Biggest Songs of the 1980s (CSPC)

Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Queen, Phil Collins… All these artists and many others have had an enormous impact on the music of the 80s, and have sung some of the biggest hits of this period. Do you know which song is the biggest for each artist I mentioned above, and which one dominates this decade?

The songs ranked here have been released from January 1, 1980 up to December 31, 1989. All figures are given in EAS (equivalent album sales). They include audio and video streams, downloads, ringtones but also a weighted share of the album they helped to sell.

Please keep in mind that some artists who released big hits this decade have not been studied so far, e.g. Journey, The PoliceTracy Chapman, or Lionel Richie. All figures reflect the value as collected at the time of the artist’s respective articles (CSPC article or Streaming Masters). You can check the list of artists that have been tracked at this link.

A lot of lists like this one are available inside the Data Collector, so feel free to read them to gauge how your favorite artist charts on them.

Biggest Songs of the 1980s (CSPC)

1. 1982 – Michael JacksonBillie Jean [Thriller]41,890,000
2. 1982 – Michael JacksonBeat It [Thriller]27,160,000
3. 1981 – Phil CollinsIn the Air Tonight [Face Value]25,090,000
4. 1986 – Bon JoviLivin’ on a Prayer [Slippery When Wet]23,460,000
5. 1982 – Michael JacksonThriller [Thriller]23,430,000
6. 1987 – U2With Or Without You [The Joshua Tree]23,430,000
7. 1981 – Queen & David BowieUnder Pressure [Hot Space]23,110,000
8. 1980 – AC/DCBack in Black [Back in Black]21,680,000
9. 1980 – QueenAnother One Bites the Dust [The Game]20,770,000
10. 1984 – Bryan AdamsSummer of ’69 [Reckless]20,670,000
11. 1987 – Whitney HoustonI Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) [Whitney]19,630,000
12. 1989 – Phil CollinsAnother Day in Paradise […But Seriously]19,230,000
13. 1987 – Guns N’ RosesSweet Child O’ Mine [Appetite for Destruction]19,070,000
14. 1980 – AC/DCYou Shook Me All Night Long [Back in Black]18,560,000
15. 1989 – MadonnaLike A Prayer [Like A Prayer]18,550,000
16. 1983 – U2Sunday Bloody Sunday [War]16,800,000
17. 1986 – Bon JoviYou Give Love a Bad Name [Slippery When Wet]16,520,000
18. 1984 – Prince and the RevolutionsPurple Rain [Purple Rain]15,570,000
19. 1984 – MadonnaLike A Virgin [Like A Virgin]15,210,000
20. 1985 – Dire StraitsMoney for Nothing [Brothers in Arms]14,860,000
21. 1984 – Bruce SpringsteenBorn in the U.S.A. [Born in the U.S.A.]14,800,000
22. 1987 – Michael JacksonMan in the Mirror [Bad]14,390,000
23. 1982 – Phil CollinsYou Can’t Hurry Love [Hello, I Must Be Going!]14,310,000
24. 1986 – MadonnaLa Isla Bonita [True Blue]14,160,000
25. 1983 – Billy JoelUptown Girl [An Innocent Man]13,940,000
26. 1981 – The Rolling StonesStart Me Up [Tattoo You]13,690,000
27. 1984 – Bruce SpringsteenDancing in the Dark [Born in the U.S.A.]13,530,000
28. 1980 – Barbra StreisandWoman in Love [Guilty]13,440,000
29. 1987 – U2I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For [The Joshua Tree]13,420,000
30. 1984 – George MichaelCareless Whisper [Make It Big]13,110,000
31. 1985 – Dire StraitsWalk of Life [Brothers in Arms]12,880,000
32. 1987 – Michael JacksonSmooth Criminal [Bad]12,800,000
33. 1984 – QueenI Want to Break Free [The Works]12,620,000
34. 1984 – MadonnaMaterial Girl [Like A Virgin]12,550,000
35. 1987 – Michael JacksonThe Way You Make Me Feel [Bad]12,100,000
36. 1987 – George MichaelFaith [Faith]11,890,000
37. 1989 – Garth BrooksThe Dance [Garth Brooks]11,580,000
38. 1987 – Guns N’ RosesWelcome to the Jungle [Appetite for Destruction]11,530,000
39. 1985 – Whitney HoustonHow Will I Know [Whitney Houston]11,350,000
40. 1987 – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life [Dirty Dancing]11,270,000
41. 1988 – MetallicaOne […And Justice For All]11,210,000
42. 1987 – Guns N’ RosesParadise City [Appetite for Destruction]11,050,000
