Friday, November 03, 2006

Greatest Songs of the '80s? You Decide.

VH1 recently aired its special, The 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s, which is yet another list for people to disagree over. Apparently, everyone was allowed to vote for their favorites on, so I guess if you didn't vote, you really can't complain. I didn't vote, but it's my blog and I'll complain if I want to.

So, without further ado, here are the top 20 songs of the '80s, as voted by VH1 viewers. I love the '80s, but there's no way I'm going to sit here and compile the whole list. I will, however, sit here and compile my thoughts on each entry.

20. Rick Springfield, "Jessie's Girl" - This song definitely belongs in the Top 20. It's one of those staples of the '80s that can be found on every compilation. As a huge Rick fan, I've had issues with it because it seems like everyone has forgotten how many hits he had. He's often treated like a one-hit wonder, which is inaccurate and unfair. I still like the song; I'm just tired of it. Give me "Human Touch" any day. We all need the human touch.

19. Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time" - I can vividly remember when this song first came out. I remember dressing as Cyndi for Halloween. I remember seeing her in concert with a barely-known Bangles. It does NOT seem that long ago. But, the fact is, I'm getting old. The song is timeless, but alas, I am not.

18. Dexy's Midnight Runners, "Come On Eileen" - Yeah, it deserves to be in the Top 20, but it's so played out that I just can't take it anymore. It was interesting to find out via the countdown that, in recent years, lead singer, Kevin Rowland, turned in his scuzzy overalls for a dress. I don't think he renamed himself Eileen though.

17. Whitesnake, "Here I Go Again" - Another tidbit I found out through VH1 is that David Coverdale named the band after his penis. I swear, my naivete throughout the '80s never went away. It's like when I found out that the guys in Duran Duran were a bunch of druggies, or the Go-Go's were a bunch of coked-out sluts, or that some of the guys in Def Leppard used to go backstage in the middle of a concert to get busy with groupies. In each of these instances, I've been shocked. I expect this kind of behavior from artists today, but for some reason when it comes to '80s groups, I still have the same wide-eyed innocence about them as I did back then. Even with the metal guys. I don't know why that is. I have NEVER, in all these years, even had a passing thought about what "Whitesnake" actually meant. There were so many "White-something" bands that I guess it just never registered. Boy, I'm a dope. But anyway, getting back to the song, it's a good one. Overplayed, yes. But I never seem to tire of it.

16. INXS, "Need You Tonight" - I was a huge INXS fan, so I'm glad to see them in the Top 20, even if this isn't my personal favorite of theirs. Still, it was huge and I think it was their only #1 hit. Luckily, I got to see them live once on the X Tour. They were one of the best live acts I've ever seen. I don't follow them anymore. Not since the whole Rock Star spectacle. There's no replacing Michael Hutchence.

15. Van Halen, "Jump" - I can't believe I was 11 years old when this came out. For some reason, I have a vivid memory of playing this on the jukebox at Pizza Hut while I was waiting for dinner to come. Maybe this is why I'm having a serious craving for pizza right now. Wow, I never realized that I had such a strong Pavlovian response to "Jump." I guess it's better than it prompting me to jump off a bridge or something.

14. The Bangles, "Walk Like an Egyptian" - I've always found this song really stupid, yet I know all the words and I probably wouldn't turn it off the radio if it came on. And I'm less tired of it than the supremely overplayed "Eternal Flame." But, I'm very bothered by the fact that The Bangles made the Top 20 and The Go-Go's didn't. That just doesn't seem right. I mean, come on, people actually picked this over "Our Lips are Sealed" or "We Got the Beat?"

13. U2, "With or Without You" - This actually should probably be a little higher up. Anything from The Joshua Tree is beautiful and that record represents the best of what the '80s had to offer. I so completely remember when this video debuted on MTV, because there was so much hype over the "highly anticipated new U2 song." Then I watched it and hated the song! Amazing. It wasn't until I went to see U2 on the Joshua Tree tour that I fell in love with it. I can't even listen to it now without wondering what the hell my problem was at the time. It's an incredible song.

