R.I.P. Ric Ocasek & The Cars

Photo of CARS

It’s now been a week since I saw the news release announcing that the main songwriter of The Cars, Ric Ocasek, had passed. Now it has not affected me the same way Prince or Tom Petty hit me, but his passing has hit me hard, putting yet another metaphorical nail in the coffin of my youth.

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You see, in many ways, The Cars represented something of an gateway drug into my continued obsession with alternative music. Looking back, I was reading about the Sex Pistols, Ramones and The Clash but had yet to gain the intestinal fortitude to eschew my Boston and Styx records for the more enjoyable music of my youth. Then, in 1978, I discovered the now-classic eponymous debut album by The Cars, and my life literally changed. Now, I was hearing the sounds of a new generation. Sure, they played classic rock sounds with the pop sheen of the bubblegum music from my elementary school days. But, this music was also laced with futuristic synth swooshes and new wave rhythms that told me the punk waters were warm, safe and inviting for this Midwestern kid.

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The best part about The Cars was that my, and this is an endearing term when used by someone whose housing addition was surrounded by corn fields, hick friends could find common ground when at parties and cruising around our hometown. This was the band that unified the different factions in our high school. Metal heads, stoners, science nerds, jocks, seemingly all of us loved The Cars, and, anecdotally speaking from class reunions we still do, continues to unite my generation. Perhaps the coolest thing was how influential the band was throughout the Nineties (Ric Ocasek produced Weezer’s now-classic debut album!) and into the 21st century (Listen to The Killers, Bloc Party and a host of others).

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I give you that they weren’t an overtly flashy band, like say A Flock of Seagulls or Billy Idol, but their songs have had much more staying power than perhaps any other artist from the same time period, outside of Prince, Michael, The Boss or Madonna. And, that, my friends, says it all to me.

Therefore, in one last salute to The Cars, I present to you my Top 20 Songs by The Cars.

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20. “I’m Not the One” (Shake It Up, 1981)

19. “It’s All I Can Do” (Candy-O, 1979)

18. “Sad Song” (Move like This, 2011)

17. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” (The Cars, 1978)

16. “You Are the Girl” (Door to Door, 1987)

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15. “Tonight She Comes” (Greatest Hits, 1985)

14. “Hello Again” (Heartbeat City, 1984)

13. “Magic” (Heartbeat City, 1984)

12. “Shake It Up” (Shake It Up, 1981)

11. “Moving in Stereo” (The Cars, 1978)

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10. “Good Times Roll” (The Cars, 1978). This great song is the THIRD single from the band’s fantastic debut album and a classic rock standard. It’s hard to remember just how different this song was from everything else on Central Indiana radio at the time.

9. “Dangerous Type” (Candy-O, 1979). I am a big fan of the darker music by The Cars, and this song wasn’t much of a radio hit but was included in the now-forgotten 1980 coming-of-age Times Square movie to great effect. It’s a shame the song was left off the soundtrack because it’s inclusion would have made the double album perfect.

8. “You Might Think” (Heartbeat City, 1984). A prime example of the quirky pop-rock The Cars perfected. And, back in 1984, no video was more cutting edge than the one for this terrific song.

7. “Drive” (Heartbeat City, 1984). The Cars made their entry into ballad-land with this haunting tune. It was used to great effect during the Live Aid video that depicted the famine in Africa.

6. “Just What I Needed” (The Cars, 1978). To me, this was the safest-sounding Cars song and, in retrospect, the perfect way to introduce the band to the world.

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5. “Touch and Go” (Panorama, 1980). I wasn’t joking when I said that I love the weird side of this band. And, outside of “Moving in Stereo,” no song was as jarring at the time as this one was when you first heard it. As a matter of fact, it remains so. It’s light years ahead of the music world.

4. “Bye Bye Love” (The Cars, 1978). Easily my favorite non-single cut by The Cars. I love the dark imaginary utilized to describe a disintegrating relationship. Plus, you know something good has to be going on when this song got a HUGE reaction from a Ted Nugent/AC/DC crowd when played during the pre-concert music.

3. “Since You’re Gone” (Shake It Up, 1981). Once again, I’m walking on the dark side of the street, but this song has never really gotten the praise it truly deserves. WHY WASN’T IT A HUGE HIT?!?!?!

2. “My Best Friend’s Girl” (The Cars, 1978). This one challenged radio programmers NOT to add it to their playlist. It’s like radio around here went from safe music to playing more and more new wave after this song got on the playlists around here. “Stayed tuned, because The Police will be back with “Roxanne” after this word from our sponsors.” Would have NEVER happened if this song was popular first.

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1. “Let’s Go” (Candy-O, 1979). You know, there are just certain songs that simply tell you everything you need to know about an artist. Guns N’ Roses have “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” R.E.M. has “Losing My Religion.” And, Michael Jackson has “Billie Jean.” Well, to me, “Let’s Go” is that song for The Cars. Even Prince loved the song! How much better could an endorsement get?

My 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominee Predictions

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Traditionally speaking, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame releases its annual Nominees List around October 9, and those of us that have a romantic view of the monument have been dropping prediction list after prediction list concerning our beliefs as to who will be nominated. I will admit that I am a passionate casual follower of the Hall, which basically means that I follow the Hall’s actions more closely than the casual fan while not obsessed as several of my writer friends are. So, if you are looking for accuracy, you might want to look up various Rock Hall watchers’ sites for their predictions, for they all do outstanding jobs of reading the tea leaves. Me, on the other hand, I am a fan, and my list lands somewhere between an actual prediction and a unabashed “wish list.” But, isn’t that what makes following the Hall so much fun? It’s almost like fantasy football for rock geeks. And, I’m a HUGE rock and roll geek.

Since the early Nineties, the RRHOF Nominating Committee has limited themselves to 15 nominees each year. And, they have also most inducted five of those nominees each year. These self-imposed limitations have handcuffed itself into a seemingly endless backlog of truly deserving rock immortals sitting on the outside. When this whole thing was being planned back in the Eighties, I used to complain that this institution was unnecessary because each of us have different tastes which is what makes music so beautiful.

Now, the Hall becomes an artist’s fan’s validation and a money-making project for the Hall itself. Yet, like all Halls of Fame, it is a living, breathing testament to the history of this music that has played such an important part of the better part of three generations of music lovers throughout the world. Plus, if you have ever been to Cleveland to visit the museum, you will be blown away by everything you will see there. Personally, it has been 16 years since I’ve been there, but we are planning to go soon since Prince and Cheap Trick have been inducted during these intervening years.

With that said, I want to present my 15 Nominees, in addition to five artists who should also be considered and would not be surprised if they are on the official list.

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The B-52’s – The party band from Athens, Georgia, paved the way not only for R.E.M.’s stellar career, but for alternative music itself.

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Pat Benatar – After Heart and The Runaways cracked open the door for female rock deities, Pat Benatar knocked that door down to prove that women should be taken seriously in this business.

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Cher – If you think Cher was just the beautiful half of Sonny & Cher, you were wrong. If you thought there was no way she could act, you were wrong. This woman was MADONNA before Madonna was out of her teens. Wake up people! This woman has the goods!

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Depeche Mode – Until Morrissey began endorsing extreme right-wing nut jobs, I always thought The Smiths would be inducted next from the Eighties college rock scene. While it still may happen, I now think Depeche Mode will follow The Cure into the Hall.

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The Doobie Brothers – You may be asking yourself, “They aren’t in?!?!” Nope! This is their time.

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Iron Maiden – Judas Priest finally got a nomination last year and somehow did not get in despite Eddie Trunk’s supposed influence. This year, I think the Committee will shift gears a bit and nominate the Maiden. Both bands have been criminally overlooked for years.

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Carole King – Here I go again! Yes, she’s not in the Hall as an artist. And King released one of the all-time great albums Tapestry, which continues to amaze me nearly 50 years later. Come on people!

