100 Greatest Songs From 1981

Criteria: Songs listed are from Rock 'n' Roll and related sub-genres. Rankings are based on initial and lasting popularity and on acclaim received from critics and musicians.

Note: Yearly song lists go by earliest 'release date' (Single, Album, or Country of first release). Not necessarily the year a song peaked in the U.S. charts.

1. I Love Rock 'n' Roll
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
2. Don't You Want Me?
Human League
3. Tainted Love
Soft Cell
4. Super Freak (Part 1)
Rick James
5. Physical
Olivia Newton-John
6. Don't Stop Believin'
7. In the Air Tonight
Phil Collins
8. Start Me Up
Rolling Stones
9. Our Lips Are Sealed
10. Jessie's Girl
Rick Springfield
11. Endless Love
Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
12. I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)
Hall & Oates
13. Under Pressure
Queen and David Bowie
14. Rock This Town
Stray Cats
15. Down Under
Men At Work
16. Centerfold
J. Geils Band
17. Waiting for a Girl Like You
18. Who Can It Be Now?
Men At Work
19. Let's Groove
Earth, Wind, & Fire
20. 867-5309/Jenny
Tommy Tutone
21. Genius of Love
Tom Tom Club
22. Just Can't Get Enough
Depeche Mode
23. Bette Davis Eyes
Kim Carnes
24. The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel
Grandmaster Flash
25. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
The Police
26. Urgent
27. Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White Winged Dove) (live)
Stevie Nicks
28. Ghost Town
29. Being With You
Smokey Robinson
30. Kids in America
Kim Wilde
31. Open Arms
32. Slow Hand
Pointer Sisters
33. Give It to Me Baby
Rick James
34. Get Down on It
Kool & The Gang
35. Tom Sawyer
36. Tempted
37. Girls on Film
Duran Duran
38. Working for the Weekend
39. Baby, Come to Me
Patti Austin and James Ingram
40. Freeze Frame
J. Geils Band
41. Never Too Much
Luther Vandross
42. You're the One for Me
43. Heartbeat
Taana Gardner
44. Mama Used to Say
45. She's a Bad Mama Jama (She's Built, She's Stacked)
Carl Carlton
46. Harden My Heart
47. Turn Your Love Around
George Benson
48. Lady (You Bring Me Up)
49. The Stroke
Billy Squier
50. Shake It Up
The Cars

51. Walking on Thin Ice
Yoko Ono
52. Never Say Never
Romeo Void
53. At This Moment
Billy Vera & The Beaters
54. We Got the Beat (I.R.S. version)
The Go-Gos
55. Mony Mony
Billy Idol
56. You Better, You Bet
The Who
57. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
58. Pull Up To The Bumper
Grace Jones
59. Stop Draggin' My Heart Around
Stevie Nicks w/ Tom Petty & Heartbreakers
60. How 'Bout Us?
61. Waiting on a Friend
Rolling Stones
62. Limelight
63. Controversy
64. Theme from "Chariots of Fire"
65. Stand and Deliver
Adam & The Ants
66. Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag
67. Love Action (I Believe In Love)
Human League
68. (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
Heaven 17
69. Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)
Haircut 100
70. A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)
Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio
71. Square Biz
Teena Marie
72. A Million Miles Away
73. I'm In Love
Evelyn "Champagne" King
74. Chant No. 1 (We Don't Need This Pressure On)
Spandau Ballet
75. Call Me
76. All Those Years Ago
George Harrison
77. The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)
Greg Kihn
78. It Must Be Love
79. Message of Love
80. Wordy Rappinghood
Tom Tom Club
81. Stray Cat Strut
Stray Cats
82. Da Da Da (I Don't Love You, You Don't Love Me, Aha Aha Aha)
83. Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)
Christopher Cross
84. O Superman (For Massenet)
Laurie Anderson
85. Boy from New York City
Manhattan Transfer
86. Abacab
87. Funky Sensation
Gwen McRae
88. Out Come the Freaks
Was (Not Was)
89. The Sweetest Girl
Scritti Politti
90. Ai No Corrida (I-No-Ko-Ree-Da)
Quincy Jones feat. Dune
91. Moody
92. Spirits In the Material World
The Police
93. Too Drunk To Fuck
Dead Kennedys
94. Gloria
95. T.V. Party
Black Flag
96. When She Was My Girl
Four Tops
97. Ceremony
New Order
98. To Hell With Poverty!
Gang of Four
99. Charlotte Sometimes
The Cure
100. This Little Girl
Gary "U.S." Bonds
20 more worth mentioning.
101. Just Between You and Me
April Wine
102. The Waiting
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
103. Hold On Loosely
.38 Special
104. Burnin' For You
Blue Oyster Cult
105. Who's Crying Now?
106. Planet Earth
Duran Duran
107. Magic Power
108. Young Turks
Rod Stewart
109. One of Us
110. Oh No
111. Private Eyes
Hall & Oates
112. Hold on Tight
Electric Light Orchestra
113. Reward (With a Capital Wow)
The Teardrop Explodes
114. Homosapien
Pete Shelley
115. Der Kommissar (The Commissioner)
116. Ghosts
117. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Soft Cell
118. Tears Are Not Enough
119. That's When I Reach For My Revolver
Mission of Burma
120. Der Mussolini
DigitalDreamDoor Editor Picks for 1981
An unheralded great record from 1981
Jeff's choice:
Greatest Single Re-entry:
* No Woman, No Cry (#8 UK)
Bob Marley & The Wailers
Jeff's choice:
* Fate
Chaka Kahn
Lew's choice:
* Trouble
Lindsey Buckingham
Bruce's choice:
* Hepno Beat
Dynamic Hepnotics
Brett's choice:
* Haunted Town
The Effigies
Ryan's choice:
* It's Obvious
Au Pairs
Adam's choice:
* The Gigolo
    1980   |   1982

Edited By:
Last Updated: 2014-01-26