Mar 222013


As I may have mentioned a few times over the years, I HATED THE 1980s!

I hated ’80s style and culture in general, but as a music-obsessed person, I especially hated “’80s” music, which I typify as synth-pop featuring Yahmaha DX7s and strained vocals. I hated hair gel and guys with dyed hair. I hated asymmetric hairdos and shirt collars. I hated shirts with shoulder pads and epaulets. I hated puffy socks and women wearing jeans with high-riding waistbands. I even hated Madonna, although stripped of her iconic ’80s style she was my idea of a Hot Woman. Thankfully Madonna provided some opportunities to confirm that suspicion.

I hated what the ’80s did to Michael Jackson. I hated the bright colors. I never aspired to androgyny. I even hated much of the “cool” underground music of the ’80s: hardcore, shitcore, REM, that goth stuff like Bauhaus coming out of England… I even hated bands that were making music fairly similar to my own band’s aspirations because I was jealous of their relative success.

I think I hated myself as much as anything. I grew up in the 1970s, feeling pretty much out of place but certain that I would develop into a well-rounded hipster in my early ’80s college years only to be unleashed in a world where I fit in even less. Damn you, 1980s!

Today, my wiser, kinder, gentler self occasionally hears Human League‘s “Don’t You Want Me Baby” on the radio and thinks to himself, “At least I always liked that song. There must have been another 24 hit songs in the ’80s that I liked, right?”

Well, were there? I am calling on you, my trusted Townspeople, to help me recall whether I liked 25 hit songs from the 1980s. The rules for submission follow…after the jump!

My wiser, kinder, gentler self has been pondering this question for a good half dozen years or so. Thinking about it again today I can only recall the following characteristically ’80s songs that I like AND, more importantly, liked then.

  1. Human League, “Don’t You Want Me”
  2. Spandau Ballet, “True”
  3. John Waite, “Missing You” (Yeah, I know he was slightly established as part of The Babys, but they weren’t major artists in the 1970s. Who would have spotted John Waite walking down a street before his 1984 solo hit?)
  4. Madonna, “Like a Virgin” (Does a way better job with the riff from Prince’s “1999” than the Purple One himself.)
  5. New Order, “Temptation”
  6. INXS, “???” (the song with a soaring sax riff that sets up each chorus)

That leaves at least 19 songs for you to help me recall and assess in my wiser, kinder, gentler effort to show that I actually had some connection to that era’s popular music culture.

A few exclusions to my reassessment of ’80s music should be taken into consideration:

  • Songs with an ’80s tinge by previously established ’70s artists like Bruce SpringsteenHall & Oates, and Van Halen don’t count. Same goes for synth-colored hits by artists from my New Wave high school roots, such as Talking HeadsBlondie, The Cars, Tom Petty, and the like.
  • Hit songs from the 1980s that don’t really sound like ’80s songs, such as Dexy’s Midnight Runners‘ “Come On Eileen,” don’t count. (And yes, I was already cool enough to have purchased the band’s first, cool album before they broke bigtime, but I don’t count early Dexy’s under the “previously established” exclusion rule.)
  • Songs I hated in their time but now practically love, such as Eddy Grant‘s “Electric Avenue,” don’t count.
  • Songs that I now realize I didn’t know upon their original release and only learned about in the early ’90s, after a remix version appeared on European MTV with a funny Sid and Marty Kroft-style video (eg, the 1990 remix of The Cure‘s “Close to Me”) don’t count.
  • Songs that I liked for the opening 2 minutes in the 1980s but that eventually bored me by going on way too long, such as the 3 Prince classics I almost fully like—”Little Red Corvette,” “1999,” and “When Doves Cry”—don’t count.
  • Unmemorable (to me) songs by bands that even I could tell were good compared with their contemporaries, such as ABC and Yaz, don’t count.

I will only consider ’80s-style songs that I knew and, possibly, actually liked when they were popular. For purposes of this exercise I am also excluding the couple of Sugarhouse Gang rap songs from the early ’80s that I liked. They were so early in the decade and I was so deep in my brief “This Is Radio Clash” acceptance of the new genre that my critical faculties were essentially disabled. The 5 or 6 songs I like from that scene are still fun to hear on my Sugarhill Gang’s Greatest Hits collection.

