When we’re teenagers, it’s all about the music, isn’t it? I know that when I was raising my children, they were so defined by the music they listened to and the artists they loved. And the music of our youth stays with us well into old age and until the day we die, I believe. As a young woman, I worked at a skilled nursing facility as an activity director and my most popular program was a music program that I accidentally created. A daughter of one of the residents would play the piano while I sang the old songs of the 1910s and 1920s. This was the youth of my residents.
I saw old people who hadn’t spoken in years suddenly have tears streaming down their faces, and old crusty World War II veterans bursting into tears. And of course, most of them who were able to sing along did so, and with abandon. It was a remarkable thing to be a part of it and I feel blessed that I have this experience in my life. Growing up in the 1980s as a teenager, I know that I was defined by the songs of my era. The 1980s was a magical decade for music and film, and there’s no shortage of great songs from that time. But what about the songs of summer? Let’s look at some of the best.
1. Prince: “When Doves Cry”
This song was the lead single from the soundtrack to Prince’s “Purple Rain” movie. The chart-topping song was the perfect match for his film and album of the same name.
2. The Police: “Every Breath You Take”
The “Synchronicity” album made The Police one of the most popular bands of the 1980s. The video is also memorable and features a very young Prince playing the upright bass.
3. Survivor: “Eye of the Tiger”
Who doesn’t feel powerful when they listen to this epic anthem of a song? Fun fact: Sylvestor Stallone couldn’t get the rights to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” for Rocky III, so he commissioned Survivor to write this theme song for him.
4. Rick Springfield: “Jessie’s Girl”
Before Rick Springfield became a rock star, he starred in a soap opera. We girls were obsessed with him. And this song is the legit best.
5. The Human League: “Don’t You Want Me”
The video for this song helped kick off the “Second British Invasion” in the U.S. when it was played heavily on MTV.
6. Michael Sembello: “Maniac”
“Flashdance” was one of the hottest and most culturally influential films of the 1980s and this was one of the most popular songs from that movie.