R.I.P. Ric Ocasek & The Cars

Photo of CARS

It’s now been a week since I saw the news release announcing that the main songwriter of The Cars, Ric Ocasek, had passed. Now it has not affected me the same way Prince or Tom Petty hit me, but his passing has hit me hard, putting yet another metaphorical nail in the coffin of my youth.

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You see, in many ways, The Cars represented something of an gateway drug into my continued obsession with alternative music. Looking back, I was reading about the Sex Pistols, Ramones and The Clash but had yet to gain the intestinal fortitude to eschew my Boston and Styx records for the more enjoyable music of my youth. Then, in 1978, I discovered the now-classic eponymous debut album by The Cars, and my life literally changed. Now, I was hearing the sounds of a new generation. Sure, they played classic rock sounds with the pop sheen of the bubblegum music from my elementary school days. But, this music was also laced with futuristic synth swooshes and new wave rhythms that told me the punk waters were warm, safe and inviting for this Midwestern kid.

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The best part about The Cars was that my, and this is an endearing term when used by someone whose housing addition was surrounded by corn fields, hick friends could find common ground when at parties and cruising around our hometown. This was the band that unified the different factions in our high school. Metal heads, stoners, science nerds, jocks, seemingly all of us loved The Cars, and, anecdotally speaking from class reunions we still do, continues to unite my generation. Perhaps the coolest thing was how influential the band was throughout the Nineties (Ric Ocasek produced Weezer’s now-classic debut album!) and into the 21st century (Listen to The Killers, Bloc Party and a host of others).

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I give you that they weren’t an overtly flashy band, like say A Flock of Seagulls or Billy Idol, but their songs have had much more staying power than perhaps any other artist from the same time period, outside of Prince, Michael, The Boss or Madonna. And, that, my friends, says it all to me.

Therefore, in one last salute to The Cars, I present to you my Top 20 Songs by The Cars.

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20. “I’m Not the One” (Shake It Up, 1981)

19. “It’s All I Can Do” (Candy-O, 1979)

18. “Sad Song” (Move like This, 2011)

17. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” (The Cars, 1978)

16. “You Are the Girl” (Door to Door, 1987)

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15. “Tonight She Comes” (Greatest Hits, 1985)

14. “Hello Again” (Heartbeat City, 1984)

13. “Magic” (Heartbeat City, 1984)

12. “Shake It Up” (Shake It Up, 1981)

11. “Moving in Stereo” (The Cars, 1978)

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10. “Good Times Roll” (The Cars, 1978). This great song is the THIRD single from the band’s fantastic debut album and a classic rock standard. It’s hard to remember just how different this song was from everything else on Central Indiana radio at the time.

9. “Dangerous Type” (Candy-O, 1979). I am a big fan of the darker music by The Cars, and this song wasn’t much of a radio hit but was included in the now-forgotten 1980 coming-of-age Times Square movie to great effect. It’s a shame the song was left off the soundtrack because it’s inclusion would have made the double album perfect.

8. “You Might Think” (Heartbeat City, 1984). A prime example of the quirky pop-rock The Cars perfected. And, back in 1984, no video was more cutting edge than the one for this terrific song.

7. “Drive” (Heartbeat City, 1984). The Cars made their entry into ballad-land with this haunting tune. It was used to great effect during the Live Aid video that depicted the famine in Africa.

6. “Just What I Needed” (The Cars, 1978). To me, this was the safest-sounding Cars song and, in retrospect, the perfect way to introduce the band to the world.

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5. “Touch and Go” (Panorama, 1980). I wasn’t joking when I said that I love the weird side of this band. And, outside of “Moving in Stereo,” no song was as jarring at the time as this one was when you first heard it. As a matter of fact, it remains so. It’s light years ahead of the music world.

4. “Bye Bye Love” (The Cars, 1978). Easily my favorite non-single cut by The Cars. I love the dark imaginary utilized to describe a disintegrating relationship. Plus, you know something good has to be going on when this song got a HUGE reaction from a Ted Nugent/AC/DC crowd when played during the pre-concert music.

3. “Since You’re Gone” (Shake It Up, 1981). Once again, I’m walking on the dark side of the street, but this song has never really gotten the praise it truly deserves. WHY WASN’T IT A HUGE HIT?!?!?!

2. “My Best Friend’s Girl” (The Cars, 1978). This one challenged radio programmers NOT to add it to their playlist. It’s like radio around here went from safe music to playing more and more new wave after this song got on the playlists around here. “Stayed tuned, because The Police will be back with “Roxanne” after this word from our sponsors.” Would have NEVER happened if this song was popular first.

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1. “Let’s Go” (Candy-O, 1979). You know, there are just certain songs that simply tell you everything you need to know about an artist. Guns N’ Roses have “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” R.E.M. has “Losing My Religion.” And, Michael Jackson has “Billie Jean.” Well, to me, “Let’s Go” is that song for The Cars. Even Prince loved the song! How much better could an endorsement get?

My 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominee Predictions

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Traditionally speaking, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame releases its annual Nominees List around October 9, and those of us that have a romantic view of the monument have been dropping prediction list after prediction list concerning our beliefs as to who will be nominated. I will admit that I am a passionate casual follower of the Hall, which basically means that I follow the Hall’s actions more closely than the casual fan while not obsessed as several of my writer friends are. So, if you are looking for accuracy, you might want to look up various Rock Hall watchers’ sites for their predictions, for they all do outstanding jobs of reading the tea leaves. Me, on the other hand, I am a fan, and my list lands somewhere between an actual prediction and a unabashed “wish list.” But, isn’t that what makes following the Hall so much fun? It’s almost like fantasy football for rock geeks. And, I’m a HUGE rock and roll geek.

