*:  Or, fuck me gently with a chainsaw, depending on your 80’s movie frame of reference.

 

Introduction:  This wasn’t intended to be a multi-part post or to be so damn long.  In fact, it was originally just going to be a list of my Top 100 Songs of the 80’s.  Then it grew and grew and Veronica kept saying I had to post it or I would never stop adding new lists.  Well, I finally got to writing the most significant part, the first list (the top albums) and the last list (the top songs).  Then, as I added more details in those lists and made them both countdown lists (ending with #1 instead of starting with it), I realized each of those really needed to be their own posts, for length reasons, if nothing else.  So, those two have been spun-off into their own, more detailed posts.  This post is mostly just lists, though there are a lot of them.

Note:  All of these are my lists except those noted below.  There are some lists attributed to Jonathan Miller.  Jonathan was my college roommate and has more vinyl than you can imagine (it has cracked the foundation of his house), including, and this is not an exaggeration, every song to ever be a Top 40 hit in the 80’s.

Note on Consistency:  I tried really hard to make all the lists consistent with each other (checking them all against the Top 250 song list) but there may be errors.  So there are errors.  Please don’t point them out.

Note on Formatting:  Albums are in italics.  Songs, if in a list, are generally not in quotes, but outside of lists are (it’s a time saving thing).

A Note About Links:  I have tried, as much as possible, to link to places where you can listen to the music.  It hasn’t always been possible.  Don Henley, like Bob Dylan, seems to be someone who has wiped YouTube of his music.  But most major 80’s artists have their own YouTube Vevo pages and I try to use those as much as possible.

Caveat:  As readers of my 1984 Nighthawk Awards already know, I don’t like Prince.  Never have.  So he is the by far the most notable exclusion from the lists below.  Veronica is with me on that one.  But she would also exclude Phil Collins / Genesis and they’re in a lot of these lists.

Part I:  The Albums

Top 50 Albums

You can find the full list here (once it’s published).

Top 10 Debut Albums

  1. Boy  (U2)
  2. Appetite for Destruction (Guns ‘n’ Roses)
  3. Faith  (George Michael)
  4. Murmur  (R.E.M.)
  5. Crowded House  (Crowded House)
  6. Pretty Hate Machine  (Nine Inch Nails)
  7. Dream of the Blue Turtles  (Sting)
  8. Pretenders  (The Pretenders)
  9. She’s So Unusual  (Cyndi Lauper)
  10. They Might Be Giants  (They Might Be Giants)
  11. Beauty and the Beat  (The Go-Go’s)
  12. Speak and Spell  (Depeche Mode)

note:  I included 12 albums because some people might not want to count George Michael or Sting, who had been part of groups before releasing their debut solo albums.

Note on Historical Context:  So, how would list this compare on an all-time list?  Well, remember that certain much loved albums weren’t actually debut albums (Nevermind, Dookie) and I made that mistake myself when originally composing this list, including It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back before realizing that was Public Enemy’s second album.  You also have to wonder whether albums like Plastic Ono Band (Lennon with an actual band as opposed to his music with just Yoko) or Little Earthquakes (Tori Amos’ first album under her own name) would count, because if so, they would rank above any of these albums.  There are a few albums that Boy would rank close to, including The Doors, Mr. Tambourine Man, Please Please Me, Unknown Pleasures.  But there are five albums which, to me, stand above all others (not including Plastic Ono Band or Little Earthquakes): Horses, Ten, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Are You Experienced and The Clash.

 

Top 5 Live Albums

  1. Live 1975-85  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  2. Under a Blood Red Sky  (U2)
  3. Stop Making Sense  (The Talking Heads)
  4. Plays Live  (Peter Gabriel)
  5. Live!  (Steve Miller Band)

Top 10 Greatest Hits / Singles Collections

  1. Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2
  2. Staring at the Sea  (The Cure)
  3. Eponymous  (R.E.M.)
  4. Legend  (Bob Marley & the Wailers)
  5. Louder Than Bombs  (The Smiths)
  6. Substance 1987  (New Order)
  7. Catching Up with Depeche Mode
  8. Greatest Hits  (Journey)
  9. The Story of the Clash, Volume 1
  10. Hatful of Hollow  (The Smiths)

 

Top 5 Greatest Hits / Singles Collections of mostly 80’s material released after 1989

  1. The Immaculate Collection  (Madonna)
  2. The Best of, 1980 – 1990  (U2)
  3. Best . . . I  (The Smiths)
  4. Shaking the Tree  (Peter Gabriel)
  5. Permanent Record: Al in the Box  (Weird Al Yankovic)

 

Five Best Reasons for Greatest Hits Collections in the 80’s:

  1. The b-sides collected on the original cassette release of Standing on a Beach (Staring at the Sea)
  2. The two new songs on Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2
  3. The original Hib-Tone single of “Radio Free Europe” on Eponymous
  4. Collecting all the non-album songs on the two Smiths compilations
  5. The collected non-album singles on Substance (thank you Tony Wilson*)

note:  So, according to Peter Hook in his new book, Substance: Inside New Order, Wilson bought a new car in 1987 with a tapedeck and wanted to listen to New Order’s singles.  But they were all singles.  None had been released on tape, only on vinyl, because none of them were on the albums.  So Wilson had them put together Substance just so that he could listen to the band’s singles in his car.

Top 5 Greatest Hits / Singles Collections for pre-80’s Artists released in the 80’s

  1. Past Masters I / II  (The Beatles)
  2. Biograph  (Bob Dylan)
  3. The Best of the Doors
  4. The John Lennon Collection
  5. Timepieces: The Best of Eric Clapton

Part II:  Screen and Stage

Top 20 Original Film Scores

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Glory
  4. Terms of Endearment
  5. Chariots of Fire
  6. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  7. The Right Stuff
  8. The Princess Bride
  9. Back to the Future
  10. Born on the Fourth of July
  11. Dead Poets Society
  12. The Natural
  13. The Mission
  14. The Untouchables
  15. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  16. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  17. The Little Mermaid
  18. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  19. The Elephant Man
  20. The Last Temptation of Christ

Note:  So, that’s six for John Williams while no other composer has more than two.

 

Top 20 Songs Written for Films

  1. Don’t You (Forget About Me)  (The Breakfast Club)
  2. If You Leave  (Pretty in Pink)
  3. The Power of Love  (Back to the Future)
  4. Wild Wild Life  (True Stories)
  5. Crazy for You  (Vision Quest)
  6. Against All Odds  (Against All Odds)
  7. In Too Deep  (Mona Lisa)
  8. Take My Breath Away  (Top Gun)
  9. Late in the Evening  (One-Trick Pony)
  10. Live to Tell  (At Close Range)
  11. Every Sperm is Sacred  (Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life)
  12. Part of Your World  (The Little Mermaid)
  13. It’s in the Way That You Use It  (The Color of Money)
  14. Under the Sea  (The Little Mermaid)
  15. When the Tigers Broke Free  (Pink Floyd: The Wall)
  16. On the Dark Side  (Eddie and the Cruisers)
  17. Storybook Love  (The Princess Bride)
  18. Separate Lives  (White Nights)
  19. Somebody’s Baby  (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
  20. All for Love  (Say Anything)

 

Top 10 Soundtracks (non-score)

  1. The Little Mermaid
  2. La Bamba
  3. Stand by Me
  4. The Big Chill
  5. Good Morning Vietnam
  6. Say Anything
  7. True Stories
  8. The Blues Brothers
  9. Back to the Future
  10. Born on the Fourth of July

 

The Best Soundtrack That Doesn’t Fit Either Previous Category:

  1. Amadeus

Top 5 Soundtracks from post-1989 that make primarily use of 80’s songs

  1. Sing Street
  2. Grosse Pointe Blank
  3. Hot Tub Time Machine
  4. Adventureland
  5. Despicable Me 3

Here’s the rule: have John Cusack in your film.  He’s the star of one of the movies on the previous list and two of the ones on this list and has a cameo in another on the previous list.  He’s also the key figure in the #1 song on the next list and in two songs three lists down.

 

Top 5 Uses of a Song in an 80’s Film

  1. In Your Eyes  (Say Anything)
  2. Imagine  (The Killing Fields)
  3. Fire and Rain  (Running on Empty)
  4. I Heard It Through the Grapevine  (The Big Chill)
  5. If You Were Here  (16 Candles)

 

Top Use of a Song in an 80’s Show

  1. At This Moment  (Family Ties)

Top Use of an 80’s Song in a Post-80’s Show

  1. Pride (In the Name of Love)  (The Simpsons)
  2. The Final Countdown  (Arrested Development)
  3. It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)  (The Simpsons)
  4. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)  (Doctor Who – sort of)

Top 5 Uses of an 80’s Song in a Trailer  (no matter what year the film is from or whether the song is actually in the film)

  1. Under Pressure  (Adaptation)
  2. Where the Streets Have No Name  (Without Limits)
  3. Pride (In the Name of Love)  (In the Name of the Father)
  4. Watching the Wheels  (Wonder Boys)
  5. 99 Luftballoons  (Grosse Pointe Blank)

 

Top 10 Uses of an 80’s Song in a Post-80’s Film

  1. Just Like Honey  (Lost in Translation)
  2. Most of the Time  (High Fidelity)
  3. You Make My Dreams  ((500) Days of Summer)
  4. All I Want is You  (Contagion)
  5. I Ran  (La La Land)
  6. Sister Christian  (Boogie Nights)
  7. Under Pressure  (Grosse Pointe Blank)
  8. Here Comes Your Man  ((500) Days of Summer)
  9. The Reflex  (Man Up)
  10. Sweet Dreams  (X-Men: Apocalypse)

 

Top 5 TV Themes

  1. The Greatest American Hero
  2. Cheers
  3. Hill Street Blues
  4. Robotech
  5. St. Elsewhere

note:  I don’t include things that weren’t created for the show, so no listing of the brilliant use of 60’s songs for the themes for Tour of Duty, The Wonder Years or China Beach or for the fantastic use of “Journey of the Sorcerer” in Hitchhiker’s.

 

Special TV Mini-Series Theme Award:

Top 5 Songs Written for Broadway Shows

  1. Finale  (Les Miserables)
  2. All I Ask of You  (Phantom of the Opera)
  3. Memory  (Cats)
  4. Finale: Children Will Listen  (Into the Woods)
  5. One Day More  (Les Miserables)

 

Top 50 Videos

  1. Take on Me  (a-ha)
  2. Money for Nothing  (Dire Straits)
  3. Sledgehammer  (Peter Gabriel)
  4. Land of Confusion  (Genesis)
  5. Material Girl  (Madonna)
  6. Thriller  (Michael Jackson)
  7. Like a Prayer  (Madonna)
  8. Don’t Lose My Number  (Phil Collins)
  9. Don’t Come Around Here No More  (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
  10. Billie Jean  (Michael Jackson)
  11. Summer of ’69  (Bryan Adams)
  12. Shock the Monkey  (Peter Gabriel)
  13. Walk of Life  (Dire Straits)
  14. Stranger in Town  (Toto)
  15. You Might Think  (The Cars)
  16. The Boys of Summer  (Don Henley)
  17. Beat It  (Michael Jackson)
  18. Eat It  (Weird Al Yankovic)
  19. Tell Her About It  (Billy Joel)
  20. Glory Days  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  21. Pride (In the Name of Love)  (U2)
  22. You’re Only Human (Second Wind)  (Billy Joel)
  23. Janie’s Got a Gun  (Aerosmith)
  24. Total Eclipse of the Heart  (Bonnie Tyler)
  25. Walk Like an Egyptian  (The Bangles)
  26. Girls Just Want to Have Fun  (Cyndi Lauper)
  27. Take Me Home  (Phil Collins)
  28. You Can Call Me Al  (Paul Simon)
  29. We Didn’t Start the Fire  (Billy Joel)
  30. I Want Your Sex  (George Michael)
  31. Don’t Stand So Close to Me  (The Police)
  32. I’m on Fire  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  33. Anything She Does  (Genesis)
  34. This Note’s for You  (Neil Young & the Bluenotes)
  35. The Living Years  (Mike & the Mechanics)
  36. Walk This Way  (Run DMC w/ Aerosmith)
  37. If You Love Someone Set Them Free  (Sting)
  38. Stand  (R.E.M.)
  39. Freedom  (Wham)
  40. Open Your Heart  (Madonna)
  41. Free Fallin’  (Tom Petty)
  42. If This is It  (Huey Lewis & the News)
  43. Voices Carry  (‘Til Tuesday)
  44. Here I Go Again  (Whitesnake)
  45. The Love Shack  (The B-52’s)
  46. Opposites Attract  (Paul Abdul)
  47. Addicted to Love  (Robert Palmer)
  48. I Wish It Would Rain Down  (Phil Collins)
  49. Everlasting Love  (Howard Jones)
  50. Express Yourself  (Madonna)

Historical Context:  Videos existed before 1981, of course, but once “Video Killed the Radio Star” played on MTV in August of 1981, everything changed, even if it wasn’t until 1982 and “Shock the Monkey” that I really remember videos.  I still have videotapes full of them, both store-bought ones for various artists (Madonna, Weird Al, Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Depeche Mode, Billy Joel, U2) or numerous ones that my older sister recorded off MTV in mostly 1985 and 1986.  To me, this list covers the vast bulk of the greatest videos of all-time with one notable exception: “Losing My Religion”, which would definitely be a strong contender for #1 for me.
Other Votes:  I asked both my sisters for their versions of this list.  Stacy only mentioned “Hot for Teacher” (Van Halen) and “Legs” (ZZ Top) while Alison replied “Hot for Teacher?!? I’m def going w/ Take On Me. :)”.  My friend Kari also gave me a list of her Top 5, all of which are on my list (Land of Confusion, Walk This Way, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Take on Me, Thriller), while also reminding me that she didn’t have MTV in the 80’s.
Note:  Not on the list, but worthy of being looked at is the contest winner for “True Blue“.  MTV did a contest allowing people to submit their own fan videos for the song and that was the winner.  They showcased the entrants in a 24 hour marathon.  It’s hard to make a video.  I know, because my sister and cousin and I made a video for “Blasphemous Rumours” and my sister and cousin made a video for “Every Breath You Take”.

 

Veronica’s Top 5 Videos (alphabetical order)

  1. Don’t Come Around Here No More
  2. Girls Just Want to Have Fun
  3. Sledgehammer
  4. Take on Me
  5. Thriller

Jonathan Miller’s Top 10 Videos  (alphabetical order)

  1. Don’t Lose My Number
  2. Hello  (Lionel Richie)
  3. Land of Confusion
  4. Money for Nothing
  5. Shattered Dreams  (Johnny Hates Jazz)
  6. Sledgehammer
  7. Take on Me
  8. Thriller
  9. Wrapped Around Your Finger  (The Police)
  10. You Might Think

5 Videos for Songs from Movies that are Way Better than the Films Themselves

  1. A View to a Kill  (Duran Duran)
  2. Invincible  (Pat Benatar – The Legend of Billy Jean)
  3. St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)  (John Parr)
  4. Burning Heart  (Survivor – Rocky IV)
  5. Who’s That Girl  (Madonna)

note:  “Weird Science” isn’t on here because it’s not a traditional “show clips from the movie” video.

 

Part III:  Life

Top 5 Artists I Totally Had a Crush On:

  1. Susannah Hoffs
  2. Madonna
  3. Tiffany
  4. Belinda Carlisle
  5. Whitney Houston

note:  If this were the 90’s list I will never write, the Top 5 would be Carrie Brownstein, Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Lisa Loeb and Dolores O’Riordan.

Top 5 Artists my sister Stacy Totally Had a Crush On:

  1. George Michael
  2. Bono
  3. Paul Young
  4. Jon Bon Jovi
  5. Sting

Five Artists that came to me from my brother John:

  1. U2
  2. Bruce Springsteen
  3. Genesis
  4. Tears for Fears
  5. The Talking Heads

Five Artists that came to me from my brother Kelly:

  1. U2
  2. Dire Straits
  3. The Police
  4. The Alarm
  5. Don Henley

Five Artists that came to me from my sister Stacy:

  1. U2
  2. Depeche Mode
  3. The Cure
  4. New Order
  5. The Smiths

Five Artists that definitely didn’t come from any of my siblings:

  1. They Might Be Giants
  2. Weird Al Yankovic
  3. Madonna
  4. 10,000 Maniacs
  5. Indigo Girls

Five Musical Artists You Would Not Have Predicted on December 31, 1989 Would Be Dead by January 1, 2017:

  1. George Michael
  2. Michael Jackson
  3. Whitney Houston
  4. Prince
  5. Michael Hutchence

Five Musical Artists You Probably Would Have Incorrectly Predicted on December 31, 1989 Would Be Dead by January 1, 2017:

  1. Keith Richards  *
  2. Jimmy Page
  3. Roger Waters  **
  4. Willie Nelson
  5. Kris Kristofferson

note:  Or, really, anyone in the Rolling Stones.
note:  Under the assumption that surely someone would have killed him, probably David Gilmour.
note:  The last two I had to look up to even confirm they were still alive.  I was also stunned to discover that Pat Boone, Little Richard and Fats Domino are all still alive as of this writing, but they don’t have much to do with 80’s music.

Part Four:  Specifics

Top 10 One-Hit Wonders

note:  There are several ways to define a One-Hit Wonder, depending on whether you go with a Top 20 hit, a Top 40 hit or just charting on Billboard’s Top 100.  Also, do you strictly define it as someone with one hit (by which standard, XTC would qualify, though would rarely be thought of as such but a-ha would not, though they are often thought of as such).  I am going with this list here, which uses the “Top 40 hit with no other Top 40 charting hits” definition though I am deliberately excluding one-time groups like Band-Aid (which would have been in 2nd), USA for Africa or Artists Against Apartheid.

  1. Beds are Burning  (Midnight Oil)
  2. Come on Eileen  (Dexys Midnight Runners)
  3. Touch of Grey  (Grateful Dead)
  4. Cars  (Gary Numan)
  5. Tainted Love  (Soft Cell)
  6. Whip It  (Devo)
  7. 99 Luftballoons  (Nena)
  8. Running Up That Hill  (Kate Bush)
  9. Heartbreak Beat  (The Psychedelic Furs)
  10. We’re Not Gonna Take It  (Twisted Sister)

Note:  “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” would be #2 but it didn’t actually chart (and become a one-hit wonder) until 1993 after its use in Benny and Joon.