43. 1987 – Fleetwood MacEverywhere [Tango In The Night]10,930,000
44. 1985 – Phil CollinsSussudio [No Jacket Required]10,760,000
45. 1984 – Wham!Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go [Make It Big]10,670,000
46. 1986 – Paul SimonYou Can Call Me Al [Graceland]10,070,000
47. 1985 – Dire StraitsBrothers in Arms [Brothers in Arms]9,600,000
48. 1984 – Bryan AdamsHeaven [Reckless]9,590,000
49. 1984 – Prince and the RevolutionsWhen Doves Cry [Purple Rain]9,510,000
50. 1983 – Irene CaraFlashdance… What a Feeling [Flashdance / What a Feelin’]9,420,000
51. 1988 – EnyaOrinoco Flow [Watermark]9,340,000
52. 1983 – MadonnaHoliday [Madonna]9,310,000
53. 1984 – Phil CollinsOne More Night [No Jacket Required]9,190,000
54. 1986 – MetallicaMaster Of Puppets [Master Of Puppets]9,140,000
55. 1981 – AC/DCFor Those About to Rock (We Salute You) [For Those About to Rock We Salute You]9,120,000
56. 1988 – Guns N’ RosesPatience [GNR Lies]8,920,000
57. 1986 – Bon JoviWanted Dead or Alive [Slippery When Wet]8,910,000
58. 1980 – Bob MarleyCould You Be Loved [Uprising]8,870,000
59. 1984 – MadonnaInto The Groove [Like A Virgin]8,860,000
60. 1980 – AC/DCHells Bells [Back in Black]8,720,000
61. 1986 – Prince and the RevolutionsKiss [Parade]8,660,000
62. 1989 – Billy JoelWe Didn’t Start the Fire [Storm Front]8,610,000
63. 1983 – Michael SembelloManiac [Flashdance / Bossa Nova Hotel]8,470,000
64. 1986 – MadonnaPapa Don’t Preach [True Blue]8,460,000
65. 1983 – David BowieLet’s Dance [Let’s Dance]8,290,000
66. 1980 – ABBAThe Winner Takes It All [Super Trouper]8,230,000
67. 1989 – Elton JohnSacrifice [Sleeping with the Past]8,160,000
68. 1980 – Billy JoelIt’s Still Rock and Roll to Me [Glass Houses]8,150,000
69. 1989 – CherIf I Could Turn Back Time [Heart of Stone]7,950,000
70. 1984 – Bruce SpringsteenI’m on Fire [Born in the U.S.A.]7,920,000
71. 1987 – Michael JacksonBad [Bad]7,880,000
72. 1980 – Bruce SpringsteenThe River [The River]7,850,000
73. 1989 – Garth BrooksIf Tomorrow Never Comes [Garth Brooks]7,850,000
74. 1984 – U2Pride (in The Name Of Love) [The Unforgettable Fire]7,740,000
75. 1985 – Whitney HoustonGreatest Love of All [Whitney Houston]7,730,000
76. 1980 – John LennonWoman [Double Fantasy]7,720,000
77. 1980 – Dire StraitsRomeo and Juliet [Making Movies]7,410,000
78. 1982 – Michael JacksonP.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) [Thriller]7,230,000
79. 1984 – Wham!Last Christmas [Music from the Edge of Heaven]6,920,000
80. 1983 – U2New Year’s Day [War]6,440,000
81. 1986 – MadonnaLive To Tell [True Blue]6,440,000
82. 1987 – Eric CarmenHungry Eyes [Dirty Dancing]6,400,000
83. 1980 – QueenCrazy Little Thing Called Love [The Game]6,380,000
84. 1983 – Bob MarleyBuffalo Soldier [Confrontation]6,320,000
85. 1982 – Michael JacksonWanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ [Thriller]6,140,000
86. 1983 – Elton JohnI’m Still Standing [Too Low for Zero]6,060,000
87. 1980 – Barbra Streisand & Barry GibbGuilty [Guilty]6,040,000
88. 1985 – Prince and the RevolutionsRaspberry Beret [Around the World in a Day]6,020,000
89. 1980 – AC/DCShoot to Thrill [Back in Black]5,990,000
90. 1987 – AerosmithDude (Looks Like a Lady) [Permanent Vacation]5,880,000
91. 1988 – Bon JoviI’ll Be There for You [New Jersey]5,730,000
92. 1987 – Pink FloydLearning to Fly [A Momentary Lapse of Reason]5,550,000
93. 1989 – QueenI Want It All [The Miracle]5,500,000
94. 1984 – MetallicaFor Whom the Bell Tolls [Ride The Lightning]5,490,000
95. 1988 – Bon JoviBad Medicine [New Jersey]5,450,000
96. 1988 – EnyaWatermark [Watermark]5,420,000
97. 1984 – Prince and the RevolutionsLet’s Go Crazy [Purple Rain]5,390,000
98. 1980 – Bob MarleyRedemption Song [Uprising]5,350,000
99. 1984 – Phil CollinsAgainst All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) [Against All Odds Soundtrack]5,340,000
100. 1985 – Whitney HoustonSaving All My Love for You [Whitney Houston]5,320,000

