This Week: My Top 25 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs, #21-25

7.31 Marshall_Crenshaw_and_bandSMALL
Marshall Crenshaw, flanked by his first band

I’ve discussed this in the past, but it is worth dredging up once again. Back during the Summer of 1983, I worked at a resort in Southern Wisconsin. That summer was notable for many things, much of which I will not discuss on here. But, one thing that was fun was hanging out with a guy who created music in the vein of Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw. I found the young man very interesting in that he was a walking jukebox when he had his guitar. He was great with making a medley out of songs by Buddy Holly, Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw and himself. The medley made for a very interesting rock history lesson as his medley showed how these songs were all related.

Unfortunately, the only thing that all of the college rock artists had in common was a rejection by commercial radio. College Radio played everything from the rock music commonly associated with college rock, along with rap, reggae, and even thrash metal music. Quite honestly, these “modern rock” stations were the last gasp of terrestrial radio’s power to innovate. Personally, I never understood why radio “thought” no one wanted to listen to college rock music at the time. Stations were constantly adding new artists to their playlists throughout the Eighties, so long as those bands did not stray far from the sounds of Journey and Loverboy. So, no, the stations would never play Black Flag or Dead Kennedys due to non-traditional vocalists along with the rawness of their music.

Well, that is history. Today, there seems to be a little revisionist history is taking place as we begin to hear about some radio stations programming “classic” alternative, “classic alt.” So, let’s get going with the countdown.


25. Elvis Costello – “Veronica” (1989). When this song was released, many were excited to hear his collaboration with Paul McCartney. This was the biggest hit of those batch of songs the two great songwriters worked on. The two split their batch of songs on their two albums released in 1989: Costello’s Spike and McCartney’s Flowers in the Dirt.

7.31 marshall-crenshaw-youre-my-favorite-waste-of-time-warner-bros

24. Marshall Crenshaw & the Handsome, Ruthless & Stupid Band – “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time” (1983). How in the world did a song released as a B-side end up ranking so high? When the song is as powerful as this one is.

7.31 Dead_Kennedys_-_Holiday_in_Cambodia_cover

23. Dead Kennedys – “Holiday in Cambodia” (1980). No band was a lyrically provocative as the Dead Kennedys. Had this band had arisen during the grunge era, they might have been recognized as the geniuses that really were.

7.21 the church - under the milk way

22. The Church – “Under the Milky Way” (1988). This song is often listed as being the greatest song by an Australian band. That speaks to the lasting quality of this song.

7.31 the cure-Just like heaven

21. The Cure – “Just Like Heaven” (1987). On this song, The Cure dropped their trademarked moping and replaced it with a wistful optimism. And, they got a hit out of it.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the Top 20! Until then, follow Casey Kasem’s rule: Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. Cheers!

Modern Rock: My 200 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs, #26-60

7.28 cowboy junkies
Cowboy Junkies
7.28 kate bush
Kate Bush

As of this writing, I am sitting in a quiet house, much like the proverbial quiet before the storm. I am back in my music room, surrounded by my modest collection of albums & CDs, along with some memorabilia dotting the room while listening to my favorite album thus far in 2017, Paul Weller’s A Kind Revolution. Weller has been a constant artist in my life from his days as the leader of the punk/mod band The Jam in the late-70s/early-80s, of the sophisticated Europop band The Style Council throughout the 80s and as a solo artist since the early-90s. I would say since 2008, Weller has been on a creative roll, with music that ranks with the best of his illustrious career.

My problem is that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame seems to be ignoring artists who were big in the UK & Europe, like The Jam, and focusing more on classic rock artists who were popular in the US. Of the genres that have a beef with the RRHOF, like heavy metal, rap, soul and prog rock, alternative music, especially that of the Eighties, has been ignored. How can artists such as The Smiths (would have Britpop happened without these guys?), Pixies (Nirvana ripped them off quite a bit), The Cure and Depeche Mode (what music would we have moped around the house to?) and New Order/Joy Division (two bands that are interlocked forever and may have had the greatest influence on today’s music if you think about it). I know the people involving with nominating and electing artists is a thankless job, but come on! The public would love it if they would simply inducted 10 artists a year, instead of the small classes of five to seven.

The Hall of Fame is a great visit, though I have not been there since 2002. I am looking forward to visiting again, especially since my beloved Prince, Cheap Trick and Daryl Hall and John Oates have all been subsequently inducted in the intervening years. Son #2’s fiance’s parents were just there for a short visit and want us to road trip with them up to Cleveland for a better and longer visit. Hopefully, we will be able to make it happen soon.

Well, in my effort to keep the college rock artists alive in the collective memories of my readers, let’s continue with my favorite song countdown. Today, let’s cover numbers 26 through 60. Let’s get it started! (My apologies to the Black Eyed Peas!)

26. XTC – “Dear God” (1986). Who knew an atheist song could become so popular?

27. R.E.M. – “The One I Love” (1987). Another great stalker song.

28. The Housemartins – “Happy Hour” (1986). This was a great band in the shadow of The Smiths. Here is their best song.

29. The B-52’s – “Love Shack” (1989). Before this song was worn out by every wedding DJ since the song’s release, this was the major reason for the breathtaking comeback of the Eighties favorite party band.