Since the early Nineties, the RRHOF Nominating Committee has limited themselves to 15 nominees each year. And, they have also most inducted five of those nominees each year. These self-imposed limitations have handcuffed itself into a seemingly endless backlog of truly deserving rock immortals sitting on the outside. When this whole thing was being planned back in the Eighties, I used to complain that this institution was unnecessary because each of us have different tastes which is what makes music so beautiful.

Now, the Hall becomes an artist’s fan’s validation and a money-making project for the Hall itself. Yet, like all Halls of Fame, it is a living, breathing testament to the history of this music that has played such an important part of the better part of three generations of music lovers throughout the world. Plus, if you have ever been to Cleveland to visit the museum, you will be blown away by everything you will see there. Personally, it has been 16 years since I’ve been there, but we are planning to go soon since Prince and Cheap Trick have been inducted during these intervening years.

With that said, I want to present my 15 Nominees, in addition to five artists who should also be considered and would not be surprised if they are on the official list.

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The B-52’s – The party band from Athens, Georgia, paved the way not only for R.E.M.’s stellar career, but for alternative music itself.

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Pat Benatar – After Heart and The Runaways cracked open the door for female rock deities, Pat Benatar knocked that door down to prove that women should be taken seriously in this business.

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Cher – If you think Cher was just the beautiful half of Sonny & Cher, you were wrong. If you thought there was no way she could act, you were wrong. This woman was MADONNA before Madonna was out of her teens. Wake up people! This woman has the goods!

VARIOUS - 1987

Depeche Mode – Until Morrissey began endorsing extreme right-wing nut jobs, I always thought The Smiths would be inducted next from the Eighties college rock scene. While it still may happen, I now think Depeche Mode will follow The Cure into the Hall.

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The Doobie Brothers – You may be asking yourself, “They aren’t in?!?!” Nope! This is their time.

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Iron Maiden – Judas Priest finally got a nomination last year and somehow did not get in despite Eddie Trunk’s supposed influence. This year, I think the Committee will shift gears a bit and nominate the Maiden. Both bands have been criminally overlooked for years.

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Carole King – Here I go again! Yes, she’s not in the Hall as an artist. And King released one of the all-time great albums Tapestry, which continues to amaze me nearly 50 years later. Come on people!

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Kraftwerk – Most Americans do not realize how musically influential Kraftwerk has been to this very day. They were the first band to embrace synthesizers, making electronic music both rocking and danceable. The direction of Eighties music would have totally been different if not for these guys embracing technology. Afrika Bambaataa sampled their music, most importantly on “Planet Rock.” And, we all know how important the synthesizer was to Prince, synth pop, dance pop, New Jack swing, industrial music, ZZ Top in the mid-Eighties, and I could go on and on.

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MC5 – THE political proto-punks from Detroit helped birth the whole Seventies punk scene, along with Hall inductees The Stooges and the overlooked New York Dolls. Their torch was picked up in the Nineties by Rage Against the Machine, yet another overlooked band.

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Nine Inch Nails – After Trent Reznor’s impassioned induction speech for The Cure last year should be rewarded with an induction for his brilliant band that married metal, industrial and pop musics. Plus, anyone who has battle depression probably has gone through a NIN phase. I had a difficult time choosing one Nineties rock artist, as I considered Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, all of whom are worthy.

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The Notorious B.I.G. – Here is the one artist of the first-time eligible nominees who will get inducted. Since Tupac is in, and those two redefined hip hop during their all-too-brief careers, I expect Biggie to follow. Unfortunately, that means that Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Dr. Dre and, most importantly, LL Cool J will all have to wait…again!

9.18 Dolly-Parton

Dolly Parton – That’s right! Dolly’s not in, while influencing seemingly EVERYONE in rock history. I’m not a country fan, but I am a fan of great music. And, Dolly writes and creates great music. Other country artists who should be inducted include Willie Nelson (C’mon! Kid Rock is stealing his zeitgeist!), Patsy Cline (Arguably the greatest female country voice this side of Linda Ronstadt), Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson. 2019 may well be her year.

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The Runaways – If it wasn’t for The Runaways, where would women be in the rock/punk world? And take a look at their classic line-up of Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Sandy West and long-running Jeopardy champion Jackie (Fuchs) Fox. That’s a ’27 Yankees of female rockers immortality. Hell, they just rocked period.

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Todd Rundgren – The Hermit of Mink Hollow finished THIRD in last year’s fan balloting and did NOT get inducted! WTF?!?!?!?! This man is THE Renaissance Man of rock music. This better be his year, or I will be bitching all year long!

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Tina Turner – That’s right! Tina’s not in as a solo artist, when everyone my age remembers her storybook comeback in 1984. She is another “no-brainer.”

Honorable Mention:

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Whitney Houston – This one will truly tick off one of my former track athletes, because he will say she is not rock music. That’s true! But, much like Aretha Franklin, Whitney was The Voice of a Generation.

9.18 The-Jam

The Jam – Paul Weller is one of my favorite songwriters, and his seminal punk band, a HUGE influence on Green Day and the pop-punk of the early 21st century, should be immediately considered. Let’s face it! Britpop may not have happened if it wasn’t for The Jam.

9.18 the spinners

The Spinners – Perhaps, Philadelphia’s greatest soul group of the Seventies. Their early-Seventies catalog is just brilliant.

