How to Pick Music for an '80s Party

One of the most fun types of themed parties is definitely the 1980s themed party. All the outrageous costumes you and your friends will wear should leave you with many hilarious memories. However, no 80's party is truly complete without a great playlist.


  1. Image titled Pick Music for an '80s Party Step 1
    Do your homework. The best 80's parties will have music that plays great lesser-known songs. When choosing a playlist, don't merely download an 80's party compilation and stick it on at the party, the songs will be overly familiar to everyone and show that you don't care enough to put some effort in.
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    Choose a mix of musical tempo. This is true of all great playlists, but especially an 80's one, an easy mistake to make is to choose 40 or 50 high energy songs. While they may all be great tracks, no-one will want to dance crazily for an entire night. Mix in some slower tunes, songs such as Spandau Ballet's "True" or Roxy Music's "More Than This" will compliment more fast paced songs such as Duran Duran's "Girls On Film" or The Cure's "The Walk".
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    Try to vary your genres. Whilst this is obviously dependent on your knowledge of 80's music, it can be easy to do. Not all 80's music was Madonna and Michael Jackson. If you're stuck Try to mix in some of the following genres
    • Soul - Luther Van Dross, James Ingram or Anita Baker are all great.
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    • Rock - Very wide ranging obviously, choose from more pop orientated rock like Genesis, Mr. Mister and Huey Lewis and The News to harder rock like Loverboy, Van Halen and Guns N' Roses to hair metal like Whitesnake, Autograph and Motley Crue. All are great examples of 80's rock.
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    • New Wave - An essential genre for any 80's party, again very wide ranging, Blondie, Gary Numan and The Stranglers are some great examples of different types of new wave music.
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    • New Romantic - Duran Duran, Simple Minds and Spandau Ballet are the hallmarks of this genre.
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  4. Image titled Pick Music for an '80s Party Step 4
    Choose some lesser known songs. Whilst the human league's "Don't you want me" is an undisputed 80's classic it can be a bit repetitive when you hear it at every 80's themed event. For example, try one of their other hits like "Keep Feeling Fascination" or "Love Action", both equally good if not better songs. This would also show a great knowledge of good 80's music. Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way" is another great under-used but extremely danceable song, play it!
  5. Image titled Pick Music for an '80s Party Step 5
    Listen to your music first. Don't solely go on chart position, for example Japan's "Ghosts" was their highest charting single, but whilst it's a good song, have you heard it!? It'll kill the party dead! "Quiet Life" is a lower charting song that would fit the confines of a party much better.
  6. Image titled Pick Music for an '80s Party Step 6
    Play ABC's "Look Of Love". This song was made for parties!!


  • When at the party enjoy your music, love the songs you've chosen and dance as long as possible, if you start criticizing your own choices, it will not be good for the party's atmosphere!
  • Once you've made your final list stick to it, resist the urge to meddle and "improve" it, your original list should go down fine, if possible make the final playlist as late as possible to stop any potential manifestation of "George Lucas syndrome".
  • Enjoy the music you choose, your friends will probably have similar interest and as long as the songs aren't too obscure or random, they'll have a good time.


  • Make sure your music is actually from the 80's. You don't want to commit the cardinal sin.
  • Don't play music solely because it has a great reputation, it has to belong at a party. Now is not the time to play "Master of Puppets"!

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Categories: Music | Theme Parties