30. The Stone Roses – “I Wanna Be Adored” (1989). For one album, The Stone Roses were causing a commotion over in Great Britain with a near-Beatlemania reaction toward the band. Unfortunately, the band’s innovative dance/rock hybrid fell on deaf ears in the States. However, the band was the second biggest influence on the Britpop phenomenon in the Nineties.

31. U2 – “Where the Streets Have No Name” (1987)

32. Jane’s Addiction – “Jane Says” (1988)

33. Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime” (1980)

34. Kate Bush – “Running Up That Hill” (1985)

35. Peter Gabriel – “Games Without Frontier” (1980)

36. Nine Inch Nails – “Head Like a Hole” (1989)

37. Peter Murphy – “Cuts You Up” (1989)

38. Suzanne Vega – “Luka” (1987)

39. Wire – “Eardrum Buzz” (1988)

40. The Style Council – “How She Threw It All Away” (1988)

41. Living Colour – “Glamour Boys” (1988)

42. Talking Heads – “Burning Down the House” (1983)

43. Love & Rockets – “So Alive” (1989)

44. Husker Du – “Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely” (1986)

45. Pixies – “Monkey Gone to Heaven” (1989)

46. Patti Smith – “People Have the Power” (1988)

47. Pet Shop Boys – “West End Girls” (1986)

48. Yazoo – “Don’t Go” (1982)

49. Sonic Youth – “Teen Age Riot” (1988)

50. The Psychedelic Furs – “The Ghost in You” (1984)

51. Cowboy Junkies – “Sweet Jane” (1988)

52. The Sicilian Vespers – “Baccala” (1988)

53. The Stone Roses – “I Am the Resurrection” (1989)

54. The Smiths – “Stop Me If You Think You Heard This Before” (1987)

55. Echo & the Bunnymen – “Lips Like Sugar” (1987)

56. The Cure – “Close to Me” (1985)

57. Sting – “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” (1985)

58. Camper van Beethoven – “Take the Skinheads Bowling” (1985)

59.Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians – “Balloon Man” (1988)

60. Eurythmics – “Who’s That Girl” (1984)

There you go. Next week, we will be all over my Top 25. Have a great weekend.

Anyone Have ‘120 Minutes’ for Some College Rock: My List, #61-95

7.27 120-Minutes in 80s

I will admit that much of the College Rock music from the 1980s was initially a tough listen. These artists were taking much of the punk and new wave lessons and began to darken the music. For the most part, MTV stayed away from these artists during the day and prime time. But, the leaders at the cable network were intelligent enough to take the two budding genres of the day, college rock and rap musics, and make shows out of them. College Rock Music was played during a two-hour time slot late at night during a program called 120 Minutes, and everyone remembers that the rap music of the day was on a show called Yo! MTV Raps. Both show were terrific ways to see the videos for those genres that would eventually become the mainstream music in the Nineties.

In the late-80s, I worked mainly second shift at the first two hospital labs in which I worked. After work, I would get home in time to watch Late Night with David Letterman, followed by a couple hours of 120 Minutes. So, between 120 Minutes and 97X, I was immersed in College Rock. All of a sudden, Culture Club was left behind for The Cult and The Cure, and The Human League gave way to Depeche Mode. As more and more pockets of the US and UK were dying due to the conservative policies of the day, college rock artists began speaking to the kids not being economically washed by the trickle-down policies of the day. All of a sudden, “Talk Dirty to Me” was not speaking to me, but R.E.M.’s “Exhuming McCarthy” made sense. Then, I got past the initial shock of the vocalists of Dead Kennedys or Black Flag and heard the pop melodies and insightful political lyrics of their great music. A group like Minutemen interwove jazz musical leanings with punk and funk to create a very unique, update on Frank Zappa’s or Captain Beefheart’s music. And, their lyrics were just what I was looking for at the moment: from the heart and angry.

7.27 minutemen
7.27 nick cave
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Therefore, today, I continue on with my countdown of My 200 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs with numbers 61 through 95.

61. INXS – “The Original Sin” (1984)

62. Cocteau Twins – “Lorelei” (1984)

63. Iggy Pop – “Real Wild Child” (1986)

64. Morrissey – “Suedehead” (1988)

65. Peter Gabriel – “Shock the Monkey” (1982)

66. The Police – “King of Pain” (1983)

67. General Public – “Tenderness” (1985)

68. Marshall Crenshaw – “Cynical Girl” (1982)

69. Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Peek-A-Boo” (1988)

70. Artists United Against Apartheid – “Sun City” (1984)

71. Gang of Four – “To Hell with Poverty” (1982)

72. Duran Duran – “Say a Prayer” (1982)

73. Jerry Harrison – “Rev It Up” (1987)

74. 10,000 Maniacs – “What’s the Matter Here?” (1987)

