What's the "Eighties-est" song?

Yes, this is clearly a ripoff of… ummm, I mean an homage to this thread: ‘What’s the “Seventies-est” song?’. I enjoyed but didn’t reply to it, because my choice would have been “Chevy Van” which was already cited about 3 or more times by the time I got there.

Anyway, I was watching ‘Tuff Turf’ on Amazon Prime last night, which is one of the eighties-est movies ever, and it had a very 80’s soundtrack, which got me wondering.

I won’t require a specific genre for this, unlike the “Seventies-est song” OP, who specified “no disco”. I believe there are 3 main genres to choose from:

  • Synth-heavy Alternative / New Wave: a-ha, Soft Cell, Flock of Seagulls, Human League, etc.
  • Hair band rock: Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Guns 'n Roses, etc.
  • R&B: Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, etc.

Radio-friendly pop, like Cyndi Lauper or Bonnie Tyler, might be a fourth category.

Personally, I’m not sure, but when I think of the soundtrack of the 80’s I usually imagine something synth-heavy and new-wavish, like Tainted Love, I Ran, or something by Depeche Mode. It’s not the music I liked or listened to in the 80’s, but it’s what I hear in my head when I think of that weird decade.

P.S. “Never Gonna Give You Up” is a perfectly legit choice, so RickRoll away if you so choose.

I’ll nominate Whip It by Devo.

Rio, by Duran Duran?

In the radio friendly pop category it’s something from Madonna. Hardly matters what. If you want to evoke the 80s play her stuff.

I didn’t even have to think twice. “She-Sheila” by The Producers.

I was going to say “My Sharona,” but it was released in 1979. Maybe that still counts.
How about “Another one bites the dust?"

“Beat It” by Michael Jackson has Eddie Van Halen on guitar, represents one of the unquestioned biggest albums of the 80s, and, as a bonus, gave Weird Al his big breakthrough.

Here on the SDMB, this is the obvious correct answer.

Never heard of it/them. And the 80s were my era.

That’s one of the reasons I chose “She-Sheila.” The Producers were moderately successful, appearing in quite a few TV specials. The band and the song are quintessential 80s…you could hardly tune into MTV without seeing the video. But, unlike many other bands of that era, they did not continue to be popular beyond that decade. You hardly ever hear them, even on classic radio and Sirius, and they just evaporated.

Great answers so far, though about this one:

I just watched the video on YouTube since I wasn’t familiar with this song. It does positively exude 80’s vibes (love the shoulder-strap mount keyboard intro), but respectfully, I just don’t think the song was popular enough to define a decade. Though it did get me thinking of a possible 5th genre category, power pop. The Producers reminded me a bit of The Romantics. Though their breakout hit “What I Like About You” was first released in '79, it gota a LOT of play on MTV in the early 80’s.

And speaking of power pop songs that straddled the decades, this is another borderline one:

Since it’s pretty easy to pick hundreds of songs from your 3 genres I’ll try to step outside the box and nominate a couple that would be more defined by the 80s than by the genre.

Robert Palmer- Addicted to Love
Peter Gabriel- Sledgehammer

Again, I deliberately chose the song because it characterized the era, not because it has continued to be popular and omnipresent.

I take your point, but I think a song has to be recognizable to a majority of people who remember the 80’s to count. As Thudlow_Boink said, I came of age in the 80’s and I never heard of that song.

Yeah, “defined by the 80’s” is the main point-- I was just trying to say I didn’t want to confine it to one particular genre. Two great nominations, BTW.

Honorable mention: “Video Killed The Radio Star.” It was some sort of meta-commentary on the emerging-at-the-time video industry; was the first video played on MTV; and it predicted how music videos would redefine the music industry for a decade.

Except it was released in 1979.

I nominate “Come On Eileen.” It checks all the right boxes: New Wave-y feel, a one-hit wonder, part of the British Invasion, lyrics that are vaguely sexual yet ambiguous enough to not raise eyebrows.

“Video Killed the Radio Star” - even if you didn’t know the song before, if you hear 4 notes you’ll know it’s from the 80s. And then, of course, it’s the song that launched MTV. (And the video is pure 80s-style “we don’t know what we’re doing, but what the hell - let’s add another special effect!”)

“Dare To Be Stupid” by Weird Al was more Devo than Devo itself according to Motherbaugh himself.

Yes, I don’t think “released in '79” necessarily disqualifies a song from defining the 80’s, and VKTRS is definitely a seminal 80’s song.

It’s possible to check imdb and other databases for the most common songs found in films and television shows set in the 80s. If it’s not an actual reflection of 80s music it will be in the future because our actual memories of the 80s will fade and be replaced by those examples we are reminded of in current culture.

Going back a couple of decades, I don’t even know what the song is, but I can hear the opening notes of it, it’s found in just about any movie set in the 60s during a somewhat poignant moment. It’s probably something from Simon&Garfunkel. I may never have heard that song in the 60s, or not very often, but culture creates history in this way.

After giving it some thought, it seems like “Oh Yeah” by Yello was everywhere in the latter half of the 1980s. Funnily enough as a kid I never realized there was a voice in the song saying “oh yeah”; I always thought of it as the “Dooo Bow Bow” song.