To say that the 80s was a pop culture juggernaut would be the biggest understatement ever. Years later, we’re still obsessed with this decade and its influence is strong in today’s movies, TV shows, games, and especially music. Synthpop, new wave, and dance-oriented genres dominated, taking the place of disco. Rock has enjoyed a more wider, broader appeal with arena rock, hair metal, soft rock, and other subgenres. More songs started using synthesizers and drum machines in place of a studio band. During this time, hip-hop was starting to make its way onto the charts before becoming the dominant music genre that it is today. Not everything in the 80s was great, but hot damn, a lot of great shit came out of it and we’re gonna look at them today. For five months, we’ve counted down the worst of the worst, now it’s appropriate to count down what I believe to be the best of the best.
We start off with Axel F by German composer Harold Faltermeyer. This is the theme song to Beverly Hills Cop, being named after its main character, and it’s also an instrumental. The production is classic synthpop with its array of synths anchored on drum machines. The synth melody is one of the most memorable riffs ever. Anyone with a Casio has attempted this melody at least once. The younger generation will remember this song because of the Crazy Frog version, which is annoying as dog shit. Stay far away from that record if you can and stick to the original. It’s cool, quirky, and groovy.
The 80s is no stranger to weird hits and one of those weird hits is The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats. It’s so unbelievably corny, yet it kinda embraces it, giving it kind of a likable charm. The synths in this production sounds like something you’d hear at a medieval fair (which makes sense considering the music video), but with a new wave touch. People have misinterpreted what the song was about or what the Safety Dance was. Some assumed it was about safe sex, others thought it was protesting the use of nuclear energy (the Cold War was still happening at the time). But Ivan Doroschuk, the lead singer of Men Without Hats, said that the song was written after he got kicked out of a club for pogoing, a dance that consists of a lot of jumping. Either way, this goofy hit is a good song to have on your 80s nostalgia playlist.
You ever hear a song that you knew about before you find out the title and who it was from? For me, West End Girls is one of those songs. I knew how it sounded before I knew the title and before I knew it was from British duo Pet Shop Boys. In spite of being a synthpop song with airy synths and sparse drums, it was heavily influenced by hip-hop with its use of rapping and lyrics that reflected the inner city. This honestly shouldn’t work, but thanks to the writing and the production, it strangely does. It’s one of those accidents that resulted in greatness kinda like Reese’s.
In my Worst of ’80 list, the Commodores songs that I mentioned liking were Brick House and Easy. Another song to add to that list is Lady (You Bring Me Up). It was the last Commodores hit with Lionel Richie part of the group and it kept disco alive for a few years. The instrumentation bridges two worlds: the orchestral of soul and the grooves of disco along with synths. We also have some really good, soulful vocals and the enjoyment of a certain lady who is always there for them and made their days better than they were. It’s a disco classic and is one of the Commodores’ best songs.
Alternative rock has always existed alongside their mainstream counterparts, it’s just that they rarely hit the charts as much. Well, we’re gonna look at one of the songs that did in Edie Brickell & New Bohemians’ What I Am. A midtempo track with weird guitar riffs, prominent organs, and cowbells, plus, a filtered guitar solo. Edie Brickell delivers a vocal performance that’s restraint and relaxing. I feel like this song would be played at a coffeehouse in some 90s sitcom. I’m not 100% sure what the song is about, but going by its lyrics, I’m guessing it has to do with philosophy and religion. I think this is a really good song and more people need to hear it.
La Bamba is a Mexican folk song that has existed since the early 20th century and has been covered numerous times. The two most famous versions come from both teen idol Ritchie Valens in 1958 and the rock band Los Lobos in 1987, which was made for the soundtrack for the biopic about the former. The Ritchie Valens version is untouchable, but that doesn’t mean the Los Lobos version isn’t good. That version has a lot of energy thanks to the instrumentation. Anytime I hear those guitars, I can’t help but start dancing, even when I’m in my own room. And those accordions and the way the song ends are like icing on the cake. La Bamba: bringing out the Mexican within all of us. That’s not racist, is it?
How many times have you heard this song covered? I guarantee you a lot. In 1981, Journey created a song that would be the staple for karaoke night and talent shows. This song was Don’t Stop Believin’. The signature 4-chord piano riff that starts the song is iconic. Anyone with access to a piano has played this riff or attempted it. The rest of the song is pretty much put-your-lighters-up arena rock that kills at stadium shows with its big, shredding instrumentation, killer vocals from Steve Perry, and universal lyrics relating to the everyman who won’t give up. Is it really a surprise that most people embraced this song as their anthem?
