Musically speaking, the 80s were characterized by a certain dualism: on the one hand the mainstream music, in its most pop face, glossy and shiny, almost disposable, mirror of the society of that time. On the other hand, the emergence of alternative movements and genres, new wave above all, a reaction that rejected the other fase completely, the one that probably we can consider the pioneer of modern indie.
In the middle of course a whole series of nuances, and a large number of songs that have made the history of music, enriching a decade too often considered, wrongly, a sort of musical Middle Age. Here is our list of the ten most significant songs of that period, while at the bottom of the article you will find a Spotify playlist with a wider collection of the songs that marked the decade.
10. Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime
Once in a Lifetime is Talking Heads’ song about the middle age crisis. Peculiar is also the video, exhibited at MOMA in New York.
9. New Order – Blue Monday
A super classic synth-pop hit for one of the most beloved groups of the New Wave movement, New Order’s Blue Monday. Used and abused over the years, including somebody who was able to remix it like it was in another era.
8. Prince – Purple Rain
The Minneapolis genius, the artist of a thousand names, for everybody Prince, with the hit that consecrated him as a world star: Purple Rain, also winner of the Academy Award for the soundtrack of his own movie.
7. Pixies – Where is my Mind?
Pixies’ Where Is My Mind? is a milestone of the 80s alternative-rock, by a band that has anticipated the times of a genre that will explode in later years.
6. Michael Jackson – Beat it
He could not be missing, The King of Pop, not only a musical icon, but one of the protagonists of the 80s in general, Micheal Jackson. And even this song is iconic: one of the best-selling singles of all time that counts the participation of Eddie Van Halen at the guitar.
5. Madonna – Into the Groove
And after the king, the Queen is mandatory: Madonna, the female artist with most records sold in the history of music. Into The Groove is a single written for the soundtrack of the film Desperately Seeking Susan, and was awarded by Billboard as the dance single of the decade.
4. Tears for Fears – Head Over Heels
One of the countless hits of the British Tears for Fears, Head Over Heels comes from the award-winning album Songs from the Big Chair.
3. Depeche Mode – Never Let me Down Again
Among the most sophisticated representatives of the 80s synth-pop, Depeche Mode have become during the decade a cult band. Thanks also to Never Let me Down Again.
2. The Cure – Just Like Heaven
Probably the band symbol of the alternative Eighties, The Cure reach the artistic maturity and the great success in this decade. Just Like Heaven is considered by the leader Robert Smith as one of their most successful songs.
1. The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
The other great alternative band of the 80s is definitely The Smiths. Inspiring countless bands after them, elegant in music as in lyrics, guided by the charismatic and sometimes controversial Morrissey. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out could probably be part of the top ten not only of the decade, but of all time.
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Here Auralcrave’s Spotify playlist, with a more extensive collection of the iconic songs of the 80s.