The 80s — Music

I enjoyed myself during the late 1970s, but when I hit the 80’s was when I hit my stride.  No other way to put it:  I ruled.  Successful business career, band was playing up a storm, a “stable” of girlfriends — what later came to be called “friends with benefits” (we just called each other “friends”); and in the middle of that decade, I moved over to the U.S. to start all over again.

All this took place with a fantastic soundtrack, and here it is, Kim’s Top 50.  (I started off adding links to the songs, but in many cases, the links had either disappeared or the video been taken down.  So if you see a title you want to listen to, just look it up in YouTube or whatever.)  The songs are in no specific order.

  1. Red Red Wine — UB40
  2. More Than This — Roxy Music
  3. Vienna — Ultravox
  4. The Way It Is — Bruce Hornsby & The Range
  5. Sledgehammer — Peter Gabriel
  6. Stepping Out — Joe Jackson
  7. Everybody Wants To Rule The World — Tears For Fears
  8. Something About You — Level 42
  9. Angel Of The Morning — Juice Newton
  10. Higher Love — Steve Winwood
  11. Touch and Go — Emerson Lake & Powell
  12. Why Can’t This Be Love — Van Halen
  13. Dance Hall Days — Wang Chung
  14. Summer of ’69 — Bryan Adams
  15. Run To You –Bryan Adams
  16. Sussudio — Phil Collins
  17. The Confessor — Joe Walsh
  18. You Can Call Me Al — Paul Simon
  19. Would I Lie To You? — Eurythmics
  20. St. Elmo’s Fire — John Parr
  21. Tainted Love — Soft Cell
  22. Roseanna — Toto
  23. Wildest Dreams — Moody Blues (a little 70s follow-through, there)
  24. Don’t You (Forget About Me) — Simple Minds
  25. Under Pressure — David Bowie & Queen
  26. Sweet Child O’ Mine — Guns ‘N Roses
  27. Upside Down — Diana Ross
  28. 9 to 5 — Dolly Parton
  29. Bette Davis Eyes — Kim Carnes
  30. Maneater — Hall & Oates
  31. Africa — Toto
  32. Cars — Gary Numan
  33. What About Love — Heart
  34. The Girl Can’t Help It — Journey
  35. One Night In Bangkok — Murray Head
  36. Tuff Enuff — The Fabulous Thunderbirds
  37. Let’s Go Crazy — Prince
  38. Power Of Love — Huey Lewis & The News
  39. Part Time Lover –Stevie Wonder
  40. Addicted To Love — Robert Palmer
  41. Things Can Only Get Better — Howard Jones
  42. You Give Love A Bad Name — Bon Jovi
  43. Walking On Sunshine — Katrina & The Waves
  44. She Drives Me Crazy — Fine Young Cannibals
  45. Easy Lover — Philip Bailey, Phil Collins
  46. Dancing In the Dark — Bruce Springsteen
  47. If You Don’t Know Me By Now — Simply Red
  48. Hazy Shade of Winter — The Bangles (I know:  ancient song, but Susannah Hoffs)
  49. Voices Carry — ‘Til Tuesday
  50. Wouldn’t It Be Good — Nik Kershaw

Every single one of the above songs evokes a memory of a time, a place or a person, and every single one of them is absolutely wonderful.


  1. I think you’re a few months older than me, but I too hit my long stride in the 80’s. Roamed the world the first few years of that decade, then fucked it all up and got married in 84, then started an architectural design business in 1986, and kept moving forward (and still). As a player (guitar and keys) music was always a heavy part of my life and my wife was always enthused likewise. I can relate with quite a few of the toons you mentioned.

  2. I was on the air in radio for quite some time. I interviewed Hall & Oates about 25 yrs ago, & Oates told a story about the We Are The World session. He said he & Paul Simon were looking around at all the big names, and Simon quipped “Wow. If a bomb goes off in here, John Denver’s back on top.”

    1. Speaking of Paul Simon….. The Bangles did a far better job with “Hazy Shade of Winter” than Simon and Garfunkel did, with or without Suzannah Hoffs. IMHO.

  3. Bette Davis Eyes — Kim Carnes, lots of good songs listed but this one might have been my favorite, thank you. I have no idea what kind of songs the last two decades have given the maggoty=assed world, the newer stuff does not sound like music to my old ears.

    1. since about 1990 there are computer programs that analyze what it is that the music buyers like, and the music is put it together from there (kind of like meals planned by five year-olds, if you ask me). That’s where the boy bands and all this homogenized music came from.

