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Best 80s Playlist With Rock Songs Not Recorded By Hair Bands

03 May 2020

The other day I was driving down the road and was listening to the classic rock station here in Charleston and all of a sudden the song "Run to You" by Bryan Adams came on the radio. Beleive it or not, Bryan Adams would record a disco song in the late 70s, before getting a band together and releasing the popular MTV song "Cuts Like A Knife" in 1983. In the fall of 1984, Bryan Adams would release the album Reckless, which would spawn several radio hits. While I was driving down the road, I found myself increasing the volume while "Run to You" and I thought to myself that this song still is quite the banger and really was one of the top 80s rock songs.

 "Run To You" has the high octane of  a lot of the stuff released in the early to mid 80s, but Bryan Adams and his band certainly were not in the hair band / metal category.  Bryan Adams and his band were  creating just straight up 80s rock without all the excess and glam of a lot of the music that was beginning to come out of Los Angeles by the mid 80s. As a professional wedding DJ with a focus and love on music, I found myself pulling up the You Tube of "Run To You" and watching the video, and reviewing the Billboard data on the song as well. When you were exposed to all these videos by growing up with MTV like I was, a video like this will take you back and make you think about the simpler times of the 80s. As a matter of fact, I dug deeper and found out the lovely lady in the video was Lysette Anthony.  I posted about "Run To You" on Twitter as I do with a lot of my published posts and music commentary and tagged Lysette in the post and she retweeted. So, this one song I heard in one of the few times I got out in the car to run some errands during the COVID-19 pandemic got me to look back at some of the best 80s rock songs. As you have probably found out by looking over my blog, the possibilities are simply endless when it comes to YOUR wedding playlist.  When planning the music for your wedding, you might consider a cocktail hour with some of the Best 80s Rock Songs That Weren't Recorded By A Hair Band. 

Download These 80s Rock Songs Right NOW From DJ Mike Bills On Spotify
And now you can have the experience that I had in the car. All you need to do is head over to my Spotify and you can download this playlist that includes the  great list of songs from the 80s you see on this blog post. When you head over to my Spotify profile, you'll also find a wide variety of other playlists designed to help modern brides and grooms get inpsired about putting together their playlist for what will become the best day of their lives. All you need to do is head over to Spotify and search for DJ Mike Bills. For those that are not on Spotify, feel free to listen to each song on this post by clicking the link in each song title.


"Run To You" | Bryan Adams | 1984
The album was Reckless. The year was 1984. "Run To You" would be the first song to be released to radio in the fall of 1984. The song would top the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart, and peak at #6 on the Hot 100.

Bryan Adams Run To You

"How Can I Refuse" | Heart | 1983
In the early 80s, Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart were still rocking hard and had not moved into full-on hair band mode yet.  "How Can I Refuse" was the first song to be released from their 1983 album Passionworks and would reach Number 1 on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart.

"Everybody Wants You" | Billy Squier | 1982
In the early 80s, you couldn't turn on the radio, or MTV for that matter without hearing and seeing Billy Squier. In 1982, he would release his album Emotions In Motion, and "Everybody Wants You" would become it's biggest hit.  "Everybody Wants You" would top the Mainstream Rock chart for six weeks.

 "Working For The Weekend" | Loverboy | 1981
Back in the fall of 1981, Canadian rock band Loverboy would release their album Get Lucky. "Working For The Weekend" was the first song to be released from the album and would peak at #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

"On The Dark Side" | John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band | 1983
Back in the early 80s, the movie Eddie & The Cruisers was released and this song would be on the soundtrack. The song flopped (like the movie) when it was first released in the fall of 1983, but would peak at #7 on the Hot 100 when it was re-released in the spring of 1984.

"Synchronicity II" | The Police | 1983
The Police released their mega-selling album Synchronicity in 1983. Synchronicity II was the third song to be released as a single and would peak at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"New World Man" | Rush | 1982
Besides COVID-19, one of the other things that happened earlier in 2020 was the death of Rush drummer Neil Peart. "New World Man" was released in the summer of 1982 from the album Signals and would become a #1 song on the Billboard Top Tracks chart.

"Freeze Frame" | J. Geils Band |  1981
"Freeze Frame" is title cut to what would be the 10th album to be released by the J Geils Band. The song would become the follow-up to "Centerfold" and would peak at #4 on the Hot 100.

