Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Top 100 New Wave/College Rock Songs

New Wave/College Rock:

Top 100 Songs

New wave was a synth-driven musical genre in the 1980s helmed by bands like New Order, Depeche Mode, and the Cure. College radio stations helped give an audience to that music as well as more guitar-focused bands like U2 and R.E.M. While often gathered under the banner of “alternative rock,” a significant number of bands which started on the fringe had, by decade’s end become the mainstream. More than 30 lists were aggregated to create this list.

Click here to see other genre-specific song lists.

1. Soft Cell “Tainted Love” (1981)
2. New Order “Blue Monday” (1983)
3. The Human League “Don’t You Want Me?” (1981)
4. Modern English “I Melt with You” (1983)
5. The Cure “Just Like Heaven” (1987)
6. Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980)
7. Depeche Mode “People Are People” (1984)
8. Frankie Goes to Hollywood “Relax” (1983)
9. Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come on Eileen” (1982)
10. Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” (1982)

11. Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls” (1986)
12. Devo “Whip It” (1980)
13. Gary Numan “Cars” (1979)
14. Dead or Alive “You Spin Me Round Like a Record” (1985)
15. Depeche Mode “Just Can’t Get Enough” (1981)
16. Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime” (1981)
17. A-ha “Take on Me” (1984)
18. Madness “Our House” (1982)
19. Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun” (1983)
20. Tears for Fears “Shout” (1984)

21. The Smiths “How Soon Is Now?” (1984)
22. Duran Duran “Hungry Like the Wolf” (1982)
23. R.E.M. “Radio Free Europe” (1981)
24. Simple Minds “Don’t You Forget about Me” (1985)
25. Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” (1981)
26. Talk Talk “It’s My Life” (1984)
27. Tears for Fears “Mad World” (1982)
28. The Vapors “Turning Japanese” (1980)
29. Yazoo “Don’t Go” (1982)
30. A Flock of Seagulls “I Ran” (1982)

31. After the Fire “Der Kommissar” (1983)
32. The Church “Under the Milky Way” (1988)
33. Big Country “In a Big Country” (1983)
34. The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” (1979)
35. Men Without Hats “The Safety Dance” (1983)
36. Tom Tom Club “Genius of Love” (1981)
37. Psychedelic Furs “Pretty in Pink” (1981)
38. Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (1985)
39. Naked Eyes “Always Something There to Remind Me” (1983)
40. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark “Enola Gay” (1980)

41. Bow Wow Wow “I Want Candy” (1982)
42. Billy Idol “White Wedding” (1982)
43. The Pixies “Here Comes Your Man” (1989)
44. New Order “Bizarre Love Triangle” (1986)
45. INXS “Don’t Change” (1982)
46. Talking Heads “Burning Down the House” (1983)
47. Icicle Works “Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)” (1984)
48. Romeo Void “Never Say Never” (1982)
49. New Order “True Faith” (1987)
50. Thomas Dolby “She Blinded Me with Science” (1982)

51. Echo & the Bunnymen “Lips Like Sugar” (1987)
52. Spandau Ballet “True” (1983)
53. Haircut One Hundred “Love Plus One” (1982)
54. Peter Schilling “Major Tom (Coming Home)” (1983)
55. Duran Duran “Girls on Film” (1981)
56. Animotion “Obsession” (1985)
57. Sonic Youth “Teenage Riot” (1988)
58. Squeeze “Tempted” (1981)
59. Midnight Oil “Beds Are Burning” (1987)
60. Echo & the Bunnymen “The Killing Moon” (1984)

61. The Clash “Rock the Casbah” (1982)
62. Kate Bush “Running Up That Hill” (1985)
63. Wall of Voodoo “Mexican Radio” (1983)
64. When in Rome “The Promise” (1989)
65. Billy Idol “Dancing with Myself” (1981)
66. Men at Work “Down Under” (1981)
67. Split Enz “I Got You” (1980)
68. The Cure “Close to Me” (1985)
69. The English Beat “Mirror in the Bathroom” (1980)
70. Missing Persons “Destination Unknown” (1982)

71. ABC “The Look of Love” (1982)
72. The Fixx “One Thing Leads to Another” (1983)
73. Wang Chung “Dance Hall Days” (1984)
74. Oingo Boingo “Dead Man’s Party” (1985)
75. Culture Club “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” (1982)
76. Berlin “The Metro” (1983)
77. The Knack “My Sharona” (1979)
78. The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat” (1981)
79. Kajagoogoo “Too Shy” (1983)
80. General Public “Tenderness” (1984)

81. XTC “Dear God” (1986)
82. The Jesus & Mary Chain “Just Like Honey” (1985)
83. The Plimsouls “A Million Miles Away” (1982)
84. The Sugarcubes “Birthday” (1987)
85. Love & Rockets “So Alive” (1989)
86. The Clash “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” (1982)
87. The Boomtown Rats “I Don’t Like Mondays” (1979)
88. Erasure “A Little Respect” (1988)
89. Talking Heads “Psycho Killer” (1977)
90. Erasure “Oh L’Amour” (1986)

91. Psychedelic Furs “Love My Way” (1982)
92. Blondie “Heart of Glass” (1979)
93. The Police “Every Breath You Take” (1983)
94. Berlin “Sex (I’m A…)” (1983)
95. Thompson Twins “Hold Me Now” (1983)
96. Kim Wilde “Kids in America” (1981)
97. David Bowie “Let’s Dance” (1983)
98. Blondie “One Way Or Another” (1979)
99. Ultravox “Vienna” (1980)
100. Nik Kershaw “Wouldn’t It Be Good” (1984)


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First posted 6/9/2017; last updated 11/28/2021.