20 Best Songs of the 80’s – #1
This is an odd pick because it breaks the pattern I’ve set up through the other 19 songs. While The Police were very much an early-80’s band, Sting went on to have a celebrated solo career, making him one of the only artists on the list who had more success outside the 80’s than in them.
So an argument could be made that this isn’t really an ’80’s song’ so much as a Sting song (the same argument I’ve used in excluding artists such as Michael Jackson, R.E.M. and U2 from the lineup).
20 Best Songs of the 80s – #2
You didn’t think I’d make it through this whole list without a Journey song, did you?
This spot could have been filled with any number of songs by Steve Perry and the boys — ‘Who’s Crying Now,’ ‘Stone in Love,’ ‘Open Arms,’ ‘Separate Ways,’ ‘Send Her My Love,’ just pick one. I’m going with ‘Don’t Stop Believin” because it’s the iconic Journey song, and also because its brand of muscular rock optimism really encapsulates the music of the 80s.
20 Best Songs of the 80s – #3
Duran Duran is one of the most successful and best-loved bands on this list, and one of the artists I wish I’d been more into at the time. I find myself really enjoying their songs now when I happen upon them and I wonder how it is they slipped past my radar back in the early to mid-80s. I suppose I can blame that on my sister, Amy, through whom I was exposed to most music back then (funny how it works the other way now).
20 Best Songs of the 80s – #6
I’ve always lumped ‘Abracadabra’ and ‘Centerfold’ together in my mind because this is another 45 I owned around the same time. Also, the band names were similar… Steve Miller Band, J. Geils Band. I had no idea of the context or history behind each of those releases, and to be honest, I continued to have no idea about those things until now.
20 Best Songs of the 80s – #7
Today’s SOTD is different from just about all the rest in that the band performing it was not enjoying success for the first time but capping off a career that had already reached impressive heights. The Steve Miller Band went on to record many more albums, but ‘Abracadabra’ was their last single to chart. Prior to this 1982 release, however, the band had quite a few hits, including ‘The Joker,’ ‘Rock’n Me’ and ‘Fly Like an Eagle.’
But I didn’t know any of that in 1982. I lumped The Steve Miller Band in with all the other one-hit wonders that put music out around that time. Or at least that’s how I remember it… I don’t know if my 10-year-old mind really thought in terms of one-hit wonders.
20 Best Songs of the 80s – #8
I have a half-baked theory that it takes three great songs to make a great album. Not three pretty good songs, but three really great ones. The realization goes something like this… “Does [ALBUM NAME] have [SONG A]? Cool. Oh, [SONG B] too? That’s a really good one. Wait… it has [SONG C]? Really? Damn, that’s a great album.” Doesn’t really matter what else is on it.
So by that standard, Tears for Fears’ Songs from the Big Chair (1985) is a great album. ‘Shout,’ ‘Head Over Heels’ and ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ are three truly great songs (‘The Working Hour,’ ‘Mothers Talk’ and ‘I Believe’ ain’t shabby, either). If I were to make a list of the best albums of the 80s, this one would be high on that list.
20 Best Songs of the 80s – #9
If I was organizing this list by quality, this song would most likely occupy the first or second spot. In fact, its quality has pushed it up the list to #9 as it is because I don’t have any specific memories of ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ — it’s just a tune I love that happens to belong very much to the 80s.
I’ve always felt that I should make an effort to better know Crowded House and lead singer-songwriter Neil Finn. Finn was an early pop rock singer-songwriter in the vein of so many artists I like, from Elvis Costello to Josh Rouse. But I’ve managed to never own one of his or their albums… too much music, not enough time.