Every time I hear this song, the intro gives me goosebumps. Jump by Van Halen might have one of the best synth riffs of any song period. It goes along with the rest of the arena rock instrumentation, which are stadium-level huge, and David Lee Roth being David Lee Roth. The lyrics were inspired by a news report of a guy threatening to jump off of a building while onlookers were shouting “jump.” That’s kinda dark. Thankfully, Van Halen took that inspiration and made a more inspiring song about jumping towards opportunities. This is one of those songs that you’re gonna hear at sporting events. It gives off that mood.
There’s been many instances of covers that are so well-known that most people don’t even realize that they’re covers. Tainted Love by Soft Cell is one of those covers. Yeah. It’s a cover. More specifically, a cover to the Gloria Jones song of the same title. Soft Cell took this old soul song about toxic love and made it into a new wave hit. I like the Gloria Jones version fine enough, but Soft Cell took it to another level with those gothic synths and organs in the production and Marc Almond’s pain sounding more convincing. J.R. Rotem sampled this song for one of Rihanna’s earliest hits S.O.S., but he could never recreate the greatness of Soft Cell’s cover.
Belinda Carlisle is the frontwoman of the all-female band the Go-Go’s. When the band broke up in 1985, she started a solo career with her biggest hit being Heaven Is A Place On Earth. It’s a power pop ballad with lush, anthemic instrumentation. Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas contributes backing vocals and Thomas Dolby of She Blinded Me With Science fame is on the keyboards. Belinda brings the same passion she had while with the Go-Go’s as she seeks a piece of mind and a heaven on Earth. Good song. Check it out if you haven’t.
Contrary to what some might think, I don’t hate all soft rock. There are some bands and songs in the genre that work really well like REO Speedwagon. I didn’t know which song was better, Take It On The Run or Keep On Loving You, so I picked both. They’re both songs about Kevin Cronin’s reaction to finding out his girlfriend might be cheating on him. In Take It On The Run, she wants to leave town because of these rumors and in Keep On Loving You, he still want to love her despite the fact that she hurt him. What makes these songs work is the details in the writing and some really good instrumentation. The former song is an acoustic guitar-rooted song with a kick ass guitar solo while the latter song is a power ballad with pianos and organs. They’re soft rock done right. More of this and less Air Supply.
Whitney Houston. It’s been more than five years since she’s passed. Even though she’s not around, her music still is. The first four singles of her second album Whitney all went to number one and we’re gonna talk about one of them, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. This song is an 80s dance staple thanks to its synth-heavy production, Whitney’s amazing vocals, and the simplicity of wanting somebody to dance with. This song is perfect for playlists of any 80s-themed party and is one of the many classics Whitney has under her belt.
Here’s a song that’s pretty much synonymous with the 80s, Brass In Pocket by The Pretenders. One of the earliest new wave hits, it’s also one of the most iconic. The instrumentation is simple and effective. In spite how laidback and relaxing the instrumentation is, the lyrics are very sexually driven as it describes a woman about to give up the goods for the first time. I didn’t even think of that until I looked at the lyrics. Still, good song.
Well, it took this song, but I finally get to talk about Madonna in this list. Her influence on pop music cannot be overlooked. She laid the groundwork for every female pop star who came after her. She wasn’t afraid to be controversial, either. Just look at Papa Don’t Preach. Over an orchestral dance beat, it tells the story of a girl who admits to her father that she’s pregnant and that she’s going to keep the baby and raise it with her boyfriend, no matter how much the father disapproves. This caused outrage on two different sides: the pro-choice people who thought the message of the song was pro-life and then there’s the people who thought this song was advocating for teen pregnancy. It depends on how you interpret it. No matter, the song is a Madonna classic.
Anyone remember Like Toy Soldiers? The song that sought to put an end to violent rap beefs and one of the few good songs on Eminem’s Encore album? Well, the chorus of that song samples this 1989 hit Toy Soldiers by Martika. This song is about Martika’s friend who was with an addiction to cocaine. The toy soldiers metaphor makes sense since this person is fighting a battle that they’re not sure of winning. Matching the melancholy of the writing is the production, which is dour and haunting. The innocent-sounding chorus features backing vocals from Martika’s castmates from Kids Incorporated, including Jennifer Love Hewitt and Fergie. You read that correctly. Fergie is in this song. The random things I learn from these songs amaze me.
The Breakfast Club is one of those movies that are timeless, showing that people are way more than stereotypes and labels. Every generation can relate to it and it’s held up pretty well. The final scene where all five kids leave for home is excellent, part of it is thanks to the song playing in the background, Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me). The instrumentation is rock and synthpop fused together with some recognizable melodies. Even though this is a love song, it also kinda works as a graduation song, not wanting to forget someone even with distance in the way. It sounds bittersweet, yet hopeful at the same time. Great song for The Breakfast Club.
Back in the world of hair metal, we have Def Leppard with a tie between Photograph and Pour Some Sugar On Me. Both of these are hard rock classics that walk a fine line between the heavier sounds of hard rock and metal with anthemic choruses, clean melodic instrumentation, and layered vocals. Photograph is Joe Elliott obsessing over someone that he only has a photograph of, some say it’s Marilyn Monroe. Pour Some Sugar On Me? I initially thought it was sex related, but I’m not sure that’s what the song is about. This song was made after the band’s drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a nasty car accident, so he had to use a specialized drum kit with extra pedals. He’s still a pretty good drummer as this song shows. Def Leppard, great band with great music.
Like I said in my Best Songs of the 90s list, Elton John has an impressive career, going all the way back to the 60s. One of the numerous hits he had over the years is I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues. This is a song that feels at home in the 70s with its grand piano, midtempo rock instrumentation, and backing vocals along with a harmonica solo from Stevie Wonder. The writing is on lovers who won’t let distance get in the way of their relationship. Just another classic song from Elton John.
Prince’s ninth studio album Sign O’ The Times comprised of songs that would’ve gone to albums that were shelved due to label issues. One of those songs is the title track, which showed Prince going into a different direction with his music. The production, done by Prince himself, is very minimal, consisting of sparse synths, percussion, and bluesy guitar. The writing addresses the various social-political issues that were occurring at the time, including drug abuse, AIDS, gang violence, etc. It’s a look at how bleak and chaotic our world truly is and it’s still relevant today.
Now here’s the Blondie that I like. This song, Call Me, was made for the soundtrack of American Gigilo. I never saw that movie nor am I interested in it, but this song is awesome. The instrumentation mixes disco drums with a guitar gallop rhythm and somehow makes it work. The lyrics tie into the movie it was made for, which involves a male prostitute. I don’t know and I don’t care. This song kicks ten tons of ass and is Blondie’s best song.
The song that put Whitney Houston on the map and was her first number one hit. How Will I Know is classic dance pop and classic Whitney. The instrumentation is very cheery and happy sounding thanks to the synths. Yet funny enough, the lyrics shows a desperate girl who’s wondering if the guy she likes has feelings for her. It’s like a look into the mind of a teenage girl. Whitney Houston just kills this song vocally. Fun fact: this song was written for Janet Jackson, but her management said no. That was for the best because I don’t think Janet could do what Whitney did with this song. This song would be the start of a career and many great songs.
Please stand for the Australian national anthem. I’m not even joking about the national anthem part because Down Under by Men At Work is the ultimate song about Australia. Well, to be accurate, it’s about a guy from Australia traveling around the world and meeting new people. I love the summery instrumentation of this song, it’s very new wave-like along with that flute. It makes you feel like you’re traveling through the hot Australian desert in the middle of the day. Great song from the land down under.
You all remember the Destiny’s Child song Bootylicious? Of course, you do. Well, here’s the song it sampled. Edge Of Seventeen is Stevie Nicks’ signature song and a damn good one. The chugging guitar riff that starts the song is pretty much iconic at this point and it goes along the rest of the instrumentation. The lyrics contain a lot of symbolism, especially with the white winged dove. The death of John Lennon and Stevie Nicks’ uncle were a huge inspiration for this song. That’s cheerful. Sarcasm aside, good song.
Many songs on this list were products of the decade and there’s very few songs that are more 80s than Money For Nothing by Dire Straits. The song starts with Sting singing “I want my MTV” before going into rocking instrumentation and lyrics written in the perspective of a working class guy complaining about music stars on MTV and how they’re making easy money. Most people remember the song for its music video, which was one of the earliest uses of computer animation. It looked amazing then, it’s hard to look at now. Still doesn’t take away the quality of the song.
9 to 5 is a song that Dolly Parton made for the movie 9 to 5 (which she also starred in). The song is about working class citizens who have a 9 to 5 job. Dolly Parton makes having a job sound like the best thing in the world with this jamming instrumentation that includes piano, guitars, and brass. It kinda makes you forget that jobs aren’t exactly that glamorous, especially if you’re working in certain fields. Regardless, this song is a lot of fun to listen to.
Here’s a song that recently became one of my favorites ever since I first heard it. Before then, I was familiar with the DHT cover from 2005 (I’m a 90s baby, can you blame me?). Boy am I glad that I discovered this song because Listen To Your Heart by Roxette is awesome. The instrumentation combines hard rock guitars with ballad keys along with an orchestral-like outro to make an epic sound along with Marie Fredriksson’s best vocal performance to date. The writing is centered on Marie convincing a friend not to end her relationship because she still might have feelings for this guy after they break up. This a great ballad that if you haven’t listen to by now, you should.
Prog-rock band Yes has been around since the 60s, yet their biggest hit came in the 80s with Owner Of A Lonely Heart. The instrumentation to this song isn’t as structurally complex as their other songs, but it’s pretty damn awesome with a memorable guitar riff for the intro. The message of the song is to take chances, especially in terms of forming a relationship. Someone who’s never been in a relationship because they’re afraid of being heartbroken should be more confident in themselves and try. If things don’t work out, try again until you succeed.
Been a while since we talked about Pat Benatar, has it? Well, let’s change that by talking about Hit Me With Your Best Shot. The instrumentation is extremely catchy and memorable. It’s rock at its most basic level done excellently. Pat Benatar brings a lot of sass into her performance as she holds her ground to a guy who’ll most likely hurt her (emotionally) and challenging said guy to present whatever problems he has. She’s a no-nonsense girl with a no-nonsense song.
Can we all agree that Bon Jovi is awesome? Because they are. They gave us some of the most iconic rock anthems of the 80s, one of them being You Give Love A Bad Name. The instrumentation just rocks, thanks to those catchy ass guitar riffs and drum work, plus, the frontman himself Jon Bon Jovi. It’s ridiculously catchy; I always find myself repeating the chorus every time I hear this song. Never has heartbreak sounded so glorious. If you’re feeling some type of way about your ex who broke your heart, blast this song at maximum.
We don’t get enough sexy love songs on this list, so let’s add in Smooth Operator from the great Sade. This song is ridiculously smooth. It’s smoother than a baby’s bottom. It actually makes smooth jazz cool, which is funny considering a lot of smooth jazz is lame. The keys, the sax, the percussion, etc. all sound smooth, but never goes into cheese territory. The song is centered on a sophisticated ladies’ man who travels a lot, breaking hearts and never settles down. As for Sade herself? Bruh, she’s damn near a goddess at this shit. So sultry, so tempting, she’s amazing. Check out her music if you’re into soulful, smooth R&B.
It’s not the 80s without some synthrock and giving us some synthrock is Loverboy with their signature hit Working For The Weekend. The synths flow seamlessly with the rocking instrumentation, making a rock song with a pop appeal. Helps that the chorus is really catchy. This is the ultimate weekend song. Most people working weekdays can’t wait for the weekend to start so they can chill and/or party. Start your weekend right with this song.
We reach another iconic Michael Jackson song, Smooth Criminal. This is easily one of my Top 5 favorite Michael songs . The production is great: I love the melody, the slapping bass, the gunshot percussion, and the brass kicking in after the second chorus. The plot of the song is basically a girl named Annie brutally attacked by a smooth criminal. Hey, Michael. Going by the lyrics, I’m pretty sure Annie isn’t okay and needs to see a hospital. That aside, great song, great video. The Alien Ant Farm cover is ehh.
Queen is another 70s act who continued to see success in the 80s. Crazy Little Thing Called Love is Queen’s way of paying tribute to Elvis Presley and you can tell the Elvis influence. The sparse instrumentation containing acoustic guitars and hand claps, the vocal performances from Freddie Mercury and company, the whole structure of the song, etc. It’s not epic like most Queen songs, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a simple rock ‘n roll song and it works well in that regard.
I’ve talked about the 1997 version of Candle In The Wind way back in my Best Songs of the 90s list, so let’s talk about the original. The original song was released in 1974, but was never a single in the States. Then Elton John did a live version of the song in 1986 and released that as a single. For the sake of this post, I’m sticking to the original. This piano ballad is a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, chronicling her career and her eventual death. A candle in the wind is used as a simile for her shining beauty that eventually went dark. Great song from Elton John.
I think I can safely say that this is one of my favorite soft rock songs of all time. I don’t think Toto will ever make a song as great as Africa. This is a beautiful-sounding song. The heavier use of percussion along with the atmospheric synths and kalimba makes for a song unlike anything Toto has ever made. And the chorus? Goosebumps every time. It’s so anthemic that it’s hard not to sing along to. The lyrics contain vague descriptions of Africa, especially since Africa is a huge continent with many different cultures, but they don’t get enough attention compared to the typical Eurocentric teachings of the continent and I’m getting sidetracked. This is still a great, beautiful song.
Land Of Confusion could be Genesis’ crowning moment of awesomeness. This is one of the best produced Genesis songs ever made thanks to the layered synths, shredding guitars, and the mix of drum machines and real drums. The lyrics of the song describes the insane climate of the times. Politicians becoming greedy, the threat of nuclear war, foreign policy is a mess, desperation for hope. Hey, that sounds no different from today’s climate. It’s amazing how even though these songs capture the times they’re a part of in a bottle become timeless the more you think about it.
Be honest. That sax riff is in your head right now, isn’t it? Careless Whisper by George Michael is so huge that its fame eclipses the song itself. It’s one of those songs that’s been frequently used as a gag for sexual situations in comedy. The thing is, the song isn’t a joke, it’s legitimately good. Hell, it’s not even a sex song, it’s George Michael feeling so guilty after cheating on his partner that he can’t function normally like he can or “dance.” The rest of the instrumentation is also really good. The keys, guitars, and percussion are all on-point. Like I said, this is a good song. Don’t let the jokes fool you.
Because I’m a lazy bastard, I’m just gonna quote everything I said about these two songs when I reviewed Purple Rain.
WHEN DOVES CRY: The number one single of 1984 according to Billboard and it was written for the Purple Rain movie. The instrumentation, with its guitars, synths, and electric drums, has no bass line. The writing of the song lines up perfectly for the movie, balancing parent troubles and love affairs, and it stands on its own excellently. It’s one of the best songs Prince has ever made and it’s one of the best songs on Purple Rain.
LET’S GO CRAZY: Let’s Go Crazy begins with an organ intro that, in retrospect, is very haunting. After that, the song kicks off into a rocking, funky jam that Prince is an expert on. This instrumentation kicks all kinds of ass with the guitars, bass, synth, and electric drums, plus, there’s two guitar solos courtesy of Prince himself. This song is basically a celebration of life itself, not letting negativity bring you down and enjoying the positives.
Sometime in the early 80s, pop songs started sounding creepy (which may or may not be related to Thriller). Enter Eurythmics, the British duo of Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. They gave us the new wave classic Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This). This production is some haunted house shit with the zipper-like synth melody and haunting vocals. Annie Lennox is a gift to singing. There is not a lot of singers like her. The song is focused on people’s motivations. There’s the users and the used, the abuser and the abused. Kind of a pessimistic outlook on life, but there is some truth to it. Eurythmics have yet to make a song as great as this while Annie Lennox would go on to have a good solo career.
Guns N’ Roses saved rock music in the late 80s. When the genre was starting to get stagnant and stale, they were there to kick things up. Welcome To The Jungle and Paradise City are songs that rock like crazy. Slash is. beast guitar player. Even though Axel Rose is a dickbag in real life (from what I’ve heard at least), he injects a lot of personality and energy into these songs. The jungle in Welcome To The Jungle is a metaphor for any place that brings out the primal beast in anyone that enters it while Paradise City is about a guy fed up with the city life and wants to go somewhere else. Props go out to Guns N’ Roses.
Earlier this month, Tom Petty passed away. It’s still pretty shocking when I think about it. I paid tribute with a Musical Appreciation on I Won’t Back Down. Now I’m gonna talk about another one of his songs on this list, Don’t Do Me Like That. The instrumentation is summery and upbeat with the piano, guitars, organs. Tom Petty is, well, Tom Petty. He’s amazing, but it’s kinda obvious. This song is about a friend of Tom Petty’s who was dumped and he warns Petty that the same thing could happen to him. Still can’t believe this dude is gone.
Most probably recognize this song because it sampled in the posthumous Tupac single Changes, but more people need to hear this song now because it is powerful. The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby & The Range address social issues occurring throughout American history. More specifically, all three verses address economic inequality, racial segregation, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The song points out that there are people who are stuck in the past or in some regressive mindset that’s getting in the way of progress. The instrumentation is excellent with some of the best piano playing I have ever heard in a popular song. The message of this song is still relevant as of today. The people in power and their supporters will never push for progress.
CRACK THAT WHIP!! New wave heroes Devo are on the list for one of the landmarks of the genre, the nerdy ass Whip It. The instrumentation is really simple and catchy: guitars, drums, synths. For years most people assumed that the song is about masturbation or BDSM. In reality, they’re just nonsense gibberish that involves a lot of whipping. There isn’t that much of a deeper meaning to this song. It’s big appeal is that it’s extremely catchy and it embraces being weird. At least that’s why I like it.
There is a lot of songs on this list with relevant timeless messages. The instrumentation to Man In The Mirror is what you expect out of an 80s ballad, until it goes full gospel in the final chorus. Meanwhile, Michael is feeling uneasy about the state of the world, but he decides that in order to make the world a better place, he has to look at the man in the mirror and make a change. One could make a joke about him changing himself too much, but this is something Michael feels strongly about since he does a lot of charities and cares about the world. Great song that anyone can apply themselves to.
Even though he was no longer part of Genesis, Peter Gabriel’s creativity never left him. He would make some of the best, most sophisticated pop music of the 80s, including Sledgehammer. The instrumentation is inspired by soul and funk music, which explains the horns, guitar riffs, and a flute. In the song, Peter Gabriel is trying to woo a pretty lady and convince her to have sex with him and he’s such a lovable dork. The song is awesome, but what’s equally awesome is the music video. That is a work of art.
Here’s what might be one of the greatest songs that Daryl Hall & John Oates have ever made. I Can’t Go For That is an 80s classic. The instrumentation is brilliant, hooked on a catchy bass line (that would influence Billie Jean), a simple drum line, a variety of synths, and a saxophone. This pretty much laid the groundwork for most 80s pop songs. The writing is framed like a love song, but John Oates says it’s about the music industry. Thinking about it, I can see that. Whatever it’s about, this song is great.
Earth, Wind & Fire have been making nonstop classics in the 70s and they even managed to score hits in the 80s, especially the groovetastic Let’s Groove. The instrumentation is classic Earth, Wind & Fire with the guitars and horns mixed in with synths, keys, and robotic vocals from the 80s. The vocals are on-point as well. Nobody misses a beat. It’s not the band’s greatest song, but it’s just fun to listen to and is great for parties. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for is something that sounds fun.
Once again, I gotta be lazy because I have nothing else new to say about Ghostbusters. Go to my Musical Appreciation of this song to see how I feel about it. Call it a copout all you want. I’ll gladly accept that.
Once again, we’re going into the controversial with Madonna. It seems like she finds a way to piss people off, especially the dumb ones. This brings us to Like A Prayer, a pop/gospel fusion song that combines both religious and sexual imagery in the lyrics. Bet the Bible thumpers are having a heart attack listening to this while screaming blasphemy. What made the song even more controversial is the music video, which… just watch it.
Another career highlight for Madonna and why she never gives a fuck.
Ladies and gentlemen, Guns ‘N Roses with Sweet Child O’ Mine. The song starts off with one of Slash’s most iconic guitar riff before going into an explosion of drums and guitars, both acoustic and electric, plus an awesome solo from Slash. It’s classic Guns N’ Roses that. This is a song that Axl Rose wrote as a dedication to his then-girlfriend. How sweet. A song that’s both romantic and can rock hard. What else can a girl ask for?
Hip-hop and rock coming together could either be like peanut butter and chocolate or pineapple on pizza. Run-DMC collaborating with Aerosmith to remake the latter’s song Walk This Way is most definitely a Reese’s. We got ill rhymes from Run and DMC, vinyl scratches from the late Jam Master Jay, and friggin Aerosmith jamming out. This song made hip-hop official on the charts and it revived Aerosmith’s career. As you can tell, it’s kind of a big deal.
Well, here’s a classic from Queen. Another One Bites The Dust. The sparse and funky instrumentation features one of the most iconic bass lines in rock music history. Freddie Mercury kills it vocally once again. With how fun the instrumentation is, the writing of the song is a tonal difference. It’s focused on a guy who’s pissed after his girlfriend dumped him, so he heads out, grabs his gun, and go on a killing spree. That’s kinda dark. Still, great song.
When all of the right elements come together, a great pop tune is made. That’s most certainly the case for Take On Me, the only US hit from a-ha. This song is synthpop at its peak with one of the most recognizable synth melodies in pop music. You know, I know, everyone knows it. Morten Harket is one exceptional vocalist, being able to hit falsettos that most people wish they could hit, especially on the chorus when he goes one octave up. Equally as good is the music video where a girl gets dragged into a comic book with Harket. This might be one of the best pop songs to come out of the 80s.
I’m actually planning on doing a Musical Appreciation on Pink Floyd’s The Wall in the future. It’s actually surprising that Pink Floyd has hits because they never try to make a hit song, their albums always have some form of narrative or theme. Their only number one hit is Another Brick In The Wall Pt 2. The instrumentation is classic Pink Floyd and also features a school choir singing the song. It has a theme of rebellion. It speaks out against cruel teachers in school, telling them that they’re just another brick in the wall. I’ll probably talk more about the song when I review The Wall album, but yeah. Great song overall.
The power ballad to end all power ballads. Livin’ On A Prayer is one of Bon Jovi’s signature songs and is considered to be one of the greatest songs of the 80s and one of the best rock songs period. Is that amount of praise deserved? Duh. It has some epic instrumentation thanks to the guitars and synths, plus, the talkbox and a key change in the final chorus. It’s impossible to resist singing the chorus, it is that epic. In spite of the grand sound, the writing is focused on a working-class couple trying to make ends meet while keeping their relationship together. How can you hate this? This is one of the best rock songs the 80s gave us and it holds up excellently through time.
So much could be said about the Thriller album: the music, the success, the impact, the face that it’s still the best-selling album of all time 36 years later. One of the highlights of the album is Beat It. This is Michael Jackson dipping his feet into rock-oriented songs and this song rock. Eddie Van Halen contributed guitar work to give the song more credibility and he doesn’t slack. Beat It shows Michael’s badass side before the Bad album even existed, even though the lyrics are anti-violence. Seriously, the song is basically, “don’t get into pointless fights.” Some people need to hear that. By this point, you probably already know what gonna be my number one, so let’s get to it.
And now, the best song of the 80s IS………….
Leave it to ol’ B-HOP to go with the most obvious, cliched choice for number one, the Michael Jackson song. But to me, this is the song that defines the 80s and the best parts of the decade. So here it is: Billie Jean. This is one of the few songs that I would say is damn-near perfect. Everything in the instrumentation works the way it’s supposed to. The synths, the guitar licks, bass line, the drum beat, everything is on-point. There’s not one thing I would change. The writing is the take of a girl who claims to Michael’s baby mama, but he denies it and says the kid isn’t his. It’s almost like a one-sided episode of Maury. He was warned by his friends and family about suspicious women who would use and exploit him for whatever reason. Plus, being a huge megastar makes you a bigger target. Billie Jean is an example of Michael Jackson at his peak and why he was so exceptional compared to other pop star. And that’s why I name Billie Jean the best hit song of the 80s.
And those were, in my opinion, the best hits of the 80s. What are your favorite songs from the 80s? Comment below and let me know what you think. In January, we’re gonna boogie our way BACK TO THE 70s and look at the dumpster fields of the 70s, starting with the Worst Songs of 1970.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
Shout-Tears For Fears
Listen To Your Heart-Roxette
Human Nature-Michael Jackson
Why Should I Worry-Billy Joel