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Kraftwerk – Most Americans do not realize how musically influential Kraftwerk has been to this very day. They were the first band to embrace synthesizers, making electronic music both rocking and danceable. The direction of Eighties music would have totally been different if not for these guys embracing technology. Afrika Bambaataa sampled their music, most importantly on “Planet Rock.” And, we all know how important the synthesizer was to Prince, synth pop, dance pop, New Jack swing, industrial music, ZZ Top in the mid-Eighties, and I could go on and on.

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MC5 – THE political proto-punks from Detroit helped birth the whole Seventies punk scene, along with Hall inductees The Stooges and the overlooked New York Dolls. Their torch was picked up in the Nineties by Rage Against the Machine, yet another overlooked band.

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Nine Inch Nails – After Trent Reznor’s impassioned induction speech for The Cure last year should be rewarded with an induction for his brilliant band that married metal, industrial and pop musics. Plus, anyone who has battle depression probably has gone through a NIN phase. I had a difficult time choosing one Nineties rock artist, as I considered Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, all of whom are worthy.

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The Notorious B.I.G. – Here is the one artist of the first-time eligible nominees who will get inducted. Since Tupac is in, and those two redefined hip hop during their all-too-brief careers, I expect Biggie to follow. Unfortunately, that means that Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Dr. Dre and, most importantly, LL Cool J will all have to wait…again!

9.18 Dolly-Parton

Dolly Parton – That’s right! Dolly’s not in, while influencing seemingly EVERYONE in rock history. I’m not a country fan, but I am a fan of great music. And, Dolly writes and creates great music. Other country artists who should be inducted include Willie Nelson (C’mon! Kid Rock is stealing his zeitgeist!), Patsy Cline (Arguably the greatest female country voice this side of Linda Ronstadt), Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson. 2019 may well be her year.

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The Runaways – If it wasn’t for The Runaways, where would women be in the rock/punk world? And take a look at their classic line-up of Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Sandy West and long-running Jeopardy champion Jackie (Fuchs) Fox. That’s a ’27 Yankees of female rockers immortality. Hell, they just rocked period.

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Todd Rundgren – The Hermit of Mink Hollow finished THIRD in last year’s fan balloting and did NOT get inducted! WTF?!?!?!?! This man is THE Renaissance Man of rock music. This better be his year, or I will be bitching all year long!

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Tina Turner – That’s right! Tina’s not in as a solo artist, when everyone my age remembers her storybook comeback in 1984. She is another “no-brainer.”

Honorable Mention:

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Whitney Houston – This one will truly tick off one of my former track athletes, because he will say she is not rock music. That’s true! But, much like Aretha Franklin, Whitney was The Voice of a Generation.

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The Jam – Paul Weller is one of my favorite songwriters, and his seminal punk band, a HUGE influence on Green Day and the pop-punk of the early 21st century, should be immediately considered. Let’s face it! Britpop may not have happened if it wasn’t for The Jam.

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The Spinners – Perhaps, Philadelphia’s greatest soul group of the Seventies. Their early-Seventies catalog is just brilliant.

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War – This band from East L.A. was a rock/funk combo who dominated in the early Seventies. They have been overlooked for far too long.

9.18 link wray

Link Wray – This man pioneered the power chord. So, where do you think The Who, AC/DC and so many others got their power from? Look no further.

When you are limited by certain parameters, you can all list at least twenty more deserving artists. This nominating and induction process is getting out of hand. Something has got to change!

1984: Not Really Orwell’s Dystopia


Growing up, the year 1984 always seemed to be a year of impending doom. In some ways it was, what with the Ayn Rand-driven Reaganomics unfortunately becoming the dominant economic philosophy leading to the undermining of the middle class. But when were still a decade away from much of Orwell’s dystopic vision of society, although this was not coming from the left but the right. Actually, a book that came out around this time entitled The Handmaid’s Tale may actually be closer to reality today than Orwell’s vision. Sorry, but there was not really a new morning in America but more of an impending doom.

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And, believe it or not, the underground music scene reflected this queasiness with Reagan’s America. Go back and listen to music of Run-D.M.C., The Replacements, Hüsker Dü or The Smiths, and you can hear this anger building. While, the media was attempting to push a party-hearty music of glam metal to keep the youth diverted from reality.

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Yet, through it all, some of the finest music was being released during this pivotal year. 1984, of course, was Prince’s year. At one point during the summer of 1984, the man had the number one album, single and movie in the country. But, other artists were hitting the bullseye with their music. The Cars released a terrific album, Heartbeat City, that was loaded with hits. Van Halen, another band who debuted in 1978 with The Cars, released a great commercial album with 1984. And, one of my personal favorites, The Style Council, was bringing their Motown/Europop vision to the forefront of the music scene.

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On a personal level, 1984 was my senior year in college. I was facing adulthood, marriage, a career and an impending parenthood all at once while attempting to figure out how to mature into the vision of myself without too much compromise. At least the music was great that year to help me through this terrifying moment in my life. But, it was a hell of a year to be the soundtrack of that kind of year, which ends my decade of development as Gen X-er coming of age.

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So, let’s put a cap on this decade with what I consider to be the finest year of this ten-year run of when I might have actually been somewhat “cool.” Let’s count ’em down!

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100. “Roxanne’s Revenge” – Roxanne Shante

99. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

98. “Rock Box” – Run-D.M.C.

97. “Rock You like a Hurricane” – Scorpions

96. “Footloose” – Kenny Loggins

95. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” – Deniece Williams

94. “Holiday” – Madonna

93. “Let the Music Play” – Shannon

92. “Cruel Summer” – Bananarama

91. “Jump (For My Love)” – The Pointer Sisters

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90. “Talking in Your Sleep” – The Romantics

89. “Legs” – ZZ Top

88. “Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol

87. “Dance Hall Days” – Wang Chung

86. “On the Dark Side” – John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band

85. “Original Sin” – INXS

84. “Break My Stride” – Matthew Wilder

83. “Nobody Told Me” – John Lennon

82. “Lucky Star” – Madonna

81. “Middle of the Road” – The Pretenders

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80. “Automatic” – The Pointer Sisters

79. “Hot for Teacher” – Van Halen

78. “(She’s) Sexy + 17” – Stray Cats

77. “Jungle Love” – The Time

76. “Relax” – Frankie Goes to Hollywood

75. “You Might Think” – The Cars

74. “The Warrior” – Scandal (Featuring Patty Smyth)

73. “99 Luftballoons” – Nena

72. “Valotte” – Julian Lennon

71. “Roxanne Roxanne” – U.T.F.O.

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70. “Lovergirl” – Teena Marie

69. “Close (To the Edit)” – The Art of Noise

68. “Magic” – The Cars

67. “Got a Hold on Me” – Christine McVie

66. “Dancing in the Sheets” – Shalamar

65. “That’s All” – Genesis

64. “Head Over Heels” – The Go-Go’s

63. “Adult Education” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

62. “Going Down to Liverpool” – The Bangles

61. “Run Runaway” – Slade

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60. “They Don’t Know” – Tracey Ullman

59. “I Want a New Drug” – Huey Lewis & the News

58. “State of Shock” – The Jacksons & Mick Jagger

57. “Sunglasses at Night” – Corey Hart

56. “Who’s That Girl” – Eurythmics

55. “Stuck on You” – Lionel Richie

54. “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper

53. “Blue Jean” – David Bowie

52. “Last Christmas” – Wham!

51. “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley

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50. “I Want to Know What Love Is” – Foreigner

49. “Cover Me” – Bruce Springsteen

48. “Purple Rain” – Prince & the Revolution

47. “I Feel for You” – Chaka Khan

46. “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” – Phil Collins

45. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister

44. “Born in the U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

43. “Oh Sherrie” – Steve Perry

42. “Round and Round” – Ratt

41. “Hold Me Now” – Thompson Twins

40. “Rebel Yell” – Billy Idol

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39. “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell

38. “Authority Song” – John Cougar Mellencamp

37. “Jump” – Van Halen

36. “Easy Lover” – Philip Bailey Jr. with Phil Collins

35. “Panama” – Van Halen

34. “I Will Dare” – The Replacements

33. “Wouldn’t It Be Good” – Nik Kershaw

32. “Out of Touch” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

31. “I Can Dream About You” – Dan Hartman

30. “The Reflex” – Duran Duran

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29. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid

28. “Give It Up” – KC

27. “The Bird” – The Time

26. “Lights Out” – Peter Wolf

25. “It’s My Life” – Talk Talk

24. “Two Tribes” – Frankie Goes to Hollywood

23. “Drive” – The Cars

22. “Radio Ga Ga” – Queen

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21. “Pink Cadillac” – Bruce Springsteen

20. “She Bop” – Cyndi Lauper

19. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” – U2

18. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” – Wham!