Note:  I am a little surprised that Kate Bush was eligible, as I love her “Wuthering Heights”.  But I’m flat out stunned that Midnight Oil qualifies as I actually have multiple 45’s by them (I also have “The Dead Heart”) aside from having their greatest hits collection 20,000 Watt R.S.L; they inspired the next list.

Historical Context:  Three songs from the 1960’s version of the list would all rank above #1 here: “Eve of Destruction”, “For What It’s Worth” and “All Along the Watchtower”.  Yes, both Buffalo Springfield and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were technically one-hit wonders.  The 70’s would have “Layla” (at #1) or “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Me and Bobby McGee” (neither #1, but both would be high) which brings up the contextual problem in that Eric Clapton charts on his own (as opposed to with Derek and the Dominoes), that Janis Joplin was a one-hit wonder by herself and had been a one-hit wonder in Big Brother and the Holding Company (with “Piece of My Heart”) and Lou Reed was a one-hit wonder but when he was with the Velvet Underground, they never even made the charts, so they weren’t even a one-hit wonder.  “Because the Night” would also be a contender for #1 all-time.

 

Top 10 Songs by “One-Hit Wonders” That Aren’t Their “Hit”

  1. Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven  (Love & Rockets)
  2. A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall  (Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians)
  3. What Does It Take  (Honeymoon Suite)
  4. Crying, Waiting, Hoping  (Marshell Crenshaw)
  5. Elvis Has Just Left the Building  (Frank Zappa)
  6. Freewill  (Rush)
  7. The Dead Heart  (Midnight Oil)
  8. Give a Little Love  (Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers)
  9. Tom Sawyer  (Rush)
  10. Pretty in Pink  (The Psychedelic Furs)

Note:  “Fight the Power” would be #2 but I didn’t include Public Enemy since they were technically a one-hit wonder in the 90’s.  “I Love L.A.” would have been #2 (over “Fight the Power”) by the same measure except that Randy Newman was a 1970’s one-hit wonder.  Likewise, I could have included on this list “Dime Store Mystery” (Lou Reed), “Cities in Dust” (Siouxsie and the Banshees), “This and That” (Michael Penn) and “People Have the Power” (Patti Smith) for artists whose one hit was in a different decade.

 

Top 10 Schmaltzy Songs I Like in Spite of Myself

  1. Making Love out of Nothing at All  (Air Supply)
  2. Perhaps Love  (John Denver & Placido Domingo)
  3. We’ve Got Tonight  (Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton)
  4. America  (Neil Diamond)
  5. Rhythm of the Night  (DeBarge)
  6. Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)  (Christopher Cross)
  7. On the Wings of Love  (Jeffrey Osborne)
  8. Wind Beneath My Wings  (Bette Midler)
  9. Even the Nights are Better  (Air Supply)
  10. Leader of the Band  (Dan Fogelberg)

 

Top 5 Instrumentals:

  1. The Brazilian  (Genesis)
  2. Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire  (David Foster)
  3. Axel F  (Harold Faltermeyer)
  4. Terminal Frost  (Pink Floyd)
  5. Pimpf  (Depeche Mode)

note:  Since so much of Enya’s work are instrumentals, I deliberately excluded her.  Feel free to include “Storms in Africa”, “The Celts” and “Watermark”.

 

Top 15 Recorded Live Performances

  1. Bad  (U2 – Live Aid)
  2. Sunday Bloody Sunday  (U2 – Rattle and Hum film)
  3. Once in a Lifetime  (The Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense)
  4. Born to Run  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – video version)
  5. Lola  (The Kinks – One for the Road)
  6. Pride (In the Name of Love)  (U2 – Rattle and Hum)
  7. Psycho Killer  (The Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense)
  8. Biko  (Peter Gabriel – Plays Live)
  9. Candle in the Wind  (Elton John – Live in Australia)
  10. Follow You, Follow Me  (Genesis – Three Sides Live)
  11. Stripped  (Depeche Mode – 101)
  12. The Promised Land  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Live 1975-85)
  13. Tunnel of Love  (Dire Straits – Alchemy)
  14. Unchained Melody  (Heart – Greatest Hits/Live)
  15. I Don’t Like Mondays  (Bob Geldof & Johnny Fingers – Secret Policeman’s Ball)

 

Top 10 Live Performances of an 80’s Song I Was There For:

  1. It’s the End of the World as We Know It / People Have the Power  (R.E.M. & Eddie Vedder – October 2001)
  2. Sunday Bloody Sunday  (U2 – June 2017)
  3. Pride (In the Name of Love)  (U2 – July 2015)
  4. A Question of Lust  (Depeche Mode – November 1993)
  5. In Between Days  (The Cure – October 1996)
  6. Finest Worksong  (R.E.M. – May 1995)
  7. Bad  (U2 – June 2017)
  8. With or Without You  (U2 – July 2015)
  9. The Ties That Bind  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – April 2000)
  10. The Boys of Summer  (The Eagles – January 1995)

 

Top 20 B-Sides

note:  B-Sides, like One Hit Wonders, have a tricky definition.  On most lists of the greatest B-Sides of all-time, you’ll find “We Will Rock You”, which, technically, yes, was the b-side to “We Are the Champions”.  And Jonathan Miller listed “Centerfield” as the best b-side of the decade.  But for me, a b-side is either the flip side of a non-album single (like the Smiths songs listed below, which may surprise a lot of people) or the flip side of an album single that doesn’t appear on the original album.  I italicized the last phrase for two reasons.  The first is that I discount songs like “We Will Rock You” (which is from the 70’s anyway) and “Centerfield” because they are on the album.  The second is that I don’t discount songs like “Dear God”, “A Month of Sundays” or “We Said Hello Goodbye”.  The first of those was planned for the album but excluded at the insistence of the executives at Virgin and the latter two were simply included on the CD release of the albums but not on the original vinyl albums.  This list also includes what the original single was that the song was a b-side for.

  1. How Soon is Now?  (The Smiths – William, It Was Really Nothing)
  2. Be True  (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Fade Away)
  3. Luminous Times (Hold on to Love)  (U2 – With or Without You)
  4. Dear God  (XTC – Grass)
  5. Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want  (The Smiths – William, It Was Really Nothing)
  6. Everlasting Love  (U2 – All I Want is You)
  7. Sweetest Thing  (U2 – Where the Streets Have No Name)
  8. Ant  (They Might Be Giants  –  Birdhouse in Your Soul)
  9. A Month of Sundays  (Don Henley – The Boys of Summer)
  10. Elvis Presley Blvd.  (Billy Joel – Allentown)
  11. We Said Hello Goodbye  (Phil Collins – Don’t Lose My Number / Take Me Home)
  12. It’s Not My Birthday  (They Might Be Giants – They’ll Need a Crane)
  13. Hallelujah, Here She Comes  (U2 – Desire)
  14. In Your Memory  (Depeche Mode – People are People)
  15. These Days  (Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart)
  16. 2 Late  (The Cure – Lovesong)
  17. Pink Cadillac  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Dancing in the Dark)
  18. Spanish Eyes  (U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For)
  19. Janey Don’t You Lose Heart  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – I’m Goin’ Down)
  20. Johnny Bye Bye  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – I’m on Fire)

 

Top 5 B-Sides According to Jonathan Miller (not in rank order)

  1. Murder By Numbers  (The Police – Every Breath You Take)
  2. The Retreat  (Elton John – Princess)
  3. Elvis Presley Blvd.  (Billy Joel – Allentown)
  4. We Said Hello Goodbye  (Phil Collins – Don’t Lose My Number / Take Me Home)
  5. Be True  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Fade Away)

Top 5 Covers of 50’s Songs

  1. La Bamba  (Los Lobos)
  2. Crying, Waiting, Hoping  (Marshall Crenshaw)
  3. Summertime Blues  (Brian Setzer)
  4. Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)  (Marvin Berry & the Starlighters)
  5. Rawhide  (The Blues Brothers)

 

Top 10 Covers of 60’s Songs

  1. Everlasting Love  (U2)
  2. A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall  (Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians)
  3. Always on My Mind  (Pet Shop Boys)
  4. Tainted Love  (Soft Cell)
  5. Hazy Shade of Winter  (The Bangles)
  6. (Oh) Pretty Woman  (Van Halen)
  7. Groovy Kind of Love  (Phil Collins)
  8. Pictures of Matchstick Men  (Camper Van Beethoven)
  9. Red Red Wine  (UB40)
  10. Superman  (R.E.M.)

 

Top 5 Covers of 70’s Songs

  1. Sweet Jane  (Cowboy Junkies)
  2. I Love Rock and Roll  (Joan Jett & the Blackhearts)
  3. Girls Just Want to Have Fun  (Cyndi Lauper)
  4. Dancing Barefoot  (U2)
  5. Forever Young  (Rod Stewart)

 

Top 5 Covers of 80’s Songs

  1. The Comedians  (Roy Orbison)
  2. I Am a Patriot  (Jackson Browne)
  3. Ceremony  (New Order)  *
  4. Give a Little Love  (Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers)
  5. Nothing Compares 2 You  (Sinead O’Connor)

note:  Technically, a cover since it was originally written and even recorded when they were still Joy Division.
note:  “Manic Monday” wasn’t written for the Bangles but they were the first to record it; otherwise it would have been #4.

 

Top 20 Post-1989 Covers of 80’s Songs

  1. Mad World  (Adam Lambert)
  2. Rattlesnakes  (Tori Amos)
  3. Ceremony  (Radiohead)
  4. Hallelujah  (John Cale)
  5. Rockin in the Free World  (Pearl Jam)
  6. Coming Back to You  (Martin Gore)
  7. Everyday is Like Sunday  (10,000 Maniacs)
  8. All Out of Love  (Me First & the Gimme Gimmes)
  9. Smooth Criminal  (Alien Ant Farm)
  10. Real Men  (Tori Amos)
  11. Our Lips are Sealed  (Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet)
  12. License to Kill  (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
  13. Bizarre Love Triangle  (Frente)
  14. How Soon is Now  (Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet)
  15. In Between Days  (Ben Folds)
  16. First We Take Manhattan  (R.E.M.)
  17. Sacrifice  (Sinead O’Connor)
  18. Total Eclipse of the Heart  (Tori Amos)
  19. Everybody Knows  (Don Henley)
  20. Crazy for You  (Me First & the Gimme Gimmes)

 

Five Songs That Proved Old Artists Weren’t Completely Artistically Bankrupt:

  1. She’s a Mystery to Me  (Roy Orbison)
  2. Come Dancing  (The Kinks)
  3. Start Me Up  (Rolling Stones)
  4. You Better, You Bet  (The Who)
  5. When We Was Fab  (George Harrison)

 

Top 5 Long Songs (eight minutes or longer in the original studio recording):

  1. Tunnel of Love  (Dire Straits  –  8:12)
  2. Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns  (Mother Love Bone  –  8:19)
  3. Tonight Tonight Tonight  (Genesis  –  8:54)
  4. Domino  (Genesis  –  10:45)
  5. Telegraph Road  (Dire Straits  –  14:17)

 

Top 10 Christmas Songs

  1. Do They Know It’s Christmas  (Band-Aid)
  2. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)  (U2)
  3. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  4. The Little Drummer Boy  (Bob Seger)
  5. Christmas Time  (Bryan Adams)
  6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas  (The Pretenders)
  7. Reggae Christmas  (Bryan Adams)
  8. Do You Hear What I Hear  (Whitney Houston)
  9. 2000 Miles  (The Pretenders)
  10. Christmas in Hollis  (Run-D.M.C.)

 

10 Most Moving Songs:

  1. Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)  (Elton John)
  2. Mothers of the Disappeared  (U2)
  3. The Late Great Johnny Ace  (Paul Simon)
  4. Blasphemous Rumours  (Depeche Mode)
  5. Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want  (The Smiths)
  6. Independence Day  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  7. Somebody  (Depeche Mode)
  8. Forever Young  (Alphaville)
  9. One Tree Hill  (U2)
  10. Wreck on the Highway  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)

 

10 Funniest Songs:

  1. Every Sperm is Sacred  (Monty Python)
  2. One More Minute  (Weird Al Yankovic)
  3. Big Bottom  (Spinal Tap)
  4. Eat It  (Weird Al Yankovic)
  5. Take Stuff From Work  (King Missile)
  6. Big Time  (Peter Gabriel)
  7. Galaxy Song  (Monty Python)
  8. Number Three  (They Might Be Giants)
  9. Christmas at Ground Zero  (Weird Al Yankovic)
  10. Elvis Has Just Left the Building  (Frank Zappa)

note:  Ranked in order by how much they make me laugh, not how great a song they are.

 

25 Best Songs to Dance To:

note:  And by dance, I mean other people.  I don’t dance.  Most people who have seen me attempt it would say I can’t dance.

  1. The Reflex  (Duran Duran)
  2. Billie Jean  (Michael Jackson)
  3. Blue Monday  (New Order)
  4. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)  (The Proclaimers)
  5. Take on Me  (A-ha)
  6. The Safety Dance  (Men Without Hats)
  7. Temptation  (New Order)
  8. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go  (Wham)
  9. Open Your Heart  (Madonna)
  10. Straight Up  (Paula Abdul)
  11. Stand  (R.E.M.)
  12. You Make My Dreams  (Hall & Oates)
  13. Just Can’t Get Enough  (Depeche Mode)
  14. Walk of Life  (Dire Straits)
  15. Wild Wild Life  (Talking Heads)
  16. Express Yourself  (Madonna)
  17. Modern Love  (David Bowie)
  18. I Wanna Dance with Somebody  (Whitney Houston)
  19. A Little Respect  (Erasure)
  20. Come on Eileen  (Dexys Midnight Runners)
  21. Dancing in the Dark  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  22. Relax  (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
  23. I Melt with You  (Modern English)
  24. Footloose  (Kenny Loggins)
  25. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic  (The Police)

 

25 Best Songs to Slow Dance To:

note:  But I do slow dance, which mainly consists of swaying back and forth and slowly turning in a circle.  Over the course of a few dances and life, I have probably slow danced to almost every song on this list, several of them at my wedding, which consisted only of 80’s music and which was dj’d by, you guessed it, Jonathan Miller.

  1. Romeo and Juliet  (Dire Straits)
  2. Eternal Flame  (The Bangles)
  3. Somebody  (Depeche Mode)
  4. Crazy for You  (Madonna)
  5. She’s an Angel  (They Might Be Giants)
  6. Tougher Than the Rest  (Bruce Springsteen)
  7. At This Moment  (Billy Vera & the Beaters)
  8. This Night  (Billy Joel)
  9. All I Want is You  (U2)
  10. Open Arms  (Journey)
  11. True  (Spandau Ballet)
  12. Drive  (The Cars)
  13. Never Tear Us Apart  (INXS)
  14. The Search is Over  (Survivor)
  15. Take My Breath Away  (Berlin)
  16. Hand in Hand  (Dire Straits)
  17. In Too Deep  (Genesis)
  18. Sweetest Thing  (U2)
  19. She’s a Mystery to Me  (Roy Orbison)
  20. Keep on Loving You  (REO Speedwagon)
  21. If You Were Here  (Thompson Twins)
  22. The Flame  (Cheap Trick)
  23. Only You  (Yaz)
  24. All Through the Night  (Cyndi Lauper)
  25. The Lady in Red  (Chris De Burgh)

Note:  “Every Breath You Take” is not on this list because it’s not a song you should ever slow dance to.  “Faithfully” is not on this list for reasons having to do with college and irony.

 

The Instruments

note:  This isn’t a completely separate section because I don’t have enough musical knowledge to make it one.  Some of the things in the sub-section below may be incorrect.  If so, please let me know.  Also, many of these songs are linked elsewhere in the post, so I will only include links that I don’t think are included anywhere else.  Because I don’t want to possibly put forth false information, I have not included the individual musicians responsible for the music below but most of it can be found on Wikipedia.

Top 25 Guitar Riffs:

note:  These can come at any point in the song, though many start the song.  Because of this list, there is no guitar list below.

  1. Money for Nothing  (Dire Straits)
  2. Message of Love  (The Pretenders)
  3. Beat It  (Michael Jackson)
  4. Industrial Disease  (Dire Straits)
  5. Sweet Child o’ Mine  (Guns n Roses)
  6. (Oh) Pretty Woman  (Van Halen)
  7. Pride (In the Name of Love)  (U2)
  8. Rockin’ in the Free World  (Neil Young)
  9. I Will Follow  (U2)
  10. I Love Rock and Roll  (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
  11. Should I Stay or Should I Go  (The Clash)
  12. I Want a New Drug  (Huey Lewis & the News)
  13. Hazy Shade of Winter  (The Bangles)
  14. Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams)
  15. We Got the Beat  (The Go-Go’s)
  16. Heat of the Moment  (Asia)
  17. Why Can’t This Be Love  (Van Halen)
  18. Authority Song  (John Cougar Mellencamp)
  19. Driver 8  (R.E.M.)
  20. The Waiting  (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
  21. Tunnel of Love  (Dire Straits)
  22. Sunday Bloody Sunday  (U2)
  23. Freewill  (Rush)
  24. Gloria  (U2)
  25. Owner of a Lonely Heart  (Yes)

note:  When we were in high school, my friend John Ramirez and I blew out his dad’s speakers with the guitar riff from “Money for Nothing”.

Top Instrumental Starts to Songs

note:  So, this is broken up by what instrument starts the song, including combinations of instruments.  I have tried to be as accurate as I can, but I’m not trained in music and sometimes I just might be wrong.  Basically, these were songs I wanted to point to for having great instrumental openings.  Like with the list above, there are only links for songs that don’t appear elsewhere in the post.

Acoustic Guitar:

note:  I don’t have a great ear, so for all I know some of these are electric, in which case you could put in “Free Fallin'” or “Fast Car”, provided those are acoustic, which I think they are.

