December 24, 2015 by billysparrow
Here we are. The thinking is through. The last flip-flop has taken place. The list is set. It’s all over.
Until, probably, three nights from now, when my head will hit the pillow and I start to wonder if Cyndi Lauper should have made the Top 40. Or if I should’ve switched Billy Ocean and the Bangles. Or if the fact that “Love Touch” is still in my head means I should’ve given it greater consideration.
What I’m saying is this whole list (and I’m including the Top 200 of the Top 40 at the end of this post) is subject to change at any moment, on any sleepless night, or any long car ride with the ’80s on 8 playing.
Don’t hold me to any of this.
Just hold me.
10. “Spies Like Us,” Paul McCartney (Peaked at #7, 2/8/86)
If you surveyed a million people and asked them for their Top 40 of the Top 40 of the 1980s (and, hey, if you’ve got the time, have at it), I do not know if one other person would have this song in the Top 10. And if you got done with that survey and went on to survey a million Beatles fans to ask them what their favorite Paul McCartney song was, I can’t imagine this song would fall of of anyone’s lips.
It is, I will admit, probably not McCartney’s best-written song. But (yes, here it comes), it is my favorite song by Paul McCartney. It’s dumb. Very dumb. But so was the movie, and I like that too–not as much as I love this song, though. Whenever I hear it, my heart leaps with joy (or that could be a preexisting condition; I should go to a doctor). And by the time that final frenzied “Spies Like Us” section comes around, I am downright giddy and the dance party has begun, assuming I am alone in my apartment while listening. Please knock before you enter.
My imagined universal Beatles fan disgust regarding my love of this song–and the accompanying feeling of guilt–almost compelled me to push this out of the Top 10. But I just couldn’t do it.
9. “Shakedown,” Bob Seger (Peaked at #1, 8/1/87)
This one from “Beverly Hills Cop II” (which I’ve never seen) makes it back-to-back soundtrack songs to start the Top 10. And it’s an Oscar-nominated soundtrack song to boot. It lost to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” which appears nowhere even in my Top 200, so I hope Bob Seger appreciates that I am providing him with some well-deserved vindication.
The song still sounds as good to me as when I first bought the 45, and, once again, the breakdown (shakedown, takedown) at the end makes me giddy every time I hear it. I’m giddier than you thought, no?
By the way, back to the Academy Awards: I’m not sure why, but Little Richard sang the song on the Oscars telecast. And if you’ve ever wanted to see Little Richard not having fun on stage, here you go:
8. “Hip to Be Square,” Huey Lewis & The News (Peaked at #3, 12/13/86)
So, this is not a soundtrack song per se, but it sure is in a memorable scene in “American Psycho” (here’s a link, but, if you don’t know what I’m talking about and you’re a little squeamish about blood, let’s forget this parenthetical aside ever happened). And it’s one of (sorry, partial spoiler there) my all-time favorite Huey songs. However, to the best of my recollection, I never bought this on 45. “Jacob’s Ladder”? You bet (signed and on my wall). “I Know What I Like”? Absolutely (still has the Ames price tag on it). But not this one. Seriously, who can figure me out?
Much to my dismay, Huey and the boys rarely perform this live anymore (has “American Psycho” ruined it for them?), or at least not the times I’ve seen them. And I see them pretty much at least once a year. Because, yes, I’m that awesome. So, c’mon, guys, put it back in the rotation. How about “Fore!” in its entirety for its 30th anniversary next year?
7. “I’m Alright,” Kenny Loggins (Peaked at #7, 10/18/80)
Back to the soundtrack songs, and, for my money, the greatest offering from the King of the Soundtrack, Mr. Kenny Loggins. I feel like I was aware of this song before I even saw “Caddyshack,” but I don’t know how that can be true. It was definitely the thing I liked most about “Caddyshack” for a while (I like the movie fine, though).
I have mentioned this before (I think on a blog, but who has time to look these things up?), but the fact that Kenny Loggins jams the word “magistrate” into a song that hit the Top 40 is perhaps one of the greatest achievements in pop music history. And then there’s that decision to throw in the “dip dip dip dip” and, the true clincher, the “boom boom boom” at the end of the bridge (another Moment of Giddiness). It is a masterpiece.