17. “Pink Houses” – John Cougar Mellencamp

16. “What’s Love Got to Do with It” – Tina Turner

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15. “Careless Whisper” – Wham! featuring George Michael

14. “Sister Christian” – Night Ranger

13. “Like a Virgin” – Madonna

12. “Missing You” – John Waite

11. “Borderline” – Madonna

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10. “The Glamorous Life” – Sheila E.

9. “You’re the Best Thing” – The Style Council

8. “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” – R.E.M.

7. “How Soon Is Now?” – The Smiths

6. “Erotic City” – Prince & the Revolution

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5. “Killing Moon” – Echo & the Bunnymen

4. “Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen

3. “My Ever Changing Mood” – The Style Council

2. “Let’s Go Crazy” – Prince & the Revolution

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1. “When Doves Cry” – Prince

1983: Pop Music Rules, Thanks to MTV


After such a great weekend in which a childhood friend of my one of my boys got married and the class for which I was one of their sponsors had their twentieth class reunion (man, they are old!), things came crashing down again when I heard of the passing of The Cars’ leader Ric Ocasek. The Cars actually brought new wave in through classic rock’s doors when their timeless debut album was released in 1978. To the people who are now in their mid-fifties, like me, The Cars were one of our unifying artists, regardless if you were a Sabbath fan, a Pistols fan or a Fleetwood Mac fan; we all found ourselves in agreement with how great The Cars were. But, now, their two vocalists are gone, but their groundbreaking music lives on. And with Eddie Money’s passing on Friday, I am not looking forward to a third rock star death.

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You just cannot talk about the Eighties without thinking about the influence of The Cars. Ironically, 1983 was a very quiet year for the band, though we all remember what happened for them the following year. But, we are revisiting 1983, a year in which true pop music was the dominant force on the music scene. This was the year during which new wave and the subsequent Second British Invasion occurred. Michael Jackson’s moonwalk on the Motown 25th Anniversary Special caused Thriller to become THE dominant musical force for the year. Additionally, The Police released their own landmark album, Synchronicity, which lead the group to become the biggest band in the world. Even though their were many terrific rock, funk and R&B records released during the year, pop was king. And a little known but important scene on Hollywood’s Strip that we now call Glam metal was beginning to break nationally behind the success of Quiet Riot, the first metal act to have a number one album in the US. And, alternative music was beginning to break as well, with R.E.M. IRS Records full-length debut being released to critical acclaim while their British jangle counterparts, The Smiths, were making a big scene over in the UK.

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When you were a twenty-year-old at the time, the whole scenario was awesome! Little did I realize by the end of the year, I would only be six months away from meeting the most important person in my life. Regardless of that fact, 1983 was a great year for pop music, so let’s get on with the countdown!

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100. “Goodbye to You” – Scandal

99. “Heaven” – Bryan Adams

98. “Confusion” – New Order

97. “Lawyers in Love” – Jackson Browne

96. “Buffalo Gals” – Malcolm McLaren

95. “Mad World” – Tears for Fears

94. “Wrapped Around Your Finger” – The Police

93. “Mr. Roboto” – Styx

92. “Cuts like a Knife” – Bryan Adams

91. “Come Dancing” – The Kinks

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90. “Promises, Promises” – Naked Eyes

89. “Salt in My Tears” – Martin Briley

88. “Holiday Road” – Lindsey Buckingham

87. “Breaking Us in Two” – Joe Jackson

86. “Straight from the Heart” – Bryan Adams

85. “I’m Still Standing” – Elton John

84. “Dead Giveaway” – Shalamar

83. “I Won’t Hold You Back” – Toto

82. “It’s a Mistake” – Men at Work

81. “She’s a Beauty” – The Tubes

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80. “Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats

79. “You Can’t Hurry Love” – Phil Collins

78. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” – Taco

77. “Always Something There to Remind Me” – Naked Eyes

76. “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Sergio Mendes

75. “In the Mood” – Robert Plant

74. “Joanna” – Kool & the Gang

73. “China Girl” – David Bowie

72. “Gimme All Your Lovin'” – ZZ Top

71. “Undercover of the Night” – The Rolling Stones

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70. “Major Tom (Coming Home)” – Peter Schilling

69. “Church of the Poison Mind” – Culture Club

68. “Is There Something I Should Know?” – Duran Duran

67. “The One Thing” – INXS

66. “No Parking (On the Dancefloor)” – Midnight Star

65. “Stand Back” – Stevie Nicks

64. “Say, Say, Say” – Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson

63. “Jeopardy” – Greg Kihn Band

62. “Overkill” – Men at Work

61. “One on One” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

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60. “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” – Air Supply

59. “Too Shy” – Kajagoogoo

58. “Mirror Man” – The Human League

57. “The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats

56. “Der Kommissar” – After the Fire

55. “King of Pain” – The Police

54. “Tell Her About It” – Billy Joel

53. “Rock of Ages” – Def Leppard

52. “Say It Isn’t So” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

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51. “I Love L.A.” – Randy Newman

50. “Synchronicity II” – The Police

49. “Delirious” – Prince

48. “Mama” – Genesis

47. “Crumblin’ Down” – John Cougar Mellencamp

46. “Modern Love” – David Bowie

45. “Sharp Dressed Man” – ZZ Top

44. “Uptown Girl” – Billy Joel

43. “Favorite Waste of Time” – Marshall Crenshaw

42. “Why Me” – Planet P Project

41. “Big Log” – Robert Plant

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40. “In a Big Country” – Big Country

39. “Red Red Wine” – UB40

38. “Cum on Feel the Noize” – Quiet Riot

37. “Just Be Good to Me” – S.O.S. Band

36. “Leave a Tender Moment Alone” – Billy Joel

35. “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” – Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel

34. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” – Yes

33. “Faithfully” – Journey

32. “Pass the Dutchie” – Musical Youth

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31. “Blister in the Sun” – Violent Femmes

30. “She Works Hard for the Money” – Donna Summer

29. “Love Is a Battlefield” – Pat Benatar

28. “Maniac” – Michael Sembello

27. “All Night Long (All Night)” – Lionel Richie

26. “Electric Avenue” – Eddie Grant

25. “Flashdance…Oh What a Feeling” – Irene Cara

24. “Blue Monday” – New Order

23. “Our House” – Madness

22. “New Year’s Day” – U2

21. “What About Me” – Moving Pictures

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20. “Photograph” – Def Leppard

19. “Rockit” – Herbie Hancock

18. “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)” – A Flock of Seagulls

17. “Just Got Lucky” – JoBoxers

16. “True” – Spandau Ballet

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15. “One Thing Leads to Another” – The Fixx

14. “Here Comes the Rain Again” – Eurythmics

13. “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” – Talking Heads

12. “Whenever You’re on My Mind” – Marshall Crenshaw

11. “Don’t Change” – INXS

10. “Let’s Dance” – David Bowie

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9. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2

8. “Burning Down the House” – Talking Heads

7. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

6. “Karma Chameleon” – Culture Club

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5. “Everyday I Write the Book” – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

4. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” – Elton John

3. “Long Hot Summer” – The Style Council

2. “Radio Free Europe” – R.E.M.

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1. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police

1982: MTV Got Music It’s Groove Back


1982 is the year when I got my MTV. It was a heady time. In one quick flick of the remote on the cable box, and I was witnessing an actual revolution in music. Finally, the US had its first national radio station that played the same music all over the country. Finally, the generational shift was taking place right in front of our eyes. Now, Gen X was flexing its collective economic muscles to make their music (new wave, college rock, rap, dance music, R&B, pop, synth pop, etc.) the major trend of the Eighties, arrogantly pushing many of those Sixties and Seventies musical icons aside for a new sound.

