The Top 10 Hit Songs of 1988

Paula Abdul

Without a doubt, 80s music forms a huge part of the pop culture of the 21st century. Many kids grew up in the 1980s during the days when digitization was a thing of the future. At the time, streaming music on YouTube and other music streaming platforms were impossible. Charts and radios were important back then as they allowed the listeners to know what song was the most popular. The good thing about the 80s music is that there was an abundance of pop and rock music that was radio-friendly. It was a great season for hip hop too. In this article, we revisit some of the hit songs of 1988.

10. Simply irresistible – Robert Palmer

“Simply irresistible” is a song by a rock singer known as Robert Palmer. It was his first single for his album, Heavy Nova. Released in June 1988, the song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 the same year. According to Songfacts, Robert Palmer struck gold again with this hit, earning him his second Grammy Award the year that followed its release. The song’s success can be attributed to the music video. The video brings back the models from the popular “Addicted to Love” video. These models were a very good fit for this song, which narrates about an enticing woman who receives all she wants from her man.

9. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

“Fast Car” is a song by Tracy Chapman, an American singer and songwriter. It was released in 1988 as a single for her self-titled album. The fact that this song appeared during Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday tribute helped the song peak at the top ten in the U.S. Better still, the song was nominated in three categories for the Grammy Awards. It won the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. In the song, Tracy sings from the perspective of a lady whose things aren’t unfolding according to expectations. The singer is dealing with a lazy, unsupportive, and unemployed guy. The woman works at a convenience store to pay the bills while the husband drinks.

8. One – Metallica

This song was done by an American heavy metal band known as Metallica. The band released this song as the last single for their fourth studio album. According to Faroutmagazine, the track portrays a soldier in World War 1 who a landmine has severely wounded. His arms, legs, and jaw have been blown, and he turns blind and dumb. He is asking God to take his life. This song was the first band’s song to hit the U.S. charts upon reaching number 35. It also peaked at number one in Finland.

7. Straight Up – Paula Abdul

Paula is an American artist behind “Straight Up” from her “Forever Your Girl” album. Elliot Wolff wrote and produced the song released in 1988 by Virgin Records. This song became the breakout hit for this singer. According to Songfacts, Paula was a dancer and cheerleader for Los Angeles Lakers before music. This song finds Paula fluttering over a man who is too good to be true. The singer has been hurt before, and she wants the man to be straight up/honest with her. According to the song, the singer wants the man to tell her whether he loves her or simply fools around. This song was successful internationally after peaking in the top ten in more than 16 countries.

6. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison

This is a power ballad by the American band, Poison. The song was released in 1988 as the band’s third single for their second album. This is the band’s signature song which managed to be a number-one hit in the United States. Bret Michaels wrote the song in response to the unsuccessful love affair with Tracy Lewis, his girlfriend. Putting everything into perspective, Michaels explained the metamorphic meaning of the song. He said that the rose was his blooming musical career, and the thorn was the fact that his career was costing his romantic relationship with Tracy Lewis.

5. F**k the Police – N.W.A

This sounds like a protest song by the American Hip Hop group. It appears in the group’s 1988 album dubbed Straight Outta Compton. The song’s lyrics are protesting against police brutality and racial profiling. Since it was released, the song tile has been a slogan that has greatly influenced pop culture. You will find the slogan on T-shirts, political expressions, and artwork. In 2021, the song was ranked at position 190 out of 500 best songs of all time by Rolling Stone.

4. Desire – U2

U2 is an Irish rock band behind the ballad “Desire.” This is the third track in the band’s album “Rattle and Hum.” Released in 1988, the song became the band’s number-one hit in Australia and the U.K. The song tells about the required dedication and ambition to be a successful band. It also criticizes the American preachers who swindle innocent followers of their money.

3. My Prerogative – Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown, an American singer, did my “Prerogative.” It was released in 1988 as the second single for his second album, Don’t be Cruel. The singer asserts his independence in this track, making it clear that he never cares what people think about him. He takes on the people accusing him of having to leave his previous music group. The singer explains that he had no apologies to make for his decisions. Bobby’s “Don’t Be Cruel” album was all about silencing his critics who questioned his work as a solo artist. His album became the best seller in the U.S. in 1989, producing the number one hit, My Prerogative.

2. Wild Thing – Ton Loc

This is a single by rapper Ton Loc from his 1989 album. “Wild Thing” is a sex slang popular in the ’80s. This was a perfect time when people like Arsenio Hall needed to talk about sex without raising the alarm. The track peaked at position two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1989. This track also peaked at position 21 on the United Kingdom singles chart. Records indicated that the song sold at least 2 million copies.

1. Patience – Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses is a song by an American rock band behind the “Patience” song. In the track, Axl Rose is singing about how he had to wait it out in his relationship. The song is termed a trendsetter through its magical use of acoustic instrumentation. This made hard rockers display their vulnerable and sensitive sides. You will also notice some whistling in the track, which Axl Rose did. The song rose to position4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.


The 80s music hit differently, especially for pop and rock lovers. This was the period when different bands would produce powerful ballads that are lyrically relevant to date. Popular singers and songwriters would amazingly capture the listeners’ attention. Some of these popular hits would become so popular in different parts of the world, including the U.K and the U.S. They also won prestigious awards, such as the Grammys. There would be no better way to reminisce about the good old times than listening to the best 1988 ballads. The above suggestions are enough to feel nostalgic.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.