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War – This band from East L.A. was a rock/funk combo who dominated in the early Seventies. They have been overlooked for far too long.

9.18 link wray

Link Wray – This man pioneered the power chord. So, where do you think The Who, AC/DC and so many others got their power from? Look no further.

When you are limited by certain parameters, you can all list at least twenty more deserving artists. This nominating and induction process is getting out of hand. Something has got to change!

1984: Not Really Orwell’s Dystopia

1984

Growing up, the year 1984 always seemed to be a year of impending doom. In some ways it was, what with the Ayn Rand-driven Reaganomics unfortunately becoming the dominant economic philosophy leading to the undermining of the middle class. But when were still a decade away from much of Orwell’s dystopic vision of society, although this was not coming from the left but the right. Actually, a book that came out around this time entitled The Handmaid’s Tale may actually be closer to reality today than Orwell’s vision. Sorry, but there was not really a new morning in America but more of an impending doom.

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And, believe it or not, the underground music scene reflected this queasiness with Reagan’s America. Go back and listen to music of Run-D.M.C., The Replacements, Hüsker Dü or The Smiths, and you can hear this anger building. While, the media was attempting to push a party-hearty music of glam metal to keep the youth diverted from reality.

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Yet, through it all, some of the finest music was being released during this pivotal year. 1984, of course, was Prince’s year. At one point during the summer of 1984, the man had the number one album, single and movie in the country. But, other artists were hitting the bullseye with their music. The Cars released a terrific album, Heartbeat City, that was loaded with hits. Van Halen, another band who debuted in 1978 with The Cars, released a great commercial album with 1984. And, one of my personal favorites, The Style Council, was bringing their Motown/Europop vision to the forefront of the music scene.

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On a personal level, 1984 was my senior year in college. I was facing adulthood, marriage, a career and an impending parenthood all at once while attempting to figure out how to mature into the vision of myself without too much compromise. At least the music was great that year to help me through this terrifying moment in my life. But, it was a hell of a year to be the soundtrack of that kind of year, which ends my decade of development as Gen X-er coming of age.

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So, let’s put a cap on this decade with what I consider to be the finest year of this ten-year run of when I might have actually been somewhat “cool.” Let’s count ’em down!

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100. “Roxanne’s Revenge” – Roxanne Shante

99. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

98. “Rock Box” – Run-D.M.C.

97. “Rock You like a Hurricane” – Scorpions

96. “Footloose” – Kenny Loggins

95. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” – Deniece Williams

94. “Holiday” – Madonna

93. “Let the Music Play” – Shannon

92. “Cruel Summer” – Bananarama

91. “Jump (For My Love)” – The Pointer Sisters

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90. “Talking in Your Sleep” – The Romantics

89. “Legs” – ZZ Top

88. “Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol

87. “Dance Hall Days” – Wang Chung

86. “On the Dark Side” – John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band

85. “Original Sin” – INXS

84. “Break My Stride” – Matthew Wilder

83. “Nobody Told Me” – John Lennon

82. “Lucky Star” – Madonna

81. “Middle of the Road” – The Pretenders

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80. “Automatic” – The Pointer Sisters

79. “Hot for Teacher” – Van Halen

78. “(She’s) Sexy + 17” – Stray Cats

77. “Jungle Love” – The Time

76. “Relax” – Frankie Goes to Hollywood

75. “You Might Think” – The Cars

74. “The Warrior” – Scandal (Featuring Patty Smyth)

73. “99 Luftballoons” – Nena

72. “Valotte” – Julian Lennon

71. “Roxanne Roxanne” – U.T.F.O.

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70. “Lovergirl” – Teena Marie

69. “Close (To the Edit)” – The Art of Noise

68. “Magic” – The Cars

67. “Got a Hold on Me” – Christine McVie

66. “Dancing in the Sheets” – Shalamar

65. “That’s All” – Genesis

64. “Head Over Heels” – The Go-Go’s

63. “Adult Education” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

62. “Going Down to Liverpool” – The Bangles

61. “Run Runaway” – Slade

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60. “They Don’t Know” – Tracey Ullman

59. “I Want a New Drug” – Huey Lewis & the News

58. “State of Shock” – The Jacksons & Mick Jagger

57. “Sunglasses at Night” – Corey Hart

56. “Who’s That Girl” – Eurythmics

55. “Stuck on You” – Lionel Richie

54. “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper

53. “Blue Jean” – David Bowie

52. “Last Christmas” – Wham!

51. “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley

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50. “I Want to Know What Love Is” – Foreigner

49. “Cover Me” – Bruce Springsteen

48. “Purple Rain” – Prince & the Revolution

47. “I Feel for You” – Chaka Khan

46. “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” – Phil Collins

45. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister

44. “Born in the U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

43. “Oh Sherrie” – Steve Perry

42. “Round and Round” – Ratt

41. “Hold Me Now” – Thompson Twins

40. “Rebel Yell” – Billy Idol

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39. “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell

38. “Authority Song” – John Cougar Mellencamp

37. “Jump” – Van Halen

36. “Easy Lover” – Philip Bailey Jr. with Phil Collins

35. “Panama” – Van Halen

34. “I Will Dare” – The Replacements

33. “Wouldn’t It Be Good” – Nik Kershaw

32. “Out of Touch” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

31. “I Can Dream About You” – Dan Hartman

30. “The Reflex” – Duran Duran

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29. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid

28. “Give It Up” – KC

27. “The Bird” – The Time

26. “Lights Out” – Peter Wolf

25. “It’s My Life” – Talk Talk

24. “Two Tribes” – Frankie Goes to Hollywood

23. “Drive” – The Cars

22. “Radio Ga Ga” – Queen

Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN

21. “Pink Cadillac” – Bruce Springsteen

20. “She Bop” – Cyndi Lauper

19. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” – U2

18. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” – Wham!