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So while the Boomers were becoming yuppies, Gen X was coming of age and new icons such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen and The Clash all released significant albums during this year. Two supergroups dominated the charts as well. First, four musicians with major Seventies prog rock pedigree came together to form Asia, a relatively streamlined version of the Seventies sound with Eighties synthesizers made a grand entrance that unfortunately was short-lived. And, a conglomeration of West Coast studio musicians banded together in 1978, but reached their artistic peak in 1982 as Toto. Once again, their success was an aberration, yet still noteworthy.

9.13 john cougar

Perhaps the biggest surprise of 1982 was the emergence of a fellow Hoosier who then went by the name of John Cougar, now known as John Mellencamp. Prior to his triumphant performance on Saturday Night Live in the Spring of that year, he was a toiling singer/songwriting rocker. But, after he debuted “Hurts So Good,” the Ball State campus was full of the sounds of his great album American Fool. Finally, a true hick was now a rock star. And even though the great Jackson family originally hailed from Gary, Indiana, the state has always unfairly  treated “The Region” as an extension of Chicago.

9.13 clash

But enough of that in-state stupidity! 1982 was a fun year during which we experienced a seismic shift in the the music being played in our lives. And, how better to celebrate the year than to put forth my 100 favorite songs of the year. Hold on!

9.13 motels

100. “Only the Lonely” – The Motels

99. “She’s Tight” – Cheap Trick

98. “Everybody Wants You” – Billy Squier

97. “Poison Arrow” – ABC

96. “That Girl” – Stevie Wonder

95. “Bad to the Bone” – George Thorogood & the Destroyers

94. “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” – Jennifer Holiday

93. “Love Is in Control” – Donna Summer

92. “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

91. “Working for the Weekend” – Loverboy

9.13 men at work

90. “Down Under” – Men at Work

89. “Homosapien” – Pete Shelley

88. “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” – Heaven 17

87. “O Superman (For Massenet)” – Laurie Anderson

86. “Jump” – Loverboy

85. “It’s Raining Men” – The Weather Girls

84. “Hurts So Good” – John Cougar

83. “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” – Chicago

82. “Only You” – Yaz

81. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson

Toto Portrait Session

80. “Rosanna” – Toto

79. “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” – The Human League

78. “Dirty Laundry” – Don Henley

77. “Candy Girl” – New Edition

76. “Twilight Zone” – Golden Earring

75. “White Wedding” – Billy Idol

74. “Africa” – Toto

73. “Rio” – Duran Duran

72. “Allentown” – Billy Joel

71. “Beat Surrender” – The Jam

70. “Hold Me” – Fleetwood Mac

9.13 scorpions

69. “No One like You” – Scorpions

68. “Temptation” – New Order

67. “Nasty Girl” – Vanity 6

66. “It’s Raining Again” – Supertramp

65. “Don’t Fight It” – Kenny Loggins with Steve Perry

64. “Fantasy” – Aldo Nova

63. “Mickey” – Toni Basil

62. “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” – Michael McDonald

61. “Eye in the Sky” – Alan Parsons Project

9.13 Huey.Lewis.and.The.News

60. “Do You Believe in Love” – Huey Lewis & the News

59. “Think I’m in Love” – Eddie Money (It saddens to hear while I am typing this entry that Eddie Money passed away this morning at the age of 70. It had been recently reported that he was suffering from Stage 4 esophageal cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.)

58. “The Walk” – The Time

57. “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” – Judas Priest

56. “Senses Working Overtime” – XTC

55. “The Bitterest Pill (I’ve Ever Had to Swallow)” – The Jam

54. “Run to the Hills” – Iron Maiden

53. “Human Nature” – Michael Jackson

52. “Save a Prayer” – Duran Duran

9.13 yaz

51. “Situation” – Yaz

50. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

49. “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” – Michael Jackson

48. “She Blinded Me with Science” – Thomas Dolby

47. “Jack and Diane” – John Cougar

46. “I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow

45. “Heat of the Moment” – Asia

44. “Shock the Monkey” – Peter Gabriel

43. “Steppin’ Out” – Joe Jackson

42. “Goody Two Shoes” – Adam Ant

9.13 38 special

41. “Caught Up in You” – .38 Special

40. “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven with You)” – Dexys Midnight Runners

39. “Someday, Someway” – Marshall Crenshaw

38. “Save It for Later” – The English Beat

37. “Love My Way” – The Psychedelic Furs

36. “Mexican Radio” – Wall of Voodoo

35. “Kids in America” – Kim Wilde

34. “We Got the Beat” – The Go-Go’s

33. “Rock This Town” – Stray Cats

32. “Don’t Go” – Yaz

31. “My City Was Gone” – The Pretenders

30. “More Than This” – Roxy Music

9.13 Dazz band

29. “Let It Whip” – Dazz Band

28. “Who Can It Be Now” – Men at Work

27. “Time (Clock of My Heart)” – Culture Club

26. “I There’s Something Going On” – Frida

25. “Cynical Girl” – Marshall Crenshaw

24. “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” – Gap Band

23. “The Look of Love” – ABC

22. “I Ran (So Far Away)” – A Flock of Seagulls

21. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” – Culture Club

9.13 tommy tutone

20. “867-5309/Jenny” – Tommy Tutone

19. “I Melt with You” – Modern English

18. “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” – The Clash

17. “Back on the Chain Gang” – The Pretenders

9.13 george clinton

16. “Atomic Dog” – George Clinton

15. “Maneater” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

14. “Rock the Casbah” – The Clash

13. “Hungry like the Wolf” – Duran Duran

12. “Town Called Malice” – The Jam

11. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Eurythmics

10. “1999” – Prince

9.13 human league

9. “Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League

8. “Beat It” – Michael Jackson

7. “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell

6. “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson

9.13 marvin gaye

5. “Sexual Healing” – Marvin Gaye

4. “Planet Rock” – Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force

3. “The Message” – Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five

2. “Come On Eileen” – Dexys Midnight Runners

9.13 prince

1. “Little Red Corvette” – Prince

1981: A Transition Year If There Ever Was One


Transition was the theme of 1981. Personally, I transitioned from a high school student to a college student. Musically, 1981 represented the year that arena rock made its final year of dominance on the charts. Probably the biggest reason why that is was the launch of MTV on August 1. Sure, the AOR artists had videos, but the English new wave artists had the exciting ones. And, as MTV spread throughout the country, a second British would take place. However, in 1981, all of that was in the future. But, at that moment, radio was all about Journey, Styx, Foreigner and the rest.

9.11 pat benatar

1981 was also cool because Tom Petty, The Police and The J. Geils Band were all getting their due. Joan Jett, who always seemed destined for rock stardom, had her moment in the sun. Pat Benatar, Styx, Rush, Journey and Stevie Nicks all had number one albums. Ozzy Osbourne made a dramatic comeback. You could feel the music world beginning to rumble. Think about classic rock radio today, and many of the songs on my list are still getting lots of run today.

9.11 journey

Perhaps the song that has had the longest legs of all would have to be Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”. That song has taken on a life of its own over the years, thanks in no part to its use on the pilot of the TV sensation Glee. That show exposed so many of the songs of early Gen X lives to the millennials, but Journey’s signature song is the one that has become one of the most streamed and downloaded songs of the digital age. And, as great of a song it is, I simply love other songs better. Yet, they will never capture the imagination of generations like that Journey song.

So, let’s get this thing started! Here’s my 100 favorite songs of 1981.

