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“What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter.”
— High Fidelity

Etcetera

Best Songs of 1980

I started loosely working on this list sometime in 2013, and it took until 2015 to finish it. As I did in 2014, I’m releasing 100-song lists from 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, and 5 years ago, along with a list for this year. My end goal is to produce a list for every year I’ve been live, which means in 2015 I also get to make a 35-year-old list.

A good chunk of this Best of 1980 (close to half) were new to me as of 2013 or later. It was a unique and eye-opening process going back to the sounds of a time before I knew anything about music (AKA back when my age was still measured in months), and in so doing, I discovered that we are probably more likely to go back to a time before we were alive (say, for me, the early ’70s), than to explore sounds from our baby days. (My guess is that it’s a parental thing—they were too busy raising us to listen to new music in those early years.)

In the end, however, I have come across a great number of songs that are now very important to me, and, oddly, remind me vaguely of that era of my life, even though I may have just heard them for the first time in the past couple years.

For these year-end lists, I like to undertake the seemingly impossibly task of creating an hours-long mix. The order you see below represents that effort, which you can listen to via Spotify. Sadly all 100 tracks aren't available, but you get the general idea. Track notes to come eventually or maybe never.

  1. Remain in Light

    Once in a Lifetime

    Talking Heads

    Remain in Light

    Sire

    Notes

  2. The Age of Plastic

    Video Killed the Radio Star

    Buggles

    The Age of Plastic

    Island

    Notes

  3. Quit Dreaming (And Get on the Beam)

    Do You Dream in Colour

    Bill Nelson

    Quit Dreaming (And Get on the Beam)

    Mercury

    Notes

  4. I Just Can't Stop It

    Mirror in the Bathroom

    The English Beat

    I Just Can’t Stop It

    I.R.S.

    Notes

  5. Uprising

    Could You Be Loved

    Bob Marley & The Wailers

    Uprising

    Island

    Notes

  6. Sandinista!

    The Magnificent Seven

    The Clash

    Sandinista!

    Epic

    Notes

  7. Autoamerican

    Rapture

    Blondie

    Autoamerican

    Capitol

    Notes

  8. Monster Jam

    Monster Jam

    Spoonie Gee Meets The Sequence

    Monster Jam 12"

    Sugar Hill

    Notes

  9. Light Up the Night

    Stomp!

    The Brothers Johnson

    Light Up the Night

    A&M

    Notes

  10. 8th Wonder

    8th Wonder

    The Sugarhill Gang

    8th Wonder 12"

    Sugar Hill

    Notes

  11. Diana

    I’m Coming Out

    Diana Ross

    Diana

    Motown

    Notes

  12. Dirty Mind

    When You Were Mine

    Prince

    Dirty Mind

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  13. Zapp

    More Bounce to the Ounce

    Zapp

    Zapp

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  14. That's the Joint

    That’s the Joint

    Funky 4 + 1

    That’s the Joint 12"

    Sugar Hill

    Notes

  15. Late Registration

    The Breaks

    Kurtis Blow

    Kurtis Blow

    Mercury

    Notes

  16. Give Me the Night

    Give Me the Night

    George Benson

    Give Me the Night

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  17. Winelight

    Just the Two of Us

    Grover Washington Jr. & Bill Withers

    Winelight

    Columbia

    Notes

  18. Triumph

    Can You Feel It

    The Jacksons

    Triumph

    Epic

    Notes

  19. Hotter Than July

    Did I Hear You Say You Love Me

    Stevie Wonder

    Hotter Than July

    Motown

    Notes

  20. Let's Get Serious

    Burnin’ Hot

    Jermaine Jackson

    Let’s Get Serious

    Motown

    Notes

  21. Celebrate!

    Celebration

    Kool & The Gang

    Celebrate!

