceptional.

He showcased his superstar status in this song. The song “Kiss” was one of the most popular songs of 1986. It was typical Prince – with the lyrics and musical accompaniment. It displayed Prince's musical creativity, range of vocal skills, and persona of being a sex symbol.

The title of the song describes the meaning of the song perfectly.

2. “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys

In the 1980s, the music industry experienced a second wave of the British Invasion that resembled, to some degree, the one that took place in the 1960s on the American music scene. One of the many groups that hailed from London in the 1980s, the Pet Shop Boys hit it big with this 1980s song.

The Pet Shop Boys not only embraced the 1980s music sound and look, they even embraced rap which was blowing up the music scene. The song starts with the typical pop music sound from the 1980s. The band then begins to rap, which was uncommon for most European musical bands.

The group mixed the song with rap and singing, which was a perfect mix. The tune is upbeat and has a great dance tune. The song is about boys and girls meeting from different lowly towns in England.

3.  “Word Up” by Cameo

This upbeat dance song by one of the most popular R&B bands of all time was a hit in two genres of music – R&B, and Rap.

Cameo understood to keep up with the youth, that it was necessary to show the younger generation that rapping just wasn't for the younger generation. Cameo showed the world they could rap and make a hip-hop song that was cool and hip.

The song was a huge success. It appealed to the hip-hop generation, and the lead singer showcased his rapping skills throughout. The lyrics are catchy, and the title comes from a slang term popular back in the 1980s.

4.    “Take Me Home” by Phil Collins

Phil Collins, the lead singer of the music band Genesis, stepped out with his solo career with this popular song from the 1980s. The tune is upbeat and repetitive, with an almost hypnotizing beat that will make you move.

The lyrics are thoughtful and describe one's desire to go back to the way things were. Although he doesn't remember how things were after experiencing many disappointments, it still would be nice.

The song also talks about a long-lost relationship he desires to restore. Phil Collins's vocals, catchy tune, and personal lyrics make for one of the best songs from the past.

5.   “Greatest Love Of All” by Whitney Houston

This beautiful song by one of the best voices in music history became a successful remake. Whitney Houston's voice is impeccable and a perfect fit for this inspiring song. Her smooth vocals are a match for the lyrics.

The song is about encouraging each other, especially children, with the positive things in life. The greatest love of all is for everyone.

6.   “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco

An import from Austria, Falco hit it big with this satirical song of one of the most popular classical composers of all time. Not only did he make the song comical, but he rapped throughout the song as well.

This gesture was a compliment to the hip-hop and rap industry that was blowing up on the music scene at the time. The tune is upbeat, making the song a great dance tune. The song is funny and fun.

 7.    “Secret Lovers” by Atlantic Starr

Atlantic Starr produced one of the more popular songs by an R&B music group that crossed over to the Pop charts.

The song is a slow, romantic song about two people in love that enjoy spending time with each other. The lyrics are about love. The tempo is slow and steady, and the vocals match well with the tune.

 8.   “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” by Janet Jackson

A member of one of those prominent musical families in the world, the Jacksons, Janet struck out on her own and became an instant success with her albums. What may have been more popular than Janet herself or even the song, is the title.

“What have you done for me lately” is a popular saying. It has been repeated by many in situation after situation.

The song is about a lady in a relationship with a guy who keeps disappointing her. Her friends tell her to let him alone because he's not acting right – what has he done for you lately other than bring stress?

9.     “Sara” by Starship

Starship was a music group from the more popular group, Jefferson Starship, which started in San Francisco. The group's sound is similar to the original group. The song is a typical 1980s-style song with the input of percussions and an upbeat tempo.

The lyrics are about the typical ups and downs of a relationship. The song is about a guy who finds the love of his life and loses her because of problems. He misses her, so he tries to rekindle their love for each other.

10.  “What You Need” by INXS

INXS hailed from Australia and made a name for themselves on the American music scene with this popular song. The song has a tempo or tune that mixes pop and rock. Throughout the song, you can hear the strong drums and guitar playing with the percussion sound that was popular at the time.

The lyrics are uplifting, encouraging others to keep going despite what life brings. The message is simple – all one needs is encouragement and courage, and you can make it.

11.  “ROCK in the USA” by John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp was a popular rock singer in the 1980s that represented patriotism in America. In the 1980s, patriotism was part of being an American.

It was something you did because you understood and appreciated that America is a free country with freedoms and liberties that many living in different countries do not have.

The lyrics and the song are a tribute to the American music scene in the 1960s. It depicts the 1960s as a time when music and life were changing. ROCK in the USA – we can ROCK freely in America. We can live freely in America.

12.  “Maniac Monday” by the Bangles

This song is by an all-girl music group hugely popular in the 80s. Female rock groups started becoming popular during this time. The group had a hit almost everyone can relate to – Maniac Monday.

Trying to adjust to a new week, a new work week can be difficult, especially after a fun, relaxing weekend. The tune is upbeat as a great dance tune. The lyrics are relatable.

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