15 songs, 1 h 13 min, 17 min reading time.

The first playlist request: an 80s playlist. Selfishly, I have made it all about the songs I like from the 80s.

A lot happened in the 1980s; therefore, instead of summing it up I’m just going to point you to a good link for an overview if you’re interested in learning more.

Author: Jake

Spotify link

Deezer link

1) “Let’s Dance – 2018 Remaster” – David Bowie

A classic track and one of my favourites by Bowie. Produced by the great Nile Rodgers who usurped Tony Visconti for this album; it was Bowie’s only single to top the charts in the US and the UK. MTV came to the forefront in the 80s adding a new dimension to music: the music video. The “Let’s Dance” music video was filmed in Australia and features an Aboriginal couple who are struggling against Western cultural imperialism. It was described by Bowie as a “very simple, very direct” statement against racism.

Album: “Let’s Dance – 2018 Remaster” (1983)
Label: EMI America

2) “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) – 2005 Remaster” – Talking Heads

David Byrne, lead singer, said this was the first love song he ever wrote. “I didn’t try to compromise this time and say ‘love is nice'” he told The Face in 1983. Released as the second single from their fifth album Speaking in Tongues, this might be my favourite track on this playlist being groovy, quirky and having enough of the weird techno sounds that the 80s were known for.

Album: “Speaking in Tongues (Deluxe Version)” (1983)
Label: Sire Records. Manufactured & Marketed by Rhino Entertainment Group. A Warner Music Group Co.

3) “Edge of Seventeen – 2017 Remaster” – Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks came up with the title when she asked Tom Petty’s wife Jane something when the couple met. Jane said, “at the age of seventeen,” but she had a very strong southern US accent and Stevie Nicks thought she said “the edge of seventeen”. The rest is history. I was first introduced to this track through the brilliant School of Rock scene where Jack Black’s character, Dewey Finn, tries to woo another teacher for a favour by playing this on the jukebox in a bar and singing along to it. A great scene.

Album: “Bella Donna (2016 Remastered)” (1981)
Label: Modern Records, Inc. Marketed by Rhino Entertainment Company, a Warner Music Group Company.

4) “Close To Me” – The Cure

“Close To Me” was inspired by Robert Smith’s childhood bout of chicken pox as previously mentioned in one of my iPod Nano time capsule playlists.

Album: “The Head On The Door (Remastered)” (1985)
Label: Polydor Ltd. (UK)

5) “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2

One of U2’s most overtly political songs; its lyrics describe the horror felt by an observer of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, mainly focusing on the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where British troops shot and killed unarmed civil rights protesters. The militaristic drumming drives the song very well showing how sounds and instruments can convey the message as well, not just the lyrics.

Album: “War (Remastered)” (1983)
Label: Universal-Island Records Ltd., under exclusive licence to Mercury Records Limited

6) “Teardrops” – Womack & Womack

Fantastic, groovy soul song. Womack & Womack was the singing and songwriting partnership of American musicians Linda Womack and her husband, Cecil Womack. Linda is Sam Cooke’s daughter – how about that trivia! Bobby Womack was her stepfather, having married Sam Cooke’s widow, Barbara. A complicated family tree. Arguably, this song helped to pave the way for the rise of sad bangers such as Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own”.

Album: “Conscience” (1988)
Label: UMG Recordings, Inc.

7) “The Killing Moon” – Echo & the Bunnymen

Echo & the Bunnymen are an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1978. Singer Ian McCulloch said: “when I sing “The Killing Moon”, I know there isn’t a band in the world who’s got a song anywhere near that”. The chords of the song were based on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, played backwards. This song is used to terrific effect in Donnie Darko as well as a scene in the E4 comedy Misfits.

Album: “Songs To Learn And Sing” (1985)
Label: Warner Records Inc. Manufactured & Marketed by Warner Strategic Marketing.

