The 10 Most Terrifyingly Inspirational '80s Songs

The 10 Most Terrifyingly Inspirational '80s Songs

Great music can inspire us to do anything: love one another, protest an unjust war, make sweet, sweet love to a large black man in the 1970s.

But in the '80s there were a series of songs that inspired us to kick ass in every way possible. None inspired more ass kicking than these.

"The Final Countdown" by Europe

The synthesizer riff in this 1986 track is as fist-pumping as music gets without involving an actual instrument. We're not clear on what he's counting down to, but somebody's about to get their ass kicked. If we were wrestlers and it was 1986 again, we'd totally have this as our intro music.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
The song takes a sharp decline after the chorus, when it slips from the vaguely threatening line "It's the final countdown!" into sci-fi-gibberish wails like "we're heading for Venus, and still we'll stand tall!"

"The Final Countdown" needs some serious trimming. If a remix were to come out that consists only of that synthesizer riff and the cry of "It's the final countdown!," it would doubtlessly rank higher on this list. But, hey, it's European. Just be grateful it's not about scat fetishes and exceedingly thin cigarettes.

Also, let's face it. That distinctly '80s synthesizer sound didn't exactly age well. Those too young to remember the Cold War, in fact, tend to laugh upon hearing it.

Best Things to Do While Listening:
Any activity which may seem like a good idea initially, but soon becomes completely ridiculous. May we suggest Ultimate Frisbee, riding a pocket bike or watching the second season of Lost.

"Wanted (Dead or Alive)" by Bon Jovi

This song was written in that small window of the '80s when a blue collar steelworker from New Jersey with a terminal case of hockey hair could write songs about being a cowboy and be taken seriously. It was a very small window; it really only encased this one song. When he tried to repeat its success with "Blaze of Glory," the whole thing became laughable (when Bon Jovi insists that he is a "Colt in your stable," a lyric which may be the most unintentionally gay thing anybody ever said, ever, throughout time).

Still, in "Wanted" when he throws up his fist and says he's seen a million faces and rocked them all, we believe him. We want to spend the rest of our lives rocking faces.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
The song is a bipolar narrative, with Bon Jovi emotionally wandering from the depths of the deepest stone-washed denim blues to the highest peak of cock-rocker euphoria. One minute he's lamenting "Sometimes you tell the day/By the bottle that you drink/And times when you're all alone all you do is think." Then almost immediately extolling that he s rocked all those aforementioned faces.

Incidentally, if you have had your face rocked at any point by Bon Jovi, please seek prompt medical attention. It is highly probable you have contracted something doctors are referring to as "super-chlamydia."

Best Things to Do While Listening:
This is a song best suited for strapping on a six-shooter or saddling up a motorcycle. Anything, really, that one could conceivably do to let others know that you have a large penis and are not afraid to use it.

"Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen

Originally, Sylvester Stallone wanted the rights to use this as the official theme for Rocky III, but Freddy Mercury refused to grant him permission. You read correctly. Freddy Mercury opposed Sylvester Stallone while Sly was currently filming a movie about what happens to people that oppose him (hint: they are beaten savagely until they are no more than 200-pound sacks of meat pudding and regret.)

To add insult to injury, three years later Queen would give rights to their song "One Vision" to the movie Iron Eagle. This was a goofy flying movie in which Louis Gossett Jr. wanders around a flight deck for 96 minutes before crapping in a bucket and asking to go home. In response, Sylvester Stallone made Rocky IV, in which he beats Communism half to death with his bare hands.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
Play it backwards. It is widely accepted that when played backwards the chorus of "Another One Bites the Dust," clearly states "It's fun to smoke marijuana." This is undoubtedly a superior lyric, as it mirrors nicely everything the band stands for by pairing base criminality with the proper mannerisms of an effete Englishman.

Best Things to Do While Listening:
Ideally, you should be celebrating some kind of sporting victory. Or, maybe if you get in a lot of fistfights, you could have one of your cohorts play this as they haul the other guy away, bleeding.

"Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar

Under the surface, the majority of the songs on this list are entirely about cock and the various ways it is great to have one; the fun of swinging it about, waggling it in the face of opposition; or simply writing songs about it while playing phallic guitars.

As such, we feel the need to represent the ladies a bit, here. "Love is a Battlefield" is an atmospheric pop song featuring lyrics comparing the intricacies of love to a battle. In case the subtleties of love and conflict might escape you. The video hammered the message home by manifesting these metaphors as a bunch of whores dance-fighting a Raul Julia look-alike while shaking their boobs in a menacing fashion.

