The Beginners’ Guide To The 80s

With all the 80s pop on TV at the moment with Hit Me Baby One More Time, endless Mania programmes, PWL Radio and all kinds of 80s-themed shows literally popping up on VH1 and Magic, I have been getting quite into the 80s sound recently. I may have only been 2 years and 10 days old at the start of the 90s, but so many of my favourite artists and styles are 80s influenced that I am quite a fan of 80s music. Then last week 2 new 80s compilation albums were released and I looked at the tracklistings and noticed how many good songs were on them, but they were both full of extended remixes rather than the originals. So, inspired by the idea of a poptastic 80s compilation, I found their section in HMV and after discarding several School Disco and Friends Reunited CDs I came across a 3 CD boxset named “I Love Music: 1980-1984: It’s Electric” – it sounded like my kind of music already! I quickly scanned the tracks and saw that although I only recognised a few of the song titles, I loved almost all of them so I decided to give it a try.

When I got home and started listening to the CDs I soon found that I knew many more of the tracks than I had thought. In fact almost all of the songs I recognised from samples or cover versions or simply being that song you always hear on the background on TV and never consider who might be singing it and never realise that you actually rather love it! So I have decided to review every track on the 3 CDs so that everyone else whose too young to remember or has simply forgotten can go “so that’s who sang it!” and “so that’s where I’d heard it!” with me.

I’m going to start with CD 1 and CDs 2 & 3 will follow in further posts. You can buy the CD yourself for the extremely good price of £7.99 (much less than I paid for it, grr!) by clicking here.

CD 1:

1. Kim Wilde – Kids In America
A very well known track first and certainly a favourite of mine. Kim Wilde may be more into gardening these days, but she did release an ace single 2 years ago in Europe, a duet with German 80s pop girl Nena. This song has also been covered recently by Dutch pop starlet Kim-Lian and the American Juniors. Her sister Roxanne has also had a few cracks at the charts but no success. If only Avalon Heights had been set in 80s America, S Club 8 could have covered this as a single and would undoubtedly still be around today.

2. Duran Duran – Planet Earth
Duran Duran are still around of course, giving me nightmares (I can’t be the only one with a Simon Le Bon Phobia, surely?). I don’t really ‘get’ their appeal but I actually quite like this one. It sounds more modern than the music they’re releasing now!

3. Ultravox – All Stood Still
Ultravox are simply rubbish and Midge Ure may well have helped raise millions of pounds for charity, but he is also to blame for the painful pink-haired thing out of the Faders. This one’s far more upbeat than Vienna and a lot less depressing, but I won’t be forgiving him quite yet.

4. The Stranglers – Golden Brown
Here’s one I had no idea that I knew, but it turns out to be a lovely song. It’s the one that goes “golden brown, something something something, lays me down, blah blah blah blah”. The singer sounds quite old, as all singers seemed to in the olden-days. Apart from the Osmonds, obviously. I have heard of the Stranglers but I thought they were from the 70s so perhaps that’s why Mr Strangler sounds old.

5. Generation X – Dancing With Myself
I think someone did this recently on a TV show – was it Adrian Edmondson? It’s a great catchy song anyway. The “ohohoh”s in the background are very 90s.

6. Blondie – Call Me
We all know this one. And if you don’t, big shame on you. Blondie are all kinds of ace and this is definitely my favourite of their singles. Why aren’t Girls Aloud covering this instead of that awful Chris Isaak song?

7. Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
Limahl was of course last seen on last week’s Hit Me Baby One More Time, proving that if you were useless in the 80s there is no way you’re going to be good now. I hate Too Shy and I know I’m far from alone in the sentiment. This is not a song that will be covered any time soon, unless someone wants me to personally go to their house and beat them up!

8. Culture Club – Time (Clock Of The Heart)
This is one which I never knew was by Culture Club or that I love it until I heard it on this CD. The chorus is just brilliant and lovely. Who knew there was more to Culture Club than Karma Chameleon and Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?!

9. Heaven 17 – Temptation
As I was surprised to notice with many of these songs, this sounds very Motown-eqsue. It’s quite dramatic with a worryingly high-pitched female singer on the chorus and a deep-voiced man on the verses/bridge. Quite a good song overall.

10. Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short
I knew this one but for some reason thought it was Adam Ant! It’s much better than True or Gold in my opinion and I don’t (knowingly!) know any others of their songs. This could easily be the Bravery or Kaiser Chiefs or any of the current 80s-esque indie-poppers.

11. Tenpole Tudor – Swords Of A Thousand Men
This is one I definitely didn’t know, it’s quite catchy but a little too football chant-ish for me. Perhaps the medieval answer to football chants!

12. Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes
As soon as I heard this I recognised it from it’s repeated sample in Mylo’s In My Arms. Kim has a very croaky voice but it doesn’t stop this from being an unbelievably brilliant song. If there’s one song on this CD that I would tell every one of you to hear, this is it. It’s just SO good! The music, the lyrics, even her singing when you get used to it – amazing!

13. Dr Hook – Sharing The Night Together
Dr Hook may have indirectly provided 911 with their only no.1 single, but I have to cross with him for that reason – if they hadn’t covered and had a hit with it they might sing Bodyshakin’ (with the best rap ever!) on Hit Me Baby instead, but now the chance is basically non-existent (if they even turn up now that Lee has broken his leg!). This song is even more rubbish than A Little Bit More and very similar to it.

14. Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes
It only occured to me whilst listening to this song that Julian Lennon would be slightly Oriental looking, having Yoko Ono for a mum. I had always imagined him to look just like his dad, probably because he’s called Julian. This is what he actually looks like. He sounds more like his dad and as the only thing the Beatles were good for in my view was songwriting, and this song is rubbish, it’s no wonder Julian didn’t get very far.

15. Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield
Bizarrely, I only know this song because Fab (they of spare B*Witched sister non-fame) covered it in the late 90s. I can’t remember their version but I highly doubt it was good. The original is fairly ace though. Edit: now Carrie has done it (very painfully) on American Idol, I like the original even more in comparison.

16. Billy Idol – Hot In The City
Apart from causing much surreal amusement in The Wedding Singer, Billy Idol seems pretty pointless to me. This is rubbish.

17. OMD – Locomotion
Well I was very disappointed that this was not the Kylie song. And I’ve just realised that OMD and Orchestral Manoevres In The Dark are one and the same, so I’m feeling quite silly right now. The song is sort of familiar sounding, but it’s no Kylie. It gets quite good with claps at the end, though.

18. Leo Sayer – More Than I Can Say
Mr Sayer can of course be currently seen ‘hilariously’ not being recognised by anyone at all in the Hit Me Baby… sponsorship adverts. What he’s advertising I haven’t noticed, so it’s clearly not too effective. This song however is really quite good! Very cheesy and soppy and I’m quite certain that no-one under 50 should like it, but I do. It’s quite Fleetwood Mac-ish which is very good in my book (I was brought up on ‘the Mac’!).

19. Juice Newton – Angel Of The Morning
This, to my surprise, is the original version of Shaggy’s song Angel from a few years ago. I knew it was a cover but I had no idea what of. And now I know! It’s quite dramatic but there’s lots of similar songs which sound better, and it keeps making me burst into Everything I Own and You Win Again simultaneously, which isn’t the most fun thing ever. Also, I’m sure it says “just brush my teeth before you leave” – what’s that all about?!

20. KC & The Sunshine Band – Give It Up
You will definitely know this one, at least the “nanana”s which have been in an advert for something-or-other. It’s utterly glorious and makes me want to dance in a very silly way!

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