6. “Come As You Are,” Peter Wolf (Peaked at #15, 5/2/87)
I sure love the J. Geils Band (with or without J. Geils; the current touring version is the latter), and they placed three songs in the Top 200, but this one’s the highest-ranking Peter Wolf vocal on the list and, I think, one of the great overlooked songs of the 1980s. Like a lot of J. Geils Band stuff, it’s infectious, and it makes you want to start it right over again when you hit the end. Well, it makes me do that. I guess I shouldn’t speak for you. Maybe you’re a jerk. The Internet is full of them.
It’s a great video, too, as who doesn’t want to watch Peter Wolf hop around nonstop for three minutes? (Again, jerks, I guess.) I tend to think I’m one of the few people who appreciates this song and video, but last week, I swear I heard someone say “Oh, shut up, dog” just as Wolf does at the beginning of the video. Or maybe I’m just losing my mind and hearing things. That actually seems more plausible.
5. “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” Billy Ocean (Peaked at #1, 4/16/88)
Back to my man Billy Ocean, with his highest-charting song on the countdown. If I could only hear one Billy Ocean song for the rest of my life, well, I’d probably just shoot myself, because who would want to live if you could only hear one Billy Ocean song for the rest of your life? What kind of terrible life would that be? I feel like I might throw up just thinking about it.
But this is at the top of the Billy Ocean hit parade for me. I don’t think I paid all that much attention to the verses when I was younger, so it took me by surprise later in life when I was watching the lyrics come across a karaoke screen and discovered that “Touch my bumper” is a line in the song. And ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out what his bumper is. His hip? His ass? His penis? And what does “get in the backseat” mean? I should probably come up with other things to think about.
I suppose I could’ve asked him in person, because, yes, I’ve met Billy Ocean! Twice. The first time, my camera was crapping out and the guy I’d asked to take the picture couldn’t be bothered to help me rectify the situation. But redemption came a year or so later at a free concert in Long Island, after watching a woman trying to sneak a peek at Mr. Ocean while he was changing after the show. Amazingly, he still came out to sign autographs and taking pictures after spotting said woman in the peeping act.
4. “Midnight Blue,” Lou Gramm (Peaked at #5, 4/18/87)
This one is probably just as underappreciated as “Come As You Are,” and, truthfully, it’s the only Lou Gramm vocal I care about at all. And that’s probably kept me from seeing Lou Gramm in concert. I don’t want to hear any of the Foreigner songs at all. I would just want to hear him sing this 12 to 15 times in a row. Sadly, I don’t think this will happen. So Lou Gramm is the only lead singer in the Top 5 I don’t have a photo with. I sense your disappointment, and I apologize.
If I’m in the right mood (or wrong mood, depending on your perspective on life), this song makes me emotional for reasons I cannot quite pinpoint. The line “My following days are over/Now I just gotta follow through” always gets me, and then sometimes “I won’t say where/And I don’t know when/But soon there’s gonna come a day, baby/I’ll be back again” gets me. Now that I read that, though, I sense a touch of menace with the “won’t say where” line (“won’t” instead of “can’t” gives me pause). And the previous Billy Ocean song oozes with menace, too. So perhaps I’m a psychopath who loves songs about creepy dudes who menace women.
Anyway, cool song.
3. “Power of Love,” Huey Lewis & The News (Peaked at #1, 8/31/85)
Top of the Huey hit parade. Top of the soundtrack hit parade. What more can be said? It is an iconic song of the 1980s, and if hearing those first few notes has no impact on you, it’s probably gonna be an uphill climb for a friendship with me. And, unlike “Hip to Be Square,” this one is a staple in the Huey and the News live show (“Back in Time” less so, but I’ve still heard that live more times than “Hip to Be Square”), and it is almost always the number-one crowd pleaser.
I don’t recall ever seeing the long version of this video with Doc Brown before embarking on this endeavor, so, hey, at least something’s come out of it.
And, oh yeah, met Huey too. At a Nick Lowe show in Brooklyn, so it was completely unexpected. And very exciting.
2. “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” Georgia Satellites (Peaked at #2, 2/21/87)
Fresh off finishing #2 in the Top 40 of the Top 40 of the 1990s, Dan Baird returns to the runner-up position with this one, probably the first indication of the kind of music I would grow up to love most. It’s another one of those songs that was unlike anything else on the radio or MTV at the time, and it hit my ears just right. The signed (by Baird) 45 sleeve is on my wall next to the signed Huey “Jacob’s Ladder,” and it was a tough decision between Dan and the Satellites and Huey and the News for this slot. But the Satellites just eked it out in the battle being fought in my head, on the strength of Dan’s vocal performance. It’s a better video, too, though that did not influence my decision.
