Bridge Radio’s Top 10 High-Octane Rock Songs of the 80s
The 80s were a golden age for high-energy rock music, delivering some of the most iconic and unforgettable songs in the genre. Here is Bridge Radio’s list of the top 10 high-octane rock songs of the decade, counting down from number 10 to number 1.
10. Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills
This song features “rising sixth” intervals within a scale, inspired by a documentary about why Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” is one of the most popular songs ever recorded. The track is a high-energy romp that embodies the spirit of high-octane rock.
9. DEF Leppard – Pour Some Sugar On Me
Partially inspired by Run DMC/Aerosmith’s version of “Walk this way,” this song features a riff that Joe Elliott, the lead singer, came up with while taking a break from recording their album Hysteria.
8. George Thorogood – Bad to the Bone
A raucous mixture of Chicago blues and rock and roll, this song features Rolling Stones side-man Ian Stewart on the keyboards.
7. Rolling Stones – Start Me Up
Originally a reggae-rock track named “Never Stop,” this song was abandoned to the archives as the band couldn’t get it to work. The song is now a worldwide classic and is a staple of any Stones set.
6. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
This song addresses the hardships of vets returning home from Vietnam to taunts of “baby killers” and the reality of being unable to find work. Its opening line, “The first kick I took was when I hit the ground,” is perhaps one of the most misunderstood lines in modern times.
5. Neil Young – Rockin in the Free World
This track was written in February 1989 while on tour with his band. Widely known for its commentary on what was happening in the Middle East, the accompanying video to the song clarifies Young’s view of then-US President George W. Bush.
4. Guns N Roses – Welcome to the Jungle
This song is based on a riff Slash came up with in the basement of his mother’s house when the band was jamming together, trying to get something going and writing original material. The lyrics are about the feeling of arriving in a city fresh off the bus, and you don’t know where anything is.
3. Beastie Boys – Fight for your right to Party
Written by Adam Yauch and their friend Tommy Cushman, this tune poked fun at songs with titles such as ‘I wanna Rock,’ which were in the charts at the time. Mike D, a founding member of the band, commented, “There were tons of guys singing along to ‘Fight for Your Right’ who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them.”
2. Motörhead – Ace of Spades
For high-octane rock, it’s hard to beat this song. Once quoted as being sick to death of playing the song at every gig, Lemmy, the lead singer and bassist, said, “Ace of Spades has been really good to us, and it’s one of the best songs that I ever wrote. So I suppose you have to put up with it because everybody wants to hear it every night.”
1. ACDC – Back in Black
Written as a tribute to former singer Bon Scott, who died in February 1980, this song features Brian Johnson, who joined the band to replace Scott, on lead vocals. The lines “Nine lives, cats eyes, abusing everyone of them and running wild” may not sound as though they make much sense, but to his bandmates, they summed up their friend Bon Scott perfectly.
We hope you enjoy this selection of the best high-octane rock songs of the 80s.