Here Are Songs 6 Through 10 on My 200 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs Countdown

8.3 the pogues
The Pogues

The Top 10! Finally! This is probably THE group of songs that most of you have been waiting to see. I have always LOVE Top 10s in lists. If something is listed or ranked in the Top 10, then the item must be special. I don’t care what the subject is (Now wait a sec Keller! You don’t read Martha Stewart’s lists or anything on Pinterest.), I want to see the Top 10. That list will give me a brief look as to what is import to that subject matter.

So, let’s jump right in to My Top 10 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs!

8.3 The_Replacements_-_Alex_Chilton_cover

10. The Replacements – “Alex Chilton” (1987). So, who is Alex Chilton? Chilton was the lead singer of the Sixties group The Box Tops, who scored a Number One Billboard hit with the band’s timeless classic “The Letter”. Now, the band had a few more hits, but none as big as their first hit. After Chilton left The Box Tops, he joined the godfathers of power pop, Big Star. Chilton became an iconic figure within the 80s alternative scene, as did Big Star. So, The Replacements honored both Chilton and Big Star with this Big Star/Alex Chilton homage.

8.3 bob mould see a little light

9. Bob Mould – “See a Little Light” (1989). In 1987, Bob Mould left Husker Du for a solo career. What we were not ready for was the organic-sounding song cycle of acoustic-based rock songs in the place of the usual pile driving distorted guitar assault of his aforementioned band. It was a startling contrast. And, this was his finest song on his brilliant debut album.

8.3 rem radio free europe

8. R.E.M. – “Radio Free Europe” (1983). This was ground zero of the whole College Rock movement. After this song’s release, for a time, it seemed like there were actually thousands of sound-a-like bands. This song remains iconic and vital to this very day.


7. The Pogues – “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” (1988). In 1986, The Clash were kaput. Few artists were stepping up to try to fill the void left behind in the wake of their demise. U2 filled the sincerity portion with their excellent music. But, it was not until 1988, that another Irish band of drunken Celtic folk punks to release a single that recalled The Clash’s energy and vitality. And, this was all done in an ode to a woman’s body.


6. The Style Council – “Walls Come Tumbling Down” (1985). Paul Weller and company seemed to conjure up the ghost of The Jam in order to create this song. It’s desperation and yearning about societal ills. It was the perfect song for the mid-point of the Reagan administration.

Another five songs down, making a total of 195 songs cover thus far on this list. Tomorrow, of course, we will finish off this list! So, until then, keep on rocking in the free world! Peace!

My Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs: #11-15

8.2 new order
New Order

Let me begin by saying, “Happy birthday!” to my beautiful bride. We have been together since going to see Ghostbusters the summer we met. We have had our ups and downs like most couples. But, we have been on a life ride that I would not have traded for anything. Happy birthday baby!

Before I met my wife, she only listened to pop/rock radio. And, guess what?!?! She continues to listen to pop/rock radio, and mainly rolls her eyes at some of the stuff I think is great. Once person described me as a hot air balloon and my wife as the anchor that keeps me floating off, which is fairly accurate. And, although she is not as big of a music fan as I am, she has been my biggest influence on me becoming a blogger. Currently, she is gently prodding me to write a book or screenplay, which seems like a daunting task for this left-brained microbiologist/chemist/hematology technologist/medical technologist. So, we will see, because the thing has been a VERY slow process.

With that said, how ’bout we get back on track with the next five songs in the countdown of what is turning into a history of alternative music series of countdowns. Today, I present to you #11-15 in the countdown of My 200 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs. Let’s go!

8.2 pixies - here comes your man

15. Pixies – “Here Comes Your Man” (1989). The Pixies gave Kurt Cobain the idea of the alternating soft-loud-soft concept of verse-chorus-verse. This song is a nice little Power Pop dish that clearly displays guitarist/vocalist Black Francis’ pop melody songwriting ability without the Pixies’ usual blasts of fuzzed-out guitar.

8.2 new order - bizarre love trianle

14. New Order – “Bizarre Love Triangle” (1986). Yes, the lyrics are a bit “bizarre”, but the music is clearly meant for the dance floor in a manner that only the synth-pop dance sound of New Order could create.

8.2 Depeche Mode - People Are People

13. Depeche Mode – “People Are People” (1985). Finally, Depeche Mode discovered their post-Alan Clarke sound by turning the contrast in their music and lyrics toward the darker side of things. By doing so, their synth-pop sound became more rock-like.


