Since I'm told the people like the 1980s and can't get enough of them, I've decided to look into the first half of the decade and pull out the most popular songs of the era.
Never mind the underground, here's the pop chart.
Cogent commentators can make sense out of this stuff, but I don't think anything means anything. It's all crap. Music happens and money and power and people's tastes mix together until a bizarre consensus is reached and everyone can go home.
Sure, college radio rose up during these years and bands not listed here came to prominence with their albums, but this list is what you heard everywhere. Black Flag were known to a small circle of friends, while the rest of the world was still sucking up the Air Supply. But grab your legwarmers, baby, the night's getting cold.
25) Funkytown -- Lipps Inc (1980): This was a novelty hit for the kids in my neighborhood, who were all sworn in denim rockers! But dang if they didn't gravitate towards the hook. We all want to be brainwashed! We just don't know it!
24) Coming Up -- Paul McCartney (1980): The video is one for the ages and made before there was an MTV to show it on. I likely saw it on Casey Kasem's TV show, America's Top Ten, which was the only reason to get out of bed before noon. Nice shout-out to Sparks, too.
23) It's Still Rock and Roll To Me -- Billy Joel (1980): Even a non-Billy Joel fan such as myself has to give him this one. I spent half the summer thinking this must be what Joe Jackson sounded like. Then I heard Joe Jackson and I still thought this was his. Ah, youth. Honey, where's my bright orange pair of pants?
22) Magic -- Olivia Newton John (1980): Young kids thought Olivia was new, so imagine the surprise when they raided mommy's album chest and found Have You Never Been Mellow? You mean there was life before I got here? Freaky!
21) Sailing -- Christopher Cross (1980): CC was the Grammy's pick for Best New Artist at a time when it could just as easily have fallen into the hands of Elvis Costello. Well, thank heavens that didn't happen.
20) Bette Davis' Eyes -- Kim Carnes (1981): Everyone who originally thought this was Rod Stewart raise their hands? Yep, exactly what I thought. All that sperm being pumped out of his stomach must've made him sound a little girly. But, no, that all turned out to be untrue and the song was sung by Kim Carnes who made "floor-slapping" the hot new trend of 1981!
19) Medley: Venus / Sugar Sugar / Stars On 45 -- Stars On 45 (1981): What do the Shocking Blue's "Venus," the Archies' "Sugar Sugar" and a bunch of Beatles songs all have in common? This hit single by one of those artists who likely had a career making those 8-tracks that were "simulated to sound like your favorite stars." The music business is run by saints, I tell you.
18) The One That You Love -- Air Supply (1981): Soft rock wasn't just for the early 1970s. It persisted well into the 1980s. Who let all these middle-aged straights into the record store, huh?
17) Jessie's Girl -- Rick Springfield (1981): Give the General Hospital star his due. This tune works alright. He really played that guitar, too. I mean, he looked like he was hard at work.
16) Endless Love -- Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (1981): More soft rock for the people. Another song that no one could ever get away from. Who needed to see the movie? The song told you all you needed to know.
15) Ebony and Ivory -- Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder (1982): A tune this well-intentioned was bound to be parodied. So when Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo performed their song together on Saturday Night Live, you could almost dock it a point for already being done in your mind. Or maybe you were genuinely moved.
14) Don't You Want Me -- The Human League (1982): Who cares if they have another song that's any good? This one is so perfect in its mechanical dorkiness that you must surrender yourself to the machine. No, seriously, you have to.
13) Eye of The Tiger -- Survivor (1982): I may have to reconsider the early 1980s. This song is easily as good as the entire back catalog of the Mamas and the Papas and a few of those Steppenwolf hits. Nearly as good as Three Dog Night. I have the math to prove it, but I'm not allowed to show my work.
12) Abracadabra -- The Steve Miller Band (1982): This song went to #1, it fell back, and then retook the position. All this over a latter-day Steve Miller tune. But you know what song it was fighting? "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago, which held the top slot for two weeks in September. It was a fight worth waging.
11) Flashdance…What A Feeling -- Irene Cara (1983): Everytime I see a young lady with an off-the-shoulder top, I think of Irene Cara. The shoulder I never found, I think of Irene Cara.
10) Every Breath You Take -- The Police (1983): I'm old-fashioned. I liked this song better before those other guys decided to talk over it.
9) Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) -- Eurythmics (1983): It's a good thing this song was a huge hit before big screen TVs were all the rage. I think if we had been exposed to Annie Lennox's head at a greater dimension, we may have exploded.
8) Let's Hear It For The Boy -- Deniece Williams (1984): I'm sure Deniece is a lovely person. But if I may be honest, I never really wanted to hear it for the boy. Did I hate the boy? I'll let you decide.
7) Time After Time -- Cyndi Lauper (1984): Let me impart a personal moment here. It was 1984. I was up in the early morning, a time I consider to be the right time to go to bed, not to be waking. I sat at the breakfast table and threw down a bowl of Golden Grahams. My hair was still wet from washing it in the sink. My father sat at the head of the table. He told me I was grumpy in the morning. This song played nearly every morning that I went to school that year. I couldn't have worse memories of this song if I associated it with jury duty.
6) The Reflex -- Duran Duran (1984): This was Duran Duran's first #1 Billboard Pop Hit. The other would be "A View To A Kill." Not the wolf song. Not Rio. Not even Ordinary World. What do any of us really know about one another?
5) When Doves Cry -- Prince (1984): Sometimes it's not easy being purple. But he earned this one.
4) Ghostbusters -- Ray Parker, Jr. (1984): You will notice a song often becomes hugely popular because people hear it in a film and can't get it out of their heads. To relieve the pressure building in their brains, they go out into the world and purchase the soundtrack album and have their obsessions satisfied. They now make a pill for this.
3) Everybody Wants To Rule The World -- Tears For Fears (1985): I don't if "everybody" wants to rule the world, but Tears for Fears certainly had a plan and stuck to it. 1985 was their year. Supposedly, they're still together, but I think we had them killed.
2) Sussudio -- Phil Collins (1985): I'm told lots of people got into Phil's music via Miami Vice and I can see how that would favorably dispose them to liking Mr. Ordinary. Long before The Office gave voice to the frustrated cubicle worker, Phil Collins was that voice. When he whined, we whined. And when he got crazy, well, we tagged along. "Sussudio"? Oh, Phil!! What does that even mean?
1) Shout -- Tears for Fears (1985): Pardon me a moment for thinking this would make for a great laundry detergent jingle. I can't help it. I'm a marketing guru. Where others hear simple, pleasurable melodies, I hear limitless possibilities. Can you imagine how many units of product these Tears for Fears fellas could sell for a company willing to spend the money? Capitalism makes everything better.