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

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

21. The Smiths “How Soon Is Now?” (1984)
22. R.E.M. “Radio Free Europe” (1981)
23. Simple Minds “Don’t You Forget about Me” (1985)
24. Duran Duran “Hungry Like the Wolf” (1982)
25. Talk Talk “It’s My Life” (1984)
26. Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” (1981)
27. A Flock of Seagulls “I Ran” (1982)
28. Yazoo “Don’t Go” (1982)
29. After the Fire “Der Kommissar” (1983)
30. The Church “Under the Milky Way” (1988)

31. Big Country “In a Big Country” (1983)
32. Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (1985)
33. Tom Tom Club “Genius of Love” (1981)
34. Tears for Fears “Mad World” (1982)
35. The Vapors “Turning Japanese” (1980)
36. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark “Enola Gay” (1980)
37. Men Without Hats “The Safety Dance” (1983)
38. Naked Eyes “Always Something There to Remind Me” (1983)
39. Bow Wow Wow “I Want Candy” (1982)
40. Billy Idol “White Wedding” (1982)

41. Psychedelic Furs “Pretty in Pink” (1981)
42. The Pixies “Here Comes Your Man” (1989)
43. New Order “Bizarre Love Triangle” (1986)
44. The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” (1979)
45. INXS “Don’t Change” (1982)
46. New Order “True Faith” (1987)
47. Talking Heads “Burning Down the House” (1983)
48. Spandau Ballet “True” (1983)
49. Peter Schilling “Major Tom (Coming Home)” (1983)
50. Echo & the Bunnymen “Lips Like Sugar” (1987)

51. Icicle Works “Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)” (1984)
52. Thomas Dolby “She Blinded Me with Science” (1982)
53. Duran Duran “Girls on Film” (1981)
54. Romeo Void “Never Say Never” (1982)
55. Animotion “Obsession” (1985)
56. Haircut 100 “Love Plus One” (1982)
57. Squeeze “Tempted” (1981)
58. Midnight Oil “Beds Are Burning” (1987)
59. Echo & the Bunnymen “The Killing Moon” (1984)
60. Sonic Youth “Teenage Riot” (1988)

61. Kate Bush “Running Up That Hill” (1985)
62. Split Enz “I Got You” (1980)
63. The Cure “Close to Me” (1985)
64. Men at Work “Down Under” (1981)
65. The Fixx “One Thing Leads to Another” (1983)
66. Wall of Voodoo “Mexican Radio” (1983)
67. Wang Chung “Dance Hall Days” (1984)
68. Culture Club “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” (1982)
69. The Clash “Rock the Casbah” (1982)
70. Billy Idol “Dancing with Myself” (1981)

71. ABC “The Look of Love” (1982)
72. Oingo Boingo “Dead Man’s Party” (1985)
73. When in Rome “The Promise” (1989)
74. The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat” (1981)
75. The English Beat “Mirror in the Bathroom” (1980)
76. Berlin “The Metro” (1983)
77. Missing Persons “Destination Unknown” (1982)
78. General Public “Tenderness” (1984)
79. Kajagoogoo “Too Shy” (1983)
80. XTC “Dear God” (1986)

81. The Jesus & Mary Chain “Just Like Honey” (1985)
82. Love & Rockets “So Alive” (1989)
83. The Clash “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” (1982)
84. The Plimsouls “A Million Miles Away” (1982)
85. Psychedelic Furs “Love My Way” (1982)
86. The Police “Every Breath You Take” (1983)
87. David Bowie “Let’s Dance” (1983)
88. The Sugarcubes “Birthday” (1987)
89. Thompson Twins “Hold Me Now” (1983)
90. The Knack “My Sharona” (1979)

91. Ultravox “Vienna” (1980)
92. The Cure “Boys Don’t Cry” (1979)
93. The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” (1981)
94. Pretenders “Brass in Pocket (I’m Special)” (1979)
95. ‘Til Tuesday “Voices Carry” (1985)
96. Re-Flex “The Politics of Dancing” (1983)
97. Erasure “A Little Respect” (1988)
98. Bauhaus “She’s in Parties” (1983)
99. Culture Club “Karmal Chameleon” (1983)
100. ABC “Poison Arrow” (1982)


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First posted 6/9/2017; last updated 12/2/2021.