80's Guitar Songs That Can Make You A Showstopper
There’s no doubt that the 80's was a standalone age of rock. Here is a guide on how to play 1980s Songs on Guitar.
There are a ton of reasons to be nostalgic about the 80s. Some are awesome such as the Fall of the Berlin Wall and others aren’t so much such as the early 80s American automobile releases. The music is what gets many interested in this moment in history. The guitar songs that made memorable hits immortal. Let’s take a look at a few new wave, heavy metal, and hard rock songs that every guitarist should promise themselves to learn in their life.
Table of Contents
- 80's Guitar Songs That Can Make You A Showstopper
- Sweet O Child of Mine by Guns ‘N Roses 1987
- Back in Black by AC/DC 1980
- Beat It by Michael Jackson 1982
- Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones 1981
- One by Metallica 1988
- Every Breath You Take by The Police 1983
- Rock You Like a Hurricane by Scorpions 1984
- Rain By The Cult 1985
- Jump By Van Halen 1984
- Living on a Prayer By Bon Jovi 1986
Sweet O Child of Mine by Guns ‘N Roses 1987
The iconic opener is something no one can ever forget. It also happens to be the riff that is great for beginners to master as the note pattern is straightforward to follow a few tries in. Surprising to hear this in an 80s songs, but this song’s solo is pretty easy for intermediate players to pick up except for the pinch harmonics. That may take a few rehearsals. If you were to have bucket list of how to play 80s songs on a guitar, then this single would have to be on it.
Back in Black by AC/DC 1980
Coinciding with the debut of the decade, this single started the decade off with might. The album baring the same name was also the first album where the lead singer wasn’t an original band member. Bon Scott died the February before the single and album’s release. What grabs the attention, though, is Angus Young’s legendary shredding. It is mind boggling. You know that this song stands alone in rock history from the moment you hear the staccato at the beginning all the way to power chord fade out at the end.
Beat It by Michael Jackson 1982
Even though the song parody “Eat It” by Weird Al is amazing in it of itself, the song to pick a guitar is the original version. Michael Jackson's this song alone made such an impact that his name is associated in being a genius when producing a rock song as well. Thanks to Quincey Jones’ production and Eddie Van Halen’s skills, Michael Jackson was able to combine rock and pop in one single. All it takes is some finger flexibility on fast legatos, and you are good.
Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones 1981
What maybe bubbling around in your head is the following question. “What is a Rolling Stones song doing in a top 80s guitar hit list?” Well, The Rolling Stones did not want to quit in the 70s. They launched their single “Start Me Up." It featured Keith Richards’ last original riff. Keith Richard’s iconic open-G-tuned motif was the reason for the song’s success. The Telecaster he played is familiar to many because it is played to debut The Stones’ live concerts. One last interesting fact about this song is that it was written, demoed, and released in only six hours.
One by Metallica 1988
“One” cannot mention 1980s music without Metallica. This is the song that an entire genre tries to use as a benchmark. “One” was a masterpiece. It may have influenced the Grammy’s. They started awarding artists for the best metal performance of 1988. It lasts more than seven minutes and changes time signatures almost every two minutes or so. As a guitarist, it doesn’t hurt to dazzle your friends with the song that has the best intro solo ever. Pick up your Flying V and start shredding like Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield. Make sure you have an electric guitar that has great sustain. Check out these guitars: https://www.electricguitarmasters.com
Every Breath You Take by The Police 1983
Now going to the other extreme of 80s rock, you have your more mellow guitar performances. None was as prominent as Andy Summers’ was in this song. As an older guitarist, you can be sure to meet your nostalgia with songs that have endless amounts of tabs on the web. If you are a younger musician, it is always good to discover unique riffs as “Every Breath You Take’s finger-stretching intro.
Rock You Like a Hurricane by Scorpions 1984
From continental Europe, The Scorpions have some basic power chords for novices to pick up on when playing a rhythm guitar. In contrast, the lead guitar riffs are all pulling off hammer-on, double stops, and slides on solos that cover most of the song. As a 1980s rock song, it has its pinch harmonics as well.
Rain By The Cult 1985
Besides having catchy lyrics, “Hot Sticky Scenes, You Know What I Mean,” the song written by Ian Astbury & Billy Duffy is nothing short of stupendous. Even though it may seem like the tempo is a bit slow, there is tension that gets created in each note that is played. As a beginner, guitarists are able to master the arpeggios as many of them are within three frets. The arpeggio are based off basic chords such as a D minor. On top of that, you can get a good finger practice since much of the song goes from a D5 to C5, then to a G5, and then repeats.
Jump By Van Halen 1984
Eddie Van Halen’s songs are known to be advanced, have you heard “Eruption?” Even though much of the song is driven by a synthesizer keyboard, there is still plenty of notes to play on the guitar. So much so, that Eddie doesn’t forget to play a solo throughout the song. He weaved his one-of-kind two-finger style tapping with his of pinch harmonic in one song.
Living on a Prayer By Bon Jovi 1986
This song’s intro ties in the robust chorus that hair metal perfected to the max. It begins with half a dozen of notes. Then, it transitions to strumming a few low E and A strings that have a few open notes. "Living on a Prayer" is worth picking up a guitar.
There you go. Those are the 1980s songs that a guitarist should consider learning in their lives or music career. There are tons of online tabs and YouTube videos that go into detail if you do not have access to a guitar instructor.