deadhead sticker on a cadillac


I almost never do memes, but I liked what my brother Kent did today: post the top songs of the year he turned 18. He (and the guys who did it first) bolded songs they liked, crossed out songs they disliked, and left the other italicized. I’m not tertiary enough to get away with that, so I’ll post the top 60 songs from the year I turned 18. That glorious annus, 1985. And offer a little comment on each.

By the way, my favorite year for all music, both pop and alternative, was 1986. Too bad we can’t do that one, but you have to follow the meme, I guess. Here goes:

1. We Built This City – Jefferson Starship – unmitigated fucking crap

2. Smooth Operator – Sade – loved this song, bought the album, thought I was kool

3. The Boys of Summer – Don Henley – great sound, nicely encapsulates an era I hardly knew

4. Sea Of Love – Honeydrippers – changed the station when it came on

5. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams – Bryan Adams was NINE in 1969, what a crock of shit

6. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves – in some incantations, this song still feels good

7. Into The Groove – Madonna – scooped ice cream to this song in Norfolk, VA – had crush on Josie

8. You Are My Lady – Freddie Jackson – huh?

9. Crazy For You – Madonna – spoken word section = crap

10. The Bird – The Time – don’t remember this one at all

11. Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood – man, I wanted to come

12. Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young – overproduced, but had something

13. Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen – the Boss at his most cloying

14. I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner – histrionic, blowhard shite… what happened to “Urgent”?

15. Careless Whisper – Wham! – first time I heard this, I told Mom it would be #1 and I was right

16. Axel F – Harold Faltermeyer – have there been any instrumentals on the charts lately?

17. Material Girl – Madonna – loved Madonna’s boobs in the video

18. Roxanne, Roxanne – UTFO – barf

19. All She Wants To Do Is Dance – Don Henley – total disaster of a song

20. Say You, Say Me – Lionel Richie – instant depressant

21. You’re The Inspiration – Chicago – symphonic cheese, but I loved it

22. Through The Fire – Chaka Khan – no recollection

23. Heaven – Bryan Adams – oh Bryan, shut up

24. Freeway Of Love – Aretha Franklin – nice to see Aretha feed her 401K

25. Jungle Love – The Time – Jesse! Now Jerome!

26. All I Need – Jack Wagner – some of the worst lyrics ever written – see here

27. Born In The U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen – I dunno, I just didn’t get it

28. Small Town – John Cougar Mellencamp – he tries too hard, but he’s the real deal

29. Meeting In The Ladies Room – Klymaxx – embarrassing

30. Take On Me – A-Ha – brilliant start to finish – overplayed (by the UNC band) but the album is DOPE

31. Dancing In The Street – Mick Jagger & David Bowie – corporate rock from two cats who had once meant something

32. The Old Man Down the Road – John Fogerty – whittlin’, spittin’, awesome video

33. Just A Gigolo – David Lee Roth – silly, but I bought the EP

34. New Attitude – Patti LaBelle – soporific

35. Private Dancer – Tina Turner – “What’s Love” was so much better

36. Centerfield – John Fogerty – “put me in, coach” = perfect lyric

37. Lovin’ Every Minute Of It – Loverboy – easily the worst of their hits

38. People Get Ready – Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart – nice, nice guitar work by Jeff

39. Smalltown Boy – Bronski Beat – revolutionary, stunning, scary, epiphanous, and I’m not gay

40. Rockin’ At Midnight – The Honeydrippers – oh for chrissake

41. You Give Good Love – Whitney Houston – sad then, even sadder now

42. Dress You Up – Madonna – thin, reedy, plastic

43. Cool It Now – New Edition – DESPISED this fucking song

44. In My House – Mary Jane Girls – quirky, sexy, great sound

45. California Girls – David Lee Roth – overplayed by the third day

46. Treat Her Like A Lady – Temptations – nice latter-day cash

47. And We Danced – Hooters – Oh, Live Aid – why weren’t you better?

48. Basketball – Kurtis Blow – needs no comment. brilliant

49. Solid – Ashford and Simpson – almost ruined every ride to high school

50. Invincible – Pat Benatar – Pat beginning her inexorable slide

51. Wake Up (Next To You) – Graham Parker and the Shot – too busy studying for Physics AP to remember this

52. Your Love Is King – Sade – I was constantly mistaking cool for boring

53. I Would Die 4 U – Prince – even the dreg hits from “Purple Rain” were good

54. And She Was – Talking Heads – perfect drive to Virginia Beach

55. Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush – I fell in love and never quite fell out. What a woman

