10 exquisite 80s Songs to play on the Saxophone (with Sheet Music)
Do you play the saxophone? In this article we present a selection of the 10 best songs of the 80s that you can play on the saxophone. From Careless Whisper to Don’t Worry Be Happy and Purple Rain you will find the most legendary songs of one of the most varied decades in music history. Thanks to Tomplay's interactive sheet music, you can play the part of the saxophone accompanied by a play-along recording by the rest of the band!
If you look to learn the Saxophone notes, try our Saxophone fingering chart tool.
The perfect instrument to rediscover the 80s
In its long history, saxophone has often only played a secondary role: its eponymous inventor, the Belgian Adolpe Sax, originally saw it as a classical instrument - a genre it never really established itself in. For a long time it was overshadowed by its kinship of wind instruments. It was only with the advent of jazz that saxophone became a star and can now be found in all branches of music.
As soon as it had taken its rightful place in jazz, saxophone became one of the main carriers of the melodies because of which the genre is celebrated by music fans around the world. The deeply soulful and often improvised solos alone can perpetuate a song as an immortal classic. Saxophone has come a long way - but in the meantime its melodic diversity has proven to be an integral part of modern music.
In the meantime, saxophone has also pushed the boundaries of jazz. Its sounds are cross-genre and find their way just as well in rock, pop and soul. So it is no surprise that saxophone and the 80s go well together. As one of the most diverse decades in music history, the 80s have a whole range of different hits to offer: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, Don't Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin or Purple Rain by Prince - all immortal pieces that every instrumentalist can enjoy.
So it should be the mission of every saxophonist to fully exploit the musical diversity of their instrument. In the following article we have compiled a list of the 10 best 80s songs that you can play on your saxophone.
You can also find these songs in the following collections:
1. Careless Whisper
▶️️ Play the scores for Careless Whisper for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
No 80s list would be complete without George Michael: With almost 25 top positions in the international charts, Careless Whisper was a hit par excellence in 1984. Over 6 million singles were sold worldwide; this makes the song one of the most successful songs of the already popular musician.
George Michael's soulful lyrics about love and guilt struck a chord with fans and critics alike. And yet it is the iconic sound of the saxophone that makes the song instantly recognizable; played by the English jazz saxophonist Steve Gregory. Even today the melody is one of the most famous saxophone parts of all time.
Careless Whisper unmistakably shows how cross-genre the instrument truly is: Since its release, the hit has inspired numerous cover versions - from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to the punk version of The Gossip and the hip-hop cover by none other than Tupac.
Discover our interactive sheet music from Careless Whisper by George Michael and play the song on the alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in different levels of difficulty!
▶️️ Play the scores for Hallelujah for alto and tenor saxophone
Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah had only minor success shortly after its release. Only after the piece reached a larger audience through a number of cover versions and constant use in film and television did it achieve the significance it has today in the world of music.
The song has gone through some changes in its long career: It is said that Leonard Cohen wrote a total of over 80 different verses. The text varied from time to time on his live shows. The piece can sometimes therefore be melancholic, sometimes vulnerable, but also hopeful and heartwarming.
Despite its many possible interpretations, the calm melody of the song always touches you in one and the same way. The cover versions, by John Cale and Jeff Buckley for example, often use different lyrics - but always the same sound, which can also be wonderfully transferred to other instruments.
Play our notes of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen on the saxophone in different degrees of difficulty.
3. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
▶️️ Play the scores for Don’t Worry, Be Happy for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
Is there a melody you'd rather have stuck in your head than Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry, Be Happy? The quick-witted title became the motto of a whole generation - the catchy sound rounded off the cult status of the song just right. Don't worry, Be Happy was the first a cappella piece to top the charts and even managed to dethrone hits like Sweet Child o ’Mine from the Guns N’ Roses.
Based on a philosophy of the Indian guru Meher Baba, Bobby McFerrin gave the words music that underscored them to perfection - completely without instruments! The entire melody arises from McFerrin's vocals, completed by the rhythmic snapping of his fingers.
With such a clear, timeless message to its listeners, it is no wonder that Don’t Worry, Be Happy has remained a badly needed catchy tune to this day. All areas of pop culture still reference the melody that Bobby McFerrin recorded in the studio in only just a few hours.
Discover the sheet music of Don’t Worry, Be Happy in the Tomplay Shop and play the 80s hit on the alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in various degrees of difficulty.
4. I Want To Know What Love Is
▶️️ Play the scores for I Want to Know What Love Is for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
It’s British-American rock band Foreigner's biggest success! I Want to Know What Love Is hit the music scene of 1984 like a bomb! With first placements, the power ballad was able to stay in the English and American pop charts for several weeks in the 80s.
In England, the band even managed to overtake Madonna's megahit Like A Virgin. Despite Foreigner's otherwise rocky sound, the group made a name for itself in the world of pop music. Rolling Stone magazine counted I Want to Know What Love Is among the best songs of all time.
