I graduated high school in 1989 so I spent a lot of my childhood and teen years in the 1980’s. That means that the music from that decade really shaped me into who I am today; a punk/goth weirdo. Does that mean that I only listened to punk and goth music during that time? Of course not! I started listening to the genres in around 1986, and I was also listening to all kinds of different bands during this time period. These are not in any kind of order and I will state the date these songs were released next to their names and song titles. I will try to remember the year I first heard them, or at least try to because that was a long time ago!
CLANNAD – THEME FROM HARRY’S GAME (1982)
It was around 1986 that I first heard this song. I was heavily into U2 during that time and I had read about Clannad in an article about U2 in which Bono mentioned liking them and some other Irish bands. I bought a Clannad compilation after reading that and this song became my favourite by them. Harry’s Game was a British mini-series set around Belfast during the Troubles, so this song has an added haunted quality to it. My mom and I went to see Clannad live in 1988 and they were a great live band.
CHRISTIAN BOY – ROBERT SEIDLER (1985)
I honestly don’t remember exactly what year I heard this because I remember it being played all of the time on SF Bay Area alternative radio stations during the late 80’s. I didn’t know who the heck played this song until the internet came along. That would actually happen quite a lot back then, you would love a song played at a club or on the radio and would never catch the name of who made it. What has always made this song memorable for for me is the lyric ‘No more scooter rides in the cemetery’. Scooters were very trendy among alternative type people and only weirdos would hang out in cemeteries back then so this is very much a song of the 80’s. I think this song only got popular on the U. S. West Coast because I have met people from the East Coast in the past who have never heard of it.
WHITE LINES – GRANDMASTER FLASH & MELLE MEL (1983)
I remember hearing this when I lived in San Francisco as a young teen, and since I left there in late 84 it had to have been before then. I have always loved the bassline in this song so much and it has got to be one of the most recognizable ones to come out of the 80’s. When I started to go to alternative clubs in 1988 all of them would play this and it was definitely a floor filler. White Lines is very obviously all about cocaine and how popular it was during that time.
THRILLER – MICHAEL JACKSON (1982)
First off I would like to state for the record that I don’t believe the molestation accusations made against him. Mainly because most, if not all, of the accusations have been easily disproved. With all of that being said I remember hearing this right around the time it came out and I would rush home from school to watch the long version of this play on MTV after it debuted in 1983. MTV would literally show this video all day. No joke! The main reason why I loved this song so much was because of how spooky it was. Growing up I had always loved ghost stories and The Adams Family series was my favourite show. It felt like this song spoke to me!
U2 – NEW YEAR’S DAY (1983)
I have written a lot on here about my love of U2’s post-punk 80’s albums and this song is always within the top five of my favourite songs by them. It just depends on my mood as to which is my favourite. I remember first seeing, and hearing, the video of this song on MTV back when it came out so that would be in 1983. The landscape of the video is breathtaking and the piano playing in the song itself is haunting. To this day, almost forty years later, I still get goosebumps when I hear the intro of it.
WHEN I HEAR MUSIC – DEBBIE DEB (1983)
When I would go to school dances with my friends in high school this would be one of the only songs that I would like and actually dance to. This song is just soooooo 80’s. When you hear it you just can’t mistake it for a modern song because of all of the basic sound effects, my favourite being the laser blasts. When goth dj’s spin ‘ironic’ type songs they should include this one because it’s so much fun to dance to and the beat is really good. I must have heard this around 85 because I remember only hearing it at high school dances. She also did another cool song called Look Out Weekend.
PRINCE – CONTROVERSY (1981)
I love the hell out of 80’s Prince. This man made more good music during that period than any other artist of the time in my opinion. Some come close but nobody made songs like he did. I picked this one because it has always been my favourite due to the subject matter and just how funky it sounds. I don’t remember when I first heard this but it had to be in the early 80’s because I knew who he was when I was in junior high. He has many fans among both the goth and punk subcultures because he marched to the beat of his own drum and wasn’t afraid of doing his own thing. RIP
A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS – SPACE AGE LOVE SONG (1982)
This has always been my favourite A Flock Of Seagulls song because the guitar playing is beautiful and the lyrics pull at my heartstrings. They are perhaps one of the most underrated bands, new wave or otherwise, to come out of the 80’s. Everybody only paid attention to Mike Score’s hair instead of on the actual music. He has said that he regrets his hairstyles because of that which is a shame. The band as a whole made some great music and will always hold a place in my heart. I must have first heard this sometime in the early 80’s because I just remember always knowing this song and singing along with it whenever I heard it.
THE GAP BAND – YOU DROPPED A BOMB ON ME (1982)
I have mentioned The Gap Band on here before because they were just so damn full of catchy songs. I must have heard this right after it came out because I have memories of hearing this way back when. Yet another song that is fun as hell to dance to. I like how this video cements the song into being from the 80’s because of the obvious Cold War references and the innocent dancing of the fully clothed chick towards the end of it.
2 LIVE CREW – ME SO HORNY (1987)
Another really fun son to dance to! I heard this first at alternative clubs in the late 80’s, because many radio stations refused to play it. This song caused so much controversy that the band were threatened with arrest if they played it, and they played it anyway. They won battles against the PMRC and the US government and championed the first amendment. This alone made me like them because it took balls back then to stand up against the conservative racist Reagan administration. There were a couple of other 80’s songs that I liked by them but this one is the best in my opinion. Best use of a sample EVER!