12. Whitney Houston, "How Will I Know" - When I first saw this so high up on the chart, I sort of wrinkled my nose up and then when that ultra-peppy synth line started up, I remembered how often I acted this song out in front of my bedroom mirror. There's no denying Whitney's pipes and that this song is a total '80s classic. I'm so glad to see this here instead of the super-sappy "Greatest Love of All."

11. Journey, "Don't Stop Believin'" - Arena rock at its finest, baby. You can't not sing along with this song. And who doesn't vainly try to hit that high note on "streetlights, peeeee-ople-oooo-eeeeew-OHHHHH?" What kind of irked me was finding out that this song has found new life after being played on an episode of Laguna Beach. Well, it doesn't really irk me that the song is getting the props it deserves, I just know that this is the kind of song that you could play for your kid or niece or nephew and they would be like, "Oh gawd, like, this is soooo gay." Yet, some trendy, rich kid on a lame-ass, not-quite-reality MTV show likes it and suddenly it's cool. Whatever, I'm sure Steve Perry doesn't care why new checks are coming in, as long as they're coming.

10. AC/DC, "You Shook Me All Night Long" - I don't even like AC/DC, but I can't help but like this song. Everyone likes it. And it's earned its place as "required wedding music," along with Kool and The Gang's "Celebration" and Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock & Roll."

9. Run-D.M.C., "Walk This Way" - I can understand why this is in the Top 20, purely because it represented the meshing of rock with hip-hop, and was the beginning of bringing rap and hip-hop into the mainstream. I like it well enough, but I wouldn't put it at #9 on my list. I don't even like the original Aerosmith song that much, as compared to some of their other, older stuff. But whatever. I can live with this.

8. Madonna, "Like a Virgin" - Because of how much I dislike her these days, it's easy for me to forget how much I loved Madonna back in the day. I guess this needs to be here since this was probably the quintessential Madonna song. Still, "Borderline" was better. And "Express Yourself" will always be my favorite.

7. Guns 'N' Roses, "Sweet Child O' Mine" - Yes. Abso-frickin'-lutely. The guitar solo is out of this world and the whole song is a damn rock masterpiece. I don't care how crazy Axl is, was or will be, his band was keeping real rock 'n roll alive in the '80s.

6. Hall & Oates, "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" - Now, here is where I had to let out a very confused "What??" Are people serious? This song at #6??? Now, I'm not here to take the predictable swipe at these guys. I actually kind of liked Hall & Oates. They were quite ubiquitous in the '80s. I've always loved Daryl Hall's voice. But this song just kind of blows. It wasn't even their biggest hit! How did this get here? What about "Maneater," "Out of Touch," "You Make My Dreams," or...hello..."Private Eyes!?!?!" When I think Hall & Oates, I immediately think "Private Eyes." No matter that when I first heard the song I thought they were singing, "Friday nights, they're watching you..."

5. Prince, "When Doves Cry" - If Prince hadn't been represented in the Top 10, I would've had a colossal hissy fit. Thank goodness he's here! As far as his hits go, I prefer "Kiss," but I can't argue about this song being higher up. It's a pretty perfect song...that hypnotic drum track, the kick-ass guitar, the dark, brooding lyrics, Prince's vocal range, the cool backing vocals, all the high-pitched wailing at the end...what more could you ask for? It might even rock harder than "Sweet Child O' Mine."

4. Michael Jackson, "Billie Jean" - I would switch this out with "Beat It," but I guess since this was the first single from Thriller and the true beginning of his reign as the King of Pop, it deserves to be here more. Besides, everyone remembers Jacko debuting this song at the Motown Anniversary show, moonwalk and all.

3. Duran Duran, "Hungry Like the Wolf" - Ok, this should be #1. No question. The '80s = Duran Duran. That's all I have to say about that.

2. Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar on Me" - I'm convinced that the resurgence this song has experienced in recent years is more attributable to it being #2 than its popularity when it actually came out. Not that it wasn't popular back then, but it's picked up more fans as time's gone by, thanks to dance club DJs, strippers and karaoke bars. Yes, Def Leppard was a huge part of the '80s and I'm not ashamed to say that I've always been a major fan. However, this is not their best song. It's not even the song that best personifies them. There's no way this should be higher than "Photograph." Or even my personal fave, "Foolin'."

1. Bon Jovi, "Livin' on a Prayer" - I still think Duran Duran should be #1, but I can't really argue with this. Bon Jovi were the hair band Gods of the '80s and everyone loved and still loves this song.

I was surprised that a few songs didn't make the Top 20. Namely, either of the aforementioned Go-Go's tunes, "Goody Two-Shoes" by Adam Ant and "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. What do you all think?


Teri said...

What do I think?

I hate, hate, hate Jessie's Girl (although I sing along to it anyway, damn catchy song), anything by Whitesnake, Van Halen, Jouney, Ac/DC, Guns n' Roses, Hall & Oates, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi.

(I mostly listed to stuff out of Europe in the 80's - totally wasn't in to the metal/hair band scene... where's Depeche Mode? The Pet Shop Boys? Tears for Fears? )

and Amen, Sistah! on number 3.

Teri said...


See, I can too spell!

Anonymous said...

LOVED YOUR COMMENTARY. Just about peed my pants reading the first one. Read it to my sister, she didn't get it. I disowned her - want to be my new sister?

musie said...

You so hit the nail on the head with everything. I too never thought about where the name Whitesnake came from, and perhaps I liked it better that way.

You were spot on with all commentary!

Les Becker said...

You are SO timeless, now stop talking nasty! (If you're not timeless, *I* can't be timeless, and that's just not acceptable...)

And I agree with everything you've written here (with the exception of your take on "Come on Eileen, which I could still listen to over and over and over, and I don't care what the guy wears when he sings it...), but especially "Every Breath You Take". How could it not be on that list?!

Arlen Crawford said...

Great commentary and great list. I was surprised that Huey Lewis & The News didn't make the Top 20 and if I recall correctly, Don't You Want Me Baby was a monster for the Human League. Speaking of monsters, no mention of Don Henley (sacrilege)or Asia (Heat of The Moment was HUGE) in the Top 20.

But for the most part, the list was good. The commentary was exquisite...

Paul McQuillan said...

"Cherry Ice-Cream, smile; I suppose it's very nice."

Guess the song and win a prize

LoraLoo said...

Paul: Okay, that one was too easy. I can recite DD in my sleep, and Rio if I was in a coma. :)

I have to go check the whole 100 and I'll probably have more to say... but I agree with you here. Hall and Oates? They are good, but not that good. I can think of a lot more that could have been in that spot.

I have also been disillusioned about my naivete in the 80's. I remember when John Taylor's struggle with drugs was publicized and I was crushed.

BarBarA said...

Beck, I considered asking your permission before featuring that video clip of your boyfriend yesterday. I hope you don't mind. I really wasn't doing anything behind your back...I was going to tell you... really...I was.

Happy Villain said...

No Flashdance songs? No breakdancing music at all? No "house" music? "Billie Jean" and not "Thriller"? I'm totally with you about the Police not making it! Anything by John Cougar? Billy Idol? Phil Collins? Pat Benatar? "FOOTLOOSE"?!! AND, AND, AND... no Bryan Adams??? I'm horrified.

Writeprocrastinator said...

Cinderella's "Shake Me" and "Night Songs."

Somebody say Pet Shop Boys? "West End Girls."

Grand Master Flash's "The Message."

Anything by The Cult!

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Anonymous said...

See...I loved your commentary, but to be honest, in my opinion (and I know...everyone has one), the 80's were a black-hole in terms of music...

Metal Mark said...

I agree with bond except I would put 90's in place of 80's. I guess that's what make me a music dinosaur.

Anonymous said...

Pet Shop boys?

The Cure?

Human League?

Good commentary though =)


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