The dreamlike, almost hypnotic atmosphere that Foreigner created in their song is still highly praised by fans and critics to this day. The cover versions, which subsequently appeared in large numbers, made it into the charts again and again; proof of the universal power that the piece possesses.
Discover our interactive sheet music of I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner and play the song on the alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in different degrees of difficulty!
▶️️ Play the scores of Hello for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
One of his many number 1 hits: Hello was another highlight in Lionel Richie's long music career. As the third single from his second album Can’t Slow Down, the piece climbed to the top of the charts in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a handful of other countries around the world.
A cross-genre hit, Hello even managed to get first placements in the pop and R&B charts at the same time. With over 90 million albums sold worldwide, Lionel Richie is one of the most successful musicians of his generation. The iconic line "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" however remains as one of the most cited of his works.
Like the music video, directed by Bob Giraldi, the text tells a moving story of a strong love, which is clearly reflected in the melancholy tones and Richie's soulful voice.
Play our sheet music from Hello by Lionel Richie on the alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in different degrees of difficulty.
6. Sexual Healing
▶️️ Play the scores for Sexual Healing for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
Marvin Gaye suffered a number of setbacks in his life: failed marriages, depression, drug addiction. All of this came to a head in the winter of 1981 - in the midst of his separation from long-standing Motown label, which, according to his own statements, robbed him of his creative freedom.
It did not take long, however, and the musician found his way back. After signing a contract with Columbia Records and going through drug rehab, his musical career took off again. It was at this time that the melody for Sexual Healing came to mind.
The hit is bursting with life-affirming sounds and positive vibes - which won him his first two Grammy Awards. Marvin Gaye left a musical legacy that still attracts many followers to this day.
Play our notes of Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye on the alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in different degrees of difficulty.
7. One More Night
▶️️ Play the scores of One More Night for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
It's hard to believe that Phil Collins got the idea for his hit One More Night just by accident while playing around with his drum machine. He generally describes the entire process behind it as being quick and smooth. And yet a song was created (if you look at the immense successes) that was very well received by its large audience.
Phil Collins left his mark on the 80s like no other musician. One More Night joins the streak of success of his formative hits such as In the Air Tonight, Another Day in Paradise or Take Me Home.
Along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, he is one of the three only musicians who have succeeded in selling over 100 million albums worldwide as a solo artist and as part of a band. The number of prizes he has won, including eight Grammys and two Golden Globes, is also at a record high!
Discover our interactive sheet music from One More Night by Phil Collins and play the song on the alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in different degrees of difficulty!
8. Purple Rain
▶️️ Play the scores of Purple Rain for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
Prince, a true icon of the 80s: His entire existence as an artist had a huge impact on the image that is now representative of the decade. From his unique appearance to the powerful ballads - Prince was a one-of-a-kind, the magic to which hardly anyone has come close till this day.
In Purple Rain, from the soundtrack of the same name in the film with the same title, elements of rock, R&B, gospel and orchestral music are combined in a way that only Prince could have done. An unadulterated proof of his talent: Prince wrote, composed and produced the entire work.
The hit stayed firmly in the artist's live set - even decades after it was first released. In fact, it was the very last song that Prince played in front of his audience in Atlanta in April 2016, before he passed away just a few days later.
Discover the sheet music of Purple Rain in the Tomplay Shop and play the legendary 80s song on the alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in different degrees of difficulty!
9. Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You
▶️️ Play the scores of Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
Just in time for the middle of the decade, George Benson delivered another authoritative song that made love to its subject in classic 80s manner. Despite the fact that the chorus became an omnipresent catchy tune, it was not a huge success shortly after its release.
Hawaiian singer Glenn Medeiros made it a worldwide success two years later; despite the fact that his cover was the very first single by the still relatively unknown artist. Since then, the song has been an integral part of all Greatest Hits compilations of the 80s.
The piece was first released on George Benson's album 20/20. The loving sounds, written by Michael Masser and Gerry Coffin, just invite you to play Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You on your instrument.
With our interactive saxophone sheet music you can discover Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You on the alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in various degrees of difficulty.
10. Who Can It Be Now?
▶️️ Play the scores of Who Can It Be Now? for alto, tenor and soprano saxophone
Energetic, fast and unique: Who Can It Be Now? from Men at Work is one of the greatest Australian hits of the 80s. Next to Down Under, it is probably the best-known track of the band, which was founded by Colin Hay in 1978 and led through their entire career.
Colin Hay based the lyrics of the song on his own experiences: When he was living with his girlfriend in New South Wales around 1979, many visitors mistook his apartment for that of the drug dealer just one door away. It got to the point where he was tempted to be scared every time someone knocked.
That Paranoia is unmistakably recognizable in its fast-paced sound. The saxophone in particular plays a major role in creating the gloomy atmosphere - which culminates in a breathtaking solo. It is a must for saxophonists!
Experience the energy of Who Can It Be Now? and play our interactive sheet music for alto, tenor or soprano saxophone in various degrees of difficulty.