Ten Songs From the ‘80s That You’ve Probably Forgotten About
When it comes to the music of the 1980s, people either love it or hate it and there really isn’t any middle ground. There’s a nostalgia to the decade, and it’s easy to see why – the optimism of the Reagan era, a certain innocence when compared to today’s hypersexualized world, and a distinct pop culture that was unlike anything else.
Much of the music of the '80s has been overplayed to the point of cliché, either back then (paging “Thriller”) or in later years (I see you, “Don’t Stop Believing”). But some of the best songs of the era haven’t gotten the love they deserve, even though some of them were significant hits.
Here are ten songs from the ‘80s that you’ve probably forgotten about. I hope these will trigger smiles and waves of memories. I’ve even created a Spotify playlist for your enjoyment – think of it as your new ‘80s mixtape. Enjoy!
10. “Freak-A-Zoid” (Midnight Star, 1983)
The advent of synthesizers at the end of the ‘70s changed pop music in profound ways. Entire new sub-genres of music cropped up, taking advantage of new technology. There was the whole new wave movement that gave musicians a chance to experiment with music and create new soundscapes, and then there was synthesizer music meant to get your booty on the dance floor.
Kentucky’s Midnight Star fell into the latter category. Their breakthrough album, 1983’s No Parking on the Dance Floor, was chock full of jams meant to liven up any party. Songs like the title track and “Electricity” were flat-out fun, but the biggest hit off the album was “Freak-A-Zoid.”
Chock full of that prototypical ‘80s R&B synth style, double entendres, and robotic vocoder effects, “Freak-A-Zoid” is eight minutes of sheer party pleasure. Even though you can date it immediately with its of-the-moment sound, it still makes for a good time all these years later.
9. “Heartbreak Beat” (The Psychedelic Furs, 1987)
Growing up, so many of my alt-rock loving friends were into Depeche Mode, but I was more of a Psychedelic Furs fan. The band from London created some of the best modern rock of the era, and “Heartbreak Beat” was their best.
The song is an epic slice of guitars, synths, and sax, and lead singer Richard Butler growls and belts, making the most of the dynamics that the rest of the band provides. Lyrically, it’s a pretty standard song about a less-than-perfect relationship, but I think the words are just something on which to hang that melody and Butler’s unique voice.
“Heartbreak Beat” became the Psychedelic Furs’ biggest hit in the States, though that’s not really saying much since they didn't put that many songs on the charts here. It’s a perfect mix of alternative edge and pop sensibility, and it’s worth a few listens more than 30 years later.