Well, as I get into the years ’83, ’84 and ’85 the task of getting down to 10 songs is getting harder and harder. For 1983 there were at least 10 songs that I really loved that I had to kick off the list. For why I started doing these lists and for the 1980 list see this post. Here are the lists for 1981 and 1982.
10. Photograph, Def Leppard – Def Leppard was the first hard rock band that I remember crossing over to the pop charts although Van Halen might have something to say about that. Anyway, this song had a great melody and the vocals were great. Mutt Lange became famous producing these guys and I read once that he would have them lay down up to 30 vocal tracks for each song which is why they sound so full. One of the other great things about this song, and the album Pyromania, is that the band members had all of their limbs.
9. Always Something There to Remind Me, Naked Eyes – The way this song starts out with the ringing church bells makes this song instantly recognizable. I had a hard time choosing between this song and “Promises, Promises” which is a moodier song. This one won out mainly because the melody – of the chorus especially – is one of the best of the 80’s.
8. Jeopardy, Greg Kihn Band – This song has a sparse, groovy feel to it. It’s one of the best one hit wonders of 83.
7. Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant – I had a friend who had very eclectic musical tastes and had all of the Adam Ant import albums. So I actually heard this before it was big here in the States. This song is hard to describe. The horn section kind of sounds like Big Band and Swing. The beat is almost Rockabilly. The melody is great and Ant is probably the whitest guy to ever mention Al green in a song he was singing while dressed as an Indian.
6. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart), Journey – This is one of my favorite Journey songs. The thing I remember most about this song is that in the video the band is shown playing “air” instruments, which I always thought odd. This was a great power ballad and is a great showcase for Steve Perry who has one of the stronger voices in pop.
5. Sweet Dreams, Eurythmics – This brooding, dark hit from the Eurythmics is one of my favorite songs from them. The lyrics and synth parts combine to give this song a sinister feel. Annie Lennox has one of the greatest voices of her generation.
4. Africa, Toto – I don’t know if this or “Rosanna” was a bigger hit for Toto but, for me, this is Toto’s signature song. I remember it seemed weird to me that there was a pop song about Africa. Like all Toto songs this one has a great melody and lush instrumentation. It also may be the only pop song to mention Kilimanjaro.
3. Little Red Corvette, Prince – Since I was an innocent, church-going kid when this song came out, it took me a while to figure out that it was dirty. I really thought that this was a car song. Prince is a master of groovy, infectious melodies and it was hard to choose between this and “1999” for inclusion on this list. If I remember correctly, this song is what caused my parents to ban me from listening to Prince and afterwards I had to hide any subsequent Prince tapes that I bought.
2. Billie Jean, Michael Jackson – Well, we now know that the kid was indeed not his son (unless a turkey baster was involved) since Jackson is a freakish, gay pedophile. I really hate to put a Jackson song on the list but Thriller and all of the singles off of it were just huge. Plus Jackson probably wrote the most infectious melodies of the 80’s. It’s really too bad he went off the deep end.
1. Every Breath You Take, The Police – This is probably the biggest hit by the Police. Everything about this song is subtle from the beautiful, understated guitar part to the lyrics that you don’t realize are creepy stalker lyrics until you’ve listened to the song a few times. Like “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”, Sting and the Police manage to make a huge pop hit with a creepy subject and this time they actually make it sound like a sweet love song.