Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Top 5 New Wave Songs

I am going to be driving to Virginia today, so I thought I'd get a jump start on any lists I'd miss. I thought about calling this "Top 5 Songs of the 1980s," but then I realized I didn't really want to rate every genre... For example, how do you compare "London Calling" to "True" by Spandau Ballet? Easy, you rank "London Calling" ahead of it, and so forth, until you've left off a good number of solid New Wave songs.

Ahem! Without further ado!

Ryan's Top Five

1. "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" - Tears for Fears - Oh man, do I ever love this song. Tears for Fears is one of my favorite bands, '80s or otherwise. I can pinpoint the moment where I started loving this song; it was featured prominently in an episode of "The West Wing," and I became obsessed. (For some reason, I have issues with songs in TV Shows and movies that I like.) Since that episode, I have A) stopped liking The West Wing, B) stopped caring about politics, and C) stopped caring about my own political aspirations (i.e., stopped caring about wanting to rule the world). And yet, my love of this song continues unabated.

2. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" - Simple Minds - If you can listen to this song without picturing Judd T. Nelson punch the sky, then you are pinko commie trash--and Judd T. Nelson is coming for you. (I've hired him; he's relatively free these days and eager for cash.)

3. "True" - Spandau Ballet - To anyone who's ever been forced to endure a long and emotional conversation with me about this song and its proper place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I apologize. My obsession began again with a TV Show--episode 6, series 1 of "The Office (UK)." Who knows why? But if you watch the music video, I think you'll agree that of all the rock bands in the world, I probably have the best chance of joining this one. (I own a suit, a nerdy demeanor, and the ability to get that haircut.) "This is the SOUND... of my SOUL...this is the SOUND.."

4. "Take On Me" - a-ha - 100 Bonus points for its parody on "Family Guy," negative a-jillion bonus points for its association with "Corky Romano." But it still makes the Top 5, that's how good this song is. And the music video.

5. "Love My Way" - The Psychedelic Furs - It was a tough call between this and "Once in a Lifetime," but I feel safe that someone else will call on Talking Heads. This song is like a song by The Cure, it just doesn't make me want to kill myself.

Honorable Mentions: "Once In A Lifetime" and "Burning Down The House" by Talking Heads, "Down Under" by Men At Work, "I Melt With You" by Modern English, "This Is The Day" by The The, "Drive" by The Cars, "Shout," "Head Over Heels," and "Mad World" by Tears for Fears, "Come On Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners, "Whip It" by Devo, "China Girl" and "Let's Dance" by David Bowie, "Love Song" and "Boys Don't Cry" by The Cure, and finally "Only You" by Yaz (thank you, again, to The Office).

Tim's Top Five:
Preface: I don't know what New Wave music is. Wikipedia has helped, but I'm not very discerning of musical genres, particularly of the 1980s. What this list really seems to celebrate is the year 1983, since four of the six songs on the list an honorable mention are from 1983.

1) Cars by Gary Numan - This song is the best example of the 1980s being musically useful. Absolutely everything in the song is not good -- the keyboards are annoying, the claps are clearly fake, the vocals are not aesthetically pleasing, the lyrics are pretty much nonsensical. I still love it. Eventually, the swirling sounds that close out the final minute of the song are at least interesting and probably involve a theremin, but I can't defend this song on any level except that I really love it.

2) Pulling mussels (from the shell) by Squeeze - Squeeze had several songs that could fairly be categorized as hits, but this and Tempted are the only ones you'll ever here, and with good cause, because this song is so awesome. I'm not sure what it is about the song that appeals to me, but I think part of it is the Stephen King-like attention to unnecessary detail. Is there anything to be gained from specifically identifying a Harold Robbins paperback? Perhaps there was to people in 1980. I was not yet born, I don't know, but I love it.

3) Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo - Apparently there's a meaning behind this song (so says Wikipedia) that there were Mexican radio stations that could be heard nearly around the world because they were broadcasting in basically non-regulated environments at extraordinary wattage. But really, I just enjoy barbecued iguana.

4) Modern Love by David Bowie - I don't know why, but this really seems to belong on this list. It basically seems to be that I just include things that are synthesizer-y and involve drum machines. While it's not my favorite Bowie song, it is the song I listen to the most, although "Five Years" is gaining rapidly. Incidentally, my standard of what new wave is basically means The Smashing Pumpkins' album Adore is eligible for my list. But it's not on it, because it sucks. So there.

5) The Living Daylights by A-ha - Yes, they had another song, and yes, this is the theme to the ill-advised 1987 James Bond debut of Timothy Dalton The Living Daylights. So it's getting pretty recent for inclusion, I would guess. Too bad, I really don't think much of the 1980s.

Honorable mention: Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners - For a period of my life, this was probably among my five favorite songs. Then radio stations that were playing "current" music began playing nothing but 80s songs, which was to say songs that sorority girls use to identify the 1980s, which was to say songs from John Hughes movies or songs that have otherwise been remembered for semi-ironic reasons.

Dan's Top 5:

Here I am on only the second day of work, and I'm posting a Top 5. Damn, and I thought this job would be different... Ah well. I was shocked when I saw the topic of today, as my recent explorations of the history of music, especially after the fall of punk, have led me to question the real definition of "New Wave." Who's in, and who's out? Blondie? The Police? I've decided to take things really simple and follow the model you guys set up - 80's New Wave pop.

1. "Once In A Lifetime" - Talking Heads - For me, it's doesn't get better than this song. Those of you who know me on Livejournal can see that my titles are taken from this song. I'm fairly sure that this song is a take on the sudden realization that one has pursued traditional success (the big car, the beautiful wife) while forgetting the grander scheme of things (the references to "water"). Oh yeah, and the music video kicks ass. David Byrne's epileptic dancing style is almost as great as that of Ian Curtis.

2. "Inside Out" - The Mighty Lemon Drops - I still remember the afternoon that I saw the music video on VH1 Classic (That channel is the only good thing VH1 has done for me). Since then, it has become on of my favorite songs ever. It's even my ringtone. Seriously. The beauty of this song is its simplicity. It's a song that really grabs you, but I feel like I easily could have written it myself. All the more fuel for my rock-star-self-delusion fire.

3. "Time After Time" - Cyndi Lauper - I think I read somewhere before that Tim doesn't like this song. If so, that's too bad, because it's really an excellent example of a pop ballad. The bass line during the chorus is excellent, and I've been trying to recreate the rich, lush chorus effect on this song's guitar track for years. In my book, this is a pop standard and one of the defining songs of the 80's.

4. "Girls on Film" - Duran Duran - I can't do a New Wave list without a Duran Duran song, so the only question is, which song do I pick? Something off of Rio, or off of their first album? Even then, which song? I decided to go with this song because it offers Duran Duran's revolutionary new sound (at the time, 1980) with John Taylor executing a killer bass track, and Roger Taylor executing a killer mini-solo that actually highlights the electronic-ness of the drums, rather than trying to hide it. Oh yeah, and the video has boobs in it.

5. "Melt With You" - Modern English - What I love about this song is that it assumes you know science well enough to know what would happen if the world stopped rotating. It's not, "I'll stop the world, which will cause half of the earth to drastically overheat, and melt with you." Also, the song is driven by a great riff and overall sounds very... "sparkly."

Honorable Mentions: Echo & The Bunnymen - "Lips Like Sugar" (a candidate for the earlier Top 5 Songs You Used To Be Into). The Smiths - "Panic," "How Soon is Now?," "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before." The Cure - "Pictures of You." Madness - "Our House." And only left off because I figured you guys wouldn't consider it New Wave, The Police - "Message in a Bottle."

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