What’s weird about 1985 is I stopped listening to music for a brief period in the mid 80s. Now, about 25 years later, I know why. 1985 rivals the other odd numbered years of the 80s so far by sucking really bad. Whatever 1984 had built, 1985 destroyed. Rap gets a little better, the Beastie Boys debut and “alternative rock” gets a little better, but I can’t say there’s one good album that came out in 1985.
50. You Talk Too Much – Run DMC (Rap)85
How awesome is it that it takes Run DMC over six minutes to tell someone that they’re talking too much?
49. You’re In Love – Ratt (Butt Rock)85
I’m aware I probably like Ratt more than I should.
48. Cruiser’s Creek – The Fall (Punk)85
47. Walk of Life – Dire Straits (Rock)85
… clips of sporting events in which athletes make the blooper real …
46. Power of Love – Huey Lewis & The News (Pop Rock)85
45. Rock Hard – The Beastie Boys (Rap)85
This is basically just “Back in Black” with a drum machine … actually, there’s no “basically about it.”
44. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves (Pop)85
I’m probably only including this because I saw High Fidelity again recently. Better book, great movie.
43. My Brain is Hanging Upside-Down – The Ramones (Punk)85
42. Celebrated Summer – Husker Du (Punk)85
41. Spike – Tom Petty (Alt-Country)85
This is a pretty nice find if you’re looking for more obscure Tom Petty songs.
40. Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush (New Wave)85
39. In and Out of Love – Bon Jovi (Butt Rock)85
38. Never Understand – The Jesus and Mary Chain (Alternative Rock)85
This almost has some kind of surf rock thing under the awful noise that eventually takes over what would be a great post-Ramones kind of punk song.
37. In Between Days – The Cure (Alternative Rock)85
36. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen (Folk Rock)85
I’d like this song more if it weren’t for the repetitive gospel chorus. It’s always great hearing Lenny’s voice though.
35. Pair of Brown Eyes – The Pogues (Celtic)85
34. The Show – Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew (Rap)85
Slick Rick is to the Get Fresh Crew and Doug E. Fresh as Snoop Dogg is to the Dogg Pound and Dr. Dre. That’s my simile for the day.
33. Downtown Train – Tom Waits (Rock)85
32. Makes No Sense at All – Husker Du (Punk)85
31. Bring on the Dancing Horses – Echo and the Bunnymen (Alternative Rock)85
30. Love Vigilantes – New Order (Alternative Rock)85
29. Just Like Honey – The Jesus and Mary Chain (Alternative Rock)85
When they don’t feedback you to death, they make some decent music.
28. Death Valley ’69 – Sonic Youth (Alternative Rock)85
Wow. These guys are pretty intense.
27. And She Was – Talking Heads (Pop Rock)85
26. The Perfect Kiss – New Order (Synthpop)85
25. Under Mi Sleng Teng – Wayne Smith (Dance Hall)85
The beginning of dance hall!!!!! Yes, I only added exclamation points because Dance Hall is up there on my least favorite genres of music list.
24. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) – Pet Shop Boys (Synthpop)85
23. Close to Me – The Cure (New Wave)85
It pains me that I can’t label this as goth, but there’s some kind of vibraphone kinda thing going on here which gives it a happier feel than your typical Cure song.
22. Here I Come – Barrington Levy (Dance Hall)85
21. Bastards of Young – The Replacements (Alternative Rock)85
20. Axel F – Harold Faltenmeyer (Synthpop)85
Eddie Murphy chasing bad guys alert! Eddie Murphy chasing bad guys alert!
19. I Can’t Live Without My Radio – LL Cool J (Rap)85
1985 is the beginning of the ladies loving cool James.
18. PSK What Does it Mean – Schoolly D (Rap)85
This guy is sort of the first “gangsta” guy, but by today’s standards, he’s not really that gangsta.
17. Don’t Come Around Here No More – Tom Petty (Psychedelic Rock)85
Believe or not, at this point, there hasn’t been a semi-popular psychedelic song since Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in 1986.
16. Lay It Down – Ratt (Butt Rock)85
15. Jockey Full of Bourbon – Tom Waits (Latin)85
14. Rock the Bells – LL Cool J (Rap)85
“You bring the woodpecker, I’ll bring the wood” … NICE!
13. Madhouse – Anthrax (Heavy Metal)85
It’s incredible how heavy this sounded then versus how heavy it sounds now.
12. Dirty Old Town – The Pogues (Celtic)85
11. Between the Wars – Billy Bragg (Folk)85
Though is voice is a little annoying, I love the Phil Ochs feel of this song.
10. King of Rock – Run DMC (Rap)85
9. She’s On It – Beastie Boys (Rap)85
I’m not sure if their rapping skills are as good as other rappers of this era, but the rhyme exchanging trumps anything else any other rapper is doing.
8. She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult (Alternative Rock)85
7. Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds (New Wave)85
I used to think this song had a special thing with my graduating class of high school AND college. It never dawned on me that this is your token “graduating class song” for pretty much anyone who remembers 1985.
6. Johnny Come Home – Fine Young Cannibals (Ska)85
I had never really heard this song before, but it's pretty darn good.
5. West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys (Synthpop)85
4. Gucci Time – Schoolly D (Rap)85
Schoolly is probably the first guy to drop the “N” word in a rap song, well, except for that fateful 1984 rap album entitled “The KKK Raps!”
3. La-Di-Da-Di – Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick (Rap)85
Doug E. Fresh’s beat boxing is pretty awesome. If you’ve never beat-boxed in public, you’re missing out.
2. Time – Tom Waits (Folk)85
This almost sounds like Leonard Cohen in his prime. His Oscar the Grouch voice is also very restrained here, which is really my only problem with Mr. Waits. I’m sure people who love him get used to it the same way I got used to Isaac Brock’s voice, or to a lesser extent, Tom Kiefer’s.
1. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits (Rock)85
Aside from this being a great pop song, that guitar riff is pretty bad ass. The fact that this is my favorite song of 1985 though, is the exclamation point of how crappy of a year this was for music. 1986 is looking up though with Licensed to Ill.