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?

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-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.

Philip Bailey & Phil Collins – “Easy Lover” – (1984)

Phil Collins was a pretty big deal circa 1984. So when Philip Bailey teamed up with him to record and release this song, there was a good chance it was going to be a big hit. And it was – hitting #2 on the Hot 100. Bailey’s high-pitched vocals are the perfect complement to Collins’ unique voice. It sounds very 80s but it holds up today whenever I hear it. I said last week we were saving the best for last and this is it, the final duet from our months-long run. Hope you enjoyed it.

Hall & Oates – “Out of Touch” – (1984)

“Out of Touch” is one of Hall & Oates’ best songs from the 1980s. It’s also one of the most New Wave-y songs that they ever recorded. It was the last #1 hit they had on the Hot 100. The opening lyrics “Shake it up…” always grab me and hook me into the song – and so does the hook of what sounds an awful lot like bells (but could be a synthesizer or something). I like the video – Daryl Hall has some serious dance moves (although the leopard-print suit is a bit much… but hey, it was 1984.).

Metallica – “Fade to Black” – (1984)

Well you can’t buy Metallica MP3s on Amazon, apparently. “Fade to Black” is a pretty good Metallica song from the 80s. Ride the Lightning was also one of their better albums. While it’s still metal, the song is much softer than many of Metallica’s songs – maybe that’s because it features a strong acoustic guitar before the electric really takes over. It also has an awesome guitar solo. Just something a little heavier for your Monday.

Bruce Springsteen – “Born in the U.S.A.” – (1984)

While I’m not a big Springsteen nut, I recognize this song as a classic. It is the definitive Springsteen song and like some of the popular seemingly-patriotic anthems of John Mellencamp – this is not a positive song. That is, although it keeps repeating the phrase “born in the U.S.A.” – it actually deals with the Vietnam War and the crap Vietnam veterans had to deal with when they came home. For that reason alone, this song is great. But when you add in the rockin’ E Street Band and Bruce’s raspy vocals it becomes something larger. This was an anthem for a generation in the 1980s. Politicians loved to use it until they realized what its lyrics were actually about. The album of the same name remains Springsteen’s largest contribution to popular music and is revered by fans. Rightfully so.

Survivor – “High on You” – (1984)

This is a rock song that screams “80s” but not necessarily “80s rock.” The music is rock with a very upbeat, almost pop like feeling – but Jimi Jamison’s lyrics, delivered in a Steve Perry-esque kind of way. It’s melodic and you could very easily mistake it for Journey. It’s weird… it’s a ballad but it’s so upbeat that it doesn’t feel like a ballad. Enough talk. Go listen to it. Here are some lyrics: “Talkin’ to myself, runnin’ in the heat. Beggin’ for your touch, in the middle of the street and I – I can’t stop thinking ’bout you girl. I must be living in a fantasy world. I’ve searched the whole world over, to find a heart so true. Such complete intoxication, I’m high on you.”

Thomas Dolby – “Hyperactive!” – (1984)

According to Thomas Dolby, he wrote this song for Michael Jackson to record, but instead, he decided to do it himself. I imagine Dolby walking up to Michael with this song in hand and right before he starts talking, he retracts his hand, turns around and walks into a studio and records the song. All the while, Michael Jackson stands there confused and then leaves and makes Thriller. This was a minor hit in the U.S., only hitting #62, while it was Top 20 in the U.K. and Canada. You know what’s disappointing? This song (nor any of his other songs, so far as I’m aware) was never recorded in Dolby Digital Surround Sound.

#3 – Van Halen – “Jump” – (1984)

Is there a more famous synth line in a rock song than this? I don’t think so. 1984 is Van Halen’s best album and this might be the best song on it (I really like “I’ll Wait”). The brilliant part of this song is that Van Halen managed to take two of the most popular genres of music in 1984 and combine them into one massive hit (it was a #1 for about a month). That is, they took synth pop and stadium rock and threw them together. Also, it has really simple lyrics (how many times can you yell “jump!” in about four minutes?) that are easy to sing along to. This is pop music songwriting at its best.

#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.

#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.”