    De-Lite

    Notes

  22. Emotional Rescue

    Emotional Rescue

    The Rolling Stones

    Emotional Rescue

    Universal

    Notes

  23. McCartney II

    Coming Up

    Paul McCartney

    McCartney II

    Columbia

    Notes

  24. Clues

    Woke Up Laughing

    Robert Palmer

    Clues

    Island

    Notes

  25. One-Trick Pony

    Late in the Evening

    Paul Simon

    One-Trick Pony

    Sony

    Notes

  26. Gaucho

    Hey Nineteen

    Steely Dan

    Gaucho

    MCA

    Notes

  27. Horizon

    Drivin’ My Life Away

    Eddie Rabbitt

    Horizon

    Elektra

    Notes

  28. The Game

    Crazy Little Thing Called Love

    Queen

    The Game

    Elektra

    Notes

  29. Something to Believe In

    It’s All Right

    Curtis Mayfield

    Something to Believe In

    RSO

    Notes

  30. Cat in the Hat

    Open Your Eyes

    Bobby Caldwell

    Cat in the Hat

    Clouds

    Notes

  31. One Eighty

    You’re the Only Woman

    Ambrosia

    One Eighty

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  32. Living in a Fantasy

    More Than I Can Say

    Leo Sayer

    Living in a Fantasy

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  33. Foolish Behaviour

    Oh God, I Wish I Was at Home Tonight

    Rod Stewart

    Foolish Behaviour

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  34. Mad Love

    How Do I Make You

    Linda Ronstadt

    Mad Love

    Elektra

    Notes

  35. 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs

    9 to 5

    Dolly Parton

    9 to 5 and Odd Jobs

    RCA

    Notes

  36. Honeysuckle Rose

    On the Road Again

    Willie Nelson

    Honeysuckle Rose

    Columbia

    Notes

  37. Shades

    What Do You Expect

    J. J. Cale

    Shades

    MCA

    Notes

  38. Hawks and Doves

    Hawks & Doves

    Neil Young

    Hawks & Doves

    Reprise

    Notes

  39. The River

    You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)

    Bruce Springsteen

    The River

    Columbia

    Notes

  40. Smoke

    Nightshift

    The Heats

    Smoke

    Chuckie Boy

    Notes

  41. Nothin Matters and What If It Did

    Ain’t Even Done With the Night

    John Cougar

    Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did

    Mercury

    Notes

  42. Making Movies

    Romeo and Juliet

    Dire Straits

    Making Movies

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  43. Get Happy!!

    New Amsterdam

    Elvis Costello & the Attractions

    Get Happy!!

    Columbia

    Notes

  44. Seconds of Pleasure

    When I Write the Book

    Rockpile

    Seconds of Pleasure

    Columbia

    Notes

  45. Argybargy

    Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)

    Squeeze

    Argybargy

    A&M

    Notes

  46. Absolutely

    Embarrassment

    Madness

    Absolutely

    Sire

    Notes

  47. Searching for the Young Soul Rebels

    Geno

    Dexys Midnight Runners

    Searching for the Young Soul Rebels

    Parlophone

    Notes

  48. Beat Crazy

    Beat Crazy

    Joe Jackson

    Beat Crazy

    A&M

    Notes

  49. I Need Two Heads

    I Need Two Heads

    The Go-Betweens

    I Need Two Heads 7"

    Postcard

    Notes

  50. Sound Affects

    That’s Entertainment

    The Jam

    Sound Affects

    Polydor

    Notes

  51. The Black Album

    Drinking About My Baby

    The Damned

    The Black Album

    Chiswick

    Notes

  52. Totally Wired

    Totally Wired

    The Fall

    Totally Wired 7"

    Rough Trade

    Notes

  53. Doc at the Radar Station

    Dirty Blue Gene

    Captain Beefheart

    Doc at the Radar Station

    Virgin

    Notes

  54. Ace of Spades

    Ace of Spades

    Mötorhead

    Ace of Spades

    Sanctuary

    Notes

  55. Pay to Cum!

    Pay to Cum

    Bad Brains

    Pay to Cum! 7"

    Bad Brains

    Notes

  56. Los Angeles

    Los Angeles

    X

    Los Angeles

    Slash

    Notes

  57. Underwater Moonlight

    I Wanna Destroy You

    The Soft Boys

    Underwater Moonlight

    Armageddon

    Notes

  58. Hypnotised

    Nine Times Out of Ten

    The Undertones

    Hypnotised

    Armageddon

    Notes

  59. This Is It

    Do the Method

    The Method Actors

    This Is It 7"

    Armageddon

    Notes

  60. Colossal Youth

    Salad Days

    Young Marble Giants

    Colossal Youth

    Rough Trade

    Notes

  61. Love Will Tear Us Apart

    Love Will Tear Us Apart

    Joy Division

    Love Will Tear Us Apart 12"

    Factory

    Notes

  62. Falling and Laughing

    Falling and Laughing

    Orange Juice

    Falling and Laughing 7"

