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Songs of the Year

Songs of the Year: 1981

We’ve got nothing to say about 1981! It was kind of a blah year!

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It’s 1981 and the synth revolution is in full swing. Thanks to advances in technology and a reduction in price, artists really got into the  Fairlight CMI Series II, which lead to a bevy of new sounds and samples. No longer was the technology only available to the big name artists (like Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, who were big fans of the initial Fairlight).

While the Listographers didn’t think 1981 was great as far as albums go, songs were a much different story (at least for Kramzer and Joe), who had tons to choose from, with a great many of them charting on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Police, Rush, The Stones, Elvis Costello, Pretenders, Ozzy Osbourne, Journey, Black Sabbath, Squeeze, Phil Collins, Genesis, U2 and Prince all released well regarded albums and up and comers like Duran Duran, The Human League, the Go-Go’s, and Men at Work put out their debuts.

The song of the year on the US Billboard Hot 100 was Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes.

The year is 1981 and we’re picking our favorite songs of the year!

It’s a simple concept. We pick five of our favorite songs that made the Billboard Top 100 (established in 1958) during any time that year. We also select five “wildcards” that can be any songs released as a single or on an album or EP that year. Finally, we also pick our “worst” song of the year, just for fun.

We started in 1958 and we’re going until we run out of years.

Standings So Far …

Jason and Kramzer teamed up with Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime to take down ABBA’s The Winner Takes it All (it didn’t). Jason now sits a mere half point behind Joe. Kramzer is still in the conversation as well thanks to another split win (his 4th total).

Joe: 11
Jason: 10.5
Kramzer: 7.5

Vote

Which Was the Best Song of 1981?

  • Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by The Police (44%, 95 Votes)
  • The Waiting by Tom Petty (36%, 78 Votes)
  • Since You're Gone by the Cars (21%, 45 Votes)

Total Voters: 218

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Best Songs of the Year Playlist

Best Songs of the Year | 1981 | Spotify Edition

Best Songs of the Year | 1981 | YouTube edition

Worst Songs of the Year Playlist

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Dan O

My favorite songs of 1981:
Rank. Title-Artist
1. BURNING FOR YOU – BLUE OYSTER CULT
2. TAKE IT ON THE RUN – REO SPEEDWAGON
3. LIMELIGHT – RUSH
4. NO TURNING BACK – THE SHERBS
5. YOU BETTER YOU BET – THE WHO
6. SAUSALITO SUMMERNITE – DIESEL
7. HE CAN’T LOVE YOU – MICHAEL STANLEY BAND
8. HOLD ON LOOSELY – .38 SPECIAL
9. DESTROYER – KINKS
10. TURN ME LOOSE – LOVERBOY
11. JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME – APRIL WINE
12. HEAVY METAL (TAKIN’ A RIDE) – DON FELDER
13. BACK IN BLACK – AC/DC
14. LIVING INSIDE MYSELF – GINO VANNELLI
15. FIND YOUR WAY BACK – JEFFERSON STARSHIP
16. START ME UP – ROLLING STONES
17. FANTASY GIRL – .38 SPECIAL
18. WATCHING THE WHEELS – JOHN LENNON
19. EVERY LITTLE THING SHE DOES IS MAGIC – THE POLICE
20. MY GIRL (GONE, GONE, GONE) – CHILLIWACK
21. DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME – THE POLICE
22. MESSAGE OF LOVE – PRETENDERS
23. THE STROKE – BILLY SQUIER
24. TREAT ME RIGHT – PAT BENATAR
25. TOM SAWYER – RUSH
26. OUR LIPS ARE SEALED – GO-GO’S
27. YOUNG TURKS – ROD STEWART
28. I LOVE YOU – CLIMAX BLUES BAND
29. A WOMAN IN LOVE – TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS
30. DON’T LET HIM GO – REO SPEEDWAGON
31. IN THE DARK – BILLY SQUIER
32. DE DO DO DO DA DA DA DA – THE POLICE
33. NO REPLY AT ALL – GENESIS
34. HOLD ON TIGHT – ELO
35. MISS SUN – BOZ SCAGGS
36. PRIVATE EYES – DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES
37. I MISSED AGAIN – PHIL COLLINS
38. DRAW OF THE CARDS – KIM CARNES
39. SWEETHEART – FRANKE & THE KNOCKOUTS
40. JESSIE’S GIRL – RICK SPRINGFIELD