12. The Smiths – “Girlfriend in a Coma” (1987). The opening lyrics of this song directly showed what a sly sense of humor songwriter Morrissey had: “Girlfriend’s in a coma, I guess it’s getting serious.” Ya think!?!? HAHAHA!!! I was hooked by the dark humor of the lyrics set to the usual proto-Britpop sound The Smiths had become known for.

8.2 Lovesong - The Cure

11. The Cure – “Lovesong” (1989). Who knew that the biggest mopey band in the world could possibly ever write a sexy love song? This song was so good that it peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1989. FYI: the album on which this song can be found is The Cure’s masterpiece Disintegration.

Well, we are now on the cusp of the Top Ten of this current countdown. Please allow me a moment to thank my favorite radio man in Indianapolis, the incomparable Drew Carey, for the idea of digging into the history of alternative music. It was a fantastic idea that will be reaping weeks of blog space. So, if you do not like what I am doing now and in the short-term on this blog, you can thank my friend Drew. Here’s to you Drew! And, here’s to the rest of my loyal readers! Cheers!

My Favorite College Rock Songs: #16-20

8.1 The Replacements on SNL
The Replacements on Saturday Night Live in 1986

Back in January 1986, I was obsessed with The Replacements. So, imagine my reaction when I heard the band was going to be the musical guest on an upcoming Saturday Night Live. Now, the band had two personalities. In the studio, they could be focused long enough to produce brilliant songs with unparalleled songwriting. But, when the band toured, they could be a drunken mess or a brilliant tight band, many times within the same concert. With that in mind, the band’s reputation had the SNL staff on edge for the night of the show.

During a rehearsal, the band had jacked up the amps to such loud levels that the SNL soundman was yelling at the band to turn it down during the rehearsal. For their 1985 album, Tim, The Replacements had joined a major label. Being a band from the underground, The ‘Mats were constantly needling the label by saying the band would play older songs from their original indie label. So, the level of nervousness was pegged on high as the band performed during the rehearsal earlier in the evening that Saturday. The band was set to play two songs from their latest album Tim: “Bastards of Young” and “Kiss Me on the Bus”.

Between the rehearsal and the actual show, the band did two things: crank up their amps and got drunk. So, for the live show, the band kicked off their rowdy “Bastards of Young” with the sound blaring too loud for the show, which caused distortion in the picture being sent to televisions throughout the country. It took nearly half the song before the sound people got things under control. To top things off, the band came back drunk and high and performed an amateurish “Kiss Me on the Bus”. Their antics lead Lorne Michaels to ban The Replacements from any other performances on SNL.

Now, did The Replacements blow their chance. Probably. But, the band produced three more great albums before breaking up. Still, their music lives on, which is proof that the band’s influence continues to grow this day.

Of today’s five songs, four of the five artists are all part of College Rock’s hierarchy. Let’s take a closer look.

8.1 joy division love will tear us apart

20. Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980). No other band has a reputation on the rise like this band. Much like the Velvet Underground before them, Joy Division has blossomed in influence since singer Ian Curtis’ suicide. This song is the band’s masterpiece.

8.1 R.E.M._-_Fall_on_Me

19. R.E.M. – “Fall on Me” (1986). College Rock’s golden boys had stayed away from political statements until they released this pro-environmental song. I remember when my generation actually believed in climate change. Now, for some reason, many don’t. Whatever. This song explains what is happening.

8.1 the-police-every-breath-you-take-1983-21

18. The Police – “Every Breath You Take” (1983). The Police were one of the first and most revered College Rock bands when they released this song in the Summer of 1983. After its released, they became the biggest band in the world, transcending all genres.

8.1 Invisible(Alison_Moyet)

17. Alison Moyet – “Invincible” (1984). Back in the early-80s, their was once a band known as Yaz (or, for a time, Yazoo). Their lead singer was a plus-sized young woman with a powerhouse, soulful voice, Alison Moyet. She released her solo debut in 1984 that set the world on fire. This song was her finest moment, Live Aid performance included. She may have been Adele long before Adele showed up on the scene.

8.1 the replacements - talent show

16. The Replacements – “Talent Show” (1988). The album this song comes from, Don’t Tell a Soul, was the band’s attempt to become a commercial success. And, although, this song was never really released as a single, I have always loved the lyrics’ mission statement-like directness. Never before had the band seemed so focused.

Well, we are now ready to jump into the Top 15. The numbers are getting smaller, and the songs are getting bigger. Any guesses as to what will be number 1? Stay tuned!