Forgotten Songs of the 80’s

There’s a reason why some songs get forgotten, at least by everyone but me, I guess. Hopefully, this little playlist brings back memories for some of you, and introduces you young’uns to some brand new old that your parents might have liked. Normally, someone makes a list like this, and then jokes about how the songs should have been forgotten, in the first place, but these are all songs I genuinely enjoyed, and bring back bittersweet memories of having heard them, for the first time, when I was a teenager.

I remember the videos of this era were some of the cheapest and cheesiest looking things ever made. Perhaps because this was really the first time musicians started really doing this kind of thing. Before the music video era most of them were live action performances. Some musicians got the hang of making these really fast ,but others had this idea that the videos were supposed to be deep. Chris De Burgh was one of the latter. That said, the video is kind pretentious, but I really liked hte song. I have the distinct memory of wandering around the house singing this at the top of my lungs, while my mom tried her best to ignore her overstimulated daughter.

I remember listening to this song, over and over again, not because I particularly liked it, but because they couldn’t seem to quit playing it on the radio. I didn’t hate the song or anything, but when we were growing up there were some songs that were simply unavoidable, so you ended up knowing all the words to the song, whether you wanted to learn them or not. And then after all that oversaturation, no one remembers the song existed ten years later! This song became especially popular after there was another reboot of the TV series of the same name.

I don’t think people understood how crazy people were over this song, only for it to be largely forgotten today. I just watched a video of a couple of millennials listening to this song for the first time, and for some reason their reaction brought tears to my eyes. I think I was just really happy to see another generation of people appreciate this song, because I loved this song, and its happy/sad message of perseverance. I remember listening to it almost nonstop on my little stereo, because it was a message that meant so much to me at the time.

I don’t think people realize the effect that this woman’s voice had on the landscape back in the 80s. Annie belted out these songs as easily as breathing. I mean there were Black women singing their hearts out at the time, like Whitney Houston, and Aretha Franklin,but Annie Lennox had a voice that was absolutely unlike anything heard before in Pop music, and she was the only white woman doing so. Some singers had power without the range, and others had vocal range, but without the sheer power and control. (I remember practicing these vocals for my school choir, but I was just a child, so while I had some amount of power, I just didn’t have this range, and mostly still don’t, even though everything else improved.) I loved this song because it was a great showcase for Annie’s range and control of her voice.

I was going to put Men at Work’s much bigger hits here, Down Under, and Who Can it be Now, but I prefer this one. Its funny, because this song is all over my playlist, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this video. Men at Work was one of my favorite groups at the time. I remember buying the first album, Cargo, and singing the songs from the next one, only to watch their star begin to fade, even as their music was still as good as it ever was. I also have the distinct memory of having a bit of a crush on the lead singer, Colin Hay, but when one is 13-14, one can have a crush on damn near anyone…

I was a huge fan of Pat Benatar, because she was one of the few women who were making a successful career in Rock music. Quite frankly, a lot of her songs didnt make any sense to me but I liked her voice, and the beats.

It was so hard to choose a song from this guys massive discography! John Mellencamp was pretty much the sound of Folk Rock, next to Bruce Springsteen. Like him, Mellencamp specialized in that same kind of Americana Rock, that spoke directly to working class white men, about shattered dreams, and lives going nowhere. It didn’t resonate with me, but I understood his message, and got why he was so passionate about it. This was the 80’s, back when working class white men were just discovering what Black people had known all along about how the world actually worked. They seemed very angry and bewildered by the betrayal, and John’s music captured a lot of that feeling.

This song was the complete shit for like a whole year after it was released. It was all anyone talked about and several people had the mistaken inmpression that it was a romantic song.

It is not.

It’s a song about stalking an ex-lover, (Sting said as much), which people needed constant reminding of, especially when many women insisted on having this song at their weddings. I don’t blame them. On the surface, it does sound romantic, until you listen more closely to the lyrics.

I remember really liking the beat.

I really like this song. I have no idea where its from, although I know its from some movie back in the 80’s. I also remember not liking anything Steve Winwood did after that ,and being disappointed about that. This song was his high point, I guess.

It is extremely rare for most performers to have a career that lasts more than ten years. Music and audiences change, and a lot of musicians (even the ones you most love) can’t keep up with those changes. I’ve observed that the ones that last the longest are the ones who are constantly changing, and adopting new sounds and movements, like Madonna, and Prince, for example, they worked hard to stay relevant. What’s really funny is that every now and again, there’s a singer whose style doesn’t change one bit, and they go out of style for a few years, but then their career gets revived, because their musical style is suddenly back in vogue.

Okay, I liked the beat on this song. It was a pretty popular beat at the time. A lot of people were using it, or something like it, and I liked their songs too. The video isn’t nearly as visual as the song, which is a real shame. So you’ve got a generic hip hop beat, along with a generic video, and a mediocre vocal style, which leaves the compelling force to the lyrics, and I think Suzanne delivers. Its just a day in the life story, told in a song, which was a fascinating thing people were doing at the time.

I remember reading that this song was created in response to David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which is another of my favorites. There’s a block of songs that seemingly all tie in together and are having some sort of dialogue. There’s Space Oddity, then Starman, then this one, followed by David Bowie’s Little Wonder to round out the whole thing, you can add The Prodigy’s dance hit from the 90’s, Out of Space!

7 thoughts on “Forgotten Songs of the 80’s

  1. Kristin

    I don’t think I would call Tom’s Diner a forgotten song of the 80s. That dance mix was released in 1992, and it still gets played on the radio and referenced in pop culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. petespringerauthor

    So many great memories. I am a HUGE Pat Benatar fan. How she is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a complete mystery to me. I saw her about 6-7 years ago, and she was still hitting the high notes. I prefer quite a few of her other songs better than Love is a Battlefield, but my opinion is not worth more than anyone else’s. Good call on Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are some great memories in here!! Some very good choices too. I agree with that song as a showcase for Annie Lennox’s voice. Gah, I loved that Johnny Cougar song when it came out!! I am awed by Steve Winwood’s talent as a writer and performer but his solo stuff kinda leaves me cold whereas the music he made in bands is still stunning! Thanks for the memory re-boot!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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