Thoughts About Pitchforks 80’s List

By Joshua B. Hoe Pitchfork just put up their Top 200 songs of the 1980’s list….quite an audacious project.

I thumbed through the list….here are some early thoughts

Prince Ruled the 80’s

I cannot really disagree with this conclusion, from Dirty Mind through Purple Rain, I loved his Purpleness. ‘Purple Rain’ does have the perfect guitar solo, ‘When Doves Cry’ is Prince at his nonsensical best, ‘Kiss’ was a mind-blower and the seamless awesome guitar riff still feels like one of the cleanest riffs ever in the history of clean riffs.

MJ, I have never ever listened to an MJ album since the 80s...I listen to Prince albums all the time...better voice, better musician (by far), more interesting performer (gender bending and mysterious, confusing, and conflicted)...I guess MJ was better at learning dance steps from the people who give us Boy Bands etc (I do like ‘Man in the Mirror’, ‘Smooth Criminal’, and Jackson 5 stuff).

I also love that the list fully embraces both Prince and his competition in Minneapolis The Replacements (who hated Prince at the time, famously sending copies of his records down the river). I, like the brains at Pitchfork, loved Prince and loved the Replacements. Can never listen to Bastards of Young enough...Good job Pitchforkers.

Good Job on the Hip Hop

I mean your list started with the king of the 808 Egyptian Lover, I mean I have to bow deeply to that call.  I have made many Egyptian Lover jokes to friends over the, that is awesome! Kudos!

Also kudos for tipping the cap to the mothership and George Clinton.

You also hit all my faves from the 80s including: Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Melle Melle, Afirka B., EPMD, De La Soul, Beastie Boys (maybe could have been more than two songs), Jungle Brothers, Slick Rick, BDP, Eric B. and Rakim, PE, NWA, Run DMC, Biz M., and you mentioned the most memorable moment in early Hip Hop for me - LL’s performance of My Radio in the worst movie I have ever loved Krush Groove (Rick Rubin I still cannot believe that is you).

I mean, sure, there were others...But, you hit all my highs from the decade.

Really Good On The Dark Children

I was a punker who caught a post-punk fever and ended up in the Goth section (before there really was a Goth section)...I loved The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, Jesus and Mary Chain, Joy Division, New Order, Siouxsie and the Banshees, This Mortal Coil, and even had my moments with Tears for Fears.  That you mentioned This Mortal Coil in particular is pretty awesome.

I agree that The Cure discography is massive and impressive. I still miss Ian Curtis, and I basically still worship at the shrine to Peter Hook’s bass lines.

Sure you only barely mentioned The Church, REM, U2, Fugazi, Talk Talk, and Bad Brains (Minor Threat, Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, Psychedelic Furs, and many others)...but a list has limits.

My favorite New Order song has always been Temptation (you always remember your first), and while you had to rank Blue Monday higher (it is the highest selling 12” in history) it is still awesome that Temptation got up so high. I hate the later remixes..but the original 12” and 7” versions are amazing.

And Love To The Clash

Still my favorite band after all these years and I really cannot entirely explain why….I can certainly take a stab - they are why I started this blog - diversity was at the core of everything they did, they did not follow the conventions...They had all the typical band drama too(Mick and Joe always competing Tippi always using). They were well represented on the list, and thanks for the nod to Sandinista, an uneven triple album, but still a pretty great triple album with many highs and only a few lows.

They also gave well deserved love to The Pixies (maybe could have been even more Pixies?).

Also very cool that they mentioned Bronski Beat….One of the first truly political gay groups….made a huge difference in my own understanding and acceptance of LGBT people and issues when I was young.

The Omissions

I would have included much more punk on the list...just would have. The list is too long for here, I mean this was a seminal decade for the spread of punk across the USA

How in the world could you make an 80’s list that only mentioned one song by Depeche Mode…??

No songs by Yaz(oo)...ZERO? I mean come on, Yaz was the dance sound of the 80’s.

I mean I can kind of understand not including The Police (even though their strongest albums were in the 80’s)...

I mean Grace Jones was a cultural icon of the period, but her music kind of sucked...and you included her (instead of Karen Finley...I mean if you need a performance artist from the period).

What about old Andy Partridge and XTC?

The 80’s was a huge decade for Ska, but only Ghost Town (by The Specials) made the list? No The Selecter, no English Beat (The Beat), No Madness?  These are pretty big omissions as far as I am concerned.

None of the really out there artists like Psychic TV, Chris and Cosey, or SPK? I can understand that because they were not mainstream at all...but neither was Frankie Knuckles...if it is about influence, they all had big impact.

What about the B-52’s two of their best albums - Whammy! and Wild Planet were early 80’s albums.

And I might be crazy, but I am not sure there was any Devo….No Devo? This was an 80’s list right?

In terms of pure influence, what about PIL (Public Image Ltd.)? One of the critical post-punk bands and they even had some 80’s dance hits (Rise)...Plus the whole iconic singer thing.

And on influence alone, what about Kraftwerk, Computer World was 1981 and I loved Electric Cafe (might be the only one on that one). I guess both Kraftwerk and Gary Numan had their biggest hits at the end of the 70’s...but still.

Not sure there were any songs by The Cars...pretty important band for the decade as well.

I might also have made room for Fishbone - a few great recorded songs and they were maybe the best live band of the era...I know it’s a singles list..but still.

And what about The Go Go’s...yes, kind of cheesy, but they were one of the only all-girl groups to break through into pop-culture...They were massive for several years.

I mean, these lists are always a crapshoot, but I will admit, on the whole, they did a pretty good job considering that it is pretty hard to only pick 200 songs for 10 years.

I guess all I can say is thanks (for rekindling the memories).

Egyptian Lover….awesome!!!! Best moment of my day was seeing them namedrop EL…

What did you think of the list? What did you think was missing? Did you think they included any terrible songs? Let us know, leave a comment!