75. Billy Bragg – “Levi Stubb’s Tears” (1986)

76. Bauhaus – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (1982)

77. Minutemen – “Corona” (1984)

78. Killing Joke – “Eighties” (1985)

79. The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey” (1985)

80. The Smiths – “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side” (1986)

81. R.E.M. – “So. Central Rain” (1984)

82. Depeche Mode – “Strangelove” (1987)

83. David Bowie/Pat Matheny Group – “This Is Not America” (1985)

84. X – “The Hungry Wolf” (1982)

85. New Order – “True Faith” (1987)

86. Black Flag – “Rise Above” (1981)

87. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “From Her to Eternity” (1984)

88. Echo & the Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon” (1984)

89. Modern English – “I Melt with You” (1982)

90. Nirvana – “About a Girl” (1989)

91. R.E.M. – “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville” (1984)

92. Ramones – “My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)” (1986)

93.Tears for Fears – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (1985)

94. The Cult – “She Sells Sanctuary” (1985)

95. Public Image Ltd. – “Rise” (1986)

That makes 140 songs down and 60 to go! Next week, I will get back to making commentaries on song of my favorite songs. Peace!

Left of the Dial: My Top 200 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs

7.26 stone roses
The Stone Roses

The phrase “Left of the Dial” comes from the 1985 Replacements song title from their brilliant album Tim. The the first time, a band was paying homage to the college radio stations who were playing their music. And, where on the FM bandwidth would one find most college stations? On the left side of the “dial”, to which you would turn the dial to the range between 88 to 93 kilowatts to hear these stations. Now, with digital signals we use preset buttons to lock in on a radio station’s signal, that is if you listen to terrestrial radio at all anymore. Before those preset buttons, you had a dial to help you lock in on a station’s signal, thus the reason for the song’s title.

7.26 slicing up eyeballs

Now, my primary source for information about ’80s College Rock can be found on the fantastic website called Slicing Up Eyeballs. The site is a cornucopia of information on this music, which was the next step beyond New Wave and Punk music. And, in addition to my own music collection, I would like to refer you to four box sets that have been quite helpful in this endeavor. Yesterday, I referred to the first one, Left of the Dial. The other three are Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era, 1976–1995; Like Omigod! The ’80s Pop Culture Box and A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box. All three sets are loaded with songs found on this list and many that probably should have been.

7.26 children of nuggets
Children of Nuggets
7.26 like omigod box set
Like Omigod!
7.26 a life less lived
A Life Less Lived

Now that we are in 2017, we can more look back at this vast history of rock & roll music and see that this music had to happen. Ground zero can be found in the music of a little-known band from the late Sixties called the Velvet Underground, who had a singer/songwriter by the name of Lou Reed. Their albums initial did not sell well, but legend claims that everyone that did purchase the album all started bands, which, when combined with the UK’s glam rock scene and the USA’s bubblegum music fixation gave way to punk and new wave. Then, as the darkness of Reaganomics began to take on toll on Gen X, they turned inward with college rock. Eventually, college rock morphed into the Alternative Nation of the Nineties, including grunge, Britpop, alt-country (or Americana), power pop, funk-rock and nu-metal. Then, at the dawn of the 21st Century, the alternative scene gave way to the indie scene, since the record companies started dying off in the digital age.

So, today, let’s kick back and enjoy the next 35 songs in My Top 200 80s College Rock Songs, specifically #96-130.

96. Dinosaur Jr. – “Freak Scene” (1988)

97. The Cure – “Why Can’t I Be You” (1987)

98. Lone Justice – “Ways to Be Wicked” (1985)

99. The Replacements – “Left of the Dial” (1985)

100. Roxy Music – “More Than This” (1982)

101. Violent Femmes – “Add It Up” (1983)

102. Big Audio Dynamite – “The Bottom Line” (1985)

103. Godley & Crème – “Cry” (1985)

104. Meat Puppets – “Lake of Fire” (1984)

105. The Godfathers – “Birth, School, Work, Death” (1988)

106. Talk Talk – “It’s My Life” (1984)

107. New Order – “Blue Monday” (1983)

108. Mudhoney – “Touch Me I’m Sick” (1988)

109. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Higher Ground” (1989)

110. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – “Perfect Skin” (1984)

111. Los Lobos – “How Will the Wolf Survive?” (1984)

112. Gene Loves Jezebel – “Gorgeous” (1987)

113. Midnight Oil – “Beds Are Burning” (1988)

114. The Clash – “Go Straight to Hell” (1982)

115. The Cure – “Let’s Go to Bed” (1982)

116. The Fixx – “Are We Ourselves” (1984)

117. X – “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” (1980)

118. Ministry – “Stigmata” (1988)

119. Bob Mould – “Wishing Well” (1989)

120. Dream Academy – “Life in a Northern Town” (1985)

121. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Enola Gray” (1981)

122. Talking Heads – “Road to Nowhere” (1985)

123. The Pogues – “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” (1987)

124. The Dukes of Stratosphear – “Vanishing Girl” (1987)

125. DEVO – “Working in a Coalmine” (1981)

126. Julian Cope – “The World Shut Your Mouth” (1984)

127. Gang of Four – “I Love a Man in Uniform” (1982)

128. Killing Joke – “Wardrobe” (1981)

129. R.E.M. – “Can’t Get There from Here” (1985)

130. Grace Jones – “Private Life” (1980)

We are now in the Top 100. Hold on since we have 95 more songs to go!

