65 80s Songs - A Countdown

This was a countdown I started on December 26, 2012, and finished on March 1, 2013, marking the days until Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World was first published in Ireland. Relive the magic, if you dare. 

Song 53 Men at Work

It's Nuclear Devastation Week!

I decided to do a theme week here on 65 80s songs, in order to win a long-standing argument with a colleague, who will remain nameless except to say that it is Brendan Richardson of White Rock, B.C. (Of course, if you would like to contibute to this argument, please feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below.) Mr Richardson has insisted on several occasions that fear of the bomb was not a memorable part of the culture of the 80s, that teenagers back then didn't know or care about nuclear war, and never really troubled themselves about the doom silos hanging over their immaculately coifed little heads.

Not part of the culture of the 80s? Well, sir, I think you'll find that the men from Down Under have got something to say about that!

Men at Work - It's a Mistake, 1983

'Jump down the shelters to get away! The boys are cooking up their guns.' I wonder if the UN was ever informed of Men At Work's opposition to the arms race, and how much more quickly the progress towards peace would have sped in that case. Though I wish Colin Hay, an otherwise fine songwriter, hadn't chosen here to rhyme 'power' with 'towel'. I also wish this were a better song. But hey, I'm trying to win an argument here! Look at the final image! Men at Work just blew up the entire world! Beat that! (Oh, and if you clicked on this expecting to hear the band's big hit...well, I'm not a monster. Scroll down and you shall be rewarded.)

Song 54 Corey Hart

Corey Hart - Sunglasses at Night, 1983

'She's deceiving me! She cuts my security. Has she got control of me? I turn to her and say...' What does Corey say, exactly? I could google it, but I don't really want to make such an easy end to thirty years of befuddlement. And why does our Canadian boy always seem to have such a hard time in his videos? Remember Corey wandering through that futuristic China Town in 'Box in the Box', harrassed and confused by weirdos? I seem to recall some jeering and threats from toughs in 'Never Surrender' too. And here, marched up and down the same endless corridor by totalitarian thugs. They eventually bring him to a girl in a uniform who jails our hero, then listens to his plaintive song and realises that it would be wrong to keep such a beautiful creature in captivity. Next, Corey is running free...but for how long? 

This one goes out to Jan in Cape Breton, who never got to see Corey Hart in concert. I did, at the Metro Centre in Halifax. It was the height of that trend towards wearing white under fluorescent colours, and let me tell you that audience was glowing! In the dark!



Song 55 Barnes and Barnes

Barnes and Barnes - Fish Heads, 1979

'Fish heads! Fish heads! Roly-poly fish heads!' 1979? Really? How could this song have been recorded in 1979, when I remember it so strongly from Muchmusic in the mid 80s? It makes no sense, I tell you. (If the song played on Monday, you just knew someone would be singing it in class on Tuesday, and as anyone who knows my family could guess, it was a firm favourite in our house for years.) So let's keep this tune with Eraserhead in the category of 'released in the late seventies and %&*#ing up heads throughout the decade to come.' Enjoy. Or recoil. Or sit baffled and whimpering, rocking back and forth and wondering why you got up today. It's up to you. That's the beauty of Fish Heads!



Song 56 Talk Talk

Talk Talk - It's My Life, 1984, 1985, 1990 (What?)

'Funny how I find myself in love with you...' An electrifying moment here on 65 80s songs...It's my first request! I'm happy to revisit this one, even if the triple release dates - yes, the same recording was unleashed three times and then covered by No Doubt  - are confusing. Have a look at the video. The lead singer is keeping his mouth closed, not from a bad case of British dentistry, but because the band had decided that lip-synching was stupid, although they were apparently just fine with smirking. But the greatest thing about this clip is the ending: there is no footage of the band, and indeed, no soundtrack at all. It's just thirty seconds of a kangaroo on a horizon, acting paranoid. That's it. Thirty seconds. A kangaroo. Twitching.



Song 57 Bauhaus

Bauhaus - Hope, 1983

Hope! Every grouchy band is contractually obligated to produce at least one cheerful song, and the men who (arguably) brought us Goth were no exception. 'Cause your mornings will be brighter! Break the line, tear up rules. Make the most of a million times 'no'!'' That's it. Those are all the words. Feel free to sing along.

(I should add that there is no way I was cool enough for Bauhaus when this song was first released. I was introduced to it sometime in 88. My boyfriend at the time had the record album (Burning from the Inside) and made me a tape - a shocking violation of copyright which I can only hope was not practiced elsewhere by my contemporaries.)



Song 58 Human League

Human League, Mirror Man, 1982

'Your every wish! Your every dream, hope, desire!' Continuing the year with a song that's all about new beginnings and remaking oneself, and...actually I have no idea what it's about. Wikipedia tells me the subject is probably Adam Ant. No matter. This tune usually gets me in an expansive mood - maybe subconciously I just like thinking about Adam Ant or something. Hope you do too.

Note that here we can see the scrappy ex-cocktail waitress from 'Don't You Want Me', now demoted to part of a heavenly choir oohing and aahing at everything the lead singer chooses to declaim. That'll learn ya, missy.


Song 59 Duran Duran

Happy New Year!

2013. Year of the Snake (Japanese calendar). Difficult to get excited about this, isn't it? An unlucky numeral and an animal that makes most people squirm. Why did it have to be snakes?

