ACDC_Back_in_BlackAC/DC– “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” – (1980)

This song was the last track on Back in Black and the final single released from the album. Interestingly, this was the highest charting song from this album in the U.K., peaking at #15.

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220px-The_Unforgettable_FireU2 – “Pride (In the Name of Love)” – (1984)

We’re taking a break from out countdown of the top songs of 1962 because of Christmas being around the corner. Before we get to a few Christmas songs, here is one of U2’s best. It’s from 1984 but I always though it was from the early 1990s. Also, as good as this song is (it’s about MLK by the way, if you didn’t pick up on it), it only reached #2 in Ireland. What could’ve been #1 that week?

Cuts_Both_Ways_CD_Cover.jpegGloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine – “Get On Your Feet” – (1989)

As upbeat as this song is – and the fact that it was on the by-this-point-cresting wave of Latin-tinged 1980s hits – it only managed to hit #11 on the Hot 100, but it was still a mainstay on Adult Contemporary radio for the next five years, at least. This was the most fun hit from Gloria’s final album with the Miami Sound Machine.

Police-album-synchronicityThe Police – “Wrapped Around Your Finger” – (1983)

First, this song has nothing to do with the other two from earlier this week. Second, depending on what country you’re in (U.S. or U.K.), this was either the fourth or second single, respectively, released from Synchronicity. It was a top ten hit in both countries, but did manage to hit #1 in Ireland. It’s just another great track from the Police in 1983.

41b2nxwzv1lJohn Williams – “20th Century Fox Fanfare” – (1980)

You probably didn’t notice, but a few months ago I did three songs in a row: the first with “16” in the title, then “17” and “18.” This week we are doing 19-21 and there aren’t a whole lot of songs with “20” in the title, hence this. The iconic 20th Century Fox intro music was originally composed and recorded by Alfred Newman in 1933 and later updated to the version we now recognize in 1954. John Williams recorded a new version of it in 1980 for The Empire Strikes Back. It was later released on a Star Wars box set in 1993 (see image). Not sure there’s a more iconic sound to start a movie… other than maybe MGM’s lion roar… but we won’t feature that here…

steely_dan_-_gauchoSteely Dan – “Hey Nineteen” – (1980)

Not a lot of rock songs from the 1980s could be described as “beautiful.” I submit this as the exception. The jazzy instruments and overall mellow sound – coupled with classic Steely Dan vocals – add to a great, smooth soft rock tune. It actually peaked at #10 on the Hot 100. Synthesizers were in in ’80 and this track makes perfect use of them without overdoing it. It is my favorite Steely Dan song.

220px-bella_donna_albumStevie Nicks – “Edge of Seventeen” – (1981)

When an artist goes solo and has a huge hit I always wonder if their solo hit would’ve worked if it came from the band. In this case, I don’t think this would’ve made a great Fleetwood Mac song. This was her first true solo single (there were two before it but both were duets). The guitar riff was later used by Destiny’s Child on “Bootylicious.” “Edge of Seventeen” has to be Stevie Nicks’ signature solo tune, even if it (barely) failed to crack the top ten on the Hot 100.

220px-a-fresh-aire-christmas-coverMannheim Steamroller – “Cantique de Noel (O Holy Night)” – (1988)

“O Holy Night” was composed in 1847 in France as music to match a poem. It was all written to be performed in a church, making it one of what seems like only a handful of Christmas carols that are actually allowed to be played in church (sorry, Mariah Carey). Even if this version is a little new-agey, it still gets the point across and is instantly recognizable.

Steve Martin – “A Holiday Wish” – (1986)

This was an SNL sketch back in the 1980s where Steve Martin just sits in front of the camera telling us his five Christmas wishes. And it’s hilarious. It works as just audio too, because you can see his mannerisms just by hearing his voice. The wishes start sweet, but quickly descend into madness. Classic Steve Martin.

220px-rhythmnation1814Janet Jackson – “Rhythm Nation” – (1989)

This is sort of the title track from Janet’s 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814. As the second single, it went to #2 on the Hot 100 and its video is one of the most recognizable of the first 10 years of MTV. It’s one of the best songs from an album loaded with “best” songs.

weird_al_yankovic_-_dare_to_be_stupidWeird Al Yankovic – “Yoda” – (1985)

Weird Al is the master of parody songs and he’s also great at writing songs about very specific things, like Star Wars. “Yoda” is a parody of The Kinks’ brilliant “Lola.” And, while Weird Al didn’t write the original music for this song, his lyrics are every bit as brilliant as the original. This song is weird because he had to get permission both from The Kinks and George Lucas. 

220px-BillyJoel_AnInnocentManBilly Joel – “The Longest Time” – (1983)

An Innocent Man might be my favorite Billy Joel album – mostly because it plays with doo-wop music on multiple hit singles, including this which only features two instruments (a bass and a drum played with a brush) and a bunch of layered vocals, all provided by Joel himself. Because of this, “The Longest Time” is popular among a cappella singers. But if you want to hear how good of a singer Billy Joel was back in the day, this is all you need.

