Theme Ride Thursday: Pump Up the 1980s Jams for National Retro Day! 1,700 Songs and 38 Trivia Questions!

Gather ’round, rad ICA members! We’ve got an electrifying proposition that’ll transport you straight to the totally tubular era of leg warmers, neon hues, and iconic tunes. Why, you ask? Because it’s National Retro Day on February 27! 

What is National Retro Day? The founders of this day said they established it to “take a look back at how life was before smartphones, social media, and the Internet as a whole became a necessity in our daily lives. In pop culture, the ‘nostalgia cycle’ is typically for the two decades that are 20 to 30 years before the current one.” So, while “retro” may eventually evolve to encompass later decades (grunge? say it isn’t so!), for us here at ICA, “retro” will forever evoke the glorious 1980s. It’s a time to embrace the fun excuse to play 1980s music and dress up like we did in the 80s.

Sure, we don’t really need a reason to rock those rad ’80s outfits and lead an all-’80s class, but can you think of a better occasion than National Retro Day to do just that?

So slip into your spandex, pull on the leg warmers and headbands, crank up the ’80s jams, and let’s pedal back to the raddest decade of them all!


Here at ICA, we’re, like, totally stoked to serve up the ultimate throwback experience with an epic selection of ’80s musical gems—nearly 1,700 tracks to groove to! 

And hey, guess what’s coming soon? We’re cookin’ up some wicked cool ’80s profiles, too! Stay tuned as we bring you gnarly rides straight from the era of cassette tapes and boomboxes in the next week. (I’m brushing off the cobwebs from some of my past 80s profiles and have put out a call to my contributors for their favorite ’80s rides—so check back soon.)

In the meantime, we do have a fun 1980s profile you can pull out now. Try this one by Fern Stancer using the all-’80s soundtrack for the movie Air

But for now, let’s talk tunes…

I’ve curated three bucket playlists that’ll have your class busting moves like it’s 1985. First up, we’ve got the “Iconic ’80s” playlist, packed with 640 tracks that defined the decade. From the synth-pop beats of Duran Duran to channeling your inner rebel with Billy Idol, this playlist is a total blast from the past.

Next, get ready to rock out with our “1980s Rock” playlist—a righteous collection featuring over 350 tracks of pure rock ‘n’ roll bliss. Whether you’re rebelling with the driving anthems of Joan Jett or soaking up the soulful vibes of Peter Gabriel, this playlist has got you covered! (There may be a bit of crossover with my Iconic playlist because let’s face it, how do I decide which one to put John Mellencamp, Guns n’ Roses, or Dire Straits songs on? Solution…they went into both!) 

And for an entertaining twist to this theme, check out our “1980s Covers and Remixes” playlist, boasting a whopping 660 tracks! From fresh takes on classic hits to funky remixes that’ll get your heart racing, this playlist is the ultimate homage to ’80s awesomeness.

If you want to get even more creative in your playlist creation, you could narrow the theme down to a specific sub-genre of ’80s music, such as post-punk/new wave, Euro-pop, synth-pop, post-disco, early hip-hop, ’80s arena rock, British bands, or even celebrate the leading ladies of the ’80s in honor of International Women’s Day, just around the corner!

ICA members can access all of these bucket playlists below. Even if you don’t use Spotify to teach, you can still follow these playlists with your free Spotify account and simply use them as resources to search for tracks to use in your music resource of choice. 

Now, let’s dial up the nostalgia with some tubular 1980s trivia to keep your class entertained:

