The 80s were a special time. The Walkman arrived and music was bursting at the seams. It was goodbye to disco, and hello synth-pop, house, and more. A 2010 survey by Music Choice revealed that the 1980s is the most beloved tune decade of the last 50 years – and it’s easy to see why. The 80s saw the birth of MTV, which meant music videos and image become a vital part in creating music, leaving us with some classic – sometimes cheesy – music videos. Unlike many other lists around listing the best songs of the 80s, we wanted to throw a curve ball and list 10 forgotten 80s songs. So let’s get this party started!
Yazoo – Don’t Go – 1982
This duo really took advantage of the electro rise, and created some funky tunes. Consisting of producer and songwriter Vince Clarke and former-pub singer Alison Moyet. They were praised for the blending of Clarke’s synthesizer melodies with Moyet’s blues influenced voice. We selected the ultimate classic Don’t Go. This song immediately grabs your attention. Goodbye long-winded intros – this song hasn’t got time for it. After the band broke up in 1984, both went on two have successful music careers.
Men at Work – Down Under – 1981
This song is a definite curve ball. The Australian band added a new vibe to the 80s with their prominent flute hook. The song is full with slang from their native land, and even references veggie-mite (salty, black paste only a native could love). In short, the song talks about an Australian’s experience travelling the globe – the man from Down Under .The band ran in to trouble in 2007 when they were sued by Larriken Music for a copyright infringement. They claimed it stole the melody from the classic children’s song Kookaburra song, which they owned the rights to. Despite losing the case, many failed to see the relation between the two songs.
Cyndi Lauper – True Colours – 1986
Cyndi wasn’t a girl who just wanted to have fun. She dedicated this song to a good friend who died of AIDs during the crisis in the 80s. She has since setup a shelter focused on rehabilitating the homeless by the same name as the song. Lauper did once claim that this song inspired the gay flag, however, considering that the flag was created a decade before, this statement is questionable. Many of us are perhaps more the familiar with the Phil Collins’ version of this song, but that was released a decade later.
New Order – Blue Monday – 1983
After the passing of Joy Division lead singer, Ian Curtis, the band New Order was created together with new members. And out of the darkness came a light. They slowly left the hard-core, punk imagine behind and became more electric with their sound. This song is claimed to have helped bring Synth-pop into the mainstream. The band remixed the song multiple times with the 1988 remix charting well across the world. Apparently, the song was strongly influenced by Donna Summer’s hit Our Love.
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Eurythmics – There Must Been An Angle – 1985
One of the biggest duos of the 80s, Eurythmics, provided us with hit after hit, however, here’s a classic that we often forget. When you hear a song like this it doesn’t sound like a typical 80s song. The background music does, but the use of Annie Lennox’s vocals power over and create a unique track that is instantly recognisable. Try and find a song similar to this.
David Bowie – Modern Love – 1983
Bowie, if anything, was a man of diversity. Exploding on to the music scene in the early 70s as an alien from Mars, he soon went under many transformations and musical changes that never stopped. The 80s for Bowie were, commercially, very successful, with some of his biggest hits like Modern Love and Let’s Dance being released. Nobody can resist this feel-good, dance track.
Kim Wilde – Kids in America – 1981
This debut track from Kim Wilde was actually written for her by her brother, who had also attempted to top the charts himself. Despite being called “We’re the Kids in the America” – it was written and sung by the English. Just like in the 60s with Rock and Roll, the 80s saw another British invasion into the US. In the case of Kim Wilde, it worked, reaching 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. But you can tell this song was created to break in to the US.
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ABBA – The Day Before You Came – 1981
This song isn’t among ABBA’s most beloved classics, but there are two reason why this song stands out. Firstly, it is the last ever single to be released by the Swedish band. Secondly, the structure of the song is unlike any of their other material or other music around. No chorus, no bridge, just a running text. Someone in the studio for this recording marked how the atmosphere was melancholic, knowing that when Agnetha (who sings the track) left the studio, she would probably never return as a part of ABBA.
Blondie – Rapture – 1980
Blondie had a number of hits throughout the late 1970s and 80s. However, we’ve picked Rapture as it is recognised as the first ever rap-style song to feature on the US charts. Who would have thought that, lead singer, Debbie Harris would lay the foundation for some of the biggest names in the rap industry?
Dire Straits – Money for Nothing – 1985
There’s a lot to be said about this classic. Firstly, it’s one of the first animated music videos of all time. Two, the song was inspired when the lead singer, Mark Knopfler, saw builders watching TV through a window shop and not working. Third, the use of the word “faggot” in the song caused outrage as it was deemed homophobic. When performing live the band often avoid using the word. That said, this is a great song and the band’s most successful.
Tom Petty – Free Falling – 1989
What a song. What a man. Together with his band the Heartbreakers, this rock legend provided some classic soft rock that entered all of our homes. He is one of the world’s best selling artists. Sadly, the singer past in 2017, due to an accidental overdose. According to his wife, he was trying to numb his hip that had be fractured for some time. We selected this classic, despite it’s unforgettable sound, this song isn’t one that pops up often at 80s parties.
Thanks to new technology, new sounds and music were entering the mainstream. And due to the birth of MTV, sound suddenly needed a clear image, leaving us with some great fashion highlights. We hope we reconnected with you to a song that you completely forgot about. Please share us your hidden treasures from the 80s. And make sure to stay tuned to read about what we discovered in the 90s.