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!

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

2 thoughts on “College Rock Music of the 80s: My Top 200 Songs”

  1. Here we go again! Another list doled out in daily pieces. Looking forward to how this plays out.

    Keller’s Top 200 College Rock of the 80s Songs: 200-166

    You have me at a slight disadvantage as I was listening to what is now known as classic rock radio fairly consistently from 1981-2003 when I acquired a top of the line Sirius Satellite Radio kit for Christmas, mounted the antenna on the dash of our minivan under the dash protector and began to bounce around the many channels, enjoying music from all my favorite genres, wishing there was a way to combine channels for my perfect mix but still annoyed by the constant chatter and self-promotion. Soon, I bought wife an iPod Photo and shortly thereafter picked up one for myself and we’ve never looked back to radio.

    These days, the Bluetooth always quickly connects when I fire up The Blueberry so I’m only limited by my own collection and the constantly growing library of Spotify. One day, the Bluetooth did not connect and I scanned the radio dial til I found a song I liked and the radio has been on that station ever since.

    It’s 98.5 KRDX The Fox, a commercial-free(!), solar-powered station that begins its broadcast day shortly after Sunrise and ends abruptly just after Sunset. There are no jocks, no talk whatsoever except for station identification every half hour or so. It bills itself as playing the best of the Sixties and Seventies but in fact, plays songs from the Fifties through the Eighties. Supposedly the broadcast tower is near our home here on the far east side of town and low-powered as I lose the signal as I near midtown or when it is cloudy or rains for more than 15 minutes. My wife calls it the “Wow, I Haven’t Heard This Song On The Radio In Ages” station because that is apparently what I say whenever we listen. The station, unfortunately, is not available to stream.

    There is a sister station just down the dial at 98.1 that plays deep, deep cuts, is on 24/7 and also has no jocks or commercials. A few of my friends have stumbled onto that one and claim it is the best station EVER! Both stations are owned by the same guy who owns this world-famous station (which has a functional website and does stream) and apparently finances and programs each station himself. Another one of my friends swears the mysterious station owner is the guy who would come into Best Buy (where he used to work fifteen years ago) once a month and fill one or two shopping carts completely with CDs before checking out, being escorted to his van by two store personnel who helped him place the CDs into giant plastic bins in the back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have always dreamt of owning a radio station & programming it myself but I would have DJs. A bunch of us here all worked together on our high school radio station & we are all big music lovers as well as big nuts. What a dream.


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