Members get unlimited access to all our most
valuable content long before the masses. Exclusive access to newly released gear and tech and entrepreneur secrets delivered to your inbox monthly. All free. No BS.

21 Most Iconic Rock Music of the 80s

Sailun Tires

The 80s is best known for punk rock, preppies, funk, New Wave, and big hair. Fashion was outrageous as the music people created. It gave birth to rap and breakdance many Millennials now consider old school.

However, the 1980s also marked some of the music kingdom鈥檚 most quintessential rock and roll masterpieces. Here are 21 of the most iconic rock music of the 80s worth listening to over again.聽

1. Purple Rain by Prince

Prince surprised the music industry in 1984 with this power ballad that infused elements of orchestral and gospel music with classic R&B and rock. It defined Prince鈥檚 artistry and set the tone for the rock music of the eighties.聽

2. Just Like Heaven by The Cure

This song is colorful, fussy, and fluttery, complete with romantic and pensive numbers. It blends Smith鈥檚 gently chiming melody with Williams鈥 strong and purposeful percussion. Just Like Heaven is a love song with a hard rock vibe.


3. Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N鈥 Roses

One of the most famous rock bands of all time, Guns N鈥 Roses penned this song after Axl Rose met a homeless man in NY. With Slash鈥檚 phenomenal riffs, the group finished the piece in a record time of only three hours. The rest is history.

4. Back in Black by AC/DC

Who can ever forget the opening riff of this song? If you have seen Spider-Man: Far from Home, you will know this iconic song when Peter mistook this AC/DC song for Led Zeppelin鈥檚. It looks like Mysterio knocked Peter鈥檚 Spider-sense real bad.

5. Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen

A favorite of pubs and music venues, this 1980s song is the epitome of American heartland rock. The chorus is as positive and patriotic as any national anthem, despite the lyrics painting a gloomy picture of the horrors of war.

6. Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie

The collaboration between rock juggernauts David Bowie and Freddie Mercury brought one of the most iconic tunes of the century to the world. The pulsating rhythm of Deacon鈥檚 catchy bassline became the blueprint of other great songs.

7. Every Breath You Take by The Police

Billboard鈥檚 top song for 1983 continued to enjoy substantial playtime on contemporary radio airwaves. This Sting-penned song is radio history鈥檚 most played song, enjoying more than 15 million radio plays and winning numerous accolades.

8. Sweet Child o鈥 Mine by Guns N鈥 Roses

Slash鈥檚 mastery of the guitar is front and center in this 1988 piece. After all, this song happens to have the most recognizable riff of all time. Aspiring rock artists continue to look to this masterpiece for inspiration.

9. You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi

Many people mistake this song for Shot Through the Heart, one of Bon Jovi鈥檚 songs in their debut album two years prior. It has an electrifying vibe that makes you want to jump off your seat.

10. Don鈥檛 Stop Believin鈥 by Journey

Most rock songs have earth-shattering guitar riffs. This 1981 rock piece relies on its keyboard to provide a riff that is as timeless as Slash鈥檚 Sweet Child o鈥 Mine masterpiece. It also happens to be the Detroit Red Wings鈥 anthem.

11. Summer of 鈥69 by Bryan Adams

One of Bryan Adams鈥 most successful songs ever, Summer of 鈥69 speaks of the dilemma between becoming a rock star and settling down. Almost everyone can relate to the message.

12. Money for Nothing by Dire Straits

A pop-rock song, Money for Nothing gave the world a very different kind of guitar riff to get hooked. The verses played permutations of the riff, making for a characteristic rhythm that anyone can hum to.

13. Another One Bites the Dust by Queen

One of Billboard鈥檚 All-time Top Songs, this 1980 funk-rock shows how a catchy bass can form the core and backbone of a song and still rake awards. With limited lyrics drowned by Deacon鈥檚 signature bassline, this is one 80鈥檚 song worth listening to again.

14. Livin鈥 on a Prayer by Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi鈥檚 signature song, Livin鈥 on a Prayer, enjoys more than 775 million YouTube views. Major music organizations recognize this 1986 masterpiece as one of the music kingdom鈥檚 greatest rock songs of all time.

15. Africa by Toto

This 1981 song is famous for its explosive choruses, a surprising departure from several lines of mellow verses. It has a catchy tune that prompted many media outlets to include it in their projects.

16. Photograph by Def Leppard

Topping Billboard upon its release, this 1982 Def Leppard creation is one of the most iconic rock music of the 80s. The song combines power pop, hard rock, and glam metal elements to create a piece that transcends generations.

17. Tom Sawyer by Rush

This hard rock classic is the Canadian rock band鈥檚 most significant contribution to the 80s rock scene. A Canadian Hall of Famer, Tom Sawyer continues to rock the music world via digital downloads and streaming platforms.

18. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

Fans of Rocky Balboa know this song by heart. After all, Eye of the Tiger provided the background music to Sylvester Stallone鈥檚 character as he prepares to slug it out with Mr. T鈥檚 Clubber Lang.

19. With or Without You by U2

The lyrics may sound cheesy, but there is no denying Bono鈥檚 phenomenal voice and Edge鈥檚 sustained guitar playing. When you add Clayton鈥檚 signature bassline, you get a song that endures because of its message and catchy hook.

20. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler

Who said that the rock music scene is for testosterone-filled, guitar-wielding egos only? Bonnie Tyles thrived at a time when men dominated the concert stage and airwaves, bringing to audiophiles pop-rock music like no other.

21. The Final Countdown by Europe

A favorite of college and high school pep bands and sporting venues, Europe鈥檚 masterpiece is one of the most enduring songs ever to come out of the 80s. What is more astonishing is that the band never intended the song to make it beyond a concert opener.


These 21 most iconic rock music of the 80s defined a period when whammy bar abuse, pinch harmonics, and heavy distortion were the norm. From shred guitar to thrash metal, glam metal, and soft rock, the music of the 80s is as colorful as the people of the time.

This article is written by Charles Vallena, Managing Editor @ Guitar Junky.


Get the latest Swagger Scoop right in your inbox.

By checking this box, you confirm that you have read and are agreeing to our terms of use regarding the storage of the data submitted through this form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *