Quiz: Do You Know the Opening Lyrics For These '80s Songs?: HowStuffWorks
Do You Know the Opening Lyrics For These '80s Songs?
By: Maria Trimarchi
7 Min Quiz
About This Quiz
Are you guilty of singing, "Money for nothin’ and chips for free ..."? Or, "It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not ..."? If your knowledge of '80s songs is good, then you know those are some woefully misheard lyrics for Dire Straits and Bon Jovi, respectively -- but to be truly awesome at '80s lyrics, do you know the correct words? So, pull out your legwarmers, sunglasses, or Kangol hat and see if you can figure out which lyric matches what popular song of the decade.
"Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world ..."
"Just a city boy," sings Steve Perry, "born and raised in South Detroit." (He wasn't, but, then, no one ever said the song was autobiographical.) It was never a No. 1 hit on the charts -- it only went No. 9, but was the most downloaded song of all-time until 2014 when Imagine Dragons' song "Radioactive" knocked it out of position.
"She's got a smile that, it seems to me, reminds me of childhood memories ..."
This power ballad is punctuated not only with Slash's guitar playing, but the poetry of Axl Rose. "Sweet Child O' Mine," which turned out to be the group's only No. 1 hit in the U.S., was written about Rose's then-girlfriend -- the pair married in 1990, but only lasted a month.
"She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene. I said don't mind, but what do you mean I am the one?"
Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" single earned him two of the eight Grammys he won in 1984. But behind the scenes, things were a little different. Not only is it rumored that Quincy Jones didn't like the song, he didn't even want it to be included on the "Thriller" album. In the end, it was -- and became the song that Jackson first moonwalked to on "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever".
"I made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through ... Didn't know how lost I was until I found you ..."
Wearing a wedding dress accessorized with a belt buckle reading, "Boy Toy," Madonna introduced us to her song "Like a Virgin" in September 1984 when she sang it for the very first time at the MTV Video Music Awards. It went on to become Madonna's first No. 1 hit in the U.S.
"Been working so hard, I'm punching my card. Eight hours for what?"
"Footloose" is one of two singles from the "Footloose" soundtrack to hit No. 1. Although it's one of the most recognizable Kenny Loggins songs, Kevin Bacon, who played the lead, Ren, in the movie, has said he came to dislike hearing it -- and even has paid DJs at parties not to play it. Aww, Kevin, we "thought this was a party ... LET'S DANCE!"
"I guess I should've known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn't last ..."
"Little Red Corvette" was the first Prince song to reach the Top 10 in the U.S. when it peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983. The song was inspired by a car, but not a Corvette -- Prince wrote its lyrics while dozing in Lisa Coleman's (of Wendy and Lisa) Edsel, which, btw, was pink.
"You wake up late for school, man, you don't wanna go You ask your mom, Please? but she still says no ..."
Kick it! It was released as the fourth single from their debut album, "Licensed to Ill," but "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)," according to the Beastie Boys, began as a song goofing on how silly rock songs can be.
"We are young, heartache to heartache we stand ... no promises, no demands ..."
It was written as a slow jam, but when Pat Benatar recorded "Love Is a Battlefield" she gave it a faster tempo -- and the uptempo single went on to hit the top of Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, it also hit No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1984, Benatar won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
"It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from goin' under ..."
Public Enemy's Chuck D called 1982's "The Message" a "knock out of the park." And it was -- it was a commercial success for Flash and the Five, peaking at No. 4 on Billboard's R&B-singles chart, and it also laid the groundwork for rap artists including Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim and Run-DMC.
"Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition, yawn and stretch and try to come to life ..."
"9 to 5" was originally written and performed by Dolly Parton for the movie of the same name -- and was released in 1980, the same year as the film. The office worker-anthem won Parton four Grammy Award nominations and two wins, Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance, Female (and she was also nominated for an Academy Award for her movie performance).
"Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to? You give me somethin' I can hold on to ..."
Tommy Tutone's, which for those keeping score is the name of the band and not the name of a solo artist, "867-5309" peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. It was written by songwriter Alex Call, who previously had been the lead singer in a band called Clover, with Huey Lewis, of Huey Lewis and The News, on harmonica and John McFee of the Doobie Brothers on guitar.