Dan O

More of my favorite songs of 1981:
Rank-Title-Artist
41. FLYING HIGH AGAIN – OZZY OSBOURNE
42. DANCING WITH MYSELF – BILLY IDOL
43. KEEP ON LOVING YOU – REO SPEEDWAGON
44. NIGHT TRAIN – STEVE WINWOOD
45. THE WAITING – TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS
46. BREAKING AWAY – BALANCE
47. URGENT – FOREIGNER
48. SHE’S A BAD MAMA JAMA – CARL CARLTON
49. A LIFE OF ILLUSION – JOE WALSH
50. MONY MONY – BILLY IDOL
51. TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS – STYX
52. GEMENI DREAM – MOODY BLUES
53. BEING WITH YOU – SMOKEY ROBINSON
54. RAPTURE – BLONDIE
55. HUNGRY HEART – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
56. ARTHUR’S THEME (BEST THAT YOU CAN DO) – CHRISTOPHER CROSS
57. HEART LIKE A WHEEL – STEVE MILLER BAND
58. SKATEAWAY – DIRE STRAITS
59. A LITTLE IN LOVE – CLIFF RICHARD
60. TRYING TO LIVE MY LIFE WITHOUT YOU – BOB SEGER
61. UNCHAINED – VAN HALEN
62. SUPER FREAK – RICK JAMES
63. I LOVED ‘EM EVERY ONE – T.G. SHEPPARD
64. WHILE YOU SEE A CHANCE – STEVE WINWOOD
65. MORNING TRAIN (9 TO 5) – SHEENA EASTON
66. GAMES PEOPLE PLAY – ALAN PARSONS PROJECT
67. TIME OUT OF MIND – STEELY DAN
68. LADY, YOU BRING ME UP – COMMODORES
69. THE BREAKUP SONG (THEY DON’T WRITE ‘EM) – GREG KIHN BAND
70. I CAN’T STAND IT – ERIC CLAPTON
71. HOW ‘BOUT US – CHAMPAIGN
72. FIRE AND ICE – PAT BENATAR
73. SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD – BILLY JOEL
74. PRECIOUS TO ME – PHIL SEYMOUR
75. TEACHER TEACHER – ROCKPILE
76. ALIEN – ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION
77. SUDDENLY – OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN & CLIFF RICHARD
78. ANOTHER TRICKY DAY – THE WHO
79. GIVE IT TO ME BABY – RICK JAMES
80. PASSION – ROD STEWART
81. LOVE YOU LIKE I’VE NEVER LOVED BEFORE – JOHN O’ BANION
82. WINNING – SANTANA
83. ANGEL OF THE MORNING – JUICE NEWTON
84. DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’ – JOURNEY
85. I AIN’T GONNA STAND FOR IT – STEVIE WONDER
86. LUNATIC FRINGE – RED RIDER
87. ALL THOSE YEARS AGO – GEORGE HARRISON
88. WHAT KIND OF FOOL – BARBRA STREISAND & BARRY GIBB
89. WOMAN – JOHN LENNON
90. TWILIGHT – ELO
91. BURN RUBBER – GAP BAND
92. THE TIDE IS HIGH – BLONDIE
93. I HAVE THE SKILL – THE SHERBS
94. AH! LEAH! – DONNIE IRIS
95. BETTE DAVIS EYES – KIM CARNES
96. STARS ON 45 MEDLEY – STARS ON 45
97. MODERN GIRL – SHEENA EASTON
98. I WILL FOLLOW – U2
99. NICOLE – POINT BLANK
100. HEY 19 – STEELY DAN