  1. Closer to Fine  (Indigo Girls)
  2. Romeo and Juliet  (Dire Straits)
  3. Little Pink Houses  (John Cougar Mellencamp)
  4. Blister in the Sun  (Violent Femmes)
  5. A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall  (Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians)

 

Drums / Guitar:

  1. I Love Rock and Roll  (Joan Jett & the Blackhearts)
  2. Gloria  (U2)
  3. Just Like Heaven  (The Cure)
  4. Psycho Killer  (Talking Heads)
  5. The Boys of Summer  (Don Henley)
  6. Don’t Come Around Here No More  (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
  7. Late in the Evening  (Paul Simon)
  8. Jack and Diane  (John Cougar)
  9. Cuts Like a Knife  (Bryan Adams)
  10. I Melt with You  (Modern English)

Piano:

note:  I must admit, it feels strange not to have a Billy Joel song on the list, but there it is.  He really went towards other instruments this decade.  But there’s still Elton John, Bruce Hornsby and Joe Jackson, all of whom were known for their piano playing.  I should point out that three of these feature the piano playing of Roy Bittan, the pianist in the E Street Band who was also friends with Jim Steinman and played on the Steinman-penned songs “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

  1. The Way It Is  (Bruce Hornsby & the Range)
  2. Be True  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  3. Don’t Stop Believin’  (Journey)
  4. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues  (Elton John)
  5. New Year’s Day  (U2)
  6. Making Love out of Nothing At All  (Air Supply)
  7. Real Men  (Joe Jackson)
  8. Right Here Waiting  (Richard Marx)
  9. Total Eclipse of the Heart  (Bonnie Tyler)
  10. Listen to Your Heart  (Roxette)

Drums / Piano:

note:  And more Bittan, with the first two songs and the fifth one.  These first two are part of why this is structured the way it is – the openings are so brilliant but they make use of both drums and piano and are so different than something that starts with say, just piano.

  1. Hungry Heart  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  2. The Price You Pay  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
  3. Rock the Casbah  (The Clash)
  4. Watching the Wheels  (John Lennon)
  5. No Surrender  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)

Drums:

  1. Sunday Bloody Sunday  (U2)
  2. In Between Days  (The Cure)
  3. It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)  (R.E.M.)
  4. We Got the Beat  (The Go-Gos)
  5. Walking on Sunshine  (Katrina & the Waves)
  6. Girlfriend is Better  (Talking Heads)
  7. The Hanging Garden  (The Cure)
  8. Bankrobber  (The Clash)
  9. We’re Not Gonna Take It  (Twisted Sister)
  10. Call Me  (Blondie)

Drums / Synth:

  1. Take on Me  (a-ha)
  2. Cars  (Gary Numan)
  3. Dancing in the Dark  (Bruce Springsteen)
  4. Bizarre Love Triangle  (New Order)
  5. If You Were Here  (Thompson Twins)
  6. The Great Commandment  (Camouflage)
  7. Tom Sawyer  (Rush)
  8. The Safety Dance  (Men Without Hats)
  9. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
  10. Terrible Lie  (Nine Inch Nails)

note:  If you listen to “The Great Commandment” and think to yourself, ‘Are you sure this isn’t Depeche Mode?’, you are not alone.

Synth:

  1. Just Can’t Get Enough  (Depeche Mode)
  2. Jump  (Van Halen)
  3. Tainted Love  (Soft Cell)
  4. The Final Countdown  (Europe)
  5. Don’t You Want Me  (The Human League)
  6. Ana Ng  (They Might Be Giants)
  7. A Little Respect  (Erasure)
  8. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)  (The Eurythmics)
  9. True  (Spandau Ballet)
  10. Nobody’s Diary  (Yazoo)

Drums / Bass:

note:  It’s really hard for me to tell a bass-line when I hear one.  I don’t have the ear for it.  Ever since Thomas was little, I would play air guitar on his tummy with a lot of different guitar riffs (“Satsifaction”, “Whole Lotta Love”, “Layla”) but the only bass-line I could ever think to play was “Come Together”.  So I may have some of these wrong.

  1. Every Breath You Take  (The Police)
  2. Billie Jean  (Michael Jackson)
  3. Dirty Laundry  (Don Henley)
  4. Lawyers in Love  (Jackson Browne)
  5. She Bop  (Cyndi Lauper)

Various Instruments:

note:  None of these had enough to merit their own list, but they didn’t fit any of the above lists.

  1. Under Pressure  (Queen & David Bowie)  –  bass-line
  2. Mama  (Genesis)  –  drum machine
  3. Blue Monday  (New Order)  –  drum machine
  4. Come on Eileen  (Dexys Midnight Runners)  –  strings
  5. Pictures of Matchstick Men  (Camper van Beethoven)  –  strings
  6. Careless Whisper  (George Michael)  –  saxophone
  7. You Belong to the City  (Glen Frey)  –  saxophone
  8. The River  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)  –  harmonica

Layered:

note:  The first three songs that ever made me pay attention to how songs open were “Pictures of You”, “Enjoy the Silence” and “The Stairs” (the last two, sadly, from 1990, and not included on this list).  I loved the way the individual instruments came into the song.  That made me start noticing other songs like this, including “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Where the Streets Have No Name”.  While only one of those songs actually opens its album, to me, it makes all of these fantastic opening songs and I have often used songs from this list to open mix tapes (or mix cds).  “Sunday Bloody Sunday” could have been used here as well, which is why it opened War and often opened concerts (including the current tour) but the very opening drum solo is so great, I had to include it up above.

  1. Pictures of You  (The Cure)
  2. Blaze of Glory  (The Alarm)
  3. Tougher Than the Rest  (Bruce Springsteen)
  4. Check It Out  (John Mellencamp)
  5. Love Will Tear Us Apart  (Joy Division)
  6. Just Like Honey  (The Jesus and Mary Chain)
  7. Where the Streets Have No Name  (U2)
  8. The Heart of the Matter  (Don Henley)
  9. She Drives Me Crazy  (Fine Young Cannibals)
  10. Earn Enough for Us  (XTC)

Part Five:  The Years

note:  For Top 5 Singles, I am using the year of the single’s release, no matter when the album was released (I have tried to check them all).  Any single released in a different year than the album has an asterisk.  Top 5 Album Tracks consist of any song from an album released that year that was not released as a single.  Most of these songs are available in other parts of the post (or in the Best Songs post), so no links here.

1980

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Making Movies  (Dire Straits)
    2. The River  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
    3. Boy  (U2)
  • Top 5 Singles
    1. Love Will Tear Us Apart  (Joy Division)
    2. Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)  (Pink Floyd)  *
    3. Hungry Heart  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
    4. Don’t Stand So Close to Me  (The Police)
    5. Biko  (Peter Gabriel)
  • Top 5 Album Tracks
    1. The River  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
    2. The Price You Pay  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
    3. Independence Day  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
    4. No Man’s Land  (Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band)
    5. The Electric Co  (U2)

1981

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Ghost in the Machine  (The Police)
    2. October  (U2)
    3. The Pretenders II  (The Pretenders)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. Romeo and Juliet  (Dire Straits)  *
    2. Once in a Lifetime  (Talking Heads)  *
    3. Under Pressure  (Queen & David Bowie)
    4. Radio Free Europe  (R.E.M.)
    5. History Never Repeats  (Split Enz)
  • Top 5 Album Tracks:
    1. Tomorrow  (U2)
    2. Every Grain of Sand  (Bob Dylan)
    3. Other Voices  (The Cure)
    4. Land of the Glass Pinecones  (Human Sexual Response)
    5. Rehumanize Yourself  (The Police)

note:  A terrible year, the only year in the decade without a single album in my Top 50 and non of the album tracks make my Top 250.

1982

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Thriller  (Michael Jackson)
    2. Nebraska  (Bruce Springsteen)
    3. Security  (Peter Gabriel)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. Temptation  (New Order)
    2. Atlantic City  (Bruce Springsteen)
    3. Come on Eileen  (Dexys Midnight Runners)
    4. I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll  (Joan Jett & the Blackhearts)  *
    5. Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)  (Elton John)
  • Top 5 Album Tracks:
    1. Telegraph Road  (Dire Straits)
    2. Nebraska  (Bruce Springsteen)
    3. Real Men  (Joe Jackson)
    4. Straight into Darkness  (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
    5. San Jacinto  (Peter Gabriel)

1983

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Synchronicity  (The Police)
    2. War  (U2)
    3. Hearts and Bones  (Paul Simon)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. Every Breath You Take  (The Police)
    2. Sunday Bloody Sunday  (U2)
    3. I Love L.A.  (Randy Newman)
    4. Beat It  (Michael Jackson)  *
    5. Industrial Disease  (Dire Straits)  *
  • Top 5 Album Tracks:
    1. “40”  (U2)
    2. Blister in the Sun  (Violent Femmes)
    3. The Late Great Johnny Ace  (Paul Simon)
    4. Kiss Off  (Violent Femmes)
    5. Within Your Reach  (The Replacements)

1984

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Born in the U.S.A.  (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band)
    2. The Unforgettable Fire  (U2)
    3. Building the Perfect Beast  (Don Henley)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. Pride (In the Name of Love)  (U2)
    2. Forever Young  (Alphaville)
    3. Do They Know It’s Christmas  (Band-Aid)
    4. The Boys of Summer  (Don Henley)
    5. Somebody  (Depeche Mode)
  • Top 5 Album Tracks:
    1. Bad  (U2)
    2. Blaze of Glory  (The Alarm)
    3. No Surrender  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
    4. A Sort of Homecoming  (U2)
    5. Downbound Train  (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)

1985

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Brothers in Arms  (Dire Straits)
    2. Scarecrow  (John Mellencamp)
    3. No Jacket Required  (Phil Collins)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. Don’t You (Forget About Me)  (Simple Minds)
    2. In Between Days  (The Cure)
    3. Take Me Home  (Phil Collins)
    4. Money for Nothing  (Dire Straits)
    5. Take on Me  (A-ha)
  • Top 5 Album Tracks:
    1. Minutes to Memories  (John Mellencamp)
    2. Yoda  (Weird Al Yankovic)
    3. Love Vigilantes  (New Order)
    4. Long Long Way to Go  (Phil Collins)
    5. A Night Like This  (The Cure)

note:  An agonizingly difficult year to limit the singles to a Top 5.  They are all in my Top 30 for the decade.

1986

 

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Graceland  (Paul Simon)
    2. So  (Peter Gabriel)
    3. Invisible Touch  (Genesis)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. Don’t Dream It’s Over  (Crowded House)
    2. In Your Eyes  (Peter Gabriel)
    3. Land of Confusion  (Genesis)
    4. Bizarre Love Triangle  (New Order)
    5. Invisible Touch  (Genesis)
  • Top 5 Album Tracks:
    1. She’s an Angel  (They Might Be Giants)
    2. Earn Enough for Us  (XTC)
    3. Cemetry Gates  (The Smiths)
    4. Begin the Begin  (R.E.M.)
    5. Every Little Counts  (New Order)

note:  A fantastic year.  The best #2 album, the second best #3, another in the Top 20 (Black Celebration) and nine albums overall in the Top 50.  It’s also the only year with multiple singles in my Top 10 for the entire decade (in fact, it has multiple singles in my Top 5 for the entire decade).

1987

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. The Joshua Tree  (U2)
    2. Tunnel of Love  (Bruce Springsteen)
    3. Document  (R.E.M.)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)  (R.E.M.)
    2. Where the Streets Have No Name  (U2)
    3. Beds are Burning  (Midnight Oil)
    4. Tunnel of Love  (Bruce Springsteen)
    5. With or Without You  (U2)
  • Top 5 Album Tracks:
    1. Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven  (Love and Rockets)
    2. Red Hill Mining Town  (U2)
    3. Mothers of the Disappeared  (U2)
    4. Running to Stand Still  (U2)
    5. I Want You Now  (Depeche Mode)

note:  Perhaps the best year in the decade.  The best #3 album, five in the Top 25 (Appetite for Destruction, Kick), eight in the Top 35 and nine in the Top 50.

1988

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Green  (R.E.M.)
    2. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back  (Public Enemy)
    3. Lincoln  (They Might Be Giants)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. One Tree Hill  (U2)  *
    2. Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards  (Billy Bragg)
    3. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)  (The Proclaimers)
    4. Ana Ng  (They Might Be Giants)
    5. (Nothing But) Flowers  (Talking Heads)
  • Top 5 Album Tracks:
    1. You are the Everything  (R.E.M.)
    2. Hawkmoon 269  (U2)
    3. World Leader Pretend  (R.E.M.)
    4. Love Rescue Me  (U2)
    5. The World’s Address  (They Might Be Giants)

1989

  • Top 3 Albums:
    1. Disintegration  (The Cure)
    2. Like a Prayer  (Madonna)
    3. The End of the Innocence  (Don Henley)
  • Top 5 Singles:
    1. Like a Prayer  (Madonna)
    2. Closer to Fine  (Indigo Girls)
    3. Personal Jesus  (Depeche Mode)  *
    4. All I Want is You  (U2)  *
    5. Sowing the Seeds of Love  (Tears for Fears)
  • Top 5 Albums Tracks:
    1. She’s a Mystery to Me  (Roy Orbison)
    2. The Comedians  (Roy Orbison)
    3. Untitled  (The Cure)
    4. Till Death Do Us Part  (Madonna)
    5. Find a Way to My Heart  (Phil Collins)

note:  Some albums from this year had songs that were released as singles in 1990 and thus don’t appear anywhere in this section (like “Pictures of You” (which would have been #1 and “The Heart of the Matter”).

Part Six:  The Charts

Top 50 Billboard #1 U.S. Singles

note:  Some songs on this list aren’t eligible for other lists because they aren’t 80’s songs (they’re from 1979) but are for this list because they hit #1 in the 80’s.  Of the songs released in 1989 that didn’t hit #1 until 1990, nothing was even close to making this list.  I’m only including links for songs that don’t already have them somewhere earlier in the post (a lot of them are in the videos list).

  1. Every Breath You Take  (The Police)
  2. Don’t You (Forget About Me)  (Simple Minds)
  3. Like a Prayer  (Madonna)
  4. Money for Nothing  (Dire Straits)
  5. Take on Me  (a-ha)
  6. Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)  (Pink Floyd)
  7. With or Without You  (U2)
  8. Beat It  (Michael Jackson)
  9. Invisible Touch  (Genesis)
  10. Billie Jean  (Michael Jackson)
  11. The Way it Is  (Bruce Hornsby & the Range)
  12. The Power of Love  (Huey Lewis & the News)
  13. Come on Eileen  (Dexys Midnight Runners)
  14. I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll  (Joan Jett & the Blackhearts)
  15. Eternal Flame  (The Bangles)
  16. Open Your Heart  (Madonna)
  17. La Bamba  (Los Lobos)
  18. Jack and Diane  (John Cougar)
  19. Everybody Wants to Rule the World  (Tears for Fears)
  20. Walk Like an Egyptian  (The Bangles)
  21. Papa Don’t Preach  (Madonna)
  22. Crazy for You  (Madonna)
  23. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)  (Phil Collins)
  24. Faith  (George Michael)
  25. Jump  (Van Halen)
  26. Centerfold  (The J. Geils Band)
  27. Sledgehammer  (Peter Gabriel)
  28. Tell Her About It  (Billy Joel)
  29. Sweet Child o’ Mine  (Guns n Roses)
  30. Total Eclipse of the Heart  (Bonnie Tyler)
  31. The Reflex  (Duran Duran)
  32. Take My Breath Away  (Berlin)
  33. Livin’ on a Prayer  (Bon Jovi)
  34. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go  (Wham)
  35. Need You Tonight  (INXS)
  36. Live To Tell  (Madonna)
  37. You Give Live a Bad Name  (Bon Jovi)
  38. Time After Time  (Cyndi Lauper)
  39. A Groovy Kind of Love  (Phil Collins)
  40. Like a Virgin  (Madonna)
  41. At This Moment  (Billy Vera & the Beaters)
  42. Separate Lives  (Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin)
  43. Eye of the Tiger  (Survivor)
  44. A View to a Kill  (Duran Duran)
  45. The Living Years  (Mike & the Mechanics)
  46. West End Girls  (Pet Shop Boys)
  47. Amanda  (Boston)
  48. Africa  (Toto)
  49. Down Under  (Men at Work)
  50. St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)  (John Parr)

 

Worst 10 #1 Singles

  1. Mickey  (Toni Basil)
  2. Escape (The Pina Colada Song)  (Rupert Holmes)
  3. Endless Love  (Diane Ross and Lionel Richie)
  4. Physical  (Olivia Newton-John)
  5. Girl I’m Gonna Miss You  (Milli Vanilli)
  6. Funkytown  (Lipps Inc)
  7. Don’t Worry, Be Happy  (Bobby McFerrin)
  8. Say Say Say  (Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson)
  9. Celebration  (Kool & the Gang)
  10. Let’s Hear it For the Boy  (Deniece Williams)

note:  “Escape” actually originally hit #1 in December of 1979 but then it went back to #1 in January of 1980.  If you don’t think that should count, then #10 becomes “Toy Soldiers” (Martika).
second note:  Because I never liked Milli Vanilli or NKOTB, I could ignore their music.  Thus, the former only has one song and the latter has none.  That’s because I don’t know the songs, not because I like them at all.  These 10 songs are all ones I know and wish I could excise from my brain.
third note:  I should point out that this list could have been much worse.  One of the last #1’s of the 70’s is My Sharona, my second most hated song of all-time (behind Wonderwall) and one of the first #1’s of the 90’s is How Am I Supposed to Live Without You by Michael Bolton.  Actually, most of the #1’s from 1979 and 1990 are awful.

Worst 5 #1 Singles According to Jonathan Miller

  1. Ebony and Ivory  (Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder)
  2. Rapture  (Blondie)
  3. On My Own  (Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald)
  4. Human  (Human League)
  5. Batdance  (Prince)

Top 10 Songs that Prove the British Have Better Taste than Americans (or, hey, the Brits weren’t daft enough to vote for Reagan)

note:  These are all songs that hit #1 in the UK but not in the US.

  1. Under Pressure  (Queen & David Bowie)
  2. Do They Know It’s Christmas  (Band-Aid)
  3. Don’t Stand So Close to Me  (The Police)
  4. Uptown Girl  (Billy Joel)
  5. Come on Eileen  (Dexys Midnight Runners)
  6. True Blue  (Madonna)
  7. True  (Spandau Ballet)
  8. Always on My Mind  (Pet Shop Boys)
  9. Freedom  (Wham)
  10. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic  (The Police)

note:  Technically, “Imagine” and “Stand by Me” should both be on this list as well (and would be #1 and #2).  Both hit #1 in the UK in the 80’s (the former when Lennon died, the latter after the film was released) and neither ever hit #1 in the US.