80s hair metal is an easy target for metalheads to shit on, especially due to their more flamboyant appearances and mainstream appeal. As a non-metalhead, I don’t have a problem with the genre as a whole. They’ve expanded metal’s appeal and have given us some damn catchy, rocking tunes. Take, for example, Nothin’ But A Good Time by Poison. It’s the ultimate party rock song that embraces the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. It’s escapism from the harshness of real world responsibilities. Add in some hard-hitting instrumentation and a catchy ass hook and you got yourself a party. It’s nothing but a good time over here.
In 1973, British band Slade released Cum On Feel The Noize, the best-phrased title one can give a song. That song was alright, but nothing to write home about. Then comes hair metal band Quiet Riot who took the song and made it awesome. The instrumentation of this cover fits the song more than the original; it’s loud, bombastic, and intense. This is what you’d expect from a song called Cum On Feel The Noize and I wasn’t feeling the noise from Slade. The same can be applied to the vocals, even when it sounds like the original song. This song is important not just because it kicks ten tons of ass, but it’s also the song that helped put hair metal on the map and let the music industry know that the scene has a presence.
Cars by Gary Numan is a staple of new wave music and is an example of the genre at its best. Gary Numan doesn’t take up that much in the song, singing four short verses in a monotone voice like a robot about how he feels in his own car. The rest is instrumentals. The variety of synths used to build the instrumentation, along with the rock guitars and drums, make for some great grooves and melodies. I always find myself humming the rhythm of this after hearing it. It’s almost like the sound of the future. What people in the 80s thought the future was gonna sound like at the least. A very fun song to sing while stuck in traffic or if you’re just driving around in general.
Even though I stated that I’m not the biggest Bobby Brown fan, there are a few songs from him that I kinda like. One of those songs is My Prerogative. Here, Bobby Brown sets the record straight after his departure from New Edition. He’s gonna make his own decisions and live his life without being dictated by others and their judgements upon him, even if some of them are well-deserved. Whatever he does is his prerogative. Looking at his actions later on, maybe being the bad boy of R&B wasn’t worth it. The production in this song is awesome, opting for a sinister and badass sound that’s also danceable for the clubs, taking cues from Teddy Riley, who was involved in this song. A lot of New Jack swing would do exactly this, create a bridge between the edge of hip-hop and the swagger of R&B all with a pop appeal.
So Rocky IV was a weird movie. For a movie about boxing, there was Russians, robots, and ‘Murica love. Still, like the other Rocky movies (especially III), it has kick ass music, including the second song Survivor made for these movies, Burning Heart. It’s no Eye Of The Tiger, but it’s still a good song. The cheerful rock instrumentation with hints of synths drive the song. The lyrics match the movie it was made for, showing two opponents going against each other. That same song and movie were also an allegory for the global climate of the time, more specifically, the Cold War. A great song to kick Soviet ass to.
Even though summer has ended a month ago, it feels like it never went away. This had me thinking about this song, Cruel Summer by Bananarama. From the title to the sound, this is clearly a song meant to be played during the summer. The production is very upbeat with its use of hazy synths and what sounds like a marimba. Then you get to the lyrics, which aren’t as cheerful, being centered on a young girl who finds herself without friends to spend the summer with while it’s extremely hot. This song has seen its fair share of covers over the years with the most famous one being from Ace Of Base from 1998. Perfect song to play during the summer.
Back in the world of folk rock, we have Tracy Chapman with her hit Fast Car. This song is an instant classic. The gentle acoustic guitars and dusty drums create a folky sound while the lyrics detail a working class woman struggling in her attempts to escape poverty, wishing for a better life. Tracy brings a different perspective to the normally white-dominated folk rock genre as a black woman, sharing her pain and showing that the struggle for economic prosperity is universal. Great song from a great artist. Check out Tracy Chapman if you haven’t.
Men At Work are petty much icons of Australia. Selling over 30 million albums worldwide, they’re one of the most successful acts to come from the land down under. And they deserve it because they have some really good songs. They’ve notched two songs on this list, the first one being Who Can It Be Now. This song is really catchy thanks to its chorus and the sax riff that resides among some really good new wave instrumentation. The writing shows a guy in his house who’s tired and wants to sleep, but he hears people knocking at his door. This is one of those simple pop songs that works at what it does and it deserved to be one of their big hits.
