October 2011

#5 – Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar on Me” – (1987)

This is the Def Leppard song. When the 90s came, their music got, well, uhh… not better. It only hit #2 on the Hot 100 but it is their best known song and widely considered one of the greatest songs of the 80s. It remains a big hit today featuring in movies and being one of very few pre-internet age songs to have reached Gold Certification for having more than half a million [legal] downloads.

#6 – Scorpions – “Rock You Like a Hurricane” – (1984)

Scorpions were from Germany (that’s right, it’s not The Scorpions) but there was nothing definitively German about their music. I once heard this song while driving through Florida the night before a massive hurricane was supposed to hit. Timing. Watch the music video… this is definitely 80s metal. I’d say that this is the band’s signature song as it’s one of the biggest rock songs of the decade, but you may silently disagree if you wish. Or, leave a comment and tell me how wrong I am.

#7 – Quiet Riot – “Cum On Feel the Noize” – (1983)

This is a cover of a song by British rock band Slade, who did it in 1973. Quiet Riot’s version pretty much kicks ass. It’s immensely singable and plays almost as much as a dance track as it does solid, heavy metal. If you’re going to be a one-hit wonder, this is definitely the way to do it – completely awesomely. “Come on feel the noise… girls rock your boys… we’ll get wild, wild, wild…”

#8 – Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train” – (1980)

From “All aboaarrrd” to Ozzy’s signature insane laugh to Randy Rhoads pounding yet somehow seemingly fun guitar, “Crazy Train” is the definitive Ozzy song. Like most metal songs, this song surely has some deep, underlying meaning… that nobody should or does care about. Sad, not-so-fun Fact: the ringtone version of this song (yes, Billboard actually tracks such things), was certified Double Platinum. Who cares? If you’ve never listened to Ozzy Osbourne, which is slightly understandable, this is the song to hear if you wanna know what his music is all about.

#9 – Autograph – “Turn Up The Radio” – (1984)

Autograph was kind of a one-hit wonder and this was their one hit – the only one they had that reached the Top 40 (#29 on the Hot 100, to be exact). This song received a lot of airplay as it was “glam rock” – that weird crossover between heavy metal and pop music where everyone wore weird clothes and spent too much time on their hair. Fun fact: Keni Richards is credited on the album for “Drums” and “Noises.”

#10 – Mötley Crüe – “Kickstart My Heart” – (1989)

What’s with the umlauts in the names of 80s rock bands? This song is about bassist Nikki Sixx’s overdose in 1987 when he was declared clinically dead. Then someone went Tarantino and stabbed two shots of adrenaline into his heart and… well, kickstarted his heart. I’m not a huge Mötley Crüe fan but I do quite like this song. I can’t believe I got through an entire post about Mötley Crüe without mentioning Tommy Lee… oh, crap.

#11 – Europe – “The Final Countdown” – (1986)

Oh, that wonderful keyboard! I guess this was glam metals attempt to incorporate synth pop into their sound. This is such an incredibly recognizable song – especially that keyboard riff. It’s one of those tracks that appears on uplifting and sports/triumph lists. Frankly, when I hear this song I can only think of one thing and that is Gob Bluth’s magic acts from the TV series Arrested Development. Will Arnett dances around stage with a knife in his mouth while this song plays before he performs a big “illusion.”

#12 – Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – (1988)

Hooray for power ballads… right? I used to really like and appreciate this song, but with Bret Michaels refusing to give up and leave the spotlight, my respect for this song and Poison in general has faltered terribly. It’s definitely one of the best power ballads… but I’m not sure that is saying a whole lot.

#13 – Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again” – (1982)

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the album cover to Saints & Sinners before… and that’s probably because I don’t know this song from its original 1982 release on that album. It was re-recorded in 1987 for the album Whitesnake. The 1987 version is the one that hit #1 on the Hot 100. But it’s not like I know what that album cover looks like either. When I hear this song, the first image that comes to mind if Tawny Kitaen sprawling around on the hood of a Jaguar. I’m likely not alone in that…

#14 – Twisted Sister – “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – (1984)

This song is quite famous for a number of reasons: the foremost among them probably being that it was one of a few songs that led to the formation of anti-free speech groups like the Parents Music Resource Center and eventually the “Explicit Lyrics” label you see on CD’s today. This song was on the “Filthy Fifteen” list of the most objectionable songs of its day – which meant it was pulled from stores such as Wal-Mart. Interestingly enough, Wal-Mart, just very recently, ran a TV commercial that features an instrumental version of this song. Hypocritical? Mind-blowingly so.