9.11 Christopher-Cross

100. “Arthur” – Christopher Cross

99. “Who’s Crying Now” – Journey

98. “Miss Sun” – Boz Scaggs

97. “Destroyer” – The Kinks

96. “Turn Your Love Around” – George Benson

95. “Baby, Come to Me” – Patti Austin & James Ingram

94. “Never Too Much” – Luther Vandross

93. “Freeze Frame” – The J. Geils Band

92. “Spirits in the Material World” – The Police

9.11 carl carlton

91. “She’s a Bad Mamma Jamma (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)” – Carl Carlton

90. “Ceremony” – Joy Division

89. “Stars on 45 Medley” – Stars on 45

88. “Girls on Film” – Duran Duran

87. “Take Off” – Bob & Doug McKenzie with Geddy Lee

86. “Gemini Dream” – The Moody Blues

85. “Lunatic Fringe” – Red Rider

84. “Endless Love” – Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

83. “Absolute Beginners” – The Jam

82. “I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It” – Stevie Wonder

81. “This Time” – John Cougar

80. “I Love You” – Climax Blues Band

9.11 dolly parton

79. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton

78. “A Woman Needs Love (Just like You Do)” – Raydio

77. “Oh No” – The Commodores

76. “Young Turks” – Rod Stewart

75. “Just Between You and Me” – April Wine

74. “To Hell with Poverty” – Gang of Four

73. “T.V. Party” – Black Flag

72. “Gloria” – U2

9.11 manhattan transfer

71. “Boy from New York City” – The Manhattan Transfer

70. “All These Years Ago” – George Harrison

69. “How ‘Bout Us?” – Champaign

68. “You Better, You Bet” – The Who

67. “Turn Me Loose” – Loverboy

66. “Just Can’t Get Enough” – Depeche Mode

65. “When She Was My Girl” – The Four Tops

64. “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheel of Steel” – Grandmaster Flash

63. “Ghost Town” – The Specials

62. “Lady (You Bring Me Up)” – The Commodores

61. “Slow Hand” – The Pointer Sisters

9.11 kool & the gang

60. “Get Down on It” – Kool & the Gang

59. “Hold on Loosely” – .38 Special

58. “This Little Girl” – Gary “U.S.” Bonds

57. “Abacab” – Genesis

56. “Winning” – Santana

55. “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” – AC/DC

54. “Hold on Tight” – Electric Light Orchestra

53. “Pretty in Pink” – The Psychedelic Furs

52. “Being with You” – Smokey Robinson

51. “Harden My Heart” – Quarterflash

50. “Controversy” – Prince

9.11 saga

49. “On the Loose” – Saga

48. “Burnin’ for You” – Blue Öyster Cult

47. “Games People Play” – Alan Parsons Project

46. “Waiting for a Girl like You” – Foreigner

45. “Celebration” – Kool & the Gang

44. “Too Much Time on My Hands” – Styx

43. “Tom Sawyer” – Rush

42. “Shake It Up” – The Cars

9.11 yoko ono

41. “Walking on Thin Ice” – Yoko Ono

40. “The Breakup Song” – Greg Kihn Band

39. “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

38. “Time” – Alan Parsons Project

37. “The Voice” – The Moody Blues

36. “Limelight” – Rush

35. “Talk of the Town” – The Pretenders

34. “Edge of Seventeen” – Stevie Nicks

33. “While You See a Chance” – Steve Winwood

32. “Same Old Lang Syne” – Dan Fogelberg

31. “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” – John Cougar

9.11 Kim-Carnes

30. “Bette Davis Eyes” – Kim Carnes

29. “Jessie’s Girl” – Rick Springfield

28. “Magic Power” – Triumph

27. “I’ve Done Everything for You” – Rick Springfield

26. “Start Me Up” – The Rolling Stones

25. “Don’t Stop Believin'” – Journey

24. “Waiting on a Friend” – The Rolling Stones

23. “Private Eyes” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

9.11 The-Go-Gos

22. “Our Lips Are Sealed” – The Go-Go’s

21. “Let’s Groove” – Earth, Wind & Fire

20. “You Make My Dreams” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

19. “Give It to Me Baby” – Rick James

18. “The Stroke” – Billy Squier

17. “Urgent” – Foreigner

16. “Tempted” – Squeeze

9.11 ozzy osbourne

15. “Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne

14. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” – Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

13. “Kiss on My List” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

12. “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

11. “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

9.11 frankie smith

10. “Double Dutch Bus” – Frankie Smith

9. “Dancing with Myself” – Billy Idol

8. “Centerfold” – The J. Geils Band

7. “I Know What Boys Like” – The Waitresses

6. “Genius of Love” – Tom Tom Club

9.11 Rick_James

5. “Super Freak” – Rick James

4. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – The Police

3. “In the Air Tonight” – Phil Collins

2. “Under Pressure” – Queen & David Bowie

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

1. “The Waiting” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

1980: A Bright New Decade That Began with Darkness


I gotta admit that I was excited about the Eighties. Everything about the Eighties seemed exciting with possibilities: wrapping up high school, the whole college thing and becoming an “adult.” Plus, the music of the decade was going to be sweet, especially after how exciting 1979 was.

9.10 Rush

You gotta love it when artists that you loved as relative unknowns become huge, as if it were some validation of your tastes in music. Blondie really hit the big time in 1980 behind three number one songs, led by “Call Me.” The Clash and Pink Floyd reaped critical and public acclaim during this year. Bruce Springsteen really broke through on both the album and singles charts here in the U.S. AC/DC and Queen peaked in 1980, and The Police continued to gain momentum. Disco was mutating into dance music. New wave was the “it” music of the moment, and heavy metal was bubbling underneath it all.

9.10 The Police

On the other hand, we got the last gasps of big time cultural significance of Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. And, in one of the most shocking moments in rock history, the final nail was put in the coffin of the Baby Boomers’ dominance of rock music when John Lennon’s voice was silenced by an assassin. I have to admit that I went to bed before the news broke about Lennon. The game on Monday Night Football was boring, and I was tired. Yet, when I heard the radio broadcast of the news at six in the morning, I was stunned. I had just purchased his new album and was playing it the night before. And, much as Roberto Clemente’s death did eight years earlier, I was moved to learn as much as I could about the man. Even though my grandfather had passed away in early 1975, the deaths of two men who were both cut down in their primes affected nearly as much, though it was nowhere near how the death of two of my high school friends did.

9.10 the jam

Still, after Lennon’s death, you kinda got the sense that the torch was being passed on to a new generation. And ultimately, this what 1980 represents to me. And, these are the songs that generally constituted the soundtrack to my life back then.