    Postcard

    Notes

  63. Gyrate

    Feast on My Heart

    Pylon

    Gyrate

    dB Recs

    Notes

  64. Wild Planet

    Give Me Back My Man

    The B-52’s

    Wild Planet

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  65. Kings of the Wild Frontier

    Antmusic

    Adam & The Ants

    Kings of the Wild Frontier

    CBS

    Notes

  66. Freedom of Choice

    Whip It

    Devo

    Freedom of Choice

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  67. Crocodiles

    Do It Clean

    Echo & the Bunnymen

    Crocodiles

    Korova

    Notes

  68. Boy

    I Will Follow

    U2

    Boy

    Island

    Notes

  69. Organisation

    Enola Gay

    Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark

    Organisation

    EMI

    Notes

  70. Panorama

    Touch and Go

    The Cars

    Panorama

    Elektra

    Notes

  71. Zenyatta Mondatta

    De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

    The Police

    Zenyatta Mondatta

    A&M

    Notes

  72. The Psychedelic Furs

    Imitation of Christ

    The Psychedelic Furs

    The Psychedelic Furs

    CBS

    Notes

  73. Never for Ever

    Babooshka

    Kate Bush

    Never for Ever

    Parlophone

    Notes

  74. Terminal Jive

    When I’m With You

    Sparks

    Terminal Jive

    Virgin

    Europe-only release

  75. Scary Monsters

    Ashes to Ashes

    David Bowie

    Scary Monsters

    RCA

    Notes

  76. Peter Gabriel (Melt)

    And Through the Wire

    Peter Gabriel

    Peter Gabriel

    Geffen

    Notes

  77. Duke

    Misunderstanding

    Genesis

    Duke

    Charisma

    Notes

  78. Flesh and Blood

    Over You

    Roxy Music

    Flesh and Blood

    Reprise

    Notes

  79. Crashes

    Hearts in Her Eyes

    The Records

    Crashes

    Virgin

    Notes

  80. Black Sea

    Respectable Street

    XTC

    Black Sea

    Virgin

    Notes

  81. True Colours

    I Got You

    Split Enz

    True Colours

    A&M

  82. The Romantics

    What I Like About You

    The Romantics

    The Romantics

    Sony

    Notes

  83. All Shook Up

    Baby Loves to Rock

    Cheap Trick

    All Shook Up

    Epic

    Notes

  84. Back in Black

    You Shook Me All Night Long

    AC/DC

    Back in Black

    Columbia

    Notes

  85. Crimes of Passion

    Hit Me With Your Best Shot

    Pat Benatar

    Crimes of Passion

    Chrysalis

    Notes

  86. Caddyshack

    I’m Alright

    Kenny Loggins

    Caddyshack

    Columbia

    Notes

  87. Take My Time

    9 to 5 (Morning Train)

    Sheena Easton

    Take My Time

    EMI

    Notes

  88. Voices

    Kiss on My List

    Daryl Hall & John Oates

    Voices

    RCA

    Notes

  89. Pretenders

    Brass in Pocket

    Pretenders

    Pretenders

    Sire

    Notes

  90. Empty Glass

    Let My Love Open the Door

    Pete Townshend

    Empty Glass

    Atco

    Notes

  91. Growing Up in Public

    How Do You Speak to an Angel

    Lou Reed

    Growing Up in Public

    RCA

    Notes

  92. Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

    Play It All Night Long

    Warren Zevon

    Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

    Elektra

    Notes

  93. Humans

    Fascist Architecture

    Bruce Cockburn

    Humans

    True North

  94. Happy Woman Blues

    Sharp Cutting Wings (Songs to a Poet)

    Lucinda Williams

    Happy Woman Blues

    Folkways

    Notes

  95. Roses in the Snow

    Wayfaring Stranger

    Emmylou Harris

    Roses in the Snow

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  96. Heartattack and Vine

    Jersey Girl

    Tom Waits

    Heartattack and Vine

    Asylum

    Notes

  97. Double Fantasy

    Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

    John Lennon & Yoko Ono

    Double Fantasy

    Geffen

    Notes

  98. Glass Houses

    Don’t Ask Me Why

    Billy Joel

    Glass Houses

    Columbia

    Notes

  99. Trilogy

    Theme From New York, New York

    Frank Sinatra

    Trilogy

    Reprise

    Notes

  100. The Jazz Singer

    America

    Neil Diamond

    The Jazz Singer

    Capitol

    Notes