Monday, August 20, 2007

Top 50 Non Hip Hop Songs Of The 80’s That Hip Hop Fans Loved (As Compiled By Dart Adams)

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 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’ 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 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



Anonymous said...

I have one for you

Wasis Diop-Everything is never quite enough, you also left out Evelyn Champagne Love Come Down stll gets burn at cookouts.

Chicks lose it for Wasis Diop though

elgringocolombiano said...

[||] on some of those 80s groups' photos!

The music is ill though.

alex said...

The Cabs were gettin' burn on urban stations back in the day? Awesome.

Dart Adams said...

The list was limited to what would be termed "non urban" (read: White) acts of the 80's. As for a list of Top 50 Jam's of the 80's "Love Come Down" would most def make the list.

I also had to eliminate Peter Gabriel from contention as he would've had three songs in the Top 50 and "Sledgehammer" would've been Top 10 easy. One.

Mike Dikk said...

Great fucking list. That Laid Back track is still my jam. If you look on my myspace ( there's a pic in the picture section of a closeup of a painting. It was this huge painting that was hanging up in this apartment I lived in when I moved in, so we kept it up, but I cut out the picture of Laid Back from the back of the record and pasted them onto the painting so it looked like they were chillin on this little stretch of grass near the water.

Also, I own like 80% of these songs on vinyl, and before this post I felt like a dork, but now I feel vindicated.

I felt the same way about Pharrell's "In My Mind". The way I described it when I first heard it was that it sounded like records I find digging in dollar bins looking for lost novelty gems of the 80's. In 20 years, finding "In My Mind" in the dollar bin is going to garner the same reaction that pulling out a Soft Cell or Culture Club record gets now.

Travis said...

Yeah, there are some classics in there to this white boy.

Brings back some big time memories....

"Come On Eileen" had such a funky groove to it, I always thought it'd make a good sample

Anonymous said...

Great list, and some great songs (although I still listen to the eighties stuff as much as possible, when I'm not writing about hip hop, so it wasn't nostalhic as much as it was "oh, yeah, forgot about that one". I disagree with the Pharrell comment (obviously, since my post about that album pretty much speaks for itself), but I can't deny the influence these early songs had on him. Maybe I didn't like it as much as you and Mike Dikk simply because I still hear the "originals" on a regular basis...

Whatever. Anyway. Great stuff as always. I'm not as consistent as I want to be with the comments on everyone else's blog, but here is some much deserved praise, and thanks for the comments over my way.

alley al said...

damn, this list is tight. as soon as i saw the title, i thought of at least 10 off the top. "i bet he won't know the joints i'm thinking.." but you did!! bastard. lol. i'm very impressed.
reminds me of a kweli interview i recently heard (i think i got the link from travis wydu) where he sez the average hip hop fan is more or less people like us- who can comfortably assimilate in different environments and situations.
and he mentioned kwame produced LISTEN. damn. shit is dope.

Dart Adams said...

@Alley Al: Thanks, fam. I try. Hopefully you read my comments on Biffhop after you linked my blog. Sorry for not responding to your posts but I'm usually writing more shit or doing something else Dartish.


KIZ-ONE said...

word good looking out on the Depeche Mode joint. For any kat that grew up in the 80's can't front on anything like this. To be honest that is all we had if you had cable back then. I remeber the show that used to come on USA network, "Night Flight" that is where i first saw "Wildstyle" the movie. which was crazy back then( A inner city kid from Kansas city) as i knew what hip-hop was but only knew of it through the movies "Breakin 1& 2" Beat Street" which were commercial studio movies. but also if you saw "Night Flight" you got a chance to see videos from Kraftwrek, Blondie, The cult, the Ramones and World Famous Supreme Team.
So all in all good list. But no Modern English? "I'll Melt with You"

Dart Adams said...

@Kiz One:

"Melt with you" and "I Confess" by English Beat were tied at #51. They both just missed the list.


CTV said...

Interesting post, except this: "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."

These cats had loads of massive songs. It's not that they couldn't come up with another hit, it's that the US music industry and record buying public couldn't be bothered with exploring and hearing all the other great stuff Dexys (no apostrophe) created. Check out "Geno" and the whole "Searching For The Young Soul Rebel" album for some incredible sampling opportunities.

Dallas Penn said...

Monster effing list. Don't recall seeing any Go-Go's on that joint and I fucks with Squeeze 'Black Coffee In Bed'.

Monster effing list.

Dart Adams said...


When I first did this list The Go Go's had 5 songs that would've made the list easy...I then realized that they and Peter Gabriel would also have to be excluded for fear of dominating the list...

Tears For Fears damn near got excluded with a potential 5 joints in the Top 5 but in the end only 2 made it and 4 made it into the Top 60.

This shit was HARD WORK.


Anonymous said...

Wow do I love this post.

Anonymous said...

Owner of a lonely heart - yes
Flamethrower - J Geils band

Brotha Mann out!