56. Everyday – James Taylor – James Taylor gets a permanent pass on all criticism from me

57. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits – on my mom’s answering machine right after divorce

58. Jesse – Julian Lennon – I bought this album and still don’t remember this one

59. You Spin Me – Dead Or Alive – I loved it, I hated it, I loved it

60. All You Zombies – Hooters – best line of the 1980s: “yeah, THEY WERE THE ISRAELITES!”


0 thoughts on “deadhead sticker on a cadillac

  1. michelle

    “Boys of Summer” makes me instantly sad when it comes on the radio. 1985, was of course, one of the Worst Years Ever but there was something about that very adult song in my very confused not-a-child-but-not-an-adult mind that was disturbing. It was the first song that was a window to me of, well, adult sadness, I guess. I don’t know why I think that song is so sad.
    “I Want to Know What Love Is” is the crappiest of the crap.
    “You Spin Me Round” was the BEST song to dance to at the Mormon dances we crashed.

  2. Kelly in NC

    I thought John Cougar Mellencamp wast the real deal, too, until I heard his recent pseudo-anthem pushing Chevy’s. Blech!

  3. Fury

    Yo, Ian, you don’t say where you found this list. In thinking about continuing the meme for my 18th, I found numerous different lists on the internets. Could you disclose?

  4. Joanna

    You’re right, Isaac. I have two friends who saw the recent Def Leppard/Bryan Adams tour (indeed!) and Bryan apparently makes a point of explaining the 69 reference at every show. Which is worse?

  5. Bud

    Inspirational. I turned 18 in 1984, so I should probably do my own list, on my dormant blog.
    It’s interesting to see how/where we agree and disagree. And how the best years of one person’s life can be the worst of another’s. Obviously, it’s largely subjective. 1983/84/85 were my favorite years, not coincidentally because lots of cool things happened, outstripping my wildest teenage dreams; 86 was one kick in the crotch after another.
    I tend to feel like “the 80’s” (musically) lasted from 79-85 and then became a shallow caricature of itself. Mostly, that is, with a few notable exceptions. And that probably has a lot to do with issues that have very little to do with music.
    Like I say, I should do my own list. Good times….

  6. Anne

    Oh boy, now you’ve done it, Ian. We Boomers like to believe that we came of age in the golden heyday of classic rock as played on our cutting-edge campus FM radio stations. (WBRU — woot!)
    I won’t run the whole list from 1969, but take a look at some of these:
    3. I Can’t Get Next To You, Temptations (I still play this song)
    4. Honky Tonk Women, Rolling Stones (classic)
    7. Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and The Family Stone (infectious)
    9. Everyday People, Sly and The Family Stone (ditto)
    10. Get Together, Youngbloods (Dare you not to sing along in harmony)
    11. One, Three Dog Night
    14. Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, Marvin Gaye (I actually don’t remember this song, but anything by Marvin had to be good)
    17. Grazin’ In The Grass, Friends Of Distinction (infectious fluff)
    19. Proud Mary, Creedence Clearwater Revival (Not my favorite Creedence, but still. Much better covered by Ike & Tina)
    20. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love), Jr. Walker and The All Stars (anything by Jr. Walker is OK with me)
    21. It’s Your Thing, Isley Brothers (Dorky but fun soul)
    24. Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival (Ditto above about Creedence)
    25. Get Back, The Beatles (great one)
    27. Spinning Wheel, Blood, Sweat and Tears (I had forgotten how big this band was. I saw them in concert that year. Amazing horns and vocals.)
    31. Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival (ditto above)
    32. My Cherie Amour, Stevie Wonder (sweet ballad by a master)
    33. Easy To Be Hard, Three Dog Night (not their best, but a decent band for its time)
    37. Baby, Baby Don’t Cry, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles (Anything by Smokey = good)
    39. Time Of The Season, Zombies (pretentious but I did like it)
    40. Wedding Bell Blues, Fifth Dimension (happy harmonies even when singing the blues)
    45. You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, Blood, Sweat and Tears (ditt above)
    49. Touch Me, The Doors (One of my least favorite songs by one of my favorite bands. Give me “Back Door Man” any time.)
    Of course, there’s all the bubble-gum dreck and fading-Elvis shit, too. “Build Me Up Buttercup”? gag “Sugar Sugar”? I need insulin! The Cowsills from my very own RI? They were actually fabulous in concert but the musical equivalent of Velveeta on the radio.
    Since I rarely listened to top-40 radio back then, my memories are more of bands like Santana and Led Zep. Abbey Road had just come out – I think I listened to that LP until it wore out. The Stones and the Doors, always huge presences. Hendrix was my idol. Johnny Winter. And my own personal epiphany: BB King, the beginning of my love affair with electric blues. Yeah.
    – Old Granny Anne