#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.

#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.

#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.

Madonna – “Dress You Up” – (1984)

Like a Virgin was Madonna’s second album and this was the final single from that album and it marked Madonna’s sixth straight Top 5 single in the U.S. This dance-pop song is classic Madonna – but I’m going to be honest: if this song comes on when I’m out driving with all the windows rolled down, I might leave it on – but I’m definitely turning it down so no one else can hear it.

Billy Joel – “Keeping the Faith” – (1983)

Billy Joel popped out hit after hit in the 80s and “Keeping the Faith” was a Top 20 hit in 1984. An Innocent Man is a brilliant album that harkens back to a number of different musical styles from the 50s and 60s (we’ve already talked about “Uptown Girl”). The video for this song makes me think it’s supposed to be early-60s rock, but for whatever reason I just don’t hear it. But it’s still a pretty good song.

Sade – “Smooth Operator” – (1984)

Sade – pronounced SHAH-DAY (don’t make the mistake of saying pronouncing it SAYD in front of one of the group’s fans) was both the name of the group and of the leader singer, Sade Adu. Diamond Life was the group’s debut album and it contained “Smooth Operator” which is one of the smoothest and coolest songs I can think of. This is a gateway song – fall in love with it and pretty soon you’ll be listening to the entire Sade catalog. This is their best known hit and they’ve got a fair number of pretty solid, awesome smooth jazz songs, but this remains my favorite.

Prince & the Revolution – “When Doves Cry” – (1984)

This was the biggest song from Purple Rain and the biggest selling single of 1984. It was a #1 all over the world and remains one of Prince’s best known songs. It shows up on a lot of lists of the “Greatest Songs Ever” yet it didn’t even make our countdown of songs of the 80s. After hearing this song countless times, I really don’t know what doves sound like when they cry, despite Prince’s best efforts to inform me. I very much doubt they sound like a drum machine and awesome guitar solos, but what do I know?

Madonna – “Like a Virgin” – (1984)

This is one of Madonna’s signature songs and it’s sometimes considered the song that cemented her as a pop icon. It was a #1 in the U.S. (and a handful of other countries) – it was the first single off of her second album (which shared the name of the song). How often does the first single of your second album cement you as a legend? Not very. Madonna’s voice on this track is higher than it is on some of her other songs which almost makes her sound kind of Cyndi Lauper-ish. This song was parodied quite wonderfully by Weird Al Yankovic as “Like a Surgeon.”

Prince & the Revolution – “Purple Rain” – (1984)

Prince was at his best on this album (which was the soundtrack to Prince’s movie Purple Rain). The movie was kind of his 8 Mile. The vocals are really being belted out over the power ballad guitar. Musically and vocally, this is Prince’s most interesting song. It’s become one of Prince’s signature songs and whenever I hear it I think of Prince on a motorcycle of Prince sitting very strangely in a bathtub. I don’t know why.

The Time – “Jungle Love” – (1984)

This is one of the best pop-funk hits of all time. The Time was one of many 80s acts associated with Prince and he receives songwriting credit on this track. This song is sometimes credited to “Morris Day & the Time” – Morris Day being the group’s lead singer. This song should not, however, be confused with the Steve Miller Band song of the same name. This song is known for its “oh-e-oh-e-oh” chorus and it is the only redeeming feature of the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back – where the entire band and cast perform the song during the credits.

Wham! – “Everything She Wants” – (1984)

This was the third #1 from Make it Big and it’s not as good as “Careless Whisper” but it’s still pretty good. Apparently this is George Michael’s favorite Wham! song and he still performs it at his solo shows. The best part of this song is the high-pitched “All to give you money – all to give you money” followed by some kind of squeal or something. If Wham! could have continued to produce songs like this they would still be huge.

Phil Collins – “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” – (1984)

This was the theme from the film Against All Odds – and I think it’s safe to say that the soundtrack outshines the film. When was the last time that a movie theme song became a huge radio hit? It doesn’t happen anymore. It’s one of Phil Collins’ biggest hits (#1 in the U.S. and Canada) and has been covered a few times (by Mariah Carey – twice).