This isn’t my favorite Satellites song, or even my favorite on their debut album. That’d be “Battleship Chains,” not sung by Dan, but also owned on 45. Alas, that only made it to #86 on the Billboard charts. But both songs kick a helluva lot of ass. And Dan Baird’s still doing it with his band Homemade Sin. Catch them when they tour the southeast and northeast in a few months.
After seeing him a few times live (with the fabulous Yayhoos as well as Homemade Sin), I finally bugged Dan for a photo in Syracuse earlier this year.
1. “Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina & the Waves (Peaked at #9, 6/22/85)
There is something just wrong and unfixable if this song does not make you, yes, giddy when you hear it. That beat. Those horns. The vocals. I’m not saying it has to be your #1. You just have to admit that it’s a monster of an infectious pop song. OK, you don’t have to admit. But you should admit it. It’s the right thing to do.
I saw the Waves-less Katrina twice this year. The first time was at the Iridium, nominally a jazz club but willing to book whatever will get people in the door. It’s a bit of a stuffy place, and Katrina and her band put on a decidedly unstuffy show, so it was an odd fit. I didn’t see anyone get up when she played “Walking on Sunshine.” And I shamefully admit that I stayed seated too because I didn’t want to block anyone’s view. That was the wrong decision.
But it was partially because of this wrong decision (but mainly because I enjoyed the show despite the audience) that I went out a few nights later to see her play a last-minute show at The Bitter End, which, like the Iridium, has tables, but is decidedly less stuffy and also has some standing room. So I stood to the side of the stage and watched the show, bopping along by my lonesome. And when the first notes of “Walking on Sunshine” hit, I was glad to see girls in the table up front get up to dance. And then they sat down 20 seconds later. Because people are the worst.
If we are in a room together when “Walking on Sunshine” comes on and you just sit there motionless, you are dead to me. Whoa oh!
I was sure as shit walking on sunshine when I saw how this photo of me and Katrina after the Iridium show came out.
And so we come to the end of our little adventure. But, before I go, here’s the Top 200 of the Top 40 of the 1980s for your enjoyment. I will spare you more commentary on the other 160 songs, but there are some great ones that didn’t make the cut for the main countdown and a few of those that if I’d packed in a few more listens might’ve edged their way in (chief among them “I Wish I Had a Girl,” “Dreamtime,” and “Love Touch”). I just had to let go at some point. I hope you understand. Actually, I don’t, but that seemed like something I should say right there.
And if you want to watch videos of the songs (save most of the Prince ones, though I’m really enjoying Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s cover of “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”), you can find a YouTube playlist for 200-101 here and 100-1 here.
(Numbers after their ranking are their peak chart position; you’ll have to look up the dates yourself. Or just do something more constructive with your time.)
- 9 “Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina & the Waves
- 2 “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” Georgia Satellites
- 1 “Power of Love,” Huey Lewis & the News
- 5 “Midnight Blue,” Lou Gramm
- 1 “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” Billy Ocean
- 15 “Come As You Are,” Peter Wolf
- 7 “I’m Alright,” Kenny Loggins
- 3 “Hip to Be Square,” Huey Lewis & the News
- 1 “Shakedown,” Bob Seger
- 7 “Spies Like Us,” Paul McCartney
- 1 “Let’s Go Crazy,” Prince & the Revolution
- 2 “Electric Avenue,” Eddy Grant
- 7 “The Warrior,” Scandal Featuring Patty Smyth
- 1 “Walk Like an Egyptian,” The Bangles
- 6 “Come Dancing,” The Kinks
- 25 “Wild Wild Life,” Talking Heads
- 8 “Heart and Soul,” Huey Lewis & the News
- 2 “Easy Lover,” Philip Bailey & Phil Collins
- 12 “Goody Two Shoes,” Adam Ant
- 2 “Hazy Shade Of Winter,” The Bangles
- 2 “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going,” Billy Ocean
- 36 “The Bird,” The Time
- 19 “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is King,” ELO
- 23 “You Can Call Me Al,” Paul Simon
- 18 “You’re a Friend Of Mine,” Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne
- 6 “Word Up,” Cameo
- 1 “I Love a Rainy Night,” Eddie Rabbitt
- 36 “Someday, Someway,” Marshall Crenshaw
- 8 “Delirious,” Prince
- 18 “Give It Up,” K.C.