Please help me fill out a list of 25 hit songs from the 1980s that I actually liked. Thank you.


  213 Responses to “Last Man Standing: Help Mr. Moderator Identify His List of Actual Hits From the 1980s That He Liked, Even During Those Days When He Was “Too Cool for School””

  1. Sgt. Peppermint Petty

    Something About You – Level 42
    Dance Hall Days – Wang Chung
    Ah! Leah! – Donnie Iris
    Pink House – John Cougar Mellencamp
    Easy Lover – Phillip Bailey
    Lunatic Fringe – Red Rider
    Save a Prayer – Duran Duran
    Your Love – The Outfield
    Do You Believe in Love – Huey Lewis & The News
    Sausalito Summernight – Diesel
    Our House – Madness
    And We Danced – The Hooters
    Send Me an Angel – Real Life
    (I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight – Cutting Crew
    Talk in Your Sleep – The Romantics

  2. Sgt. Peppermint Petty

    “Talk-ING in Your Sleep”, that is…

  3. BigSteve

    I was going to suggest Missing You if you hadn’t already mentioned it. Great record.

    How about No One Is to Blame by Howard Jones? As with Missing You, I actually bought the 7″ single of that one.

  4. misterioso

    I would say, on the contrary, that “Don’t You Want Me” is a piece of crap and dashed one’s hopes for anything cool to from (pardon the expression) “new wave” to achieve Top 40 success. Next stop, Duran Duransville and the dominance of MTV. Pleh!

  5. misterioso

    I’m going to assume that these are meant ironically, though I confess to having a soft spot for Ah Leah.

  6. BigSteve

    Are hits on the funkier end of the spectrum allowed? If so I suggest

    Cameo, Word Up
    Herbie Hancock, Rockit
    Grace Jones, Pull Up to the Bumper
    Jermaine Jackson, Let’s Get Serious

  7. BigSteve

    Sade, Sweetest Taboo
    Dream Academy, Life in a Northern Town

  8. BigSteve

    Wang Chung tonight?

  9. misterioso

    Frankie Say What a Crappy Decade

  10. pudman13

    How about Flock Of Seagulls “I Ran” or Gary Numan’s “Cars?” Those, to me, are the best examples of truly wretched genres.

  11. YUCK to most of the above. “Our House” is OK, but I can’t stand the producers that band used. The Romantics’ song is OK, but I consider them an outgrowth of my New Wave high school tastes. Thanks for trying to help a brother out!

  12. I don’t recall ever liking a Howard Jones song. I put him in the category of bands like ABC and Yaz, who seemed less bad than everyone else.

  13. Views typically espoused by the Bad Attitude Club are not appropriate in this healing thread, are they? Don’t kill my ’80s buzz, dude (if I may call you “dude”).

  14. Ship of Fools — World Party
    Manic Monday — The Bangles
    Our Lips Are Sealed — Go Gos
    Rock Lobster — B-52s
    Lips Like Sugar — Echo & The Bunnymen
    Come Back & Stay — Paul Young
    It’s My Life — Talk Talk
    Tainted Love — Soft Cell

    The 80s influence is incredibly heavy on so many bands right now — wait ’til you hear The Strokes new one — Julian has gone batshit for the 80s!

  15. pudman13

    I should have said “otherwise truly wretched genres”

  16. Yes, they are allowed but usually not appreciated by this listener. My post-1981 problems extend to the funkier end of the spectrum. Once black music started sounding more like Chic (a band I actually didn’t mind) it quickly got “icy” on the bottom end.

  17. Not tonight, not ever.

  18. The best part of “Cars” is the 3 seconds of the chorus that used to appear in some K-Tel collection ad. After a few seconds of that song I’ve had enough. Same with “I Ran,” which at least aspired to be half decent.

  19. The Go-Go’s are from the late-’70s New Wave era. Same goes for B-52s and Echo & the Bunnymen. The Bangles are basically the Go-Go’s with more makeup and hair spray. Their music was OK, but I don’t consider it sounding “characteristically ’80s.” You have hit on one characteristically ’80s song I liked in its time: Soft Cell, “Tainted Love. Congrats and thanks! That brings my total up to 7!!!

