February 2011

U2 – “With or Without You” – (1987)

“With or Without You” was U2’s first #1 single in the U.S. and Canada. It remains one of U2’s best known songs. Something I never really noticed about this song is that it doesn’t do the whole chorus-verse-chorus thing. It just kind of goes with these big building lyrics and memorable guitar. This music video reminds me what a kind of strange figure Bono is. I mean, his name is “Bono” and he’s been this looming presence in the world (not just the music world) for almost 30 years. In the video it’s weird seeing him without sunglasses on.

Don Henley – “The Boys of Summer” – (1984)

I love the opening to this song. There’s just something about it that really draws me in. I can picture everything he’s talking about – people on the beach, etc. This is another Don Henley song about the end of youth and entering middle age (see also: “The End of the Innocence”). This song has been covered to near-death, the most famous probably being The Ataris’ version in 2003. The original is perfectly fine with me, thanks.

The Fixx – “One Thing Leads to Another” – (1983)

I see this song labeled as “New Wave” but it definitely has a more pop rock feel to it than. It was a top five hit in the U.S – by far their biggest mainstream hit (they were a staple o the Mainstream Rock chart throughout the decade). The Fixx is still together and have a new record due for release this year.

Madonna – “Borderline” – (1983)

“Borderline” was Madonna’s fifth single and first top ten hit. It was also the last single from her self-titled debut album. Listening to this song again now, the music really sounds dated. It’s very early-80s-ish… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Cars – “Drive” – (1984)

This was The Cars’ highest charting single (it hit #3 in the U.S. and #1 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart) – and their best. The rest of their music, well, pretty much annoys me. I’m no fan of The Cars – at all. This song, however, I love. I mean, their other work doesn’t even come close. Oh, and the cover of Heartbeat City has a picture of a Plymouth Duster 340 which is an underwhelming but fairly sporty-looking car.

Phil Collins – “Another Day in Paradise” – (1989)

This is listed as Phil Collins’ most successful song – being a #1 just about everywhere. It was the first single from …But Seriously. “Oh, think twice. It’s another day for you and me in paradise” is the famous part of the chorus that leads into the well known hook. Yeah, there should be more Phil Collins songs coming up on here…

Sigue Sigue Sputnik – “Love Missle F1-11” – (1986)

I’m not really sure how to describe this song. Bizarre? Kinda. The band, whose name continues to mystify me, was a new wave band out of England and this was their only hit, its success helped by the song’s use in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The tempo is ridiculous but it’s great fun to listen to, although the music video is so overlaid with sound effects that it’s hard to distinguish which sound effects are part of the song and which are from the video.

Janet Jackson – “Miss You Much” – (1989)

Janet Jackson rocked the late 80s. This was her second #1, the first from Rhythm Nation – which is easily her best album. New jack swing was the R&B rage at this point and this is one of the most successful examples of the sub-genre. Most of this album was dance-oriented and when was the last time you saw a black and white music video?

The Vapors – “Turning Japanese” – (1980)

This is what the English band The Vapors is known for. There’s always been a rumor that this song is some kind of euphemism, but I fail to make the connection that this song is about anything.

Simple Minds – “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – (1985)

From one of the definitive movies of the decade comes one of the definitive songs. Yeah, it wasn’t on the countdown because I think “Alive and Kicking” is amazing, but this should not go overlooked. It’s probably the most obvious song absent from the list. It was a #1 in the U.S., The Netherlands, and Canada. It is most famous for its inclusion in the final scene of The Breakfast Club.

Berlin – “Take My Breath Away” – (1986)

Berlin, who were from Los Angeles, naturally, had one major hit and this was it. It won an Oscar and Golden Globe because of its use in Top Gun on whose soundtrack it appeared. The music video is just clips from the movie – Tom Cruise riding a motorcycle really fast, Tom Cruise walking, Tom Cruise making out with Kelly McGillis, Tom Cruise sad after Goose’s demise, Kelly McGillis sad that Tom Cruise is sad, Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis reuniting after Tom Cruise is done being sad – you know, Top Gun stuff. Still, this song is an 80s classic and when you hear it, you immediately think: Tom Cruise and Top Gun – or at least you should.

Genesis – “That’s All” – (1983)

“That’s All” is a very recognizable song from Genesis. It was written by Phil Collins and appeared on the bands 1983 self-titled album. It hit #6 in the U.S. and #16 in the UK. And that’s all I have to say about it (yeah, you walked into that one).