1985 - Your complete When It Was Cool Guide to the year 1985 in pop-culture, music, and more.

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

I turned fourteen years old in 1985 so obviously it has a special place in my heart.  Be sure to check out our other "Year in Review" guides to the greatest years of When It Was Cool retro pop-culture- 1983 & 1987.  But please remember, we need your help to keep our website going so consider helping us out on Patreon.

10 Major Events that Happened in 1985:

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January 20, 1985:  Ronald Reagan is sworn into office to begin his second term as President of the United States.


January 28, 1985:  The song We Are the World is recorded by an ensemble group title USA for Africa to earn money for African famine relief.  The group is made up of a huge number of pop and rock superstars including Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Hall & Oates, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, and numerous others.


April 23, 1985: One of the biggest marketing blunders in history takes place as Coca-Cola switches it's formula and releases the New Coke product which is met with a huge backlash.

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June 27, 1985:  The iconic American highway Route 66 is officially decommissioned. 


June 1985:  Ron Fuller's Southeastern Championship Wrestling (SECW) rebrands as Continental Championship Wrestling and begins holding television tapings at the historic Birmingham, AL Boutwell Auditorium.

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July 3, 1985:  The blockbuster movie Back to the Future is released.

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July 13, 1985:  The Live Aid charity concert is held in both London, England and Philadelphia, PA USA featuring such popular acts as Adam Ant, Elvis Costello, Sting, Phil Collins, U2, Dire Straits, David Bowie, The Who, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Black Sabbath, Run DMC, REO Speedwagon, Crosby Stills and Nash, Judas Priest, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, The Pretenders, Santana, Madonna, Tom Petty, Kenny Loggins, The Cars, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, a reformed Led Zeppelin with Phil Collins on drums, Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, Mick Jagger, and Bob Dylan but it will forever be remembered for Queen stealing the show.


September 1, 1985:  The wreckage of the Titanic is finally located in the northern Atlantic Ocean.

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September 13, 1985:  Super Mario Brothers video game is released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

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November 18, 1985:  The popular Calvin and Hobbes comic strip debuts in newspapers.

