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The Greatest Driving Songs of the 1980s, Ranked

Tom Petty in the music video for "Free Fallin'."

YouTube: Tom Petty

The 1980s are remembered for the Cold War, Goose and Maverick in ‘Top Gun,’ and timeless driving songs complete with big hair and iconic music videos.

Some of the most iconic songs ever were born in the 1980s. There is nothing like a nice, upbeat song to make you want to put your foot down or to just enjoy a nice cruise.

Yes, classics like “Hotel California” by The Eagles, “Riders on the Storm” by The Doors, and even “Drive My Car” by The Beatles are great songs that certainly land on other playlists for your weekend cruises, but today, we’re all ’80s all the way. Here are ten of the best driving songs of the 1980s

Best Driving Songs of the 1980s

10. “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls

I DARE you to listen to this Billboard Hot 100 smash hit from 1982 and not sing along. Even to this day, it’s hard not to get lost in the new wave sauce when you’re cruising down the highway and this synth-filled number comes on.

9. “I Drove All Night” by Cyndi Lauper

Good luck paying any attention to anything other than your high school sweetheart when Lauper’s 1989 heater comes on in the car. Her sterling career has spanned over four decades, and you can’t hit the open road without this Lauper love song dotting your playlist even to this day.

8. “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen

Arguably the greatest rock band ever, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen is an all-time great, paralleled only by classic rock all-timers “We Will Rock You” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

This one, in our eyes, is the best song for driving of their library.

7. “Drive All Night” by Bruce Springsteen

“The Boss” ranks among the greatest songwriters to ever do it, and there’s no better display than this soulful ballad that pairs beautifully when you’re on the road. He’s best known for other stadium anthems, but this remains a late night staple in my car.

6. “Drive” by The Cars

Let’s set the scene: You’re crushing hard on someone. It’s late at night, and you can’t sleep without the image of this person popping into your head — The biggest track from Heartbreak City sits front-and-center on your ’80s playlist of ballads. This number, written by Ric Ocasek, offered bassist Benjamin Orr’s sultry vocals asking, “Who’s gonna drive you home, tonight?”

5. “Back in Black” by AC/DC

Hard rock at its absolute best. Written in honor of the great Bon Scott, one of AC/DC’s greatest hits begins with arguably the most recognizable guitar riff of all time, courtesy of the incomparable Angus Young.

It didn’t chart as one of the best ’80s song that decade, but it remains a road trip staple, and one of this writers favorite songs ever regardless of the decade.

4. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson

This was arguably Michael Jackson’s best song ever. If you don’t like that, you can just “Beat It.” (Awful pun. I’m sorry.)

But in all seriousness, “Beat It” is a superb song that really makes you want to put your foot down and GO. This was 1984’s Record of the Year at the Grammys, and it’ll continue to be played until the end of time.

3. “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins

“In the Air Tonight” is one of the greatest songs ever made. Phil Collins’ anthem really is its own genre. There is no song that sounds quite like one as beautifully written and executed as “In the Air Tonight.”

Plus, no better song provides optimal steering wheel drumming opportunities than this absolute gem.

2. “On The Road Again” by Willie Nelson

The king of Outlaw Country won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1981, and “On The Road Again” has graced every road trip compilation album ever since. Willie is as ageless as they come, and I can say with supreme confidence that loading up the Cadillac and heading somewhere new calls for this tune to be played on repeat.

1. “Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty

Good luck finding a better song to sing with the windows down, warm summer wind whipping through your fingers, and your best friend riding shotgun than this all-time classic.

This isn’t quintessential Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers from the late ’70s and early parts of this decade, but Petty’s debut solo album Full Moon Fever included timeless hits like “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” that will carry his legacy forever.

None, however, will be a staple of carpool karaoke sessions quite like our top driving song of the 1980s.

What didn’t make our list of ’80s classics? Let us know at our Wide Open Roads Facebook page!

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