1984 was a pivotal year in the music world. It was the year that turned Madonna from a NYC dance artist into one of the best-selling musical icons of all time. It was the year that Purple Rain turned Prince from being a superstar into a worldwide megastar. It was also the year Bruce Springsteen broke through to the mainstream with Born In The USA.
Here are the five best songs of 1984 (opinion, of course). Do you agree?
5. Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”
“What’s Love Got to Do With It” was the second release off of Turner’s Grammy-winning 1984 album Private Dancer and represents what some people consider the biggest comeback in music history. This huge hit spent three weeks at No. 1 in September of 1984. It was the first of many hits from Tina Turner’s comeback album.
As Sound on Sound notes, the 1984 hit single was written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, both of whom would end up penning future hits for Tina and other artists.
4. Bruce Springsteen, “Dancing in the Dark”
“Dancing in the Dark,” the first single from the 1984 album Born in the USA, spent four weeks at No. 2 during the summer of 1984. It marked the moment where Springsteen turned from critical darling to best-selling commercial megastar (with the critical acclaim still at an an all-time high). It’s Bruce’s most successful single of his entire career. Oddly, for a man who has sold more albums than almost any act in history, Bruce has never had a No. 1 single.
The music video for this 1984 mid-tempo song introduced us to Courteney Cox, who appears dancing with Springsteen at the end of the video. She would soon take a role in Family Ties and eventually star in one of the biggest sitcoms of all time, Friends. Springsteen would soon take his act from arenas to some of the biggest stadiums in the world, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
3. Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time”
Cyndi’s debut single “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was a huge hit in early 1984 that people really loved. “Time After Time,” the second single from She’s So Unusual, shocked many listeners who couldn’t believe Lauper topped herself both in quality and sales. “Time After Time,” a killer tear-jerking ballad about the fade of a relationship, spent two weeks at No. 1. in June of 1984. This song, along with “True Colors” (1986), are Lauper’s biggest hits to date.
According to Songfacts, Cyndi Lauper wrote this 1984 hit with Rob Hyman, the man with the scratchy (in a good way) voice that sings backup on this song and many other Lauper hits. It was the final song recorded for Lauper’s 1984 debut album.
2. Madonna, “Borderline”
Don’t let the No. 10 peak of one of Madonna’s best songs, “Borderline,” fool you. It is actually a bigger hit than many songs that made the top five in 1984 and other years. Many huge radio stations, like Chicago’s B96 and Z95 in the Midwest, didn’t jump on this 1984 hit until after it peaked, causing the song to stay in the top 40 for months and end up as Billboard‘s No. 35 song of the year according to Music Outfitters.
“Borderline” is one of the catchiest tunes ever written, and Madonna’s girlie-girl voice fits the song perfectly. The video, which features an interracial relationship (groundbreaking in 1984), made just as much of an impact as the song did.
1. Prince, “Purple Rain”
Prince’s “Purple Rain” was the first single from the 1984 soundtrack of the same name that didn’t hit No. 1, but it is arguably the most famous hit of Prince’s career. This 1984 hit song is a hard rock scorcher with tear-jerker lyrics, beautiful singing, and top notch instrumentation.
As Songfacts notes, during the Purple Rain World Tour in 1984, Prince’s band would play the intro to the song for about eight minutes while Prince changed costumes to complete the song.
[Featured Image by F. Carter Smith/AP Images]