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RLAAMJR.

Phil Collins is the obviously bigger music artist than Prince.

The site hasn’t even studied the Genesis band yet, in which Phil is the drummer/vocalist and the band is said to have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.

Phil Collins is definitely deserving to be the 80s Big 3!

Michael

Its kind of sad coz he seems somewhat forgotten. I do love his music though.

Jules Giddings

Great article, thanks. I was wondering why ‘Under pressure’ Scored more than ‘Another one one bites the dust’? The streaming numbers are the reverse! Or is ‘Under pressure’ ’ counted twice under Bowie’s name?

Guy

Can you please do a Cscp About Cyndie Lauper? She has some big hits in the 80’s Like Time After Time and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

ABJ

Whitney had the biggest female song of the 80s, a true queen

Dan

Thank you. Can’t wait to read the 70s list.

p.s. the voting system on this site is completely broken. I can’t vote up nor down comments I’ve never seen before, saying “you’ve already voted for this comment”, when i clearly haven’t.

RLAAMJR.

Artist – # of songs in the top 100 = total EAS Michael Jackson – 9 songs = 153,020,000 Madonna – 8 songs = 93,540,000 Phil Collins – 6 songs = 83,920,000 Queen – 5 songs = 68,380,000 U2 – 5 songs = 67,830,000 AC/DC – 5 songs = 64,070,000 Bon Jovi – 5 songs = 60,070,000 Guns N’ Roses – 4 songs = 50,570,000 Prince and the Revolutions – 5 songs = 45,150,000 Dire Straits – 4 songs = 44,750,000 Bruce Springsteen – 4 songs = 44,100,000 Whitney Houston – 4 songs = 44,030,000 George Michael + Wham! –… Read more »

Travis

How is Billie Jean so far ahead of everything? Like its almost double the second on the list… How about Say Say Say with MJ and Paul McCartney? It was #1 for 6 weeks I believe.

orange

The CSPC total combines the sales / streams of the song itself, plus a share of the studio album and compilations it appears on, based on what share of the album’s streaming total it has. Billie Jean is the most streamed song from the best-selling album ever, and appeared on several big compilations, which gives it the huge total. Say Say Say was a big hit for sure but its parent album (Pipes of Peace) didn’t sell that much compared to most of the songs on the list. Its total is 4.9 million according to McCartney’s page though, so it’s… Read more »

Erdos

No Def Leppard and Motley Crue?

Dan

They haven’t been studied yet.

Olexiy Karzhaev

Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams is not in the list?

NIck

I’m guessing it’s because they haven’t studied the Eurythmics yet. That song was/is huge though. Especially on youtube.

Stephen

The gap between the top track and the second is insane!

RLAAMJR.

Not really if you compare those to the top 2 songs of the 90s.

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