20 Most Popular Greatest Songs From 1981, Ranked, Youtube Lyrics

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of the most popular and greatest songs from 1981, you’ve come to the right place.

At EmiliaM.com, we have compiled a list of the most popular and greatest songs from 1981 just for you.

The year 1981 was significant in the world of music, with several iconic artists releasing hit after hit. These songs have stood the test of time and remain beloved by audiences even today.

1. “Being with You” by Smokey Robinson

“Being with You” by Smokey Robinson is a captivating love song released in 1981 and has remained a popular hit on the charts for decades.

The song, considered one of the greatest of 1981, profoundly reflects the power and joy of love.

Its smooth and soulful melody perfectly complements Robinson’s heartfelt lyrics, which express his admiration and devotion to his significant other.

2. “The Best of Times” by Styx

“The Best of Times” by Styx is a timeless classic that captures the essence of nostalgia and reminiscence.

Released in 1981, it quickly became one of the greatest songs of that year and remains an iconic anthem to this day.

The song speaks about cherishing happy memories, holding on to the good times, and making the most of life.

3. “Don’t You Want Me?” by Human League


“Don’t You Want Me?” by Human League is an iconic 1981 hit that has stood the test of time as one of the greatest songs from that era.

This synth-pop masterpiece tells the story of a tumultuous relationship, with lyrics sung from both perspectives.

The catchy chorus and infectious melody make it impossible not to sing along to, while the lyrics explore themes of love, power, and independence.

4. “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)” by Raydio

“A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)” by Raydio is a timeless classic from 1981 that resonates with audiences today.

This song, featured on Billboard’s list of the Greatest Songs From 1981, explores the universal need for love and connection in everyone, regardless of gender.

Through its catchy rhythm and soulful vocals, Raydio delivers a powerful message about the importance of nurturing relationships and recognizing that women have the same desires and needs for love as men.

5. “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield

“Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield is a timeless classic and one of the greatest songs of 1981.

The lyrics are relatable and capture the feelings of unrequited love and longing for someone already taken.

The catchy guitar riffs and upbeat tempo add to the song’s overall appeal, making it a fan favorite for decades.

6. “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes

“Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time and continues to impact listeners since its release in 1981.

The song was one of the greatest hits of that year and remains an iconic song from that era. It is a fast-paced, catchy tune with powerful lyrics that capture the essence of Hollywood glamour and mystery.

The song is about a woman with captivating qualities similar to legendary actress Bette Davis.

7. “Our Lips Are Sealed” by The Go-Go’s

“Our Lips Are Sealed” by The Go-Go’s is a classic pop-rock song released in 1981 and continues to be beloved by fans today.

The upbeat tempo and catchy melodies make it a perfect sing-along track, but the lyrics also hold deeper meaning.

It embodies the excitement and thrill of young love but also explores themes of trust, loyalty, and confidentiality.

8. “Slow Hand” by The Pointer Sisters

“Slow Hand” by The Pointer Sisters is a timeless ballad released in 1981, making it one of the great songs of that year.

This song has a romantic and sensual feel to it, with lyrics that speak of wanting a lover who can take their time and satisfy them like no other.

The soulful vocals of the Pointer Sisters, combined with the slow and smooth melody, create an alluring atmosphere, drawing listeners into the passionate story being told through the lyrics.

9. “You Drive Me Crazy” by Shakin’ Stevens

“You Drive Me Crazy” by Shakin’ Stevens is a classic rock and roll song released in 1981 as part of the album “Great Songs From 1981”.

The song is upbeat and energetic, with catchy lyrics and a memorable chorus. It exudes the raw energy and passion of the rock and roll genre, perfectly capturing the essence of the 80s music scene.

With its lively beat and lively melody, “You Drive Me Crazy” quickly became a hit among music lovers worldwide.

10. “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” by Sheena Easton

“Morning Train (Nine to Five)” is a hit song by Scottish singer Sheena Easton, released in 1981.

