I am a huge fan of the 1980s, the films, crazy fashion, but mostly the fantastic music. At university I host my own 80s radio show and have therefore become even more 80s obsessed and knowledgable. I am also keen to emphasise that the music of this decade has so much more to offer than ‘Karma Chameleon’ and ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, which although both catchy songs, only offer a glimpse of the musical variety of the decade. I have hence decided to provide a list of some amazing tracks from the 1980s that are much lesser known today and hardly ever played, but are just as great, in fact many are better, than the well known Whitney and Bon Jovi songs of the decade.
Wang Chung – Fire In The Twilight
The first song on the list may sound familiar to Breakfast Club fans as it was featured in the fantastic soundtrack of the 1985 film. However, the film is most famous for featuring Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ and this, undoubtedly amazing song, often overshadows the rest of the soundtrack. I would then suggest that you fist pump to Simple Minds to your heart’s content, but also check out Wang Chung’s ‘Fire In The Twilight’, used in the hallway scene in the film, which is just pure 80s energy. I just want to dance Molly Ringwald’s moves whenever I hear this track, its just brilliant.
Lloyd Cole And The Commotions – Perfect Skin
This track has such a great opener and is a pretty impressive debut single, reaching number 26 in the UK charts in 1984. It also highlights exactly what I want to chiefly emphasise, that not all 80s music is guilty pleasure cheesy pop. I love the country-blues twang of the song and songwriter Lloyd Cole admits that he was “totally drunk on Dylan” at the time he wrote ‘Perfect Skin’.
Killing Joke – Eighties
I can guarantee that the first time you listen to this song you will have the exact same thought that I had; that it sounds like the riff from Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’. There certainly is a striking resemblance, so much so that Nirvana were unsure about releasing their single due to the similarities. But, Nirvana aside, this is a stomping, almost aggressive song that I just instantly loved. It shows another dimension to the decade’s music, with Killing Joke’s drummer Paul Ferguson describing the band’s sound as “the sound of the earth vomiting”. I can’t speak for their entire discography, but if that is the sound of the earth vomiting, then I like it.
The Pointer Sisters – Be There
I heard this while watching Beverly Hills Cop 2 and afterwards tried to search it, which was surprisingly difficult. Even on Spotify, its essentially impossible to find, which is such a shame. It does surprise me that ‘Be There’ is not more well known, especially as The Pointer Sisters were so famous for their music in the decade. I think the song is fun, catchy and I suppose I enjoy it all the more for the fact that it was a lucky and rare find.
Bomb The Bass – Beat Dis
‘Beat Dis’ is, lets be honest, a bit bonkers. It is literally a collage of sounds, voices and beats, with everything from Thunderbirds and James Brown making an appearance. In 1988 it reached number 2 in the UK charts, but as it is very much a record of its time, I guess its popularity has not really sustained. But its uniqueness makes it strangely catchy.
Overall, this has been quite an eclectic mix and I’m sure not all of these tracks will take your fancy. However, I hope I have given you a glimpse into another side of the music from the 1980s and shown that it has more to offer than the stereotype.