"It seems almost like the secret to the best music in the universe was discovered in the 80's and then lost forever." -OneEyedJack1970, YouTube user
The 1980s. The era where everything was made of fishnet, your hair was bigger than your head, and the world was holding its breath as America and Russia hovered their fingers over the nuke button.
Also one of the most influential eras of modern music. Before Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys, before Michael Jackson was a child molester, before the gangstafication of rap, before Rick Astley was an internet joke... Was an era of moonwalking zombies, buzzing synthesizers, and the simple yet awesome mantra of "don't stop believin'."
Let me take you back...
This World is rated PG-13, for... well... sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. American politics may have been conservative in the '80s, but the music was not. Tread with caution.
It's Tricky, by Run-D.M.C. (1986) From the album "Raising Hell"
From the third album of one of the most legendary and influential groups in hip hop, Run-D.M.C., comes "It's Tricky," an anthem about how writing songs is harder than people think it is. The base line samples The Knack's "My Sharona" and the chorus samples Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey." The Knack sued Run-D.M.C. (as well as every online music provider that sold the track) over the sampling in 2006. It was presumably settled out of court, as it took The Knack 20 years to notice that the song even existed. The video, which tells the story of Run-D.M.C. confronting a pair of con men who then go on to pretend to be the group at a concert, was a pioneer in music videos with overarching plots.
The song has been covered, featured in movies, played at hockey games after hat tricks, and was used as the theme song for the 2002 Electronic Arts video game SSX Tricky. The song hit #57 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Run-D.M.C. was named the number one hip hop group of all time by VH1 and MTV, the 48th greatest musical artists of all time by Rolling Stone, and in 2009 became the second hip hop group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rest in peace, Jam-Master Jay.
Song to the Siren, by This Mortal Coil (1983) From the single "Song to the Siren"
-Submitted by Pleiades Rising-
Originally recorded by Tim Buckley for his 1970 album Starsailor, "Song to the Siren" was released as a single by the group This Mortal Coil, in 1983. At first the song was intended as a B-side to the EP Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust, but it was decided that it was too good to be relegated to being a B-side song. Thus, it became a single of its own, and appeared a year later on This Mortal Coil's 1984 album It'll End in Tears. The single reached #66 on the UK charts in 1983 and retained its popularity throughout the year, and the following one.
The band itself were, rather, a side project created by the founder of the record label 4AD, Ivo Watts-Russell. This Mortal Coil featured musicians from bands such as Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, both signed to 4AD (which also made Modern English one of its earliest signings, whose members also contributed to the EP). 4AD were known for signing bands in the "dream-pop" genre, a sound distinctive for its use of ethereal vocals, jangly guitars, and catchy pop-based hooks. This sound itself - in a more minimal, yet still very affecting style - is on display in this single, as performed by Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie from the band Cocteau Twins.
I Melt With You, by Modern English (1982) From the album "After the Snow"
Ranking on both VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s and Greatest 1-Hit Wonders of the 80s, British new wave band Modern English's "I Melt With You" didn't have the greatest chart performance when it came out. But in 1983, when it was used as the end credits song for the film Valley Girl, its popularity took off, and it started getting heavy airplay on MTV. It was re-recorded in 1990 for Modern English's album Pillow Lips.
The song has been covered many times, and has also been used often in commercials, television shows, and movies. In a stroke of irony, 1996, Burger King used it to advertise the double cheeseburger, and in 2008 it was used in a Taco Bell commercial. Why is this ironic? Lead singer Robbie Grey is a vegetarian.
The Look of Love, by ABC (1982) From the album "The Lexicon of Love"
Once upon a time, the fledgling British new wave group ABC released their debut album, and it had "The Look of Love" on it. Once upon a time, "The Look of Love" hit international music charts and propelled ABC into stardom.
When the song was released as a single, it was in four parts. "Part One" was the standard album version of the song, "Part Two" was an instrumental version, "Part Three" was a vocal remix, and "Part Four" was an acoustic mix. The single didn't receive a very wide release in the US at first, so for a while copies of it were rare and fetched a high price. When the band's label learned this, they released a limited edition re-pressing of the US-exclusive version of "Part Four," but the song was never re-released.
The video features the band in a carnival-like setting, paying homage to Gene Kelly's Ballet sequence from the film An American in Paris.
Call Me, by Blondie (1980) From the soundtrack to the film American Gigolo
-Submitted by Pleiades Rising-
Blondie originally formed around 1975 in New York City, as part of the New Wave/Punk scene that characterized the city's music clubs in the late '70s. Originally performing under various names, they renamed themselves Blondie in late '75 due to the lead singer Deborah "Debbie" Harry's blond hair (as duly noted by many truck drivers who yelled "Hey, Blondie!" in her direction). Throughout their career they always retained a new wave sound, while never being afraid to incorporate other genres into their own sound, e.g. pop, rock, reggae, disco, and even rap (as heard in "Rapture"). Blondie would go on to directly and indirectly influence future musicians as diverse as Madonna, Garbage, and Lady Gaga (Debbie Harry had expressed her wish to perform with her, saying: "As a fellow New Yorker I appreciate her punkness, her upper New Yorkness, her tribute to style, being outrageous and playing around.").
"Call Me" never appeared on any studio album of theirs, but was originally from the the soundtrack to the 1980 film American Gigolo. The single features their seamless blending of styles ranging from edgy guitar-punk to synth-driven disco pop. The resulting soundclash helped drive the single up to the #1 position in both the U.S. and the U.K. Various versions of the single were released, including a Spanish version and an instrumental. In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine placed "Call Me" at #283 on their "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list.