The Future of Rock & Roll: My Favorite 200 80s College Rock Songs – #131-165

7.25 Fishbone

In July of 1986, I graduated from Medical Technology School and took my first job at a small hospital in the college town of Oxford, Ohio. Oxford was an awesome town, as it was a small town of two- to three-thousand people during the summer. But, during the school year, the population would swell by 15,000 people due to Miami University. The town was liberal for a Midwestern town and a great downtown area.

7.25 Looney T. Birds

We lived there from 1986 to 1990. But, my favorite two things about the town were it had one of the greatest independent record stores, called Looney T. Bird’s. Thanks to that shop, my record collection grew. The other great thing about the town is that it was home to one of the nation’s greatest independent, family-owned radio stations that catered to alternative music from the time it came on the air. The idea of the station was to appeal to the college student’s taste in music.

7.25 97X

During my time in Oxford, WOXY, 97.7 FM, was at its peak in popularity. I first discovered the station during the summer of 1984 while driving to visit my future wife in her hometown in southeastern Indiana. In there area where she grew up, it is hilly, so you lose radio stations easily. So, I was flipping stations when I happened upon a station playing Elvis Costello’s duet with Daryl Hall, “The Only Flame in Town”. I was hooked on the station.

If you want to measure the popularity of the station, just watch the 1980s movie Rainman, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise as brothers. During an early scene in the movie, the duo is driving around the Cincinnati area listening to the radio until you hear the station’s promo, “97X! [Explosion sound] The future of rock & roll!” That was WOXY’s more “famous” promos of the time. In the movie, the autistic character that Dustin Hoffman was portraying, Raymond, kept repeating that promo. In turn, Dustin Hoffman’s repeating quote of “97X! BAM! The future of rock & roll” became another promo for the station. It was a terrific case of product placement.

Anyway, that station influence my taste in music like no other terrestrial radio station since the old 70s behemoth radio station from Indianapolis at 93.1 on the FM dial, know as “The Buzzard” WNAP. All of a sudden, my tastes were leaving behind the New Wave of the previous years and expanding to include more introspective and darker lyrics of this new music that the rock stations of the day still would not touch. 97X would play not only R.E.M., but artists like The Smiths, Fishbone, Jane’s Addiction, and other artists you can find on a great box set of alternative music from the 80s from Rhino called Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the ’80s Underground. In addition to that, the station would play a couple hours of reggae music on Saturday mornings and heavy metal on Sunday nights. The station was a music lover’s dream.

7.25 left of the dial

So, to honor this music, I give to My 200 Favorite 80s College Rock Songs, #131-165.

131. The Cure – “Pictures of You” (1989)

132. Pretenders – “Message of Love” (1980)

133. Concrete Blonde – “God with a Bullet” (1988)

134. Kraftwerk – “Computer Love” (1981)

135. Peter Gabriel – “Sledgehammer” (1986)

136. Paul Hardcastle – “19” (1985)

137. XTC – “Mayor of Simpleton” (1989)

138. The Stone Roses – “She Bangs the Drums” (1989)

139. U2 – “Desire” (1989)

140. The Specials – “Ghost Town” (1980)

141. The Cure – “Hot Hot Hot” (1987)

142. Faith No More – “We Care a Lot” (1985)

143. The Call – “The Walls Came Down” (1982)

144. The Waterboys – “This Is the Sea” (1985)

145. The The – “Infected” (1986)

146. The Sugarcubes – “Birthday” (1988)

147. Minutemen – “Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing” (1984)

148. Eurythmics – “Missionary Man” (1986)

149. The Feelies – “Fa Ce-La” (1980)

150. The Human League – “The Sound of the Crowd” (1981)

151. Sisters of Mercy – “Lucretia My Reflection” (1987)

152. U2 – “With or Without You” (1987)

153. Game Theory – “She’ll Be a Verb” (1985)

154. Bruce Cockburn (It’s pronounced CO – burn) – “Call It Democracy” (1986)

155. fIREHOSE – “For the Singer of R.E.M.” (1987)

156. The Police – “Synchronicity II” (1983)

157. The Replacements – “I’ll Be You” (1988)

158. The Sicilian Vespers – “Baccala” (1988)

159. Soft Cell – “Tainted Love”/”Where Did Our Love Go” (1982)

160. The Smiths – “Bigmouth Strikes Again” (1986)

161. The Style Council – “Shout to the Top!” (1985)

162. World Party – “Ship of Fools” (1986)

163. Ultravox – “Vienna” (1980)

164. Crowded House – “Now We’re Getting Somewhere” (1986)

165. The Cult – “Love Removal Machine” (1986)

That’s my second list of 35 songs. Next week, I will give you comments on the Top 25 songs. So, enjoy this week of pure lists.