The song, written by Florrie Palmer, portrays the daily routine of a working woman who takes the morning train at nine and returns at five.

With catchy melodies and poignant lyrics, this song captures the struggles and sacrifices of the working class.

It became an anthem for women worldwide, reflecting their determination to balance their career and personal life.

11. “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time and continues to be a beloved anthem for rock music fans.

Released in 1981, it quickly became one of the year’s top songs and solidified Joan Jett’s place as a fierce female rocker.

This upbeat and catchy tune celebrates the love for rock music and its rebellious spirit, with lyrics like “I love rock ‘n’ roll, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby.”

12. “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

“Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie holds a special place in the hearts of music lovers as it was one of the greatest hits from 1981.

The romantic ballad, written for the film of the same name, became an instant classic with its captivating melody and beautiful lyrics.

The duet between two legendary artists, Ross and Richie, perfectly captures the essence of eternal love and devotion.

The song speaks about a love that knows no bounds, defying all obstacles and standing strong against time.

13. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John

“Physical” is a highly memorable and catchy song by Olivia Newton-John that topped the charts in 1981.

The lyrics revolve around physical attraction and the desire for intimacy, making it an anthem for young love and passion. However, upon closer inspection, the song also hints at deeper themes of self-care and self-confidence.

The song’s upbeat sound and relatable lyrics made it an instant hit, appealing to listeners from all walks of life. It remains an iconic song from 1981, reminding us of our youthful energy and carefree spirit.

14. “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

One of the most iconic songs from 1981 is “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell. This synth-pop track reached number one on the charts in multiple countries and has become a staple in pop culture.

The lyrics tell a story of a love gone wrong, where the singer feels trapped and manipulated but unable to break free.

It captures the feeling of being in a toxic relationship and illuminates the darker side of love.

The hypnotic beat and catchy chorus make it an instant classic that resonates with audiences today.

15. “Elvira” by The Oak Ridge Boys

“Elvira” by The Oak Ridge Boys is a timeless classic released in 1981. It quickly rose to the top of the charts and became one of the most popular songs of that year, making it a great addition to the list of “Great Songs from 1981”.

The song is about a man fascinated by a woman named Elvira, whom he sees dancing at an open-air bar.

He describes her as beautiful and irresistible and says she has a hold on him like no other woman.

16. “Centerfold” by The J. Geils Band

“Centerfold” by The J. Geils Band is a classic 1981 song that has endured. The lyrics tell a story about longing for lost love and accepting change.

The catchy and upbeat melody, accompanied by the band’s energetic vocals, captures the essence of the 80s music scene.

17. “Who’s Crying Now” by Journey

“Who’s Crying Now” by Journey is a powerful ballad released in 1981, when the band was at the height of its success.

The song tells the story of a broken relationship and the struggle to move on and find closure. It speaks of heartache, regret, and, ultimately, acceptance.

Through its emotional lyrics and soaring melodies, “Who’s Crying Now” captures the universal themes of love and loss that still resonate with listeners today.

18. “Queen of Hearts” by Juice Newton

“Queen of Hearts” is a timeless classic by Juice Newton, released in 1981 as part of her album “Juice”.

This upbeat country-pop song captures the essence of love and how it can be both exhilarating and unpredictable.

The lyrics speak to a person who has been hurt but is now ready to retake a chance on love. It could also be interpreted as a playful warning not to toy with someone’s heart.

19. “Ghost Town” by Specials

“Ghost Town” by Specials is a powerful and iconic song that showcased Britain’s political and social climate in 1981.

The song delves into the issues of unemployment, economic decline, and racial tensions that plagued the country.

The music’s eerie and sad tone perfectly aligns with the lyrics, creating a haunting effect that still resonates today.

20. “Woman” by John Lennon

The song “Woman” by John Lennon is a heartfelt and emotional tribute to women’s power, strength, and resilience.

