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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Top 65 Songs of 1980

Goodbye 1979.  Hello 1980.  Holy synthesizer.  I want to warn John Lennon so bad.  Hardcore music, be it the harder brand of punk the Dead Kennedys bring to the table, or the new darkness Motorhead is shredding, takes a big step forward this year.  General soul?  That’ll probably be abandoned for awhile, and I don’t mean soul music, I mean music that has an actual soul. 

65.  Cold War – Devo (New Wave) – 1980
64.  (Just Like) Starting Over – John Lennon (Pop Rock) – 1980

Obviously Chapman wasn’t a fan of the Double Fantasy album, which in this one single instance, I understand his grief. 

63.  Baggy Trousers – Madness (Ska) – 1980
62.  Cool – Pylon (New Wave) – 1980

Holy shit, I think I just found an influence of Marnie Stern’s. 

61.  Could You Be Loved – Bob Marley (Reggae) – 1980
60.  Biko – Peter Gabriel (New Wave) – 1980

History looks more kindly on the anti-apartheid activists over the pro-apartheid activists. 

59.  Quiet Life – Japan (New Wave) – 1980
58.  Late in the Evening – Paul Simon (Pop Rock) – 1980
57.  Ill in the Head – Dead Kennedys (Punk) – 1980
56.  Shoot You in the Back – Motorhead (Heavy Metal) – 1980
55.  Stolen Car – Bruce Springsteen (Slow Rock) – 1980
54.  Love Rap – Spoonie G (Rap) – 1980

Obviously I don’t want to start a turf war with Spoonie G, but a lot of early 80s rap is kind of boring.  The poetry is beautiful, but I need more than a drum machine. 

53.  Pulling Muscles (From a Shell) – Squeeze (Rock) – 1980
52.  Flash – Queen (Progressive Rock) – 1980

I’m not really sure if this is a song or not. 

51.  Do You Remember Rock ‘n Roll Radio? – Ramones (Rock ‘n Roll) – 1980
50.  Atmosphere – Joy Division (New Wave) – 1980

How come Joy Division was never brought to trial over suicides?  I’m sure Joy Division is responsible for more suicides than Ozzy Osbourne.  I’d bet money on that. 

49.  The Great Curve – Talking Heads (New Wave) – 1980
48.  I’m Losing You – John Lennon (Rock) – 1980
47.  High Fidelity – Elvis Costello (Rock) – 1980
46.  I’m Gonna Sit Down and Write Myself a Letter – Willie Nelson (Country) – 1980
45.  Mirror in the Bathroom – The Beat (Ska) – 1980
44.  The New Rap Language – The Treacherous Three (Rap) – 1980
43.  Snowball – Devo (New Wave) – 1980
42.  Dance (Pt 1) – The Rolling Stones (Funk) – 1980

This is a little out of the Stone’s element, but they do a great job with it. 

41.  C30, C60, C90 Go! – Bow Wow Wow (Punk) – 1980

This is a pretty weird tune and it mentions C-3P0 which dates it terribly, but it’s unique enough to warrant mention.  Hell, it’s the 80s, everything is like that all of a sudden. 

40.  To Cut a Long Story Short – Spandau Ballet (Synthpop) – 1980
39.  Take Your Time (Do It Right) – S.O.S. Band (Disco) – 1980
38.  Suicide Solution – Ozzy Osbourne (Heavy Metal) – 1980

This song may be the first example of people blaming a song for their son’s suicide.  Naturally it gets ranked for that. 

37.  Indian Girl – The Rolling Stones (Alt-Country) – 1980

Sure I just cracked open a beer, and it’s probably politically incorrect, but this 80’s Stone’s song isn’t bad. 

36.  Dancing With Myself – Billy Idol (Punk) – 1980

If memory serves me correctly, the video was Billy Idol vs. Zombies, but I can’t remember who won, though I’m guessing Billy Idol. 

35.  Feel Like a Stranger – Grateful Dead (Rock) – 1980
34.  Requiem – Killing Joke (Punk) – 1980
33.  Hells Bells – AC/DC (Hard Rock) – 1980
32.  Drivin My Life Away – Eddie Rabbit (Country) – 1980

I loved this song as a kid, because as a kid I wasn’t smart enough to hate country yet.  Nowadays, I’m sure it has it’s time and place. 

31.  Talk of the Town – The Pretenders (Rock) – 1980
30.  And The Cradle Will Rock – Van Halen (Hard Rock) – 1980
29.  Another One Bites the Dust – Queen (Rock) – 1980

I don’t know why, but all of Queen’s songs apparently are about sporting events one way or another. 

