Back to the 80s: Best Songs with One Word Titles from the 80’s

Some songs only need one word to tell you what it’s all about. There are not a lot of songs with only one-word titles, but there are more than you might think. Some of my favorites include “Yesterday” by The Beatles, “Crazy” by Seal and “Home” by Michael Bublé among many others.

I thought it would be interesting to rank my favorites, but of course focusing just on the 80’s decade for now. I had a hard time narrowing it down, so I am going to give you my top 70 songs from the 80’s (yep, 70!). A couple songs were technically released in December of 1979, but spent the majority of their time on the charts during 1980, so I decided to include them here. I was going to give you links to videos on all of the songs, but decided to only do the top 25 songs, though I am sure you can find the videos for any of the other 45 songs if you are so inclined.

So, for your reading and listening enjoyment, here is OLD SCHOOL’S TOP 10 SONGS WITH ONE-WORD TITLES FROM THE 80’s (+ Bonus 60):

Magic70. “Magic” (1980) by Olivia Newton-John – She also had a smash hit with “Physical” in 1981, but I really do not like that song at all. In fact, it is ranked on my list of Worst #1 Songs of the 80s

69. “Cars” (1979) by Gary Numan – One of those songs released at the end of 1979, but gaining popularity more in 1980

68. “Venus” (1986) by Bananarama

67. “Ghostbusters” (1984) by Ray Parker, Jr. – Ranks on my Best Songs from 80s Movies list

66. “Mickey” (1982) by Toni Basil – Ranks on my Worst #1 Songs of the 80s list

65. “Urgent” (1981) by Foreigner

64. “Strip” (1983) by Adam AntStrut

63. “Strut” (1984) by Sheena Easton

62. “Woman” (1981) by John Lennon – Actually released after his death

61. “Dreamtime” (1986) by Daryl Hall – Hall, not as known for his solo work, will also appear later on this list with his normal partner John Oates

60. “Luka” (1987) by Suzanne Vega

59. “Funkytown” (1980) by Lipps, Inc. – One of the last remnants of the disco era

Hysteria58. “Hysteria” (1987) by Def Leppard – Could have also included songs like “Foolin'” or “Photograph” from the 1983 album Pyromania

57. “Casanova” (1987) by Levert

56. “Satisfied” (1989) by Richard Marx – This is one of seven top 5 (and one of three #1) songs on the Billboard Hot 100 during the 80’s for Marx

55. “Mediate” (1987) by INXS – This song was a short segue from “Need You Tonight” and the video ranks on my Best 80s Music Videos list

54. “Sara” (1985) by Starship

53. “Angel” (1987) by Aerosmith

52. “Stand” (1989) by R.E.M.

51. “Centerfold” (1981) by J. Geils BandThriller

50. “Thriller” (1984) by Michael Jackson – Ranks #1 on my Best 80s Music Videos list, but the song is not as outstanding as the video. Could have also included “Bad” from his 1987 album of the same name

49. “Words” (1982) by Missing Persons

48. “Shakedown” (1987) by Bob Seger

47. “Abracadabra” (1982) by Steve Miller Band – Holds record for biggest drop out of the Billboard Top 10 when it fell 38 spots (from #10 all the way to #48) in just one week

46. “Sailing” (1980) by Christopher Cross – VH1 named this the greatest soft rock song of all time, but I do not agree with that

45. “Legs” (1983) by ZZ Top

44. “Automatic” (1984) by The Pointer Sisters

43. “Fame” (1980) by Irene Cara – Though it was released with the movie in 1980 and won the Oscar for Best Original Song, I always connect the song more for its use in the television series which aired from 1982-87

Sussudio42. “Sussudio” (1985) by Phil Collins – Ranks on VH1‘s list of 40 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever

41. “Amanda” (1986) by Boston

40. “Rumors” (1986) by Timex Social Club

39. “Loverboy” (1984) by Billy Ocean

38. “Maniac” (1983) by Michael Sembello – Ranks on my Best Songs from 80s Movies list

37. “Relax” (1984) by Frankie Goes to HollywoodVacation

36. “Vacation” (1982) by The Go-Go’s – This was the first all-woman band to both write their own songs and play their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts

35. “Obsession” (1985) by Animotion – I remember this song being used as the theme song for the WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event show

Control34. “Nasty” (1986) by Janet Jackson – “My first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty.” Could have also included “Control” from that album of the same name.

33. “Footloose” (1984) by Kenny Loggins – Ranks on my Best Songs from 80s Movies list Shout

32. “Maneater” (1982) by Daryl Hall & John Oates [link to video]

31. “Shout” (1984) by Tears for Fears

30. “Lady” (1980) by Kenny Rogers – This song was actually written and produced by the great Lionel Richie

29. “Gloria” (1982) by Laura Branigan

28. “Tempted” (1981) by Squeeze

27. “Valerie” (1982) by Steve Winwood – A remix was included on his 1987 compilation album Chronicles and released as a single it went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (when the original only made it to #70)

26. “Kyrie” (1985) by Mr. Mister – Kyrie eleison means “Lord, have mercy” in case you were ever wondering

25.  “Human” (1986) by The Human League – Written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis

24. “Patience” (1989) by Guns n’ Roses [link to video] – The music and lyrics for this song were written by rhythm guitarist and founding member Izzy Stradlin

Rattle and Hum23. “Desire” (1988) by U2 [link to video] – From the album Rattle and Hum

22. “Sweetheart” (1981) by Franke & the Knockouts [link to video]

21. “Someday” (1986) by Glass Tiger [link to video]

20. “Alone” (1987) by Heart [link to video] – Could also include their 1985 song “Never”

19. “Tenderness” (1984) by General Public [link to video]

18. “Nightshift” (1985) by The Commodores [link to video] – This song is a tribute to R&B legends Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye who had both died in 1984

