100 Greatest Songs From 1986

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. Walk This Way - Run-D.M.C. & Aerosmith
  2. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) - Beastie Boys
  3. Kiss - Prince & The Revolution
  4. Livin' On a Prayer - Bon Jovi
  5. Nasty - Janet Jackson
  6. Push It - Salt-N-Pepa
  7. Papa Don't Preach - Madonna
  8. Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
  9. Take My Breath Away - Berlin
10. Don't Dream It's Over - Crowded House
11. The Final Countdown - Europe
12. What Have You Done For Me Lately? - Janet Jackson
13. (I Just) Died In Your Arms - Cutting Crew
14. Higher Love - Steve Winwood
15. The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby & The Range
16. Live To Tell - Madonna
17. Manic Monday - Bangles
18. Open Your Heart - Madonna
19. When I Think of You - Janet Jackson
20. In Your Eyes (Theme From "Say Anything") - Peter Gabriel
21. Land of Confusion - Genesis
22. Looking For a New Love - Jody Watley
23. Venus - Bananarama
24. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
25. I Can't Wait - Nu Shooz
26. True Colors - Cyndi Lauper
27. La Isla Bonita - Madonna
28. C'est La Vie - Robbie Nevil
29. Sweet Love - Anita Baker
30. Lean On Me - Club Nouveau
31. Rumors - Timex Social Club
32. Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order
33. Human - Human League
34. Why Can't This Be Love? - Van Halen
35. The Rain - Oran "Juice" Jones
36. Danger Zone - Kenny Loggins
37. Wanted Dead Or Alive - Bon Jovi
38. Graceland - Paul Simon
39. Don't Give Up - Peter Gabriel with Kate Bush
40. On My Own - Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald
41. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) - Aretha Franklin & George Michael
42. Shake You Down - Gregory Abbott
43. Harlem Shuffle - Rolling Stones
44. The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades - Timbuk 3
45. Keep Your Hands To Yourself - Georgia Satellites
46. Breakout - Swing Out Sister
47. Tuff Enuff - Fabulous Thunderbirds
48. You Keep Me Hangin' On - Kim Wilde
49. Let's Wait Awhile - Janet Jackson
50. If You Leave - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
51. Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone) - Glass Tiger
52. Everybody Have Fun Tonight - Wang Chung
53. The Lady In Red - Chris De Burgh
54. Invisible Touch - Genesis
55. There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) - Billy Ocean
56. Big Time - Peter Gabriel
57. Don't Get Me Wrong - Pretenders
58. Amanda - Boston
59. Dancing On the Ceiling - Lionel Richie
60. Love You Down - Ready For the World
61. Candy - Cameo
62. Brass Monkey - Beastie Boys
63. True Blue - Madonna
64. The Pleasure Principle - Janet Jackson
65. Only In My Dreams - Debbie Gibson
66. Notorious - Duran Duran
67. You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon
68. Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But the Rent - Gwen Guthrie
69. Glory Of Love (Theme From "The Karate Kid") - Peter Cetera
70. Somewhere Out There - Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram
71. Stuck With You - Huey Lewis & The News
72. Sweet Freedom - Michael McDonald
73. Throwing It All Away - Genesis
74. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight - Genesis
75. Missionary Man - Eurythmics
76. Dreams - Van Halen
77. Take Me Home Tonight - Eddie Money
78. Sweet Sixteen - Billy Idol
79. Wild Wild Life - Talking Heads
80. Caught Up In the Rapture - Anita Baker
81. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out - Smiths
82. Back In the High Life Again - Steve Winwood
83. Don't Leave Me This Way - Communards
84. Suburbia - Pet Shop Boys
85. It's Tricky - Run-D.M.C.
86. Stripped - Depeche Mode
87. No Sleep Till Brooklyn - Beastie Boys
88. Typical Male - Tina Turner
89. Like a Rock - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
90. Peter Gunn - Art of Noise & Duane Eddy
91. Control - Janet Jackson
92. Touch Me (I Want Your Body) - Samantha Fox
93. Love Can't Turn Around - Farley "Jackmaster" Funk
94. (Bang Zoom) Let's Go Go - Real Roxanne
95. Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble - DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
96. Who Wants To Live Forever? - Queen
97. Something So Strong - Crowded House
98. Fall On Me - R.E.M.
99. Dear God - XTC
100. Panic - Smiths
20 more worth mentioning.
101. Digging Your Scene - Blow Monkeys
102. Give Me the Reason - Luther Vandross
103. Bigmouth Strikes Again - Smiths
104. My Adidas - Run-D.M.C.
105. Blood and Roses - Smithereens
106. Red Rain - Peter Gabriel
107. Smoking Gun - Robert Cray
108. Eric B. Is President - Eric B. & Rakim
109. Welcome To the Boomtown - David & David
110. Ship of Fools - World Party
111. Behind the Wall of Sleep - Smithereens
112. Master of Puppets - Metallica
113. Move Your Body (House Music Anthem) - Marshall Jefferson
114. Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room) - Paul Lekakis
115. Hold It Now, Hit It - Beastie Boys
116. Holiday Rap - MC Miker & DJ Sven
117. Caravan of Love - Housemartins
118. Come Go With Me - Expose
119. Jack Your Body - Steve "Silk" Hurley
120. Angel of Death - Slayer
DigitalDreamDoor Editor Picks for 1986
An unheralded great record from 1986
Jeff's choice -
Greatest Single Re-entry:

* Stand By Me (#9 US in 1986, #1 UK, 3 weeks in 1987)- Ben E. King
Jeff's choice -
* Great Gosh A'Mighty (It's a Matter of Time) - Little Richard
Lew's choice -
* On The Beach - Chris Rea
Bruce's choice -
* Strokin' - Clarence Carter
Brett's choice -
* Didn't We Have A Nice Time (And All My Friends Are Here) - Tempest
Ryan's choice -
* Steaming Train - Talulah Gosh

Edited By:
Last Updated: 2014-05-15