"Money For Nothing" | Dire Straits | 1985
Released in June 1985 from the album Brothers In Arms, "Money For Nothing" would become a signature song for Dire Straits and climb all the way to #1 on the Hot 100, as well as the Top Rock tracks chart.

"Legs" | ZZ Top | 1984
"Legs" was released in 1984 off the album Eliminator and would peak at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100

 "The Heart Of Rock And Roll" | Huey Lewis & The News | 1984
In the early - mid 80s, Huey Lewis & The News were only one of the most popular bands in America. They released their album Sports in the fall of 1983 and it would become one of the best selling albums of all time. "The Heart Of Rock & Roll" would be released in the spring of 1984 and would peak at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Owner Of A Lonely Heart" | Yes | 1983
We've now reached the progressive rock portion of this post. Yes would release their album 90125 in the fall of 1983 and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" would be the first song to be released. "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" would be the only time that Yes would reach Number 1 on the Hot 100.

"Radioactive" | The Firm | 1985
What do you get when you combine one of the greatest rock vocalists and one of the best guitarists of all time? You get a supergroup that includes Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page.  Their first album was released in early 1985 and "Radioactive" would be the first single to hit radio. The song would peak at Number 1 on the Top Rock Tracks chart.

"Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy" | Sammy Hagar | 1982
Before he would replace David Lee Roth in Van Halen in 1985, Sammy Hagar would have a solo career in the early 80s. He'd release the album Three Lock Box in 1982 and would produce a Top 20 hit  in early 1983 on the Hot 100.

"Tall Cool One" | Robert Plant | 1988
After Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980, Robert Plant would release several rock albums through out the 80s. In 1988, he would release the album Now and Zen, which would release 3 singles. "Tall Cool One" would top out at #1 on Mainstream Rock chart.

"Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" | Glass Tiger | 1986
In early 1986, Canadian band would release their first album The Thin Red Line.  "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" would be the first song to be released and would peak at #1 on the Canadian charts and #2 on the Hot 100.

"Let My Love Open The Door" | Pete Townshend | 1980
Pete Townshend would release his second album titled Empty Glass in 1980. "Let My Love Open The Door" would be released from the record in the summer of 1980. The song would make it all the way to the Top 10 on the Hot 100 chart.

"Midnight Blue" | Lou Gramm | 1987
Lou Gramm would leave Foreigner, and in 1987 release his first solo album Ready Or Not. "Midnight Blue" would be the first single to be released and it would peak at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

"Smoking Gun" | Robert Cray | 1986
Released in 1986, Robert Cray would release "Smoking Gun" and it would peak at #2 on the Billboard Album Rock chart.

"Cult Of Personality" | Living Colour | 1988
I remember seeing the video for this song for the first time and was completely blown away by this band. "Cult Of Personality" would become their signature song and would break into the Top 10 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

"You Better Run" | Pat Benatar | 1980
Originally written and recorded by The Rascals in 1966, Pat Benatar would record her version on her 1980 album Crimes Of Passion.  The video for the song was the second one to air when MTV signed on in August 1981. 

"Best Of Both Worlds" | Van Halen | 1986
Van Halen would release the album 5150 in March of 1986. It would be the first album with Sammy Hagar as the lead singer of the band. "Best Of Both Worlds" would be the fourth song to be released off the record.

"Rock The Casbah" | The Clash | 1982
"Rock The Casbah" was one of the iconic MTV videos you saw in rotation during the first year the station was on the air. "Rock The Casbah" would peak at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as #8 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.

"Girl Can't Help It" | Journey | 1986
Back in the spring of 1986, Journey would release their album Raised On Radio.  "Girl Can't Help It" was released in the fall of 1986 and would peak at #17 on the Hot 100.

"Desire" | U2 | 1988
In 1988, U2 would release their album Rattle and Hum. "Desire" was the first single to be released from the album and would peak at #3 on the Hot 100, and Number 1 on the Modern Rock tracks chart.

Wanna Speak With Mike Bills About Being Your Wedding DJ?
Hope you enjoyed this selection of 25 Rock Songs From The 80s That Were Not  Recorded By Hair Bands. If you are into 80s rock, this could be the perfect choice for cocktail hour at your wedding. Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post. It means a lot and as you can see music is one of my biggest passions and I can bring that passion to the table when you hire me to be the DJ at your wedding.  Are you in the process of researching the best weddings DJs for your upcoming wedding? Click the link up above to tell me a little more about your special day. I would love to be the DJ at your wedding.