9.10 George_benson

100. “Give Me the Night” – George Benson

99. “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” – S.O.S. Band

98. “Don’t Stop the Music” – Yarbrough & Peoples

97. “I’m Alright” – Kenny Loggins

96. “Antmusic” – Adam & the Ants

95. “Magic” – Olivia Newton-John

94. “Longer” – Dan Fogelberg

93. “Enola Gay” – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

92. “Lady” – Kenny Rogers

91. “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” – Squeeze

9.10 martha and the muffins

90. “Echo Beach” – Martha & the Muffins

89. “I Love a Rainy Night” – Eddie Rabbitt

88. “One in a Million You” – Larry Graham

87. “A Forest” – The Cure

86. “Shining Star” – The Manhattans

85. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” – George Jones

84. “Just the Two of Us” – Grover Washington Jr. with Bill Withers

83. “The Tide Is High” – Blondie

82. “He’s So Shy” – The Pointer Sisters

81. “Keep on Loving You” – REO Speedwagon

9.10 irene cara

80. “Fame” – Irene Cara

79. “Sailing” – Christopher Cross

78. “Upside Down” – Diana Ross

77. “On the Road Again” – Willie Nelson

76. “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” – The Police

75. “Hey Nineteen” – Steely Dan

74. “Late in the Evening” – Paul Simon

73. “Turn It On Again” – Genesis

72. “I Will Follow” – U2

9.10 LRB

71. “Cool Change” – Little River Band

70. “Private Idaho” – The B-52’s

69. “Steal Away” – Robbie Dupree

68. “The Wanderer” – Donna Summer

67. “People Who Died” – Jim Carroll Band

66. “Theme from ‘New York, New York'” – Frank Sinatra

65. “Heartbreak Hotel” – Michael Jackson

64. “How Do I Make You” – Linda Ronstadt

63. “Breakdown Dead Ahead” – Boz Scaggs

9.10 split enz

62. “I Got You” – Split Enz

61. “Coming Up (live)” – Paul McCartney

60. “Precious” – The Pretenders

59. “Everybody Wants Some!!” – Van Halen

58. “Stop This Game” – Cheap Trick

57. “Into the Night” – Benny Mardones

56. “Don’t Let Go” – Isaac Hayes

55. “I Can’t Tell You” – Eagles

54. “Tired of Toein’ the Line” – Rocky Burnette

53. “Romeo’s Tune” – Steve Forbert

52. “Holiday in Cambodia” – Dead Kennedys

51. “She’s So Cold” – The Rolling Stones

50. “Everything Works If You Let It” – Cheap Trick

J. Geils Band Live

49. “Love Stinks” – The J. Geils Band

48. “Breaking the Law” – Judas Priest

47. “(Just Like) Starting Over” – John Lennon

46. “Emotional Rescue” – The Rolling Stones

45. “Geno” – Dexys Midnight Runners

44. “Fantastic Voyager” – Lakeside

43. “Special Lady” – Ray, Goodman & Brown

42. “The Second Time Around” – Shalamar

9.10 molly hatchet

41. “Flirtin’ with Disaster” – Molly Hatchet

40. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” – Pat Benatar

39. “Never Knew Love like This Before” – Stephanie Mills

38. “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” – Billy Joel

37. “Vienna” – Ultravox

36. “Ace of Spades” – Motörhead

35. “Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me?)” – Gap Band

34. “Anyway You Want It” – Journey

33. “Atomic” – Blondie

32. “Let My Love Open the Door” – Pete Townshend

31. “Stomp!” – The Brothers Johnson

9.10 david bowie

30. “Fashion” – David Bowie

29. “You May Be Right” – Billy Joel

28. “That’s Entertainment” – The Jam

27. “More Bounce to the Ounce, Part 1” – Zapp

26. “Watching the Wheels” – John Lennon

25. “Biko” – Peter Gabriel

24. “Ah! Leah!” – Donnie Iris

23. “The Spirit of the Radio” – Rush

22. “Switchin’ to Glide” – The Kings

21. “Brass in Pocket” – The Pretenders

9.10 The_Vapors

20. “Turning Japanese” – The Vapors

19. “Hungry Heart” – Bruce Springsteen

18. “Yes, I’m Ready” – Terri DeSario & KC

17. “Whip It” – Devo

16. “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” – Stevie Wonder

9.10 diana ross

15. “I’m Coming Out” – Diana Ross

14. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” – The Police

13. “Funkytown” – Lipps Inc.

12. “Ashes to Ashes” – David Bowie

11. “What I Like About You” – The Romantics

9.10 Gary Numan

10. “Cars” – Gary Numan

9. “The Breaks” – Kurtis Blow


8. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division

7. “You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC

6. “Call Me” – Blondie

9.10 Queen

5. “Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen

4. “Going Underground” – The Jam

3. “Games Without Frontiers” – Peter Gabriel

2. “Rapture” – Blondie

9.10 Talking-Heads

1. “Once in a Lifetime” – Talking Heads

1979: The First Musical Big Bang of My Life


Let’s make a quick rundown of these album titles: Get the Knack, Breakfast in America, The Wall, Damn the Torpedoes, Tusk, The Long Run, At Budokan, Armed Forces, Off the Wall, Prince, London Calling, Highway to Hell, Fear of Music, Bad Girls, Regatta de Blanc. All of these albums were released during 1979. I gotta tell you, 1979 represents the year when the possibilities were wide open, musically speaking. To all of us older Gen Xers, 1979 represents the year when the underground was finally bubbling into the mainstream.

9.9 pink floyd

The first big earthquake of the year happened when The Knack rocketed to #1 on the Album Chart. Then, in rapid succession came albums by AC/DC, Zep, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd and The Clash. And the singles by Joe Jackson, The Cure, KC & the Sunshine Band, Patrick Hernandez and M were blowing minds. In other words, it was a wonderful time to be a teen. Sure, there was drivel, like that damn disco duet by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer or the seemingly endless stream of Kenny Rogers songs, but the quality of the music from 1979 was absolutely satisfying to me. Hell, one particular song that I loved, and swore to my mother that I would play it at her funeral (I did not, but she would have gotten a kick out of it if I had) was “Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)” by the Pat Travers Band, which did not make my Top 100. I only mentioned it because of the significance it had in our house in 1979 and beyond.

Clash & Jones, Mick & Strummer, Joe & Headon, Topper & Simonon,

Maybe, 1979 is special because it coincides with me getting my driver’s license. Still, I don’t think so. I objectively believe 1979 was just a stellar year for music, much like 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1991 were. Look back at that initial list of albums released in 1979 and ask yourself how many of those listed were either the best album by that artist or that artist is now in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? All but two of the artists are in the Hall, while many of those titles listed are definitely among those artists’ best work. The Wall continues to be a big seller, while London Calling is considered one, if not THE, greatest album of all time.

9.9 led zeppelin

Even here in Indiana, we were experiencing our own little scene of great artists breaking forth to some regional and national fame. First, there was Roadmaster breaking out in 1978. Then, at the end of 1978 and the beginning of 1979, Muncie’s Faith Band was also broke, though, for reasons I still don’t understand, radio played Nigel Olsson’s decent cover of Faith Band’s terrific single “Dancing Shoes.” Finally, a little regarded artist from Seymour finally kickstarted what ended up becoming a rock immortal career, John Cougar, still years away from regaining his Mellencamp surname.

So, let’s get this whole thing moving as I take you through my 100 favorite songs of 1979.

9.9 Wonderful_Christmastime_(Paul_McCartney_single_-_cover_art)

100. “Wonderful Christmastime” – Paul McCartney

99. “Bright Side of the Road” – Van Morrison

98. “Disco Nights” – GQ

97. “Rock with You” – Michael Jackson

96. “Ladies Night” – Kool & the Gang

95. “Sara” – Fleetwood Mac

94. “Are Friends Electric?” – The Tubeway Army

93. “Knock on Wood” – Amii Stewart

92. “I Need a Lover” – John Cougar

9.9 tim curry

91. “I Do the Rock” – Tim Curry

90. “One Step Beyond” – Madness

89. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” – Rupert Holmes

88. “Goodbye Stranger” – Supertramp

87. “Lady” – Little River Band

86. “Mama Can’t Buy Me Love” – Elton John

85. “Shake It” – Ian Matthews

84. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” – Bauhaus

83. “Blow Away” – George Harrison

82. “Gotta Serve Somebody” – Bob Dylan

81. “Sail On” – The Commodores

9.9 Robert-Palmer

80. “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” – Robert Palmer

79. “Take Me Home” – Cher

78. “Makin’ It” – David Naughton

77. “Stumblin’ In” – Suzi Quatro & Chris Norman

76. “Gold” – John Stewart

75. “Money” – The Flying Lizards

74. “Jane” – Jefferson Starship

73. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” – Bad Company

9.9 squeeze

72. “Up the Junction” – Squeeze

71. “Dim All the Lights” – Donna Summer

70. “Babe” – Styx

69. “All My Life” – Led Zeppelin

68. “(Not Just) Knee Deep” – Funkadelic

67. “Dance the Night Away” – Van Halen

66. “Heartache Tonight” – Eagles

65. “Still” – The Commodores

64. “Heartbreaker” – Pat Benatar

63. “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” – Ramones

62. “Born to Be Alive” – Pat Hernandez

61. “Tragedy” – Bee Gees

9.9 XTC-Making-Plans-For-Nigel-1979

60. “Making Plans for Nigel” – XTC

59. “Let’s Go” – The Cars

58. “Breakfast in America” – Supertramp

57. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – Charlie Daniels Band

56. “Video Killed the Radio Star” – The Buggles

55. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” – KISS

54. “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” – McFadden & Whitehead

53. “We Are Family” – Sister Sledge

52. “Bad Girls” – Donna Summer

9.9 michael jackson

51. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” – Michael Jackson

50. “Oliver’s Army” – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

49. “Refugee” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

48. “Hey, St. Peter” – Flash & the Pan

47. “Dream Police” – Cheap Trick

46. “Transmission” – Joy Division

45. “New York Groove” – Ace Frehley

44. “Beautiful Girls” – Van Halen

43. “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” – Journey

42. “Run like Hell” – Pink Floyd

9.9 rickie lee jones

41. “Chuck E.’s in Love” – Rickie Lee Jones

40. “Dreaming” – Blondie

39. “Fool in the Rain” – Led Zeppelin

38. “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” – Neil Young & Crazy Horse

