Top 100 Singles of the 80s: 40-31
By Classic Pop | March 19, 2014
Our Top 100 Singles of the 80s countdown continues…
Electronic: Getting Away With It
This may be Electronic’s only appearance in our chart, but all of the group’s members – Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr and guest Neil Tennant – have entries elsewhere. The single only just scrapes into our chart in terms of eligibility, being released in December 1989, but it bridges the gap between Eighties pop bombast and Nineties dance minimalism perfectly. A one-off, to the point that the group chose not to include it on their debut album.
Japan: Visions of China
Two entries for Japan in our Top 100 is a great showing for a band that, in the 2010s, are completely overlooked by the rest of the music press. Japan weren’t just about the voice and lyrics of David Sylvian. Equally important were the rest of the group: Jansen, Barbieri and Karn, the four of whom couldn’t help but reconvene after an acrimonious breakup in the Nineties under the new moniker Rain Tree Crow – to carry on where Visions Of China left off.
Martha And The Muffins: Echo Beach
Later covered by Toyah and Gabriella Cilmi, Echo Beach was the one and only UK hit for Martha And The Muffins, and – impressively – was only the third song written by the group’s guitarist, Mark Gane. The sleeve may have depicted Chesil Beach in Dorset, but the group were Canadian and Echo Beach was a figment of their imagination, possibly inspired by the reference to an Echo Beach in Ultravox’s Hiroshima Mon Amour.
Depeche Mode: Personal Jesus
The only song in this Top 100 to be covered by Johnny Cash, and – like Electronic’s Getting Away With It – a single that bridged the gap between Eighties and Nineties pop. So much so that, in the space of its 3:47, you can hear synth-pop being buried and electronic body music dancing on its grave. Martin Gore was apparently inspired to write the song – the first Depeche track to feature a prominent guitar line – after reading Priscilla Presley’s book, Elvis And Me.
Echo & The Bunnymen: The Killing Moon
With 11 hit singles spanning the 1980s, Echo & The Bunnymen are – like Japan – forgotten linchpins of UK pop. Clearly now their most popular single with fans, this wasn’t their highest-charting hit: that was when The Cutter went to number eight in the UK in January 1983 (The Killing Moon reached number nine a year later). Like Tears For Fears, this single also appeared in the film Donnie Darko.
Duran Duran: Rio
We’re getting higher and higher up our Top 100, so the Duran Duran quotient is starting to increase (though we were taken aback that Rio – surely their definitive Eighties statement – has scored lower than lesser songs like Hungry Like The Wolf). Inspiration for this single came from various unlikely sources – from Nick Rhodes’ girlfriend’s laughter to a chorus riffing off TV Eye – and it’s inspired some unlikely covers, from Arctic Monkeys to Nicole Scherzinger.
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Souvenir
The first of three appearances in the Top 100 from OMD, all of which come from a very short chapter in the group’s 30-year history, from the end of 1980’s Organisation album and into its follow-up, 1981’s Architecture & Morality. Souvenir was the first single from the latter: reaching number three in the UK, it was the group’s highest-charting single of the 1980s.
Kate Bush: Running Up That Hill
The only Kate Bush single to make it into our chart, this was her Eighties anthem: the lead track from her definitive album, Hounds Of Love, and the single that got a renewed lease of life (and a second UK chart placing more than 20 years later) courtesy of the Olympics’ Closing Ceremony. Her biggest hit in the UK (it reached number five in 1985), it also seeped into our conscious from being used as the theme tune to the cult kids’ TV drama Running Scared.
Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
We were expecting more than just two entries for Eurythmics in our Top 100, but here – after Sexcrime’s appearance at number 90 – is the second. It may have been the final single to be released from the Sweet Dreams album in the UK, but it was the first to appear in the US, where it became a number-one hit and struck a blow to the “old wave” by ending a month-long reign at the top for The Police’s Every Breath You Take.
Duran Duran: The Reflex
After the relatively poor critical reception of Duran’s third album, Seven And The Ragged Tiger, they knew they had to pull something big out of the bag for its final single. And they did: this being the first time the group had worked with one of this issue’s Godfathers Of Pop, Nile Rodgers. He remixed the single beyond recognition, making it vital, electronic and cutting-edge, and giving the band their second UK number one and highest-selling single of the Eighties.