17. “Pink Houses” – John Cougar Mellencamp

16. “What’s Love Got to Do with It” – Tina Turner

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15. “Careless Whisper” – Wham! featuring George Michael

14. “Sister Christian” – Night Ranger

13. “Like a Virgin” – Madonna

12. “Missing You” – John Waite

11. “Borderline” – Madonna

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10. “The Glamorous Life” – Sheila E.

9. “You’re the Best Thing” – The Style Council

8. “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” – R.E.M.

7. “How Soon Is Now?” – The Smiths

6. “Erotic City” – Prince & the Revolution

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5. “Killing Moon” – Echo & the Bunnymen

4. “Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen

3. “My Ever Changing Mood” – The Style Council

2. “Let’s Go Crazy” – Prince & the Revolution

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1. “When Doves Cry” – Prince

1983: Pop Music Rules, Thanks to MTV

1983

After such a great weekend in which a childhood friend of my one of my boys got married and the class for which I was one of their sponsors had their twentieth class reunion (man, they are old!), things came crashing down again when I heard of the passing of The Cars’ leader Ric Ocasek. The Cars actually brought new wave in through classic rock’s doors when their timeless debut album was released in 1978. To the people who are now in their mid-fifties, like me, The Cars were one of our unifying artists, regardless if you were a Sabbath fan, a Pistols fan or a Fleetwood Mac fan; we all found ourselves in agreement with how great The Cars were. But, now, their two vocalists are gone, but their groundbreaking music lives on. And with Eddie Money’s passing on Friday, I am not looking forward to a third rock star death.

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You just cannot talk about the Eighties without thinking about the influence of The Cars. Ironically, 1983 was a very quiet year for the band, though we all remember what happened for them the following year. But, we are revisiting 1983, a year in which true pop music was the dominant force on the music scene. This was the year during which new wave and the subsequent Second British Invasion occurred. Michael Jackson’s moonwalk on the Motown 25th Anniversary Special caused Thriller to become THE dominant musical force for the year. Additionally, The Police released their own landmark album, Synchronicity, which lead the group to become the biggest band in the world. Even though their were many terrific rock, funk and R&B records released during the year, pop was king. And a little known but important scene on Hollywood’s Strip that we now call Glam metal was beginning to break nationally behind the success of Quiet Riot, the first metal act to have a number one album in the US. And, alternative music was beginning to break as well, with R.E.M. IRS Records full-length debut being released to critical acclaim while their British jangle counterparts, The Smiths, were making a big scene over in the UK.

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When you were a twenty-year-old at the time, the whole scenario was awesome! Little did I realize by the end of the year, I would only be six months away from meeting the most important person in my life. Regardless of that fact, 1983 was a great year for pop music, so let’s get on with the countdown!

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100. “Goodbye to You” – Scandal

99. “Heaven” – Bryan Adams

98. “Confusion” – New Order

97. “Lawyers in Love” – Jackson Browne

96. “Buffalo Gals” – Malcolm McLaren

95. “Mad World” – Tears for Fears

94. “Wrapped Around Your Finger” – The Police

93. “Mr. Roboto” – Styx

92. “Cuts like a Knife” – Bryan Adams

91. “Come Dancing” – The Kinks

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90. “Promises, Promises” – Naked Eyes

89. “Salt in My Tears” – Martin Briley

88. “Holiday Road” – Lindsey Buckingham

87. “Breaking Us in Two” – Joe Jackson

86. “Straight from the Heart” – Bryan Adams

85. “I’m Still Standing” – Elton John

84. “Dead Giveaway” – Shalamar

83. “I Won’t Hold You Back” – Toto

82. “It’s a Mistake” – Men at Work

81. “She’s a Beauty” – The Tubes

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80. “Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats

79. “You Can’t Hurry Love” – Phil Collins

78. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” – Taco

77. “Always Something There to Remind Me” – Naked Eyes

76. “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Sergio Mendes

75. “In the Mood” – Robert Plant

74. “Joanna” – Kool & the Gang

73. “China Girl” – David Bowie

72. “Gimme All Your Lovin'” – ZZ Top

71. “Undercover of the Night” – The Rolling Stones

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70. “Major Tom (Coming Home)” – Peter Schilling

69. “Church of the Poison Mind” – Culture Club

68. “Is There Something I Should Know?” – Duran Duran

67. “The One Thing” – INXS

66. “No Parking (On the Dancefloor)” – Midnight Star

65. “Stand Back” – Stevie Nicks

64. “Say, Say, Say” – Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson

63. “Jeopardy” – Greg Kihn Band

62. “Overkill” – Men at Work

61. “One on One” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

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60. “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” – Air Supply

59. “Too Shy” – Kajagoogoo

58. “Mirror Man” – The Human League

57. “The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats

56. “Der Kommissar” – After the Fire

55. “King of Pain” – The Police

54. “Tell Her About It” – Billy Joel

53. “Rock of Ages” – Def Leppard

52. “Say It Isn’t So” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

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51. “I Love L.A.” – Randy Newman

