Top Bryan Adams Songs of the '80s

It's sometimes difficult to compile a full list of 10 top songs for '80s artists, in part because they often don't have a chance to compile deep catalogues in a decade's time. During the '80s, pop/rock superstar Bryan Adams released four full-length albums that reached substantial audiences. Even so, he did not churn out a surplus of quality deep album tracks. So in the interest of selectivity and for the sake of healthy debate, some omissions become necessary. Check out this resulting list of prime, essential '80s Bryan Adams tunes, presented in chronological order.

of 08

"Lonely Nights"

Michael Ochs/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Over the course of his first two albums, Adams, like many artists, labored to find his footing and a singular sound. This mid-tempo rocker with a killer chorus was the first true revelation of what Adams would eventually accomplish as a mainstream rock hitmaker during the '80s. Though his voice had yet to mature into its raspy vintage, Adams delivers spirited and convincing vocals here. But more than anything else, "Lonely Nights" offers evidence of this artist's improving sense of songcraft.

of 08

"Straight From the Heart"

Bryan Adams enjoyed a major pop/rock breakthrough with 1983's 'Cuts Like a Knife' LP, highlighted by debut single "Straight from the Heart."
Album Cover Image Courtesy of A&M

Foreshadowing his later mastery of power ballads, Adams also comes very close to perfection on this tune, which employs simple piano lines and a plaintively subtle vocal performance, one of the best of his career. And while the melody meanders along a somewhat uncomplicated path, it does so fluidly and beautifully. It was no accident that this song registered as Adams' first Top 10 pop single, and it was the beginning of a solid reign on those charts for the Canadian with a great ear for accessible melodies.

of 08

"Cuts Like a Knife"

The title track from Bryan Adams' debut 1983 LP became an '80s guitar rock classic.
Single Cover Image Courtesy of A&M

Whatever his middle-of-the-road faults as a rebel rocker, Adams displayed not only an uncanny knack for clear, striking melodies but also for some nifty guitar riffs. One of these serves as the able foundation for this title track to his 1983 breakthrough album, titled, interestingly enough, Cuts Like a Knife. Beyond that, however, Adams joins a long list of artists responsible for indelible contributions to the "nah-nah-nah" category of catchy sing-along melodies. It's an anthemic arena rock quality the singer was able to nail effortlessly during the '80s.

of 08

"This Time"

Though not a huge hit, "This Time" is one of Bryan Adams' most solid songwriting moments of the '80s.
Single Cover Image Courtesy of A&M

You may have heard that within the past few years a surefire way to drive alternative country troubadour Ryan Adams crazy is by mockingly misidentifying him as Bryan Adams. But judging from this rousing pop/rock tune, I don't see what there is for Ryan to get so upset about. Here, the highly capable Bryan Adams deftly mixes a ballad approach in the verses with a fantastic up-tempo chorus, all tied together with a perfectly terse, delightful bridge. This is simply spirited mainstream rock at its best, which I personally don't think is anything to be ashamed of.

of 08


Though perhaps not his best album, 1985's 'Reckless' undoubtedly was his most popular.
Album Cover Image Courtesy of A&M

Riding in on the strength of another nifty guitar riff, this selection from the multi-platinum 1985 LP Reckless again follows Adams' established formula of mid-tempo rock songs that explode into an infectious chorus. Still, the singer's indomitable spirit prevents this formula from being mechanical, a charge that is inevitably leveled against mainstream pop/rock artists. Of course, nobody would ever accuse Adams of being a punk rock artist in even the slightest way, but his bare-bones, three-chord rock and roll energy is undeniable.

of 08

"One Night Love Affair"

This was the first Bryan Adams song I sought out after years of allowing my cassette copies of Cuts Like a Knife and Reckless to gather dust. Since then, I've reawakened to the majesty of several of Adams' tunes, especially the further I move away from the slightest concern about whether the music I like is "cool" enough. Maybe this song's simplistic romantic subject matter and accessibility aren't hip, but Adams' soaring chorus qualifies as enduring ear candy no one should be ashamed of.

of 08

"It's Only Love"

The duet partnership of Tina Turner and Bryan Adams turned out to be a solid one, in part as a result of the high quality of the song they sang together - "It's Only Love."
Single Cover Image Courtesy of A&M

Give Adams credit for being savvy enough to tap into one of the decade's greatest artist comebacks by pairing up with R&B legend Tina Turner for this spirited rocker. Another killer riff fuels the proceedings, but the pure joy the two singers project in their duet seems completely genuine and convincing. In addition, the unique, passionate vocal styles of both mesh perfectly here. Ultimately, this song confidently proves wrong anyone who claims Adams was incapable of rocking out.

of 08

"Hearts on Fire"

Bryan Adams' 1987 album 'Into the Fire' contained fewer great songs than the artist's previous '80s releases, but "Hearts on Fire" is a solid rocker..
Album Cover Image Courtesy of A&M

While there may be those who bemoan the absence of "Run to You," "Heaven" and "Summer of '69" from this list, I feel the urge to include this rocker from Adams' final '80s album, Into the Fire, because it represents the final quality moment of his rock and roll career. Before moving on to even greater adult contemporary success in the '90s, Adams delivered this parting shot, a solid rocker with passionate vocals - even if his songwriting quality had already begun to show some signs of decline.