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Our Guilty Pleasure Songs of the 80s

There are some songs from the 80s that still totally rock. Then there are those songs we'd rather not admit we still enjoy… those are what we call our "guilty pleasure" songs. They are the songs we listen to when nobody's watching because we still love them even if they haven't remained popular or may not be perceived as cool. We've chosen some of our favorites from the 1980s and compiled this list of our Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Songs:

  1. The Lady In Red by Chris de Burgh (1986)

Keith's first guilty pleasure song was released in June 1986, The Lady In Red by Chris de Burgh. This song peaked the Billboard charts at number three and was written about Chris' wife Diane. As the story goes, the first time he saw her she was wearing red, and the song was then inspired by their initial encounter. This is a good example of the fact that some music is better appreciated when you know its backstory, and this is a sweet one.

2. Ring My Bell by Anita Ward (1979)

Technically this one is from 1979, but Anita Ward won her Grammy in 1980 for best female R&B performance. And since little 5-year-old Abby was completely obsessed with this song, it just had to make our list. It was my first-ever 45 record (and Snoop Dogg told Clash Magazine it was his first record too!) I'm sure that it probably has all kinds of naughty connotations, but my younger self had no idea about any of those things. I just loved this song and thought it was about ringing a bell!

3. Cool Rider by Michelle Pfeiffer (1982)

The next song on Keith's list is from the Grease 2 soundtrack. Here's Keith's reasoning for his love of this song: "So I ride motorcycles, and when I was nine years old I was already riding motorcycles. I had a huge crush on Michelle Pfeiffer, and I so badly wanted to be her cool rider." We have a longstanding debate in our household regarding the Grease movies because Keith thinks Grease 2 is the best, and I beg to differ… but that's another discussion for another day.

4. Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John (1980)

The movie was life-altering for young Abby who then became a roller skating enthusiast. I could've chosen any song off that soundtrack because it is my favorite soundtrack of all time from my favorite Olivia Newton-John. Olivia's amazing voice is backed up by the Electric Light Orchestra, producing an album that's nothing short of magical. If you haven't listened to Xanadu lately (or God forbid if you've never listened to the Xanadu soundtrack) go ahead and Xana-DU yourself a favor and listen. You will love it!

5. Eternal Flame by The Bangles (1989)

Released in January of 1989, Keith has chosen Eternal Flame by The Bangles. It's such a beautiful, romantic song. The idea for this song's title came from a visit to the eternal flame at Elvis Presley's grave at Graceland. Ironically, it was raining that day and the "eternal flame" wasn't even lit, lol! That didn't matter to The Bangles though, who were inspired by the sentiment. The song totally gives us Junior High School slow dance vibes, but in a good way.

6. Queen of Hearts by Juice Newton (1981)

This song was originally recorded a couple of years earlier by Dave Edmunds, but of course the version we're familiar with is the lovely Juice Newton's recording, which reached number two on the US Billboard chart. I think Juice Newton is an underappreciated artist of the 80s. She had 14 Top-10 hits during the decade among country and pop charts, such a legend!

7. You're the Inspiration by Chicago (1984)

Keith was inspired by Chicago's hit, You're the Inspiration. Oddly enough, this song was originally intended for Kenny Rogers. He requested a song written by Peter Cetera, who wrote the song while on a trip to Italy. But then Kenny changed his mind and didn't have time to record it. So the song ended up being recorded by Chicago with Peter himself singing lead vocals. It's a beautiful ballad which reached number three on the US Billboard chart.

8. Physical by Olivia Newton-John (1981)

Yes, I chose two Olivia Newton-John songs for this list because that's how much I love her! And while most of her music is not what I would call a guilty pleasure, this one definitely is. It makes a good exercise song to add to your workout playlist, but of course it's actually a double entendre for… well, you know. Olivia initially did not want to release it because she thought it was "too cheeky" but it's a good thing she changed her mind because Physical became her biggest hit!

9. Centerfold by J. Geils Band (1981)

This song was number one on the Billboard charts for six weeks. Here is Keith's story about his love for Centerfold: "I had the 45 record, and I listened to it over and over again… and then my cousin came to town. I said, 'Man you gotta hear this awesome new song!' So we listened to the record. After listening he said, 'Dude, you know what that's about right? It's about a dirty magazine!' After that, the song was ruined for me."

10. Baby Don't Forget My Number by Milli Vanilli (1988) reached number one on the Billboard chart. Our last song has to be from one of our favorite albums, All or Nothing. I just picked that song, but the entire album truly is awesome! Of course, now it's become infamous because the front men Rob and Fab never actually sang any of the lyrics from the songs on the album, but who cares. Whoever did sing those glorious songs, we will love them forever!

If you want to hear more of our Guilty Pleasure songs, along with music clips and a lively discussion, you can listen to our podcast here:

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David E. Artman
David E. Artman
Aug 12, 2022

Hey guys, I agree with a lot of them, with these exceptions: Ring My Bell is firmly a late 70s disco song. Lady in Red and Eternal Flame sound too schmaltzy to me. Never heard Cool Rider. And the scandal of Milli Vanilli taints my appreciation of any of their songs, no matter who actually did them. Enjoyed your list!

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