The 80’s: Fifteen Fantastic Songs You Have Probably Forgotten And Shouldn’t Have

     What do I remember about the 80s? Insane fashion, fantastic movies, and going to the record store to buy some of the coolest records ever. Nowadays  the anticipation of going to buy a record is trumped by the instant gratification of the Internet. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all, but there was a certain mystique to many of the songs from the decade of decadence, and it was a ritual of sorts to play those 45s records over and over again. With that being said, I present a list of fifteen songs that were enormous hits for exactly 15 minutes.
“One Night In Bangkok” – Murray Head

The 80’s were all about hooks and this one ruled. Recorded for the musical Chess with the music written by members of ABBA and lyrics by Tim Rice.

“Let’s Go All The Way” – Sly Fox

The lyrics, while often thought to be about sex, contain no carnal content, are delivered deadpan, and seem to express disillusionment with various aspects of modern life.


“Der Kommissar” – After The Fire

The song first recorded by Falco in German in 1981 and covered a year later by After The Fire. The title translates to “the commissioner” or police captain and is basically about being chased by the police.

Major Tom (Coming Home) – Peter Schilling

Major Tom is a song by singer Peter Schilling from his album Error in the System. With a character unofficially related to “Major Tom”, the theme of David Bowie’s 1969 album Space Oddity, the song is about the character being caught in an accident in space. Makes PERFECT sense!

“Destination Unkown” – Missing Persons

The band was founded in 1980 in Los Angeles by guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, vocalist Dale Bozzio, and drummer Terry Bozzio. Dale’s quirky voice and heavy makeup made the band a favorite on MTV in the early 1980s. Her revealing outfits played a pivotal role in moving the culture of music videos.

“Rock Me Amadeus” – Falco

With “Rock Me Amadeus”, Falco became the first German-speaking artist to be credited with a #1 single in all mainstream U.S. pop singles charts. I think we may have him to thank for the next German-speaking chart topper; Nena, or not.

Stars On 45 – Title ???

Not sure what the exact title of this song is but I remember playing the sh*t out of this when I was seven, literally on a 45. I guess they are the pioneers of the modern day Mash-up?

“Pop Musik” – M

They would later become Level 42 and who could have predicted that genius in the making. Catchy and annoying at the same time.

“Brand New Lover” – Dead Or Alive

Why this song wasn’t as big as “You Spin Me” I have no idea, was Pete Burns in fact dead or alive in the video, I have no idea, should the Scissor Sister cover this track, absolutely. 

“I Got You” – Split Endz

Written by fellow New Zealander Neil Finn and the video clip features Finn standing in a room with the other band members performing in a framed picture on the wall behind him.

“The Promise” – When In Rome
When I lived in Houston several years ago I was with the Kings of Leon at a record store (way before they were megastars) and they had just purchased the Napoleon Dynamite Soundtrack. This was the first song the band put on in my car as I drove them to their show that evening. Maybe they should cover this track!
Spirit In The Sky – Dr. and the Medics

A cover of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”. The original song’s arrangement came together in the studio in San Francisco. Nice fun fact.

“The Look Of Love” – ABC

Recorded by ABC in 1982, included on their debut album, The Lexicon of Love. The official video (which I cannot embed here because whoever has the rights may be a bit behind the times) vaguely pays homage to Gene Kelly’s Ballet sequence from An American in Paris. Instead enjoy a fantastic live performance.

“Love and Rockets” – Ball of Confusion

A gothic rock band covering Motown. Awesome!

“Deeper Shade Of Soul” – Urban Dance Squad

Originally released in 1989 this was like a drunk pre-cursor to 311. Great song, and way ahead of it’s time.

As always your comments are welcome below. Any songs that you would like to include?

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Jason Miller
Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a leading digital B2B marketer, who’s held senior roles at LinkedIn, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign. Before entering the B2B space, he spent ten years at Sony, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. He is a prolific keynote speaker, digital marketing instructor at UC Berkeley, and best-selling author. Also an accomplished rock concert photographer, his work appears in books, magazines, and album covers.

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