November 30, 2006

James Barely Remembers: Music of the Mid-80's

Nothing like doing one of those meme things when you're blocked for blog posts. What else are blogs for, eh?

This one I grabbed from the excellent blog of Barry Leiba: Staring at Empty Pages. It has to do with what music you like from the year you turned 18.


Go to and select the year you became 18 [from the "Hits" list on the left]. Snip the top 50 songs from the list and paste it in your journal. Bold the ones you like and strike the ones you dislike, italic the ones you know but neither like nor dislike, and the ones you don't know will stay in normal text.

As Barry did, I included all 75 songs from the list, instead of the proscribed 50. And then I went one further and included 1984, the year I was 17, because I spent more time that year listening to pop music. By '85 I was moving on to other stuff. I have them here in reverse order ('85 and then '84 just because.)

What I learned

Not a whole helluva lot, except that I liked early Madonna more than I thought, I didn't like much pop music, what I remember and like from the 80's is apparently a very small percentage of the actual hits.
Continue reading if you're interested in my responses (I didn't want to blast both lists onto the main page; they're a little long)

On to the lists

  • I like the songs in bold.
  • I dislike the songs with strike-through.
  • I'm neutral about the songs in italics.
  • The songs in faded text are the ones I don't recall.


1. We Built This City - Jefferson Starship
2. Smooth Operator - Sade
3. The Boys of Summer - Don Henley
4. Sea Of Love - Honeydrippers
5. Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
6. Walking On Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
7. Into The Groove - Madonna
8. You Are My Lady - Freddie Jackson
9. Crazy For You - Madonna
10. The Bird - The Time
11. Relax - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
12. Everytime You Go Away - Paul Young
13. Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen
14. I Want To Know What Love Is - Foreigner
15. Careless Whisper - Wham!
16. Axel F - Harold Faltermeyer
17. Material Girl - Madonna
18. Roxanne, Roxanne - UTFO
19. All She Wants To Do Is Dance - Don Henley
20. Say You, Say Me - Lionel Richie
21. You're The Inspiration - Chicago
22. Through The Fire - Chaka Khan
23. Heaven - Bryan Adams
24. Freeway Of Love - Aretha Franklin
25. Jungle Love - The Time
26. All I Need - Jack Wagner
27. Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen
28. Small Town - John Cougar Melloncamp
29. Meeting In The Ladies Room - Klymaxx
30. Take On Me - A-Ha
31. Dancing In The Street - Mick Jagger & David Bowie
32. The Old Man Down the Road - John Fogerty
33. Just A Gigilo - David Lee Roth
34. New Attitude - Patti LaBelle
35. Private Dancer - Tina Turner
36. Centerfield - John Fogerty
37. Lovin' Every Minute Of It - Loverboy
38. People Get Ready - Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart
39. Smalltown Boy - Bronski Beat
40. Rockin' At Midnight - The Honeydrippers
41. You Give Good Love - Whitney Houston
42. Dress You Up - Madonna
43. Cool It Now - New Edition
44. In My House - Mary Jane Girls
45. California Girls - David Lee Roth
46. Treat Her Like A Lady - Temptations
47. And We Danced - Hooters
48. Basketball - Kurtis Blow
49. Solid - Ashford and Simpson
50. Invincible - Pat Benatar
51. Wake Up (Next To You) - Graham Parker and the Shot
52. Your Love Is King - Sade
53. I Would Die 4 U - Prince
54. And She Was - Talking Heads
55. Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush
56. Everyday - James Taylor
57. Money For Nothing - Dire Straits
58. Jesse - Julian Lennon
59. You Spin Me - Dead Or Alive
60. All You Zombies - Hooters
61. (Don't You) Forget About Me - Simple Minds
62. Some Like It Hot - Power Station
63. The Heat Is On - Glenn Frey
64. The Oak Tree - Morris Day
65. Fresh - Kool and the Gang
66. Dancing In The Key Of Life - Steve Arrington
67. Can't Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon
68. Can You Feel The Beat - Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam With Full Force
69. Suddenly - Billy Ocean
70. Kayleigh - Marillion
71. Voices Carry - 'til Tuesday
72. Lover Come Back To Me - Dead Or Alive
73.Oo-Ee-Diddley-Bop! - Peter Wolf
74. One Night In Bangkok - Murray Head (or Robey)
75. We Are The World - USA for Africa


