Ah, the 80s. Whether you were donning your finest spandex and getting tiddly on Cinzano or putting on the leathers and devil-fingering to Guns'n'Roses, it'll still go down as the most diverse, eclectic and extravagant decade in recent cultural history. We had New Order and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, U2, Prince and Cyndi Lauper, Springsteen, INXS, Bananarama, Duran Duran and the list goes on. Here, however, we whittle down a decade of societal decadence and political decay into the 100 tracks that defined it. Words: Ben Hewitt, Matthew Horton, Priya Elan


Simon was in rare form on the title track on his pivotal 86 album. Contemplating his life post- divorce from Carrie Fisher, the song meshed afro-pop with his wonderfully literate, singer/songwriter songwriting style and the results were typically unforgettable. One could only imagine who the "human trampoline" was though.

99'Straight To Hell'

Always a brilliant lyric writer, Joe Strummer’s narrative thrust on ‘Straight To Hell’ was multi-dimensional. Here the punk poet tackled Vietnam, immigration and gentrification. It was a musical tour de force too, combining ska, lovers rock and more into a cyclone of musical genre splicing - another example of The Clash mixing it all up to create something brilliant and new.

98'You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)'

Produced by Stock, Aitken And Waterman, ‘You Spin Me Round’ spun a new disco web around Pete Burns’ catty vocal style. It would be Dead Or Alive’s only real hit, but the influence of the disco/pop hybrid would cast a shadow over the late 80s charts in the form of S/A/W’s work with Jason/Kylie/Rick Astley etc.

97'Where Is My Mind?'

Written by Frank Black after he went scuba diving, the track landed in the middle of ‘Surfer Rosa’ in all its wild, wind swept glory, anchored by Kim Deal’s ‘Ooh-Woo’’s and a simple guitar riff. Both of which allowed Frank Black to emote over the top, going batshit in the vocal department.

96'Enola Gay'

Named after the American plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, ‘Enola Gay’ married Andy McClusky’s brilliantly quizzical vocal and placed OMD’s unstoppable mesh of synths and programmed beats front and centre to create a pop classic. Alongside Depeche Mode, OMD helped fly the flag for forward-looking British electro pop in the 80s.


This brilliant, stately number was written by Elvis Costello as a much needed protest track against the Falklands war. Penned from the perspective of ship workers in Britain at the time of the 1982 war, it was a bold message of non-compliance. Chet Baker's mournful trumpet solo - thought to be his last recorded performance - also added gravitas to the track.

94'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now'

Written for the film Mannequin by Albert Hammond Jr’s dad (really!) after a messy break up, this was a soft rock anthem which remained atop of the UK singles charts for weeks and weeks. And until Cher came along with ‘Believe’, it made co-vocalist Grace Slick the oldest female singer to ever have a Number One hit.

93'Should I Stay Or Should I Go'

Poised between staying or leaving both The Clash and girlfriend Ellen Foley, Mick Jones’s lyrics were appropriately propulsive. Mixing a punk sneer with rockabilly aggression, this track strutted into the mainstream, following the blast of ‘Rock The Casbah’ and managing to show what a diverse and eclectic bunch the quartet had grown into. From the squall of 1977’s ‘White Riot’ to this 1982 parting shot.


Penned by Christine McVie about new husband Eddie Quintela, it was McVie doing what she did best; a simple song about the joys of new love. Lindsey Buckingham’s typically progressive production covered the song in a glossy 80s sheen, and would lead to another massive hit for the band from their monolithic ‘Tango In The Night’ album.

91'Need You Tonight'

Andrew Farris came up with this distinctive rock funk hybrid which would later be described as a cross between Prince and something created by Keith Richards. The sparsity of the music was a new direction for the band as were the bare, sexual lyrics, but it would provide them with their breakthrough track and cast singer Michael Hutchence as a heartthrob.

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