  20. misterioso

    Doesn’t rubbing salt in the wound aid the healing?

  21. misterioso

    Just to make a game effort at good attitude, I am 100% with Tainted Love but it has to be the long Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go medley. But, c’mon, the Go-Gos didn’t get near putting a record out in the 70s, did they?

  22. pudman13

    Ah…I like “Cars” so much than when some teen band did a cover version that just repeated for ten minutes I *still* thought it was too short.

  23. misterioso

    Totally on board with World Party, who I love, but it seems me that they fall into that category of songs from the 80s that don’t really sound like the 80s, given Karl Wallinger’s very self-conscious sense of revivalism.

  24. Agreed completely. I especially liked their second album, but I thought they were like the second coming of ELO, despite their occasional needle-lifting forays into ice-cold Prince-style funk.

  25. misterioso

    Shoot, why not Survivor “Eye of the Tiger” while we’re at it? I’m only half joking.

  26. Their first record is from 1981, which is basically the late-’70s PLUS it is not remotely “characteristically ’80s.” I probably like some early ’80s record by the Stray Cats, for instance, but they don’t count either.

    As for the extended 12-inch version of that Soft Cell song, yes. High five!

  27. misterioso

    I take the point that Beauty and the Beat is a continuation of a kind of late 70s rock, but perhaps it is my wish for that which should have been rather than that which was which sees it as an 80s record.

  28. cliff sovinsanity

    I’ve got a few…

    Politics of Dancing – The Reflex
    Major Tom (Coming Home) – Peter Schilling
    Der Kommissar – Falco
    Destination Unknown – Missing Persons

    You won’t see me turning these off when they come on the radio. But, then again I’m a masochist.

  29. cliff sovinsanity

    I just had a mini mouth puke when I recalled that Hooters song.

  30. Just last week, I threw 60 odd songs new wavish songs onto an iPod playlist in about 20 minutes for Friday listening. I could go to bat for a few:
    Leve Lovich “New Toy”
    Nik Kershaw “Wouldn’t It Be Good”
    Depeche Mode “Blasphemous Rumours” or “Enjoy the Silence”
    Tears for Fears “Change” and “Mad World”.

    That dissing of Prince’s 80’s period is kind of discouraging, any thoughts on “When You Were Mine”?

  31. Suburban kid

    Tears for Fears – Shout (although I am not a fan, I can’t deny the catchiness)

    Dead of Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

    Prince – Kiss

    Madonna – Into the Groove

  32. Suburban kid

    Dead OR Alive, since this matters.

  33. “New Toy” falls under the late-’70s New Wave banner. The other ones I don’t care for, but I did like one Tears for Fears song: “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” I think it was called. That song, if it was indeed an ’80s release, does not qualify because it was aping the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour style. It didn’t have an ’80s sound.

    I know that I enjoy Prince’s “When You Were Mine” the rare times I hear it, but I never really knew that song in its time nor is it a song to this day that I can hum if asked.

    Good efforts regardless!

  34. “Kiss” is cool, but I can’t say the song had any effect on me. It was a great gimmick. There is a late-’80s, I believe, Prince song that I liked better, but it may have been for the video. He was dancing around on a kind of “Arabian” set, if memory serves, with two hot women in “genie” pants. During a cool instrumental break he gets down on the floor and starts humping them. I think I liked the music that was playing during that part. Anyone know what song I’m talking about?

    What about that Janet Jackson song in sepia tone, with her looking almost digitally buff and some smoking hot super-model guy rolling around inside a giant hula hoop? Is that an ’80s song or an early ’90s one? I liked that one.

  35. Based on my own ground rules, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to include Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Starting Something.” Although I would disqualify most artists who were in a band as successful as the Jackson 5, solo ’80s Jackson seems more like a completely different being. You tell me. That may give me 8 characteristically ’80s hit songs that I liked. Thanks.

  36. Suburban kid

    Janet Jackson’s big album was Control. I like that album. The big single was “What Have You Done for Me Lately”, and also “Nasty”.

  37. “Fascist Groove Thing” by Heaven 17 is very good. I don’t know if it qualifies as a hits, but it was ubiquitous in the clubs, including Live music venues, as the 80’s sythpop era began. They have a number of songs that I really like, but this one was the first and the biggest.