50. “Synchronicity II” – The Police

49. “Delirious” – Prince

48. “Mama” – Genesis

47. “Crumblin’ Down” – John Cougar Mellencamp

46. “Modern Love” – David Bowie

45. “Sharp Dressed Man” – ZZ Top

44. “Uptown Girl” – Billy Joel

43. “Favorite Waste of Time” – Marshall Crenshaw

42. “Why Me” – Planet P Project

41. “Big Log” – Robert Plant

9.15 big country

40. “In a Big Country” – Big Country

39. “Red Red Wine” – UB40

38. “Cum on Feel the Noize” – Quiet Riot

37. “Just Be Good to Me” – S.O.S. Band

36. “Leave a Tender Moment Alone” – Billy Joel

35. “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” – Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel

34. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” – Yes

33. “Faithfully” – Journey

32. “Pass the Dutchie” – Musical Youth

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31. “Blister in the Sun” – Violent Femmes

30. “She Works Hard for the Money” – Donna Summer

29. “Love Is a Battlefield” – Pat Benatar

28. “Maniac” – Michael Sembello

27. “All Night Long (All Night)” – Lionel Richie

26. “Electric Avenue” – Eddie Grant

25. “Flashdance…Oh What a Feeling” – Irene Cara

24. “Blue Monday” – New Order

23. “Our House” – Madness

22. “New Year’s Day” – U2

21. “What About Me” – Moving Pictures

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20. “Photograph” – Def Leppard

19. “Rockit” – Herbie Hancock

18. “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)” – A Flock of Seagulls

17. “Just Got Lucky” – JoBoxers

16. “True” – Spandau Ballet

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15. “One Thing Leads to Another” – The Fixx

14. “Here Comes the Rain Again” – Eurythmics

13. “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” – Talking Heads

12. “Whenever You’re on My Mind” – Marshall Crenshaw

11. “Don’t Change” – INXS

10. “Let’s Dance” – David Bowie

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9. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2

8. “Burning Down the House” – Talking Heads

7. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

6. “Karma Chameleon” – Culture Club

9.15 elvis costello

5. “Everyday I Write the Book” – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

4. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” – Elton John

3. “Long Hot Summer” – The Style Council

2. “Radio Free Europe” – R.E.M.

9.15 the police

1. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police

1982: MTV Got Music It’s Groove Back

1982

1982 is the year when I got my MTV. It was a heady time. In one quick flick of the remote on the cable box, and I was witnessing an actual revolution in music. Finally, the US had its first national radio station that played the same music all over the country. Finally, the generational shift was taking place right in front of our eyes. Now, Gen X was flexing its collective economic muscles to make their music (new wave, college rock, rap, dance music, R&B, pop, synth pop, etc.) the major trend of the Eighties, arrogantly pushing many of those Sixties and Seventies musical icons aside for a new sound.

9.13 michael jackson

So while the Boomers were becoming yuppies, Gen X was coming of age and new icons such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen and The Clash all released significant albums during this year. Two supergroups dominated the charts as well. First, four musicians with major Seventies prog rock pedigree came together to form Asia, a relatively streamlined version of the Seventies sound with Eighties synthesizers made a grand entrance that unfortunately was short-lived. And, a conglomeration of West Coast studio musicians banded together in 1978, but reached their artistic peak in 1982 as Toto. Once again, their success was an aberration, yet still noteworthy.

9.13 john cougar

Perhaps the biggest surprise of 1982 was the emergence of a fellow Hoosier who then went by the name of John Cougar, now known as John Mellencamp. Prior to his triumphant performance on Saturday Night Live in the Spring of that year, he was a toiling singer/songwriting rocker. But, after he debuted “Hurts So Good,” the Ball State campus was full of the sounds of his great album American Fool. Finally, a true hick was now a rock star. And even though the great Jackson family originally hailed from Gary, Indiana, the state has always unfairly  treated “The Region” as an extension of Chicago.

9.13 clash

But enough of that in-state stupidity! 1982 was a fun year during which we experienced a seismic shift in the the music being played in our lives. And, how better to celebrate the year than to put forth my 100 favorite songs of the year. Hold on!

9.13 motels

100. “Only the Lonely” – The Motels

99. “She’s Tight” – Cheap Trick

98. “Everybody Wants You” – Billy Squier

97. “Poison Arrow” – ABC

96. “That Girl” – Stevie Wonder

95. “Bad to the Bone” – George Thorogood & the Destroyers

94. “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” – Jennifer Holiday

93. “Love Is in Control” – Donna Summer

92. “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

91. “Working for the Weekend” – Loverboy

9.13 men at work

90. “Down Under” – Men at Work

89. “Homosapien” – Pete Shelley

88. “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” – Heaven 17

87. “O Superman (For Massenet)” – Laurie Anderson

86. “Jump” – Loverboy

85. “It’s Raining Men” – The Weather Girls

84. “Hurts So Good” – John Cougar

83. “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” – Chicago

82. “Only You” – Yaz

81. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson

Toto Portrait Session

80. “Rosanna” – Toto

79. “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” – The Human League

78. “Dirty Laundry” – Don Henley

77. “Candy Girl” – New Edition

76. “Twilight Zone” – Golden Earring

75. “White Wedding” – Billy Idol

74. “Africa” – Toto

73. “Rio” – Duran Duran

72. “Allentown” – Billy Joel

71. “Beat Surrender” – The Jam

70. “Hold Me” – Fleetwood Mac

9.13 scorpions

69. “No One like You” – Scorpions

68. “Temptation” – New Order

67. “Nasty Girl” – Vanity 6

66. “It’s Raining Again” – Supertramp

65. “Don’t Fight It” – Kenny Loggins with Steve Perry

64. “Fantasy” – Aldo Nova

63. “Mickey” – Toni Basil

62. “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” – Michael McDonald

61. “Eye in the Sky” – Alan Parsons Project

9.13 Huey.Lewis.and.The.News

60. “Do You Believe in Love” – Huey Lewis & the News

59. “Think I’m in Love” – Eddie Money (It saddens to hear while I am typing this entry that Eddie Money passed away this morning at the age of 70. It had been recently reported that he was suffering from Stage 4 esophageal cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.)

