The '80s are a bit of a lost decade for me, musically speaking. I didn't get to experience much of it as it was happening due to parental restrictions. Looking back after the fact revealed, frankly, a lot of rubbish. No decade is bereft of music with merit and today for reasons unknown to me, I'm in the mood to sift through it and share a few of my favorites with you.
I tried to stay away from bands like Duran Duran, who I love, who had a series of big hits. These aren't one-hit wonders and the songs aren't obscure because they were all hits in their time. I wanted to mix it up and give you songs that I love to listen to and sing along with and perhaps dig up tunes that maybe you haven't thought about in ages. This list could have been a hell of a lot longer than five songs and maybe I'll circle back and do a sequel or two to this list but for today, here are five songs from the '80s that don't suck.
- :"No One Is To Blame" - Howard Jones: Jonathan Tropper and I both love this song and we are right. The Edge recently said if a song can't stand on its own with just voice and acoustic guitar, it's probably not very good. You can strip away the '80s synth and take this down to Jones' voice and piano and it big time holds up. This song is a hit in any era no matter how you dress it up. The deeper I dig, the more this one means to me. It means more now than ever and it always will. I can listen to this song every day and probably should.
- "Your Love" - The Outfield: It's a shame these guys didn't have a few more hits. I love the power pop guitar hooks and the great harmonies in the songs that did chart. This was the biggest hit of the bunch and it's obvious why but "All The Love In The World" and "Winning It All" were also great. I love the guitar sound, riff, solo, haromies- everything about this song is brilliant. I wish there were a place in pop music for power pop songs with choruses and guitars alongside beats and AutoTune.
- "Alive & Kicking" - Simple Minds: I realize that last sentence made me sound like a grumpy old man shouting at kids to stay off the lawn but that's not entirely true but I'm going to further that narrative when I say among the slang terms being popularized today that I loathe with the heat of a nova is the term "swag" (it's short for swagger if you're even grouchier than me and hadn't heard it). That said, I can hear swagger -- swag, if you insist -- in James Kerr's voice. There's a cocksure coolness in his delivery, particularly as the song pulls back and surges at the end.
- "Life In A Northern Town" - The Dream Academy: I remember this from my childhood -- my parents couldn't hermetically seal us from the music of the day despite their considerable efforts -- and it always made me so sad. There's such a melancholy air. I don't know what the song is about. I don't know what they are chanting in the chorus. I don't know why the lead singer repeats the refrain "Make it easy on yourself" repeatedly as the song fades out but I can tell you it's a refrain I wish I would embrace in my daily life. It seems counterintuitive but I'm working on making it easier on myself. I'll get back to you on how that works out.
- "Lay Your Hands On Me" - Thompson Twins: This one holds up better than I thought it would all these years later. Genius level? No, but I love the insistent bass line in the verses and the surge into the chorus. I'm also a sucker for harmony. Of course the guitar mischief in the middle eight is absurd but so was the decade, the costumes, and the era that spawned this.