Released in 1981, it captured the hearts of many with its beautiful lyrics and soulful melody. Lennon’s words celebrate the nurturing, loving, and compassionate nature of women while also acknowledging their struggles and sacrifices.

The song also reminds us that underneath their soft exteriors, women possess immense strength that can weather any storm.


What big event happened in music in 1981?

In 1981, the music industry saw a major event that would forever change its landscape. This was the launch of MTV, the first 24-hour music channel. Music videos have been around since the 1960s but were mostly limited to airings on variety shows or late-night programs.

However, with the creation of MTV, music videos became crucial to promoting and marketing songs and artists. This was also a turning point for popular culture, as it brought together visual and musical elements in a new and exciting way.

The impact of this launch was immediate. It created a new platform for musicians to showcase their creativity and reach a wider audience. It also gave rise to iconic moments such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, which became an instant cultural phenomenon.

The success of MTV opened doors for countless artists and paved the way for music videos to become an integral part of the music industry for decades to come.

What was the biggest selling song of 1981?

The biggest-selling song of 1981 was “Bette Davis Eyes” by singer Kim Carnes. It held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine consecutive weeks, making it the longest-running number-one single of the year.

Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon wrote the song and first recorded it in 1974, but it wasn’t until Carnes’ rendition that it became a hit. Its success can be attributed to its catchy melody and mesmerizing lyrics, inspired by Hollywood actress Bette Davis and her signature eyes.

“Bette Davis Eyes” also won two Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1982, solidifying its place as the most popular song of 1981.

Who was the best singer in 1981?

In the year 1981, many talented singers made their mark in the music industry. However, one name that stands out prominently is Michael Jackson. His album “Thriller” had just been released and became an instant hit worldwide.

Jackson’s unique style of singing, combined with his mesmerizing dance moves, captured the hearts of millions of fans. He brought a new energy and creativity to the music scene with his songs like “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “The Girl is Mine”.

What began in 1981 that changed the way the music industry operated?

In 1981, a revolutionary innovation emerged that forever changed the landscape of the music industry. This was the launch of MTV, a music television channel that brought music videos into mainstream culture.

Before this, artists relied on traditional methods such as radio airplay and live performances to promote their music. However, with MTV’s widespread popularity and reach, musicians now had a new platform to showcase their creativity and connect with audiences worldwide through visual storytelling.

This marked a shift in how the industry operated as record labels began investing heavily in music videos, and artists focused more on creating visually appealing content for their songs.

Moreover, MTV’s success paved the way for other channels like VH1 and BET, leading to an even bigger impact on popular culture and ultimately shaping how we consume music today.

How did 80s music change the world?

The 1980s saw a significant shift in the music world, with various genres dominating the airwaves and influencing popular culture.

The emergence of new wave, post-punk, and electronic music challenged the traditional rock scene and ushered in a new era of artists, styles, and sounds.

This decade also marked the rise of iconic figures such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince, who made groundbreaking music and used their platforms to address social and political issues.

The widespread adoption of MTV brought music videos to the mainstream, creating a visual element that enhanced the impact of songs. Moreover, technological advances led to innovative production techniques and instruments that shaped the sound of 80s music.

This era’s music became synonymous with energy and excess with its catchy melodies, synthesizer-driven beats, and bold fashion choices.

It was an influential time that sparked cultural movements across various industries like fashion and film.

Thus, 80s music played a significant role in shaping society’s attitudes towards artistry, individuality, and self-expression.


We have explored some of the greatest songs from 1981 that continue to have a lasting impact on music lovers worldwide.

From iconic ballads to upbeat dance hits, these songs have endured and remain beloved by many.

Whether you are a classic rock, pop, or R&B fan, this list offers a diverse selection of music that captures the essence of 1981.

We hope this trip down memory lane has brought back fond memories and introduced you to new favorites.

Keep jamming out to these timeless tunes, and let them continue to inspire you for years to come!

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