58. “The Walk” – The Time

57. “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” – Judas Priest

56. “Senses Working Overtime” – XTC

55. “The Bitterest Pill (I’ve Ever Had to Swallow)” – The Jam

54. “Run to the Hills” – Iron Maiden

53. “Human Nature” – Michael Jackson

52. “Save a Prayer” – Duran Duran

9.13 yaz

51. “Situation” – Yaz

50. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

49. “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” – Michael Jackson

48. “She Blinded Me with Science” – Thomas Dolby

47. “Jack and Diane” – John Cougar

46. “I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow

45. “Heat of the Moment” – Asia

44. “Shock the Monkey” – Peter Gabriel

43. “Steppin’ Out” – Joe Jackson

42. “Goody Two Shoes” – Adam Ant

9.13 38 special

41. “Caught Up in You” – .38 Special

40. “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven with You)” – Dexys Midnight Runners

39. “Someday, Someway” – Marshall Crenshaw

38. “Save It for Later” – The English Beat

37. “Love My Way” – The Psychedelic Furs

36. “Mexican Radio” – Wall of Voodoo

35. “Kids in America” – Kim Wilde

34. “We Got the Beat” – The Go-Go’s

33. “Rock This Town” – Stray Cats

32. “Don’t Go” – Yaz

31. “My City Was Gone” – The Pretenders

30. “More Than This” – Roxy Music

9.13 Dazz band

29. “Let It Whip” – Dazz Band

28. “Who Can It Be Now” – Men at Work

27. “Time (Clock of My Heart)” – Culture Club

26. “I There’s Something Going On” – Frida

25. “Cynical Girl” – Marshall Crenshaw

24. “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” – Gap Band

23. “The Look of Love” – ABC

22. “I Ran (So Far Away)” – A Flock of Seagulls

21. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” – Culture Club

9.13 tommy tutone

20. “867-5309/Jenny” – Tommy Tutone

19. “I Melt with You” – Modern English

18. “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” – The Clash

17. “Back on the Chain Gang” – The Pretenders

9.13 george clinton

16. “Atomic Dog” – George Clinton

15. “Maneater” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

14. “Rock the Casbah” – The Clash

13. “Hungry like the Wolf” – Duran Duran

12. “Town Called Malice” – The Jam

11. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Eurythmics

10. “1999” – Prince

9.13 human league

9. “Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League

8. “Beat It” – Michael Jackson

7. “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell

6. “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson

9.13 marvin gaye

5. “Sexual Healing” – Marvin Gaye

4. “Planet Rock” – Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force

3. “The Message” – Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five

2. “Come On Eileen” – Dexys Midnight Runners

9.13 prince

1. “Little Red Corvette” – Prince

1981: A Transition Year If There Ever Was One

1981

Transition was the theme of 1981. Personally, I transitioned from a high school student to a college student. Musically, 1981 represented the year that arena rock made its final year of dominance on the charts. Probably the biggest reason why that is was the launch of MTV on August 1. Sure, the AOR artists had videos, but the English new wave artists had the exciting ones. And, as MTV spread throughout the country, a second British would take place. However, in 1981, all of that was in the future. But, at that moment, radio was all about Journey, Styx, Foreigner and the rest.

9.11 pat benatar

1981 was also cool because Tom Petty, The Police and The J. Geils Band were all getting their due. Joan Jett, who always seemed destined for rock stardom, had her moment in the sun. Pat Benatar, Styx, Rush, Journey and Stevie Nicks all had number one albums. Ozzy Osbourne made a dramatic comeback. You could feel the music world beginning to rumble. Think about classic rock radio today, and many of the songs on my list are still getting lots of run today.

9.11 journey

Perhaps the song that has had the longest legs of all would have to be Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”. That song has taken on a life of its own over the years, thanks in no part to its use on the pilot of the TV sensation Glee. That show exposed so many of the songs of early Gen X lives to the millennials, but Journey’s signature song is the one that has become one of the most streamed and downloaded songs of the digital age. And, as great of a song it is, I simply love other songs better. Yet, they will never capture the imagination of generations like that Journey song.

So, let’s get this thing started! Here’s my 100 favorite songs of 1981.