41zwtweOpeL._SL500_SY300_Da Yoopers – “Rusty Chevrolet” – (1987)

Radio stations used to play this. Nothing quite says “The Midwest” like a parody Christmas song sung in a heavy Northern Michigan accent. Nothing also says “The Midwest” like saying: I remember how hilarious this was when I was younger and it’s one of those parodies that kids pick up on and find hilarious to sing in place of the real version of “Jingle Bells.”

220px-A-Fresh-Aire-Christmas-CoverMannheim Steamroller – “Hark! The Herald Trumpets Sing” – (1988)

Yes, this sounds like church music. It’s the opening track to Mannheim Steamroller’s 1988 Fresh Aire Christmas – one of the best-selling Holiday albums of all time. This is little more than a prelude to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

220px-Barbra-streisand-guilty-albumBarbra Streisand – Woman In Love – 1980

I’m not a Barbra Streisand fan – in any way, shape or form. I do not get her appeal and growing up, I was never quite sure why she was even famous. That said, this is a song, that, when it came on the other day, I did not find myself skipping to the next song. It has a kind of brooding to it that’s actually pretty interesting. It was a Hot 100 #1 and was her biggest (and most recent major) hit.

220px-FootloosesoundtrackalbumcoverDeniece Williams – Let’s Hear It For The Boy – 1984

I just realized that the guy on the Footloose album cover is Kevin Bacon. I know that might seem obvious, but I just always assumed it was Kenny Loggins. This song was far and away Deniece Williams’ biggest solo hit, reaching #1 from the Footloose soundtrack (she had another #1, a duet with Johnny Mathis). It’s very “mid-80s.”

220px-DonnaSummerSWHftM590x590Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money – 1983

I think this is my favorite song by Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco. Maybe that’s because it’s really not as disco-heavy as the rest of her major hits. This was also her last major hit, coming in 1983. It has a cool new wave beat that makes the whole song feel like it’s supposed to only be used in montages. It hit #3 on the Hot 100.

dianaDiana Ross – I’m Coming Out – 1980

This song, famously sampled (and perhaps, in this case, the sample is more famous than the original song) in “Mo Money, Mo Problems” by the Notorious B.I.G. It was a top five hit for Diana Ross from what would be her final major hit-producing album in 1980 – quite the run for someone who got her start singing Motown back in the early 1960s. A complete transformation.

Chicago16coverChicago – Hard To Say I’m Sorry/Get Away – 1982

How is it possible that this is the first Chicago song that’s been featured here? Crazy. This one was a Billboard Hot 100 #1 for two weeks. It was the first big hit for Chicago since 1977 and would be the first of a string of hits for the band in the 1980s. It’s their “Walk This Way.”

Michael_Jackson_-_ThrillerMichael Jackson – “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” – (1982)

Thriller was so good that even this, it’s sixth single was still awesome. Originally Michael and someone else wrote a song with this title, but producer Quincy Jones didn’t like it but liked the title enough to co-write this song instead (with James Ingram) and kept the title. It reached #10 on the Hot 100. Strangely, he never performed this song live. 

220px-LikeAVirgin1984Madonna – “Into the Groove” – (1985)

Madonna’s second studio album Like a Virgin had its share of hits none more dance-worthy than this track, which wasn’t originally included on the album’s release. It was added for a 1985 re-release after being used in the film Desperately Seeking Susan, in which Madonna stared. It’s a synth-infused 80s dance track and a fine example of early Madonna.

INXS_kickINXS – “Need  You Tonight” – (1987)

This is INXS’s best song. I am befuddled as to why this didn’t appear on our Top 100 Songs of the 80s countdown, because it should’ve been in the top 25. Strange. It’s that guitar riff that sets this song apart and gets it stuck in your head for hours. That’s part of the reason it became INXS’s signature tune. It was also a Billboard Hot 100 #1.

Bob Rivers Comedy Corp – “The Twelve Pains of Christmas” – (1988)

We featured two songs from Bob Rivers last week. But this is his most famous work. It works the same way as the traditional “12 Days of Christmas” but it’s about the least fun aspects of the holiday season. The best part is that as the song goes, each time a pain is repeated, it’s done so in a less pleasant way until the final climax where it’s just mostly people screaming. This song received regular Christmastime radio airplay in the U.S. for much of the 1990s and beyond. I haven’t heard it in years, but it’ll slip in here and there.

Aerosmith – “Janie’s Got a Gun” – (1989)

“Janie’s Got a Gun” was the second single from Aerosmith’s 1989 album Pump. It was a top five single on the Hot 100, peaking at #4. Often combined with the preceding track on the album, “Water Song” – which is a 10-second instrumental track, this song is one of Aerosmith’s biggest hits and it still receives a fair amount of airplay on classic rock radio. A good tune from Aerosmith’s big hair days (have those days actually ended?).

Sade – “Is It a Crime” – (1985)

Sade’s second album, Promises, had big shoes to fill because Diamond Life was incredible. This album had three singles and “Is It a Crime” was the third and final one. It was also the least successful of the three – and while that’s understandable considering the other two, it’s still a great song with soulful vocals, roaring sax, and haunting music. Sade is truly one of the greatest musical acts ever.