Now, That’s What I Call The 80’s [Various] Part I

Now That's What I Call The Eighties

In the First World, this decade saw the emergence of pop music, as well as various forms of rock music, such as new wave, soft rock, and glam metal. The 1980’s are commonly associated with the use of synthesizers, and was the introduction of sampling and hip hop/rap. “80’s music” is a broad term, and can refer to 80’s new wave (sometimes referred to as synthpop) popularized by various European groups and artists, 80’s soft rock popularized by bands such as Foreigner and The Police, 80’s hard rock/heavy metal (sometimes referred to as glam metal) popularized by bands such as Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC, or 80’s pop music popularized by artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson.

The Analysis:

Billy Jean [Micheal Jackson]—-One of the numerous tracks from Thriller that made a statement and produced a decade of popularity for Jackson that perhaps did him more harm than good. This track was an instant hit and was only rivaled by other songs from the Thriller release..this is a defining song and sound of the 80’s decade.

PopMusik [M]—-Not officially an 80’s song, I believe this was really popular in late ’78 or ’79…but helped to spell the trend that was about to occur in the coming new decade…along with numan, M proved that there was more to life than soft ballads and guitars..adding huge synth sounds that at the time seemed futuristic and incredible fun. this is and always will be a true classic…the beginning of the Korg age!!!

Escape [The Pina Colada Song] [Rupert Holmes]—-Another of those songs that is not officially an 80’s track, this is a soft rock supersmash that was all over the newly emerging FM radio in the late 70’s. The sentiment is nice…the tale of two people cheating through personal adds and surprisingly answer each others ads!!! Sounds like the computer age to me…this is nice, has huge memories but also marked the end of the soft ballad era in the US.

Video Killed The Radio Star [The Buggles]—-A fulfilling prophecy, this is the first video ever played on the brand new MTV and spelled the future out far more accurately than anyone could have imagined. This comes from a remarkable release, it’s too bad the US audience never grabbed a hold of this futuristic band that featured future members of Yes and a past member of Genesis!

Call Me [Blondie]—-Coming out of the Post-Punk scene with a New Wave mentality, Debbie Harry & Co. scored a pretty big career in the late 70’s to mid 80’s. Still recording and touring today, and sounding better than ever. This is a classic Blondie track..with just enough guitars to retain its credibility and enough synth sounds to make a lasting impression, this is a classic track!

What I Like About You [The Romantics]—-To be honest with you, I can’t stand this Detroit based band. although they still tour to this day on nostalgia style tours, this still gets on my nerves and is as it always was…crap!

Hit Me With Your Best Shot [Pat Benatar]—-Classical trained vocalist Benatar emerged in the 80’s to give some rock credulity among the heavily synthesizer bands of the decade. Showing her range and attitude, the guitars are aggressive and have that classic 80’s sound all over them. Although this was not the best of her output, this is a great example of why she rode the charts so high in the 80’s decade.

Celebration [Kool & the Gang]—-Blasting forth with this single, Kool & The Gang reminded us that disco was not dead, R n B had a place in the 80’s and that there was lots of room for great fun dance floor tracks. This is a huge track…the fun feeling you get from this track is remarkable…even more remarkable is the fact that this is as popular now as it was upon its release.

Keep On Loving You [REO Speedwagon]—-After kicking around on the club circuit for years, REO hit it huge with the release of Hi-Infidelity. This release still plays really well today, as does this single from that album. Cronin delivers a vocal that is heartfelt and real…the band has some nice blistering moments and the video still looks great….all in all, this is a great piece of musical history!

Bette Davis Eyes [Kim Carnes]—-Featuring a vocal from one of the smokiest singers of the decade, Carnes has always delivered those kind of vocals that allows me to lose myself in. this was a great single and rode high on the charts for months. the video was pretty great as well. The gravelly tone of her voice makes you think of Davis…and the hair was pretty magnificent. I love this..just enough synth to appeal to me…but a bass beat that also allows you to dance as well…magnificent!

Jesse’s Girl [Rick Springfield]—-Never one of those songs that really resonated with me, this sounds nice after not hearing it for so long. Springfield rode the 80’s wave pretty high for quite sometime and then fell out of favor…none the less, the soap opera circuit gave him an alternative career. and the ladies still swoon after him…ummmm…whatever.

You Make My Dream [Hall & Oates]—-Hall & Oates are one of those guilty pleasures of mine…I never get tired of listening to that nice blend of Philly soul mired with synth sounds and good old Rock n’ roll. Hall delivers a classic soars when necessary and delivers emotion when it is called for as well. This is a favorite and still pleases me today.

The Stroke [Billy Squier]—-Overtly sexual and containing enough guitars to immerse itself across all lines of the music listening public, this song finds Squier delivering enough innuendo laden lines to score a porn flick…although he rode the wave for a while, most of the further output from Billy can now be found in the bargain bin…none the less, this still plays really well.

Queen Of Hearts [Juice Newton]—-This is another of those tracks that rides the fine line between the late 70’s and very early 80’s. Newton delivers a great vocal on this single…just enough of a country sound to make a huge splash in Nashville and enough of an accessibility to allow herself good airplay on top 40 radio, this was short-lived as she quickly disappeared…where is she now?

Lunatic Fringe [Red Rider]—-Delivering as much atmosphere and as great a sound as 80’s Pink Floyd, I’m still amazed that this band was not HUGE. With a nice keyboard laden sound but enough guitars to maintain credibility, this song is so damn addictive!!! I love this!!!

