In this post, we present the most iconic songs of the best rockers of the 80s in solo careers, as well as some of the most relevant rock groups of the 1980s. There are 12 names and several of their great songs, in case you don’t know them yet and want to start letting loose with the wind in your hair. Either way, if you’re a fan of this genre, you probably already know all of them, even if you don’t know who sings them. However, if for some reason you’ve never heard these masterpieces, we hope this brief list has planted the seed of rock in your hearts.
Furthermore, as we assume you came here exactly to listen to music, we’ve divided the article into three parts: with 80s rockers in Portuguese, in Spanish, and another with 80s rock groups in English. So, besides reading a short summary about the careers of these great names and knowing some titles from their repertoire, you’ll also be able to listen to them to discover your favorites or to remember how those powerful voices sounded in your youth. Because if something marked most of them, it was their vocal abilities, whether in the high or low ranges, trying to break glass and not giving the audience a rest in any show.
Because, if anything served the 80s rock, it was to confirm that this genre was almost entirely destined for jumps, sweat, and hair in the wind, but also for fun, extravagant hairstyles, and somewhat special ways of dressing and behaving. So, let’s start a new list of 80s groups a bit different from what you’re used to seeing.
Playlist of 80s Rockers in English, Portuguese and Spanish
As we explore the 80s rockers, we can’t forget the talented Portuguese and Brazilian artists, nor the Spanish and English language ones, who also made their mark in the decade. Here are some of the most prominent names.
80s Rockers and Rock Groups in English
John Michael Osbourne, better known as Ozzy Osbourne, or the guy with that eerie tendency to mistreat small animals in his shows (among other controversies), started in the 70s with the band Black Sabbath, with whom he released several studio albums. In his solo career, he also achieved great success, winning various awards and being considered the godfather of heavy metal. Additionally, he helped boost the careers of many bands, partly due to the Ozzfest festival (created by his wife Sharon).
Among his iconic songs are Crazy Train (no one doubts what it could be about), Suicide Solution (Ozzy always said it was a tribute to an AC/DC member), Bark At The Moon, or I Don’t Want To Change The World.
The Germans of Scorpions are another of the great rock groups of the 80s, not only in their country of origin but worldwide. They gained universal fame from the beginning in the 70s, touring Europe, reaching Japan, and of course, the United States. Their legacy and influence on many of the great later rockers are impressive. They remain active, displaying tireless talent.
Among their biggest hits, it’s impossible not to mention Rock You Like a Hurricane or Winds Of Change (a powerful ballad they even recorded in Russian, as it talks, among other things, about the political situation of the time), Still Loving You (another powerful ballad), Alien Nation, or Send Me An Angel.
Van Halen is a glam metal band, a subgenre of rock, that ticks all the boxes of the 80s rockers we’ve mentioned several times: flowing hair, electric guitars, and super-powerful voices. In fact, their fame is partly due to the skill of guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Of course, the 80s rock bands set the foundation for what the genre would become.
Among their masterpieces are Eruption, an instrumental track that brought innovation to guitar solos, Jump, Why Can’t This Be Love?, or Hot For Teacher.
The band led by Jon Bon Jovi debuted in 1984 and quickly became known worldwide. And it’s not hard to understand why. The guys from New Jersey are the kind of band that appeals to everyone, whether they’re rock fans or not. Talented, charismatic, and with big hits, these are the necessary ingredients to achieve their fame. Their series of awards and recognitions prove it.
Among their musical anthems, we can’t fail to mention You Give Love a Bad Name (dedicated to Jon’s partner at the time, Diane Lane), Livin’ on a Prayer (there’s no human on Earth who hasn’t sung it out loud like they did, using playback in a live show and almost getting stoned), Always, or It’s My Life.
Guns ‘N’ Roses
It’s hard to summarize in a few words the careers of all these 80s rock bands that are icons, influences for other bands, with incredible discographies, and many awards and recognitions on their resume. The band led by Axl Rose has been active since the beginning and maintains their style and energy. They’re the only band in history with songs from different eras that have surpassed the one billion streams mark on streaming platforms.
And as proof of that, we have Sweet Child o’ Mine (they say it was written in 5 minutes… and it will be forever remembered, things like that happen), Patience, November Rain (one of the band’s longest songs, as sad as it gets), or Welcome To The Jungle.
Like the other bands we’ve talked about, AC/DC has the characteristic traits of rock, it’s a spectacle on stage, and they have a guitarist who could be considered a guitar god: Angus Young, who shows up dressed as if going to school. The band almost fell apart when their vocalist Bon Scott passed away in 1980, but Brian Johnson took over the position and, although it’s impossible to replace Bon, he lived up to it, defining a whole decade with new songs. And, despite ups and downs, they’ve always been at the top, giving it their all and showing they’re an authority in rock.
Among their most important songs are Highway to Hell, Thunderstruck, Back in Black, or You Shook Me All Night Long.
80s Rockers and Rock Bands in Spanish
The Galicians realized that calling themselves Mari Cruz Soriano Y Los Que Afinan Su Piano wasn’t very commercial. It was a difficult name to remember or would end up being something like MCSYLQASP, which also didn’t sound good. Much better, Siniestro Total, of course.
