Nine trivia questions about '80s music

Nine trivia questions about '80s music
Photo by Jon Tyson / Unsplash

Were the '80s the greatest decade for music? Well, no, not at all. But it was certainly the shiniest.

Thanks to the advent of MTV, popular music stopped being just about how you sound. Music videos motivated artists to up their glitz game, and they sure as hell met the challenge.

Here's a roundup of some of the best trivia questions we've asked our readers about '80s music. Throw on your leg warmers and get ready for a trivia montage.

What was the first music video aired on MTV?

There was a time when MTV was more powerful, in theory, than any other organization in the world. Yes, I'm counting the U.S. government.

I mean, even if he had wanted to, Reagan couldn't just point at a musician and say "You're the next big star!" and have it come true. MTV executives, however, could absolutely do that for the better part of two decades.

I can honestly say that we, unlike MTV, will always stay true to the music and will never become reality TV trivia ... unless someone gives us enough money.

Which music video launched it all?


What early ‘80s hit inspired thousands of unwanted phone calls?

Remember the days not only before cell phones but before caller ID? It was madness.

If your phone rang and you were home, not only did you definitely answer it, everyone in the house raced to be the first to pick it up. It could literally be anyone calling you for all you know, but you sure as hell weren't going to miss that chance to interact with the outside world.

Now if I get a call I don't recognize, and usually even when I do know who it is, I immediately decline it. Who the crap still wants to actually talk on a phone??

But that's why in the '80s there were simply more songs about calling people. And this one inspired a bunch of unwanted calls — and still does to this day. Which song is it?


Name the band that sings 1982's “Come On Eileen.”

According to so-called science, the 1960s had the most one-hit wonders of any decade. But boy, doesn't it feel like the '80s did?

I agree with the dude who did the actual work of determining which decade is the most one-hit-wondery-est as to why this is the case — MTV. Since MTV essentially controlled popular music throughout the '80s, or at the very least could turn whatever song they wanted to into a top 10 hit, it felt like an era of endless one-hit wonders.

I also prefer the one-hitters of the '80s because the band names were often obscure or just downright strange. Unlike the '60s when it was usually some studio band named after a TV show or a person's first name and some kind of plural noun, bands in the '80s wanted their name to mean something — even if most people who heard their one big song never knew what it was.

I know what a few of you are thinking — you want to get in an argument about whether the band that sings Come On Eileen is a bonafide one-hit wonder. But before we even get there, let's see if you know who that band is.


Finish the lyrics: '80s pop edition

There's nothing more humbling than belting out the lyrics to your favorite song in your car, only to find out later you were totally wrong.

Pop music from the 1980s was catchy as hell, and there are probably hundreds of tunes you can hum to yourself from memory right now. But do you actually remember the lyrics to all those songs you used to play on your boombox while walking around the park?

Let's find out.


What inspired the Bangles song “Walk Like an Egyptian”?

How songs come to be is a mystical, unknown process for most of us. Unless we're talking about this iconic '80s hit from the Bangles.

"Walk Like an Egyptian" actually has a really clear origin story. Any ideas what that story is?


What movie star had a hit with “Respect Yourself” in 1987?

There are very few people who can do more than one thing really well.

Deion Sanders. Shohei Ohtani. Jennifer Lopez. Will Smith. Bo Jackson.

It's a small list — but every now and then, there's a little hint of a hidden talent. A brief moment where it seems that anything is possible. Or maybe it's just dumb luck.

In the late '80s, we glimpsed one such moment when this movie star had an unexpected top 10 hit. Who sang it?


What is Madonna's last name?

Some people only need one name to get the point across. Among this echelon are some of the greatest within their discipline: Pelé, Slash, Cher, Bono, and Flea, to name a few.

But then there's Madonna, who seems to hover above nearly all other one-namers in pop-culture history. And maybe all of history (sorry, Voltaire).

But she does have a last name, and in fact, she's never changed her name. What's Madonna's surname?


When did "Never Gonna Give You Up" come out?

We all know the things Rick Astley will NEVER do, from letting us down to giving us up. Still hazy about what he actually WILL do, but hey.

Rick’s first no. 1 hit received an unlikely revival in the mid-2000s when the viral internet phenomenon of Rickrolling took off. What a dumb thing that was, right? (I Rickrolled my wedding.)

I’m sure you have a vague sense of when this song originally brought joy into our lives, but do you remember what year it actually came out?

Click START to answer.


Who won the first-ever MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year in 1984?

When I was a kid I looked forward with hushed anticipation to the VMAs every year. I was the perfect target for MTV's incredible marketing engine that essentially controlled popular culture for the better part of two decades.

Video of the Year was THE big one, and if the one I was rooting for didn't win it was probably the worst thing that could happen to me.

From what I hear, the VMAs are actually still going in some form or another, but frankly, I couldn't care less. MTV has no credibility anymore when it comes to music videos.

But back in 1984, for the very first Video Music Awards, it felt like the world was changing.

Who won the very first VMA for Video of the Year?


Which famous comedian had an '80s hit with "Party All the Time"?

Making a hit song doesn't seem that hard. All you need is a good hook, some backing music, and boom — just sit back and let the royalties come in.

There's just one key ingredient that many of us lack: talent.

Of course, some people get all the talent, and even when they're already really good at one thing — so good they're famous for it — they decide to go ahead and do something else really well too. Jerks.

That includes this comedian from the 1980s who had a hit single back in the mid-80s with the track "Party All the Time." Who was it?