17. “Centerfield” (1985) by John Fogerty [link to video]

16. “Faithfully” (1983) by Journey [link to video]

15. “Breakout” (1986) by Swing Out Sister [link to video]

Reckless14. “Heaven” (1985) by Bryan Adams [link to video] – Could also include the song “Somebody” both from the Reckless album

13. “Africa” (1982) by Toto [link to video] – Could also have included 1982’s “Rosanna” or 1987’s “Pamela”Rio

12. “Rio” (1982) by Duran Duran [link to video] – Could have also included 1986’s “Notorious” which is good enough to deserve a [link to video] on that one too

11. “Celebration” (1980) by Kool & the Gang [link to video]

10. “Faith” (1987) by George Michael [link to video]

Heartbeat City9. “Drive” (1984) by The Cars [link to video] – Could have also included “Magic” which was also from the same Heartbeat City album and is good enough to deserve a [link to video] on it too

8. “Borderline” (1983) by Madonna [link to video] – Could have also included 1989’s “Cherish” both of which rank on my Best Madonna Songs of the 80s list

7. “Sledgehammer” (1986) by Peter Gabriel [link to video] – Ranks #2 on my Best 80s Music Videos listJump

6. “Jump” (1984) by Van Halen [link to video] – This song featured David Lee Roth as the lead singer, but I could have also included the 1986 song “Dreams” which was from the Sammy Hagar years

Freedom5. “Freedom” (1984) by Wham! [link to video]

4. “Babe” (1979) by Styx [link to video] – Though it was released in December of 1979, it spent quite a bit of time on the charts in 1980

3. “Kiss” (1986) Kissby Prince & the Revolution [sorry, no video available since Prince strictly enforces his copyrights] – Song ranks on my Best Songs from 80s Movies list as well as my Best Prince Songs list

2. “Overkill” (1983) by Men at Work [link to video] – There is also an outstanding acoustic version that lead singer Colin Hay released on his 2003 album Man @ Work

True1. “True” (1983) by Spandau Ballet [link to video] – One of my all-time favorite songs

There’s my list. Did you realize there were that many songs with one-word titles in the 80s? Are there any songs that I missed that are your favorites? Let me know about it. Like “Physical,” there were several that I intentionally left off of my list like “Hello” by Lionel Richie and “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys. Based on my calculations the list is comprised of 10 names, 18 verbs, 28 nouns and 14 adjectives/adverbs. Hope you enjoyed the list and the links to the videos (sorry I could not have links for all of them). Though they also happen to have one-word titles, some of these songs are among the best songs from that decade period.

That wraps up another issue of Kickin’ it Old School. Thanks, as always, for reading. If you are interested in reading more of my 80’s related issues, please click there for a summary. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary of those. You can also click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the blogbar Search Box in the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin’ it, please pass the word and let others know to give it a try (and of course come back often!). Peace and much love.

Check this out: I came across this humorous warning sign from the Ministry of Fish and Wildlife in Mozambique, Africa. It is even more humorous if it is true…

Warning Lions
If you cannot read the sign, here is what it says “Due to the rising frequency of human-lion encounters, the Ministry of Fish and Wildlife is advising hikers, hunters, fishermen, and any motorcyclists that use the out-of-doors in a recreational or work related function to take extra precautions while in the bush. We advise the outdoorsman to wear little noisy bells on clothing, so as to give advanced warning to any lions that might be close by so you don’t take them by surprise. We also advise anyone using the out-of-doors to carry “pepper spray” with him or her in case of an encounter with a lion. Outdoorsmen should also be on the watch for fresh lion activity, and be able to tell the difference between lion cub poop and big lion poop. Lion cub poop is smaller and contains lots of berries and dassie fur. Big lion poop has bells in it and smells like pepper.”

Quote of the day: “You can close your eyes to reality but not to memories.” -Stanislaw J. Lee

Download this: Many of the songs on the above list have already been recommended in this section of previous issues, so I am going to go with “Babe” by Styx which was on their 1979 album titled Cornerstone. Styx is one of my favorite bands of all time.

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  1. Nice list, I had forgot about some of them.
    That lion sign is really funny.

  2. Another solid list. But True at #1? So sappy! I hate Prince’s Kiss as well. There are a lot of great songs on there. None spring to mind offhand that you missed out on.

  3. Reply to: bawdy
    Yeah, I admit it. I do enjoy some of the sappier songs.
    I plan on publishing a list of the cheesiest, sappiest love songs of the 80s sometime soon. To me, though, cheesy and sappy are not always a bad thing, especially when it comes to 80s music.
    Thanks for reading!

  4. Many of my favorites, but probably the one that makes me dance is “Footloose” and that is one my favorite movies also. “Let’s Dance…” and then it all gets going!!!

  5. Reply to: kurtmaddox
    “One” by U2 was released in 1991 or else it would have definitely been on this list and I would have likely ranked it at the top. Great song!

  6. Misunderstanding – Genesis
    Mama – Genesis
    Abacab – Genesis
    Photograph – Def Leppard
    Foolin’ – Def Leppard
    Animal – Def Leppard
    Never – Heart

  7. Yet a couple more good songs…

    Heartbreaker – Pat Benetar
    Shelter – Lone Justice

    And I still love Jane by Jefferson Starship, although Sara is great too.

  8. Awww, #55 – I was a HUGE Inxs fan and was devastated when Michael H died (You would have thought we were related the way I reacted.) Insert sad sigh here…

  9. Another just sprang to mind…Refugee by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

  10. Hello to all :) I can’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Help me, please

  11. hi,I’m looking for a song from the 80’s.all I can remember is 4 words from it.”its me and katrina”.its a slow sort of haunting song,sung by a lady.any help will be appreciated…thanks

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