1980s Music: The Best Songs (and My Favorites) From The Decade
I’m a huge fan and collector of music from the 1980s.
Although most of the content on this blog is about media and presentation training, I decided to indulge my hobby on this “hidden” page.
Each week, I’ll add a 1980s song that I think you should hear. You’ll know many of them—but I hope to add several along the way that you’ve never heard before.
I hope you enjoy this curated collection. Please let me know if you have any feedback about or memories of any of the songs I’ve included (or should!).
September 23, 2016
Song 8: “New Romance (It’s a Mystery),” Spider (1980)
A band called Spider made it onto the Billboard chart for just two weeks in their career, reaching number 39 with this song. Although they wrote hits for other artists, they were a (minor) one-hit wonder. It’s too bad, because this song showed a lot of promise, even if the video couldn’t possibly be more 80s. The band’s drummer, Anton Fig, later had a long career as the drummer in David Letterman’s house band.
September 16, 2016
Song 7: “Always Something There To Remind Me,” Naked Eyes (1983)
There’s a good chance you’ve heard this song by the British new wave band Naked Eyes, which made it into the U.S. Top 10. But you may not know that it was a cover song of a 1960s Burt Bacharach – Hal David composition that had been recorded originally during the Kennedy administration. Here’s the version you’ve probably heard:
And the version originally recorded by Dionne Warwick 1963:
September 9, 2016
Song 6: “Baby Can I Hold You,” Tracy Chapman (1988)
Singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman’s glorious first album was a huge commercial and critical success. The album’s first single, “Fast Car,” hit the top ten—but another song that almost crept into the Top 40 (it stalled at number 48) deserves more attention. “Baby Can I Hold You” has three almost identical verses, but builds on a familiar relationship sequence: sorry comprises the first verse; forgive me the second; and I love you the third. One sign of the song’s success is the diversity of acts who have covered it, including Neil Diamond, Luciano Pavarotti, and the Irish boy band Boyzone.
September 2, 2016
Song 5: “Never Been In Love,” Randy Meisner (1982)
Randy Meisner may not be a household name. But he was a founding member of The Eagles, and is best known for co-writing and singing their hit “Take It To The Limit.” After quitting the band in 1977, Meisner had three songs reach the Billboard Top 30; this song, from 1982, was his last hit. Life hasn’t been kind to Meisner in recent years, as he’s been plagued by a series of mental health challenges and the accidental shooting death of his wife.
August 26, 2016
Songs 3 and 4: “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” Janet Jackson (1986), “Talk To Me,” Chico DeBarge (1986)
This week, I’m featuring two songs that sound very similar. That’s probably not a coincidence, given that Janet Jackson was briefly married to Chico’s brother, James DeBarge, in the mid-1980s. I’m not sure which song came first or how one influenced the other. But while Chico’s song only went to #21 on the Top 40 (and was his only mainstream hit), Janet made it to #4 with hers.
August 19, 2016
Song 2: “10-9-8,” Face To Face (1984)
Every once in a while, I’ll hear an 80s song and wonder why it wasn’t a bigger hit. This song by Face To Face—the only song of theirs to chart—reached only number 38 on Billboard’s Top 40, but should have been a staple on pop radio during the summer of 1984 (which was arguably the single best era for pop music in the 80s). But don’t feel too badly for the group. According to Wikipedia, the group’s founder now plays guitar in Bob Dylan’s band, and the lead singer now plays with former members of the 90s band Morphine.
August 12, 2016
Song 1: “88 Lines About 44 Women,” The Nails (1984)
I recently rediscovered this obscure song by The Nails, a new wave band that earned some radio airplay but never charted a song on the Top 40. “88 Lines” is exactly what the title suggests—and it’s variously clever, profane, funny, and politically incorrect. According to Wikipedia, The Nails’ songwriter Mark Campbell wrote this song “in two hours on a manual typewriter and the band recorded it the next day.” It’s a good place to start.