Lesser-known 80s hits for the win

by Emily Eveland

I’ve sorted through my collection of lesser-known 80s hits to bring you my favorites. Enjoy!


“Beds are Burning” by Midnight Oil

This song is ridiculous. First of all, the lead singer looks like Woody Harrelson and second, he sings like the male of equivalent of a valley girl mixed with Crocodile Dundee. The verses will throw you off, but I assure you — you’ve heard this song. And you’ve loved this song. And now that you’re hearing the verses and chorus together, you will gain a greater appreciation for this song. Oh, and cowbell. There’s lots of cowbell.

This song is so bizarre, you forget he’s singing about some serious political issues. Oops.


“The Promise” by When In Rome

This is one of those songs that has YouTube commenters up in arms about how we need to return to glorious decades like the 80s because modern music is shallow nonsense. Here’s the current top-rated comment: “This is much better than a? contemporary song that gets 80 million hits on Youtube. Just because you get lots of hits doesn't mean you are a good artist.”


Okay, I get it. This sounds a lot nicer than Ke$ha screeching about Jack Daniel’s, but old folks were saying the same about popular music when the 80s were actually happening.  


The lyrics of “The Promise” are pretty whatever. What makes this song so incredibly epic is the transition from the chugging verses to one of the greatest choruses I’ve ever had stuck in my head for two months. I’m pretty sure I transform into Molly Ringwald every time I hear it.


“Down in the Park” by Gary Numan

If you don’t listen to Gary Numan, it’s time to start. This dude was the king of weird dance moves, white face paint, and a completely cold demeanor. Marilyn Manson owes him, like, half his fortune. The dude married a member of his fan club. You don’t get much stranger.


“Down in the Park” is something of a cult classic. Numan is better known for hits like “Cars,” but “Down is the Park” more accurately portrays his style and shtick. Look up the lyrics. Bask in them. Then listen to awesome covers of the song by Manson himself, Foo Fighters, and Nine Inch Nails while acknowledging that no one does it better than Numan.


“If You Were Here” by Thompson Twins

“If You Were Here” is best known as the song that’s played at the end of Sixteen Candles, which doesn’t really make sense because it’s all about an unfixable relationship, whereas the movie has a pretty lovey dovey ending. I guess it sounded nice enough that they decided to overlook that.


The lyrics consist of one chorus repeated twice, which only works because the lyrics are fantastic. Look at this first line: “if you were here, I could deceive you.” If that doesn’t get your attention, you may need to get your ADD in check.


“It’s My Life” by Talk Talk

“It’s My Life” made the list because I want you to know that Gwen Stefani didn’t write it. This is the 80s at its finest — some weird seagull noises, a nasally singer, way too much synth, and lots and lots of whining.


“Neverending Story” by Limahl

You may remember “Neverending Story” from the movie with the same name or perhaps, like me, you know it as the incredibly annoying but difficult song on Dance Dance Revolution. I’m including it because I like to take every opportunity to talk about “Neverending Story” the movie.


I don’t suggest listening to “Neverending Story” in its entirety unless you’re a glutton for punishment. It’s annoying, whinier than the last song, and the singer can’t hit any of his/her high notes. I say his/her because I have no idea what their gender is and I don’t care enough about the band to look it up. Listen to “Neverending Story” for a laugh, but please don’t blame me if your ears start crying.


Afternote: I ended up watching the actual music video and it appears that the singer is a dude. Furthermore, it occurs to me that this is one of the greatest music videos of the 80s — I swear the singer is half-asleep.


“In A Manner of Speaking” by Tuxedomoon

Now for the last and most underground of my undergroundish 80s hits. The rest of the songs on the list have dwelled primarily in the ridiculous, but Tuxedomoon is legit stuff. “In A Manner of Speaking” is beautiful.


I’m a sucker for lyrics like these: “I will never forget the way you told me everything by saying nothing.” How could you not be? The dude had a way with words (pun intended, sort of), unlike the majority of popular 80s bands. But I suppose that’s the dumb hipster thing to say, right? Man, screw the mainstream… it’s all about the underground. I’m not trying to be that douche (do hipsters even exist anymore?) All I’m trying to say is that this song will haunt you. Forever.