But let's embrace it. Thirteen wouldn't be anyone's first choice when filling out a lotto card, but it's got a certain charm. It's an awkward bollix of a number. It can't be divided. It's sitting there messing up a perfect dozen. It's puberty and pimples and the end of your pristine childhood. It has no luck. It'll have to make its own.

And the snake? Well, we can't be cute little rabbits and loyal dogs and prancing horses every year, right? Sometimes you've got to be a reptile.

Duran Duran - Union of the Snake, 1983

'Give me strength, at least give me a light!' Simon enters his batshit nutso phase of lyric crafting, just as the band is at its most popular. I loved this album (Seven and the Ragged Tiger) even when it confused me, which was pretty much always. 'Shake up the picture, the lizard mixture, with your dance on the Eventide...' goes the beginning of 'New Moon on Monday', my personal favourite. And this one? Twice as bonkers. Wikipedia describes the video thus: 'The clip features the band being tracked through the Australian desert by a half-man, half-snake creature. They eventually take a lift beneath the sands into what appears to be an underground cathedral, where the snake creature and other bizarre characters interact with vocalist Le Bon.' How could you resist? Happy Year of the Snake, all! 


Song 60 Prince and the Revolution

Prince and the Revolution - I Would Die 4 U, 1984

'I'm not a woman. I'm not a man. I am something that you'll never understand...' Ah, Purple Rain. I went to see the movie in 1984, like everyone else in the world, but because of the Adult rating and the fact that the nearest theatre was a half an hour away, I had to bring my mom. We were both pretty much mystified. 

This particular tune stirs up New Year's Eve memories because I remember it playing on the radio just a few minutes past midnight at the end of 1984 - though I wasn't doing anything wilder to celebrate than listening to the radio in my room, by myself. But I was happy. A new year! A cool song! Everything was going to be different in '85! Oh, I want to cry.



Song 61 Nu Shooz

Nu Shooz - I Can't Wait, 1986

'Ba-ba-baby! I-I-I can't wait!' An odd song - the only part anyone seems to remember is the intro, which repeats as a sort of chorus and tends to elbow the vocals aside. I once stumped a German student of mine, who claimed that she knew every 80s song in the world, with this one, which has earned the tune a special place in my heart. (Hah! Didn't count on Nu Shooz, did you? Whee-hee-hee! The teacher wins!) And I like the nice doggie with the sunglasses.



Song 62 Platinum Blonde

Doesn't Really Matter - Platinum Blonde, 1983

'It doesn't really matter! To me!' Look, I know no one is supposed to use Platinum Blonde for non-ironic purposes, but I really like this song - even if I no longer find the video, with all those identical hairstyles and women dressed up in surgical tape (or something?) to be quite as cool as when I was twelve. And they're Canadian! It's also interesting to see The Troubles in Northern Ireland listed as just another aspect of modern life that is irritating our hero, in his white room. ('They fight in En-gland! And Northern Ire-la-hand...') What's with all the fighting, people? Can't you see you're stressing the lead singer of Platinum Blonde? Mend your ways.


Song 63 Kid Creole and the Coconuts

Kid Creole and the Coconuts - Endicott, 1985

'Why can't you be like Endicott?' This was one of the first videos I remember from that momentous summer of '85 when cable TV was introduced to my town (before this, families without satellite dishes had four choices: CBC, ATV, the French channel, or real life). This meant Muchmusic, Canada's video channel, was finally an option, and it played constantly in my house until I left for college. I'm not sure why this song has started to repeat on me lately. Perhaps it's that line about 'Maybe an older woman would satisfy me.' Yep, just picture it: I'm staring glumly into the mirror, splotching make-up onto my time-ravaged face and thinking, 'Well, at least Kid Creole might still go for this.' Sigh. 


Song 64 The Eurogliders

The Eurogliders - Heaven (Must Be There), 1984

'Well, it's just got to be there!' Right? This song was a big hit in Australia. Canada, not so much. I had a copy I'd taped off the TV and loved it - I was thirteen, miserable, and indulging in that favourite teenage sport of blaming one's surroundings for all of one's problems. 'I've never, never seen Eden. I don't want to live in this place!' I'd sing these lines as if I thought they would somehow change the view out my window to some other town, or even a city. Silly, I know. And I can easily imagine the protagonist of Cinnamon Toast doing the same thing.


Song 65 Images in Vogue

Counting Down! Whee!

I'm starting this countdown on 26 December because today is known as St Stephen's Day in Ireland (my narrator and protagonist is named Stephen), and also because the action of the novel itself closes on the 26th of December, 1987. Wish me luck on my coping mechanism/very modest publicity stunt. 65 songs till publication day! 

Images in Vogue - Lust for Love, 1983

'You mistook my lust for love! Didn't you!' Well, she won't be doing that again in a hurry. Here's what I like about this: it's a Canadian band, there's a great upward sweep of synthesizers at the chorus, the song was never that popular or even cool, and the vocals and hairstyles appear reassuringly quaint now, though they must have seemed almost threatening to me at the age of thirteen. This song loitered around the 30s on Casey's Top 40 for a few weeks and ended up on one of my K-Tel tapes. Don't watch if you have an aversion to spiders, nooses, very red lipstick and big hats, or people singing to their own corpses. If you're fond of all of these, enjoy.


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