The 80s were really good to Billy Joel. Even with a few missteps, he churned out some classic, memorable tunes, including the rock n’ roll classic You May Be Right. This song is Billy Joel portraying a character with a wild side that makes the woman he’s falling for uncomfortable because his actions, whether it’d be driving a motorcycle through the rain or going into a bad neighborhood, could get him killed. He admits that this girl could be right about him having a few screws loose in his forehead, but that’s part of his charm and he thinks she could use some madness in her life. You May Be Right, it’s one of my favorite Billy Joel songs.
Here’s the first of what will be many Michael Jackson songs that’ll be on this list. I’m a huge fan of his regardless of what was going on in his private life and all of the shit that was in the tabloids. His music and videos changed the world, especially the world of music. Thriller and Bad are 80s pop masterpieces and I don’t want to hear otherwise. The titular song from the latter album shows an edgier side to Michael with its darker funky production style rooted in that catchy ass bass line. This song is full of attitude and it’s believable. Michael sells being a badass a lot better than most pop stars, which is why he can get away with making a song like this. Fun fact: this song was originally supposed to be a duet with Prince, but it didn’t work out. I won’t talk about the music video for this song or any of the other MJ songs on this list because everyone else already said everything that needed to be said about them and I wouldn’t be able to add anything else to the conversation. Those videos are iconic, plain and simple. Won’t be the last time you’ll see Michael on this list.
I remember hearing this song from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and it was one of the first country songs that I really enjoy. It still is considering it’s on the list. I Love A Rainy Night is Eddie Rabbitt’s best song to date. The upbeat production with hand claps and finger snaps are a blast to listen to. Rabbitt is singing about his love for the rain and thunderstorms because it brings him hope and inner peace both figuratively and literally. Driving around the countryside in GTA: San Andreas while this song is playing is just perfect. Sadly, Eddie Rabbitt died of lung cancer in 1998, but this song will still live on.
Witness the greatness that is Hall & Oates. In certain circles, this duo gets a bad rep, but they have some undeniably great songs. Maneater is one of those songs. Hall & Oates songs normally have excellent grooves and this song is no exception with its bouncy, popping instrumentation guaranteed to get butts moving, plus a sick sax solo. The lyrics revolve around a woman who breaks hearts everywhere she goes and isn’t someone you take lightly. She is just dangerous. This could be the theme song for a super villainess. We got more Hall & Oates in the next slot.
I genuinely believe that Out Of Touch might be one of the best pop songs ever created. The instrumentation is very 80s in the best ways possible with those shimmering synths, touches of bells, and thudding bass and drums. It’s some of the most aesthetically pleasing pop music made. Not to mention it’s extremely catchy. Daryl Hall and John Oates do a fantastic job on lead and backing vocals, adding to the catchiness of the song where two lovers feel detached from one another and trying to find purpose in their relationship. Like I said, one of the best pop songs ever created. Put some respect on Hall & Oates’ names.
In spite of how successful she was, I still believe that Janet Jackson is an underrated pop star. Whether it’d be her family or the whole Nipplegate controversy, people aren’t giving her the props she deserves. Well, I’m changing that because Janet Jackson is awesome and I’m gonna talk about her hit Control. In this song, Janet is asserting her independence by taking control of her life and career. Her father was managing her career for her first two albums, which was generic bubblegum shit that nobody remembers or bought. She fired him and made the music she wanted to make, which was the best move she’s made. She also embraced a more sophisticated, more mature production style in the instrumentation, which has a lot more percussion. The Control album was the beginning of something greater that’ll come later in the decade and the next.
John Mellencamp was one of the big names in heartland rock, scoring a slew of Top 10 hits, including Pink Houses. The instrumentation is breezy folk rock thanks to the acoustic and electric guitars and handclaps. This is a song that’s critical of the political climate of the times, especially towards Reaganomics. The so-called American dream is a facade that doesn’t reflect the reality of most Americans, especially those who aren’t uber-wealthy. That’s why the verses presents different situations with different people, all of them working-class citizens, while the memorable hook proclaims, “ain’t that America.” Pink Houses, it’s a political song done right.
The latest upbeat synthpop song to make this list comes from Genesis. When Phil Collins took over, the band reached new peaks on the charts. They scored their first and only number one hit with Invisible Touch. This production is synthpop at its most cheery thanks to the synths, guitars, and Prince-like percussion. Phil Collins dominates this song while singing about a woman who, in his words, has the invisible touch. Genesis have countless classic songs and this is one of them.
Bruce Springsteen’s catalog seems endless, having put out music that has related to the common man since the 70s. His first Top 5 hit was Hungry Heart. This is one of the simpler, more catchier Springsteen songs and you can hear it in the instrumentation, which has those keys playing alongside the brass and an organ solo. The writing is focused on fulfilling your desires, even if they are kinda selfish. Hungry Heart is one of many Bruce Springsteen songs to become a hit and it helps that it’s really good, too.
One can make an essay on how women in rock don’t get the props they deserve, but that person isn’t me. Those articles already exist. For now, let’s talk about Pat Benatar and Heartbreaker. Yeah, this song rocks like crazy. I love how the instrumentation is intensely fast on the verses and it slows down on the chorus. That’s just cool to me. Pat Benatar has a powerful voice for a short woman like her. She blows away most other rock singers, male and female. Great song.
Time to add some goth onto this list with British band The Cure. Their biggest hit in the States is Lovesong. The instrumentation is gothic and ethereal with those organs and keys. Robert Smith wrote this song as a wedding present for his wife and while the writing is basic-level, it actually works. Sometimes, all you need is the simple things. Any woman would be flattered if someone dedicated this song to them. Adele did a cover to this song on her 21 album and I thought it was a good cover. Still doesn’t overshadow The Cure.
Sometime in the late 80s, Wham frontman George Michael went solo and notched the biggest hit of 1988 with Faith. The song starts with an organ intro before transitioning into strumming guitars and percussion. In the song, George Michael turns down a seductive woman who’s all over him, wanting to wait until he comes across the right person. This has nothing to do with the fact that he was still in the closet at the time. It was clear that George Michael was gonna have a good solo career thanks to this song. Good song. Stay away from the Limp Bizkit version. Seriously, fuck that cover.
And we’ve reached the first tie on the list courtesy of Prince. He was the biggest name in 80s pop music not named Michael Jackson or Madonna. His album 1999 was his biggest album before Purple Rain and it spawned three big hits. I’ll be talking about two of them here, Little Red Corvette ad the title track. Little Red Corvette is the one-night stand anthem of 1983. What, you thought it was about red corvettes? The instrumental combines minimal synths and drum machines with rocking guitars on the chorus. 1999 is a party jam that’s super-dated in the best ways possible. Listen to those synths and drum machines and tell me this could exist in any other decade outside of the 80s. Like with Michael, this won’t be the last time you’ll see Prince on this list.
Next up is Don’t You Want Me from The Human League. This is a new wave classic with shimmering synths, mechanical bass, and percussion making up its instrumentation. It has one of the most memorable choruses in new wave music. The song is a duet between band members Phillip Oakey and Susan Ann Sulley as they tell a story of a guy who falls for a cocktail waitress and he make her famous, but their relationship goes south and they’re going at each other. I bet this song is fun to sing during couples’ karaoke night.
The next tie comes from Tears For Fears, a new wave duo from the UK. My two favorite songs from them are Everybody Wants To Rule The World and Shout. The production to Everybody Wants To Rule The World sounds both epic and relaxing at the same time. These are some of the best synths I’ve heard and when those guitars kicked in, bruh. It was like nirvana. Even with that, the lyrics revolve around people wanting power and the consequences of said power. In other words, be careful what you wish for. Another epic song is Shout, which is a call to action song, of letting your voice be heard in the face of injustice and when those in power implement their corrupt agendas. Hey, 2017. Sound familiar? I love the production of this song with its heavy percussion, ethereal synths, and a kick-ass guitar solo. Don’t sleep on Tears For Fears, they’re pretty dope.
Now we have more Hall & Oates, two white dudes whose music finds its way onto R&B stations. The instrumentation to You Make My Dreams is like a hybrid of rock ‘n roll and R&B thanks to the keys and guitar rhythms, along with doo-wop vocals. This is like a love letter to the 60s, which makes sense looking at the verses that quote songs from that era. The writing is pretty much your typical love song where Daryl Hall is all about this one girl who makes their dreams come true. Like I said before, Hall & Oates are cool.
Even though I wouldn’t call myself a Cyndi Lauper fan, she does have some good songs that I really like. One of my favorites from her is Time After Time. The production is very atmospheric like something out of a dream, thanks to the airy synths and bright guitars. It’s just a relaxing sound. Cyndi Lauper finds herself difficult to be loved, yet her guy remains loyal to her and assures her that he’ll be there for her. This song is Cyndi Lauper at her best and it’s one of the best ballads to come out of the decade.
Here’s the New Edition that I like. Puberty is probably the best thing to ever happen to these gentlemen as their music got better going from teen-pop to full-fledged R&B. Their first hit without Bobby Brown is If It Isn’t Love. This was one of the earlier New Jack swing songs with its hard-hitting production that you’d find in most hip-hop songs and smooth R&B vocals. Ralph Tresvant has improved a lot from the early days. Vocally, the guy went from “can I take her to prom, sir” to “she calls me daddy, too.” The writing shows a guy conflicted about his feelings for his girl after they broke up. He’s still in love with her even though he denies it and it’s eating him up from the inside. This song was the point where I became a new Edition fan.
The latter half of the 80s saw hip-hop cracking its way onto the charts, most of it is very mainstream-friendly. Bust A Move by Young MC, while it is one of those mainstream-friendly songs, is still pretty dope. The beat sample a variety of songs: the guitar comes from Found A Child by Ballin’ Jack, the drums from Radio-Activity by RoyalCash, and the breakdown includes Scorpio by Dennis Coffey and Daytime Hustler by Bette Midler. There’s also guest vocals by Crystal Blake and bass from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea. Young MC has a good flow and a charming personality as he offers advice to a guy who attracts a lot of women, but doesn’t know what to do. One of the earlier hip-hop songs to become a hit and it’s a classic.
Steve Winwood is a legend who has been in the industry since the 60s, being a part of the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith. He’s also had a very successful solo career with Higher Love being one of two number one hits he had on the Hot 100. It’s one of his best songs. The tightness of the percussion and array of synths and keys that play alongside the horns makes for the best of 80s synthpop along with lyrics that suggests a search for faith. But the best part of the song is easily the vocals. Steve Winwood knocks it out of the park in a stellar vocal performance and Chaka Khan steals the show as well doing backup vocals. Higher Love, an 80s pop classic that you shouldn’t overlook.
Earlier this year, J. Geils of the J. Geils Band passed away due to natural causes. It’s really sad because they have some jams. Their biggest hit is Centerfold. It is a blast. I like the instrumentation that sounds like something that’d get played at a country bar. That organ intro makes the song. The song is J. Geils being distraught because he found out his high school crush has become a model for sleazy centerfold magazines. That would be an awkward conversation to have at the high school reunion. Regardless, great song. J. Geils will be missed.
Let’s ignore the Black Eyed Peas ruining this song and focus on the song itself. (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life was made for the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing and is a duet between Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. The instrumental is 80s soft rock, the best parts of 80s soft rock. Bill and Jennifer have great chemistry and were perfect for this song. They enjoy each other’s company and you can feel the love. It actually fits the movie it was made for. I bet a lot of “dirty dancing” went down after this song was playing, if you know what I mean.
I have never watched St. Elmo’s Fire. From what I’ve heard from other people, it wasn’t good (plus, it was directed by Joel Schumacher, the same guy behind Batman & Robin), so maybe that was a good thing. However, it’s titular theme song from John Parr is awesome. The instrumentation combines hard rock with the synths of soft rock along with some brass. It gets better when the chorus explodes and John Parr’s singing turns into a howl. Chills every time. I don’t even know what the song is fully about, it just sounds so amazing. If the movie was as bad as people made it out to be, at least we can say that this song was the best thing to come out of it.
The first big hit from Prince, I Wanna Be Your Lover was the world’s introduction to this Minneapolis talent. The writing is exactly what the title says, Prince wanting to be someone’s lover. His vocals are on-point. But the best part of the song is the instrumentation. The guitar licks, the synths, the drums, everything after the 2 1/2 minute mark. It was a taste of what’s to come from Prince.
New wave gave us a bunch of memorable one-hit wonders and one of them was Dexys Midnight Runners whose contribution to the world was the hit Come On Eileen. Set over a Celtic-style fiddle along with pianos, bass, and drums, Come On Eileen is about a girl named Eileen who the narrator is trying to convince into dating him (and possibly have sex) and leave their crummy small town. It’s an anthem for 80s youth and was so big that Dexys Midnight Runners couldn’t escape its shadow and recreate its success. Still a damn good song.
This is a song that’s been a victim to overplay due to it appearing in tons of movies and commercials. If you take way the overplay, Celebration is still a good song. This is classic disco: the guitars, the keys, the horns, the whole nine yards. It fits in perfectly with all of the other disco songs from the late 70s. It’s a celebration of life and all of the good times one will have. It just brings people together regardless of who they are. Kool & The Gang have numerous classics under their belt and this is one of them.
