I turned 36 today, and this blog turned 1. I was planning on writing some big retrospective about how blogging this past year has taught me so many life lessons and made me a better writer/thinker/person. But then I had some birthday wine, and a friend asked me what my top 10 songs of the ’80s were. So now I’m going with that. But really quick before I do, I’ll pat myself on the back for posting 57 times in the last 365 days (this will be 58). That’s more than once a week, so I’m pretty happy about that.
Now on to more pressing matters: how to pick the Top 10 songs of the ’80s. No one, not even VH-1 and their listmaster generals, could do that. So I’m going to give you a list of my top 10 right at this moment. This means the first 10 ’80s songs I can’t live without that come to my head, so don’t chastise me when I leave off “Billie Jean.” It’s a great song, I know. But they can’t all make the list.
1. Jumping Someone Else’s Train, The Cure. As with The Smiths (see #10), it’s impossible to pick one Cure song. But I chose this one because I play it for my high school students all the time. Such a great metaphor for high school life.
2. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division. The brilliance is in the haunting beauty: I love you, but that will kill me. Bonus points for appearing in Donnie Darko.
3. Don’t Change – INXS. Such an inspirational message, set against Michael Hutchence’s gorgeous vocals. My favorite in a long list of favorite INXS songs — when I hear that opening synth I get so excited.
4. Goody Two Shoes – Adam Ant. What can I say? It’s a classic. And I always loved this video.
5. Heat of the Moment – Asia. The supergroup Asia, featuring members of Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Roxy Music, might not have been so super, but this song left an indelible mark in my musical memory. These lyrics never cease to get to me — especially now that I’m 36:
and when your looks are gone and you’re alone
How many nights you sit beside the phone
What were the things you wanted for yourself
Teenage ambitions you remember well
6. Hey Ladies – The Beastie Boys. I am a huge Beastie Boys fan. I liked License to Ill, but I always felt it was a little juvenile. I really fell in love with the Boys when I heard Paul’s Boutique. This is also one great video.
7. Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go-Go’s. You couldn’t be a young girl in the ’80s and not be profoundly affected by this all-girl band. Such an influence they had on what I believed it meant to be a woman (I can be anything! Even a rock star! I can wear clothes from a thrift shop and dance in a fountain!). I was in love with Belinda Carlisle and her haircut well into the ’90s.
8. The Metro, Berlin. Terri Nunn is another one of those powerful women who had an influence on me. I finally lived out a fantasy related to this song when I rode on the Metro in Paris earlier this year and said to Tim in my nastiest snarly singing voice, “I remember hating you for loving me!”
9. Wild Wild West, Kool Moe Dee. I used to record Yo! MTV Raps on my VCR in middle school. I loved it all – Big Daddy Kane, Sir Mix-A-Lot (My Posse’s on Broadway is the first song I ever knew all the words to), Queen Latifah, MC Hammer (before his Hammer Pants got crazy), LL Cool J, L’Trimm…you get the idea. But for some reason this song has always stuck with me. I particularly like all the shout-outs at the end.
10. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, The Smiths. It would be impossible for me to even pick 10 Smiths songs for a list, so I just had to blindly choose one. I do so love this one, and I sing it almost every day when I take on a task I don’t want to take on. In my book, Morrissey can do no wrong.
I have left off a million songs that I love, songs that would make the list tomorrow. I’ve steered clear of ’80s hair bands — a genre I was a huge fan of — and most of the massive ’80s pop singers like Madonna and Prince. I also neglected some favorite bands like Depeche Mode, Rush, Duran Duran, Guns N’ Roses, REO Speedwagon, etc. One day they will get the proper attention they deserve. For now I’m satisfied enough with my list to close the book on this post…and this birthday.