Barnable

Barnable

Comments

Barnable’s Most 80-est Number One Songs of the ‘80s. Not the brightest. Not the best. But the most-iconic examples of 80s sound, culture, and themes. Songs people immediately identify with the 80s and, perhaps, would never have been hits in any other decade. Don’t cry, TNOCS, because it is over. Smile because we shared the journey. 1. “Don’t You (Forget About Me” Simple Minds 2. “Don’t You Want Me” The Human League 3. “Take on Me” A-ha 4. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” Tears for Fears 5. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” Eurythmics 6. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Bonnie Tyler 7. “Karma Chameleon” Culture Club 8. “Come on Eileen” Dexys Midnight Runners 9. “Down Under” Men at Work 10. “Time after Time” Cyndi Lauper 11. “Beat It” Michael Jackson 12. “When Doves Cry” Prince 13. “Careless Whisper” Wham! 14. “The Reflex” Duran Duran 15. “Maneater” Hall and Oates 16. “Like a Virgin” Madonna 17. “With or Without You” U2 18. “Never Gonna Give You Up” Rick Astley 19. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” Whitney Houston 20. “Walk Like an Egyptian” The Bangles So, we have come to the end. Our list is finally complete. And what better and ironic way to document the excesses and exuberance of the ‘80s; the ecstasy and the originality; the glam, the hair, the power ballad, the metal, the shoulder pads, the indulgent videos, the soundtrack songs, the sax solos . . . than to end with a song with . . . none of that. A song that lands on the list, not based on its own merits, but because of what was to come. Tom still has nearly two years left of the ‘80s to cover in this column, yet, by completing the list, I seem to be implying that the ‘80s are over. I know we’ve debated this opinion before, but, to me, the pop music of this time period had become too fabricated, too pre-packaged, too bland, too commercialized especially compared to the burst of originality and creativity spawned by new acts taking advantage of this new medium we now call music videos. Maybe that was because, by this time, I had graduated from college and began “real life,” and music became less and less of an influence on my day-to-day activities. With respect to the song itself, “Never Gonna Give You Up” is a perfectly serviceable bit of pop escapism. No investment required. Just hum along. Nothing to really see here. What makes it stand out, however, is that voice. That deep baritone coming from someone who looks like Rick Astley. And that is what gives the song its charm. Nice enough, but rather forgettable. And then . . . Rick-rolling. For millennials and Gen Y, NGGYU is probably one of the best-known songs of the ‘80s now. So, that is it, my friends. No more anticipation. No more late nights for me. No more cheeky hints about the next song. I plan on re-posting this list at the end of the virtual ‘80s, including a list of honorable mentions. Let me know your nominations for what songs to consider, an opportunity for everyone to participate! Just remember my arbitrary rule, only one song per artist, but feel free to let me know if I’ve missed the mark for one of your favorite artists. I do feel, however, that the list does capture the essence of the ‘80s quite well. So, when your kids ask you what the ‘80s were all about, just play them Barnable’s Playlist of the 80-est Number One Songs of the ‘80s! The new job is working out great, and I’ve been incredibly and happily busy. I apologize for not being around as much, though I promise I have still been reading!
Did you see my callout to you, Brigit, in the top of the post. You'd identified this song way back when I said there were only 2 from 1987.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkDrIz4RyQo Is that a tuba they are rocking?
I LOVE these two Danny Wilson albums. There is no filler (even "Ruby's Golden Wedding" is a lark), and almost every song is a regular on my 80s playlist. I never understood why the band didn't stick. I hear they are making Sing Street into a musical a la "Once." Hopefully Gary Clark will get some love if that venture is as successful.
Barnable’s Most 80-est Number One Songs of the ‘80s. Not the brightest. Not the best. But the most-iconic examples of 80s sound, culture, and themes. Songs people immediately identify with the 80s and, perhaps, would never have been hits in any other decade. Ah, that key change. Brigit must have my number! 1. “Don’t You (Forget About Me” Simple Minds 2. “Don’t You Want Me” The Human League 3. “Take on Me” A-ha 4. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” Tears for Fears 5. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” Eurythmics 6. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Bonnie Tyler 7. “Karma Chameleon” Culture Club 8. “Come on Eileen” Dexys Midnight Runners 9. “Down Under” Men at Work 10. “Time after Time” Cyndi Lauper 11. “Beat It” Michael Jackson 12. “When Doves Cry” Prince 13. “Careless Whisper” Wham! 14. “The Reflex” Duran Duran 15. “Maneater” Hall and Oates 16. “Like a Virgin” Madonna 17. “With or Without You” U2 18. TBA 19. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” Whitney Houston 20. “Walk Like an Egyptian” The Bangles No list of the 80est Number One Songs of the 80s can be considered complete without an entry from late-80s Miss Houston. Just like Michael Jackson, Prince, Wham, Duran Duran, Madonna, and Hall & Oates, these artists defined the 80s and often it was difficult to choose the one song to represent each of these 80s icons on this list. And while IWDWS(WSWLM) may not be Whitney Houston’s best Number One Song, and far from best overall, I feel like it has endured the best and, at least on my 80s radio stations, continues to have the greatest airplay of her 80s Number Ones. And I’ll admit that the song does not highlight Houston’s vocal range, it does demonstrate the amazing control over which Houston has over her instrument. From sustained notes, to short percolating yips, Houston shows off amazing vocal control to emote loneliness, excitement, panic, and happiness, all within 3 ½ minutes of flawless pitch-perfect vocal gymnastics. Plus, she is backed by an infectious drum track that is sure to draw out even the most left-footedness of us to at least tap along, even if we don’t have somebody who loves us with whom to dance IYeah, not as poetic). And then there is that monster key change. What could be more 80s? And that is why IWDWS(WSWLM) sneaks onto Barnable’s List of the 80est Number One Songs of the 80s at #19. That leaves us with one final entry on this esteemed list, a final and lonely entry from 1988. I’ll leave you to debate what that might be. I just hope that I share this same sentiment with many other TNOCS here, and I’m not too shy to say it, but I will miss this little self-aggrandizing feature. I do have something else in mind for the 90s, though I suspect it won’t be as popular--but it is what got me through the 90s. Until next time, dear TNOCS!
Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds and Mike Nesmith's National First Band of America.
I also agree that the #1 list for the 90s is rather soporific.
I would agree that there are so many 80est songs that didn't hit number one I just took a list of the songs that did hit #1 and started whittling it down. With artists with multiple #1s, a tough decision had to be made. Ad long as I could justify my decision to you guys as the jury.
All I'll say is we won't have to wait too terribly long for the next one. The astute (mt58) have picked up on the fact that I always leave a little hint somewhere in the post to the next song. Not too obvious if you want to avoid spoilers.
And a lot of artists on the list have better songs that didn't hit #1 (The Police, Duran Duran, The Bangles, Culture Club).
The one song that comes to mind that I personally would have liked to go #1 would have been Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins.
I would have placed them both between 6ish and 10ish, based on the effects those songs would have had by going #1 in that alternate reality.
Not only that, two people with two different musical tastes agreed.
Barnable’s Most 80-est Number One Songs of the ‘80s. Not the brightest. Not the best. But the most-iconic examples of 80s sound, culture, and themes. Songs people immediately identify with the 80s and, perhaps, would never have been hits in any other decade. One of the few songs from the 80s I distinctly remember hearing for the first time. 1. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” Simple Minds 2. “Don’t You Want Me” The Human League 3. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” Tears for Fears 4. “Take on Me” A-ha 5. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” Eurythmics 6. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Bonnie Tyler 7. “Karma Chameleon” Culture Club 8. “Come on Eileen” Dexys Midnight Runners 9. “Down Under” Men At Work 10. “Time after Time” Cyndi Lauper 11. “Beat It” Michael Jackson 12. “When Doves Cry” Prince 13. “Careless Whisper” George Michael/Wham! 14. “The Reflex” Duran Duran 15. “Maneater” Hall and Oates 16. “Like a Virgin” Madonna 17. “With or Without You” U2 18. TBA 19. TBA 20. “Walk Like an Egyptian” The Bangles I have a brother that is five years older than me. We’ve always been like oil and water. He likes chocolate, so I had to like vanilla. He played baseball and football. I refused to follow along and played tennis and swam. He liked album rock—Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Kinks, etc. I liked 80s synth-pop and The Police, Tears For Fears, even Men Without Hats. Just to be different. One day, my brother grabbed me and insisted I watch something on TV. MTV was highlighting a newly released video. “You have got to hear this,” my brother exclaimed excitedly. “I’ve never heard anything like it.” And he was right. It was dark. It was haunting. It was sparse. It was rich. It ebbed. It flowed. It built, and then it burst and crashed into a crescendo of vocal release. It was “With or Without You.” It was something we both agreed was amazing. I had never heard of the “infinity guitar” until yesterday. And maybe that’s what makes this song so unique—those long, eerie sustained guitar notes. But I still find something unusual in the song’s power and emotion. So much like U2’s previous musical output, but so much different. There was something here that was confident and assured. It sounded exactly like a band willing and able to fill the void left by The Police and Duran Duran to become the biggest band in the world. And that’s why WOWY, a song that didn’t really sound like the 80s, makes it onto Barnable’s list of the 80est Number One Songs of the 80s. The song catapulted a here-to-now esoteric, “college” band called U2 into the stratosphere. A location from where they still manage to operate today. So, TNOCS, we’re nearing the end of our list. Only two to go. One more from 1987, and a lone entry from 1988. Then we’ll have to find something else to do to chase the blues away.
Then you should like: Billy Vera and Carol Bayer Sager Sayer
Hi. It looks like you're using an ad blocker.

As an independent website, we rely on our measly advertising income to keep the lights on. Our ads are not too obtrusive, promise. Would you please disable adblock?