Popular 1980s Songs for Weddings
Top 100 for 2020
The 1980s were the decade of dance. Disco became popular after the release of Saturday Night Fever in 1977. Hey, let’s face it — dancing was fun again. Whitney Houston wanted to dance with somebody, David Bowie raised the cry “Let’s Dance!” and we can’t forget about the “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats. After all, can we even be friends if you don’t dance?
“‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance well, they’re no friends of mine.” Ivan Doroschuk
Let’s Dance (At Your Wedding) with 1980s Songs
When we think of fun songs for a wedding reception, most of us think of the 1980s. Very similar to the era of the 1950s, thirty years earlier, the 80s was a post-war decade marked by prosperity. It was good to have fun again.
It’s common to hear a wide range of musical genres at your 80s theme wedding reception. One-hit wonders became a thing. Sometimes even the music video gave songs a chance to rise in popularity that wouldn’t have been considered otherwise.
- “Come on Eileen” – Dexys Midnight Runners (1982)
- “I Melt With You” – Modern English (1982)
- “Take on Me” – A-Ha (1984)
- “The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats (1982)
- “Funkytown” – Lipps, Inc. (1980)
Danceable 80s playlists can include Aerosmith, Madonna, Run-DMC, Bobby Brown, and AC/DC at the same reception. These songs will get everyone, regardless of age, up and dancing.
Remember that when choosing music from any decade, you will stir up plenty of nostalgia. Even better is to pair these songs with a slideshow or display photos of you and your new spouse from the ’80s. This could include the bride and groom’s family — especially if you weren’t born yet.
The Culture Shaped 1980s Songs
The 1980s was known for its historical events. The Berlin Wall came down and many eastern countries wanted freedom and the stuff that comes with it. Western countries were all about consumerism. Designer names and particular brand names became status symbols. Everyone was about themselves and greed. Heck — greed wasn’t even called greed! Advertising companies created buzzwords for the 1980s like yuppies and empty nesters.
As in previous years, music defined what is happening in the world. War protest songs were common in the 1940s with World War II and again in the 1970s with the Vietnam War. This holds true for the best 1980s music. With the beginning of music television in 1981, teens tuned-in on their TVs to watch music videos on MTV. Apropos to the start of MTV, the first video shown was “Video Killed The Radio Star” by the Buggles.
Prosperity Brings In-Home Tech and Comedy
In the 1980s, tech came inside every home. Atari was replaced by Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers. Hip hop blared on ghetto blasters while kids enjoyed watching and trying to breakdance. Fluorescent tops and parachute pant-clad teens wanted music wherever they were. Music became mobile in teen society with ghetto blasters and the invention of the Walkman by Sony. We sure didn’t know we’d have to wait twenty years for the iPod.
Teens were entertained at the movies with blockbuster hits such as E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Comedy clubs rose in popularity in the 1980s and late-night TV shows like Saturday Night Live became mainstream. Comedy didn’t stay on the silver screen or during late-night television. Family sitcoms like The Cosby Show, Roseanne, and Family Ties became dinnertime entertainment.
Other popular TV shows included Dallas, Falcon Crest, and Dynasty. Eighties teens were also obsessed with Cabbage Patch Kids, Pac Man, and the invention of the compact disc (CD). For the first time, sales of vinyl were outranked by another medium — CDs (1988).
1980s Songs Were Fundraisers
The ’80s were a time of prosperity, yes, but also disruption. The Challenger Space Shuttle exploded on live TV while we all watched in school, Prince Charles married Diana — a non-royal, and Apple Computer released the Macintosh.
The Eighties saw the end of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, fuel prices went back down, and prosperity dominated this decade. Songs became fun and companies and people focused their attention on the world.
We saw this with USA for Africa’s “We are the World. Even concert festivals became fundraising platforms in the 1980s with events like Farm Aid, Band-Aid, and Live Aid.
Fun and Energetic Songs For Young And Old
The 1979 Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in Chicago was the beginning of new music styles in the 1980s. Born from the punk rock style music were New Wave and Synthpop. Bands such as The B52’s, Duran Duran, and Culture Club are considered New Wave.
Sub-genres of rock in roll sprouted in the 1980s with glam rock, heavy metal, and thrash metal. We commonly refer to many rock bands of the Best 1980s Music as hair bands. Long hair was back and much longer than the “long hair bands” of our parents’ generation. Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, and Def Leppard were formidable 1980s mega-rock stars.
The change in music wasn’t limited to pop or rock. Rap quickly became mainstream and finally escaped urban centers. Public Enemy, Grandmaster Flash, and LL Cool J dominated the charts. In fact, Run-DMC was the first rap group to have an album become certified gold.
Let’s stop reminiscing and get to dancing – 80s style!
These are the best 1980s songs to get people on your wedding reception’s dance floor!
Last Updated: February 27, 2020
1980s wedding song list curated by Matthew Campbell