30 Best Girl Power Songs From The 80s

Girls just want to have fun!

80s girl style listening to music headphones cassette player Navistock / Shutterstock

Every decade, girl power just gets bigger and better. Take the 1980s, for example.

Although fashionably challenged, the 80s produced some of the best and most iconic songs written and performed by the greatest female vocalists of our (and our mother’s) lifetime! The 1980s were chock full of vibrant rock songs and powerful women.

Though girl power songs from the 1970s, and later, the 1990s, still make us feel empowered, these 80s girl songs are sure to inspire you to kick butt everywhere you go.


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The Best 80s Girl Songs:

1. "I’m Coming Out" by Diana Ross

Diana Ross is an iconic queen and legend whose voice and style have made her an icon in almost every community, including the Drag Queen community. In that regard, this song has morphed into an empowering "coming out" song since it's all about strutting your stuff and being unapologetically yourself

The time has come for me / To break out of the shell / I have to shout / That I'm coming out


2. "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar is a rocker queen, redefining the genre during the 80s. Her high-energy music makes this song perfect to dance and jam to when you need to pump yourself up, or you need to help your friend get through a nasty breakup.

We are strong / No one can tell us we're wrong / Searching our hearts for so long / Both of us knowing / Love is a battlefield

3. "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett

Another rocker chick legacy, this song is all about taking any reputation you have, turning it on its head, and sticking it to the proverbial man. Joan doesn’t have time for sly comments and sass, and neither do you.


I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation / You're living in the past it's a new generation / A girl can do what she wants to do and that's/ What I'm gonna do

4. “Flashdance... What a Feeling" by Irene Cara

While maybe not the best movie of the decade, it did come out with some majorly iconic moments. This includes the titular "Flashdance" dance routine. This song encompasses everything that comes with workout energy in the 80s. You can practically feel the neon-covered spandex consume you as you start to dance.

What a feeling / Bein's believin' / I can have it all / Now I'm dancing for my life / Take your passion/ And make it happen


5. "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper

Another song that just oozes nostalgia, Cyndi is synonymous with the 80s. Her love of bright colors and big hair perfectly matches the carefree vibes of this girl gang song. Girls don’t care who’s watching — they really do just want to have fun!

Some boys take a beautiful girl / And hide her away from the rest of the world / I want to be the one to walk in the sun / Oh girls, they wanna have fun

6. "Gloria" by Laura Branigan

This is a high-energy pilates favorite also takes you back to the times of neon spandex and leg warmers. You don’t have to call anyone back, just live your life to the fullest.


If everybody wants you, why isn't anybody callin'? / You don't have to answer / Leave them hangin' on the line, oh-oh-oh, calling Gloria / Gloria (Gloria)

7. "What's Love Got To Do With It" By Tina Turner

Tina Turner has a beautiful voice that really does sing the truth with every song. Sometimes you feel like you have to close yourself off to the world, even though it’s not necessarily the right decision. Tina gets that.

What's love got to do, got to do with it / What's love but a second hand emotion / What's love got to do, got to do with it / Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken


8. "Express Yourself" by Madonna

Madonna — the queen, the multi-decade legend. This song is about knowing your own worth and not taking anything less from any man, no matter how cute and charming they seem to be.

You don't need diamond rings or eighteen karat gold / Fancy cars that go very fast, you know they never last no, no / What you need is a big strong hand / To lift you to your higher ground / Make you feel like a queen on a throne

9. "She Works Hard For The Money" by Donna Summer

An insight into how waitresses are treated and how hard they actually work, with an upbeat melody, many people could easily miss the true meaning of the song. It's a warning sign to always be kind to others because you never know what they are going through. 


It's a sacrifice working day to day / For little money, just tips for pay / But it's worth it all / Just to hear them say that they care

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10. "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar

Another party rock anthem by Pat Benatar that everyone knows. It's a catchy tune about fighting, and will get you pumped up and ready to stand your ground. 


Hit me with your best shot / Why don't you hit me with your best shot / Hit me with your best shot / Fire away

11. "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks wrote this song about losing her uncle to cancer. Another interpretation of the song is about an older woman dating a younger man. Still, it's a song about perservering, despite the pain.

He was no more than a baby then / Well he seemed broken-hearted / Something within him / But the moment that I first laid / Eyes on him, all alone / On the edge of seventeen


12. "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman

"Fast Car" is about wanting to run away from your current life. Chapman's steady voice reflects on the narrator's unsteady life, and what they really want versus the responsibilities they had taken on as a daughter.

You got a fast car / Is it fast enough so we can fly away? / We gotta make a decision / Leave tonight or live and die this way

13. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes

Comparing a beautiful young woman to the famous actress of the time Bette Davis, Kim Carnes sings about how gorgeous the woman is and how easily she can destroy someone because of this beauty. 


And she'll tease you, she'll unease you / All the better just to please you / She's precocious, and she knows just what it / Takes to make a pro blush

14. "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner

A sultry song about sex workers and what women will resort to just to survive, Turner talks about dreams of "living by the sea" and "having a family," showing that her current situation is a temporary one. 