1. Thriller - Michael Jackson
2. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
3. Footloose - Kenny Loggins
4. Like A Virgin - Madonna
5. Holiday - Madonna
6. I Can't Drive 55 - Sammy Hagar
7. Pride (In The Name Of Love) - U2
8. Jam On It - Newcleus
9. Legs - ZZ Top
10. What's Love Got To Do With It - Tina Turner
11. Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
12. Lucky Star - Madonna
13. Dancing In The Dark - Bruce Springsteen
14. Cruel Summer - Bananarama
15. She Bop - Cyndi Lauper
16. Let's Hear It For The Boy - Denise Williams
17. Teacher Teacher - 38 Special
18. Stay With Me Tonight - Jeffrey Osborne
19. Purple Rain - Prince
20. I Will Follow - U2
21. Miss Me Blind - Culture Club
22. I Feel For You - Chaka Kahn
23. Heart Of Rock and Roll - Huey Lewis and the News
24. Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
25. Let's Stay Together - Tina Turner
26. Eat It - Wierd Al Yancovic
27. Borderline - Madonna
28. We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
29. Let's Go Crazy - Prince
30. Let The Music Play - Shannon
31. Cover Me - Bruce Springsteen
32. Holding Out For A Hero - Bonnie Tyler
33. Runaway - Bon Jovi
34. Rock You Like A Hurricane - Scorpions
35. Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell
36. Remember The Nights - The Motels
37. Jump - Van Halen
38. I Want A New Drug - Huey Lewis and the News
39. Bang Your Head (Mental Health) - Quiet Riot
40. 99 Luftballons - Nena
41. White Horse - Laid Back
42. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go - Wham
43. Mama We're All Crazee Now - Quiet Riot
44. Caribbean Queen - Billy Ocean
45. I Wanna Rock - Twisted Sister
46. Jump (For My Love) - Pointer Sisters
47. Ya Mo Be There - James Ingram
48. Rebel Yell - Billy Idol
49. Against All Odds - Phil Collins
50. Better Be Good To Me - Tina Turner
51. Sister Christian - Night Ranger
52. 10-9-8 - Face to Face
53. Illegal Alien - Genesis
54. It's My Life - Talk Talk
55. Look At That Cadillac - Stray Cats
56. When Doves Cry - Prince
57. Hard Habit To Break - Chicago
58. I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
59. Taking It All Too Hard - Genesis
60. No Parking (On The Dance Floor) - Midnight Star
61. Hot For Teacher - Van Halen
62. High Energy - Evelyn Thomas
63. Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me - Luthor Vandross
64. The Longest Time - Billy Joel
65. To All The Girls I've Loved Before - Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson
66. On The Dark Side - John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band
67. State of Shock - Jacksons and Mick Jagger
68. Missing You - John Waite
69. Midnight Maniac - Krokus
70. Blue Light - David Gilmour
71. Freakshow On The Dancefloor - Bar-Kays
72. A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing) - Romeo Void
73. You're The Best Thing - The Style Council
74. Love Kills - Freddie Mercury
75. Sex Shooter - Apollonia 6

Posted by James at November 30, 2006 8:58 PM
Create Social Bookmark Links

Can we meme in your comments? :D

Posted by: pippa at November 30, 2006 9:47 PM

My List:

Pretty fun James. You and I turned 18 in the same year, so it was entertaining to compare my list to yours. Needless to say I'm shocked that you don't recall Madonna's mega hit Get Into The Groove, (boy, you've got to prove your love to me).

And you can dance,
For inspiration,
Come on! Come on!
Iiii'm waitiiing!