8) “Come on Eileen” – Dexys Midnight Runners

It reached number one in the United States knocking “Billie Jean” off the top spot, what a way to get to the top! I’ve recently watched the “What We Do in the Shadows” mockumentary and there is a very funny scene in the second series about this being a spin off of one of the vampires songs from centuries ago. Easier if you just watch it.

Album: “Too Rye Ay” (1982)
Label: A Mercury Nashville Release; 1982 UMG Recordings, Inc.

9) “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division

The lyrics were inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis’ marriage problems and frame of mind before his suicide in May 1980, aged just 23. Curtis also suffered from depression, and epilepsy; he occasionally experienced seizures on stage. All of this makes the song even more poignant. The remaining members of Joy Division regrouped under the name New Order who had another big 80s track: “Blue Monday”.

Album: “Closer” (1980)
Label: London Records 90 Ltd

10) “Hounds Of Love” – Kate Bush

The song is about being afraid to fall in love; in the song this feeling is compared to being chased by a pack of hounds. The music video (directed by Bush herself) was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The 39 Steps” and a Hitchcock lookalike also features in the video (a nod to the director’s famous cameo appearances in his movies). The words “it’s in the trees, it’s coming!” heard at the beginning of the track are sampled from the British 1957 horror film “Night of the Demon”. A lot of film influences!

Album: “Hounds Of Love” (1985)
Label: Noble And Brite

11) “The Whole of the Moon” – The Waterboys

Apparently this track is about those people who come along every now and then and do something great in a short period of time e.g. Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse. Now with that knowledge the lyrics become very powerful and brilliant. Outstanding. The single was not a big success when initially released in 1985, only making the lower ends of the chart. Subsequently, it became one of The Waterboys’ best-known songs and their most commercially successful following a re-release six years later in 1991. It was the Ivor Novello Award winner for “Best Song Musically and Lyrically” in that year too. Mike Scott (lead singer and songwriter) you’re a genius.

Album: “This Is the Sea (Deluxe Version)” (1985)
Label: Chrysalis Records Limited

12) “Fools Gold” – The Stone Roses

It was their first single to reach the top ten of the UK Singles Chart. “Fools Gold” was built around a loop from James Brown’s “Funky Drummer.” There is a brilliant scene in one of the This Is England series’ where the characters, some adorned with bucket hats, dance around in a glittery hall to this tune to bow out of the 80s and into the 90s (if my memory serves me right).

Album: “The Stone Roses” (1989)
Label: Silvertone Records

13) “Dancing In The Dark” – Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen wrote “Dancing In the Dark” overnight, after Jon Landau (manager, producer and critic) convinced him that the album needed a single. It often doesn’t come across that way that actually a lot of these artists are geniuses and work horses who could just produce hit after hit. As a listener, I regularly take this for granted.

Album: “Born In The U.S.A.” (1984)
Label: Bruce Springsteen

14) “Rock the Casbah” – The Clash

Clash drummer Topper Headon wrote the music and the original lyrics. The sad irony about the song is that Headon was fired from the group because of drug problems. The lyrics also had to change as according to former Clash co-manager Kosmo Vinyl (right name for the job), Headon’s original words were a filthy ode to his girlfriend. As a result, Joe Strummer (singer) rewrote them based on the knowledge that you get lashed for owning a disco album in Iran. As a result, it’s about the people defying the Arab ruler (Shareef)’s ban on disco music and “Rocking the Casbah.” A cracking chorus.

Album: “Combat Rock” (1982)
Label: Sony Music Entertainment

15) “Where Is My Mind” – Pixies

Some would argue more of a 90s song due to the feel and when it rose to prominence but check the date: 1988 – way ahead of its time! David Bowie agrees. The song was never released as a single, but it is now one of the band’s signature songs. This was inspired by a snorkelling adventure and was famously used to end the Fight Club film. A powerful and haunting track that I often revisit. Timely for all the self-reflection imposed by quarantines and lockdowns.

Album: “Surfer Rosa” (1988)
Label: 4AD