"We both lie silently still in the dead of the night. Although we both lie close together, we feel miles apart inside ..."
"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" was the third single released off Poison's 1988 album, "Open Up and Say ... Ahh!" -- and it went on to become the band's only No. 1 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Covered by many other artists, Bret Michaels, who wrote the power ballad, recorded it a second time as a duet with Loretta Lynn in 2013.
"That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes and aeroplanes, and Lenny Bruce is not afraid."
"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," according to R.E.M., was supposed to be a song called, "Bad Day," with lyrics focused more on the Reagan administration than the stream-of-consciousness lyrics we know. It appeared on the band's 1987 album, "Document" (as well as on a few compilations), and despite how popular it may seem today, it only reached No. 69 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in the day.
"Risin' up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances ..."
Unlike the first two "Rocky" movies which used "Gonna Fly Now," which is instrumental, as their theme, "Rocky III" changed things up. In fact, it wasn't supposed to be Survivor's now-classic song, "Eye of the Tiger" -- Sylvester Stallone wanted to use "Another One Bites the Dust," but couldn't get permission from Queen. Although not first choice, "Eye of the Tiger" went on to top the charts in 1982, and won a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group With Vocal.
"You put the boom-boom into my heart, you send my soul sky high when your lovin' starts ..."
The Motown-inspired, bubblegum-pop song "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" was written and produced by George Michael and performed by Michael and Andrew Ridgeley as Wham! in 1984. It was the duo's breakthrough song on the U.S. charts, where it hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100.
"First when there's nothing but a slow glowing dream, that your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind ..."
It's the title song to the move, "Flashdance," and although both the song and the film use the word, "flashdance" never actually appears as a lyric. It's also the song that sparked the legwarmer trend of the early '80s. Irene Cara won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, for her performance, in 1983.
"I walk along the avenue I never thought I'd meet a girl like you."
It's possible that the hair was more popular than the band's biggest U.S. hit, even though A Flock of Seagulls' 1982 release "I Ran" hit the Top 10 on more than one U.S. chart. The music video for "I Ran" had considerable play on MTV, and is associated with the song's popularity.
"You've gone too far this time, and I'm dancing on the valentine ..."
"Why-y-y-y-yyyy ..." Although their label didn't think "The Reflex" would be a big hit, the song went on to become Duran Duran's most successful single. The single was remixed by Nile Rodgers of Chic fame, and went on to become the group's first No. 1 U.S. hit.
"Six o'clock already I was just in the middle of a dream ..."
The Bangles made it a hit, but "Manic Monday" was written by Prince -- yes, THE Prince who gave us "Purple Rain". It turned out to be the first hit for the band, hitting No. 2 on the U.S. charts.
"We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind ..."
"The Safety Dance" had a slow takeoff when it was released in the U.S. in 1983 -- and not because its music video featured Punch and Judy and a Maypole. It went on to hit No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play.
"I saw him dancing there by the record machine I knew he must have been about seventeen ..."
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts weren't the first to perform "I Love Rock 'n Roll" -- the Joan Jett version is actually a cover, written and first recorded by the Arrows in 1975. Jett originally recorded the song in 1979, then with Steve Jones and Paul Cook who were members of the Sex Pistols. In 1981, she re-recorded it with the Blackhearts, and "I Love Rock 'n Roll' went on to become a No. 1 hit.
"I was walking down a one way street, just a-lookin' for someone to meet, one woman who was looking for a man ..."
"Do You Believe In Love?" was written at the time Huey Lewis and Sean Hopper were part of Clover, before Huey Lewis & the News was formed. It was written by producer Mutt Lange, and was released on Huey Lewis & the News' second studio album, "Picture This" -- and it was a breakout hit for the band.
"I come home in the morning light, my mother says when you gonna live your life right ..."
Although Cyndi Lauper wrote or co-wrote many of her songs, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" is actually a cover, first recorded in 1979 by Robert Hazard, who also wrote it. The music video for the song featured not only Cyndi Lauper, but also wrestler Captain Lou Albano, who played Lauper's father, and Lauper's real-life mother, who played, well, her mother -- and it was the video to win the first award for Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.
"There's a boy I know, he's the one I dream of, looks into my eyes, takes me to the clouds above ..."