28.  You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC (Hard Rock) – 1980
27.  Althea – The Grateful Dead (Jam Rock) – 1980
26.  Girl U Want – Devo (New Wave) – 1980
25.  Walking on Thin Ice – Yoko One (New Wave) – 1980

It’s very easy for many people to hate Yoko, hell she broke up the Beatles! (She didn’t).  I’m not a big fan of the Double Fantasy album, but this song does stand out and a decent new wave song.  Yoko pretty much comes off better than John on the album, and yes, I can’t believe I just said that. 

24.  Rock ‘n Roll High School – Ramones (Punk) – 1980

If you’ve never seen the Ramones movie, I highly recommend it. 

23.  Whip It – Devo (New Wave) – 1980
22.  Call Me – Blondie (New Wave) – 1980
21.  Bankrobber – The Clash (Reggae) – 1980
20.  Breaking the Law – Judas Priest (Hard Rock) – 1980

Somehow Beavis and Butthead made some songs better

19.  Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division (Gothic Rock) – 1980

It’s a decent tune, but I don’t think I was put on this earth to listen to Joy Division. 

18.  A Forest – The Cure (Gothic Rock) – 1980

I’ve never been a Cure fan so this project here is a good start for me with them.  This song is very good. 

17.  I Will Follow – U2 (Rock) – 1980

I don’t know my pre-Joshua Tree U2 very well, aside from a few classics.  This song stands out from all the new wave/post punk stuff going on during this time. 

16.  Runaway Boys – Stray Cats (Rock ‘n Roll) – 1980

I’m always impressed to hear great rock ‘n roll songs after its popularity died in the early 60s.

15.  Funkytown – Lipps, Inc. (Disco) – 1980

As disco ends and leads to even shittier synthpop (I know synthpop is good now, but it’s going to get worse), this is a nice note to end the genre on.  If I do an ancillary “Guilty Pleasure” list, this may just be #1 on that. 

14.  Everybody Wants Some – Van Halen (Hard Rock) – 1980

I love when David Lee Roth starts picking up a girl in the middle of a song. 

13.  Redemption Song – Bob Marley (Folk) – 1980
12.  On the Road Again – Willie Nelson (Country) – 1980
11.  Spirit of the Radio – Rush (Progressive Rock) – 1980

If you don’t listen to the words, or get turned off my middle-aged republicans playing air guitar to their tunes, they have some wonderfully liberal musical excursions, however sometimes that leads to them trying to do reggae, which is not a good fit for these guys.

10.  The Listening Wind – Talking Heads (New Wave) – 1980

The Talking Heads support terrorism and the use of drugs in this one!  (dust in my head, c’mon, we know what that’s about). 

9.  The Breaks – Kurtis Blow (Rap) – 1980

Aside from this song running too long, it’s every bit as good as “Rapper’s Delight” in the “Best Early Rap Songs” conversation. 

8.  Emotional Rescue – The Rolling Stones (Smooth Rock) – 1980
7.  Back in Black – AC/DC (Hard Rock) – 1980

Being the singer of a cover band, then getting called up to take over for the real band must be the highlight of a lifetime.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my phone ring was hoping it was Bret Michaels asking me to fill in for C.C. on an upcoming Poison tour. 

6.  Born Under Punches – Talking Heads (New Wave) – 1980
5.  Holiday in Cambodia – Dead Kennedys (Punk) – 1980

Now that the Guitar Hero fad is over and they’re not even making the games anymore, this song was probably one of its greatest winners.  I never would’ve been exposed to the Dead Kennedys without it.  Of course I don’t have any “Skate or Die” tattoos either. 

4.  Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne (Hard Rock) – 1980

I got to see my brother’s band perform this rocker in front of his 18 month old twin sons  AND my mom was there.  That cracked me up. 

3.  Ace of Spades – Motorhead (Heavy Metal) – 1980

This song is a giant step forward for heavy metal.  By today’s standards, it’s almost a hard rock song, but for 1980, this is some pretty powerful stuff. 

2.  Crosseyed and Painless – Talking Heads (New Wave) – 1980

If you ever get a chance to listen to Phish cover Remain in Light, I highly recommend it.  Of all the musical masks they’ve taken, this is the one they succeeded at the most. 

1.  Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads (New Wave) – 1980

Remain in Light may not be as consistent as the last two Talking Head’s albums, but when the songs are good, they’re great, far better than anything they’ve ever done.  Here David Byrne has concocted the perfect new wave pop song.  

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