I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money / I'll do what you want me to do / I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money / And any old music will do


15. "Material Girl" by Madonna

This is a revolutionary song as Madonna sings about how men can be replaceable. It works against the stereotypical view of women who need a man and will fall in love just for money and gifts. 

Some boys romance / Some boys slow dance / That's all right with me / If they can't raise my interest then I / Have to let them be

16. "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwick

About the reliability of friendship, this bop is a good reminder that not all people need a romantic or sexual partner in life. Warwick sings of the deep love she has for her friends and how she supports them in their happiness. 


Keep smiling, keep shining / Knowing you can always count on me, for sure / That's what friends are for

17. “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton

A classic country song loved by even non-country fans, this tune appeared in the movie "9 to 5" where Parton played a major role. The star showcases the power of all women as she works for a cruel, rigid boss who is inappropriate. 


Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living / Barely getting by, it's all taking and no giving / They just use your mind, and they never give you credit / It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it

18. "Venus" by Bananarama 

All about the power of women and seduction, the band Bananarama sang it dressed up as a she-devil, a French temptress, a vampiress, and Greek goddesses in their music video.

Her weapons were her crystal eyes / Making every man a man / Black as the dark night she was / Got what no-one else had


19. “I Love Rock 'n' Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Most people who were born after the 1980s ended still know this song! A party rock anthem, it can get anyone pumped up while appreciating a little rock music and attraction.

I love rock n' roll / So put another dime in the jukebox, baby / I love rock n' roll / So come and take your time and dance with me

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20. "Papa Don’t Preach" by Madonna

A revolutionary artist, Madonna sings about teen pregnancy, a taboo topic for the time. Stuck in the middle, she tells her father that she's pregnant and that she's not sure what to do.

But my friends keep telling me to give it up / Saying I'm too young, I oughta live it up / What I need right now is some good advice, please

21. "We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" by Tina Turner

A roaring success in the movie "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," the action/sci-fi thriller came out in 1985 and Tina Turner also had a starring role in the movie. Turner named her album (and song!) after the film.


So, what do we do with our lives? / We leave only a mark / Will our story shine like a light / Or end in the dark / Is it all or nothing?

22. "Never" by Heart

All about the choices you can make in life, this catchy tune will be stuck in your head for a while. The narrator makes is clear that life can be lived in all types of ways, and if you aren't happy you can always pick up and change.

Anything you want we can make it happen / Stand up and turn around / Never let them shoot us down


23. "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor

A female power anthem about having the strength to move on after a breakup, Gloria Gaynor's calming voice tells of heartbreak and loving yourself because of it.

Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye? / You think I'd crumble? / You think I'd lay down and die? / Oh no, not I / I will survive

24. "Nasty" by Janet Jackson

Singing about sexism and misogyny, Janet Jackson brings light to the issues that plague the entertainment and music industries. She calls out the problems she's had to deal with. 


So close the door if you want me to respond / 'Cause privacy is my middle name / My last name is control / No, my first name ain't baby / It's Janet... Ms. Jackson if you're nasty

25. "Call Me" by Blondie

Singing about sex work and appearing in the film "American Gigolo," this upbeat song brings light to the sex work field and shows a woman enjoying her job.

Cover me with kisses, baby / Cover me with love / Roll me in designer sheets / I'll never get enough / Emotions come, I don't know why / Cover up love's alibi


26. "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper

A song that's dance-pop, Lauper continues to show that she's all for female power, singing about female masturbation. The subtle sexual message in the song was a breakthrough in the music industry. 

Hey, hey they say I better get a chaperone (Ha ha ha) / Because I can't stop messin' with the danger zone / Hey, hey I won't worry and I won't fret / Ain't no law against it yet

27. "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" by Eurythmics feat. Aretha Franklin

Inspired by the suffrage movement, Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin teamed up to make this song all about sisterhood, female relationships, and female power.


Mothers, daughters / And their daughters, too/ Woman to woman / We're singin' with you / The inferior sex / Has got a new exterior, yeah / We got doctors / Lawyers, politicians, too

28. "If Looks Could Kill" by Heart

A song about a relationship where the narrator's "looks could kill," it tells how their partner should be more appreciative after learning he cheated. It revolves around a strong woman and her anger.

Love is on the line, I ain't about to be kind / That's a promise and a threat / If I was you I'd really cool it / Or risk a night you'll never forget


29. "Invincible" by Pat Benatar

The theme song to the movie "The Legend of Billie Jean," Pat Benatar's song is an anthem about a woman who refuses to back down.

And with the power of conviction, there is no sacrifice / It's a do or die situation, we will be invincible / We can't afford to be innocent, stand up and face the enemy / It's a do or die situation, we will be invincible

30. "99 Red Balloons" by Nena

Originally sung in German, this band wrote the song to digest their feelings about World War II and how Germany's attitude as a country changed. It's an anti-war song about the dreams of the German people. 


Ninety-nine dreams I have had / In every one, a red balloon / It's all over and I'm standin' pretty / In this dust that was a city

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Kayla Baptista is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.