  38. Yeah, I didn’t care for that stuff. “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” is the song (and video) I had in mind. For some reason the video seems to be scrubbed from YouTube. I see it came out in 1989, just under the gun. It’s practically a characteristically ’90s song, so I shouldn’t count it.

  39. That’s one of those songs I knew better as a song title than a song. I just revisited the song and remember why.

  40. Ah, I was just reminded of a band that I consider one of the earliest “’80s 1-hit wonders”: Modern English and “I Melt With You.” That’s one of those songs like some of the Cure songs I’ve come to like that are a step away from late-’70s New Wave. (I did like “Killing an Arab” and “Boys Don’t Cry” in their time, but they’ve got a harder, guitar-based edge that’s more “post-punk” than the later Cure songs, like that one about Monday coming, or whatever Robert Smith is going on about.) I’m going to count “I Melt With You” as a “characteristically ’80s song” I liked in its time. That makes 8!

    I guess The People feel I should exclude the 1 song from Thriller that I like because Michael Jackson was already well established.

  41. ladymisskirroyale

    Moderator, you are killing me. A decade is being boiled down to 12 songs! You are confabulating multiple genres into pastel-colored, big-shouldered, Miami-Vice wannabe, hairsprayed entertainers?!?

    I love the music of the 80’s and whereas HVB has a holy trinity that inspires designer outerwear, my trio of favs includes 80’s bands:
    – The Go-Betweens
    – Camper Van Beethoven
    – Love and Rockets

    Surely, amongst these three bands that I clutch closely to my heart, you can find just one of their songs to include in your Top 12! (I know that something from “Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express could be a contender)

    And may I remind you of my Simon Reynolds Post Punk Mix, which includes several songs which you admitted to liking?

    If those bands are not single-worthy, what about
    – Nena – 99 Luft Ballon:
    – The Specials – Ghost Town or A Message To You Rudy
    – Orange Juice – Rip It Up (Scottish finalist in the World Cup of music several years ago)
    – Scritti Politti – Wood Beez
    – Gun Club – Sex Beat
    – ESG – Keep On Movin
    – Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love
    – Herby Hancock – Rockit
    – Pixies – Where Is My Mind
    – The Church – Under the Milkyway
    – Squeeze – Cool For Cats
    – Hoodoo Gurus – I Want You Back
    – Aztec Camera – Oblivious

    There are gems there, sir! Pure diamonds!

  42. Ladymiss, you’re missing the big point: I’m talking about hits by characteristically ’80s-sounding bands – and I listed a bunch of exclusions, such as previously established artists from the ’70s who adopted an ’80s sound. Maybe the Go-Betweens were relatively successful Down Under, but they were nothing in the US charts. Squeeze is totally from the New Wave. Same goes for the Specials. Tom Tom Club is too closely tied to Talking Heads.

    Of your remaining choices – of the bands among the remaining choices who had hits of any sort – Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” is OK. I’m not looking for “OK.” Aztec Camera may have had a minor hit or two. They did nothing for me. Scritti Politti may have had a club hit that made me want to smash all drum machines. That “99 Luftballon” song is funny to hear for about 10 seconds, but that’s all.

    Help me face the facts of mainstream ’80s music. It was a nightmare for me, especially if I can’t consider Springsteen’s 2 synth-driven songs from that decade, Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” the one song I like from Thriller, Hall & Oates’ pastel-colored cheeseball hits, and Stevie Wonder’s last gasp of hits. Throw me some actual hits and see what sticks.

  43. I’m looking through Billboard’s #1 hits through that decade:

    “Don’t You Want Me” is a shining light of original characteristically ’80s music through the early part of the decade.

    1984 was decent year for relatively good bad music. Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” were decent, but not quite songs I fully liked. (I would be more of a solo George Michael fan, but those songs may not have come out until the early ’90s…we’ll see.)

    Man, 1985 is a real nightmare year for me. Even Dire Straits, a decent workingman’s pub rock band, put out the execrable “Money for Nothing.”

    U2 had some good songs, but they had already established their sound at the tail end of the New Wave. Echo & the Bunnymen are in the same category for me.

    Ah, I have found #9, the first big George Michael solo song came out in the ’80s after all: 1988’s “Faith”! THAT is a solid characteristically ’80s song. I’m noting that many of the “characteristically ’80s songs” that I did like were essentially Motown-style songs pumped up on drum machines and synths.