Dan O

More of my favorite songs 1981:
Rank-Title-Artist
101. PARTY’S OVER (HOPELESSLY IN LOVE) – JOURNEY
102. STOP DRAGGIN’ MY HEART AROUND – STEVIE NICKS & TOM PETTY & HEARTBREAKERS
103. CHLOE – ELTON JOHN
104. LIVING IN A FANTASY – LEO SAYER
105. THIS LITTLE GIRL – GARY U.S. BONDS
106. ROCK ‘N ROLL DREAMS COME THROUGH – JIM STEINMAN
107. REALLY WANNA KNOW YOU – GARY WRIGHT
108. THE BEST OF TIMES – STYX
109. IT’S A LOVE THING – WHISPERS
110. BREAKOUT – SHOOTING STAR
111. HE’S A LIAR – BEE GEES
112. FASHION – DAVID BOWIE
113. THE VOICE – MOODY BLUES
114. IN THE AIR TONIGHT – PHIL COLLINS
115. DON’T WANT TO WAIT ANYMORE – TUBES
116. MORE STARS – STARS ON 45
117. I’M IN LOVE – EVELYN “CHAMPAGNE” KING
118. STAIRWAY TO CLEVELAND – JEFFERSON STARSHIP
119. CRAZY TRAIN – OZZY OSBOURNE
120. FOOL IN LOVE WITH YOU – JIM PHOTOGLO
121. PEARL NECKLACE – ZZ TOP
122. IN YOUR LETTER – REO SPEEDWAGON
123. WHO’S CRYING NOW – JOURNEY
124. I’VE DONE EVERYTHING FOR YOU – RICK SPRINGFIELD
125. COOL LOVE – PABLO CRUISE
126. SLOW HAND – POINTER SISTERS
127. STRANGER – JEFFERSON STARSHIP
128. MEDLEY II (BEATLES) – STARS ON 45
129. POOR MAN’S SON – SURVIVOR
130. STONE IN LOVE – JOURNEY
131. QUEEN OF HEARTS – JUICE NEWTON
132. TEMPTED – SQUEEZE
133. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU’RE FOOLIN’ – DONNA SUMMER
134. AIN’T NO LOVE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY – WHITESNAKE
135. NIGHTWATCHMAN – TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS
136. BRINGING ON THE HEARTBREAK – DEF LEPPARD
137. BEACH BOYS MEDLEY – BEACH BOYS
138. BEHIND THE LINES – PHIL COLLINS
139. CELEBRATION – KOOL & THE GANG
140. LET’S GROOVE – EARTH, WIND & FIRE
141. HARD TO SAY – DAN FOGELBERG
142. (GHOST) RIDERS IN THE SKY – OUTLAWS
143. GIVE A LITTLE BIT MORE – CLIFF RICHARD
144. I NEED YOUR LOVIN’ – TEENA MARIE
145. SIGN OF THE GYPSY QUEEN – APRIL WINE
146. ONE STEP CLOSER – DOOBIE BROTHERS
147. YOU COULD TAKE MY HEART AWAY – SILVER CONDOR
148. PROMISES IN THE DARK – PAT BENATAR
149. LOVER – MICHAEL STANLEY BAND
150. SUZI – RANDY VANWARMER
151. GIVING IT UP FOR YOUR LOVE – DELBERT MCCLINTON
152. SMOKEY MOUNTAIN RAIN – RONNIE MILSAP
153. FIREFLIES – FLEETWOOD MAC
154. NOBODY WINS – ELTON JOHN
155. KISS ON MY LIST – DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES
156. IS IT YOU – LEE RITENOUR
157. WALK RIGHT NOW – JACKSONS
158. I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT – EDDIE RABBITT
159. WRACK MY BRAIN – RINGO STARR
160. FADE AWAY – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
161. THE GOLD BUG – ALAN PARSONS PROJECT
162. UP PERISCOPE – NOVO COMBO
163. COLD LOVE – DONNA SUMMER
164. YEARNING FOR YOUR LOVE – GAP BAND
165. TIME IS TIME – ANDY GIBB
166. HEARTBREAK HOTEL – JACKSONS
167. KID IS HOT TONITE – LOVERBOY
168. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY – SHEENA EASTON
169. WORKING IN A COAL MINE – DEVO
170. FLASH’S THEME – QUEEN
171. AMERICA – NEIL DIAMOND
172. THE NIGHT OWLS – LITTLE RIVER BAND
173. FLY AWAY – BLACKFOOT
174. STEP BY STEP – EDDIE RABBITT
175. GUILTY – BARBRA STREISAND & BARRY GIBB
176. JUST THE TWO OF US – GROVER WASHINGTON JR.
177. BREAKING ALL THE RULES – PETER FRAMPTON
178. TALK TO YA LATER – TUBES
179. HEARTS ON FIRE – RANDY MEISNER
180. WE’RE IN THIS LOVE TOGETHER – AL JARREAU
181. YOU MAKE MY DREAMS COME TRUE – DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES
182. SAME OLD LANG SYNE – DAN FOGELBERG
183. DARKNESS – POLICE
184. LIVE NOW, PAY LATER – FOGHAT
185. HER TOWN TOO – J.D. SOUTHER & JAMES TAYLOR
186. DON’T LET GO THE COAT – THE WHO
187. WHEN SHE WAS MY GIRL – FOUR TOPS
188. SEVEN YEAR ACHE – ROSEANNE CASH
189. STILL RIGHT HERE IN MY HEART – PURE PRAIRIE LEAGUE
190. ARC OF A DIVER – STEVE WINWOOD
191. GUITAR MAN – ELVIS PRESLEY
192. JUST LIKE ME – PAT BENATAR
193. WHO’S MAKING LOVE – BLUES BROTHERS
194. TIME – ALAN PARSONS PROJECT
195. IT’S MY TURN – DIANA ROSS
196. GOT TO ROCK ON – KANSAS
197. A WOMAN’S GOT THE POWER – A’S
198. SOMEBODY’S KNOCKIN’ – TERI GIBBS
199. BOY FROM NEW YORK CITY – MANHATTAN TRANSFER
200. DON’T STOP THE MUSIC – YARBROUGH & PEOPLES

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