But here’s the text of it. No links, though, and no pix. Apparently, someone complained. Can’t imagine who.

10. Down Under-Men at Work.

I chose to use this song, rather than the paranoid “Who Can It Be Now?” to represent my favorite member of the invasion of the Aussies in my top 20. Arguably, “Who” is more appropriate because there were so many paranoid songs in the 1980s (one of the best: Norman Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.”) But ever since I heard Colin Hay rework this song acoustically, I realized that this is a very well-crafted pop song. Besides, if it weren’t for this song, which topped the chart from January 15 through Feb 11, 1983, nobody would know what a fried-out Combie was. If you still don’t know, go rent Prescilla, Queen of the Desert.


Spacecake. A bizarre version–part hard rock, part woodblock.

Curtis Peoples

9. Rapture-Blondie.

This one was harder for me, because the song itself is only so-so. But I really do dig the concept, and it was such an important song because it represented the first time a female “rapper” hit #1 on the Hot 100. More importantly, it brought Fab 5 Freddie’s skillz to the mainstream—a direct result of a few CBGB punks making their way to a Harlem block party one day and being blown away. Hard to believe it was as long ago as 1981. Now, rockrap has become godawful.


None that I am aware of. But as a consolation . . .

Rappers Delight-Of Montreal

8. Beat It-Michael Jackson.

Two songs from “Thriller” are in the top 10 because, hey, even though it came out at the beginning of the decade, no record better exemplifies the excess, the nonsense, the booming pop, and the drama of the 1980s. Beat It topped the chart for three weeks (April 30-May 20, 1983), featuring an Eddie Vedder guitar solo and a young Wesley Snipes in the video. And let us never forget the best Weird Al video ever: Eat It. Two gangbangers attached by a roasted chicken, armed only with forks.



The Last Dinosaur

7. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)-Phil Collins.

Younger hipsters will know the Postal Service version of this song, which was brilliant for taking an overwrought arena ballad and making it sweet and small.

Versions: Go buy the entire Postal Service record. It’s all you’ll need.

6. Let’s Go Crazy-Prince & The Revolution.

The Purple One is one of two short African Americans to make my top 10. He’s litigious, but there’s no denying his genius.


Band of Tipsys. The WTF?? version.

5. Like a Prayer-Madonna.

I wasn’t a fan when the song first came out, but when all the relignuts got crazy over it, I learned to love it. Now, it’s my third favorite Madonna song ever. I can’t believe Maddie only made this list once. I guess I don’t like “Like a Virgin” all that much.


See this huge A to Z post.

4. True Colors-Cyndi Lauper.
Love the Cyndi. And love this song, especially when she does it live. It topped the charts in late 1986.


See this huge A to Z post.
3. Owner of a Lonely Heart-Yes.

One of the first #1 hits in the year 1984, and the lonely Yes song ever to top the Hot 100. I’m not a huge prog-rock fan, but the opening of this song is pure adrenaline, and the drum work is simply awesome.


See: Owner of a Lonely Post.

2. When Doves Cry-Prince.

The ’80s was the time for androgyny, and Prince was the king of it all. Doves was #1 from July 7 through August 10, 1984. And it is one of the greatest songs ever.


Ben Sollee (live, direct link)

Animal Liberation Orchestra. This is a particularly awesome version.

1. Billie Jean-Michael Jackson.
Topping the hot 100 for almost two months in 1983, Billie Jean (BJ to her friends) maliciously got pregnant and caused little Mikey so so so much pain and angst. Next time, Mr. J, put a sock on the pickle.


I recently did an MJ covers A to Z post, so I’m not going to re-do that here. But this is a particularly good one.

Billie Jean-Chris Cornell (Live, acoustic)

Coming soon: The also rans.

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