The boob-menacing occurs about 3 minutes in.

"Love is a Battlefield" quickly became the unofficial anthem for the unappreciated woman of the '80s. This was "cock rock" for the female set. On any given night in 1984, one could find a few women on a girl's night out, blockaded behind a wall of hair and empty bottles of Bartles & Jaymes, drunkenly belting out "We are strong!" while adjusting their fluorescent ankle-warmers.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
There's a lull in the whole Girl Power battle cry with the lines, "But, I'm trapped by your love, and I'm chained to your side ..." Though, maybe she's imagining herself chained to Jabba the Hutt's side, and is about to use the chain to choke his fat neck.

Best Things to Do While Listening:
Stand up to the oppressive patriarchal regime, learn to respect yourself and your body, or just Jazzercise.

"Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler

This song debuted in 1984 on the Footloose soundtrack, and called for a resurgence of heroic chivalry among men of the era. Bonnie Tyler cried out in futility and frustration, lamenting "Where have all the good men gone, and where are all the gods?" She begged for rescue, singing that she was "Holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night!"

In response to this heart-wrenching plea for masculinity, men of the '80s commenced to wear white loafers without socks, purchased hair mousse in bulk and turned up their Wham! albums until Bonnie Tyler's screams for help were drowned out.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
It is all well and good to insist that your men stop leaving the cap off of your mascara. But in all fairness to the men of the '80s, Bonnie went on to specify that the man she wanted was "a white knight on a fiery steed," who was "racing with the thunder and rising with the heat," from a place "up where the mountains meet the heavens above, out where the lightning splits the sea." Going on these rough descriptions, the only men capable of banging Bonnie Tyler were the Justice League of America.

Best Things to Do While Listening:
This song inspired young women not to settle for second best, as well as motivating young men to be at their most grand and heroic. Appropriate actions to take would be forging swords, sword-fighting or swooning while watching your man sword-fight. If these actions are beyond you, may we recommend purchasing a Wham! album and turning it up. Ms. Tyler will shut up eventually.

"Don t Stop Believing" by Journey

There are two kinds of people in this world: People who love Journey ironically and people who love Journey genuinely. People who love Journey ironically are mostly leather-clad hipsters in second-hand vintage T-shirts, smoking cloves and hanging with strung-out androgynous she-boys outside used record stores. As for people who love Journey genuinely, they do so because of this song. Say what you will about Steve Perry (For example: He looks like Paris Hilton with Down Syndrome) but the man could sing.

"Don t Stop Believing" is in many ways the ultimate Journey song, packed to the gills with the staples of '80s rock. It includes vague references to singing in bars, drinking, cheap perfume, taking your chances, livin' in the city, romance at midnight, a jaded city boy, a lonely small-town girl, and a mysterious train whose destination, one assumes, is rock 'n' roll.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
The only thing that would more fully encompass the '80s music experience would be an awkward rap breakdown where Steve Perry discusses his Adidas in depth while repeating the word "rap" and reeling off strings of gibberish. Something like, "rap rap rappity pap a dap, dang, my Adidas."

OK, so maybe that wouldn't make it better necessarily, but we'd still like to hear it.

Best Things to Do While Listening:
Journey was all about the troubles of ennui-stricken city youth in the 1980s, and as such, this song is best played while enacting any of that generation's primary concerns: dancing about in a vaguely industrial area; following your dreams to the big city; standing up to your father; or bedazzling your name on the back of a denim jacket.

"Jukebox Hero" by Foreigner

"Jukebox Hero" is a simple tale about a down-to-earth boy from the Midwest learning how to play the guitar and thereafter eternally rocking until the end of time. There were only two types of people in the 1980s: teenage boys from the bible belt who secretly yearned to rock, and small-town girls with big dreams that their parents just didn t understand.

The tale is told in the classical Shakespearean fashion, accentuating the end-sentence nouns by screaming them in a shattering falsetto, and marking changes in meter by thrusting the pelvis into the listener s face as fast and as hard as possible.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
Ramp it up. If hearing "just one guitar" while standing outside a venue in the pouring rain can cause an innocent farm boy to mutate into a vulgar, screeching, musical demi-god, imagine hearing 17 guitars on top of a mountain in a thunderstorm! You could instantaneously transform altar boys all across the heartland into 80-foot tall rock ogres, shredding on nuclear guitars and ejaculating fiery magma into the horrified faces of America s enemies. Serve your country, Foreigner. Give a little back for once.

