10. Sonic Youth – Trilogy: The Wonder (1988)
The closing track on Sonic Youth’s much-loved Daydream Nation is fourteen minutes of noisy, guitar rock bliss.
See Also: Total Trash, ‘Cross the Breeze
9. Michael Jackson -Billie Jean (1982)
This list may be a tad light on 80’s pop mega-stars but I have to give credit where credit is due. This track is one of the most reliable party-starting dance floor anthems of all time, and with good reason.
See Also: Beat It, Thriller
8. Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)
Perhaps its popularity owes a lot to the death of Ian Curtis (the band’s lead singer who commited suicide one month after the single was released) but it’s also a fantastic song that’s equal parts catchy and downright sad.
See Also: Atmosphere
7. Metallica – Fade to Black (1984)
I kind of hated Metallica in high school. They were every bogans favourite band – often to the point that said bogans were oblivious to the fact that any other band existed. But now that I don’t have to listen to my peers go on about them every five minutes I can appreciate Metallica. I can even admit that they were pretty damn good at what they did.
See Also: Ride the Lightining, One, Master of Puppets
6. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – The Message (1982)
Hot damn! This is a fun song to dance to. But like many of the greatest ‘fun’ songs, it also has a lot of depth if you feel like taking it seriously. It’s often touted as the first hip-hop track of any prominence to feature strong social commentary.
See Also: I don’t know any of their other stuff. Just play this song again.
5. Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime (1980)
Proof that when avant-garde weirdness and infectious pop hooks are mixed in the right proportions, the results can be mind-blowing.
See Also: Road to Nowhere, Burning Down the House, Girlfriend is Better
4. David Bowie – Let’s Dance (1983)
Okay, so Let’s Dance probably sounds a bit cheesy to most listeners these days. It would be fair to say that other tracks from Bowie’s 80’s period have aged better (particularly Ashes to Ashes), but dammit, I still think it’s brilliant. Very few songs actually make me want to dance, yet this one works on me every time.
See Also: Ashes to Ashes, China Girl
3. The Cure – Lullaby (1989)
I’m still yet to be convinced that The Cure’s 1989 album, Disintegration, is the masterpeice that the music world seems to think it is, but this track from it is an absolute winner. The band released a tonne of fantastic material in the 80’s and this gothic nightmare pop-song is my favourite (albeit by a slim margin).
See Also: The Lovecats, Close to Me, Just Like Heaven, A Forest, Fascination Street
2. Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure (1982)
By this point you’ve probably realised I’ve gone with an “only one song per artist” rule. David Bowie gets to be the exception because; a) this is just as much Queen’s song as it is his and b) this song is freaking awesome. Collaborations between rockstars can be quite awful but this proves that sometimes the whole can be just as good as the sum of its parts.
See Also: The Queen songs Another One Bites the Dust and Crazy Little Thing Called Love deserve a mention. Maybe Flash’s Theme too, though you probably need your tongue firmly in your cheek to enjoy that one.
1. Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven (1989)
Perhaps the late 80’s best indication of where music was heading, the Pixies were the band that most influenced the world’s soon-to-be most influential band (Nirvana). Monkey borders on being an inoffensive pop song – so much so that it’s not particulary indicative of the band’s sound and I wouldn’t have picked it as their best track if it wasn’t for that delightfully unhinged bridge. The way Frank Black unleashes his inner animal to scream “God is seven!” repeatedly then in an instant returns to the sweetness of the chorus is magic.
See Also: Where is My Mind?, Gigantic, Broken Face, River Euphrates, Bone Machine, Debaser, Here Comes Your Man, I’ve Been Tired
Well, how’s that compare to your own fave tracks from the decade of mullet hair cuts and Rubik’s cubes? Why not post your own top 10 in the comments?