College Rock Music of the 80s: My Top 200 Songs

7.24 r.e.m.
7.24 the smiths
The Smiths

Now, back when I began my two-week excursion into the New Wave music of the late-70s and early-80s, I really got to thinking about the whole big genre that was labeled by baby boomers who were running radio stations in the late-80s and early-90s. Much like the great pop music of the early-60s gave way to what is now known as classic rock music, a similar action happened to new wave. As many young people, mainly the early members of Generation X (those born after 1960), began to realize how the trickle down economics of the 80s wasn’t trickling down to all of us, the music began to reflect that. Then you throw in the AIDS epidemic, the crack epidemic and the social ills depicted in rap and hardcore musics, and a majority of people wanted a music to reflect this. Unfortunately, a large portion of those who came of age in the late 80s turned to hair metal in the States. Hair metal was fine, but it was the musical equivalent of burying one’s head in the sand to escape all the social ills around them. Others began to turn to a form of music called college rock.

Now, this music was ran in many directions. It went from the icy-dance numbers of New Order to the industrial goth-metal of Ministry to the jangle pop R.E.M. and The Smiths to the power pop of Game Theory. The music was rich and varied, but it all shared one common characteristic. The music was played mainly on college radio stations or independent family-run radio stations that dotted college towns throughout the States. If it wasn’t played on commercial radio, then these stations picked up the music and played it. That moment was very similar to when free-form FM radio began to play album cuts instead of the pop hits played on AM radio stations. Many times, these college radio stations were quick to pick up on a song or an artist that would go on to great success. Much of the music I continue to listen to this day is from this genre.

Although the music was diverse, the lyrical content ran from surrealistic musings of Robyn Hitchcock to the overtly political statements of Bad Brains, from the alienation on a dance floor of New Order to just plain alienation of Echo & the Bunnymen, to the flat out anger of Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. Whatever your personal taste was, alternative music could deliver a new bent on that music. Heck, even folk music was thrown in this music, where you could find the works of Billy Bragg, Suzanne Vega and Tracey Chapman. And guess what? You could even hear rap artists like Run-DMC and Beastie Boys, as well as future metal stalwarts Metallica. It was a great time.

Today, I would like to begin My 200 Favorite College Rock Songs. If you don’t know the song, look it up and listen to it. The song might still change your world!

166. The Replacements – “Bastards of Young” (1985)

167. Marshall Crenshaw – “Whenever You’re on My Mind” (1983)

168. The Psychedelic Furs – “Heartbreak Beat” (1987)

169. Arcadia – “Election Day” (1985)

170. Peter Gabriel – “In Your Eyes” (1986)

171. The Plimsouls – “A Million Miles Away” (1982)

172. Trio – “Da Da Da (I Don’t Love You You Don’t Love Me Aha Aha Aha)” (1983)

173. UB40 with Chrissie Hynde – “I Got You Babe” (1985)

174. Eurythmics – “Sexcrime” (1984)

175. Marshall Crenshaw – “Mary Anne” (1982)

176. Violent Femmes – “Blister in the Sun” (1983)

177. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “Deanna” (1988)

178. Pretenders – “Precious” (1980)

179. Erasure – “A Little Respect” (1988)

180. The Stone Roses – “Waterfall” (1989)

181. The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” (1984)

182. David Bowie – “Ashes to Ashes” (1980)

183. Fear – “More Beer” (1985)

184. R.E.M. – “Stand” (1988)

185. Husker Du – “Celebrated Summer” (1985)

186. Tears for Fears – “Mad World” (1983)

187. The Cure – “Fascination Street” (1989)

188. Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Spellbound” (1981)

189. The Raincoats – “Fairytale in the Supermarket” (1984)

190. The Psychedelic Furs – “Love My Way” (1982)

191. They Might Be Giants – “Ana Ng” (1988)

192. The Police – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” (1981)

193. Thomas Dolby – “Hyperactive”(1984)

194. Eurythmics – “Love Is a Stranger” (1983)

195. U2 – “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (1983)

196. XTC – “Senses Working Overtime” (1982)

197. Pet Shop Boys – “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” (1986)

198. The Long Ryders – “Looking for Lewis and Clark” (1985)

199. R.E.M. – “Orange Crush” (1988)

200. The Lords of the New Church – “Like a Virgin” (1985)

That’s 35 down and 165 to go! See you tomorrow!

Let the Debate Begin: Here’s My Top Ten New Wave Songs

7.21 New Wave Artists Buttons

In college during the ’80s, the great fashion accessory you added to your wardrobe wear the buttons of your favorite bands that had safety pins on the back so you could wear them on your coat, sports jacket over a concert t-shirt, or anything you might be wearing. I once wore a Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen button on my “punk” version of a toga to frat toga party. Needless to say, my fashion statement was either cool or stupid. Regardless, I had fun.

Now, I have many of them in a shadow box on the wall of my music room. Elvis Costello, The Jam, Prince, Cheap Trick, The B-52’s, R.E.M., among many others are immortalized on my wall, along with ticket stubs from a couple of recent concerts, as well as some other memorabilia. The buttons, along with my collection of Cheap Trick guitar picks, some bobbleheads of Cheap Trick, a couple of those Funko Pop Rocks figures of rock stars like KISS and Lemmy and some Beatles plush dolls from the 80s can be found in this small room. I have some old concert poster reprints hanging on the wall, in addition to some small posters of some artists. But, my favorite things to hang on the walls are the few picture disc albums and 7″ singles; they make for fantastic artwork. This place has become my man-cave.

