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Rhonda's Top 100 Songs Of The 1980s

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Ah, the 1980s…foremost was the effect that the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher had on British bands, epitomised most obviously by the Specials’ “Ghost Town” and less obviously by a slew of other songs. Another defining aspect was an abundance of hit singles/one hit wonders that became cultural touchstones (thank you John Hughes); the third was the emergence of what I call the sexual rebels, principally Prince and Madonna. I considered doing a shorter list, something catchy like “80 from the 80s” or even 50, to avoid a lot of the 80s kitsch (which you’ll see in abundance towards the end of the list), but then I’d have lost a lot of the flavor of the decade. What you might consider missing will either show up in the 90s list (Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3) or was in the 70s list (I used British release dates for the Clash’s London Calling, for example).

Prince: Sign ‘O the Times (1987)

Peter Gabriel: In Your Eyes (1986)

The Cure: A Forest (1980)

English Beat: Mirror in the Bathroom (1980)

The Jam: Going Underground (1980)

Pet Shop Boys: West End Girls (1986)

The Clash: Straight to Hell (1982)

Young Marble Giants: Brand New Life (1980)

Fun Boy Three: Our Lips are Sealed (1983)

The Smiths: How Soon Is Now (1985)

Yaz: Don’t Go (1982)

Stone Roses: Fool’s Gold (1989)

The Cure: Plainsong (1989)

Prince: Erotic City (1984)

ESG: Moody (Spaced Out) (1983)

Malcolm McLaren: Madam Butterfly (1984)

Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force: Planet Rock (1982)

Nenah Cherry: Buffalo Stance (1988)

Psychedelic Furs: Dumb Waiters (1981)

Scritti Politti: The Sweetest Girl (1981)

David Bowie: Ashes to Ashes (1980)

New Order: Everything’s Gone Green (1981)

Divinyls: Don’t You Go Walking (1985)

Madonna: Like a Prayer (1989)

Echo and the Bunnyman: Rescue (1980)

Soft Cell: Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go? (1981)

Teena Marie: Square Biz (1981)

Kate Bush: Sat in Your Lap (1982)

ABC: All of my Heart (1982)

Salt ‘N’ Papa: Push It (1987)

The Cure: The Hanging Garden (1982)

Peter Gabriel: Games Without Frontiers (1980)

Kate Bush: Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) (1985)

Tom Tom Club: Genius of Love (1982)

The Smiths: What Difference Does It Make? (1984)

Bananarama: Cruel Summer (1984)

Marvin Gaye: Sexual Healing (1982)

Hoodoo Gurus: I Want You Back (1984)

The Specials: Ghost Town (1981)

Billy Bragg: A New England (1983)

Big Country: In a Big Country (1983)

INXS: Need you Tonight (1987)

The Waterboys: This is the Sea (1985)

The Chameleons: Second Skin (1983)

The The: Giant (1983)

Roxy Music: Avalon (1982)

Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska (1982)

Jane’s Addiction: Jane Says (1988)

Sinead O’Connor: I Want Your (Hands on Me) (1988)

Cameo: Word Up (1986)

X: Johny Hit and Run Paulene (1980)

‘Til Tuesday: Voices Carry (1985)

The House of Love: I Don’t Know Why I Love You (1989)

Depeche Mode: Shake the Disease (1985)

The Stranglers: Golden Brown (1981)

Sugarcubes: Birthday (1988)

The Fall: Leave the Capital (1981)

Sheila E: The Glamorous Life (1984)

Simple Minds: Don’t You (Forget About Me) (1985)

REM: Radio Free Europe (1983)

Laurie Anderson: O Superman (1982)

Gun Club: Sex Beat (1984)

Michael Jackson: Thriller (1982)

Grace Jones: Pull Up to the Bumper (1981)

Joy Division: Heart and Soul (1980)

Cyndi Lauper: Time After Time (1984)

Talking Heads: Road to Nowhere (1985)

The Pixies: The Pixies: Where is My Mind (1988)

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Rollercoaster (1985)

Neil Young: Rockin’ in the Free World (1989)

Dinosaur Jr.: Just Like Heaven (1989)

808 State: Pacific State (1989)

Flipper: Sex Bomb (1981)

Blondie: Atomic (1980)

Bronski Beat: Smalltown Boy (1984)

The Cult: She Sells Sanctuary (1985)

Lipps Inc.: Funkytown (1980)

Thompson Twins: If You Were Here (1983)

Rick James: Superfreak (1981)

Undertones: Julie Ocean (1981)

XTC: Another Satellite (1986)

Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel: White Lines (Don’t Do It) (1983)

OMD: Electricity (1980)

Mission of Burma: That’s When I Reach For My Revolver (1981)

Devo: Beautiful World (1981)

Human League: Don’t You Want Me? (1981)

Don Henley: Boys of Summer (1984)

Duran Duran: Hungry Like The Wolf

Stevie Nicks: Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (1981)

Peter Murphy: Indigo Eyes (1988)

Chaka Khan: “Ain’t Nobody” (1989)

Wang Chung: Dance Hall Days (1984)

The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping (1981)

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians: What I Am (1988)

Terence Trent D’Arby: Wishing Well (1987)

Rick Springfield: Jessie’s Girl (1981)

Culture Club: Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? (1982)

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts / “I Love Rock N’ Roll” (1981)

Tommy Tutone / “867-5309/Jenny” (1981)

Debbie Gibson: Only In My Dreams (1987)

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