#15 – Metallica – “Ride the Lightning” – (1984)

I prefer Metallica of the 1990s, but if I had to pick a favorite from the 80s, this would be it. This is definitely heavier than, say, Bon Jovi. This song wasn’t even a single, but I’m pretty sure people know what it is – if not, well then, good – as that’s the intention of this site: so you can find music that exists and you may have forgotten about or never even knew in the first place. Maybe people know it because it’s the title track of the album. Fun fact: this is 1 of 2 songs on the album that credits Dave Mustaine, who was no longer with the band.

#16 – Judas Priest – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” – (1982)

Judas Priest are heavy metal legends and I’m pretty sure it’s because of songs like this (I’m not a Judas Priest expert and 80s heavy metal fans tend to be strangely loyal and die-hard and I don’t want their ire). But, this is the best song by the band that I can think of. What I find kind of strange is that this hard, heavy, crazy rock song was recorded, along with the rest of the album, in Ibiza, Spain – now home to crazy, crazy clubs featuring the best of house music. Regardless of this, Ibiza is still a little too scenic for heavy metal, isn’t it? Shouldn’t heavy metal be recorded in an abandoned factory or some dungeon somewhere? Not paradise.

#17 – Dio – “Rainbow in the Dark” – (1983)

Ronnie James Dio died a little over a year ago (this was the band that bore his name, obviously). Because it’s hair metal from the 80s, songs like this tend to get mocked every now and then. But Ronnie James Dio was the replacement for Ozzy Osbourne at Black Sabbath. And this song is awesome. Don’t mock the man or the tune.

#18 – Bon Jovi – “You Give Love a Bad Name” – (1986)

I don’t consider this really heavy rock – it’s almost more pop rock than glam metal – but anything with the term “glam” in it implies a certain poppy-ness. This was the first single from Slippery When Wet and the first #1 for Bon Jovi. Let’s face it, like them or not, Bon Jovi is one of the definitive 80s rock bands and this is one catchy song.

#19 – Rush – “Limelight” – (1981)

Okay, so Rush isn’t a hair band – but they are a rock band and that is the technical criteria to make this list. “Limelight” is one of the band’s better-known songs and is featured on Moving Pictures, the band’s most popular album – which was released in 1981. So there you go, a rock song from the 80s (with or without massive hair).

#20 – Motörhead – “Ace of Spades” – (1980)

Are there other Motorhead songs? (Yeah, I didn’t put the umlaut on the O… it’s too much effort). Motorhead are from England, which you wouldn’t be able to discern because of the deep-voiced yelling going on in this song. I’m not a fan of metal, especially speed metal – but this song is awesome. It’s the song they are most known for.

#21 – Iron Maiden – “2 Minutes to Midnight” – (1984)

It just occurred to me how metal-oriented the first five songs on this list have been. Journey is a rock band, but they would seem grossly out of place on this “rock” countdown (don’t worry, they don’t show up). Here is Iron Maiden’s appearance on this list, which is appropriate as they are widely considered one of if not the best metal band of all time. The title of this song is actually quite an interesting reference to the Doomsday Clock, which is pretty interesting in and of itself. Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer (although I associate that name more with Christopher Walken’s character in the “More Cowbell” SNL skit), flies 757s for an airline – I guess “in his spare time.” I find this incredibly weird.

#22 – Great White – “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” – (1989)

During the opening of this song I always think I’m in for Motley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” but, well, it’s not. This song was originally recorded by Ian Hunter but, strangely, this version is better. This was their biggest hit and was what the band was mostly known for until 2003 when there was a fire at a nightclub that killed 100 people. Sadly, that’s what they’re more known for these days.

#23 – Kiss – “Lick It Up” – (1983)

Kiss’s “time” may have been the mid-to-late 70s, but “Lick It Up” sounds more or less identical to the stuff they were doing in the 70s. This song featured the “more mature” version of the band – it was their first video sans makeup. If I have one complaint about this song, though, it’s that it seems hollow, like there is a rhythm component missing. Eh, I guess it’s just Kiss.

#24 – Anthrax – “Madhouse” – (1985)

From glam metal to thrash metal we arrive at Anthrax, a band known mainly for their guitarist, Scott Ian (the bands only consistent member from the beginning), who shows up regularly on those VH1 shows where they countdown lists of stuff or mock a certain decade. This song didn’t even chart, but for some reason it’s one of their more well known songs. Maybe it’s because the video they made for this song was banned by MTV.

#25 – Ratt – “Round And Round” – (1984)

Okay, we’re going to do a brief countdown of everybody’s favorite: hair bands! The rules: 1 song per artist, so in a way we’re counting down the Top 25 Hair Bands of the 80s, with their best songs representing them on the countdown. It’s really not that scientific, I just picked 25 heavier rock songs from the 80s and ranked them how I liked them. So here’s #25, Ratt, a glam metal band from San Diego and this was their biggest hit. It’s just mediocre lyrics to ridiculous guitar riffs – kind of the formula for success that about every song on this list used.