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The Top 10 80’s Sax Songs
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It seems like just about every pop song that came out of the 80’s had a bitchin saxophone solo.   So I’ve compiled a list of my Top 10 80’s Sax Songs for your (and my) amusement. Feel free to add any that I missed in the comments. Enjoy!

Note: Many of these YouTube videos that USED to be embeddable no longer allow embedding. Just click the song title to open any song below in its own window.

10. Smooth Operator by Sade (1984)

This song is so smooth it’s like someone used a belt sander on velvet and then put some lotion on it. The smooth sax comes at you in at the beginning and lingers…no matter how hard you try to escape.

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9. If You Leave by Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (1986)

Probably the most subtle of the sax solos on this list, I just couldn’t ignore this OMD hit from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. The sax solo is short, sweet and, like Jeffrey Lebowski’s rug, really ties the room together. (embedding disabled…click the song title to see the video)

8.  The Heart of Rock n Roll by Huey Lewis & the News (1986)

There’s sax all over this song, but when Huey yells “Johnny!” at about the 1 minute 55 second mark, you know to get ready for some 80’s saxophone madness.  Huey Lewis & The News did saxophone right, and this is their quintessential sax song. (embedding disabled…click the song title to see the video)

7. Never Tear Us Apart by INXS (1988)

Clocking in at exactly 2 minutes into the song, in the video you get the added bonus of a sax solo from a graveyard. How cool is that?

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6. It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel (1980)

Billy Joel had a lot of hits in the 80’s and a lot of sax solos.  But nothing beats his oxymoronic tribute to rock and roll, with its decidedly non-rock shuffle beat and its non-rock chord progression. But what rocks? The saxophone solo. And apparently it’s ALL rock and roll to Billy, so we just get to go along for the ride. (embedding disabled…click the song title to see the video)

5. Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty (1978)

Okay, so technically this song didn’t come out in the 80’s but I have to include it primarily because the eight-bar alto saxophone solo led to a resurgence often described as “the ‘Baker Street’ phenomenon.” After this song came out, saxophone sales skyrocketed and quite possibly single handedly launched the entire 80’s sax solo craze. (embedding disabled…click the song title to see the video)

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4. Who Can it Be Now by Men at Work (1981)

There are men, and then there are Men at Work. Who can it be knocking at my door? Why it’s a saxophone player, wailing one of the more recognizable riffs from one of the biggest pop groups to come from the :Land Down Under”. Haven’t heard enough sax yet?  Fast forward to 2 minutes and 8 seconds for the bitchin sax solo.

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3. Rio by Duran Duran (1982)

The video for this song is so awesome and, at about 3 minutes in, features what is undoubtedly the grooviest dueling sax riff played from a raft and a mountainside you’ll ever see. (embedding disabled…click the song title to see the video)

2.  Maneater by Hall & Oates (1982)

This song is so awesome it actually employs saxophone foreshadowing. At the beginning you get a hint of what is to come. It’s like a tease. And then there’s a jaguar. And then…well…at about 2 minutes and 45 seconds in, prepare to have yourself draped in a velvety saxophone solo that is so good you’ll feel like you’re hearing it twice.

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1.  Careless Whisper by Wham! (Featuring George Michael) (1985)

Like the chicken and the egg, which came first…the song or the sax riff? You can’t have one without the other. To me, this song is the definition of 80’s saxophone and gravity-defying hair.   Are there other songs with more saxophone?  Sure.  But they all bow down to the glory that is the man with two first names.   Don’t call him George or Mr. Michael.   He’s George Michael, Dammit!

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