7 hits from the 80s not featured on Stranger Things yet

Maybe these will be featured in an upcoming episode too.

Matthaeus Choo

Published: 10 June 2022, 12:10 PM

Since its first season back in 2016, Netflix series Stranger Things has made all things 80s hip again amongst the youths. 

It almost comes as no surprise that the series’ fourth season, which recently made its premiere in May, would cause a hit song from the 1980s to skyrocket to the top of today’s charts. 

Released in 1985, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill is one of the most beloved songs of its era, reaching the number 30 spot on the Billboard Top 100. Thirty-seven years later, the track is currently one of the most streamed songs on Spotify’s daily global chart with over 8.4 million streams. 

This isn’t the first time Stranger Things reintroduced an 80s pop hit to a brand new generation, having done the same for Journey, Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper in prior seasons. The series’ soundtrack has always been excellent, but they are still only the tip of the iceberg in terms of musical gems from that era. 

If you, like seemingly the rest of the world, have been hooked on Running Up That Hill as of late, check out these seven hits to bounce around with. And, who knows, maybe these will be featured in upcoming episodes too!

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love

Running Up That Hill may be by far Kate Bush’s most well-known hit even before Stranger Things, her single Hounds of Love from her incredible self-titled album is arguably even better. The song swaps the infectious and unforgettable synthesisers of Running Up That Hill for heart-pounding drums that demand attention to Bush’s enchanting voice and vulnerability. 

While Running Up That Hill paints an intimate conversation and longing for understanding between a couple long past the honeymoon phase, Hounds of Love returns to every relationship’s beginning, channelling all the confusion, joy and excitement that comes with it in an articulate, artsy and magnetic manner that few have surpassed since Kate Bush.

Both songs were released in an era when deeply-detailed love songs largely only found radio success if they were from men, with women songwriters relegated to cutesy or provocative songs. Music has come a long way since then and we have Kate Bush to thank for her key role in the transformation.

When Doves Cry - Prince

With the notable exception of Michael Jackson, few had as big of an influence on pop culture and music as Prince. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time and was a constant presence on the charts. There is perhaps no better sample of Prince’s influence and superstardom than his titanic hit from 1984, When Doves Cry

The song paints a frigid picture of an ailing romance seen through the lens of Prince’s iconic flamboyancy. 

The track is a staple of just about every playlist of 1980s hits for a reason. It popularised the Minneapolis sound, with its prominent use of synthesisers and blends of synth-pop and funk that would go on to define 1980s pop and consequently influence Stranger Things soundtrack and soundscape. 

Interestingly, the theme of gender-swapping found in Running Up That Hill is also present in Prince’s 1987 single If I Was Your Girlfriend

Physical - Olivia Newton-John

The song is, far away, the biggest hit of the 1980s, being on Billboard’s top spot for 11 weeks after it was first released in 1981. The provocative song is just about the polar opposite of the sensitivity of Running Up That Hill, with an accompanying music video that may seem tame today but was extremely controversial back then, leading to it being banned by several radio stations. 

Still, this did not stop the song’s international success. Physical was so huge that it, arguably, was single-handedly responsible for the wave of fitness videos that became synonymous with the era (even Disney was not spared from its popularity).

Space Age Love Song - A Flock of Seagulls

Known equally for their one-hit-wonder status as much as their crazy haircut, A Flock of Seagulls were one of the first waves of British musicians in the 1980s (which Kate Bush would be a part of) to invade American airwaves with their two hits I Ran and Space Age Love Song.

While I Ran remains a phenomenal song that continues to be must-plays in 1980s themed parties, the often-overlooked Space Age Love Song is a criminally underrated pop masterpiece. It’s a song that oozes atmosphere through walls of synthesisers and driving guitar lines that make it sound like, well, a love song from the far future. 

Space Age Love Song embodies everything that remains so engrossing about the 1980s, with melodies and far-out creativity that saw the future as hopeful and progressive, sharply contrasting the view we hold today.

Don’t You Want Me - The Human League

Yet another pop powerhouse from Britain, The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me was inescapable between 1981 and 1982, being in constant rotation in their home country and in the US. More than just their origins, the story of The Human League mirrors Kate Bush’s, with their early works leaning more towards being experimental and artsy before being shot up to stardom with a mega-hit.

At this present moment in music, however, The Human League’s influence is definitely more deeply felt than Bush’s. Don’t You Want Me is notable for being the first radio hit to use the Linn LM-1 drum machine, which became a signature sound heard throughout the 1980s. 

Today, traces of the song’s punchy beat and disco-influenced groove can still be heard from the music of pop stars today, most notably The Weeknd.

Video Killed The Radio Star - The Buggles

While not technically a 1980s hit (the song was released in 1979 but did chart in the 1980s), The Buggles’ Video Killed The Radio Star will perhaps forever be remembered for being a key part of what would revolutionise music as we know it. 

On Aug 1, 1981, MTV began its first broadcast by playing the music video for The Buggles’ hit. Although the future wouldn’t turn out to be as the song’s title suggests, MTV and music videos forever changed how we consumed music. No longer could we only hear music artists from the radio and only see who they were at concerts or on album covers. Music artists became larger-than-life personalities through music videos, able to reach out to broader masses unlike ever before. 

Video Killed The Radio Star channels all the anxiety and optimism of the new medium with its twinkling keys and melancholic lyrics feeling as potent as a heartfelt goodbye and as a start of an exciting new chapter. 

More than just its cheeky title, the song perfectly encapsulated why we would, perhaps, always hold the 1980s dear to our hearts, even if we never lived through them. From Stranger Things to beyond, there will always be something magical about the decade for all of us.

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