A few years ago, I confessed my love for five less-than-universally loved songs from the 80s. Loving those songs probably makes me look pretty lame. I’m okay with that. I’ve never really believed I was cool, except for a short time during the 4th grade when my hair was on point and my dodgeball skills were at their peak, so my lack of coolness did not come as a huge surprise. Well, I come to you today with five more songs from the 80s that will destroy my street cred. Let’s just dive into the list and rip this off like a band-aid!
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) by Whitney Houston
This song is a bit of a dichotomy. On one hand, it’s about feeling lonely and sad and desperately wanting to find some sort of human connection. On the the other hand, it sounds like the happiest song in the world. I think the fact it can work on both levels is why it has held its appeal for this long.
We’re all friends here, so can I be completely honest and open? There aren’t many people who have been able to sing like Whitney. Holy cow! And she sings this song with so much emotion, both joyful and wistful. And while I’m not a dancer, this song makes me wanna dance. Of course, I do that dancing in my home where the sight of my blunderous and awkward gyrations will not hurt anyone’s eyes or well-being. (Think: Elaine Benes dancing skills.)
You’re welcome. In short, the song has a purpose and it accomplishes said purpose with total aplomb.
We Built This City by Starship
This song is hated by a lot of music people. Hated might not be a strong enough word. Blender Magazine, GQ, and a Rolling Stone reader’s poll all list this song as the worst of the 80s. Who am I to argue with the brilliant minds of Blender, GQ, and Rolling Stone readers? Well, I’m Phillip Scott Lytle and I don’t give a flying flip what those chucklenuts* believe. (*Hat tip to local radio legend, Mickey Ryan for that awesome word.) I’m willing to admit this song is a goofy cheese fest. So what? It has all the hallmarks of an over-the-top 80s anthem and maybe that is why I love it so much. Yes, it’s manufactured nonsense and it feels like it was created in an 80s music laboratory, but I’m okay with that. It puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. Even the ridiculous “Marconi plays the mambo” (or is it mamba?) line. It’s a wonder there is a song about a city being built by rock and roll that is so devoid of actual rock and roll yet that somehow makes it even more endearing to me.
Glory of Love by Peter Cetera
My beautiful and amazing wife is a big fan of the band Chicago – particularly the Peter Cetera era. Due to this, I have become a fan myself. I never disliked Chicago or their David Foster/Peter Cetera hits from the 80s but when you are married to someone who sings along with every song at the top of her lungs, it’s hard to not give in.
Glory of Love is just an extension of those huge Chicago hits like You’re the Inspiration and Stay the Night. It has all the necessary ingredients: utter sincerity, soaring vocals and harmonies, exquisite production, and an 80s sheen that sparkles. When I am feeling particularly romantic, I like to sing the chorus to my lovely wife. I think it perfectly captures everything in my heart. (I’m joking. I don’t sing songs to my wife. If there was any romance in the air, singing to her would kill it for good.)
I am a man who will fight for your honor I'll be the hero you're dreaming of We'll live forever, knowing together That we did it all for the glory of love
99 Luftballons by NENA
Please don’t tell me this song is about something depressing as I don’t think I could handle that sort of news.1 This is another song that just makes me happy when I hear it. I don’t have to know what it’s about. I just know it’s a lot of fun to listen to. The moment the band kicks in is 80s pop rock perfection.
The Final Countdown by Europe
I’m not going to write anything about this song other than to say, if you have seen Arrested Development, you understand why this song belongs this list. Here’s video proof:
You are either Team Buster or Team Lucille when you hear this song, and I am firmly on Team Buster.
That’s my confession for the day; five more 80s songs that destroy my street cred. How about you? What are some songs from the 80s that you love that would lose you some “cool” points? I’d love to read your list. Post it in the comments or on our social media accounts.
- I kid. I do know what this song is about but I prefer to just enjoy the cheery vibe instead of thinking about how red balloons could inadvertently cause World War III. ↩