Saturday, May 05, 2012

The 100 Best Singles of the 1980s

I wish I'd never bothered to look at NME's recently published list of "The 100 Best Songs of the 1980s."  Since I innocently jumped down that vexing rabbit hole earlier this week, I've spent about eight hours creating the following list.  I was initially impressed by NME's effort, mostly because it reminded me of songs like "Buffalo Stance" that I hadn't thought of in years.  Stereogum provides a user-friendly version of NME's list.  Even so, I quickly realized that it only partially represented the music that consumed me during the decade.  Consequently, less than two dozen of NME's choices survived my cut.  Lest my list be dominated by M.J. and Prince, I decided to include only one song per artist.  I also required that each selection was officially released as a single.  And in order to actually complete this silly exercise, I didn't consider international acts like Fela and Juan Luis Guerra. In spite of its preposterous title, my list doesn't represent the "best" singles of the era.  Instead, it compiles the songs I loved most.

Here's the corresponding Spotify playlist.  (Only a few of my selections aren't available at the streaming service.)

1. Bob Marley- "Redemption Song"
2. Public Enemy- "Bring the Noise"
3. Michael Jackson- "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
4. George Clinton- "Atomic Dog"
5. Talking Heads- "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)"
6. Prince- "1999"
7. Lakeside- "Fantastic Voyage"
8. Tracy Chapman- "Fast Car"
9. Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
10. George Jones- "He Stopped Loving Her Today"
11. Teddy Pendergrass- "Love T.K.O."
12. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five- "The Message"
13. R.E.M.- "Radio Free Europe"
14. Z.Z. Hill- "Cheatin' In the Next Room"
15. Slayer-"Raining Blood"
16. X- "The Once Over Twice"
17. Def Leppard- "Photograph"
18. Maze- "Back In Stride"
19. AC/DC – “Back In Black”
20. LL Cool J- "Going Back To Cali"
21. Motorhead- "Ace of Spades"
22. NWA – “Straight Outta Compton”
23. John Mellencamp- "Check It Out"
24. Marvin Gaye- "Sexual Healing"
25. Newcleus- "Jam On It"
26. Cyndi Lauper – “Time After Time”
27. Faith No More – “We Care A Lot”
28. The Pogues- "A Pair of Brown Eyes"
29. Rick James- "Give It To Me Baby"
30. Madonna – “Like A Prayer”
31. Vern Gosdin- "Set 'em Joe"
32. Billy Bragg- "Greetings to the New Brunette"
33. The Smiths – “How Soon Is Now”
34. Sonic Youth – “Teen Age Riot”
35. Pete Townshend- "Rough Boys"
36. Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock- "It Takes Two"
37. The Specials – “Ghost Town”
38. Bruce Springsteen- "One Step Up"
39. Black Uhuru- "Sponji Reggae"
40. Dinosaur Jr – “Freak Scene”
41. Womack & Womack – “Teardrops”
42. The Embarrassment- "Sex Drive"
43. Merle Haggard- "Misery and Gin"
44. Run–D.M.C.- "King of Rock"
45. Guns 'N Roses- "Paradise City"
46. Boogie Down Productions- "My Philosophy"
47. Zapp- "More Bounce To the Ounce"
48. Van Halen- "Panama"
49. The Judds- "Why Not Me"
50. English Beat- "Save It For Later"
51. De La Soul- "Me, Myself & I"
52. Matthew Sweet- "Girlfriend"
53. EPMD- "You Gots To Chill"
54. Willie Nelson- "Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning"
55. Kool & the Gang- "Get Down On It"
56. John Hiatt- "Have a Little Faith In Me"
57. New Order – “Bizarre Love Triangle”
58. Tony! Toni! Tone!- "Little Walter"
59. The Replacements- "Alex Chilton"
60. Iron Maiden – “Run To The Hills”
61. Kurtis Blow- "The Breaks"
62. Sugarcubes – “Birthday”
63. The Beastie Boys- "Shadrach"
64. Dire Straits- "Romeo and Juliet"
65. Sade- "The Sweetest Taboo"
66. Randy Travis- "Diggin' Up Bones"
67. Psychedelic Furs- "The Ghost In You"
68. The Ramones- "Psycho Therapy"
69. Soul II Soul – “Back To Life”
70. Roxy Music- "More Than This"
71. The Pretenders- "Don't Get Me Wrong"
72. Smokey Robinson- "Being With You"
73. Ultramagnetic MC's- "Give the Drummer Some"
74. Metallica – “Master Of Puppets”
75. Salt N’ Pepa – “Push It”
76. The Pixies- "Here Comes Your Man"
77. Tears For Fears- "Woman In Chains"
78. Cameo- "She's Strange"
79. Los Lobos- "Will the Wolf Survive"
80. Roxanne Shante and Biz Markie- "The Def Fresh Crew"
81. Ozzy Osbourne- "Crazy Train"
82. Stevie Wonder- "Master Blaster"
83. The Undertones- "It's Going to Happen!"
84. The Cure – “Just Like Heaven”
85. Con Funk Shun- "Love's Train"
86. Gregory Isaacs- "Night Nurse"
87. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers- "Change of Heart"
88. Eddie Grant- "Electric Avenue"
89. Eric B. & Rakim – “Paid In Full”
90. Soundgarden- "Loud Love"
91. Motley Crue- "Shout At the Devil"
92. Joan Armatrading- "Drop the Pilot"
93. The Gap Band- "You Dropped a Bomb on Me"
94. Rolling Stones- "Waiting on a Friend"
95. The Rainmakers- "Downstream"
96. Devo- "Whip It"
97. J. Blackfoot- "Taxi"
98. Elvis Costello- "High Fidelity"
99. Herbie Hancock- "Rockit"
100. The Clash- "Bankrobber"

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)


Gary said...

J. Blackfoot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay! Discovered Taxi in reverse after hearing Bryan Ferry's version.

Happy In Bag said...

Wow, Gary, I'd never heard Ferry's version until this moment. Thanks! It's funny- I think one of the most suspect songs on my list is #70.

bgo said...

It's just my own taste speaking here but I think "Everywhere That I'm Not" by Translator should have been included.

Happy In Bag said...

Good call, BGO. And that opens up a can of worms that includes the db's and Romeo Void.

bigsteveno said...

Lots of good stuff here, but I've never understood the reverence for Redemption Song.

Happy In Bag said...

"Redemption Song" is more than the sum of its (admittedly flawed) parts, Steve.

bgo said...

Romeo Void? Why of course. I'd have slept with her even if she won't let me be a Facebook friend.