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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.