9.11 Christopher-Cross

100. “Arthur” – Christopher Cross

99. “Who’s Crying Now” – Journey

98. “Miss Sun” – Boz Scaggs

97. “Destroyer” – The Kinks

96. “Turn Your Love Around” – George Benson

95. “Baby, Come to Me” – Patti Austin & James Ingram

94. “Never Too Much” – Luther Vandross

93. “Freeze Frame” – The J. Geils Band

92. “Spirits in the Material World” – The Police

9.11 carl carlton

91. “She’s a Bad Mamma Jamma (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)” – Carl Carlton

90. “Ceremony” – Joy Division

89. “Stars on 45 Medley” – Stars on 45

88. “Girls on Film” – Duran Duran

87. “Take Off” – Bob & Doug McKenzie with Geddy Lee

86. “Gemini Dream” – The Moody Blues

85. “Lunatic Fringe” – Red Rider

84. “Endless Love” – Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

83. “Absolute Beginners” – The Jam

82. “I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It” – Stevie Wonder

81. “This Time” – John Cougar

80. “I Love You” – Climax Blues Band

9.11 dolly parton

79. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton

78. “A Woman Needs Love (Just like You Do)” – Raydio

77. “Oh No” – The Commodores

76. “Young Turks” – Rod Stewart

75. “Just Between You and Me” – April Wine

74. “To Hell with Poverty” – Gang of Four

73. “T.V. Party” – Black Flag

72. “Gloria” – U2

9.11 manhattan transfer

71. “Boy from New York City” – The Manhattan Transfer

70. “All These Years Ago” – George Harrison

69. “How ‘Bout Us?” – Champaign

68. “You Better, You Bet” – The Who

67. “Turn Me Loose” – Loverboy

66. “Just Can’t Get Enough” – Depeche Mode

65. “When She Was My Girl” – The Four Tops

64. “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheel of Steel” – Grandmaster Flash

63. “Ghost Town” – The Specials

62. “Lady (You Bring Me Up)” – The Commodores

61. “Slow Hand” – The Pointer Sisters

9.11 kool & the gang

60. “Get Down on It” – Kool & the Gang

59. “Hold on Loosely” – .38 Special

58. “This Little Girl” – Gary “U.S.” Bonds

57. “Abacab” – Genesis

56. “Winning” – Santana

55. “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” – AC/DC

54. “Hold on Tight” – Electric Light Orchestra

53. “Pretty in Pink” – The Psychedelic Furs

52. “Being with You” – Smokey Robinson

51. “Harden My Heart” – Quarterflash

50. “Controversy” – Prince

9.11 saga

49. “On the Loose” – Saga

48. “Burnin’ for You” – Blue Öyster Cult

47. “Games People Play” – Alan Parsons Project

46. “Waiting for a Girl like You” – Foreigner

45. “Celebration” – Kool & the Gang

44. “Too Much Time on My Hands” – Styx

43. “Tom Sawyer” – Rush

42. “Shake It Up” – The Cars

9.11 yoko ono

41. “Walking on Thin Ice” – Yoko Ono

40. “The Breakup Song” – Greg Kihn Band

39. “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

38. “Time” – Alan Parsons Project

37. “The Voice” – The Moody Blues

36. “Limelight” – Rush

35. “Talk of the Town” – The Pretenders

34. “Edge of Seventeen” – Stevie Nicks

33. “While You See a Chance” – Steve Winwood

32. “Same Old Lang Syne” – Dan Fogelberg

31. “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” – John Cougar

9.11 Kim-Carnes

30. “Bette Davis Eyes” – Kim Carnes

29. “Jessie’s Girl” – Rick Springfield

28. “Magic Power” – Triumph

27. “I’ve Done Everything for You” – Rick Springfield

26. “Start Me Up” – The Rolling Stones

25. “Don’t Stop Believin'” – Journey

24. “Waiting on a Friend” – The Rolling Stones

23. “Private Eyes” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

9.11 The-Go-Gos

22. “Our Lips Are Sealed” – The Go-Go’s

21. “Let’s Groove” – Earth, Wind & Fire

20. “You Make My Dreams” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

19. “Give It to Me Baby” – Rick James

18. “The Stroke” – Billy Squier

17. “Urgent” – Foreigner

16. “Tempted” – Squeeze

9.11 ozzy osbourne

15. “Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne

14. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” – Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

13. “Kiss on My List” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

12. “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

11. “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

9.11 frankie smith

10. “Double Dutch Bus” – Frankie Smith

9. “Dancing with Myself” – Billy Idol

8. “Centerfold” – The J. Geils Band

7. “I Know What Boys Like” – The Waitresses

6. “Genius of Love” – Tom Tom Club

9.11 Rick_James

5. “Super Freak” – Rick James

4. “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – The Police

3. “In the Air Tonight” – Phil Collins

2. “Under Pressure” – Queen & David Bowie

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

1. “The Waiting” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

1980: A Bright New Decade That Began with Darkness

1980

I gotta admit that I was excited about the Eighties. Everything about the Eighties seemed exciting with possibilities: wrapping up high school, the whole college thing and becoming an “adult.” Plus, the music of the decade was going to be sweet, especially after how exciting 1979 was.

9.10 Rush

You gotta love it when artists that you loved as relative unknowns become huge, as if it were some validation of your tastes in music. Blondie really hit the big time in 1980 behind three number one songs, led by “Call Me.” The Clash and Pink Floyd reaped critical and public acclaim during this year. Bruce Springsteen really broke through on both the album and singles charts here in the U.S. AC/DC and Queen peaked in 1980, and The Police continued to gain momentum. Disco was mutating into dance music. New wave was the “it” music of the moment, and heavy metal was bubbling underneath it all.

9.10 The Police

On the other hand, we got the last gasps of big time cultural significance of Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. And, in one of the most shocking moments in rock history, the final nail was put in the coffin of the Baby Boomers’ dominance of rock music when John Lennon’s voice was silenced by an assassin. I have to admit that I went to bed before the news broke about Lennon. The game on Monday Night Football was boring, and I was tired. Yet, when I heard the radio broadcast of the news at six in the morning, I was stunned. I had just purchased his new album and was playing it the night before. And, much as Roberto Clemente’s death did eight years earlier, I was moved to learn as much as I could about the man. Even though my grandfather had passed away in early 1975, the deaths of two men who were both cut down in their primes affected nearly as much, though it was nowhere near how the death of two of my high school friends did.