"How Will I Know" was Whitney Houston's second No. 1 single in the U.S. -- but it was written for Janet Jackson, originally. After two weeks at No. 1, Mr. Mister's "Kyrie" knocked it out of position.
"Born down in a dead man's town, the first kick I took was when I hit the ground ..."
Written and performed by Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the U.S.A." has been co-opted by several politicians to energize their campaign despite its lyrics about the deleterious effects of the Vietnam War on working-class Americans, especially on those returning from the war. Springsteen would rework and record the song a few times until it was released on the "Born in the U.S.A." album in 1984 -- where it then went on to stardom.
"Shot through the heart and you're to blame ..."
It was the first single released from Bon Jovi's third album, "Slippery When Wet," but "You Give Love a Bad Name" was originally written for Bonnie Tyler -- although with a different title ("If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" and lyrics. After the music video began playing on MTV, the single went to No. 1 on the U.S. charts, and Bon Jovi went from being the opening band for .38 Special to headlining their own tour.
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me, mirror, what is wrong?"
"Me Myself and I" was De La Soul's only No. 1 single in the U.S. -- it peaked on both the U.S. R&B chart and Dance Club Songs chart. Found on the group's debut album, "3 Feet High and Rising," you'll hear samples from "(Not Just) Knee Deep" by Funkadelic, "Funky Worm" by the Ohio Players, and "The Original Human Beatbox" by Doug E. Fresh, to name just a few.
"Moving forward using all my breath, making love to you was never second best. I saw the world crashing all around your face, never really knowing it was always mesh and lace ..."
There are several covers, including by Jason Mraz, Bowling for Soup and Nouvelle Vague, but it's Modern English's 1982 recording of "I Melt With You" that started it all. Its music video had heavy rotation on MTV after the song came out in 1983, and the band re-recorded and re-released it in 1990.
"Now the king told the boogie men, you have to let that raga drop ..."
It's "rock the casbah," not "lock the taskbar," as been misheard by modern listeners, to much laughter (especially during karaoke). The song was originally released in 1982, included on the fifth album by The Clash. It went on to hit No. 8 in the U.S. -- and would end up being the group's only Top 10 single in the U.S.
"Every now and then I get a little bit lonely, and you're never coming 'round ..."
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" was released on Bonnie Tyler's fifth studio album, "Faster Than the Speed of Night," in 1983. It went on to become Tyler's biggest career hit in the U.S., although it was cut from about seven minutes to just four minutes for radio play.
"You love her, but she loves him, and he loves somebody else, you just can't win ..."
When the title track of the J. Geils Band's ninth album, "Love Stinks," was released as a single in 1980, it peaked at No. 38 on the U.S. Top 40. The band, though, would find even greater success with their single, "Freeze Frame" and its video.
"I got ketchup on my blue jeans, I just burnt my hand, Lord, it's hard to be a bachelor man ..."
"All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight," was the second single from Hank Williams Jr.'s album, "Major Moves," and peaked at No. 10 on the Country music charts. There are a few versions these days, including "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight," "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)," and "All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night" -- the latter of which was the opening theme to "Monday Night Football" from 1989 to 2011, and again, with an updated version, in 2017
"It's poetry in motion, she turned her tender eyes to me. As deep as any ocean, as sweet as any harmony ..."
Released in 1983, "She Blinded Me With Science" would be Thomas Dolby's only hit in the U.S. -- but, this one-hit wonder peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Good heavens, Miss Sakamoto!"
"Gunter Glieben Glauchen Globen ..."
"Rock of Ages" is a single off Def Leppard's 1983 album, "Pyromania". Sadly, "Gunter Glieben Glauchen Globen" doesn't actually mean anything. As the story goes, it's actually just nonsense that the group's producer, Mutt Lange, said in place of "1, 2, 3, 4 ..." -- however, in 2014, American poet Michael Robbins published a poem with the phrase as its title.
"I got a pocket full of quarters, and I'm headed to the arcade, I don't have a lot of money, but I'm bringing ev'rything I made ..."
America had "Pac-Man Fever" in 1982, not only pushing the song up to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, but by purchasing more than 1 million copies of it that year. You probably don't remember the follow-up single, "Do the Donkey Kong" -- no one does.
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