Centerfold [J. Geils Band]—-This song and video took this obscure bar band with a loyal following and shoved then into the spotlight whether they wanted to be there or not. This is a much more accessible sound than the band normally produced…this is a much more blues based band in its original sound. This track is fun, but was played so much that I almost hate it to this day.

867-5309 [Jenny] [Tommy TuTone]—-A huge hit for TuTone, you can not deny the instant addictive qualities of the song. I just with that the general public would have paid more attention to the rest of this release…this is damn good record. This produced many midnight callers…prompting hundreds of people to have to change their phone numbers. this is a novelty hit…but only if you ignore the record that this release came from.

We Got The Beat [The Go-Go’s]—-Backed with a great pogo New Wave sound, a great video and the novelty of being an all girl band, The Go-Go’s inspired and made possible many bands careers. This was only one of many hits for the quintet. the energy is still damn infectious, the vocal for Carlisle still one of her best and Weidlin delivers a guitar sound that belonged to the band alone.

Don’t You Want Me [The Human League]—-Coming from Sheffield like a tornado, Oakey and company delivered a synth hit that really set the standard for the early to mid 80’s. the vocal was cold and removed…the synth base remarkably accessible and the video helped to propel this to #1 all over the world…this is a classic piece of history that still gets good club play.

Only The Lonely [The Motels]—-Martha Davis has one of the best voices to ever emerge in the 80’s. The band delivered a nice mix of very real instrumentation, a slight soul feel and just a bit of synth sound. This sound insured them chart success for three releases before they feel from sight. This was one of my favorite bands form the 80’s…simply becuase they were really a band…and their sound was genuine as hell.

Abracadabra [Steve Miller Band]—-Who would have expected Steve Miller and Co. to produce such a huge hit smack dab in the middle of the 80’s synth movement…but indeed he did. This is an infectious song…really not sounding like the classic rock that carried and still carries Miller to this day. This really reminds me of Greg Kihn!!

Eye Of The Tiger [Survivor]—-Ugh….another of those 80’s songs that had little substance and a futile sound…I could do with never hearing this song again and be very happy!!!

Words [Missing Persons]—-Dale Bozzio had one of the most recognizable voices of the 80’s…generated naturally but full of squeaks and squeals like none other, this band was much more visual that artistic. I love the video for this track..I love the retro feel that it carries with it today and the energy is remarkable. Bozzio still tours under the Missing Persons moniker, but the hit making days seem far behind her.

I Ran [So Far Away]—-A Flock Of Seagulls—-another of those synth pop hits that seem to define the 80’s decade, Mike score delivers a vocal that is so disembodied and removed that it is more than sterile. This is a great atmospheric song..full of technology that most people were not even aware existed..all the while including real instrumentation…including some great drums. The melody of the song is addictive as hell…and even though I have heard it 1000’s of times…I never tire of it.

Mickey [Toni Basil]—-Long time choreographer Basil delivered a cheerleader video that conjured up lots of fantasies, as well as a synth track that is freakin; irresistible as hell. You will be hard pressed to get this song out of your brain upon hearing it…that is when it becomes annoying. At any rate, this is a defining 80’s song that still has a killer, silly as hell video.

I’m So Excited [The Pointer Sisters]—-Another song that gently reminded us that Disco was not that far gone from our peripheral vision. This is a huge dance floor romp that is still played in clubs everywhere. The melody is infectious and the chorus and energy are huge. Another one for the history books.

Rock This Town [The Stray Cats]—-UGH……!

Sexual Healing [Marvin Gaye]—-Is this an 80’s song??? I’m confused on that…none the less, Gaye had one of the warmest, most intriguing and sexy voices of our time. he rolled in a seductive way even when he was not trying. This is a remarkable record…onje can only wonder how Gaye would view the world and the music scene in 2010?

Africa [Toto]—-Another of those bands that is really a secret pleasure of mine, I never tire of that trademark AOR sap that they so often produce. The melody of this song is incredible…the chorus is huge and the synth is minimal….and it still managed to be a world-wide smash.

I Know There’s Something Going On [Freda]—-A top 40 smash from the former ABBA member, this song has such an emotional tone to it…all the while Freda manges to deliver a cold and removed vocal. Even the video has a cool and detached feel to it…too bad the US never heard anything more from her…although she continues to record sporadically.

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me [Culture Club]—-I won’t rehash content from past reviews of this song…I will tell you that there was a remarkable fresh and innovative sound about this band when they first hit the States. The slight Reggae flavor to the music that was produced by real instruments was exciting. The fact that you could actually dance to it made it even better. Oddity aside, the band managed some really great music!

Hungry Like The Wolf [Duran Duran]—-At the time that this single was released, this band was well on its way of becoming a worldwide phenomenon. The synth lines are incredible and delivered with a delicious sound. The vocal is remarkable…one of Simon’s best and the real instrumentation made the sound huge…how could this not be a hit? Duran are set to release a new CD at any moment!

She Blinded Me With Science [Thomas Dolby]—-Another of those songs that defined a Decade, Dolby delivered this manic song backed by a video that contained even more hilarity than the song. The sound bites are classic and the synths are very progressed for the time this was released. Still a favorite…Dolby is also due to release a new CD at any time now.

Let’s Dance [David Bowie]—-If Scary Monsters [& Super Creeps] served to remind us that Bowie was still here and relevant, Let’s Dance gave him a pole vault to leap over our heads and do somersaults. This single and ensuing album was perhaps the pinnacle of this decades ling hit maker. The 80’s were very good to David….and also very bad…

**** out of 5




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