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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 1985

For the third straight year, I have dedicated myself to creating 100-song Best of Lists representing 5-decade increments, starting in 1980, leading up to a list for the current year that is 2015. Much like my lists for 1983 and 1984, returning to 1985 provided me the opportunity to rediscover childhood favorites while also making new discoveries.

In the past three years since I started this process of culling tracks from every year of my existence, I have come across a slew of great albums and artists that I had only heard of (but not heard), or, in a few cases, had never known about at all. It's been a wonderful experience, yet again, to piece together this list.

As before, this list is an honest attempt to assess a year in music, merging the reality of a list made 30 years later with the idea that, had I been able to conceive of such a list at the time (as an adult, not as the six-year-old I was for most of the year), I would have included pop hits, obscure tunes, aging favorites and new artists alike.

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 (that doggone Prince makes it impossible), but you get the general idea. Track notes to come eventually or—particularly if last year's un-annotated lists are a sign of future action—maybe never.

  1. Escape From Television

    Miami Vice Theme

    Jan Hammer

    Escape From Television

    MCA

    Notes

  2. Knee Deep in the Hoopla

    We Built This City

    Starship

    Knee Deep in the Hoopla

    Grunt

    Notes

  3. Vocalese

    Ray’s Rockhouse

    Manhattan Transfer

    Vocalese

    Atlantic

    Notes

  4. King of Rock

    King of Rock

    Run-DMC

    King of Rock

    Arista

    Notes

  5. Ladidadi

    Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick

    The Show

    Reality

    Notes

  6. Mantronix The Album

    Needle to the Groove

    Mantronix

    The Album

    Warlock

    Notes

  7. Stella

    Oh Yeah

    Yello

    Stella

    Vertigo

    Notes

  8. The New Zapp 4 U

    Computer Love

    Zapp

    The New Zapp 4 U

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  9. Watching You Watching Me

    Steppin’ Right Along

    Bill Withers

    Watching You Watching Me

    Columbia

    Notes

  10. Promise

    The Sweetest Taboo

    Sade

    Promise

    Epic

    Notes

  11. In Square Circle

    Part-Time Lover

    Stevie Wonder

    In Square Circle

    Motown

    Notes

  12. Ready for the World

    Oh Sheila

    Ready for the World

    Ready for the World

    Geffen

    Notes

  13. Rhythm of the Night

    Rhythm of the Night

    DeBarge

    Rhythm of the Night

    Seoul

    Notes

  14. Primitive

    Bad Boy

    Miami Sound Machine

    Primitive

    Epic

    Notes

  15. Vision Quest

    Crazy for You

    Madonna

    Vision Quest

    Geffen

    Notes

  16. Voices Carry

    Voices Carry

    ’Til Tuesday

    Voices Carry

    Epic

    Notes

  17. Heart

    These Dreams

    Heart

    Heart

    Capitol

    Notes

  18. Hounds of Love

    Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)

    Kate Bush

    Hounds of Love

    EMI

    Notes

  19. Visions of Excess

    Boy (Go)

    The Golden Palominos featuring Michael Stipe

    Visions of Excess

    Celluloid

    Notes

  20. Be Yourself Tonight

    Would I Lie to You?