Best Things to Do While Listening:
If you have the resources, we recommend piloting a guitar-shaped spaceship to the furthest reaches of our galaxy. Once there, you should lasso a passing comet with your amp cord and ride it like a rocketing, icy steed into the heart of the nearest star. With any luck, this may be just awesome enough to explode the star before its ambient heat can disintegrate you.

"Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins

Yes, somehow Kenny Loggins, the man who co-sang "Danny s Song" plea-bargained a temporary pair of testicles and stepped up to be a man for one brief, shining moment in 1986. He wrote a song tailor-made for shadow boxing in the midst of explosions on a rainy night, while standing on a mountain top and screaming to the heavens.

"Danger Zone" is comprised of entirely guitar riffs and vague references to machines and speed. He did not settle for a lesser concept. He put you on a highway: the fastest, straightest route possible directly to an entire zone that is nothing but danger. There was no "Parkway to the Naughty Territories," or "Off Ramp to Risky Town," or even "Scenic Route Through Fistfight County."

The Only Way It could Be Better:
It would help if we could have listened to it without ever knowing who this "Kenny Loggins" guy was, and without ever seeing his '80s spiked hair and beard in action. Also, it's the theme song for one of the most homo-erotic films ever committed to celluloid, so there's that.

As is the case for all deals bartered with the devil, there was a catch, and poor Loggins' balls were not to last. He quickly returned to pastels and songs about love-conquering stuff. Thus were his few glorious, fleeting moments as a male rendered all but a memory, leaving Loggins to live to this day in silent misery amidst the many fond remembrances of what having a penis felt like.

Best Things to Do While Listening:
Aside from the obvious piloting of jets with macho irreverence, "Danger Zone's" prominent themes of transport and peril would also be suitable to listen to while riding literally anything with a reckless disregard for your personal safety. Try racing a horse down a busy freeway, for example, or driving a jet ski through a parking garage.

"You re the Best" by Joe Esposito

Joe Esposito is not a man that likes to fuck around. He didn t sit around in his Ford Festiva in the Kmart parking lot trying to think up a bunch of metaphors for kicking your soul in the ass and making you believe you re better than everybody. He just straight up said "You re the best! Around!" And by the way, "Nothing's gonna ever keep you down!"

There are no lyrics in this song that aren t about how completely, utterly, and thoroughly, fucking awesome you are at everything from fighting to gambling to sports.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
This song could only inspire you to kick more ass if, periodically, the music would stop for a second while Esposito screamed swear words at the top of his lungs, and the title was amended to "You re The Best (Motherfucker!)."

Best Things to Do While Listening:
It is completely acceptable to do any damn thing you want to this song. Whatever it is you re about to do, Joe Esposito took seven weeks out of his life back in the '80s to write a little ditty about just how badass you are at it.

"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor

"Eye of the Tiger" was written for the movie Rocky III at the request of Sylvester Stallone after Queen had denied him usage rights to "Another One Bites the Dust." This means "Eye of the Tiger" was designed specifically, from start to finish, to function as the inspirational fight montage music in what film scholars widely regard as the most badass boxing movie ever.

As a consequence of this, it has been universally appropriated as the definitive anthem of the triumphant underdog. Its opening chords have entered the cultural subconscious as the theme music for facing impossible odds. When anything insurmountable occurs, from massive corporate takeovers to pie-eating contests, "Eye of the Tiger" may be faintly heard, wafting distantly in the wind. If life is Goliath, "Eye of the Tiger" is its David.

The Only Way It Could Be Better:
Tone it down a little, for the love of god! Nearly everything is unbelievably dangerous while listening to "Eye of the Tiger." Here s a little exercise that illustrates perfectly what this song is capable of. Think of the weakest, most pedestrian chore you can do, for example, doing laundry. Now play "Eye of the Tiger" in the background. If, by the end of that spin cycle you haven t managed to somehow kill a grizzly bear with fabric sheets or make sweet love to every woman within 40 yards, then you need to see a coroner because you apparently died the night before.

As proof, check the video. The band absolutely throws down the gauntlet here, saying, "Witness that this song be badass even if you walk down the street in skin-tight jeans and a beret."

Best Things to Do While Listening:
"Eye of the Tiger" will accept no less than lacing up boxing gloves, buckling on a sword, or rolling on a condom from you. We wouldn t recommend listening to it if you re not prepared to use any of those things, as odds dictate that by the chorus you ll be knee deep in either blood or poontang.

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