Anyway, the main reason we are here to to see what songs are in My Top 10 Favorite New Wave Songs. Break!

7.21 Dancing_with_Myself_Billy_Idol

10. Billy Idol – “Dancing with Myself” (1982). If you were to take a poll of my college friends they would probably say this song was my all-time favorite. And, if New Wave had ended in 1983, not simply peaked, then they might have been closer. But, this high energy ode to self-love is still a classic

7.21 Style Council - Youre the best thing

9. The Style Council – “You’re the Best Thing” (1984). Arguably the greatest love song of the New Wave era, this song happens to my wife’s and my song. This song happens to be the first of three Top Ten songs for Paul Weller.

7.21 Jam - Going Underground

8. The Jam – “Going Underground” (1980). Lyrically and musically, this song is just as true and vital as it was the day it was released 37 years ago. I constantly refer back to this song’s lyrics whenever the actions of certain political people around the country speak too loud. By the way, if you are counting, this is the second song written and performed by a Paul Weller-led band.

7.21 Ramones_-_I_Wanna_Be_Sedated_cover

7. Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated” (1978). This hyperactive ode to the sedate life is the Ramones’ musical blitzkrieg at its best and most fully realize. The video for this classic song is a slice of heaven.

7.21 Elvis Costello - Whats So Funny Bout Peace Love and Understanding

6. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” (1979). First, let’s get this straightened out: Elvis did NOT write this song; Nick Lowe (“Cruel to Be Kind”) wrote the song. Unfortunately, the band that Lowe was in at the time, Brinley Schwarz, did not possess the passion that the song required. So, in steps Elvis and his backing band, full of piss and vinegar, that added the necessary punk snarl to make the song the classic it is today.

7.21 Tom Tom Club - Genius_of_Love

5. Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love” (1981). In 1981, the members of Talking Heads were taking a break from each other in order to follow their own musical muses. The married rhythm section of the band, bassist & Tom Tom Club vocalist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz produced this super-fun song that was meant for the dance floor. This song was bigger than nearly anything their day job ever released. This song has gone on to become one of the most sampled songs of all time.

7.21 Life_During_Wartime_Talking_Heads

4. Talking Heads – “Life During Wartime” (1979). For me, this song is the perfect example of Talking Heads. Everything about this song is nearly perfect. And then you throw in the lyrics, “This ain’t no party! This ain’t no disco! This ain’t no foolin’ around!” You know its time to take this band serious.

7.21 Style Council - My_Ever_Changing_Moods

3. The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” (1984). Welcome back Mr. Weller! You have totally nailed my life attitude in one hit song. Thank you Paul Weller!

7.21 Cheap_Trick_I_Want_You_to_Want_Me_1977

2. Cheap Trick – “I Want You to Want Me” (1979). I prefer the original live version found on the At Budokan to any other that the band has released and their are several, both live and studio. This song introduced Cheap Trick to the world, and Cheap Trick made New Wave music more palatable to American ears.

7.21 The_Clash_-_Train_in_Vain_(single)

1. The Clash – “Train in Vain (Stand by Me)” (1979). In late 1979, The Clash quietly released a double album that was to be sold at a single album’s price. The album is now considered to be an all-time classic called London Calling. And, this song, the first single, had its title totally left off the album’s track list on the back of the album cover. Regardless, the song became a Top Thirty hit and opened up the American market to the ever-expanding sounds of The Clash.

Well, there you have it! Those were My 300 Favorite New Wave Songs. I hope you enjoyed the list. Go ahead and let me know what I left off. I can think of a couple right now, but that’s half the fun of a list like this. Anyway, have a great weekend! See you all on Monday as I continue my New Wave journey.

My 300 Favorite New Wave Songs: #11-20

7.20 New Wave logo

I have given you the titles and artists of 280 New Wave songs that I love. While I was compiling this list, I had around 430 songs listed. After much contemplation, I decided that if I could not stretch this list to 500, then I could reduce the list to 300 songs.

Initially, I had trouble eliminating songs due to my completist tendencies. Yet, after I got through my psychosis-induced shakes, I started to remove some of the songs. Then, it became easier to eliminate songs until I reached the magic number of 300. Once I got to that arbitrary number, then I knew I was ready. Unfortunately, there are truly great songs that I marked off the list while probably keeping a few songs that really should have been left off. Oh well, such are the perils of undertaking such an endeavor.

So, let’s take a look at the bottom ten songs of My Top Twenty Favorite New Wave Songs.

7.20 Cheap-trick-surrender1

20. Cheap Trick – “Surrender” (1978). This song is about that teenage moment when you realize your parents are really sexually active and actually listen to the same music as the teenagers in the house. It is a scary moment of life on both sides of the story.

7.20 dexys - come on eileen

19. Dexys Midnight Runners – “Come on Eileen” (1982). Unfortunately, this band was a one-hit wonder here in the States. If you delve into their catalog you will discover strong songwriting and the ability to cover a plethora of sounds, for Celtic folk to blue-eyed soul. I love this song and it really is one of the band’s best songs.

7.20 The_Cars_-_My_Best_Friend's_Girl

18. The Cars – “My Best Friend’s Girl” (1978). Between The Cars and Cheap Trick, we were given two New Wave artists whose sounds were smooth enough to gain airplay on AOR radio. They were the entry way into New Wave for me.

7.20 PG - Games_Without_Frontiers

17. Peter Gabriel – “Games Without Frontiers” (1980). This haunting anti-war song immediately jumped into my consciousness and stayed there forever. Only Gabriel would be able to harness Phil Collins’ Eighties drum sound and meld it with musical instrumentation found throughout the world and make the resulting sound so commercial that his music remains vital to this very day.

7.20 the police - Don't_Stand_So_Close_to_Me_UK

16. The Police – “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (1980). Sure, “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” hit the Top 10 first, but this song marked that The Police were on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world.

7.20 Duran-Duran-Hungry-Like-The-W-14123

15. Duran Duran – “Hungry like the Wolf” (1982). For the teens and twenty-somethings in the Midwest, this song was our introduction to “The Beatles of the Eighties.” And, to me, what a fantastic way to learn about the “Duranies”.

7.20 soft cell - tainted love

14. Soft Cell – “Tainted Cell” (1982). Take an obscure ’70s soul song and give it an icy synth-pop arrangement and you get a slow-burning song on the American Pop Charts. At one time, this song had the record for most weeks spent in the Top 40 and even the Top 100 in Billboard magazine. And, have you heard Marilyn Manson’s version? Scary!

7.20 Talking-Heads-Once-In-A-Lifetime-Leftside-Wobble-Dub

13. Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime” (1980). Nearly 40 years ago, I was complaining how horrible it was that the radio stations around me were not playing this classic song. But now? You can hear it anywhere, which is great now, but we are experiencing a little revisionist history. The video is a flat-out classic.

7.20 EC & the Attractions-Everyday_i_write_the_book_uk

12. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “Everyday I Write the Book” (1983). With this song, Elvis and the guys found themselves in the unlikely position of a song in the US Top 40. It was a surprise that Elvis could not duplicate until he got a little help from Sir Paul McCartney on his biggest hit song “Veronica”.

7.20 Devo_-_Satifaction

11. DEVO – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1978). There I am, a Saturday night in 1978, waiting for Saturday Night Live to start, mainly because this weird band from Akron, Ohio, DEVO, was going to play. Man, did I ever get my mind blown by their performance. And, I wasn’t the only one at school. Several of my friends, most of whom were in my second-year chemistry class, so the nerds had found their rock group. And once you’ve been bitten by the DEVO bug, you will NEVER let go.

Folks! You have it! We are ready for the Top Ten. So, as always, let’s be careful out there.

My Favorite New Wave Hits: #21-30

7.19 New Wave Logo

We are getting closer to the end of this countdown. When I am undertaking such an endeavor as this countdown, I become overly hyper-focused, listening to the music I am researching 24/7, constantly doing internet researches on the subject and bugging my poor wife with the latest obscure piece of trivia. Good thing she is a special education teacher, because it often seems as though I have been her biggest project over the past 32 years. I am a very lucky man.

Changing the subject, do you remember the fashion of the New Wave 80s? I remember young ladies wearing mini-skirts with large polka dots, polo shirts with popped collars (guys went that route too) and had “exploding” hair. And, the guys were wearing parachute pants, sleeve-less concert T-shirts, headbands with “Japanese” characters and mullet hair cuts. I even wore this turquoise shirt with a black triangle that snapped to the turquoise part. It looked like something the band members of A Flock of Seagulls would wear. I also liked to wear leather ties, especially the one that had a piano keys on it, though, fortunately, I never owned a fish tie.

Anyway, maybe the fashions were a bit much back then, but at least we had some sweet music. So, let’s get going!

7.19 The Knack - My Sharona Cover

30. The Knack – “My Sharona” (1979). When The Knack rode this gem to number 1 here in the US, I knew we were on the cusp of some very exciting pop music. To a Midwestern kid, this song was his call to arms.

7.19 Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer_Cover

29. Peter Gabriel – “Sledgehammer” (1986). I never thought Peter Gabriel would ever have a number one hit in the US. But, when I heard this song and saw its video, I knew this was going straight to the top.

7.19 David Bowie_Fashion

28. David Bowie – “Fashion” (1980). Like I said, David Bowie is a godfather of this musical genre. Who knew this song would go on to become a something of a milestone in New Wave musical history.

7.19 Elvis Costello - Alison

27. Elvis Costello – “Alison” (1977). This may be THE slow dancing song of New Wave. What more can I say?

7.19 The Police - Every_Little_Thing_She_Does_Is_Magic_US_Cover

26. The Police – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” (1981). The Police rode this song all the way to #2. And, I drove my dormitory neighbors crazy playing this song (and the rest of the album) all the time for the two months after its release.

7.19 the-records-starry-eyes-1979-7

25. The Records – “Starry Eyes” (1979). Power pop tended to be more of an American phenomenon. But, on this song, The Records proved the Brits still are in touch with their inner Beatlemania.

7.19 the call - walls came down

24. The Call – “Walls Came Down” (1982). At one time, critics believed The Call would be something near to what U2 eventually became, the biggest band in the world. Fortunately, the band left us with this gem. And, the band had a little help from The Band’s keyboardist Garth Hudson.

