Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1981

See list criteria here.

20.  America”, Neil Diamond– Neil Diamond was not my favorite artist growing up, but his music has grown on me as I have aged.  Where I would have turned him off in the 80s, now I will listen to his music, and all of his songs have strong choruses.  I like the patriotic aspect of this song also.

19.  “Morning Train (Nine To Five)”, Sheena Easton– This song was huge at the time (maybe to the point if overplay), and it has catchy (almost monotonous) beat.  You could count on hearing this song on the way to work every day for about two years.  “For Your Eyes Only” was also a very good song released by Sheena Easton in this year, and it was hard to choose between the two.

18.  “Young Turks”, Rod Stewart  I was never a big Rod Stewart fan what with the whole stomach-pumping rumors and all (Yes, I know it was all untrue now, but we did not have Snopes back then, and we were stuck with the rumors we had.  By, the time the truth was revealed, the damage was done).  That all being said, this song has a strong melody, and his voice does not sound so much like sand paper in this song.

17.  “Leader of the Band”, Dan Fogelberg– I always really liked this song, and it was easy for me to apply it to the relationship that I had with my own father.  Since his death, it only seems to apply better.  Same Old Lang Syne” was also a great song that was released in the same year and charted higher than “Leader of the Band”, but I just like “Leader of the Band” more.

16.  “Shake It Up”, The Cars– This is the first great Cars’ song of the 80s.  It has the quirky, syncopated style that eventually style that eventually becomes a staple of Cars’ music.

15.  “Arthur’s Theme”, Christopher Cross– I doesn’t get much more melodic or sing-able than the theme from the movie Arthur, though it is a little on the soft rock side of the scale.  It will always be one of the best movie theme songs.

14.  “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”, The Police– This is another upbeat and very good release for the British punk band.  It is the kind of tune that stays in your head in a good way.

13.  “Jessie’s Girl”, Rick Springfield– I have always thought of Rick Springfield as ‘Bruce Springstein without the edge’.  This was a huge hit at the time with a chorus that was easy to sing along with.

12.  “Who Can It Be Now?”, Men at Work– This is the first song released by the quirky group from Australia, and is my second favorite Men at Work song.  I have fond memories of this group because it was my ‘gateway drug’ from Country to Pop music.  I was a big fan right up to the point that I rented their “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” concert video.  My ‘gay-dar’ was not as precisely tuned at that time, but when I saw Colin Hay and the rest of the members of the band prancing around on the stage, I slotted the band with what became an ever growing number of androgynous, quasi-gay 80s bands that put out decent music, but whose concerts I would never go to.

11.  “Urgent”, Foreigner– This was the first hit off of Foreigner’s mega album “4”.  The percussion and keyboards (keyboards supplied by the great Thomas Dolby) has a nice syncopated quality that usually causes the listener to tap his foot or nod his head.

10.  “Our Lips Are Sealed”, The Go Go’s– This was the lead song off The Go Go’s debut album “Beauty and the Beat”.  Belinda Carlisle lent her nice, sexy vocals to the band’s sometimes overly energetic style.  This song stayed on the charts for over a year, an impressive feat for any 80s hit.

9.  “You Make My Dreams”, Daryl Hall and John Oates– This is second song from the early 80s powerhouse Hall and Oates, and is the last single to be released from “Voices”.  Like several of the other songs.  This song almost has a 50s doo-wop feel to it, and I like it better than the Mega-hit “Private Eyes” which was the first song off of the album of the same name.  “Private Eyes” is a little too-cool-for-school for me, and it does not have the staying power of its predecessor.  I chose this song over “Kiss On My List” which I also like a lot.

8.  “The Tide Is High”, Blondie– The main problem that I had with Blondie was Debbie Harry and her ‘Children of the Corn’ eyes.  I found her hard to look at, but she was a beauty compared with that horse-faced Toni Basil.  The Tide is High is a pretty mellow song for this group, but I like it better than anything else that they released.

7.  “Endless Love”, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie– With this song, Lionel Richie began to make a name for himself outside of the Commodores.  It is still Ross’s best selling hit, and the harmonies between Ross and Richie are superb.  The only downside to it is that it was title song of a dreadful movie starring Brooke Shields.

