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Top 80s Songs with Handclaps in them

Percussion can come from beating a stick on all sorts of objects or can come from striking almost any two objects together (or a machine simulating those sounds). Probably the easiest and oldest way is clapping your hands together. Handclaps 

Handclapshave been used in music from primitive times as far back as you can go and will probably continue to be used well into the future. The Beatles used handclaps in many of their songs and who can resist joining in during the Friends TV theme song “I’ll Be There For You”? The 80s had its share of songs that employed handclaps (though not as many as employed the saxophone solo). In 80s movies, I always remember Lamar starting his rap in Revenge of the Nerds with “Clap your hands everybody, everybody clap your hands” as well as Pee-wee proving he was in Texas in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Synthesizers and drum machines made it easier to replicate a consistent handclap. There are not many rap or hip-hop beats that don’t include a handclap in them somewhere, so I decided that I would not include them on this list. And you know I usually can’t stop at ten, so I included a few more to make it more complete while also combining multiple songs by the same artist. So with all of that said, here is OLD SCHOOL’S TOP 10 SONGS WITH HANDCLAPS FROM THE 80s (+ Bonus 10):

20. “Mickey” (1982) by Toni Basil

Freeze Frame19. “Freeze Frame” (1981) by J. Geils Band

18. “We Belong” (1984) by Pat Benatar

17. “Bette Davis Eyes” (1981) by Kim Carnes

Too Much Time On My Hands

16. “What I Like About You” (1980) by The Romantics

15. “Too Much Time on My Hands” (1981) by Styx

14. “Private Eyes” (1981) by Hall & Oates

Another One Bites the Dust13. “Another One Bites the Dust” (1980) & “Radio Ga Ga” (1984) by Queen

12. “I Love a Rainy Night” (1980) by Eddie RabbittThe Way You Make Me Feel

11. “The Way You Make Me Feel” (1987) by Michael Jackson & “Can You Feel It” (1980) by The Jacksons

10. “Centerfield” (1985) by John Fogerty

Rock the Casbah9. “Rock the Casbah” (1982) by The Clash

8. “Blister in the Sun” (1983) by Violent Femmes

7. “Our Lips Are Sealed” (1981) & “Head Over Heels” (1984) by The Go-Go’s

6. “Faith” (1987) by George Michael


5. “Take Me Home” (1985) by Phil Collins – Take Me HomeThis single from No Jacket Required has always been a favorite of mine. Many do not realize that it features both Sting and Peter Gabriel on backing vocals. Many also do not realize that the song is actually about a patient in a mental institution. It appeared in the first episode of season 2 of Miami Vice and was used for several years as the closing song for WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event.

4. “Dancing With Myself” (1981) by Billy Idol – Dancing With MyselfThis song was originally written and recorded by Billy Idol and Tony James when they were in the English punk band Generation X. A year later, remixed and re-released it as a solo single toning it down a little and instead emphasizing its pop rock elements. This worked like a charm allowing Idol to crossover leading to pop success, his songs receiving heavy radio airplay and his videos on heavy rotation on MTV.

3. “The Safety Dance” (1983) by Men Without Hats – The Safety DanceThis song was written by the band’s lead singer Ivan Doroschuk after he was kicked out of a club for pogoing (a sort of precursor to moshing). It is protesting bouncers stopping New Wave dancers from pogoing and not about safe sex or anti-nuclear war. It reached the Top 10 in 11 different countries including peaking at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (while reaching #1 on the Billboard Dance chart).

2. “Little Red Corvette” (1983) & “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” (1987) by Prince – Little Red Corvette“Little Red Corvette” really became the first big pop hit for Prince reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. This single from his 1999 album is actually about a one-night stand with a beautiful but promiscuous woman and uses several metaphors to describe the experience. It was one of the first two videos by a black artist to be played in heavy rotation on MTV. “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” was the final single released from Sign O’ the Times. It reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and has always been one of my favorites by the purple one.


1. “Jack & Diane” (1982) & “Hurts So Good” (1982) by John Mellencamp –

Jack & Diane“Jack & Diane” is Mellencamp’s biggest hit single spending four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and was even chosen by the RIAA as one of the Songs of the Century. It makes this list because of the handclaps, but it is interesting to note that the clapping wasn’t supposed to be included in the finished song. It was recorded with the clapping in order to help keep tempo and then it was to be removed, Mellencamp realized the song did not work as well without it. “Hurts So Good” was also from American Fool, so he must have been into using those handclaps while making that album.

There’s my list. I included music videos for the top 5, but you can easily find the others if you are not familiar with them,Handclaps don’t remember any handclaps being in them or just have the urge to listen to them now. As usual, these are based on my personal preferences and the order could very well change a little depending on my mood or nostalgia on a given day. Are there any 80s songs with handclaps in them that you feel I have overlooked? If so or if you’d rank any differently, please leave them in the comments section below. As you can see, handclaps seemed to be more prevalent in the early-80s with most of these between 1980-1984 with only a few exceptions. A few later-70s songs that used handclaps well include “We Will Rock You” by Queen, “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band and “My Best Friend’s Girl” by The Cars. Be sure to put your hands together to recognize the fine use of handclaps in this list of 80s songs which definitely deserve some applause.


Thanks, as always, for reading! My regular blog site for Kickin’ it Old School has been down for a while now. But you can still please like/follow us on our Facebook page (http://www.Facebook.com/KickinItOldSchool80s/) and on Twitter @OldSchool80s (http://www.Twitter.com/OldSchool80s/). We also have begun re-publishing our awesome interviews over at Rediscover the 80s and you can read them here(http://www.rediscoverthe80s.com/search/label/interview/)


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jkatz Posted on Feb 15, 2018 at 08:58 PM

My bad! I always assumed it was an 80s song (and even my mp3 file is labeled as such). Still, that's a very good reason for it not making the list.

OldSchool80s Posted on Feb 15, 2018 at 01:28 PM

@jkatz "More Than a Feeling" was released in 1976 but this list only included songs released in the 80s.

jkatz Posted on Feb 14, 2018 at 12:57 AM

As a Clash fan, it's always nice to seem them included in something. Not including Boston's "More Than A Feeling" is a considerable oversight in my opinion (unless you intentionally left it out because it's too popular or something)

Hoju Koolander Posted on Feb 13, 2018 at 11:04 PM

When I saw the title of your article I immediately thought of the random "Mickey" car scene from Wayne's World. I have to admit that there are a lot of songs on your list where I never even noticed the hand claps and now I'll enjoy going back and listening for them.

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