The Top Ten ’80s Bangers That Don’t Get The Credit They Deserve
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We all love a bit of ’80s nostalgia. The bright clothes, the big hair, the soaring synth pop – it’s all a wonderful novelty these days, especially given the sleek modernity of 2017. From fashion to food to music and beyond, there’s always a good reason to bust out the ’80s bangers. Here are a few of our ’80s favourites that you may have forgotten about.
Bronski Beat, ‘Smalltown Boy’
While this isn’t exactly an unknown hit, it’s seriously underappreciated in its original form. Released in 1984, ‘Smalltown Boy’ tells the story of a young gay male who leaves home to escape his homophobic family. These days, you may recognise the melody via hugely popular EDM banger ‘Tell Me Why’ by Supermode (AKA Steve Angello and Axwell). In fact, their track samples two Bronski Beat songs – ‘Smalltown Boy’ and ‘Why’.
Malcolm McLaren And The Bootzilla Orchestra, ‘Deep In Vogue’
Chances are you’re aware of Malcolm McLaren via his role in punk history as manager of the Sex Pistols, but he went on to release music incorporating funk, disco and hip-hop as the trends continued. In 1989, he released ‘Deep In Vogue’, a seductive dance banger all about the then-fledgling style of dance known as voguing. It was the first track to really bring the style to mainstream attention, having pre-dated Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ by almost a year.
The Romantics, ‘Talking In Your Sleep’
The Romantics are best known for their still-mammoth-to-this-day single ‘What I Like About You’, released in 1980. So while their early hit eclipsed much of their career, they went on to release a number of albums, including 1983’s In Heat. ‘Talking In Your Sleep’ still achieved widespread fame, showing off the Detroit band’s shift into a sound that now feels completely synonymous with ’80s rock, namely its big echoey drums and even bigger, echoey vocals.
Johnny Hates Jazz, ‘Shattered Dreams’
Released in 1987, this track is the very epitome of gentle 1980s synth pop. You know the type: sparkly synths, soft bass, rich melodies, sentimental lyrics. On top of that, you’ll find soaring strings, more synth effects, and yes, a bongo solo. The song’s video clip was directed by David Fincher (who you might know from films like Fight Club), who also made videos for Madonna, The Rolling Stones, George Michael, Michael Jackson and countless others.
SOS Band, ‘Just Be Good To Me’
This is another one of those songs you’ll probably recognise in one way or another, even if you’ve never heard the original. It’s come incredibly far since the SOS Band’s 1983 release; it’s been covered by everyone from Mariah Carey and Fatboy Slim to Lily Allen (with Professor Green), and has been sampled by artists including Usher and Tupac. Yes, the gangsta rapper himself used the synth banger on his 1994 magnum opus Me Against The World.
If this track doesn’t make you wanna bust out the platform heels and bouffant hair, we don’t know what will. The track, and Clio as an artist in general, is the perfect example of ‘Italo disco’, a geographically-specific genre of late ’70s/early ’80s dance music hailing from, you guessed it, Italy. Released in 1985, the track boasts remnants of ’70s influences, from disco beats to psych-folk roots in the chorus.
Tané Cain, ‘Holdin’ On’
Tané Cain’s place in pop culture doesn’t really include music: her father was actor Doug McClure, who Simpsons character Troy McLure was modelled after; she starred in dozens of hugely NSFW sexploitation films; and portrayed Elle Woods’ mum in Legally Blonde – but it turns out she also knew how to write a damn good ’80s banger. This track has everything: screeching guitar solos, booming drums, a huge chorus and – most importantly – extremely luscious hair.
Kim Carnes, ‘Voyeur’
Kim Carnes became best known for her extraordinarily massive hit single ‘Bette Davis Eyes’, but she was more than a one hit wonder – and tracks like ‘Voyeur’ prove it. The track is so ominous it wouldn’t be out of place on the Stranger Things soundtrack. Carnes’ raspy voice really shines through on ‘Voyeur’, the opening track to her 1982 album of the same name.
Louise Tucker, ‘Midnight Blue’ Ft. Charlie Skarbek
Interestingly, Louise Tucker is actually a mezzo-soprano opera singer, though she ventured into pop music for two albums in the early 1980s. The melody of ‘Midnight Blue’ is drawn from ‘Sonata Pathétique’, a 1799 composition by Beethoven. So, if you’ve ever wondered what a classical music take on synth pop sung by an opera singer in a partial duet with the prolific Charlie Skarbek sounds like, now you know.
Olivia Newton-John, ‘Soul Kiss’
‘Soul Kiss’ is the title track from Australian icon Olivia Newtown-John’s 13th album, released in 1985. While the track and album didn’t exactly have the same impact as ‘Physical’, ‘Magic’ or the entire soundtrack of Grease, it was nevertheless a delicate, seductive ’80s banger that’s well worth a revisit or two. Also of note is the alluring album cover, shot by the legendary Helmut Newton.
Have we missed a song? We’re teaming up with Marvel to throw the best party in the galaxy to launch Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 (complete with some very special guests), and we want you to be there! But first, we need your help to compile the ultimate ’80s mixtape. Get the details by watching the video below and enter here for your chance to win VIP tickets.