  7. jason savage

    totallly agree with Kelly. Mellencamp should be stripped of any credibility, as much as it pains me to malign the man who brough us “Jack and Diane”.

  8. scruggs

    Great post. 1985=13yrs old. VH1 has done some of those reunion shows where they try and get the band reunited for one more show. I’ve only caught two, both hilarious and sad: Berlin and Klymaxx. Both bands had bad blood around their respective breakups. The shows had that flashback feel a la Charlie Murphy/Rick James/Chapelle.
    Oh, FYI for Ian/LFMD/GFMD et al…
    We have welcomed to the world, or at least to the greater Atlanta area, Julia Elise
    born: Tues Nov 28 4:56am 7lb7oz. The code 092-49773 with my link provides a snapshot. Greg, now you can cart off NV’s Carolina gear!

  9. Just Andrew

    I’m glad most pop never sees the light of day again after it drops off the charts. I manage to avoid it pretty well – don’t know that I’ve heard a top 40 song I could name in the last 10 years.
    Dire Straits and the Talking Heads get a pass on that list, otherwise, bleah.

  10. kent

    For everyone, the official list site of this meme is
    Hey Anne, I turned 12 in 1969 but I got my own transistor radio in 1966, and listened to it every night when I was supposed to be asleep, and 1969 was indeed a very good year. We lived in San Jose at the time, so we got Bay Area regional hits from the nascent hippie movement — there were radio hits by Jefferson Airplane with Signe Tolin singing, before that upstart Grace Slick came along…
    1969 was pretty crucial musically, if for no other reason than A) Sly Stone and B) Desmond Dekker “The Israelites”, first Reggae song to ever chart in the US.

  11. xuxE

    oh yes, i danced to cool it now although i don’t think it was their best song. mr. telephone man was great.
    but meeting in the ladies room was THE BOMB. bass and beats and there always was a meeting in the ladies room at that age. maybe you have to be a girl to fully appreciate it.
    roxanne roxanne is a classic that totally brings me back to days where there would be a circle of people breakin at the school dance, but the better stuff (i think) came from roxanne shante:

  12. CL

    I think it’s more significant to look at songs when you turned 13. I was lucky enough to do so in 1984, a good year to be a junior high kid.
    You don’t remember The Time’s “The Bird”? It sounded similar to “What You Need” by Talking Heads at the beginning. Some of the other songs you mention not remembering, I don’t remember either. Hmmm.

  13. LFMD

    CONGRATULATIONS TO SCRUGGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was wondering about you. . . . How was the delivery? Speedy or seemingly endless?
    Julia Elise is such a pretty name. How exciting! I wish you and your family the best!

  14. Joanna

    xuxE, I’m with you for Meeting in the Ladies Room, but loved even more, The Men all Paused (which always strangely reminded me of “menopause.”) Do you rememeber that? . . .”I had my Kenneth Cole shoes on. . .” I hadn’t thought of those songs in so many years. Probably was a girl thing. I was 15 in 1985 and those songs sure made you feel like a badass to be a girl.
    As for New Edition, my friends and I just about wore out Popcorn Love on the video jukebox at Spaceport arcade.
    Gracias for the memories, Ian!

  15. LFMD

    Scruggs — I just looked at Julia’s photo. She is adorable! Already smiling! She looks like she is ready for the world!

  16. DaveDrake

    You don’t remember The Bird?
    “Hold on now, this dance ain’t 4 everybody, just the sexy people…
    Wawk! Hallelujah! Whoooooooa!
    Well, come on!
    Wawk! Hallelujah! Whoooooooa! ”
    To Quote Jay & Silent Bob – “It’s Morris Day and the Mother-Fuckin-Time.”
    Thanks for the ride down memory lane.

