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Saturday, August 13, 2011

100 Great 80s Songs from 100 Different Artists

It feels good to be back! I spent the last few weeks in the Netherlands having a great time with new family (new to me) and drinking some fantastic new beers (again, new to me). The beer drinking experience was so good that I want to post about it separately. For now, I wanted to get reacquainted with you by posting more of a discussion topic than an album review.

One evening, in the town of Groet (near the North Sea coast in North Holland), soaked in La Chouffe while enjoying some new family members, I mustered a bit of Dutch courage and began a discussion of 80s music at around midnight...the best songs from all the bands we could remember. The discussion lasted until the beer was gone, but a massive list we concocted. I've arranged 100 of my favorite songs from the 80s...without repeating a quasi alphabetical order.

The music I'm feeling here begins post-punk (about 1978), goes through the goth stages of the early 80s, the alternative new wave of the mid 80s, and ends about 1988 (only one song from this list was released in 1989). A new style began to take over in 1989 leading into the next decade. While it's great music, I don't think anyone would classify Jane's Addiction, Stone Roses, or even Pixies as distinctly 80s.

I'd love to hear your ideas. What would you add to the list? What would you take off? Did I get the best song from your favorite band? Tell me, where did I go wrong? Click on songs for videos...some videos are official, some are live, some were unavailable and simply have stills throughout the audio. See you soon with another album review.

ABC <><> Be Near Me
Adam & The Ants <><> Antmusic
The Alarm <><> Strength
apb <><> Shoot You Down
The B-52's <><> Private Idaho
B-Movie <><> Nowhere Girl
Bauhaus <><> Bela Lugosi's Dead
The Beastie Boys <><> She's On It
Berlin <><> Sex (I'm A...)
Big Audio Dynamite <><> E=MC2
Billy Bragg <><> A New England
Black Uhuru <><> What Is Life
Blue Zoo <><> Somewhere In The World (There's A Cowboy Smiling)
Book Of Love <><> Boy
The Buzzcocks <><> Ever Fallen In Love?
The Call <><> Everywhere I Go
Captain Sensible <><> Wot
China Crisis <><> King In A Catholic Style
The Church <><> Reptile
The Clash <><>Train In Vain
The Cult <><> She Sells Sanctuary
The Cure <><> In Between Days
The Damned <><> Eloise
Dave Edmunds <><> Girls Talk
Dead Or Alive <><> You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
Depeche Mode <><> Everything Counts
Devo <><> Girl U Want
Duran Duran <><> Rio
Echo & The Bunnymen <><> The Killing Moon
Elvis Costello <><> (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
The English Beat <><> Mirror In The Bathroom
Erasure <><> Sometimes
Fishbone <><> Bonin' In The Boneyard
Gene Loves Jezebel <><> Desire (Come And Get It)
The Glove <><> Like An Animal
The Gun Club <><> Sex Beat
Haircut 100 <><> Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)
Heaven 17 <><> Let Me Go
The Hoodoo Gurus <><> Like Wow-Wipeout
The Human League <><> Don't You Want Me
Husker Du <><> Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely
Ian Dury & The Blockheads <><> Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
Icicle Works <><> Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)
INXS <><> Don't Change
The Jam <><> Town Called Malice
The Jim Carroll Band <><> People Who Died
Joe Jackson <><> On Your Radio
Joy Division <><> Love Will Tear Us Apart
Kate Bush <><> Hounds Of Love
Killing Joke <><> Eighties
King <><> Love And Pride
The Knack <><> My Sharona
Ledernacken <><> Amok
Love And Rockets <><> Ball Of Confusion
Madness <><> One Step Beyond
Marshall Crenshaw <><> Someday, Someway
Men Without Hats <><> The Safety Dance
Midnight Oil <><> The Power And The Passion
Ministry <><> Work For Love
Modern English <><> I Melt With You
Naked Eyes <><> Always Something There To Remind Me
New Order <><> Temptation
Nick Lowe <><> Cruel To Be Kind
The Normal <><> Warm Leatherette
The Ocean Blue <><> Between Something And Nothing
Oingo Boingo <><> Only A Lad
OMD <><> If You Leave
Our Daughter's Wedding <><> Lawnchairs
The Pet Shop Boys <><> West End Girls
Polyrock <><> Romantic Me
The Psychedelic Furs <><> Love My Way
Public Image Limited <><> Rise
Quando Quango <><> Love Tempo
R.E.M. <><> It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
The Replacements <><> Alex Chilton
Romeo Void <><> Never Say Never
The Screaming Blue Messiahs <><> Smash The Market Place
Secession <><> Touch
Shriekback <><> Nemesis
Sigue Sigue Sputnik <><> Love Missile F1-11
Simple Minds <><> Don't You (Forget About Me)
Siouxsie & The Banshees <><> Cities In Dust
The Smiths <><> How Soon Is Now?
The Specials <><> Gangsters
Split Enz <><> I Got You
Squeeze <><> Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy <><> Kiss Me (With Your Mouth)
The Stranglers <><> Golden Brown
The Sugarcubes <><> Birthday
The Swinging Laurels <><> Rodeo
Talking Heads <><> This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)
Talk Talk <><> It's My Life
Tears For Fears <><> Change
The The <><> Infected
Timezone <><> World Destruction
U2 <><> New Year's Day
Violent Femmes <><> Blister In The Sun
Wall Of Voodoo <><> Mexican Radio
Wide Boy Awake <><> Slang Teacher
XTC <><> Dear God
Yaz <><> Situation