 

Top 5 Songs that Prove the British Have Worse Taste than Americans (but they were mental enough to make Mankie Snatcher their PM)

note:  These, again, are all songs that hit #1 in the UK but not in the US.

  1. Xanadu  (Olivia Newton-John)
  2. I’ve Never Been to Me  (Charlene)
  3. The Lion Sleeps Tonight  (Tight Fit)
  4. Back to Life  (Soul II Soul)
  5. With a Little Help From My Friends  (Wet Wet Wet)

Part Seven:  The Awards

The Oscars:

  • Best Original Score
    • Best Winner:  Chariots of Fire
    • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • Best Slate of Nominees:  1984  (A Passage to India, The Natural, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Under the Volcano, The River)
  • Best Original Song
    • Best Winner:  “Under the Sea”  (The Little Mermaid)
    • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  “The Power of Love”  (Back to the Future)
    • Best Slate of Nominees:  1985  (Say You Say Me, The Power of Love, Separate Lives, Miss Celie’s Blues, Surprise Surprise)

The Golden Globes:

  • Best Original Score
    • Best Winner:  The Little Mermaid
    • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win: Glory
    • Best Slate of Nominees:  1989  (The Little Mermaid, Born on the Fourth of July, Casualties of War, Glory, The Fabulous Baker Boys)
  • Best Original Song
    • Best Winner:  “Under the Sea”  (The Little Mermaid)
    • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  “The Power of Love”  (Back to the Future)
    • Best Slate of Nominees:  1985  (Say You Say Me, The Power of Love, Rhythm of the Night, We Don’t Need Another Hero, A View to a Kill)

The Grammies:

  • Album of the Year
    • Best Winner:  The Joshua Tree
    • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  Born in the U.S.A.
    • Best Slate of Nominees:  1987  (Graceland, So, Control, The Broadway Album, Back in the High Life)
  • Record of the Year:
    • Best Winner:  “Beat It”
    • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  “Every Breath You Take”
    • Best Slate of Nominees:  1986  (We are the World, Money for Nothing, The Boys of Summer, The Power of Love, Born in the U.S.A.)
  • Song of the Year:
    • Best Winner:  “Every Breath You Take”
    • Best Nominee That Didn’t Win:  “Money for Nothing”
    • Best Slate of Nominees:  1984  (Every Breath You Take, All Night Long (All Night), Beat It, Billie Jean, Maniac)

Part Eight:  The Artists

My Top 10 80’s Artists, based on how much 80’s Music by them that I own

  1. Bruce Springsteen  (4 studio albums, live box set, live ep, numerous bootlegs and b-sides)
  2. U2  (6 studio albums, 2 live albums, live ep, numerous bootlegs and b-sides)
  3. R.E.M.  (6 studio albums, ep, 2 compilations, numerous bootlegs)
  4. Depeche Mode  (6 studio albums, live album)
  5. Billy Joel  (5 studio albums, 2 live albums)
  6. The Cure  (6 studio albums, numerous b-sides)
  7. The Smiths  (4 studio albums, live album, numerous singles and b-sides)
  8. Genesis  (4 studio albums, live album, numerous b-sides)
  9. Weird Al Yankovic  (6 studio albums)
  10. Madonna  (4 studio albums)

note:  In the 70’s, when six of these musical artists weren’t even recording yet, Springsteen would probably be #2 (behind Pink Floyd) and would be followed by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin and The Clash while Billy Joel and Genesis might crack the Top 10.  In the 90’s it would probably go, because of bootlegs, U2, Springsteen, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, The Levellers, Tori Amos, Weird Al, They Might Be Giants, Neil Young and Nirvana.  The Smiths broke up in the 80’s, Genesis would have one album and two live albums and then Phil Collins would leave and I would no longer care, Billy Joel would have one album then mostly retire and Depeche Mode and The Cure would have long breaks between albums and I don’t have their later albums because I don’t like them all that much.  I have several individual songs for Madonna in the 90’s, but only one whole album (Ray of Light).

Top 10 Bruce Springsteen Songs:

  1. The River
  2. Tunnel of Love
  3. Atlantic City
  4. Be True
  5. The Price You Pay
  6. Hungry Heart
  7. Brilliant Disguise
  8. No Surrender
  9. Tougher Than the Rest
  10. My Hometown

note:  At some point I will probably do a Springsteen Top 100 post and the interesting thing is that it’s possible that none of these songs will make his Top 10, not when you think about “Born to Run”, “Thunder Road”, “Jungleland”, “Badlands”, “The Promised Land”, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, “The Rising”, “Lonesome Day”, “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “Wrecking Ball”.

 

Top 10 U2 Songs:

  1. Pride (In the Name of Love)
  2. Bad
  3. Where the Streets Have No Name
  4. Sunday Bloody Sunday
  5. One Tree Hill
  6. Luminous Times (Hold on to Love)
  7. All I Want is You
  8. Red Hill Mining Town
  9. With or Without You
  10. Everlasting Love

note:  The single easiest list in the entire post, as all I had to do was write down the first 10 songs on my Top 100 U2 Songs list.

 

Top 10 R.E.M. Songs:

  1. It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
  2. You are the Everything
  3. Radio Free Europe  (Hib-Tone single)
  4. Stand
  5. Finest Worksong
  6. The One I Love
  7. World Leader Pretend
  8. Begin the Begin
  9. Swan Swan H
  10. Exhuming McCarthy

 

Top 10 Depeche Mode Songs:

  1. Personal Jesus
  2. A Question of Lust
  3. Somebody
  4. Everything Counts (long version)
  5. Blasphemous Rumours
  6. I Want You Now
  7. People are People
  8. Stripped
  9. The Meaning of Love
  10. Just Can’t Get Enough

note:  “Personal Jesus” would be on the 1990 album Violator but was released as a single in late 1989.

 

Top 10 Billy Joel Songs:

  1. This is the Time
  2. Uptown Girl
  3. The Night is Still Young
  4. Goodnight Saigon
  5. Tell Her About It
  6. Leningrad
  7. The Downeaster “Alexa”
  8. A Matter of Trust
  9. We Didn’t Start the Fire
  10. The Longest Time

 

Top 10 Cure Songs:

  1. Pictures of You
  2. In Between Days
  3. Just Like Heaven
  4. Untitled
  5. Charlotte Sometimes
  6. Let’s Go to Bed
  7. Closedown
  8. Plainsong
  9. The Lovecats
  10. The Caterpillar

 

Top 10 Smiths Songs:

  1. How Soon is Now
  2. Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
  3. Panic
  4. Ask
  5. Cemetry Gates
  6. Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before
  7. Suffer Little Children
  8. Girlfriend in a Coma
  9. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now
  10. Sheila Take a Bow

note:  Because The Smiths formed and broke up during the decade, this is also my all-time Top 10 Smiths songs.  They must be the only band in history where my top two songs are both b-sides.

 

Top 10 Genesis Songs:

  1. Land of Confusion
  2. Invisible Touch
  3. Throwing It All Away
  4. Misunderstanding
  5. Anything She Does
  6. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
  7. In Too Deep
  8. That’s All
  9. Domino
  10. Mama

 

Top 10 Weird Al Yankovic Songs:

  1. One More Minute
  2. Eat It
  3. Yoda
  4. Dare to Be Stupid
  5. Christmas at Ground Zero
  6. The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
  7. George of the Jungle
  8. Lasagna
  9. Fat
  10. I Love Rocky Road

note:  I considered doing separate lists for Weird Al of originals and parodies, but it worked out perfectly that I ended up with five of each.

 

Top 10 Madonna Songs:

  1. Like a Prayer
  2. Open Your Heart
  3. Material Girl
  4. Oh Father
  5. Till Death Do Us Part
  6. True Blue
  7. Papa Don’t Preach
  8. Crazy for You
  9. Live to Tell
  10. Express Yourself

note:  Madonna has done a lot of good songs since the 80’s, but not only do I think this would be my all-time Top 10 list of her songs but that possibly a few other 80’s songs would make the list before any post-80’s songs, including “Like a Virgin”, “La Isla Bonita”, “Who’s That Girl”, “Cherish” and “Spanish Eyes”.

 

Top 5 Peter Gabriel Songs:

  1. In Your Eyes
  2. Biko
  3. I Don’t Remember
  4. Shock the Monkey
  5. Red Rain

 

Top 5 Tom Petty Songs:

  1. The Waiting
  2. Free Fallin’
  3. Don’t Come Around Here No More
  4. Straight into Darkness
  5. Runnin’ Down a Dream

 

Top 5 Dire Straits Songs:

  1. Romeo and Juliet
  2. Money for Nothing
  3. Industrial Disease
  4. Tunnel of Love
  5. Skateaway

note:  One of the rare groups here where this is my all-time Top 5.  In fact, given “Telegraph Road”, “Brothers in Arms”, “Walk of Life”, “So Far Away”, “Hand in Hand” and “Twisting by the Pool”, any Dire Straits song outside this decade, even “Sultans of Swing” would likely not make my Top 10.

 

Top 5 Police Songs:

  1. Every Breath You Take
  2. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
  3. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
  4. King of Pain
  5. Invisible Sun

 

Top 5 Talking Heads Songs:

  1. Once in a Lifetime
  2. (Nothing But) Flowers
  3. Wild Wild Life
  4. Girlfriend is Better
  5. Psycho Killer

 

Top 5 Don Henley Songs:

  1. The Boys of Summer
  2. The Heart of the Matter
  3. A Month of Sundays
  4. Sunset Grill
  5. Dirty Laundry

note:  So, Don Henley appears to have wiped most his music off the web, which is why there are so few links.  Henley would have a few singles in the mid 90’s that were really good but I don’t think any of them would make my Top 5.