    The Beach Boys’ “Kokomo” topped the charts in November 1988, the band’s strongest song in 2 decades, but that doesn’t qualify.

    Here’s #10: Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”! I liked most of that second album, so maybe there’s another single or two that will make this list of 25 songs I liked from that era. “Good Thing” made #1 as well, but I don’t fully like that song.

    That’s my survey of the #1 songs on the Billboard charts from the decade. I’m sure there are 15 songs deeper on the charts from that era that will show the world how open minded I actually was.

  44. ladymisskirroyale

    Deeper on the charts? Billboard? You just told me I was too busy considering the non-hits.

    So what you’re really saying is: What were the songs that played on MTV?

    The Kinks – Come Dancing (too 60’s, 70’s 80’s gasp?)
    Cindy Lauper – Girls Just Want to Have Fun (too much in the Bangles/Go-Go’s mode?)
    Golden Earring – Twilight Zone (not enough of a hit?)
    Men At Work – Down Under
    J Geils – Freeze Frame
    Fabulous Thunderbirds – Tough Enough
    Stevie Nicks – Edge of Seventeen
    Van Halen – Jump
    Stray Cat – Sexy and 17
    Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me

    You know, my dear husband is a very picky eater. He doesn’t like bread. However, for some reason, pizza, hamburger buns and croissants do not come on his hit list. Trying to understand his thought processes as to what is and is not bread has been very interesting, and over time, I have learned to just shrug my shoulders.

    So is this a bread conversation? Want to give us some additional crumbs? Are these songs that we could guess or will you be reminded of them once we mention them?

  45. ladymisskirroyale

    Ok, now I’m starting to calm down. I think the issue is that I’m still confused about your inclusion/exclusion rules.

    Your list of songs are apparently to represent the “mainstream,” which I would most easily define as MTV. Otherwise, what was common radio in one market was unheard of in another. I never heard “True” on the radio (and maybe not even on MTV), but that was Arizona; perhaps on the Eastern Seaboard, it would have been a more common song. Instead, we had hair metal and generally middle-of-the-road boy rock. Sade was considered outré and I never heard New Order until I moved to California.

  46. sammymaudlin

    Split Enz:

    I Got You
    What’s The Matter With You
    One Step Ahead
    Message To My Girl
    I Hope I Never

  47. trigmogigmo

    Yes! The eponymous World Party album came up on my car stereo iPod during a long-ish drive last week, and I was loving it again.

  48. trigmogigmo

    With you on those, Cliff! Especially “The Politics of Dancing” which hits me right in the 80’s power synth rhythmic ear candy spot.

  49. trigmogigmo

    I too am having some trouble finding something appropriate. Mr. Mod, your criteria are difficult for me to parse. I don’t think you went into nearly enough detail (I kid, I kid). That said, I flipped thru my library, limiting to the 80’s, looking for good things that might fit the “typical 80’s” you seem to be referencing. What about:

    Berlin “The Metro”
    The Fixx “Red Skies” or “One Thing Leads to Another” or “Are We Ourselves?”
    Depeche Mode “Strangelove” or “People Are People”

  50. Those songs you pose qialify, trigmo, and I do not like them. Good effort!

  51. Totally ’70s New Wave.

  52. ohmstead

    Damn! Why am I always TWT (traveling without wireless) when LMS threads are unfurled? Well, most of what would be my picks for good bad songs of the 80s have already been suggested…but here’s a few additional possibilities that appear to have slipped thru unnoticed so far:

    Always Something there to Remind Me – Naked Eyes
    China – Red Rockers
    Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds
    In a Big Country – Big Country
    It’s My Life – Talk Talk
    My Ever Changing Moods – Style Council

    On second thought, Simple Minds probably doesn’t quite qualify…so Kajagoogoo anyone?

  53. cherguevara

    Why do you hate them? Because they made what is arguably the worst Elvis Costello album?

  54. #11 has been identified! As a Dionne Warwick nut how could I not have dug “Always Something There…”?

  55. What about that song MJ wrote for one of Berry Gordy’s children (whose name escapes me). The title also escapes me but it was something like “Somebody’s Watching Me”?