  1. Which iconic ’80s band sang the hit song “Every Breath You Take”?
  2. What was the best-selling album of the 1980s?
  3. Who was known as the “King of Pop” in the 1980s?
  4. Which iconic movie soundtrack featured hits like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Burning Heart”?
  5. Which ’80s band released the album Purple Rain, accompanied by a film of the same name?
  6. Which iconic 1980s film features a song about dancing by Kenny Loggins?
  7. Who starred as Marty McFly in the 1985 film Back to the Future?
  8. Which iconic 1980s TV show featured a group of teenagers solving mysteries in a van named the Mystery Machine?
  9. What was the name of Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee in the 1980s?
  10. Which legendary singer-songwriter released the album Graceland in 1986, featuring African musical influences?
  11. In the 1984 film The Karate Kid, what is the name of the martial arts instructor who teaches Daniel LaRusso?
  12. What was the name of the fictional high school where the characters of the TV show Saved by the Bell attended?
  13. What was the name of the computer in the 1980s film WarGames that almost triggers a nuclear war?
  14. Which iconic ’80s band released the album Rio in 1982, featuring hits like “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio”?
  15. What was the name of the fictional town where the kids in the film The Goonies lived and embarked on their adventure?
  16. Who starred as Axel Foley in the 1984 action-comedy film Beverly Hills Cop?
  17. In the 1980s sitcom featuring a lovable extraterrestrial character named ALF, what does ALF stand for? 
  18. In the movie Top Gun, what was the call sign of Tom Cruise’s character, Lieutenant Pete Mitchell?
  19. What was the name of the fictional high school where the characters of the film The Breakfast Club spent their Saturday in detention?
  20. Who was the first female artist to achieve four top-10 hits from a single album on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with her 1983 album She’s So Unusual?
  21. What was the name of the robotic toy that became popular in the 1980s and could transform into various vehicles?
  22. Which 1980s arcade game featured a yellow, pizza-shaped character navigating through a maze while eating dots and avoiding ghosts?
  23. In the 1985 film The Breakfast Club, which character famously dances alone in the library to the song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds? Bonus: Who is the actor?
  24. What was the name of the fictional town where the events of the 1985 film Back to the Future primarily take place?
  25. In the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, what songs does Ferris lip-sync to during the parade scene?
  26. Which iconic ’80s duo released the hit song “Take on Me” in 1985?
  27. Who sang the theme song for the 1984 James Bond film Octopussy?
  28. In the 1982 film Blade Runner, what is the name of the corporation that creates the replicants?
  29. In the 1988 film Beetlejuice, what is the name of the eccentric and mischievous titular character? Bonus: Who was the actor and who was his leading lady?
  30. In the classic high-school adventure film Risky Business (1983), Tom Cruise strips down to his tighty-whities and rocks out to which iconic song of the era? 
  31. In the 1983 film Flashdance, what is the profession of the main character Alex Owens?
  32. Which 1980s movie features the character Johnny Castle, a dance instructor, and includes iconic scenes set to songs like “Hungry Eyes” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”? Bonus: Who was the actor? 
  33. In the 1985 film The Goonies, what is the name of the pirate ship the characters discover, which plays a key role in the plot?
  34. In the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, what song plays during the iconic final scene where Zack Mayo carries Paula Pokrifki out of the factory?
  35. Which iconic band’s song “Moving in Stereo” is prominently featured in a memorable scene involving Phoebe Cates’s character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High?
  36. Which 1980s movie features a soundtrack with songs like “Take On Me” by A-ha and “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins?
  37. Who composed the iconic score for the 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner?
  38. Which 1980s film features the characters Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court, and is known for its iconic scene where Lloyd holds up a boombox playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”?

So gear up, grab your scrunchies, and let’s take a groovy trip down memory lane as we celebrate the bodacious vibes of the 1980s on National Retro Day!

Answers to the quiz:

  1. The Police.
  2. Thriller, by Michael Jackson.
  3. Michael Jackson.
  4. Rocky IV.
  5. Prince and The Revolution.
  6. Footloose.
  7. Michael J. Fox.
  8. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
  9. Bubbles.
  10. Paul Simon.
  11. Mr. Miyagi.
  12. Bayside High School.
  13. The computer’s name was Joshua, also known as WOPR (War Operation Plan Response).
  14. Duran Duran.
  15. The fictional town is called Astoria, Oregon.
  16. Eddie Murphy.
  17. ALF = Alien Life Form.
  18. Maverick.
  19. Shermer High School.
  20. Cyndi Lauper.
  21. Transformers.
  22. Pac-Man.
  23. The character is John Bender, played by Judd Nelson.
  24. Hill Valley.
  25. Ferris lip-syncs to “Danke Schoen” by Wayne Newton and “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles.
  26. A-ha.
  27. Rita Coolidge.
  28. Tyrell Corporation.
  29. Beetlejuice, portrayed by Michael Keaton.
  30. Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll.”
  31. Alex Owens is a welder by day and a dancer by night.
  32. Dirty Dancing (1987). Patrick Swayze played Johnny Castle and Jennifer Grey played Baby Houseman.
  33. The Inferno.
  34. “Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes.
  35. The song “Moving in Stereo” is by The Cars.
  36. Top Gun (1986).
  37. Vangelis.
  38. Say Anything… (1989).

Check out our three bucket playlists with ~1,700 songs below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *