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Monday Playlist: 80’s Music That Didn’t Suck

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It is a well-established scientific fact at this point that the 1980’s was a shit decade. Everything was terrible. The two best things about the 1980’s were 1) the Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears, and 2) that, mercifully, the decade ended at some point.

Most relics from the 1980’s — music, movies, Alan Thicke — are experienced today with the kind of ironic appreciation that most people feel while dancing at a wedding reception, and that hipsters feel every day of their lives. BUT WORRY NOT. Not everything from the decade that gave us Members-Only jackets was terrible. In fact, a small portion of it was pretty terrific. Hence, our Monday Morning Playlist for the week is 80’s Music That Didn’t Suck:

1. U2: Sunday Bloody Sunday: I know, I know. Some of you think that U2 did, and still does, suck. But I don’t. I don’t think they are one of the greatest bands of all time, and I don’t think they are pretnetious and self-absorbed. I just think they made some pretty decent music. And though most people don’t remember it, they were relatively progressive with their politics, and dedicated a lot of their early music to Ireland’s tumultuous civil wars:

2. Michael Jackson: Billie Jean: Michael made some unreal pop music in the 80’s, and so picking one song is really just a matter of personal preference. I was going to go with “Smooth Criminal,” but someone reminded me that that track comes off of the album Bad, which, not coincidentally, was terrible. So, “Billie Jean” it is:

3. Queen and David Bowie: Under Pressure: It’s David Bowie and Queen, people. Enough said:

4. The Clash: London Calling: The Clash were everything great about British punk; angry, political, honest, and above-all, real song-writers. They mixed their sneers with propulsive melodies, creating some of the best punk ever recorded:

5. Bruce Springsteen: Dancing in the Dark: Trying to pick one Sprinsteen song is like a musical Sophie’s Choice for me, as I happen to think The Boss is one of the greatest American musician/performers like, uh, ever. And I think that his 1978 album Darkness of the Edge of Town should be in any conversation about the top three American rock records ever. But if we’re picking songs from his 1980s output, it’s hard to go wrong with “Dancing in the Dark”:

6. Blondie: Maria: Tell me Debbie Harry wasn’t AMAZING:

7. The Beastie Boys: Sounds of Science: You want to know one of the dirty secrets of 1980s hip-hop? That three white kids from Brooklyn released one of the best albums of decade, and a landmark album for the genre. When Miles Davis says he loved it, you know it’s something special. Plus, they had the balls to rip off The Beatles:

8. Eric B and Rakim: Microphone Fiend: Most younger people know this track because of the Rage Against the Machine cover, but this is classic hip-hop, and Eric B had killer flow:

9. Madonna: Into the Groove: It was a tough call between this and “Like a Prayer,” but this is probably the more danceable song. BOOM:


10. Journey: Don’t Stop Believin’: It’s more than a karoake hit, it’s the best bar song ever written, pure and simple: