Prince whipped up two tunes overnight, the winner being “When Doves Cry.” With such little time, he didn’t bother with a bassline. Then they [the choir] got round in a circle, held hands and said the Lord's Prayer. Those unforgettable snare snaps comes courtesy of producer Steve Albini, and it’s one of the many touches the band’s most popular song (one that wasn’t even released as a single in ’88) has going for it: Among the many others, there’s Kim Deal’s haunting, reverb drenched backing vocals that so many indie-rock groups would go on to ape, a cracked-voiced Black Francis spitting out cryptic-cool lyrics, and deceptively simple lead guitar and bass combo that still gives us goosebumps. (who, no disrespect, doesn’t seem like the most scrutinizing music listener). Oh, that ill-fated bassline. All rights reserved. I have tried to link the audio/video from YouTube that is least likely to have commercials. It's impossible to feel bad when this tune's Caribbean-inflected rhythms start pumping from a nearby speaker. © 2020 Time Out America LLC and affiliated companies owned by Time Out Group Plc. As much of a dance-floor killer as it is, "Beat It" is a genuinely heavy song, psychologically as much as sonically. A sleeper hit for the English heavy-metal band in 1987 (it didn't get much play until the band recorded a promo clip for its North American release), “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is among the group’s finest efforts. It's miles away from the struggles the singer would face later in her career. Few songs from the era are so rich and perfect. “Nineteen eighty-nine…” The first five syllables of Public Enemy’s most zeitgeisty hit, made at the request of Spike Lee for his groundbreaking film. Commented Mick Jones, of the recording process: "We did a few takes, and it was good, but it was still a bit tentative. But for the '80s crowd, it’s a classic slow dance that stands up as one of the strongest songs of the decade. And it's not just Eddie Van Halen's famous finger-busting solo; it's that perfectly formed sneer of a guitar riff—conceived by Jackson and played by session ace Steve Lukather—those exaggered downbeats that feel like medicine balls being slammed down on a concrete floor and the raw desperation in MJ's voice as he chronicles the harsh truths of the street-fighting life. It’s Heart of Darkness as told from the tanning deck of a luxury yacht. But the greater loss is Biz’s sense of self-deprecation. And it only gets more intense from there, building a manifesto of what to take swigs at, including this gem: “Elvis was a hero to most / But he never meant shit to me / You see, straight-up racist that sucker was / Simple and plain / Mother fuck him and John Wayne / 'Cause I'm black and I'm proud.” And that’s the truth, Ruth. But “Take On Me” is also distinguished by Harket’s improbably octave-spanning vocals, whose seeming effortlessness has inspired countless screeching karaoke wipeouts. If ever there was a time for an enormous chorus, it was the ’80s—and this 1984 smash from Foreigner offers an example of this that's at once gleaming, gorgeous and gut-wrenching. There’s also an album version of this without the trumpets, but why would you even want that? Roxy Music’s most played song on Spotify by a country mile (the runner up, “Avalon,” draws about half the audience) didn’t even crack, Has a drum introduction ever sounded this. This 1985 hit by Tears for Fears is one such song, an existential meditation of sorts, opening with the line, “Welcome to your life—there’s no turning back.” It’s a serious pop song, as bassist-singer Curt Smith remarked: “It's about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes.”. Don’t let Puff Daddy ruin this for you. Sade is just so damned smooth. It is. Thirsty for more essentials from way back when? The following songs were featured in top of the chart for the highest total number of weeks during the 1980s. RECOMMENDED:– The best ’90s songs– The best party songs ever made– The best classic rock songs– The best karaoke songs– The best pop songs of all time. The rankings are of course skewed to my personal favorites, but with 800 songs you should find plenty that you like. If you're in an '80s cover band and you're not playing this song on a nightly basis—well, there's just absolutely no way you're not. “Nineteen eighty-nine…” The first five syllables of Public Enemy’s most zeitgeisty hit, made at the request of Spike Lee for his groundbreaking film Do the Right Thing, pack a ton of punch. 100 tracks (419:52). The trio, a splinter from the English Beat, had its roots in ska, but over two albums chiseled a new pop sound that would echo onward from Massive Attack to TV on the Radio. In 1987, Houston was still very much a fresh-faced siren with the crystal-clear voice and a world of possibilities at her feet. Nobody writes grandiose heartbreak like Jim Steinman, and he’s never done it better than in this smash 1983 epic ballad for the raspy-voiced Welsh belter Bonnie Tyler. ), but in reality the chorus was penned while singer Joe Elliott and his producer were sharing a cup of tea…with sugar. The lyrics, about songwriter Kevin Rowland's youth as a sexually repressed Catholic kid, verge on dirty while remaining innocuous enough for your work-party karaoke sing-along. So there's that. The Best Pop Songs Of The '80s, Ranked Take On Me Don't Stop Believin' Beat It Time After Time Under Pressure Everybody Wants to Rule the World Livin' On A Prayer In the Air Tonight Total Eclipse of the Heart Sweet Child o' Mine Bush was discovered when barely into her teens, knocking out genius tunes on a piano in her cozy Kent, England, home. Naturally, there was a certain amount of leakage between the two—which is why 1985’s “Close to Me” is a strong contender for the band’s best song, with its yearning lyrics matched by ultra perky brass riffs (inspired by a New Orleans funeral march, obvs).