37. “Cruel to Be Kind” – Nick Lowe

36. “Take the Long Way Home” – Supertramp

35. “Walking on the Moon” – The Police

34. “Don’t Do Me like That” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

33. “Tusk” – Fleetwood Mac

32. “Pop Muzik” – M

31. “Don’t Bring Me Down” – Electric Light Orchestra

9.9 boomtown rats

30. “I Don’t Like Mondays” – The Boomtown Rats

29. “After the Love Has Gone” – Earth, Wind & Fire

28. “Renegade” -Styx

27. “Driver’s Seat” – Sniff ‘n’ the Tears

26. “Hot Stuff” – Donna Summer

25. “Is She Really Going Out with It?” – Joe Jackson

24. “The Logical Song” – Supertramp

23. “Even the Losers” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

22. “Dance Away” – Roxy Music

9.9 cure

21. “Boys Don’t Cry” – The Cure

20. “Wait for Me” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

19. “Boogie Wonderland” – Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions

18. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen

17. “Life During Wartime” – Talking Heads

16. “Message in a Bottle” – The Police

9.9 ACDC

15. “Highway to Hell” – AC/DC

14. “Good Times” – Chic

13. “Starry Eyes” – The Records

12. “Please Don’t Go” – KC & the Sunshine Band

9.9 faith-band

11. “Dancing Shoes” – Faith Band

10. “Comfortably Numb” – Pink Floyd

9. “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding)” – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

8. “Rock Lobster” – The B-52’s

7. “London Calling” – The Clash

6. “Rapper’s Delight” – Sugarhill Gang

9.9 knack

5. “My Sharona” – The Knack

4. “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” – Pink Floyd

3. “I Want You to Want Me (live)” – Cheap Trick

2. “Train in Vain (Stand by Me)” – The Clash

Prince Performs Live In New York

1. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” – Prince

1978: ‘Some Girls,’ The Cars, ‘Grease,’ & So Much More


Looking back on my life in 1978, it was quite eventful, both personally and musically. On the personal level, I had some success athletically. And, for some reason that is still unbeknownst to me, I was actually named “Sophomore Student of the Month” in January of that year. Maybe it had something to due with the fact that we missed half of January that year because of a blizzard; there must have been a lack of nominees or I really had the best academic two weeks of my life. Additionally, I went to Colorado for some national track meet, got blown away in my event, learned that you cannot throw a javelin like a baseball (it will only go about 10 feet), discovered that, generally speaking, basketball players from Indiana are truly better than those in the rest of the country (sorry, but if I am dominating basketball players from other states, there is a problem!), and, most importantly, met, shook hands and talked with the immortal Jesse Owens. That, my friends, was the finest moment, after all the family stuff, of my life. He was everything you would hope a hero would be, humble with that aura of greatness. I just wish I had a camera at the time, the ONE time I wish we were in the era of smartphones.

9.6 The-Cars-1978-billboard-1548

And to stick with the great year motif, there was some terrific music released in 1978. Now, was it a year like 1977? Not really. However, I do listen to much more of the albums and singles released in 1978. Look, the Stones made what arguably their last great album with Some Girls. The Cars and Van Halen released their debuts, perhaps two of the 25 greatest debut albums ever, while The Police debuted with a great album as well. Even the cheesy pop music was great, just think of the Grease soundtrack. Sure, there was some really dopey music (Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” immediately comes to mind), but that happens every year. Yet, when you strip away the crap, there is a plethora of lasting music.

9.6 Blondie

Let’s take a brief run through the genres of the year. First, disco was peaking in popularity. Punk’s initial run was burning out, being replaced by various mutant strains like new wave, post-punk and synth pop. Yacht rock, though we called it “soft rock” was everywhere, as was much of today’s “classic rock” even though we just called it “rock” back in the day. Outlaw country and Southern Rock were great, while the “Quiet Storm” R&B genre was catching fire all over (Thanks Smokey!) And, we were just getting the first rumblings of power pop, while funk was gaining a foothold on the charts. Honestly, it was something of a transition year as the Boomers’ influence was finally getting challenge from the budding Gen Xers’ tastes in music, irony and sarcasm. And the craziest thing? We had blacks and Latinos doing rock music and whites doing R&B, not to mention we had the multicultural Village People and the transgendered Sylvester. What’s not to like about this era of music?

9.6 van halen

So, let’s get this countdown thing going so you can see what I mean.

9.6 alicia bridges

100. “I Love the Nightlife” – Alicia Bridges

99. “Who Are You” – The Who

98. “Hot Blooded” – Foreigner

97. “If the Kids Are United” – Sham 69

96. “I Am the Cosmos” – Chris Bell

95. “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” – The Kinks

94. “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend'” – Kenny Loggins

93. “Hopelessly Devoted to You” – Olivia Newton-John

92. “Big Shot” – Billy Joel

91. “Grease” – Frankie Valli

9.6 peaches & herb

90. “Reunited” – Peaches & Herb

89. “Close the Door” – Teddy Pendergrass

88. “Double Vision” – Foreigner

87. “Heaven Knows” – Donna Summer

86. “Sweet Music” – Roadmaster

85. “With a Little Luck” – Wings

84. “Magnet and Steel” – Walter Egan

83. “Shadow Dancing” – Andy Gibb

82. “I Want Your Love” – Chic

81. “Don’t Look Back” – Boston

80. “Straight On” – Heart

9.6 bobby caldwell

79. “What You Won’t Do for Love” – Bobby Caldwell

78. “Get Off” – Foxy

77. “Use Ta Be My Girl” – The O’Jays

76. “Hold the Line” – Toto

75. “On Broadway” – George Benson

74. “Fire” – The Pointer Sisters

73. “Three Times a Lady” – The Commodores

72. “Badlands” – Bruce Springsteen

71. “Shake Your Groove Thing” – Peaches & Herb

70. “MacArthur Park” – Donna Summer

9.6 village_people

69. “Y.M.C.A.” – Village People

68. “Follow You, Follow Me” – Genesis

67. “My Life” – Billy Joel

66. “Beast of Burden” – The Rolling Stones

65. “Got to Be Real” – Cheryl Lynn

64. “Got to Get You into My Life” – Earth, Wind & Fire

63. “We’ve Got Tonight” – Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

62. “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” – Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson

61. “Come Together” – Aerosmith

9.6 normal

60. “Warm Leatherette” – The Normal

59. “Sentimental Lady” – Bob Welch

58. “FM” – Steely Dan

57. “Everytime I Think of You” – The Babys

56. “Hot Child in the City” – Nick Gilder

55. “Lights” – Journey

54. “Roll with the Changes” – REO Speedwagon

53. “So Lonely” – The Police

52. “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) – The Jacksons

51. “You’re the One That I Want” – John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John

9.6 sylvester

50. “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” – Sylvester

49. “Every Kinda People” – Robert Palmer

48. “Jamie’s Cryin'” – Van Halen

47. “I Go Crazy” – Paul Davis

46. “Summer Nights” – John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John

