I grew up in a great time for popular music. It wasn’t weird to see a Black man with a guitar making music that Black people actually bought and back then people would play a mix of music from different genres and no one would bat an eyelash...the party would continue to rock on. I also grew up with more than just Hip Hop, as a kid we had Prince ushering in the Minneapolis sound along with The Time. We had groups like Loose Ends, the S.O.S. Band, Atlantic Starr, Club Noveau, Full Force, Ready For The World and a slew of other groups that helped to change the face of popular urban music. The other thing was that this was the last era in which “pop” music made by what was usually termed to be by groups that made “White” music would get spins alongside other “urban” music made by Black artists.
For those of us who grew up in the 80’s, we knew that Madonna’s first joints go hella spin on urban stations (they sent them white labels) and for the longest everyone just assumed she was Black...that’s right! Kids danced to “Lucky Star” thinking Madonna was a sista. Back then it was nothing to hear a joint by Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Phil Collins, The Police or Blondie played in the middle of a regular “urban music” set/playlist. What irks me the most is that DJ’s do this type of thing now and people call them “cutting edge”...Bullshit! It’s called being a goddamn DJ! You play different shit to people that may or may not of heard it. That’s what Afrika Bambataataa did. That’s what Kool Herc did.
These songs often ended up being sampled and reinterpreted/interpolated into songs today. Shit, sometimes I think Pharrell just jacked all of the sounds from some of these songs and made his “In My Mind” LP (I know Melvin Riley’s vocal style when I hear it Skateboard P!)
Nowadays, genres are so segregated and controlled by corporate interests that it’s not possible to ever have the radio be like it was in the 80’s again. I decided to go through some old tapes from the radio from between 1980 to 1989 and ido a whole bunch of legwork and investigating to delve into the phenomenon of urban kids that liked “White” pop from the 80’s. Since it’s the music we all listened to it’s no surprise that the most serious B Boy would know all of the words to A Ha’s “Take On Me”...something that kids from this generation can’t seem to grasp.
Well, here’s a list of a bunch of songs that we used to rock to back then in between the Soul, R&B and Hip Hop we ingested alongside it. If you are for whatever reason not familiar with some of these songs, I suggest you hear most of them through YouTube...be warned, some of these videos were just downright weird or borderline gay. Apparently, the hood was really feeling synthpop from the UK in the 80’s (you’ll see what I mean). In order to make this list a challenge I decided to not include some of the obvious 80's groups like The Go Go's, The Police, Hall & Oates, Phil Collins, Blondie, Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, David Bowie, Culture Club, Michael McDonald and a few others that would normally dominate a list like this. Here’s another goddamn list for you all to read courtesy of me:
1. Everybody Wants To Rule The World-Tears For Fears
This song has been sung by people of all walks of life for years. What Cold War kid doesn’t know it?
2. Once In A Lifetime-Talking Heads
3. Moments In Love-Art Of Noise
This and “Beat Box” were the jams!
4. Rock Me Amadeus-Falco
The extended mix of "Rock Me Amadeus" got more burn then you'd ever believe on urban radio.
5. Genius Of Love-Tom Tom Club/Rock The Casbah-The Clash (tie)
6. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)-Euryhtmics
7. Shout-Tears For Fears
After Jazzy Jeff cut “Shout” up live it was a wrap!
8. 99 Luftballoons-Nena
This beat was so bananas that people didn’t even care that Nena was singing in German.
9. Big Beat-Billy Squier/Everything She Wants-Wham!
10. Cars-Gary Numan
11. Confusion-New Order
Every cheerleading team in the ‘hood had a routine to this song.
12. Never Gonna Give You Up-Rick Astley
13. She Blinded Me With Science-Thomas Dolby
This joint is gangsta. Just ask Havoc and Prodigy of Mobb Deep.
14. Din Daa Daa-George Kranz
Not even a cheesy ass flick like “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” could take the luster off of this classic jam.
15. Running Up That Hill-Kate Bush
You’d be surprised at how big this song was in the inner city.
16. True-Spandau Ballet
Black folks still love this song to this day...Just ask Lloyd.
17. Burning Down The House-Talking Heads
18. Crackdown-Cabaret Voltaire
If you ain’t up on Cabaret Voltaire from Sheffield in the UK, then get ta learnin’. You’ve probably heard their beats before and didn’t even realize it.
19. I Can’t Wait-Nu Shooz
This one of the definitive 80's synth pop joints. Naughty By Nature flipped it on their "19 Naughty III" LP.
20. Beat Box-Art Of Noise
21.Look Of Love-ABC
22. Mickey-Toni Basil
Duh! This joint had to be on the list.
23. Our House-Madness
24. Here Comes The Rain Again-Eurhythmics
This group’s music has been used by Hip Hop artists for almost 25 years now. Especially this song.
25. Don’t You Want Me Baby-Human League
26. Poison Arrow-ABC
27. White Horse-Laid Back
This song came out of nowhere to become one of the biggest B Boy songs to throwdown to.
28. Something About You-Level 42
29. Mirror In The Bathroom-English Beat/Suddenly Last Summer-The Motels (tie)
English Beat was one of the biggest and most important groups of the 80’s...as was The Motels.
30. Sensoria-Cabaret Voltaire
31. Point Of No Return-Nu Shooz
32. Words-Missing Persons
33. I Know What Boys Like-The Waitresses
This punkish/New Wavey joint was popular everywhere, just ask Jay-Z.
34. Soft Cell-Tainted Love
35. Nineteen-Paul Hardcastle
Yet another B Boy joint from the past.
36. Relax-Frankie Goes To Hollywood
37. Promised You A Miracle-Simple Minds
Most people only remember Simple Minds for “Don’t You Forget About Me”. This joint was the one that had heads open, though.
38. Blue Monday-New Order
39. Owner Of A Lonely Heart-Yes
40. The Metro-Berlin
Did you like “Millionaire” with Kelis and Andre 3000? Well, whoever produced it loved Berlin’s “The Metro”.
41. Eyes Without A Face-Billy Idol
42. Don’t Dream It’s Over-Crowded House
43. Wouldn’t It Be Good-Nik Kershaw
This was Nik’s only hit in the US. It was a damn good one.
44. Only The Lonely- The Motels
45. West End Girls-Pet Shop Boys
This song got a lot of burn on urban radio...no one knew they had a lot in common with “Wham!” back then.
46. Come On Eileen- Dexy’s Midnight Runners
It's too damn bad that this was the only hit these cats could come up with.
47. No More Words- Berlin
48. People Are People- Depeche Mode
49. Destination Unknown- Missing Persons
Missing Persons was another crazy group from the 80’s. They had some joints, too.
50. Just Got Lucky-JoBoxers
A lot of people forgot about this classic from one hit wonders JoBoxers. I didn’t, though.
There it is! © Run DMC