4 1980s Songs That Got Popular Years After Their Release

Some songs catapult to the top of the charts the moment they’re released. Others often take a while to find their spot in the spotlight or a cult following. The 1980s were a great era for music, and listeners in today’s world are starting to appreciate songs that maybe didn’t get a ton of love when they were first released decades ago. Let’s take a look at a few songs from the 1980s that became super popular years after they were released.

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1. “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush

Hounds Of Love is by far one of Kate Bush’s best albums to date, and it did find some significant success when it was released in 1985. “Running Up That Hill” was the lead single from the album and one of Bush’s most substantial hits.

Decades later, “Running Up That Hill” exploded in popularity yet again when the song was used in the sci-fi series Stranger Things in 2022. Hounds Of Love reached #1 on the Billboard Top Alternative Albums that same year and introduced a new generation of music lovers to the infallible Kate Bush. This is probably the most well-known example of one of many songs from the 1980s becoming popular years after being released.

2. “Red Red Wine” by UB40

This song was originally a cover of a Neil Diamond song from 1967. However, UB40 put a unique reggaeton spin on the track and made it a massive hit. However, it did take a while. 

The song was released in 1983 to little acclaim. However, in 1988, the song was featured on a radio show in honor of Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday, and it got a lot of attention all at once. Even late UB40 member Terence “Astro” Wilson couldn’t understand the phenomenon.

“It’s just one of life’s mysteries,” Wilson said in a Billboard interview back in 2018. “If that DJ hadn’t chosen to include it in his playlist, we might not even be having this discussion. You can never know when you’re going to have a number one.”

3. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers

This track from the Scottish band The Proclaimers was originally released in 1988. It definitely deserved more attention upon its initial release, but it wasn’t until it was featured in the 1993 film Benny & Joon that it started to blow up.

“When the song came out in America in 1989, we did okay on the college charts, but there was no action on the main chart,” The Proclaimers member Charlie Reid told Entertainment Weekly back in 1993 before the track hit #3 on the charts just a few months later. “Hopefully when that [film] comes out, people will remember us.”

We sure did! And lots of artists have covered it since then.

4. “Holding Out For A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler

This 1984 song has gone in and out of popularity since its release back in 1984. It’s a certified cult classic that has been used for Footloose (its original intention), Shrek 2, and most recently Euphoria. It really doesn’t matter what context it could be used in; “Holding Out For A Hero” will probably be used as a gag in movies for years to come.

Photo courtesy of Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush

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