Top 5 John Mellencamp Songs:

  1. Check it Out
  2. Rain on the Scarecrow
  3. Jack and Diane
  4. Small Town
  5. Minutes to Memories

 

Top 5 New Order Songs:

  1. Temptation
  2. Bizarre Love Triangle
  3. Ceremony
  4. Every Little Counts
  5. Love Vigilantes

 

Top 5 Phil Collins Songs:

  1. Take Me Home
  2. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)
  3. Don’t Lose My Number
  4. Find a Way to My Heart
  5. A Groovy Kind of Love

 

Top 5 Huey Lewis Songs:

  1. The Power of Love
  2. Do You Believe in Love
  3. If This is It
  4. I Want a New Drug
  5. Stuck with You

 

Top 5 Van Halen Songs:

  1. Why Can’t This Be Love
  2. Jump
  3. Summer Nights
  4. Love Walks In
  5. Panama

 

Top 5 Pretenders Songs:

  1. Message of Love
  2. 2000 Miles
  3. Back on the Chain Gang
  4. Time the Avenger
  5. Don’t Get Me Wrong

 

Top 5 Alarm Songs:

  1. Blaze of Glory
  2. The Stand
  3. Spirit of ’76
  4. Rain in the Summertime
  5. A New South Wales

 

Top 5 Queen Songs:

  1. Under Pressure
  2. Radio Ga Ga
  3. Flash
  4. Another One Bites the Dust
  5. Who Wants to Live Forever

 

Top 5 The Bangles Songs:

  1. Eternal Flame
  2. Walk Like an Egyptian
  3. Hazy Shade of Winter
  4. In Your Room
  5. Manic Monday

 

Top 5 Bryan Adams Songs:

  1. Summer of ’69
  2. Heaven
  3. Straight from the Heart
  4. Somebody
  5. Run to You

 

Top 5 Duran Duran Songs:

  1. The Reflex
  2. A View to a Kill
  3. Hungry Like the Wolf
  4. Rio
  5. Girls on Film

 

Top 5 10,000 Maniacs Songs:

  1. What’s the Matter Here
  2. Can’t Ignore the Train
  3. Peace Train
  4. Planned Obsolescence
  5. Hey Jack Kerouac

 

Top 5 Jackson Browne Songs:

  1. I am a Patriot
  2. Lawyers in Love
  3. Somebody’s Baby
  4. Lawless Avenues
  5. Call it a Loan

 

Top 5 Paul Simon Songs:

  1. You Can Call Me Al
  2. The Late Great Johnny Ace
  3. Late in the Evening
  4. The Boy in the Bubble
  5. Think Too Much (b)

 

Top 5 Pet Shop Boys Songs:

  1. Always on My Mind
  2. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)
  3. West End Girls
  4. What Have I Done to Deserve This?
  5. Suburbia

 

Top 5 REO Speedwagon Songs:

  1. Keep on Loving You
  2. Can’t Fight This Feeling
  3. Take it on the Run
  4. Here with Me
  5. One Lonely Night

 

Top 5 The Cars Songs:

  1. Drive
  2. You Might Think
  3. Magic
  4. Since You’re Gone
  5. Shake it Up

 

Top 5 Tears for Fears Songs:

  1. Sowing the Seeds of Love
  2. Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  3. Mad World
  4. Head Over Heels
  5. Shout

 

Top 5 Pat Benatar Songs:

  1. Shadows of the Night
  2. We Belong
  3. Invincible
  4. Sex as a Weapon
  5. Love is a Battlefield

note:  This would definitely be my Top 5 all-time for Pat Benatar.

 

Top 5 INXS Songs:

  1. Never Tear Us Apart
  2. Need You Tonight / Mediate
  3. New Sensation
  4. Tiny Daggers
  5. What You Need

note:  Lists like this, dominated by a single album, can be deceptive.  They can mean either that the rest of the albums aren’t all that good or that this album is really good.  In this case, it’s a combination; it was hard for songs like “Original Sin” and “Listen Like Thieves” not to make the list but it was also hard not just to have all the songs from Kick on the list.  Also, is it cheating to have “Need You Tonight” and “Mediate” as one listing?  I don’t think so; the songs flow into each other and I wish they were one track on the cd so they would always play together on iTunes.

 

Top 5 Journey Songs:

  1. Any Way You Want It
  2. Open Arms
  3. Don’t Stop Believin’
  4. Faithfully
  5. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)

 

Top 5 Echo & the Bunnymen Songs:

  1. Silver
  2. The Killing Moon
  3. Lips Like Sugar
  4. Bring on the Dancing Horses
  5. People are Strange

 

Top 5 Rush Songs:

  1. Freewill
  2. Tom Sawyer
  3. The Spirit of Radio
  4. Subdivisions
  5. Time Stand Still

 

Top 5 Elton John Songs:

  1. Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)
  2. I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues
  3. Sacrifice
  4. I’m Still Standing
  5. Sad Songs (Say So Much)

 

Top 5 Erasure Songs:

  1. Oh L’Amour
  2. A Little Respect
  3. Sometimes
  4. Who Needs Love Like That
  5. Victim of Love

 

Top 5 Oingo Boingo Songs:

  1. Dead Man’s Party
  2. Just Another Day
  3. Weird Science
  4. Stay
  5. Little Girls

 

Top 5 XTC Songs:

  1. Dear God
  2. Earn Enough for Us
  3. The Mayor of Simpleton
  4. Summer’s Cauldron
  5. Generals and Majors

 

Note:  My rule was, the Top 10 Artists get Top 10 lists.  Anyone else who had at least three albums could have a Top 5 list if I liked them enough.  The three album threshold is why there are no Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd or TMBG lists as well as those solo artists who went solo too late to have three albums (Sting, George Michael).  It’s good that Erasure had four albums because otherwise I would have had to consider doing a combined Vince Clarke list (the first Depeche Mode album, the two Yaz albums, Erasure).  I didn’t include Neil Young or Bob Dylan because so much of the decade for them was just a slog with the exception of the really strong albums they both released in 1989, leading into their much better decades in the 90’s.

Part Nine:  The Lyrics

 

Best Line I Have Ever Been Told Referencing an 80’s Song:

  • “I’m just here to give love and quote Air Supply.  And I’m all out of love.”

Told to me by my friend Deborah Kaplan.

Best Line Told to Me About an 80’s Song:

  • “Ah, ‘Luka’.  My second favorite song about child abuse.”

Told to me by my friend Joe Lopata – “What’s the Matter Here” was the first.

Best Album Reference in an Animated Show:

  • “Goodbye, Robert Smith!  Thank you for your help!  Disintegration is the best album ever!”

From the South Park episode “Mecha-Streisand

Most Nonsensical Line:

  • “I smell like I sound”  (“Hungry Like the Wolf”  –  Duran Duran)

Stupidest Line:

  • “Guilty feet have got no rhythm.”  (“Careless Whisper”  –  George Michael)

Most Annoying Mis-pronunciation in a Line:

  • “He starts to shake and cough  /  Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov”  (“Don’t Stand So Close to Me”  –  The Police)

For the record, Sting, the enunciation is on the second syllable.

Most Annoying Factual Error in a Line:

  • “Early morning April 4, shot rings out in the Memphis sky”  (“Pride (In the Name of Love)”  –  U2)

It was at dusk.

Line That Should Have Clued Ronald Reagan In:

  • “Born down in a dead man’s town  /  First kick I took was when I hit the ground”  (“Born in the USA”  –  Bruce Springsteen)

Best Use of an 80’s Lyric as an Epigraph:

  • “And as things fell apart nobody paid much attention”  (“(Nothing But) Flowers” – Talking Heads, used in American Psycho)

Funniest Line:

  • “I’m stranded all alone in the gas station of love  /  And I have to use the self-service pumps”  (“One More Minute” – Weird Al Yankovic)

Most Audacious Line:

  • “And my heaven will be a big heaven  /  And I will walk through the front door”  (“Big Time”  –  Peter Gabriel)

Best Line from a Broadway Show:

  • “To love another person is to see the face of God”  (Les Miserables)

Broadway Line Most Likely to Make Me Cry:

  • “Sometimes people leave you halfway through the wood  /  Do not let it grieve you, no one leaves for good”  (Into the Woods)

Worst Line:

  • “My name is Ted and one day I’ll be dead.”  (“I Wanna Be a Cowboy” – Boys Don’t Cry)

Worst Line According to Jonathan Miller (tie):

  • “Now we’re up to talking divorce and we weren’t even married.”  (“On My Own”  –  Patti LaBelle / Michael McDonald
  • “While we were apart I was human too.”  (“Human”  –  Human League)

Most Moving Line:

  • “I’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky”  (“One Tree Hill” – U2)

Most Painfully True Line:

  • “Negotiations and love songs are often mistaken for one and the same”  (“Train in the Distance” – Paul Simon)

Best Line:

  • “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true.”  (“The River” – Bruce Springsteen)

Part Ten:  The Top 250 Songs

 

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