Special Report

The 25 Biggest Hits of the '80s, According to Data

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The 1980s were a golden age for music, with the advent of new genres, music videos, and even the walkman. In fact, a 2021 survey by Ipsos found that 40% of Americans still thought the best music was that produced in the 1980s.   

The ‘80s pop scene featured iconic artists like Tina Turner and Diana Ross, as well as legendary bands like Queen and Blondie. Musicians began to utilize electronic instruments, prompting catchy dance hits, opening up a new world of sound, and setting the stage for future decades of pop music.    

To determine the biggest pop hits of the 1980s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Songs were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Chart data is current through the week of August 20, 2022. (Christmas songs were not included.)

The biggest pop hits of the 1980s not only performed well on the Hot 100, but also received prestigious accolades. A dozen of the 80’s hits ranked on this list won Grammy nominations, and seven brought home Grammys. The winners included No. 2, Young M.C.’s “Bust a Move,” and No. 16, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. The music video for No. 7, “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John – a montage that famously featured leotard-clad actors exercising together – earned her a Grammy for Video of the Year,  

In fact, of all of the biggest ‘80s pop hits, “Physical” remained at the No. 1 position on the Hot 100’s for the longest amount of time, 10 weeks in total. Not far behind were No. 17,  Diana Ross & Lionel Richie’s, “Endless Love,” and No. 15, Kim Carnes’s, “Bette Davis Eyes,” both of which remained at the top spot for nine weeks. (These are the artists with the most No. 1 hits.)

Click here to see the biggest hits of the ‘80s according to Billboard

While many of the biggest pop hits from the 1980s came from bands, 15 of the songs on our list were either performed by solo artists, or duets between two solo artists. The duet “Endless Love,” No. 17, between Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, was nominated for a Grammy. Diana Ross also had a solo hit: No. 7, “Upside Down.” (These are solo artists who were more successful than their bands.)

25. Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”
> Entered Hot 100: May 19, 1984
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 28

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24. Blondie, “Call Me”
> Entered Hot 100: February 16, 1980
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 25

23. Eddie Rabbitt, “I Love A Rainy Night”
> Entered Hot 100: November 8, 1980
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 28

22. Eddie Rabbitt With Crystal Gayle, “You And I”
> Entered Hot 100: October 9, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #7 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 29

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21. The J. Geils Band, “Centerfold”
> Entered Hot 100: November 7, 1981
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 25

20. Diana Ross, “Upside Down”
> Entered Hot 100: July 12, 1980
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 29

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19. The Steve Miller Band, “Abracadabra”
> Entered Hot 100: May 29, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 25

18. Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”
> Entered Hot 100: July 16, 1983
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 29

17. Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, “Endless Love”
> Entered Hot 100: July 11, 1981
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 9 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 27

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16. Survivor, “Eye Of The Tiger”
> Entered Hot 100: June 5, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 25

15. Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes”
> Entered Hot 100: March 28, 1981
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 9 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 26

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14. Patti Austin A Duet With James Ingram, “Baby, Come To Me”
> Entered Hot 100: April 24, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 32

13. The Pointer Sisters, “I’m So Excited”
> Entered Hot 100: September 18, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #9 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 40

12. Irene Cara, “Flashdance…What A Feeling”
> Entered Hot 100: April 2, 1983
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 25

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11. The Human League, “Don’t You Want Me”
> Entered Hot 100: March 6, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 28

10. Moving Pictures, “What About Me”
> Entered Hot 100: September 18, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #29 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 43

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9. Benny Mardones, “Into The Night”
> Entered Hot 100: June 14, 1980
> Peak position on Hot 100: #11 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 37

8. Kool & The Gang, “Celebration”
> Entered Hot 100: October 25, 1980
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 30

7. Olivia Newton-John, “Physical”
> Entered Hot 100: October 3, 1981
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 10 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 26

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6. UB40, “Red Red Wine”
> Entered Hot 100: January 28, 1984
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 40

5. John Cougar (Mellencamp), “Hurts So Good”
> Entered Hot 100: April 24, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 28

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4. Queen, “Another One Bites The Dust”
> Entered Hot 100: August 16, 1980
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 31

3. Rick Springfield, “Jessie’s Girl”
> Entered Hot 100: March 28, 1981
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 32

2. Young M.C., “Bust A Move”
> Entered Hot 100: July 29, 1989
> Peak position on Hot 100: #7 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 39

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1. Laura Branigan, “Gloria”
> Entered Hot 100: July 10, 1982
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 36

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