Monday, 10 April 2017

Welcome to the 1980s

This is a blog about the best singles the 1980's had to offer, in case the title didn't give it away. 

Music is hugely subjective however; good music is everything I like and everything you like so my opinion of the top 200 singles of the decade is probably a lot different to yours but I hope that, in the coming weeks, I help you remember some songs you forgot you loved and some songs you never even knew existed but will add them to your library for future enjoyment.

So, what is a single?

A stacker

To me, a single was a catchy song committed to a small vinyl disc, placed into a paper sleeve and sold for 49p each at my local video rental shop.  It would have a catchy song on one side and a weird song on the other that didn't even sound like it was from the same band or singer.  You still felt like you were getting more for your money despite only listening to the reverse side a couple of times.

Singles for sale
The buying of a single was quite an experience for the young me.  It was often a case of looking at the sleeves to make my choice as I didn't have a favourite band or singer back in the early 80s.  Adam Ant was as close as I got to an 'idol' at the time because I didn't really latch onto a specific artist, such was the huge pool of music, singers and bands with great music.  It wasn't about looks and it definitely wasn't about the name.  Bands nobody had heard of were launching into the charts, beating well established names to the number 1 spot weekly. It was a very exciting time to be a music fan; that was until 1987 when things started to get a little bit manufactured and formulaic.  But that's a discussion for another time.

What went wrong...
When I finally got my own record player, it was one of those with a 'stacker', on which you could place several singles, each of which would plop into place when the one you'd just listened to had finished.  It was a primitive play-list but it meant you didn't have to keep getting up to change the record every 3 minutes.  It was redundant most of the time anyway because a good single would be played at least twenty times in a row whilst reading the sleeve notes, studying the artwork or watching the label spinning around, hypnotically. 

George Michael's Careless Whisper had an instrumental version of the song on the B-Side, before the word Karaoke had made it to the UK.  It blew my tiny mind at the time, as did everything Wham! released post 1983.

Anyway, enough rambling;  Over the next few weeks I'll be running down from 200 to 1, what I think were the best 200 singles of the decade.  The greatest 45s that money could buy; those black circles of plastic that transported me away from real life and into a world of stunning vocals, production and lyrics.  Part of the reason for this is that my current writing project is called 'The amazing book of 1980's pop facts' and this blog runs alongside that nicely.  My last book was called 'The worst pop lyrics in the world ever', which was, as you can guess, a book of terrible lyrics.  I considered doing a 'best lyrics' book but often the best lyrics can't be taken out of the context of the song, a great couplet needs to be part of a bigger picture to be appreciated and often, the music underneath just emphasises it.  One of my favourite lyrics is from Kate Bush's 'Running up that hill' which goes 'You don't want to hurt me, but see how deep the bullet lies'.  Not much on it's own, but stick it in amongst that wonderful atmospheric, haunting music and give it Kate's wondrous vocal and it comes alive.

That's the kind of criteria I'll be using to build my list.  There'll be some Youtube videos to accompany each entry and a bit of text about each song.  So, come with me now on a journey through a decade of fantastic music; I hope you enjoy it and please leave comments, good or bad, with your own opinions on my choices.

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