7.19 elvis costello - pump it up

23. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “Pump It Up” (1978). Costello & His Attractions knocked this song out of the park with the musicians’ intensity.

7.19 joy division - love will tear us apart

22. Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980). Here is the beginning of the UK’s post-punk scene. Who knew darkness could be so beautiful?

7.19 Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World

21. Tears for Fears – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (1985). This duo jumped from cult status to bonafide superstars with this super hot song. Lyrically, the song touched human nature perfectly. Musically, it was a perfect pop song.

Well, 280 songs down, and 20 more to go! Stay tuned for the best New Wave has to offer! Hang on for the finale!

My Top 40 New Wave Songs: #31-40

7.18 alan hunter.david bowie
What do MTV VJ Alan Hunter and rock icon David Bowie have in common? Found out below.

Finally! We are into what I call the Casey Kasem zone – The Top 40 of my list. After hemming and hawing for the past couple of months I have decided that enough was enough and that I was going to stick with it. Like I have said earlier, on other day, this countdown might have been rearranged, yet the basic group of songs would have remain.

Now, since we are dealing with songs that were mostly released between 1976 and 1985, the songs are often intertwined in our collective memories as music videos. Both MTV and New Wave artists had a symbiotic relationship. The only thing is that MTV, much like radio before it, did not “have time” for the “old music” after a video fell out of rotation. Still, those songs, and their videos, are stuck in many of our mind’s eye. We remember the matching red leather suits of The Romantics, the cow in the business room in the “Sweet Dreams” video, in addition to many other visual ques.

Once again, it is time for the countdown, numbers 31 through 40.

7.18 Cult-Love_removal_machine

40. The Cult – “Love Removal Machine” (1986). The Cult were attempting to beef up their guitar sound in an effort to straddle the rock, metal and goth worlds when they released this classic slice of New Wave metal.

7.18 M Crenshaw - Whenever Youre on My Mind

39. Marshall Crenshaw – “Whenever You’re on My Mind” (1983). I have loved Crenshaw from the moment I read a Rolling Stone review of his eponymous titled debut album the previous year. At the time, I was putting him near Elvis Costello when it came to songwriting. Though Crenshaw moved away from the pure pop new wave sound, his songwriting has struck a level of maturity that was totally unexpected at the time. Still, this song is power pop heaven.

7.18 police_-_every_breath_you_take

38. The Police – “Every Breath You Take” (1983). Most people still think this is a sweet song about a loving couple. Those people have not carefully read the lyrics. The song is the greatest stalker song of all time. Who knew The Police would create such an immaculate piece of work?

7.18 Whip_It_(Devo_single)_cover_art

37. DEVO – “Whip It” (1980). This was the moment that nerd’s favorite band finally had a Top 20 hit song. Actually, this song is played much more often now than it was back in 1980. Revisionist history.

7.18 camper-van-beethoven-take-the-skinheads-bowling-1986

36. Camper Van Beethoven – “Take the Skinheads Bowling” (1985). When my older son first heard this song as a toddler, he fell in love with the simple melody and funny lyrics, even though I am certain he did not know what a skinhead was. Then again, that’s the beauty of CVB’s music, simplicity with some lyrical humor sprinkled in for fun.

7.18 R.E.M._-_Superman

35. R.E.M. – “Superman” (1986). Here is one of the first cover songs that R.E.M. ever placed on one of their albums. And, it allowed the world to see the band was not just a bunch of former art students who were overly serious. Plus, the song shows just how important bubblegum and glam musics were to new wave. And, yes, Son #1 loved it.

7.18 the cure-Justlikeheaven

34. The Cure – “Just like Heaven” (1987). Yes, The Cure could show their sunshiny, power pop side that was always lurking underneath the mopey facade the band had been using since its inception. And, after you got over the shock, you realized that The Cure consists of really happy people.

7.18 david bowie - AshesToAshes3

33. David Bowie – “Ashes to Ashes” (1980). Here we are again, the godfather of New Wave offers this moody follow-up on the antics of “A Space Oddity” Major Tom. Then, throw in the groundbreaking surrealism of the video, which casts future MTV VJ Alan Hunter in a “dancing” role.

7.18 Eurythmics_SDAMOT

32. Eurythmics – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (1983). The 80s were all about androgyny, but the Eurythmics turned the theme upside down by having the female singer with the golden soulful pipes sporting the androgynous look. The video still looks good, with the cows in the boardroom. That’s an artistic statement which remains true today.

7.18 The_Romantics_-_What_I_Like_About_You

31. The Romantics – “What I Like About You” (1980). This is not only one of the greatest power pop songs of all time, it’s simply an all-time great song. It has energy, power, crunching guitars, a singing drummer and a harmonica solo. What more could you ask for? Throw in four guys from Detroit in matching red leather suits, and you have a visual for the ages to go with one of the most energetic songs of the 80s.

Ten more songs down with 30 to go! This has been a fun countdown so far. Can’t wait for you to see the songs in My Top 30, though some of you might be able to guess them. Long live New Wave!