6.  “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, Pat Benatar– Pat Benatar is the best and most prolific rocker-girl of the early 80s, and this song is vintage Benatar, complete with ricochet sounds.  She is one of the few rocker-girls that did not seem screechy to me when she would belt it out.

5.  “The One That You Love”, Air Supply– For some reason, Air Supply decided to confuse all of its fans in 1981 by releasing a song with the very pronounced chorus ‘Here I am, the one that you love’ and another song named “Here I am” that only used these words at the very first of the song, and had a chorus that said, ‘Just when I thought I was over you….”  This was all unnecessarily confusing, though I like both songs.

4.  “Celebration”, Kool and The Gang– This song held the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 100 for six weeks, and charted for over a year.  Its disco-funk chorus, of course, had a great beat and base line.  This song is still a staple at most wedding receptions.

3.  “Don’t Stop Believing”, Journey– This release from the great Journey album ‘Escape’ is the signature song for the band today.  It is another of the harder songs that are more associated with Graham Nash by many Journey fans than Steve Perry.  The song recently received a revival when it was featured prominently in the last episode of The Sopranos.  “Who’s Crying Now” was also released this year.

2.  “Keep On Loving You”, REO Speedwagon– This is a truly great song by a band that would become an 80s power ballad staple.  “Take It On The Run” was also recorded in this year, but for me, there was no question which of the two was the best song.  It was played on MTV’s first day, and still can be heard regularly today.  It was released on the album Hi Fidelity, and was one of two great songs on this album.

1.  “In The Air Tonight”, Phil Collins– This is my favorite Phil Collins song ever, and one of my favorite songs of all time.  It is dark and edgy, and led to one of the greatest urban legends of all time.  Supposedly, Phil had written the song about an evil man who had allowed one of his friends to drown when they were on a trip to the beach.  According to the legend, Phil later invited the evil man to a concert, and sang the song to him.  Of course, when Phil was asked about this, he did not know what the hell the reporter was talking about.  He simply expressed the truth that this song like “Against All Odds” was written during a tough divorce from his wife.  I’m sure that he and Ben Folds could get together and write a song that would force the listener to commit suicide.  True greatness.

Top 20 80s Pop/Rock Songs (Category)

Top 20 1980’s Pop/Rock Songs By Year (Criteria)

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1980

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1982

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1983

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1984

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1985

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1986

Top 20 Pop/Rock Songs from 1987

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American Idol Results Show, April 30th

Find my latest American Idol article here.

The show started with the best group song so far this season.  There was even some real harmony.  I ran it back just to make sure they were not lip-syncing.  I am surprised that this part of the show is getting better just as the contestants have more songs to learn each week.  It might be that Neil Diamond’s songs are just easier to sing, or perhaps by trimming some of the less talented fat from the competition, the group song has become better through attrition.  Whatever the reason, it’s a good thing.

Creepy Constantine (and I stand by the creepy comment 100%) was back this week to promote some lame Idol recap show on the Fox Reality Channel (unlike my lame Idol recap blog).  Looks like that singing career has really taken off for him.  I think I still remember Gina Glockson, but I know I don’t care one bit.

Apparently, Paula, the producers or maybe both of them were so embarrassed by her ridiculous comments toward Jason during last night’s show that they deliberately omitted them from the two minute recap.  Are you serious?  That was hands down one of the classic moments ever on Idol, and the fact that they did not include it in the recap smacked of a purposeful cover-up.  If you are going to put that stupid airhead on the show every week, don’t take liberties with your audience while trying to avoid the fact that she is an idiot.  You may say that they were just worried about her feelings, but I say, if you are going to put yourself out there every week in that condition as a judge of talent in a competition on television (no less), then you deserve whatever ridicule and criticism you receive.  Oh, if the internet rumors of her impending demise were only true.

I’m not going to take any easy shots at Neil Diamond’s mother on this blog, but I will remind the producers of the show that this is television.