- 14 “Every Little Kiss,” Bruce Hornsby & the Range
- 1 “Shake You Down,” Gregory Abbott
- 14 “I Wanna Go Back,” Eddie Money
- 34 “I Will Be There,” Glass Tiger
- 19 “The Waiting,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
- 7 “Life in a Northern Town,” Dream Academy
- 5 “Nobody Told Me,” John Lennon
- 9 “The Rain,” Oran “Juice” Jones
- 16 “That’s the Way,” Katrina & the Waves
- 3 “Why Can’t This Be Love,” Van Halen
- 2 “Simply Irresistible,” Robert Palmer
- 3 “Jump (For My Love),” The Pointer Sisters
- 5 “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” Michael Jackson
- 18 “Jammin’ Me,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
- 15 “The Authority Song,” John Cougar Mellencamp
- 15 “I’m That Type Of Guy,” L.L. Cool J
- 20 “I Wish I Had A Girl,” Henry Lee Summer
- 9 “You Got It,” Roy Orbison
- 16 “The Twist,” The Fat Boys & Chubby Checker
- 11 “The Promise,” When In Rome
- 11 “Romeo’s Tune,” Steve Forbert
- 5 “Always on My Mind,” Willie Nelson
- 8 “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
- 6 “Late in the Evening,” Paul Simon
- 5 “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off,” Jermaine Stewart
- 21 “Come On, Let’s Go,” Los Lobos
- 37 “Do You Want Crying,” Katrina & the Waves
- 6 “Neutron Dance,” The Pointer Sisters
- 23 “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” Tom Petty
- 19 “All Fired Up,” Pat Benatar
- 5 “Waiting for a Star to Fall,” Boy Meets Girl
- 18 “Don’t Let Go,” Isaac Hayes
- 34 “Holding Out for a Hero,” Bonnie Tyler
- 20 “Jungle Love,” The Time
- 5 “Dreamtime,” Daryl Hall
- 1 “Centerfold,” The J. Geils Band
- 23 “Train in Vain (Stand By Me),” The Clash
- 16 “Dance Hall Days,” Wang Chung
- 13 “What You Get Is What You See,” Tina Turner
- 3 “Buffalo Stance,” Neneh Cherry
- 27 “Money Changes Everything,” Cyndi Lauper
- 12 “Kiss Me Deadly,” Lita Ford
- 14 “Modern Love,” David Bowie
- 36 “Turning Japanese,” The Vapors
- 1 “When Doves Cry,” Prince
- 5 “The Valley Road,” Bruce Hornsby & the Range
- 5 “In Your Room,” The Bangles
- 1 “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins
- 8 “Nobody’s Fool,” Kenny Loggins
- 22 “No Easy Way Out,” Robert Tepper
- 25 “Kiss the Bride,” Elton John
- 19 “Veronica,” Elvis Costello
- 9 “Let My Love Open the Door,” Pete Townsend
- 10 “Got a Hold on Me,” Christine McVie
- 1 “Come On Eileen,” Dexys Midnight Runners
- 2 “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper
- 7 “Walk the Dinosaur,” Was Not Was
- 6 “Love Touch,” Rod Stewart
- 5 “Glory Days,” Bruce Springsteen
- 2 “Lover Boy,” Billy Ocean
- 3 “Change of Heart,” Cyndi Lauper
- 4 “Walk This Way,” Run DMC & Aerosmith
- 7 “Dancing in the Street,” Mick Jagger & David Bowie
- 8 “Voices Carry,” Til Tuesday
- 1 “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Bonnie Tyler
- 1 “Islands in the Stream,” Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton
- 18 “Keepin’ the Faith,” Billy Joel
- 10 “She’s a Beauty,” The Tubes
- 37 “Back in Black,” AC/DC
- 10 “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” Prince
- 1 “Jack and Diane,” John Cougar
- 2 “Gloria,” Laura Branigan
- 21 “And We Danced,” The Hooters
- 9 “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” Annie Lennox & Al Green
- 1 “Living Years,” Mike & The Mechanics
- 8 “War,” Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
- 3 “Freedom,” Wham!
- 8 “All Cried Out,” Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam With Full Force
- 33 “The Kid’s American,” Matthew Wilder
- 3 “Make Me Lose Control,” Eric Carmen
- 5 “Would I Lie To You?,” Eurythmics
- 4 “No One Is to Blame,” Howard Jones
- 23 “No More Words,” Berlin
- 1 “Glory of Love,” Peter Cetera
- 20 “On the Road Again,” Willie Nelson
- 5 “When Smokey Sings,” ABC
- 38 “Love Stinks,” The J. Geils Band
- 31 “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” The Gap Band
- 1 “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” Daryl Hall and John Oates
- 36 “It Takes Two,” Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock
- 4 “Living in America,” James Brown
- 5 “Method of Modern Love,” Daryl Hall & John Oates
- 10 “Far From Over,” Frank Stallone
- 5 “Sister Christian,” Night Ranger
- 6 “That’s All,” Genesis
- 7 “Walk of Life,” Dire Straits
- 29 “Holiday,” The Other Ones
- 1 “Look Away,” Chicago
- 7 “On the Dark Side,” Eddie & the Cruisers / John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band
- 2 “Raspberry Beret,” Prince & the Revolution
- 4 “Heart and Soul,” T’Pau
- 9 “Rush Hour,” Jane Wiedlin
- 5 “Better Be Good to Me,” Tina Turner
- 3 “True Blue,” Madonna
- 5 “Elvira,” The Oak Ridge Boys
- 13 “Panama,” Van Halen
- 12 “Wipe Out,” Fat Boys & Beach Boys
- 1 “Against All Odds,” Phil Collins
- 1 “Karma Chameleon,” Culture Club
- 5 “Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams
- 7 “Private Dancer,” Tina Turner
- 5 “Drivin’ My Life Away,” Eddie Rabbitt
- 15 “Refugee,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
- 29 “Under Pressure,” Queen and David Bowie
- 14 “The Longest Time,” Billy Joel
- 24 “Take It Easy,” Andy Taylor
- 20 “Pop Goes the World,” Men Without Hats
- 4 “One Good Woman,” Peter Cetera
- 4 “Take Me Home Tonight,” Eddie Money
- 16 “Yankee Rose,” David Lee Roth
- 7 “Do You Believe in Love,” Huey Lewis & the News
- 7 “Something So Strong,” Crowded House
- 3 “One Night in Bangkok,” Murray Head
- 8 “Pink Houses,” John Cougar Mellencamp
- 6 “Breakout,” Swing Out Sister
- 9 “Valerie,” Steve Winwood
- 2 “Somewhere Out There,” Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram
- 10 “A Matter of Trust,” Billy Joel
- 8 “Always Something There to Remind Me,” Naked Eyes
- 3 “Oh, Sherrie,” Steve Perry
- 1 “Lost in Emotion,” Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
- 1 “Faith,” George Michael
- 1 “Could’ve Been,” Tiffany
- 19 “So Far Away,” Dire Straits
- 35 “You Shook Me All Night Long,” AC/DC
- 4 “867-5309/Jenny,” Tommy Tutone
- 4 “Freeze-Frame,” The J. Geils Band
- 1 “Jacob’s Ladder,” Huey Lewis & the News
- 26 “Face the Face,” Pete Townshend
- 23 “Mary’s Prayer,” Danny Wilson
- 11 “This Little Girl,” Gary U.S. Bonds
- 1 “All Night Long (All Night),” Lionel Richie
- 20 “Pressure,” Billy Joel
- 5 “All Through the Night,” Cyndi Lauper
- 1 “Live to Tell,” Madonna
- 3 “Emotional Rescue,” The Rolling Stones
- 10 “Tender Love,” Force MD’s
- 10 “Modern Woman,” Billy Joel
- 20 “Run, Runaway,” Slade
- 9 “Walk on Water,” Eddie Money
- 19 “Seven Wonders,” Fleetwood Mac
- 4 “Don’t Disturb This Groove,” The System
- 17 “Love Is the Seventh Wave,” Sting
- 1 “On My Own,” Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald
- 39 “Don’t Look Down – The Sequel,” Go West
- 6 “I Want a New Drug,” Huey Lewis & the News
- 15 “It’s Only Love,” Bryan Adams & Tina Turner
- 2 “Purple Rain,” Prince
- 3 “Nasty,” Janet Jackson
- 4 “Hold Me,” Fleetwood Mac
- 1 “Every Time You Go Away,” Paul Young
- 1 “Separate Lives,” Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin
- 1 “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” Tina Turner
- 2 “99 Luftballons,” Nena
- 10 “Just Got Paid,” Johnny Kemp
- 4 “Mandolin Rain,” Bruce Hornsby & the Range
- 5 “Paradise City,” Guns N’ Roses
- 20 “Rock and Roll Girls,” John Fogerty
- 1 “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Billy Joel
- 1 “Batdance,” Prince