In 1986, the Beastie Boys were the first rap act to have an album top the Billboard charts with Licensed To Ill. The album was full of ridiculous rap-rock party jams, including (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party). The heavy guitars and drums are loud, rude, and in your face, just like one expects a party song to be. Funny enough, the Beasties intended this song to be a parody of party rock songs, which makes sense for their off-kilter sense of humor, but I guess that was lost on the people who bought it because it receives spins at a lot of crazy parties. Still, this is a great song to lose your shit to.
Born In The U.S.A. was a huge album for Bruce Springsteen. He was still making songs about the working class man, but embraced a more mainstream-friendly sound and it notched several hits like the titular track and Glory Days. The instrumentation is heartland rock at its most polished and clean with its guitars, organs, and pianos. This song is about a guy looking back at his glory days when he was at its peak. It’s something we all have to look forward to. Nobody stays young forever. This is one of 7 Top 10 hits from Born In The U.S.A. The only other artists to achieve this number are both Michael and Janet Jackson.
Robert Palmer gave us some great throwback tracks and music videos. Ignore songs like I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On and instead, look at Addicted To Love and Simply Irresistible, which makes this list. The guitars and drums of the instrumentation rocks like crazy while paying lip-service to rock ‘n roll. The writing is focused on the hottest chick that Robert Palmer has ever seen, who’s simply irresistible. What else can I say? This song is just kick ass.
Halloween is coming and I was originally planning on doing a Musical Appreciation on the Thriller album this month, but I scrapped it because of this list where I was gonna talk about some of the songs on the album anyways. So let’s talk about the titular track from Michael Jackson’s blockbuster masterpiece. It’s the ultimate Halloween song with its sinister production setting a creepy mood and lyrics describing scenarios that you’d find in a horror movie. Oh, and it has one of the best outros of any song with Vincent Price voice-over and this.
Every October, this song pops up in rotation and has re-entered the Hot 100 every year just like Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.
Off The Wall is Michael Jackson’s fifth studio album and first while signed to Epic Records. It was a more sophisticated, slick record that showed Michael’s maturity and artistry. This album is full of jams that slaps like a motherfucker. Rock With You is a perfect slow-burner with its lush midtempo disco production and Michael’s smooth vocal performance singing to a girl he’s dancing with. If you’re at a party or school dance, grab that special someone, take them to the dance floor, and rock with them all night.
Are you someone who works out? Chances are your playlist would have this song on it. Straight out of Rocky III is Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor. Those iconic guitar riffs, pulsing drums, and restraint piano notes will motivate you to achieve your goals, which is exactly what this song is about. Overcoming hardships and pushing yourself to the limit with the eye of the tiger. This is the montage song that other montage songs wished they could be. The Rocky movies in general have the best music to train to.
The late 70s were not a good time for Marvin Gaye. He was going through severe depression and drug addiction. However, he made a comeback in the early 80s with what would be his last hit Sexual Healing. Just like Let’s Get It On, it’s the ultimate baby-making jam. The production is both atmospheric and minimal with its use of keys and drum machines that are both timely and timeless at the same time. It also has some impressive vocals from Marvin Gaye himself. The song was a huge hit and it revitalized his career. Sadly, this was short-lived as two years after the song’s release, Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his father after a dispute. Even though he’s no longer with us, his legacy lives on forever.
The 80s saw funk embrace a more electro, synth-driven sound with Prince at the forefront. Also carrying the torch of funk in the 80s is Cameo, who makes the list with Word Up. This song is a blast. The production bumps like nothing else with those dominating synths and thundering drums. It’s some of the best electro-funk outside of Prince and Zapp. I should be annoyed by Cameo frontman Larry Blackmon’s nasal voice, but it strangely works for this ridiculous party jam. Ignore the shitty Korn cover, the original still rules.
If there’s any song that feels appropriate for the end of a decade, it’s this one. If I Could Turn Back Time was Cher’s big comeback in the 80s and is one of her best songs to date. An epic pop rock ballad with its big arena drums, guitars, and keys (along with a key change in the final chorus), this song is was made to be performed in a stadium full of people. Cher’s huskier voice fits this song like a glove and gives it a Bruce Springsteen feel along with lyrics of regret and wanting to undo the mistakes you’ve made when it comes to someone you love. This is one of those songs that Cher will perform and end every show with until the day she dies.