Five Underrated Songs of the 80s

The other night I took my wife to see Duran Duran for her birthday.  She was a huge Duranie (Durany?  Durani?) back in the day and never got a chance to see them live.  Wednesday night they played a small venue here in Houston and we took in the show.

Let me just say that Simon and the lads can still go.  Let me also say that I had forgotten how strong “Rio” was.

On the drive home we got to talking about songs they didn’t play.  That led, as so many conversations with me do, down the Road to Obscurity (copyright 2011 GonzoGeek Media, Inc.).  I started talking about John Taylor‘s work on the soundtrack of American Anthem.  However, I couldn’t find the song I was looking for on iTunes.  Neither could I find the video on YouTube.

Of course, the fact that it was Andy Taylor (the only original Duran not in attendance the other night) and not John Taylor that did the song could have had something to do with it.

Hey, its been a long time since 1986.

I continued down the Road of Obscurity thinking about other songs from the 80s that I really liked that got lost and/or dropped by the “80s Music” format on FM radio.

Here now is my list.  Enjoy.

5.  The Salt in My Tears –  Martin Briley (1983)

This song, along with “Every Breath You Take” are inextricably linked as my first experience with MTV.  Myself and a group of friends, on a church outing, spent the better part of a Saturday night watching a very young MTV running the same 10-12 videos in heavy rotation.  This song stuck with me for years and once I was able to find it on iTunes, it became part of my library.  Dig the beret.

4.  Money Changes EverythingCyndi Lauper (1984)

Originally an underground hit for The Brains, this song was the first song to show that Cyndi Lauper could rock.  Yes, we knew she was unusual.  We knew she could work a ballad.  We knew she knew Captain Lou.  This video was a revelation.  Cyndi owning the stage at Budokan, kicking a trashcan and kicking out the jams.  Her song “I Drove All Night” is probably #6 on this list.

3.  Take It Easy – Andy Taylor (1986)

As mentioned, this one was from the post ’86 Olympics Mitch Gaylord male gymnastics movie American Anthem.  While not as big a disaster as Gymkata, American Anthem died painfully.  This song broke the Top 40, but didn’t stick around long.  Even Taylor’s membership in Duran Duran AND Power Station couldn’t save it.  When I worked in radio in the early 90s, the soundtrack album was in our production library and I used it liberally as a bed under many a commercial.

2.  No MythMichael Penn (1989)

The singing Penn brother.  You know, the one who looks a lot like Michael Imperioli.  No?  The one who was married to Aimee Mann?  Still nothing.  Penn’s only hit, which made allusion Shakespeare and Bronte, was smart.  So smart that it was itself checked by Community 20+ years later.  The song should have been a much bigger hit.  Maybe if he’d dressed in fringe and Aquanet.

1.  Beat So Lonely – Charlie Sexton (1986)

This one was a mid-level hit around the time I graduated from high school.  Perhaps my fondness for the song is tied to that simple fact.  It was used in John Hughes’ Some Kind of Wonderful in the confrontation scene toward the end of the movie.  Sexton was a hot shot guitar slinger from Austin and the suits tried to make him into an MTV heartthrob.  It didn’t take, but Sexton survived.  He went on to be an Arc Angel and to hold down Bob Dylan’s band for most of the 00’s.  Not bad for a cat with only one “hit” to his name.

One thought on “Five Underrated Songs of the 80s

Add yours

  1. Nice list man. Aside from being underrated there’re at least a couple of actual classics on there. Here’s my contribution to the next 5!

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