1984 saw the release of The Cars’ fifth studio album, Heartbeat City. The album spawned six successful singles, including the band’s all-time biggest hit, ‘Drive,’ as well as two other MTV staples in ‘You Might Think’ and ‘Magic.’ That trio of songs defined the mid-80s for my tween self as much as anything I’m featuring in this Decades installment.
That amounted to just nine albums over the next 34 years. The most recent three are all pretty forgettable, but the six released between 1988 and 2004 are genre-defining (and sometimes genre-defying) works of art.
A collaboration with members of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (specifically, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench and Stan Lynch), Building the Perfect Beast is the sort of adult pop album that Henley would hone to an even finer point five years later with End of the Innocence.
Bryan Adams’ Reckless isn’t exactly Born in the U.S.A., but it shares at least one thing in common with the Springsteen classic. Six of its singles reached the top 15 on Billboard’s Hot 100, a feat matched (at that time) by only Born in the U.S.A. and Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
I know four of those singles well: ‘Run To You,’ ‘Somebody,’ ‘Heaven,’ and ‘Summer of ’69.’ Say what you will about Bryan Adams, but those are four absolute bangers, totally in place on any list of the best 80s songs.
Last week I wrote about my five favorite albums from the year 1984, as part of my recurring Decades series. This week I’ll shift to five albums from that year that I know primarily through their singles. I can’t say I’m familiar enough with any of these albums to include them in my personal list of faves, but I know enough to separate them from the true unknowns to come.
It probably seems crazy that I’m including Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. among this group. After all, it’s by far his most popular album, 15X Platinum in the U.S. with sales north of 30 million worldwide.