The 80s was the decade of Duran Duran and Dynasty, of pomp rock and poodle perms. It gave us the Pixies, New Order, Guns'n'Roses, Kylie and everything in between, while stumbling through Thatcherite Britain and rebelling from the underground. Here are 100 tracks that summed up the decade, in all its diverse, dramatic and often just damn ridiculous glory. Words: Ben Hewitt, Matthew Horton, Priya Elan



80'Theme From S’Express'

Pivotal in its use of samples, Mark Moore borrowed from songs by the likes of Gil Scott Heron, Debbie Harry and Stacey Q for this acid house banger. Of course, like all the best songs created from samples, it stood alone as a brilliant disco-dance number.

79'Time After Time'

Touching upon the breakdown of the relationship with her boyfriend/manager, ‘Time After Time’ was a change in tack for Lauper, whose musical persona had previously been unstoppably light and frothy. ‘Time After Time’ was demoed quickly in time for inclusion on her debut ‘She’s So Unusual’, and ended up being a key song for both Lauper’s career and the decade itself.

78'We Care A Lot'

Faith No More’s blend of shuddering riffs and funk/pop tunefulness mixed playful absurdity with a knowing sense of drama. By the time ‘We Care A Lot’ smashed onto the radio, it ushered in a new wave of anti- poser, alternative metal that didn’t live or die on the number of virgins that had been sacrificed the evening before.

77'The Magic Number'

With ‘Three Feet High And Rising’, De La Soul’s pivotal rap album, the trio ushered in the Daisy Age- a touchy-feely era which contrasted with the harder, more gansta rap elements in the scene. Here, they struck gold with this searching, rap-pop gem which sampled ‘Multiplication Rock’.

76'Don't You (Forget About Me)'

Originally offered to a host of artists including Bryan Ferry, The Pretenders and Billy Idol, it fell to Simple Minds to take this track and turn it into Top 40 gold on both sides of the Atlantic. As the theme song to pivotal 80s teen drama The Breakfast Club, it found its deeper meaning within the story lines of the disenfranchised youngsters in the flick.

75‘Too Drunk To Fuck’

Dead Kennedys' ode to liquor-induced floppiness may be crude, lewd and gloriously dumb, but it’s not just puerile gags about brewer’s droop. Instead, it’s a celebration of debauchery, a whirlwind of sludgy guitars and tongue-in-cheek jokes about lackluster blowjobs. And, to top it all off, it ends with the sound of someone puking their guts out – always the sign of a killer party.

74‘Rip It Up’

Edwyn Collins and co bagged their first, and last, Top 10 hit when ‘Rip It Up’ was released as a single – and it’s easy to see why. Ditching their chugging guitar sound of yore for funkier pastures was a brave move, but the lyrics were still unmistakably Collins: a finely-observed tale of tongue-tied ineptitude and lovelorn regret that made for a perfect slice of sophisticated pop.

73‘Hit The North’

One of the finest examples of Mark E Smith’s musical mantra of “Repetition, repetition, repetition”, as The Fall’s curmudgeonly ringmaster incessantly shrieks the chorus over the off-kilter hook of a honking horn. For most bands, this song would be amongst the weirdest in their arsenal; it’s testament to The Fall’s bizarre brilliance that it’s one of their most straightforward.

72‘Rock The Casbah’

The Clash didn’t always need anger to pen a canny political song. Supposedly inspired by real-life reports of Iranians being flogged for owning forbidden CDs, Joe Strummer knocked up a farcical fantasy of pilots ignoring orders to bomb the transgressors and crank up the volume on their cockpit radios instead. If only every attempt to tackle strife in the Middle-East were as joyous as this.

71‘Under Pressure’

Two of rock’s biggest behemoths joined forces as Bowie and Freddie Mercury belted out a big, show-off collaborative anthem. Away from the titanic egos, though, John Deacon proffered one of pop music’s most iconic basslines (though there's some controversy over whether he wrote it, or Bowie did). Let’s just forget that it was unforgivably plundered by Vanilla Ice at the turn of the 90s.

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