by Laurent Kelly
It is a decade that has dated rather badly especially in regards to music but there are still some standout tracks from the eighties which hold up well to this day. Here are my pick for the top ten tracks that the period brought.
HONOURABLE MENTION: BONNIE TYLER – TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART
A melodramatic offering which would be a complete mess were it not for the convincingly passionate vocal performance from Bonnie Tyler. Her increasingly emotional delivery rises brilliantly with the dramatic tune in one of the most rewarding chorus build ups ever crafted. Over the top brilliance.
10.) SOFT CELL – TAINTED LOVE
One of the all time great cover songs, this version of Tainted Love excellently captures the vibrant energy of nighttime with exciting, brooding and addictive tones. The song features intense and perfectly pitched production values and is brilliantly sung.
9.) GUNS N ROSES – SWEET CHILD OF MINE
From the pelting opening riff this one just has classic written all over it. A supremely tight tune accompanied by Axl’s emotive vocal style and well crafted lyrics make Sweet Child of Mine an endlessly great record no matter how times you listen to it. The instrumental section is off the charts.
8.) JOURNEY – DON’T STOP BELIEVING
Write-up taken from 100 Greatest Singles Entry:
“An addictive, emotional rollercoaster of a ride, Don’t Stop Believing is a mainstream rock classic which manages to be both bleak and inspiring at the same time. Throughout the song we are painted a picture of lonely souls “living just to find emotion” whilst the world they live in is perfectly described as “smoky rooms” with the “Smell of wine and cheap perfume”. In the end despite the frustration and setback there is a cry that one should never stop believing and this can be applied to any problem which we might be experiencing in our own personal lives. There is a conviction to these words which makes the song such a source of inspiration and courage and this is assisted by the heart rendering passion of the vocals and penetrating instrumental power which exists throughout.
Lyrically, the song is also underrated in its ability to capture vivid images and striking metaphor through small and sharp details which immediately resonate with the listener. Whilst the cover seems sickly and sentimental, the original is a timeless classic, a concise and striking look at the realities of life and the dreams that we should continue to hold onto.”
7.) THE SMITHS – HOW SOON IS NOW?
Featuring an intoxicating riff that is destined to always sounds cool this song manages to be intensely brooding whilst retaining a cool, refreshing rhythm.
6.) GARY NUMAN – CARS
Unforgettable, electronic riff that still sounds edgy and striking in 2011. The short, stark lyric passages create a sense of impending chaos with the instrumental sections exploding out the pent up frustration. Technically superb record which creates a fascinating, futuristic sound. It’s like falling into a deep, surreal and powerful sleep and travelling through the wonders of space.
5.) TEARS FOR FEARS – SHOUT
Few songs can match the passionate intensity of this classic. The pounding and vibrant musical tones build up in expert rhymtic fashion and the vocals simply scream with emotion. Really makes you want to shout along.
4.) METALLICA – ONE
Write-up Taken from 100 Greatest Singles Countdown:
“An epic musical achievement, intensely orchestrated. I think this is one of those records which shows that people need to be more open minded when talking about different genres of music. Metal and heavy rock is largely seen as the work of degenerates and yet a song like One features lyrics that are as profound and heart rendering as a deep world war poem whilst the instruments rather than just bashing and thrashing actually help to tell the story by expressing the post-war feelings of rage, anger and disorientation. By far the most genius moment however is the build to the instrumental section where the guitars, drums and bass are used to capture the sound of thunderous bullets. A work of near genius from a truly great band.”
3.) JOY DIVISION – TRANSMISSION
Ian Curtis’ trademark droll delivery perfectly suits this thought provoking, mesmerising tune which is almost hypnotic in its display of raw energy. Still sounds as if it were released yesterday.
2.) U2 – BAD
A lyrically haunting, instrumentally evocative song about the perils of drug abuse. Bono has never sounded more raw with emotion and U2 have never felt so cohesive and tight as a unit.
1.) BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – I’M ON FIRE
Write-up Taken from 100 Greatest Singles Countdown:
“Springsteen pours his heart out as he sings about feeling an incredible lust for a woman who he knows would never want anything to do with him. He can’t work, he can’t think and can’t sleep properly as a result expressing his pain with the beautiful metaphor of being on fire. It is not hard to try and visualise this feeling, he quite simply burns on the inside and must continue to feel this way. In the end his words become descend into a series of desperate wails with the singer left to feel like nothing more than a wounded animal.
Having played this song over a hundred times since first hearing it around a year ago, I can say that it is one of the only tunes in which nothing else in the world exists for those two and a half minutes in which it plays. My thoughts are only with the hurt of the protagonist and the heart rendering tune which accompanies it.”
That’s it for this countdown. Next time around I’ll be jumping forward a couple of decades to chronicle my top ten tracks from the noughties. Thanks for reading.