  4. I grew up in the Golden Age of Rock n’ Roll, 1956-75. Best music EVER, IMHO. Reviewing your list, I’m surprised to find I would probably agree with about a third of your choices. Who’d a thought. While the ’80s are pretty much dead to me musically, there are still some songs I’ll listen to.

    there is one more blow to me: we have a radio station here that has billed itself as an “oldies” station for some 50 years or so, that now figures that “oldies” means from the 80s and 90s.

  5. Your list? Yes, every one. Saw Level 42 at our local tiny theatre, in their very early days. Can’t remember if we paid or not, but if so, it wasn’t even a fiver. Couldn’t have been more than 60 people there, if that, and all we knew most of them. Had an utter blast that night, with a gang of about 15 mates and girlfriends. Felt like a private gig what with the banter and singing back and forth. The Chinese Way was ‘our’ song. A year later, you couldn’t get Level 42 tickets for love nor money.

    1. “Can’t remember if we paid or not, but if so, it wasn’t even a fiver.”
      In the 70’s and early 80’s the 30-40 concerts I went to were always in the $6-$10 range and then by the mid 80’s they started creeping upwards. The last concert I went to, about 10 years ago, was a miserable outside venue featuring RUSH (greatest band ever BTW) and 2 tickets under general admission were a little over $200. The T-shirt cost $45 and 2 bottles of water were $5 each, as they took the ones we brought while doing the shake down inspection upon entry. The audience were animals and we were so far from the stage that the players were about 1/8″ tall. Horrible all the way around. I’ll never go again, cept maybe for a very small inside venue at a reasonable cost. Not likely to happen.

  6. I agree 100%. That’s the soundtrack of my teenage years. They bring a smile to my face every time.

  7. Off the top of my head:

    “The Look” Roxette.
    “Suddenly Last Summer” The Motels
    “Behind the Wall of Sleep” The Smithereens
    “Lonely is the Night” Billy Squier
    “Smooth Operator” Sade
    “Turn up the Radio” Autograph
    “Copperhead Road” Steve Earle

    And everything by Everything But the Girl.

  8. Technical foul. Gary Numan’s “Cars” came out in 1979 (August 21, 1979 according to Wiki

    I KNOW, I was dropping TONS of quarters to it at a burger place my step-dad, who married my mom in May of 1979 and became “Dad”, and uncle and the rest of the adult soft ball team they played on in summer league would go to after games (RIP The Scuttlebutt).

    Don’t dislike many of those songs (well, except for Springsteen…really never cared for him, still don’t), and I even got to see a few of them (Wang Chung opening for The Cars, RIP Ben Orr and Ric Ocasek, on their 1984 Heartbeat City tour, Level42 a few years later at a small club in Santa Clara, CA, RIP One Step Beyond….I’m noticing a trend with RIP here.

    On a side note, Dolly Parton was one of the headliners at the first concert I was taken to with my mother, brother and one of my mom’s friends at a Day On The Green in the Oakland Coliseum in May, 1977

    1. I could never understand the mega-hit that is Springsteen.
      He can’t sing.
      His lyrics are unimaginative.
      His tunes are mediocre at best.
      I liken him to Goebbels’ “The Big Lie”
      Back in ’76 or ’77 a friend of mine invited me over to hear his first album and said, “You should hear this guy! He’s gonna be HUGE!”
      I listened and thought, “No fucking way.”

      1. I 2nd that emotion re: Springsteen, and nominate Bon Jovi in the same category. His voice has a strained quality that makes him sound perpetually constipated, and his lyrics sound like they were written by a 9 yr old with a rhyming dictionary.

  9. I wrote on these august pages of my 1953 Austin Healey with the Chevy V-8 and massive gumballs.

    After a rally in Napa California sometime around 1970 or so, we decided to take only one-lane roads back to the mountains east of Sacramento.
    A foggy evening, we stopped in an isolated tavern in the middle of noplace in the vague vicinity of the Sacramento River delta.
    On stage was The Four Tops practicing their routines… to an audience of five including the cook and barkeep.
    I still enjoy SUGAR PIE, HONEY BUNCH.

    I look forward to just about anything by Marshall Tucker Band.

    But my all-time favorite go-to is Brahms 118-2… from the 1880s.
    If they aren’t playing it at my funeral, I’m not going.

  10. With you on about 80% of these. Never could stand Bruce Hornsby though. Whiny social justice music that seems to last 20 minutes too long.

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