    Eurythmics

    Be Yourself Tonight

    RCA

    Notes

  21. Listen Like Thieves

    What You Need

    INXS

    Listen Like Thieves

    Atlantic

    Notes

  22. No Jacket Required

    Sussudio

    Phil Collins

    No Jacket Required

    Atlantic

    Notes

  23. Crush on You

    The Jets

    The Jets

    MCA

    Notes

  24. Whitney Houston

    How Will I Know

    Whitney Houston

    Whitney Houston

    Arista

    Notes

  25. Beverly Hills Cop

    New Attitude

    Patti LaBelle

    Beverly Hills Cop

    MCA

    Notes

  26. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

    I Wonder If I Take You Home

    Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

    Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam

    Columbia

    Notes

  27. Around the World in a Day

    Raspberry Beret

    Prince & The Revolution

    Around the World in a Day

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  28. Dancing in the Street

    David Bowie & Mick Jagger

    Dancing in the Street

    EMI

    Notes

  29. The Power Station

    Some Like It Hot

    The Power Station

    The Power Station

    Parlophone

    Notes

  30. Youthquake

    You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

    Dead or Alive

    Youthquake

    Epic

    Notes

  31. Dead Man's Party

    Weird Science

    Oingo Boingo

    Dead Man’s Party

    Geffen

    Notes

  32. Love

    She Sells Sanctuary

    The Cult

    Love

    Sire

    Notes

  33. Mars Needs Guitars

    Bittersweet

    Hoodoo Gurus

    Mars Needs Guitars

    Elektra

    Notes

  34. Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven

    Haunted When the Minutes Drag

    Love and Rockets

    Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven

    Beggars Banquet

    Notes

  35. Southern Accents

    Don’t Come Around Here No More

    Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

    Southern Accents

    MCA

    Notes

  36. What Does Anything Mean? Basically

    Looking Inwardly

    The Chameleons

    What Does Anything Mean? Basically

    Statik

    Notes

  37. Songs from the Big Chair

    Everybody Wants to Rule the World

    Tears for Fears

    Songs from the Big Chair

    Fontana

    Notes

  38. Hunting High and Low

    Take on Me

    A-Ha

    Hunting High and Low

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  39. Don’t You (Forget About Me)

    Simple Minds

    Don’t You (Forget About Me)

    A&M

    Notes

  40. Beverly Hills Cop

    The Heat Is On

    Glenn Frey

    Beverly Hills Cop

    MCA

    Notes

  41. The Power of Love

    Huey Lewis & The News

    Back to the Future

    MCA

    Notes

  42. Greatest Hits Volume I & II

    The Night Is Still Young

    Billy Joel

    Greatest Hits Volume I & II

    Columbia

    Notes

  43. Boys and Girls

    Slave to Love

    Bryan Ferry

    Boys and Girls

    Virgin

    Notes

  44. Picture Book

    Holding Back the Years

    Simply Red

    Picture Book

    Elektra

    Notes

  45. The Dream of the Blue Turtles

    If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

    Sting

    The Dream of the Blue Turtles

    A&M

    Notes

  46. Steve McQueen

    When Love Breaks Down

    Prefab Sprout

    Steve McQueen

    Epic

    Notes

  47. Fine Young Cannibals

    Suspicious Minds

    Fine Young Cannibals

    Fine Young Cannibals

    London

    Notes

  48. Head on the Door

    Close to Me

    The Cure

    The Head on the Door

    Elektra

    Notes

  49. Riptide

    I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On

    Robert Palmer

    Riptide

    Island

    Notes

  50. Greatest Hits

    Tonight She Comes

    The Cars

    Greatest Hits

    Elektra

    Notes

  51. Crush

    Secret

    Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

    Crush

    Caroline

    Notes

  52. Dream Into Action

    Things Can Only Get Better

    Howard Jones

    Dream Into Action

    Elektra

    Notes

  53. Welcome to the Real World

    Broken Wings

    Mr. Mister

    Welcome to the Real World

    RCA

    Notes

  54. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

    We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)

    Tina Turner

    Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

    Capitol

    Notes

  55. Rocky IV

    Living in America

    James Brown

    Rocky IV

    Volcano

    Notes

  56. U.S.A. for Africa

    We Are the World

    U.S.A. for Africa

    U.S.A. for Africa

    Columbia

    Notes

  57. Little Creatures

    Road to Nowhere

    Talking Heads

    Little Creatures

    Sire

    Notes

  58. She Don’t Love Nobody

    Nick Lowe

    The Rose of England

    Columbia

    Notes

  59. Fegmania!

    My Wife and My Dead Wife

    Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians

    Fegmania!

    Slash

    Notes

  60. V.U.

    I’m Sticking With You

    The Velvet Underground

    V.U.

    Universal

    Notes

  61. Respect

    Go

    Daniel Johnston

    Respect

    Gammon

    Notes

  62. Beat Happening

    Froggy Eyes

    Beat Happening

    Beat Happening

    K Records

    Notes

  63. Sing No Evil

    Double Trouble

    Half Japanese

    Sing No Evil

    Iridescence

    Notes

  64. The Firstborn Is Dead

    Tupelo

    Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

    The Firstborn Is Dead

    Mute

    Notes

  65. Other Worlds

    Barriers

    Screaming Trees

    Other Worlds

    SST

    Notes

  66. Wild Thing

    Big Lizard

    The Dead Milkmen

    Big Lizard in My Back Yard

    Restless

    Notes

  67. I Don't Want to Grow Up

    Silly Girl

    Descendents

    I Don’t Want to Grow Up

    SST

    Notes

  68. Makes No Sense at All

    Makes No Sense at All

    Hüsker Dü

    Makes No Sense at All

    SST

    Notes

  69. Tim

    Left of the Dial

    The Replacements

    Tim

    Sire

    Notes

  70. Dinosaur

    Repulsion

    Dinosaur Jr.

