I decided to choose ten songs from the 1980s I liked and still like, with no special criteria. Not necessarily my favorites, just ten of many songs I liked from that decade, one which some people say was uniformly bad for music.
Notes: I wasn’t a big fan of 80’s electro but Heaven 17 was a revelation for me, introduced to me by Joe Edmunds when we were roommates in Greensboro, NC in the early 1980s. Later in Chapel Hill, another roommate introduced me to the Cocteau Twins. (She was a big fan of all the 4AD bands.) I noticed recently that if you look up the lyrics for this (and many of their songs) on the genuis.com website, you won’t find any annotations. What can you really say about lyrics like “Beetles and eggs and blues and bells and eggs and blues?” The Bow Wow Wow song is one of the best ever about a particular recording format (cassettes). It also reminds me of the famous C86 cassette published by NME magazine, the one that is credited with popularizing indie music in the UK in the late ’80s. I first heard the Miracle Legion song when another roommate, this time Roy Lee Gittens in Wilmington, NC loaned me his copy of their “Surprise Surprise Surprise” album. I only recently learned about “My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy,” a tribute album to that band’s lead singer recorded after his wife died. Roy also introduced me to Game Theory, probably my favorite indie band of the ’80s. Check out their masterpiece “Lolita Nation.” The last four songs are maybe what you call guilty pleasures because they were all huge hits, but I never really feel guilty about songs I love. Except for the horn solo, I never tire of hearing the Spandau Ballet song from the John Hughes film. I like the Berlin song but didn’t like “Top Gun” at all. I remember seeing the first Sade album in a record store in Chapel Hill and remember that the record label put a sticker on it saying “pronounced Shar-Day.” This was the source of a joke I have made many times over the years. Whenever someone has problems pronouncing a celebrity name I will say, “It’s pronounced ‘Shar-Day!'” “Like a Prayer” was the first Madonna song I ever really liked and it is still my favorite. It’s just beautifully orchestrated and moving. I remember playing my Chapel Hill roommate Dottie Northup’s LP of it many times. If there is a theme here it is learning about songs via roommates!