When Jason was safe, I knew it would be a bad night for one of the girls, and I was right.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Brooke leave the show, because she honestly deserved to go.  It also will give the Internet a week’s reprieve from the inevitable calls of racism that will come whenever Sayesha leaves in the next two weeks.  I did come up with a name for Brooke’s first album after seeing her attempt to sing herself off the show.  How about Déjà vu?   Get it?  Brooke is a sweet person, but I do not see her ever having a successful music career.  I truly hope she finds another way to be successful that does not include playing in smoke-filled bars on the weekend, I do not know if she would survive in an environment like that.

American Idol Top Five, April 29

Find my latest American Idol article here.

It was Neil Diamond Night, and this allowed the contestants a wide variety of song choices.
Oddly the judges did not judge the first song right after they sang it, but waited until after all had sung their first songs to comment. I did not like this tweak to the format, but I assume it was done to keep the show under two hours, and so we would not have to hear Paula babble as many times or for as long. However, this proved to be a big mistake, as Paula (I’m sure her head was clouded by a variety of pills) could not keep the contestants or their songs straight. She thought Jason had sung two songs when he had only sung one, and roundly criticized him for doing badly on both of them. She then proceeded to tell us how hard it is to actually pay attention to the songs and remember important points about the performances, even though she took notes. I am sure this is a first because it forced her to keep her ridiculous ass in her seat. Simon was good and succinct.
Jason Castro:
“Forever in Blue Jeans”- This song was right in his wheelhouse. It was like all of is early season music. I thought it was good, but boring.
Randy thought it was OK.
Simon thought it was forgettable.
“September Morn”- I thought this song started out much better than the first one. The little bit of inflection in his voice made all of the difference. I liked it much better. It seems a little late in the competition for the judges to start criticizing him for being unoriginal and singing ‘safe’ songs, but they did.
Randy thought dogged him pretty on both songs. It may have been the harshest that I’ve ever heard someone told that they sang OK.
Simon thought they were both forgettable, among other harsh words.
David Cook:
“I’m Alive”- Once again he sings a song that sounds like something you would hear on the radio. Usually when a contestant sings a song that is not as well known, I think it is a mistake. However, when David does this it just seems as if he is preparing another hit to be released from his next album.
Randy thought it was very good and very strong.
Simon thought it was just above average.
“All I Really Need is You”- This was just another great performance, and the things I said about the first song go double for this one.
Randy thought he rocked the house with this one.
Simon thought this song was brilliant, and that he actually made the song seem contemporary.
Brooke White:
“I’m a Believer” This song was too low for her in the verses, but beyond that it was just awful. This was one of the worst vocals of the season by any contestant.
Randy thought Brook was better than last week, but a little karaoke.
Simon correctly thought it was a nightmare.
“I am I Said”- This song started much better than the first one. I think she could have gone a little more country with it and would have even been better. Still, it was her best performance in weeks and may be what keeps her around for another week (assuming that her fan-base would not have voted for her if she had done as bad as she did on the first song). It’s better to be strong on the last performance.
Randy thought it was a nice job on a tough song.
Simon thought this was the Brooke that we like.
David Archuleta:
“Sweet Caroline”- This song was just weird at the beginning for me, and his voice sounded a little shaky. Once he got to the chorus it got much better. For me, it was just alright.
Rand thought it was brilliant.
Simon thought it was amateurish.
“America”- Could he not have found a Neil Diamond ballad to sing? That being said, he did a good job of it, but it was a little forgettable.
Randy thought it was another good performance.
Simon thought it was a smart choice of song, but for some reason I felt as if he were taking a shot at the American people when he said it.
Syesha Mercado:
“Hello Again”- She looked pretty again, and her voice sounded good. The nice high note that she sang softly at the end of the first verse was a very good departure from her usual power style on the high notes. I liked the ‘Whitney-like’ version of this song. It was one of my favorite songs by her, and sounded radio worthy. I thought it was the best vocal of the first round.
Randy thought it was strong.
Simon thought it was old-fashioned, but I really think he just decided to beat them all up at the end of the first round. She did not deserve to be lumped in with the others on this song.
“Thank the Lord for the Nightitme”- I liked first song much better. The vocal was good, but I thought overall, it was just OK.
Randy thought liked the Broadway style of the song.
Simon thought she was a very good actress/singer. He dealt her the death blow by saying she could be in trouble, and correctly saying that her second song was forgettable compared with some of the others.