  56. Suburban kid

    Totally forgot about one of my 80s guilty pleasures. Any of the Pet Shop Boys’ first few singles:

    West End Girls
    Love Comes Quickly

  57. Suburban kid

    Seeing as you’ve allowed a couple of ’60s cover versions in Tainted Love and Always Something There to Me Remind Me, what about “Don’t Leave Me this Way” by the Communards.

  58. Ooh, by Rockwell, or someone like that. Close… I didn’t really like it in its time, but it was catchier than most of those songs. In recent years the song has gotten better to my ears during the period when Young James, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, was using it as his walk-up music.

  59. I’m gonna venture that the big 80’s hits for me are gonna get a volley of spitballs in this diatribe, but I’ll list them anyway for posterity and perspective:

    J&MC-“Just Like Honey”
    De La Soul -“I Know”
    Cocteau Twins – “Pink Orange Red”
    Orange Juice -“Rip It Up”
    New Order – “Age of Consent”
    Felt – “Primitive Painters”
    Japan – “Ghosts”
    Pixies – “Caribou”
    This Mortal Coil -“Song to the Siren”
    Lloyd Cole – “Rattlesnakes”
    A Certain Ratio -“Shack Up”
    Liquid Liquid – “Cavern”
    Eno & Byrne – “The Jezebel Spirit”

    that sort of thing. The reject pile awaits you.

  60. No, those guys were a major “Please Explain” for me. In my recent wiser, kinder, gentler years I can see the appeal of “West End Girls.” It’s like Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” set to a drum machine.

  61. Mmm…I remember not liking their version of that song. Good effort though. I appreciate the work all of you are doing in helping the record show that I was a bigger man in that decade than I’ve been giving myself credit.

  62. Some good suggestions, although most of these songs were underground club alternatives to ’80s pop hits, no? Still, worth my consideration.

    I was capable of liking a little Orange Juice, but this song made no impression on me. I never really heard De La Soul until about 10 years ago. I simply never liked the Cocteau Twins with all that digital delay and reverb swirling around.

    I had NO IDEA what “Age of Consent” was by the song title, and then when it started I thought it was the same song as the earlier New Order song I always like but can’t place by song title, “Temptation.” THANK YOU on helping me realize these are 2 different songs and that I like them both! That brings my total up to 12! Who’s saying I was close minded now?

    I didn’t like Lloyd Cole at first. I only grew to like any of his music in the ’90s, as I entered my Proto-Wiser, Kinder, Gentler phase, which it turned out was a fraud.

    I like A Certain Ratio, even “Shack Up,” but I don’t think of that as a song that “regular people” would have been listening to on the radio in the ’80s. The Liquid Liquid song is the one that one of those Sugarhill bands used for the bass riff in their song, right? I’m down with both, but Liquid Liquid was underground and I had to exclude the half dozen Sugarhill hits I liked. I love that Eno & Byrne album, but they are excluded by the “previously established” clause.

  63. ladymisskirroyale

    And for the Hail Mary:
    Robert Palmer: Addicted to Love

  64. Suburban kid

    I’d put this in a fancy block quote if I knew how. These are recent comments on the Youtube video of the one New Order song I would have assumed was mentioned above but hasn’t been – “Blue Monday”:

    HeChr123 5 hours ago
    I´m living in the wrong time… 🙂 Back to the 80`s!
    Reply ·

    flashdanceluver 6 hours ago
    god i wish i was my parents mum born in 1968 and father 1961
    ugh not fair 🙁
    Reply ·

    ForzaHorizon4u 17 hours ago
    I’m 12 and i love this! i wish i was on the 80’s 🙁
    Reply ·

    Plenty of kids today would apparently change places with us so they could have come of age during the 80s. It beggars belief, but there you go.

  65. sammymaudlin

    Really? Neil Finn’s takeover of Split Enz didn’t release True Colors until 1980. That was their US (world?) break thru. “1980” sounds pretty “80s” to me this looks pretty 80s/MTV new wave to me.

  66. cliff sovinsanity

    Some more tubular 80’s awesome we have yet to mention:

    Men At Work – Overkill / Who Can It Be Now
    The Payolas – Eyes Of A Stranger
    Martha and The Muffins – Echo Beach
    The Kings – This Beat Goes On/Switchin To Glide

  67. cliff sovinsanity

    HA! That’s a brilliant, especially after listening to their second single “Day By Day”. I give them a little credit for using the mandolin before REM made it fashionable.
    Still, I don’t think EC would open a song with the line “She was be-bop baby on a hard day’s night” Yack!

  68. sammymaudlin

    More importantly, several of those songs sound 80s New Wave. 70s New Wave bands, on a whole, had a dash punk and/or overt quirk (Talking Heads). What differentiates 80s New Wave is the almost pure polish and commitment to a “new” “pop”. The sounds were very produced smooth even. Throw in keytars and hair and eye makeup and voila.

    What sets these Split Enz songs aside from those of The Flock of Seagulls is that they are good. They have emotion, sincerity, blah blah blah.

    The only 70s New Wave band that comes to mind as close to resembling Split Enz is Talking Heads and they were too overtly arty/quirky to be in the 80s catgory.

  69. Someone tried that earlier, I believe. No dice! There are a couple of ’70s Palmer songs I like and 1980’s “Johnny and Mary,” so I can’t include that owing to his already well-established career in the previous decade.

  70. Suburban kid

    “Walking on Sunshine” – Katrina and the Waves

    “A New England” – Kirsty MacColl

    “They Don’t Know” – Tracey Ullman

  71. Those are all ’60s pastiche songs, not “characteristically ’80s.” To be clear, I’m not saying I like NOTHING in the ’80s. I’m saying that the music in the popular culture, the music of the popular culture, was the worst popular music I had to live through. In the ’90s forward – and remember, I have only been getting older and one might thing more calcified – I think I could easily list 25 popular songs that I like.

    If necessary, I’ll open the floor up to “characteristically ’80s” songs from that decade by previously established artists. That would allow the 2 songs by The Boss, Van Halen’s “Jump,” and a Peter Gabriel song or two. I don’t want to give up yet, though, on the dream that I’m merely forgetting another baker’s dozen of “1980s born and bred songs.”

  72. I’d never heard a lick by The Kings! I remember seeing that album in the racks and moving right past it. That song is very good, but it’s totally ’70s New Wave/Power Pop. Thanks to those of you who’ve been talking about it for turning me onto it, but this cannot be added to the count.

    I really disliked Men at Work. I liked The Police enough, but I couldn’t take Men at Work’s “clever,” wink-wink version of The Police’s poppy side. Yuk!

    That Payola’s song is another one I’d never knowingly heard. Man, that thing terrified me on multiple levels!

    I tried to like Martha and the Muffins. I used to own their first album, and I think I once found a song that could make it on mix tapes. Maybe it was this one, but the effort always felt a little forced, like I was only including it to impress a girl. Close, but no cigar, although I must say this song sounds a little better after not hearing it for so many years.

    Wasn’t Daniel Lanois or his brother in this band?

  73. I identify them with EC’s second-worst album, Punch the Clock, which has some good songs buffed to a soul-less sheen by those guys. Did they do Goodbye Cruel World too? That albums is so bad that Costello needs to take full responsibility.

  74. sammymaudlin

    How about The Plimsouls’ Zero Hour? That was technically an 80s song but, unlike Split Enz, I can hear that they had a foot in the 70s. Your list – your call though.

  75. Never really heard the Plimsouls until the mid’80s, but they were power pop, not an ’80s sound.

    Can anyone else help describe what makes for an ’80s sound? Trigmo seems to get it. Thanks.

  76. Has anyone mentioned “The Outfield”? And, who did that “All You Zombies” song? How about 38.Special? Redd Kross…Warrant…Whitesnake…Quiet Riot…Joan Armatrading…Debbie Gibson…Basia…Gino Vanelli…Tone-Loc…Gloria Estefan
    These are the things we under grounders heard going bump in the night above us.

  77. cliff sovinsanity

    Lanois’ sister Jocelyne was around in the latter days of the band. He produced their last album which had moderate success on this side of the border.
    The Kings were huge but for a brief time.

  78. I think “What You Need” is the title of the INXS song I listed initially.

    Funny Slim Jade mentioned Gloria Estefan. I simply liked her. I thought she and her Miami Sound Crew were good people. “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” never bothered me in the least. Consider it #13!