Posted by: Chuck S. at November 30, 2006 10:18 PM

Wow! My comments are being held for approval! Did you turn comment moderation on, buddy? I guess you probably need to with the amount of traffic you get.

Posted by: Chuck S. at November 30, 2006 10:19 PM

Wow, thanks for the nice plug!

It's interesting to see how many of the songs on your lists I don't know... I was pretty solidly into classical music in the early- and mid-'80s, deciding I was tired of what pop had to offer (the fact that Michael Jackson had the number 1 song of 1984 is exactly the sort of thing I mean; Culture Club is another perfect example).

Best song on both lists: "Money for Nothing". Mark Knopfler is a god, and that song is great.

I liked Phil Collins then, but note now that he doesn't stand up to time. On the other hand, I didn't like Prince, but he does... and I appreciate his music now as I didn't then.

Now, excuse me while I go move a refrigerator and install a microwave oven....

Posted by: Barry Leiba at December 1, 2006 7:26 AM

you saved me a LOT of time by using the year I would have used - thank you, I appreciate that! Although I have to disagree with some of your thumbs-up/thumbs-down designations. And how is it you don't recall "Get into the groove, Boy you've got to prove your love to me"???

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at December 1, 2006 7:33 AM

Pippa - feel free to meme in my comments.

Chuck - My web software has a spam rating system and is sensitive to multiple links. 'Sokay, I promise to always approve your posts. It should weight the previously approved poster email more highly, but I don't know how to adjust that.

Anyhow, thanks for reminding me of "The Groove" -- now I remember. I actually like that song.

I am slightly embarrassed by some of the 80's music I still like. I like a lot of that early Madonna stuff, although I don't go out of my way to listen to it and don't own any of it.

I said I liked Thriller because I wanted to be honest. My family owned the album and we used to listen to it all the time. It was the 80's -- I make no excuses. We were still making fun of disco all the time.

I was already listening to R.E.M. and the Smiths and Jim Carrol and Jethro Tull and Violent Femmes by the end of 1985, but also, as you remember, a lot of classical stuff and soundtracks. I was never too into pop music, except for in the early 80s when Bull and I spent a summer in front of MTV playing "Traveller" and my family listened to "American Top 40" every Sunday.

Barry: Thanks for having this on your blog. It was a fun diversion. I agree, Dire Straits was the cream of the crop. I liked (and still like) the rest of that album much better than the one that hit the pop charts. But I still can't help but move around when I hear it.

That aiiiiiiiiiin't workin!

Posted by: James at December 1, 2006 7:42 AM

MJ - It's been a long time. My memory isn't what it used to be. I'm good at remembering music, but not always by the title of the song.

SOme of the things I voted up because I haven't heard them in a long time but I listened to them heavily in the 80's. Huey Lewis? I haven't heard "I Want A New Drug" since the last time I put "Sports" on a turntable, I think.

Posted by: James at December 1, 2006 7:48 AM

I'm with you James. I obviously didn't listen to much pop music when I was 17 and 18. I didn't recognize even more than you didn't (does that make sense). I disliked far more than you disliked. In 1985 the 1st song I really liked was 54 And She Was, Talking Heads and that's not even close to one of my favorite Heads songs. 1984 was a little better with Pride, U2 at 7 but it got so much over exposure that i really can't listen to it anymore.

Similarly, I used to love Money for Nothing when it was new but can't stand it anymore. I have to skip that track when I put the cd on (love the rest of the album).

At that time I was heavily into music that was no longed "pop" if it ever was. Police, Talking Heads, Rush, Yes, older Genesis, etc. The Police were probably the only ones who were ever truely pop and their last and most popular album was the one I like least. I was also into jazz and classical which clearly weren't represented in the pop lists.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 1, 2006 8:09 AM

I liked Thriller too.

I hated Money for Nothing, but never liked Dire Straits to begin with.

I don't think "proscribed" means what you think it means.