    Dinosaur

    Homestead

    Notes

  71. Up on the Sun

    Up on the Sun

    Meat Puppets

    Up on the Sun

    SST

    Notes

  72. Project: Mersh

    The Cheerleaders

    Minutemen

    Project: Mersh

    SST

    Notes

  73. Fear and Whiskey

    Chivalry

    Mekons

    Fear and Whiskey

    Touch & Go

    Notes

  74. Ain't Love Grand

    Burning House of Love

    X

    Ain’t Love Grand

    Elektra

    Notes

  75. Translate Slowly

    Araby

    The Reivers

    Translate Slowly

    dB recs

    Originally released under the band name Zeitgeist.

  76. Downtown

    (We’re Gonna) Shake Up Their Minds

    Marshall Crenshaw

    Downtown

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  77. Lone Justice

    Ways to Be Wicked

    Lone Justice

    Lone Justice

    Geffen

    Notes

  78. Love Not Money

    Are You Trying to Be Funny?

    Everything But the Girl

    Love Not Money

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  79. The Wishing Chair

    Grey Victory

    10,000 Maniacs

    The Wishing Chair

    Elektra

    Notes

  80. Brothers in Arms

    Walk of Life

    Dire Straits

    Brothers in Arms

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  81. Beat Hotel

    Blow Up

    The Bongos

    Beat Hotel

    RCA

    Notes

  82. This Is the Sea

    This Is the Sea

    The Waterboys

    This Is the Sea

    Chrysalis

    Notes

  83. The Three Sunrises

    U2

    The Unforgettable Fire EP

    Island

    Notes

  84. Easy Pieces

    Lost Weekend

    Lloyd Cole and the Commotions

    Easy Pieces

    Capitol

    Notes

  85. All That Stuff

    The Windbreakers

    Terminal

    dB recs

    Notes

  86. Fables of the Reconstruction

    Driver 8

    R.E.M.

    Fables of the Reconstruction

    I.R.S.

    Notes

  87. Scarecrow

    Small Town

    John Cougar Mellencamp

    Scarecrow

    Mercury

    Notes

  88. Telephone Free Landslide Victory

    Take the Skinheads Bowling

    Camper Van Beethoven

    Telephone Free Landslide Victory

    I.R.S.

    Notes

  89. Centerfield

    Centerfield

    John Fogerty

    Centerfield

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  90. This Is Big Audio Dynamite

    Medicine Show

    Big Audio Dynamite

    This Is Big Audio Dynamite

    Columbia

    Notes

  91. Meat Is Murder

    How Soon Is Now?

    The Smiths

    Meat Is Murder (US)

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  92. Songs to Learn and Sing

    Bring on the Dancing Horses

    Echo & The Bunnymen

    Songs to Learn and Sing

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  93. The Dream Academy

    Edge of Forever

    The Dream Academy

    The Dream Academy

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  94. Low-Life

    Love Vigilantes

    New Order

    Low-Life

    Factory

    Notes

  95. Psychocandy

    Just Like Honey

    The Jesus and Mary Chain

    Psychocandy

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  96. Ignite the Seven Cannons

    Primitive Painters

    Felt

    Ignite the Seven Cannons

    Cherry Red

    Notes

  97. Rain Dogs

    Downtown Train

    Tom Waits

    Rain Dogs

    Island

    Notes

  98. Empire Burlesque

    Dark Eyes

    Bob Dylan

    Empire Burlesque

    Sony

    Notes

  99. Various Positions

    Hallelujah

    Leonard Cohen

    Various Positions

    Columbia

    Notes

  100. I'm Alright

    One Man Guy

    Loudon Wainwright III

    I’m Alright

    Columbia

    Notes