  79. Here we go, as I continue to look through the charts from 1987: although I was not cool enough to really know Public Enemy for a few more years beyond their appearance in Spike Lee’s big movie of the time (blanking on the name, although never blanking on Rosie Perez’ boxing dance at the intro), Beastie Boys burst onto the scene with #14, “You’ve Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)”!

  80. I think I liked a song by either Jodi Watley or her former band, Shalomar, if they qualify. I can’t remember what song it was. It’s not the first one that appears on a YouTube search by her name.

    Toni Tony Tone are from the early ’90s, right? See, I liked them. I could easily come up with 25 good pop songs from that decade.

  81. “All You Zombies” is by Philadelphia’s The Hooters, a band our local chapter of the Bad Attitude Club knows all too well.

  82. Suburban kid

    “Do the RIght Thing”.

    Isn’t Fight for Your Right a pastiche of a 70s song?

  83. cliff sovinsanity

    Then how about Chaka Khan. You know, let me rock you, rock, rock you Chaka Khan.

    And while you’re at how about Sheila E. with the Glamorous Life. Now that’s a song I can get behind.

  84. cherguevara

    Wait, I never realized they did Punch the Clock too! So Elvis made the one album and thought it was good enough to continue for a second go round?

    I do not find Langer/Winstanley’s production to be overbearing on the Madness records. Maybe by the time they got to “Keep Moving,” but that was a ways down the road of their career at that point.

  85. ohmstead

    In retrospect I kind of feel like a lot of a synth-pop music was tapping into the emerging optimism of the mid-80s after the (economically) downer late 70s and early 80s. If memory serves, I think the term “yuppie” was coined in 1983 or 84. So I can sort of see the appeal of the up-beat, bubble-gum, dance pop of the era to kids who are growing up in a post 9-11, Tea Party, non-stop 24-hour-digital-world (not to get all political on y’all). I am currently instructing Daughter of Ohmsted (11) in the 80s canon, which she is enjoying. A great Dad-Daughter bonding experience (something HVB now gets to look forward to!).

  86. Could “Genius of Love” Tom Tom Club make a dent?


  87. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, Mod — how about “Hold Me Now” by the Thompson Twins? “Doctor, Doctor” by the same band?

  88. 2000 Man

    Hey, I haven’t read this thread yet, but I have nothing against the Thompson Twins (except their look). High Five!

  89. 2000 Man

    I like Missing Persons. Walking in LA, Words, Mental Hopscotch – all good stuff! Lone Justice’s Ways to be Wicked was pretty terrific, I think The Divinyls What a Life album is pretty great, and The Motels All 4 One had three great singles, Take the L, Mission of Mercy and Only the Lonely.

    Hey, for every one I love, there’s 100 I hate, but the 60’s and 70’s are the same way.

  90. cherguevara

    Here’s Neil Finn’s concert with Paul Kelly from the Sydney Opera house this week:!

    Really good.

  91. jeangray

    “Looking for a New Love” might be what you are looking for.

  92. ladymisskirroyale

    Isn’t this a bit of a storm in a bottle? Don’t most of us agree that Top 40, commercial, mainstream music is less interesting than the Indies, the small labels, the local bands, the live acts that we, at this site, favor and discuss. Sure, some commercial acts in each decade are worth listening to, but to boil down a decade to some Billboard hits really seems to be disrespectful to a whole lot of musicians and the people who love their music.

    Again, the wonderful Simon Reynolds will tell you all you want to know (and more) about the 80’s in his fabulous “Rip It Up.”

    I don’t know if I could find 5, 12, or 25 likable Top 40 hits from the current decade, but I sure can share a lot of other good stuff from the same years.

  93. ladymisskirroyale

    Hallelujah, sammymaudlin!

  94. jeangray

    Here are a few that I haven’t seen listed yet:

    Wall of Voodoo — “Mexican Radio”

    Ebn-Ozn — “AEIOU Sometimes Y”

    King — “Love & Pride”

    Matthew Wilder — “Break My Stride”

  95. jeangray

    I dunno…

    A lotta ’50’s & ’60’s top 40 hits are the Holy Grail to certain types of folks.

  96. Mr. Moderator