Round four of our semi-finals brings us to the '80s. So far, I’ve been pretty surprised with the results - not only have none of my picks won, but none of the songs I expected to win won either.
Pick your winner out of this batch and then vote in any '90s polls you may have missed.
Previous polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 1950s 1960s 1970s
Ooo, fun selection here. I went with King of Pop.
Tough call. I guess “Sledgehammer” is my favorite “single” from this list, but it was hard to pass on The Wall and several others.
I went with Dire Straits, but When Doves Cry was a close second.
All the others are close thirds.
“Money for Nothing” pulls all the right strings for me. The guitar work is remarkable, and it has those tongue-in-cheek reverse homophobic lyrics that The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council failed to notice when it got banned (and subsequently unbanned once it was explained to the geezers).
MJ owned the decade, he owns this list.
Unlike with the 1970s, some of the best songs of the decade made this list.
That makes it a tougher choice! I’m gonna have to think about this one.
Put another dime in the juke box, baby.
“When Doves Cry” finishes comfortably ahead of second-place “Billie Jean” in the world-famous Ponch8 Music Rating System. I did not vote for any of these ten songs in their respective best-of-the-year polls, but “When Doves Cry” just barely lost out to another Prince song, “Let’s Go Crazy,” in my 1984 vote.
“Another Brick in the Wall” is dead-ass last. If you’re in the mood for a song with an anti-school message, Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” is far superior.
It’s gotta be Billie Jean. Every time I hear I’m still trying to figure why the chair is not his son.
For me I boiled down to Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd. I have already voted for Blondie, Madonna, Prince and others on various polls before. And I was not going to vote for Dire Straits, to me it is a terrible song.
I have voted for the King of Pop before, never for Floyd. Decided to change things up and Pink Floyd got my vote. That being said over all these are good songs.
For their respective years I did not vote with the majority in the 1980’s polls.
Prince, clearly and easily.
Not that I don’t like the song or anything, but “Money for Nothing” is tied for number one with “Billie Jean”? Really? I was certain that “Sledgehammer” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” would be slugging it out over the top spot, because the Straight Dope, and because RAWK.
For the record, here is where these songs stand in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time (published in the mid-2000s):
Another Brick in the Wall: #375
Rapture: not ranked
I Love Rock & Roll: #484
Billie Jean: #58
When Doves Cry: #52
Money for Nothing: not ranked
Sledgehammer: not ranked
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: #93
Sweet Child O’ Mine: #196
Like a Prayer: #300
So it looks like Rolling Stone’s music rating system aligns well with the world-famous Ponch8 Music Rating System for the 1980s (at least for the best two).
I’ve been relistening to “Like a Prayer,” and you know what, it’s quite a good piece of music making. Since this year was its 25th anniversary, people have been taking another listen in retrospect and re-evaluating its impact. I am convinced it truly is the song of the '80s.
Pink Floyd (although far from their best song) ahead of Michael Jackson (clearly his best song).
Mmmm, excellent list - one of the best so far and thus a tough choice…
Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In the Wall (Part II) is the winner. It’s one of the first songs I remember and it tells a story that still works for me. Plus, solid guitar work.
Blondie’s *Rapture * would have gotten my vote if not for the silly rapping. It may have been edgy then but it’s embarassing now. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful single.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’s *I Love Rock & Roll * is a great 70s song. Too bad it’s the 80s poll.
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean. The decade belongs to him but I said the same thing about The Beatles in the 60s and, last I checked they had unbelievably fallen behind Satisfaction, so I have no remorse not voting for him. Groovy bass line, though
Prince - When Doves Cry. A great 80s song but it places no higher than 3rd or 4th in this poll.
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing. One of the greatest guitar riffs of the decade but that’s about it. The rest of the song is meh.
Guns & Roses - Sweet Child O’ Mine. I’ve never understood the appeal of this song. It’s one of the weaker tracks on Appetite for Destruction. Still, kudos to it for making heavy guitars popular again.
Like a Prayer, Sledgehammer and most of all I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (yuck) are way behind the other songs on the list.
“I Love Rock and Roll” is a remake - basically a note for note cover - so it’s out. “Rapture” is kind of boring. “Like A Prayer,” like a lot of Madonna songs, is just too silly to take seriously.
Other than that, what a lineup. I’d buy this album.
I voted for “Billie Jean” but could have been talked into several other songs.
I take issue with dismissing “Like a Prayer” as “too silly to take seriously,” RickJay. It’s a well-made composition and a great work of musical craftsmanship. It’s a song that expresses a woman’s sexuality. I expect you don’t dismiss women’s sexuality as “too silly to take seriously,” so there’s no a priori reason to dismiss this out of hand just because it’s by Madonna, who has earned serious academic and critical study.
Paraphrasing Scott Joplin: Madonna is no indication of light or trashy music, and to shy bricks at “hateful Madonna” no longer passes for musical culture.