They started in the 80s flirting with punk and evolved into purer rock, although they experimented with other genres like blues. However, they always maintained their irreverent style and frankness. Surely, all of you will remember Ayatollah! (controversies aside), Bailaré Sobre Tu Tumba (declaration of love par excellence), Miña Terra Gallega (a version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama), or Algo Huele Mal En Dinamarca.
José María Sanz Beltrán, better known as Loquillo (he’s been showing a bit of craziness on stage lately), was on his way to becoming a basketball player but chose music. First as Loquillo y Los Intocables, then as Loquillo y Los Trogloditas, and finally just Loquillo, because after all, who’s the visible face? Just like that.
That they were one of the most renowned rock groups of the 80s is a fact, with famous songs like Feo, Fuerte Y Formal, Cadillac Solitario, El Rompeolas, or Rey Del Glam (a version of that lady whose name I can’t remember, who is now dedicated to denying pandemics).
Burning, the representatives of “macarra” rock and even precursors to the spirit of the Movida Madrileña. They enjoyed great success in the 80s and 90s, although they remained active until 2019.
Although they started singing in English, they’re one of the groups that promoted and normalized the use of Spanish in rock. Among their most famous songs are Qué Hace Una Chica Como Tú En Un Sitio Como Este (which was part of the soundtrack of the homonymous film), Esto Es Un Atraco, Una Noche Sin Ti (a tribute to guitarist Pepe Risi), or No Mires Atrás.
If we were asked to mention a representative of 80s rock, it’s likely that the first name that would come to mind is Rosendo. And rightfully so. At 18, he joined the band Fresa (later Ñu), and after leaving the group, he founded Leño (someone rejected his songs saying they were “a log” …). Leño debuted as an opening act for Asfalto and then Rosendo triumphed in his solo career. The phenomenon was unstoppable.
Maneras De Vivir (with Leño), Agradecido, Masculino Singular, or ¡Qué desilusión! are part of the numerous songs that any rocker (and even those who aren’t so rocker) knows and has surely sung aloud at some point.
The Madrid-based Barón Rojo (nickname given to the famous German aviator who stood out in World War I) are the main representatives of Spanish heavy metal and hard rock. After a 40-year musical career that began in the 80s, the band says goodbye with a final tribute concert to be held at the end of 2021.
Surely, at this show, there will be no shortage of Los Rockeros Van Al Infierno, Resistiré (no, don’t worry, for those who don’t know, it’s not the lockdown song), Casi Me Mato, or Hijos De Caín, some of the most iconic tracks from the band that we’ll always remember.
Obús (whom we talked about when reviewing the 1981 song in Spanish) started as an opening act for Barón Rojo, but they can be proud of having nothing to envy their colleagues. They stood out for their desire to reach the audience and the connection they managed to establish with them.
Despite the ups and downs, like when vocalist Fortu formed the well-known band Saratoga (which wasn’t very successful compared to their earlier work), Obús never gave up. Not even during the period when heavy metal was somewhat despised.
And who hasn’t sung Va A Estallar El Obús? Or Vamos Muy Bien, Que Te Jodan, Pesadilla Nuclear…
80s Rockers and Rock Bands in Portuguese
Xutos & Pontapés
In the Portuguese rock scene, Xutos & Pontapés is a legend. Founded in 1978, the band reached its peak in the 80s with a series of hits that still resonate in the hearts of fans. Songs like Contentores, A Minha Casinha, and Homem do Leme became anthems for a whole generation. Their energy and stage presence made them one of the most beloved bands in Portugal.
Brazil also had its share of success in the world of 80s rock. Titãs are a notable example. The Brazilian band formed in 1982 merged various styles in their music, including rock, new wave, and punk. Their eponymous debut album, released in 1984, made a big impact and opened the doors to fame. Songs like Sonífera Ilha, Marvin, and Go Back became favorites among the Brazilian audience and beyond.
Paralamas do Sucesso
Another name that marked the Brazilian music scene in the 80s is Paralamas do Sucesso. The band was formed in 1982 and quickly won the affection of fans with their distinctive blend of rock, ska, and reggae. Their album Selvagem?, released in 1986, catapulted them to fame and introduced songs like Alagados, Lanterna dos Afogados, and Meu Erro. Their catchy music and unique style made them a reference in Brazilian rock of the decade.
In the Portuguese rock scene, it’s also worth mentioning Rádio Táxi. Although the band was formed in the late 70s, it was in the 80s that they reached their peak. Their album Décimo Andar (1982) included hits like Coisas de Casal and Um Amor de Verão, which became favorites among the Portuguese audience. The band combined elements of rock, pop, and new wave in their music, leaving a lasting mark on the musical history of Portugal.
These are just a few examples of the 80s rockers and rock bands in Portuguese and Brazilian that left an indelible mark on the music scene. Their songs continue to be listened to and appreciated by fans of all ages, and their legacy endures in the history of rock in these countries.
(Madrid, 1988). Azahara P. Navas has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the Complutense University of Madrid and currently works as a language translator with knowledge of English, French, German and Greek.