45. “Love Is like Oxygen” – Sweet

44. “Time for Me to Fly” – REO Speedwagon

43. “Wheel in the Sky” – Journey

42. “I’m Every Woman” – Chaka Khan

9.6 jay ferguson

41. “Thunder Island” – Jay Ferguson

40. “Prove It All Night” – Bruce Springsteen

39. “Can’t Stand Losing You” – The Police

38. “One Way or Another” – Blondie

37. “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon

36. “What a Fool Believes” – The Doobie Brothers

9.6 kate bush

35. “Wuthering Heights” – Kate Bush

34. “Life’s Been Good” – Joe Walsh

33. “You Really Got Me” – Van Halen

32. “Radio Radio” – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

31. “Feels like a Number” – Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

30. “Shattered” – The Rolling Stones

29. “Just What I Needed” – The Cars

9.6 exile

28. “Kiss You All Over” – Exile

27. “Good Times Roll” – The Cars

26. “Teenage Kicks” – The Undertones

25. “Blue Collar Man” – Styx

24. “Sultans of Swing” – Dire Straits

23. “Baker Street” – Gerry Rafferty

22. “Runnin’ with the Devil” – Van Halen

21. “Macho Man” – Village People

20. “Pump It Up” – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

19. “Fat Bottomed Girls” – Queen

9.6 heatwave

18. “The Groove Line” – Heatwave

17. “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor

16. “Because the Night” – Patti Smith Group

15. “September” – Earth, Wind & Fire

14. “Last Dance” – Donna Summer

13. “I Fought the Law” – The Clash

12. “My Best Friend’s Girl” – The Cars

11. “Roxanne” – The Police

9.6 Taste-Of-Honey

10. “Boogie Oogie Oogie” – A Taste of Honey

9. “Shame” – Evelyn “Champagne” King

8. “Le Freak” – Chic

7. “Heart of Glass” – Blondie

9.6 talking heads

6. “Take Me to the River” – Talking Heads

5. “One Nation Under a Groove” – Funkadelic

4. “Don’t Stop Me Now” – Queen

3. “Surrender” – Cheap Trick

2. “Miss You” – The Rolling Stones

9.6 ramones

1. “I Wanna Be Sedated” – Ramones

1977: A Magical Musical Year & My 100 Favorite Songs


Personally, 1977 was a pretty dark year for me. My parents’ divorce was finalized which happened to be the second tragedy in my life, chronologically speaking. In all honesty, despite that, my life has been pretty charmed. But, it has never been perfect, but has anyone’s? I don’t think so. But, when you look at 1977 from a historical point of view as far a music is concerned, the world was downright magical. Take a look at what happened. Punk rock broke out of New York City and raised its head in the U.K. Landmark albums such as Rumours, Hotel California, Songs in the Key of Life, My Aim Is True, Saturday Night Fever, Cheap Trick, “Heroes”, The Idiot, The Stranger, Bat Out of Hell and Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols were all released during 1977.

9.5 stevie wonder

By this time, I was still hooked on AT40, to which I would remain loyal until when I started to hear rap songs being edited out of the broadcast when the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC and other great artists began to hit the Top 40 in the mid-Eighties. Now, I understand that was a racist a move by radio executives in Cincinnati, around where I lived at the time. Additionally, I was still reading primarily Creem magazine in my quest to learn more about rock music from the past and present. Of course, I was keeping my nose clean, doing the right thing, staying focused…uh…I was a teenage boy. Although I had not yet really delved into the party scene (that came more in college), but I did love to disrupt classes in an effort to inject some “fun” into them.

9.5 sex pistols

But, 1977 was the year when my musical tastes were beginning to change to what they are today. How could you NOT be moved after seeing Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live. Did you know that Elvis was booked only after the Sex Pistols could not get a visa to play on that show? Can you imagine how history would have changed if the original plan had happened? Well, let’s not dwell on that alternative timeline, but it is fun to dream.

9.5 Elvis-Costello

Anyway, let’s take a look at my 100 favorite songs of 1977. It was just so very difficult to trim this list to 100 songs. Yet, I anticipate the lists for 1979, 1983 and 1984 to be absolute hell for me. Let the countdown begin!

100. “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” – Elton John

99. “I’m in You” – Peter Frampton

9.5 pablo cruise

98. “Whatcha Gonna Do” – Pablo Cruise

97. “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” – Electric Light Orchestra

96. “That Smell” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

95. “I’ve Got Love on My Mind” – Natalie Cole

94. “You’re in My Heart” – Rod Stewart

93. “She’s Not There” – Santana

92. “The Load-Out/Stay” – Jackson Browne

91. “Fantasy” – Earth, Wind & Fire

90. “Wonderful Tonight” – Eric Clapton

9.5 Pezband-1976

89. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – Pezband

88. “Lonely Boy” – Andrew Gold

87. “Nobody Does It Better” – Carly Simon

86. “Your Smiling Face” – James Taylor

85. “More Than a Woman” – Tavares

84. “Blue Bayou” – Linda Ronstadt

83. “Jet Airliner” – Steve Miller Band

82. “Cold as Ice” – Foreigner

81. “How Deep Is Your Love” – Bee Gees

9.5 natalie cole

80. “Our Love” – Natalie Cole

79. “Baby, What a Big Surprise” – Chicago

78. “Trans Europe Express” – Kraftwerk

77. “Serpentine Fire” – Earth, Wind & Fire

76. “Two Tickets to Paradise” – Eddie Money

75. “Feels like the First Time” – Foreigner

74. “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” – Andy Gibb

73. “Margaritaville” – Jimmy Buffett

72. “Hot Legs” – Rod Stewart

71. “Baby Hold On” – Eddie Money

9.5 Babys

70. “Isn’t It Time” – The Babys

69. “One Love” – Bob Marley & the Wailers

68. “Barracuda” – Heart

67. “You Make Lovin’ Fun” – Fleetwood Mac

66. “It Keeps You Runnin'” – The Doobie Brothers

65. “Jungle Love” – Steve Miller Band

64. “It’s a Heartache” – Bonnie Tyler

63. “Baby Come Back” – Player

62. “She’s Always a Woman” – Billy Joel

61. “Two Out of Three” – Meat Loaf

9.5 CHIC

60. “Dance, Dance, Dance” – Chic

59. “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me” – Barry White

58. “Emotion” – Samantha Sang

57. “Lovely Day” – Bill Withers

56. “Dust in the Wind” – Kansas

55. “Just a Song Before I Go” – Crosby, Stills & Nash

54. “If I Can’t Have You” – Yvonne Elliman

53. “Don’t Stop” – Fleetwood Mac

52. “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” – Ramones

51. “Just the Way You Are” – Billy Joel

50. “Watching the Detectives” – Elvis Costello

49. “Southern Girls” – Cheap Trick

9.5 hot

48. “Angel in Your Arms” – Hot

47. “Holidays in the Sun” – Sex Pistols

46. “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” – Billy Joel

45. “Jack and Jill” – Raydio

44. “Black Betty” – Ram Jam

43. “Peg” – Steely Dan

42. “What’s Your Name” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

41. “Running on Empty” – Jackson Browne

40. “Come Sail Away” – Styx

39. “Cocaine” – Eric Clapton

38. “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees

9.5 floaters

37. “Float On” – The Floaters

36. “Short People” – Randy Newman

35. “Heard It in a Love Song” – Marshall Tucker Band

34. “Movin’ Out” – Billy Joel

33. “Take a Chance on Me” – ABBA

32. “Closer to the Heart” – Rush

31. “Christine Sixteen” – KISS

30. “God Save the Queen” – Sex Pistols

29. “Deacon Blues” – Steely Dan

9.5 peter-gabriel-1977

28. “Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel

27. “Only the Good Die Young” – Billy Joel

26. “Gold Dust Woman” – Fleetwood Mac

25. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” – Santa Esmeralda

24. “Night Fever” – Bee Gees

23. “Jamming” – Bob Marley & the Wailers

22. “In the City” – The Jam

9.5 rubinoos

21. “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” – The Rubinoos

20. “Do Anything You Want to Do” – Eddie & the Hot Rods

19. “Got to Give It Up” – Marvin Gaye

18. “Oh Candy” – Cheap Trick

17. “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” – Meat Loaf

16. “Brick House” – The Commodores

15. “Give a Little Bit” – Supertramp

14. “Easy” – The Commodores

13. “Best of My Love” – The Emotions

12. “Disco Inferno” – The Trammps

9.5 iggy pop

11. “Lust for Life” – Iggy Pop

10. “Heroes” – David Bowie

9. “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” – Queen

8. “Dreams” – Fleetwood Mac

7. “The Chain” – Fleetwood Mac

6. “Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads

5. “Mr. Blue Sky” – Electric Light Orchestra

4. “Alison” – Elvis Costello

9.5 The-Brothers-Johnson

3. “Strawberry Letter 23” – The Brothers Johnson

2. “I Feel Love” – Donna Summer

9.5 parliament

1. “Flash Light” – Parliament