The ‘80s is arguably one of the most iconic and greatest eras for music for generations to follow. The synth and drum machines, innovative vocalists, and the danceable beats are some of the few distinctive qualities of the decade. It was in the ’80s that rap and hip-hop as we know it today were popularized and it was a major night out to experience the electrifying atmosphere at nightclubs. 

Many songs of that era remain timeless classics, and if a catchy ’80s song plays, then many individuals, no matter their age, can’t help but sing along to it. From the beautiful ballads to the classic anthems and funk to the classic lighthearted fun of the ’80s, there has been an abundance of iconic songs written in this era that kids of all ages can easily recognize and know by heart. Here is a list of some of the most iconic ’80s songs kids are sure to know by heart.

Footloose
“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins was released in 1984. The track was written as the title song of the popular movie of the same name, and the music video starred the movie’s lead actors Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. The song was a massive hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming the title track of Loggins’s second studio album. The song embodied the vibrant spirit of the ’80s era, featuring heavy beats and an infectious chorus. Its simple, often repeated chorus — “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go footloose” — makes it instantly recognizable to children of all ages.

Billie Jean
Released in 1982, “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson is one of the biggest songs of all time, and it’s no surprise that kids of all ages are familiar with it. It was one of the many songs from Jackson’s sixth studio album, and it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for seven weeks. Although the song has a somewhat melancholy sound, its infectious beat and head-turning chorus have attracted not only kids, but also adults since its release. The song details Michael’s encounter with a stalker who claims he fathered her child, making it a memorable narrative for kids and adults alike.

Beat It
One of the standout songs of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, “Beat It” was released in 1982 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks. The song combined rock and pop elements and was notable for its memorable guitar riff and danceable beat. The song was highly influential in the ’80s and featured Eddie Van Halen as a lead guitar player. Its iconic music video, directed by John Landis, also won plaudits. The song’s chorus, featuring the line “just beat it,” can still attract kids of any age.

Living On a Prayer
Bon Jovi’s pop-rock anthem “Living On a Prayer” was released in 1986 and became an instant classic. The song climbed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was featured on the group’s 1986 album Slippery When Wet. The song featured singer Jon Bon Jovi’s distinctive vocals and a memorable guitar riff, making it instantly recognizable to kids of all ages. The song is a timeless classic and still receives plenty of air time on radio stations around the world.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody
Whitney Houston’s dance ballad “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was released in 1987 and rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks. This up-tempo track, which blends pop and dance elements, is sure to get any child of any age, moving and singing along. The chorus with its memorable synth-bass line and infectious “oh oh oh” vocals, has been stuck in people’s heads since the song’s release.

Take On Me
“Take on Me” by A-ha was released in 1984 and quickly became one of the decade’s most iconic songs. The song was an international success and rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks. The song was also noted for its ground-breaking music video that combined live action with rotoscoping animation and won several awards. The catchy chorus, featuring the main hook “Take on me, take me on” is sure to draw in the attention of any child.

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
Wham’s upbeat “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was released in 1984 and remains one of the group’s most memorable and timeless hits. The song proved a massive success, reaching number one on the UK singles chart and the top five on the Billboard Hot 100. The song features a prominent bass line, cheerful synths and upbeat vibes, while its simple chorus – “wake me up before you go-go” – is sure to get children singing along.

The ’80s is arguably one of the most influential and definitive music eras of all time and the songs in this list reflect the decade’s unique mix of styles, from pop and rock to funk and dance. Kids of all ages are sure to recognize and know these iconic ’80s songs by heart, and though the songs may have been released decades ago, the music still holds relevance to those young and old.