Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Top Albums Of The 80's

So most people are spending their day talking or complaining about the over-the-top Michael Jackson memorial service.

One thing that can't be argued is that for a time in the 1980's, Michael Jackson was prob
ably the top musical act out there. He helped define the decade. Of course, so did many other artists. It got wondering what the biggest albums of the 1980's were, so I made a list.

Anytime you make a list that involves best music albums, you're going to piss someone off since we all have different tastes. A music snob will vomit if any radio friendly pop is included on this list while a guy growing up in the South Bronx will have different musical influences than some dude from Duluth. So let me say that I realize that calling something the best album is just a shibboleth.

My parameters for this list are as follows:

1.) Album was commercially popular- I don't care what influence Sonic Youth had on 1990's music, that album is not what most people think of when you mention the 1980's.

2.) I grew up
in Dallas. So just take into account that this list is comprised of albums that a white kid from Texas remembers from the decade. I wasn't on a ranch though, so calm down.

Basically these are the albums that first come to mind when someone mentions 80's music. So let the rankings begin! I'll start at ten because a list that begins with number one is stupid.

10.) Bruce Springsteen- Born in the USA: After five years of synth pop played by pale British men wearing make-up, The Boss reintroduced the penis to mainstream music. He had stubble, wore a bandanna and jeans, and sang about the regular American folk. He even caused a stir when he refused to let Ronald Regan use his music for political purposes. I thought he was a great new artist. That shows you how young I was and how little I know.

9.) Bon Jovi- Slippery When Wet: Nothing groundbreaking here, but you can't get Living on a Prayer out of your head and I don't know a boy who was in high school, middle school, or late elementary school who didn't have to hear the squeals of his female counterparts for Jon Bon Jovi.

8.) Public Enemy- It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back: Talk about opening your eyes. White kids loved getting
into rap with the Beastie Boys and Run DMC. Public Enemy cut the crap and let everyone know the group intended to fight the white establishment to the better end. Yet white kids still got into it because they were angry at their parents and so was Chuck D. Well done, sir.

7.) Def Leppard- Hysteria: It was hair band crap, but nearly every single song on that album was worthy of radio play. Go play "Pour Some Sugar On Me", see how many girls start singing along even today. My God I hate that song.

6.) Guns N' Roses- Appetite for Destruction: When the radio airwaves were filled with pop metal from hair bands, Guns N' Roses threw a grenade into the room and brought the danger back into
rock. To this day I can't listen to the opening chords of Welcome to the Jungle without getting amped.

5.) Prince- Purple Rain: Musically, this thing is untouchable by other commercial albums. For me it was one of the most confusing times in my young life because I saw a horny little man who wore high heels and blouses, but girls dug him and no one else sounded like him. Did I like him or not? He's so crazy he's awesome.

4.) Beastie Boys- License to Ill: White Jewish kids rapping. Mmmm. I'm pretty sure at least half of the white kids in America knew the lyrics to every song on here. This album may have been the first warning shot to parents that rap was no longer that music out of the New York City ghetto profiled by Barbara Walters on 20/20. It had arrived in your kid's room.

3.) U2- The Joshua Tree: Everyone, EVERYONE liked this album. I enjoyed it, I could play it when my dad came to visit, high school students, college students, adults, kids, dwarfs, the abnormally tall, hairy people,
women with a pronounced limp.....this album vaulted U2 into the stratosphere where Bono could make us feel guilty about everything.

2.) Madonna- Like a Virgin: I was never a big Madonna fan, but I knew all of her music because I couldn't get away from it. She was the perfect symbol of the 80's, the Material Girl. She wasn't real hot, but she was a whore and guys dug that about her. She was all over the radio and even if you turned the radio off, you'd see an entire crowd of young women dressing just like her.

1.) Michael Jackson- Thriller: I don't care what you think about Michael Jackson today,
Thriller was everywhere, all the time in 1982. Kids everywhere had the glove and red leather jacket, adults were asking children how to do the Moonwalk and anyone who could dance like Jackson became instantly popular. He set an MTV standard with the Thriller video and helped launch Weird Al Yankovichs career. This album bridged generation gaps and became the go to record for parties, dates, or just hanging in your room. It was the 80's super album.

So that's my top ten list, but there are several albums that didn't make the list that I had trouble getting rid of. So here are my honorable mentions:

AC/DC- Back in Black: I was personally too young to listen to this album when it came out in 1980, but it's a hard rock masterpiece. Throw in the fact that it's the first album with a new lead singer and you've got greatness. The only issue I have is that it doesn't really make you think of the 80's. Back in Black could have been released years earlier or later and it still would have rocked.

Police- Synchronicity: This was the first non-children album I ever got. I think it was one of the best albums of the 80's and it sucks that the Police broke up shortly after the release.

Van Halen- 1984: Guitar God goes to keyboard and you get "Jump". This was an album I could stomach as a child and yet the older kids in my neighborhood didn't think I was a stupid little kid.
Metallica- Master of Puppets: Welcome to Heavy Metal, young man. Depending on how old you were in the 80's, either Metallica, Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest got you interested in metal. I missed the original Maiden explosion, but I was right on target with Master of Puppets. I get pissed off whenever I listen to it and it became a favorite album to listen to before a football game.
Duran Duran- Seven and the Ragged Tiger: It was a bunch of pretty boys, but they were huuuuuge. A case could be made for Rio as the bigger album, but The Reflex was on this one and that single took over radio play for a good year.

So there you go. I'm sure I forgot someones favorite album on this list so please feel free to let me know my grave errors. Just remember, this isn't about groundbreaking albums, but albums that represented the 80's.

1 comment:

  1. "Jump" is about the only David Lee Roth era Van Halen song I can stomach, and it's only because the synthesizer provided enough of a distraction to keep Eddie Van Halen away from turning the song into another one of his soulless, robotic guitar wankfests.

    Van Halen sucks