Quiz: Can You Name These ’80s Music Videos From a Screenshot?: HowStuffWorks
Can You Name These ’80s Music Videos From a Screenshot?
By: Lauren Lubas
7 Min Quiz
Image: Warner Bros.
About This Quiz
The 1980s defined a generation with music and wild fashion (not to mention the hairstyles). This decade was all about artists expressing themselves and encouraging others to do the same. Gone were the '70s where music told us to question authority. The '80s ushered in music that told us authority had no right to question us. Music freed us, and the backlash from the government couldn't touch popular opinion. We loved rap, pop, rock and punk. We began listening to music for fun and fight. It was glorious.
It was when we took the popular, inspiring music of the 1980s and paired it with basic cable that something even more glorious happened. The marriage of video and music broadcast across the airwaves gave us lessons in fashion, dancing and art. MTV was the outlet for those who needed to know, wanted to find out and had to learn about the music we loved so much.
If you grew up in the 1980s or you just have fond memories of New Kids on the Block dancing around on your television screen, this is the quiz for you. We've selected 40 popular music videos from the 1980s, and we want to see if you can identify them from a screenshot. Here's your chance to prove your '80s knowledge.
Vertigo / Mercury / Warner Bros.
Which video included some play with colors?
Dire Straits made an impact beyond that of the music video. They actually brought in the idea that people were addicted to television, and thus when music was introduced to television, not much else was necessary. If you wanted your MTV, you related to this song.
Do you recognize this video with the ultimate entertainer?
Prince was all about freedom of self and freedom of personality. He didn't mind expressing himself, and he really brought the heat with his 1982 classic, "1999." He brought it to the world, and 18 years later, we were obsessed with it again. Now we look at it like a time capsule.
Can you name this video that includes Will Smith?
The 1980s were a golden age for Will Smith (actually, his whole career was pretty golden). Back then he was at the top of his game with a hit single and a hit television show. He's come pretty far, but he still loves to sing.
In which music video does Michael's sister show her girl power?
Not only does Janet Jackson show off her girl power, but she also delivers some of the coolest dance moves around (all while wearing a blazer). She shows us that women can have an opinion, and those nasty boys don't mean a thing.
Sire / Warner Bros.
In which video do we see a girl telling her dad to lay off?
Madonna made some intense waves in the pop world in the 1980s. While the majority of the masses couldn't get enough of her, some wanted her banned from the airwaves for her style and the topics of her songs.
Can you name the music video that mixed rock and rap?
While some might call this the most annoying song of the 1980s, it was ahead of its time. It mixed rap and rock, giving us a new sound (granted, we weren't looking for a new sound at the time, but it was still nice to see).
Known as the smiling rocker, this video is all about his concert. What music video is it?
Bon Jovi somehow bridged heavy metal and pop music, but this wasn't really defined back in the 1980s. As a matter of fact, he was considered a rock star ... though if you've read "The Dirt" by Motley Crue, you probably know how Nikki Sixx felt about him.
This cheesy video should be locked away. Do you know what it is?
We aren't sure how this even happened. One would think that pairing these two rock legends would give us something unbelievably grand, but what we really got was something completely unbelievable.
She was one of the original divas. Can you name this video?
This song has quite a bit of backstory, but before we knew about all of that, the song itself was just perfect for the time and how love and life changed with 1980s culture. Besides, there's nothing like watching Tina walk down the street in a leather skirt with a jean jacket on.
What is the name of this video with an expressive rock star?
Tight leather pants, big hair and motorcycles — who could ask for more in an '80s video? Of course, watching the bleach blonde with Elvis lips was always entertaining; he didn't need everything in this video, but we got it all, really.
Charisma / Geffen
Do you recognize this video that utilized stop motion graphics?
Not only did this music video have special effects that were next to unheard of at the time, but it also gave us a really odd way to look at how things were done. Of course, looking back at it, we might laugh, but it was an amazing video nonetheless.
Epic / CBS
This is one of the most famous music videos of all time. Can you name it?
What happens when you mix the king of pop with one of the most famous directors of the 1980s? The "Thriller" video showed us that music and movies could be one ... as long as you had the right choreography.
Atlantic / Mercury Records / WEA
This video had a few video collages. Do you know the name?
The '80s had plenty of artsy videos, but this one wanted to make a statement, and it did. With layered playback and visual effects that may have looked like mistakes, this video was pretty genius.
What is the name of this animated music video?
This is one of the most celebrated music videos of all time. It's a song about love and passion, and the black and white animation in the video delivers those feelings as you enjoy the music.
Do you remember this video about a modern day cowboy?
Bon Jovi made a lot of songs about cowboys, but that wasn't until later. "Wanted Dead or Alive" gave us a taste of his country-rocker start, and he looked really good in tight jeans on the back of a motorcycle.
Do you remember this rock video?
The 1980s were both an excellent and terrible decade for Van Halen. They had some great hits and some massive flops. While many like "Jump," there are others who really find it to be a black eye on the band's history.
Bearded men with guitars ... can you name this video?
How's about some old cars and stiff dancing? While "Sharp Dressed Man" may have been a great song, the music video left quite a bit to be desired. Additionally, we had tons of questions, like "How did they get their beards so long?"
This video is all about moving to LA to become a star. Can you name it?
