The 100 best rock songs of the 1980s

Music 24/05/2022

Epic guitar riffs, legends solidifying their legacies, new kids storming on the block, and plenty of hair. Have a stroll down memory line and enjoy the top 100 rock songs of the 80s.

ACDC's 'Back in Black' kicked off the decade with a roar. Rock and roll icons Tom Petty, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, and Prince continued their domination of genre. While Guns 'N' Roses burst onto the scene late in the decade with the breathtaking album 'Appetite for Destruction'. 

The songs featured in this list have been chosen based on the international singles charts of the time, radio airplay here in NZ and abroad, and by referencing previous Rock countdowns.

The 100 best rock songs of the 1980s

  • 1: Back In Black - AC/DC (1980)
  • 2: Bliss - Th' Dudes (1980)
  • 3: One - Metallica (1988)
  • 4: Sweet Child O'Mine - Guns 'N' Roses (1987)
  • 5: Livin' On A Prayer - Bon Jovi (1986)
  • 6: With Or Without You - U2 (1987)
  • 7: Ace Of Spades - Motorhead (1980)
  • 8: Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard (1987)
  • 9: Working Class Man - Jimmy Barnes (1985)
  • 10: Money For Nothing - Dire Straits (1985)
  • 11: Master Of Puppets - Metallica (1986)
  • 12: Slice Of Heaven - Dave Dobbyn ft Herbs (1986)
  • 13: You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC (1980)
  • 14: Rain - Dragon (1984)
  • 15: For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) - AC/DC (1981)
  • 16: Jump - Van Halen (1984)
  • 17: Another One Bites The Dust - Queen (1980)
  • 18: Purple Rain - Prince (1984)
  • 19: Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen (1984)
  • 20: Paradise City - Guns 'N' Roses (1987)
  • 21: Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie (1981)
  • 22: The Number Of The Beast - Iron Maiden (1982)
  • 23: Flame Trees - Cold Chisel (1984)
  • 24: Legs - ZZ Top (1983)
  • 25: Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne (1980)
  • 26: Epic - Faith No More (1989)
  • 27: Kickstart My Heart - Motley Crue (1989)
  • 28: 18 And Life - Skid Row (1989)
  • 29: Patience - Guns 'N' Roses (1988)
  • 30: Loyal - Dave Dobbyn (1988)
  • 31: For Whom The Bell Tolls - Metallica (1984)
  • 32: Learning To Fly - Pink Floyd (1987)
  • 33: Free Fallin' - Tom Petty (1989)
  • 34: The Boys Light Up - Australian Crawl (1980)
  • 35: Rebel Yell - Billy Idol (1983)
  • 36: Good Times - Jimmy Barnes/INXS (1986)
  • 37: I Got You - Split Enz (1980)
  • 38: Girls Girls Girls - Motley Crue (1987)
  • 39: Wanted Dead Or Alive - Bon Jovi (1986)
  • 40: Better Be Home Soon - Crowded House (1988)
  • 41: Love In An Elevator - Aerosmith (1989)
  • 42: Welcome To The Jungle - Guns 'N' Roses (1987)
  • 43: Cheap Wine - Cold Chisel (1980)
  • 44: Dr Feelgood - Motley Crue (1989)
  • 45: Summer Of '69 - Bryan Adams (1984)
  • 46: Blister In The Sun - Violent Femmes (1983)
  • 47: Raining Blood - Slayer (1986)
  • 48: Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top (1983)
  • 49: Welcome Home (Sanitarium) - Metallica (1986)
  • 50: Beds Are Burning - Midnight Oil (1987)
  • 51: In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins (1981)
  • 52: Never Tear Us Apart - INXS (1987)
  • 53: I'm On Fire - Bruce Springsteen (1984)
  • 54: Runnin' Down A Dream - Tom Petty (1989)
  • 55: Every Breath You Take - The Police (1983)
  • 56: Fade To Black - Metallica (1984)
  • 57: Driving Wheels - Jimmy Barnes (1987)
  • 58: Stop Draggin' My Heart - Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty (1981)
  • 59: Don't Dream it's Over - Crowded House (1986)
  • 60: Cat People (Putting Out Fire) - David Bowie (1983)
  • 61: Can I Play With Madness - Iron Maiden (1988)
  • 62: Gimme All Your Lovin' - ZZ Top (1983)
  • 63: Poison - Alice Cooper (1989)
  • 64: Copperhead Road - Steve Earle (1988)
  • 65: Hysteria - Def Leppard (1987)
  • 66: Brothers In Arms - Dire Straits (1985)
  • 67: Here I Go Again - Whitesnake (1987)
  • 68: She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult (1985)
  • 69: Every Rose Has It's Thorn - Poison (1988)
  • 70: Holy Diver - Dio (1983)
  • 71: On The Turning Away - Pink Floyd (1987)
  • 72: Where Is My Mind - The Pixies (1988)
  • 73: Radio Ga Ga - Queen (1984)
  • 74: I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty (1989)
  • 75: Victoria - The Exponents (1983)
  • 76: Bad To The Bone - George Thorogood (1982)
  • 77: Let's Dance - David Bowie (1983)
  • 78: Great Southern Land - Icehouse (1982)
  • 79: Rock The Casbah - The Clash (1982)
  • 80: Hell's Bells - AC/DC (1980)
  • 81: Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen (1984)
  • 82: Peace Sells But Who's Buying - Megadeth (1986)
  • 83: Hot For Teacher - Van Halen (1984)
  • 84: You Got Nothing I Want - Cold Chisel (1982)
  • 85: Turbo Lover - Judas Priest (1986)
  • 86: Where The Streets Have No Name - U2 (1987)
  • 87: Boys Don't Cry - The Cure (1980)
  • 88: I Love Rock 'n' Roll - Joan Jett (1981)
  • 89: You Give Love A Bad Name - Bon Jovi (1986)
  • 90: The Final Countdown - Europe (1986)
  • 91: Burning Down The House - Talking Heads (1983)
  • 92: I Wanna Rock - Twisted Sister (1984)
  • 93: Down Under - Men At Work (1981)
  • 94: Africa - Toto (1982)
  • 95: New Sensation - INXS (1987)
  • 96: Reckless - Australian Crawl (1983)
  • 97: Start Me Up - The Rolling Stones (1981)
  • 98: Desire - U2 (1988)
  • 99: Should I Stay Or Should I Go - The Clash (1982)
  • 100: Eye Of The Tiger - Survivor (1982)