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Released: August 1987

Naturally, the song that broke sampling into the UK mainstream was a collaboration between two obscure 4AD bands and a couple of DJs. This surreal mix – Colourbox and AR Kane, Dave Dorrell and CJ Mackintosh – produced a record that was clever enough to woo the purists, pop enough to top the singles charts and cheeky enough to get torpedoed by a writ from Stock Aitken Waterman.

 
 
 

Released: August 1988

Years ahead of the shoegazing scene that desecrated then tranquilised his style, Kevin Shields was building walls of noise that played around with the very concept of tempo and sound. Yeah, that important. 'You Made Me Realise' is a pop song in essence, but around the hooks and riffs it's a feat in discombobulation that'll leave you dizzy whether you've packed your earplugs or not.

 
 
 

Released: February 1987

Between the 1986 vaudeville funk of 'Parade' and the following year's state of the cosmos address, Prince had ditched The Revolution – in name at least – and set about taking full credit for his new clear-eyed vision. Still groovy as a hepcat, 'Sign 'O' The Times' is stripped back like Sly Stone's 'Family Affair'; all the better to focus on a lyric that bemoans drug addiction, HIV and the damned space race.

 
 
 

Released: May 1981

Grace Jones's fusion of funk and reggae, a perfect blend for the Island label, was smoothed considerably by rhythm section Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, who slipped comfortably into the musical melting pot of the new wave scene. They create the fluid slink here that allows Jones to prowl around, generally intimidating everyone with dirty car-pun come-ons. She intends to "blow your horn". Obviously.

 
 
 

Released: March 1989

Quite a sweet chorus for a Pixies song, really, but nicely offset by some deranged Black Francis screaming about "GOD is seven!". All that "If the devil is six…" business was supposedly a jumbled reference to Hebrew numerology, a truly apocalyptic slant to the rest of 'Monkey Gone To Heaven' which has more immediate environmental concerns. Whatever the message, it was a big chart breakthrough.

 
 
 

Released: October 1984

Step past Don Henley and cohorts' opulent 80s AOR production and there's a song with a message here. And that message is "Don't look back/ You can never look back". Whatever happened to the hippie dream? What's a Deadhead sticker doing on the back of some posh Cadillac? Ex and future Eagle Henley has lost his lover and his direction, but hey – there's still a lot of cash to be made.

 
 
 

Released: March 1988

On his second solo single after becoming an ex-Smith, Morrissey's still happily at home with the dour, world-weary stuff but this time he's calling for seaside Armageddon to a gorgeous, classic melody. It's all drenched in strings, nostalgia and pathos as Moz starts filling up about greased tea and grey proms, spooning on the melodrama until we're all remembering miserable holidays in the English rain.

 
 
 

Released: September 1985

The title track from Kate Bush's comeback album (after only three years away – those were the days) is a hearty rush of passion, a headlong tribute to the unfettered impulses of love, heavy on the drums and swooping on the strings. "Here I go!" she shouts, unable to control herself, and you're whipped up with lust alongside her.

 
 
 

Released: August 1986

Cameo had been around for donkey's years, even occasionally sidling into the UK charts with the ultra-smooth funk of 'She's Strange' and 'Single Life', but it took an enormous red codpiece and silly twang to make Larry Blackmon a true star. Landing somewhere between Parliament, hip-hop and spaghetti western, 'Word Up' is a ridiculous stew of pop madness that just worked, all the way to No.3 in the hit parade.

 
 
 

Released: June 1982

Soured by vast overexposure at weddings and school discos, Kevin Rowland's raggle-taggle hymn to a sepia past – and unseemly plea to cop a feel – is still an extraordinary fiesta of celtic soul. It shifted a million copies here to become 1982's biggest selling single, then dosey doed over to America the next year to repeat the feat. Imagine a world where everyone rushed out to buy a brainstorm like this.

 
 
 
 
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