Everyone thought LA was all glitz and glamour ... well, everyone who didn't live there and had never been there. This video showed us that the cops were brutal, the industry was corrupt and nothing was easy in the jungle.
Can you guess the name of this video that is classic '80s?
The makeup ... the clothing ... the guitars ... they were all so serious while this was going on, and these days, you can't help but laugh. However, back then, it really spoke to a generation.
This video starts off innocent enough but gets weird quick. What is it?
Talking Heads was a quintessential '80s band that gave us one of the most memorable synthesized songs that we still love today. Who doesn't belt out this song when it pops on a random playlist?
In this video, you can see Paula Abdul dancing with a cartoon. What video is it?
These two were direct opposites, as one of them was a live-action human and the other was a cartoon cat. It was a nice throwback to the Disney films in which animation was mixed with live-action. However, the subject matter was a little different than Disney.
Sire / Warner Bros.
This video is full of dance and expression. What is it?
The signature pointy nipple bra that we all remember Madonna wearing is front and center in this video. It caused rage across the conservative world, but if you watch the video, you realize there's a little more to this song.
Island – IS 288
Can you name this video that includes terrible dancing and feathered hair?
"Braaaaang me a higher love, oh oh" ... eh hem, sorry about that. This song is basically half of an argument about higher love existing. It begins by asking the audience to "Think about it."
What cheesy '80s video is this?
He's wearing overalls, no shirt ... and an ascot (when he's talking about those Midwest girls). Need we say more? Oh, and every other outfit he's got on in this video. We bet the Beach Boys were regretting sharing the rights to that song. Whoa. This goes down in history as one of the biggest mistakes of the 1980s.
It's in black and white but it is one of the most fun songs of the 1980s. What is it?
This video may have some of the worst lip-syncing in the entire world, but it was made during a time when people actually sang their songs, so we kind of understand that Henley thinks he's supposed to talk the lyrics rather than fake sing them.
Vertigo / Mercury
In which '80s video do we get to see rockers share a microphone?
The young rockers of the '80s stole our hearts. They were gorgeous, young and British ... and they made some pretty kick-butt music. When they shared a microphone in this video, life just got better for us all.
What is the name of this video in which Michael Jackson gets into a dance fight?
If you ever want to see some amazing choreography, watch anything with Michael Jackson in it. This music video showed what it's like when two rival gangs meet up in the subway ... but when it's between Michael Jackson and Wesley Snipes, life just gets so much better.
Sire / Warner Bros.
Do you know which Madonna video the Vatican condemned?
The sound of the song strayed from Madonna's norm, but burning crosses, self-inflicted stigmata and making out with black Jesus enraged some people. This video even led to Madonna losing a deal with Pepsi.
Rock ballads from the 1980s gave the strongest rocker the chance to cry. Which of these is a rock ballad?
Poison had some of the most emotionally compelling ballads of any rock band, and "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" reminded us that nothing was perfect ... even if we were talking about love.
EMI / Harvest
What is the name of this adventurous video?
If you could pick one song that defined the '80s, you'd probably go with "Thriller" (1982), but if you could pick two songs, the second one would be Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" (1982).
Delicious Vinyl / 4th & B-Way
Can you name this '80s music video that includes an awesome dance?
When it came to dance music and rap in the 1980s, music videos were a great way to spread the music far and wide to audiences who might not have heard it. They made Tone Loc a famous face in those days.
What is the name of the rock song in this video?
Sweaty rock stars on stage, dancing jumping and one heck of a song (you could both dance and rock out to) were all ingredients in this perfect 1980s video. Oh, and did we mention the killer mullets?
Atlantic / WEA
What is the name of this incredibly sad video?
This song is all about not getting along with a parent, and realizing what kind of mistake that was. However, it's more about hindsight and regret than it is about making amends later in life.
A sound stage, big hair and lots of shadows define this video. What is it?
Of all the rock ballads that made their way into '80s music videos, Cheap Trick's "The Flame" is probably the most underrated. "You were the first to be the last," are some of the most impactful lyrics of the decade.
Can you name this rock anthem?
Poison was the kind of band that everyone loved to watch and hear. They mixed some deep country sounds with rockin' lyrics and fun topics. This song was perfect for the average worker who wanted to let loose.
Do you remember this U2 music video?
U2 had some excellent music videos. While Bono's political stance can be seen peppered throughout everything, this one focuses on the artistic aspect. It's shot mostly in black and white and moves slowly, much like the song.
Mercury / DreamWorks (2000 re-release)
Do you know the name of this video?
Def Leppard gave us young rockers that we loved to see on stage and on MTV. "Love Bites" was an excellent ballad about how difficult it was to be in love during the decade and the aftermath of the sexual revolution.
Whitney Houston in an art house. Can you name this video?
Funhouse mirrors, bright pink lipstick and the comically huge bow in her hair should tell you that this video is straight out of the 1980s. If that doesn't help, just listen to the synthesized sounds in the song.
Phonogram / Mercury / Vertigo
Can you name this 1985 video?
This song may have been overplayed on the radio and on MTV, but the fun cutaway shots in the video were nice to have around. Tears for Fears showed us that it was cool to wear a salmon-colored polo while singing on stage.
Do you remember this Motley Crue music video?
This music video had sound effects and Tommy Lee listening to his own music. While the beginning of the video is funny, the song itself is quite the ballad and shows the range of his rock bands.
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