  1. nice list! no way to put down all thoughts on a comments section. too many good songs on this list to just....list...again. so some other songs: like "strength" and "reptile", but have a hard time thinking about the alarm or the church without thinking about their bigger "hits" "rain in the summertime" and "under the milky way" - 2 of my favorites from the 80's. with erasure, "a little respect" and "chains of love" stand out more for me. english beat - "tenderness" - (i'm probably just listing their bigger hits?). midnight oil - "the dead heart". inxs "don't change" YES! stephen tin tin duffy - YES! for some reason that song makes me think of other lesser known songs i've looked for, kon kan - "i beg your pardon" and communards "don't leave me this way". maybe they were all played at the same parties back in college.....i'll stop there for now. thanks for your efforts. chris

  2. MmmHmmm...a list of this many songs would be different for every music fan. "Reptile" and "Strength" were much more powerful...that's what appealed to me at the time. "Tenderness" (by General Public, technically, though we're talking about the same core members) was a complete oversight. That should have been included. Others have mentioned the inclusion of Blondie, "867-5309/Jenny", and "Come On Eileen". I didn't want to list every song that you could hear while on a ride at your local carnival, so I limited it to my favorites..."My Sharona", "Don't You Want Me", and "The Safety Dance" (the fact that no one's called me out for liking "The Safety Dance" boggles my mind).

  3. I also avoided "Hair Bands". That genre came and went. It had its moment, and it can have its list...someone else will have to create it though.

  4. ya, this list could have gone in many different directions, avoiding hair bands was a good call. though the lead on dead or alive "you spin me" has enough hair and makeup to be included in that company. i'm thinking that song ("you spin me round") could also be included on your "carnival" list. aaaaaand we shouldn't let ABC "be near me" sneak by so easily either.
    cool i found an oversight - "tenderness" (though i didn't realize it). i'll take another stab at it....peter gabriel? i would have gone with "solsbury hill", but was disappointed to find it was released in 1977 (wouldn't have guessed it was so early). soooo....his so album?...overplayed, but "in your eyes"? eh, who knows.
    there are alot of songs and artists i've never heard of here, so it will be fun to check them out. (actually that was the reason i happened to check you blog last night - looking for new music ideas). thanks again. chris

  5. What a fantastic list Marc! You have two of my favorite songs of all time - Strength and Shoot You Down. OMG. I played Shoot You Down so many times! The opening lines of Strength bring me right back. Perfect choices. Some bands are so hard to choose a single song. I mean, choosing a single Smiths or REM song? I love that you added Duran Duran. I have to say The Reflex and A View To a Kill are favorites of mine. OMD is such a nice addition with my fave being (Forever) Live and Die. TFF - Too many to choose but Change is a fave with Watch Me Bleed. XTC! Please be upstanding for the Mayor of Simpleton! Almost any song off of Skylarking is a winner. That is great album of a summer night in the backyard. When I think of New Order back then, I immediately go to Perfect Kiss and 1963. This is such a great list Marc since it has captured the musical center of the 80's for me.

  6. "Tenderness" by General Public was an oversight...Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" also.