Posted by: Julie at December 1, 2006 9:21 AM

Hey, my least favorite song ever is on this list:

36. Centerfield - John Fogerty

Without fail, that gets played at McCoy Stadium. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Anyhow...At 18, I was in gay clubs dancing my ass off with the queens, so you'll see dance tunes in my short list of the songs I put in bold:

2. Smooth Operator – Sade
6. Walking On Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
7. Into the Groove - Madonna
9. Crazy For You - Madonna
10. The Bird - The Time
11. Relax - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
30. Take On Me - A-Ha
34. New Attitude - Patti LaBelle
39. Smalltown Boy - Bronski Beat
42. Dress You Up - Madonna
54. And She Was - Talking Heads
55. Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush
59. You Spin Me - Dead Or Alive
61. (Don't You) Forget About Me - Simple Minds
62. Some Like It Hot - Power Station
71. Voices Carry - 'til Tuesday

Much of what I was into then wasn't "popular," so it wouldn't show up on a list.

I loved Bronski Beat and this song in particular. Also loved The Communards, formed by Jimmy Somerville after he left Bronski Beat. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Time to go shopping at!

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 9:30 AM

Oh, and the year was 1985.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 9:30 AM

You'll dance to anything...

You never worked at Hardee's right?

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 1, 2006 10:09 AM

It's true. I did dance to anything by any bunch of stupid Europeans who came over here with their big hairdoos...

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 10:14 AM

But...I am not an artfag.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 10:16 AM
You'll dance to anything...
Axel F, on the 1985 list.
Hey, my least favorite song ever is on this list
My least favourite song ever is — are you ready for this? — "Watching Scotty Grow". Posted by: Barry Leiba at December 1, 2006 10:40 AM

Wow Patti, I never would have pegged you as a Madonna fan. That's awesome.

Dress You Up was my favorite Madonna song from that year, closely followed by Get Into The Groove.

Posted by: Chuck S. at December 1, 2006 11:04 AM

Most of my favorite 80's music comes from my early teenage years so by the time 1986 rolled around I had already started to lose interest in top 40. After years of faithful Sunday countdown listening I now had a lingering suspicion that Kasey Kasem was not the cool guy I had always assumed he was.

I had not completely lost faith, however. I recall becoming overly excited when the superior American remix of Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" started playing during a high school dance. I'm sure everyone else was too busy dancing to notice or care.

Posted by: Mike at December 1, 2006 11:15 AM

Picture Crispin Glover dancing by himself (hey, an 80's song!) in "Back to the Future" and you'll get the general idea.

Posted by: Mike at December 1, 2006 11:17 AM

Barry, the song I quoted from is "Instant Club Hit" by The Dead Milkmen. Not sure who Axel F. is/was.

"Watching Scotty Grow" is awful. Here's another awful song: Minnie Riperton's "Loving You (Is Easy 'Cause You're Beautiful)." Is there a song that better captures the shallowness of the '70s?

Oh, the list is so long...Paul Anka's "Havin' My Baby" is another gem. Would that all copies of that were destroyed in a conflagration.

And while the following two songs are not awful or artful, they are worn out, so I ask: Does anyone really need to hear "Margaritaville" or "Stairway to Heaven" ever again?

Chuck: As I understood the directions, we were to select songs from the list we liked when we were 18. Perhaps I misunderstood what I read.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 11:20 AM

Although I wouldn't put on any Madonna now, I would definitely put on Bronski Beat or Communards. Some tastes change, but some stay the same (just like I always used to like potato chips and milk, but I'm not so sure that would be as tasty to me now).

No puking!

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 11:22 AM

I totally stole your meme and blogged it. Too fun. :) Except for the song that's stuck in my head now - no fun.

Posted by: leslie at December 1, 2006 12:21 PM

Leslie, what's the song? You have to share!

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 12:28 PM

Well, I hate Centerfield a whole big bunch, and it's been stuck in my head for a couple of hours now.

Ugh. Upon a closer examination of the list I'm now being being haunted by an REO Speedwagon medley. Now I'm trying to decide whether I hate that more or less than Centerfield. (Not to be confused with Centerfold, which I liked.)