The Billboard Top 100 Songs of 1985

1    "Careless Whisper" - Wham! featuring George Michael
2    "Like a Virgin" - Madonna
3    "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" - Wham!
4    "I Want to Know What Love Is" - Foreigner
5    "I Feel for You" - Chaka Khan
6    "Out of Touch" - Hall & Oates
7    "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" - Tears for Fears
8    "Money for Nothing" - Dire Straits
9    "Crazy for You" - Madonna
10    "Take on Me" - a-ha
11    "Everytime You Go Away" - Paul Young
12    "Easy Lover" - Philip Bailey and Phil Collins
13    "Can't Fight This Feeling" - REO Speedwagon
14    "We Built This City" - Starship
15    "The Power of Love" - Huey Lewis and the News
16    "Don't You (Forget About Me)" - Simple Minds
17    "Cherish" - Kool & the Gang
18    "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" - John Parr
19    "The Heat Is On" - Glenn Frey
20    "We Are the World" - USA for Africa
21    "Shout" - Tears for Fears
22    "Part-Time Lover" - Stevie Wonder
23    "Saving All My Love For You" - Whitney Houston
24    "Heaven" - Bryan Adams
25    "Everything She Wants" - Wham!
26    "Cool It Now" - New Edition
27    "Miami Vice Theme" - Jan Hammer
28    "Loverboy" - Billy Ocean
29    "Lovergirl" - Teena Marie
30    "You Belong to the City" - Glenn Frey
31    "Oh Sheila" - Ready for the World
32    "Rhythm of the Night" - DeBarge
33    "One More Night" - Phil Collins
34    "Sea of Love" - The Honeydrippers
35    "A View to a Kill" - Duran Duran
36    "The Wild Boys" - Duran Duran
37    "You're the Inspiration" - Chicago
38    "Neutron Dance" - The Pointer Sisters
39    "We Belong" - Pat Benatar
40    "Nightshift" - Commodores
41    "Things Can Only Get Better" - Howard Jones
42    "All I Need" - Jack Wagner
43    "Freeway of Love" - Aretha Franklin
44    "Never Surrender" - Corey Hart
45    "Sussudio" - Phil Collins
46    "Strut" - Sheena Easton
47    "You Give Good Love" - Whitney Houston
48    "The Search Is Over" - Survivor
49    "Missing You" - Diana Ross
50    "Separate Lives" - Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin
51    "Raspberry Beret" - Prince and The Revolution
52    "Suddenly" - Billy Ocean
53    "The Boys of Summer" - Don Henley
54    "One Night in Bangkok" - Murray Head
55    "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" - Sting
56    "Obsession" - Animotion
57    "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" - Tina Turner
58    "Material Girl" - Madonna
59    "Better Be Good to Me" - Tina Turner
60    "Head over Heels" - Tears for Fears
61    "Axel F" - Harold Faltermeyer
62    "Smooth Operator" - Sade
63    "In My House" - Mary Jane Girls
64    "Don't Lose My Number" - Phil Collins
65    "All Through the Night" - Cyndi Lauper
66    "Run to You" - Bryan Adams
67    "Glory Days" - Bruce Springsteen
68    "Voices Carry" - 'Til Tuesday
69    "Misled" - Kool & the Gang
70    "Would I Lie to You?" - Eurythmics
71    "Be Near Me" - ABC
72    "No More Lonely Nights" - Paul McCartney
73    "I Can't Hold Back" - Survivor
74    "Summer Of '69" - Bryan Adams
75    "Walking on Sunshine" - Katrina and the Waves
76    "Freedom" - Wham!
77    "Too Late for Goodbyes" - Julian Lennon
78    "Valotte" - Julian Lennon
79    "Some Like It Hot" - Power Station
80    "Solid" - Ashford & Simpson
81    "Angel" - Madonna
82    "I'm on Fire" - Bruce Springsteen
83    "Method of Modern Love" - Hall & Oates
84    "Lay Your Hands on Me" - Thompson Twins
85    "Who's Holding Donna Now" - DeBarge
86    "Lonely Ol' Night" - John Cougar Mellencamp
87    "What About Love" - Heart
88    "California Girls" - David Lee Roth
89    "Fresh" - Kool & the Gang
90    "Do What You Do" - Jermaine Jackson
91    "Jungle Love" - The Time
92    "Born in the U.S.A." - Bruce Springsteen
93    "Private Dancer" - Tina Turner
94    "Who's Zoomin' Who" - Aretha Franklin
95    "Fortress Around Your Heart" - Sting
96    "Penny Lover" - Lionel Richie
97    "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" - Don Henley
98    "Dress You Up" - Madonna
99    "Sentimental Street" - Night Ranger
100    "Sugar Walls" - Sheena Easton

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In March of 1985 two music worlds collided as country music legend Willie Nelson teamed up with soul legend Ray Charles to release the crossover hit Seven Spanish Angels.

Cool Things of 1985

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Star Wars was still a very big deal in 1985 as the toys still dominated the toy shelves. 

Top 10 Movies of 1985: As Ranked by IMDB.


1. The Goonies

In order to save their home from foreclosure, a group of misfits set out to find a pirate's ancient valuable treasure. Director: Richard Donner, Stars: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman

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2. Back to the Future

Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown. Director: Robert Zemeckis. Stars: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover

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3. The Breakfast Club

Five high school students meet in Saturday detention and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought. Director: John Hughes. Stars: Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy

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4. Rocky IV

Rocky Balboa proudly holds the world heavyweight boxing championship, but a new challenger has stepped forward: Drago, a six-foot-four, 261-pound fighter who has the backing of the Soviet Union. Director: Sylvester Stallone. Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers

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5. Teen Wolf

An ordinary high school student discovers that his family has an unusual pedigree when he finds himself turning into a werewolf. Director: Rod Daniel. Stars: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti, Jerry Levine

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6. National Lampoon's European Vacation

The Griswolds win a vacation tour across Europe where the usual havoc ensues. Director: Amy Heckerling. Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Hill, Jason Lively


7. Silverado

A misfit bunch of friends come together to right the injustices which exist in a small town. Director: Lawrence Kasdan. Stars: Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover

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8. Pale Rider

A mysterious preacher protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land. Director: Clint Eastwood. Stars: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Sydney Penny

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9. Legend

A young man must stop the Lord of Darkness from both destroying daylight and marrying the woman he loves. Director: Ridley Scott. Stars: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent

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10. Real Genius

Teenage geniuses deal with their abilities while developing a high-powered laser for a university project. When their professor intends to turn their work into a military weapon, they decide to ruin his plans. Director: Martha Coolidge. Stars: Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, Michelle Meyrink, William Atherton

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