9.10 the jam

Still, after Lennon’s death, you kinda got the sense that the torch was being passed on to a new generation. And ultimately, this what 1980 represents to me. And, these are the songs that generally constituted the soundtrack to my life back then.

9.10 George_benson

100. “Give Me the Night” – George Benson

99. “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” – S.O.S. Band

98. “Don’t Stop the Music” – Yarbrough & Peoples

97. “I’m Alright” – Kenny Loggins

96. “Antmusic” – Adam & the Ants

95. “Magic” – Olivia Newton-John

94. “Longer” – Dan Fogelberg

93. “Enola Gay” – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

92. “Lady” – Kenny Rogers

91. “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” – Squeeze

9.10 martha and the muffins

90. “Echo Beach” – Martha & the Muffins

89. “I Love a Rainy Night” – Eddie Rabbitt

88. “One in a Million You” – Larry Graham

87. “A Forest” – The Cure

86. “Shining Star” – The Manhattans

85. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” – George Jones

84. “Just the Two of Us” – Grover Washington Jr. with Bill Withers

83. “The Tide Is High” – Blondie

82. “He’s So Shy” – The Pointer Sisters

81. “Keep on Loving You” – REO Speedwagon

9.10 irene cara

80. “Fame” – Irene Cara

79. “Sailing” – Christopher Cross

78. “Upside Down” – Diana Ross

77. “On the Road Again” – Willie Nelson

76. “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” – The Police

75. “Hey Nineteen” – Steely Dan

74. “Late in the Evening” – Paul Simon

73. “Turn It On Again” – Genesis

72. “I Will Follow” – U2

9.10 LRB

71. “Cool Change” – Little River Band

70. “Private Idaho” – The B-52’s

69. “Steal Away” – Robbie Dupree

68. “The Wanderer” – Donna Summer

67. “People Who Died” – Jim Carroll Band

66. “Theme from ‘New York, New York'” – Frank Sinatra

65. “Heartbreak Hotel” – Michael Jackson

64. “How Do I Make You” – Linda Ronstadt

63. “Breakdown Dead Ahead” – Boz Scaggs

9.10 split enz

62. “I Got You” – Split Enz

61. “Coming Up (live)” – Paul McCartney

60. “Precious” – The Pretenders

59. “Everybody Wants Some!!” – Van Halen

58. “Stop This Game” – Cheap Trick

57. “Into the Night” – Benny Mardones

56. “Don’t Let Go” – Isaac Hayes

55. “I Can’t Tell You” – Eagles

54. “Tired of Toein’ the Line” – Rocky Burnette

53. “Romeo’s Tune” – Steve Forbert

52. “Holiday in Cambodia” – Dead Kennedys

51. “She’s So Cold” – The Rolling Stones

50. “Everything Works If You Let It” – Cheap Trick

J. Geils Band Live

49. “Love Stinks” – The J. Geils Band

48. “Breaking the Law” – Judas Priest

47. “(Just Like) Starting Over” – John Lennon

46. “Emotional Rescue” – The Rolling Stones

45. “Geno” – Dexys Midnight Runners

44. “Fantastic Voyager” – Lakeside

43. “Special Lady” – Ray, Goodman & Brown

42. “The Second Time Around” – Shalamar

9.10 molly hatchet

41. “Flirtin’ with Disaster” – Molly Hatchet

40. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” – Pat Benatar

39. “Never Knew Love like This Before” – Stephanie Mills

38. “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” – Billy Joel

37. “Vienna” – Ultravox

36. “Ace of Spades” – Motörhead

35. “Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me?)” – Gap Band

34. “Anyway You Want It” – Journey

33. “Atomic” – Blondie

32. “Let My Love Open the Door” – Pete Townshend

31. “Stomp!” – The Brothers Johnson

9.10 david bowie

30. “Fashion” – David Bowie

29. “You May Be Right” – Billy Joel

28. “That’s Entertainment” – The Jam

27. “More Bounce to the Ounce, Part 1” – Zapp

26. “Watching the Wheels” – John Lennon

25. “Biko” – Peter Gabriel

24. “Ah! Leah!” – Donnie Iris

23. “The Spirit of the Radio” – Rush

22. “Switchin’ to Glide” – The Kings

21. “Brass in Pocket” – The Pretenders

9.10 The_Vapors

20. “Turning Japanese” – The Vapors

19. “Hungry Heart” – Bruce Springsteen

18. “Yes, I’m Ready” – Terri DeSario & KC

17. “Whip It” – Devo

16. “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” – Stevie Wonder

9.10 diana ross

15. “I’m Coming Out” – Diana Ross

14. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” – The Police

13. “Funkytown” – Lipps Inc.

12. “Ashes to Ashes” – David Bowie

11. “What I Like About You” – The Romantics

9.10 Gary Numan

10. “Cars” – Gary Numan

9. “The Breaks” – Kurtis Blow

JOY DIVISION

8. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division

7. “You Shook Me All Night Long” – AC/DC

6. “Call Me” – Blondie

9.10 Queen

5. “Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen

4. “Going Underground” – The Jam

3. “Games Without Frontiers” – Peter Gabriel

2. “Rapture” – Blondie

9.10 Talking-Heads

1. “Once in a Lifetime” – Talking Heads