Posted by: Julie at December 1, 2006 12:32 PM





The Rrrrright Stuff.


Posted by: leslie at December 1, 2006 1:25 PM

UGH! REO Speedwagon. What the hell did that mean, anyway?

Sadly, there's a commercial for some store that's running an REO Speedwagon song, and I cringe every time I hear it. Can't shut the TV off fast enough.

Many moons ago, my oldest sister--on the advice of a friend who worked at Strawberries--gave me an REO Speedwagon album for my birthday. I can not imagine how this suggestion was arrived at. What did I really want, you ask? Why, "Zenyatta Mondatta" by the Police (this is still my favorite Police album).

Years later, when cleaning out my crap from my parent's house, I tried to break that REO Meatwagon LP over my knee, but it would only bend.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 1:27 PM

Leslie, I love that Brian Ferry song.

I just learned that this song features Johnny Marr on guitar and was an adaptation of an instrumental by The Smiths ("Money Changes Everything").


Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 1:35 PM

Maggie was looking at 1983, and it looks to me like I enjoyed earlier 80's stuff more than the mid-80's. Tons of stuff I love in 1983. That must have been one of those MTV summers.

It took me a while to remember "Centerfield."

Yeah - can't say I like that one.

Axel F. was the ubiquitous music from Beverly Hills Cop. Axel Foley. You'd probably recognize it if you heard it, and if you don't remember it, you probably didn't like it at the time. I liked electronic music.

Posted by: James at December 1, 2006 1:42 PM

So that's what Axel F. was. I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it, which is what I would say about most of the stuff on that list. But I think I preferred the music of 1982/1983 too. That seemed to be the high point, for me.

(Ghost in the Machine was my favorite Police album.)

Posted by: Julie at December 1, 2006 1:56 PM

Oh, I love electronica.


Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 1:57 PM

Let's take a look at 1981, which featured two hits by Rick "I'm dead, bitch!" James:

1. Super Freak
8. Give It To Me Baby

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 2:11 PM

Earlier and later 80's were both better for me. Just confirms what I seemed to recall. The music from my senior year of high school was a vast wasteland of crap with a few gems that not too many other people liked.

I won the Beverly Hill Cop soundtrack at the Swanswea Mall from a Radio Station trivia giveaway (James I think you were with me. I'm pretty sure Brian and maybe Bull were there too). I don't recall the question but the answer was Ghost in the Machine! How's that for a tie in.

I tossed the record after a few listens because I disliked basically everything on it. Ghost in the Machine on the other hand I wore out (Still have the album as well as the replacement tape and then cd. I' say Regatta de Blanc was my favorite Police cd but the three middle ones (the two above plus Zenyetta Mondatta) were all about equal in my book. Then Sting's ego took over and they put out Synchronicity. Popular but not terribly good and it hasn't held up at all.

I just bought Stewart Copeland's new dvd of his home movies of the Police's rise and fall. pretty interesting I highly recommend a viewing.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 1, 2006 2:18 PM

Ah Superfreak. Anybody who hasn't seen Little Miss Sunshine rent it immediately (OK once it's out). Super freakin hilarious. See what I did there. I obviously need to stop now.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 1, 2006 2:20 PM

This morning, WMBR (MIT radio, 88.1 FM) played "Riding on the Metro" by Berlin (c) 1983.

Posted by: Patti M. at December 1, 2006 2:29 PM

Can I please apologize for being 18 in 1997?

14. Let Me Clear My Throat - DJ Kool
47. Wrong Way - Sublime
74. Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers

Posted by: Keri at December 1, 2006 10:11 PM

Well I don't feel so wet behind the ears for being 18 in 1992 then.

My list:

Not much to like about 1992 unless you count "Bohemian Rhapsody." Yes, that was on the 1992 list.

Posted by: woneffe at December 3, 2006 6:12 PM

Oh - because of Wayne's World and/or Freddie Mercury's death?

Posted by: Julie at December 4, 2006 10:46 AM

Wayne's World, I think.

Posted by: James at December 4, 2006 10:55 AM

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