  17. grumphreys

    That Chaka Khan song you can’t remember was sampled awhile back by Kanye West, as the sped-up chorus to one of his hit songs… The ’80s are being recycled as we speak!

  18. GFWD

    I had you on the brain this morning and was going to call to check in this afternoon. I’m stoked that you had a little girl for two reasons. One, so you have one of each and two, because Jake will get NV’s Carolina gear. Bring it on! I love the picture. I see some mommy and her new big brother in her face. Though I think she’ll look even cuter once she gets HER first Carolina blue shirt. Smile.
    I know you sort of fell on your sword and admitted a lack of R&B influence in your music, so I won’t beat you up there. But dude, you’ve really got to put down the Erasure CD every once in a while and listen to some good R&B. You really are missing a lot of good music there and your lack of familiarity with some of those 1985 classics is telling.
    As David Drake noted, how could you not know THE BIRD? Or Freddy Jackson?
    And, am I the only human left on the planet who likes the Starship song, “We Built This City”?
    P.S.–Anne, I cannot believe all those songs–many of which are on my iPod–are that old. I was born in 1970 and many of those songs have been in my regular rotation for years.

  19. eric g.

    Great post. Right up your alley, but you have a real knack for capturing the ’80s in words, so why not deal from a position of strength? I must agree with you re. “Smalltown Boy.” Did you ever see the video? Shattering. I still have the album. There’s a great cover of “It Ain’t Necessarily So” with one of the more haunting piano solos you’ll ever hear. And I, too, fell in love with Kate Bush. I think it was the cover photo on “The Whole Story.”

  20. Annie

    Incredible post for so many reasons! I was 15 in 1985 myself.
    Glaringly apparent: the overall muscial superiority of the list posted by Anne vs. the ’85 list. 1969, the year I was born, yo (barely squeaked in with 4 days left of it)! Even though I have so much feeling attached to these 1985ers, I can’t help but recognize the stunning dichotomy…
    GFWD, it IS true that you are the only person on earth who likes “We Built This City”: “….Someone’s always plaayyyinnnnggg…corporation games…” AAAAAAUUUUGGGHHH
    But do not feel alone. I regularly defend the oeuvres of both Journey and Mariah Carey.

  21. Anon

    “39. Smalltown Boy – Bronski Beat – revolutionary, stunning, scary, epiphanous, and I’m not gay”
    Doth thou protest too much?

  22. GFWD

    But Annie, they’re always changing corporation names . . . we just want to dance here!
    I’ll agree to co-found the Journey fan club with you, but if I don’t get my Starship song, you have to give Mariah the boot. Her only tolerable song was the one with Boyz II Men.
    David, I forgot to mention that Morris Day and Jerome made a cameo during Prince’s Atlanta concert a couple of years or so ago. He peformed Jungle Love and The Bird . . . and Jerome had the mirror. Classic.

  23. noj

    UTFO / Roxanne = BARF?!?!?! it’s currently residing on my iPod & is a personal chart topper. we officially have a beef, Liam…

  24. kevin from NC

    Ian, you have a proclivity for finding big hair shots!!!
    BTW, Lee and Suz have arrived in Vietnam safely and will see their baby tomorrow.

  25. Salem

    I love todays post, but pardon me for continueing to celebrate the previous Chapel Hill evening post. I think I’ll page back and read it again.

  26. xuxE

    oh my GOD how did i miss the fact that the bird is not known to you ian. that only begs the question about how many other awesome songs from the time you don’t know…
    777 – 9311 : “baby… what’s your phone number…”
    gigolos get lonely too
    ice cream castles (in the summertiiiiime)
    shit, do you have a paypal account? i propose we all donate $1 to the ian williams 80’s r&b education fund. we donate $1 and list the song and ian must download it and listen to it on his ipod.
    i call dibs on RTFW.

  27. scruggs

    LFMD…somehow blessed with an easy delivery. Got there in time to still get drugs, and 4 pushes and we were done. Elise has stuck with me since a song from The Cure…had a few others in mind as possibilities for a first name but my husband had a “No stripper names” rule.

  28. kate from the DTH front desk

    Aw, man. I turned 18 in 2002. What a terrible year for music.
    1. Hot In Herre – Nelly
    2. Complicated – Avril Lavigne
    3. Jenny From The Block – Jennifer Lopez Featuring Jadakiss & Styles
    4. A Moment Like This – Kelly Clarkson
    5. Sk8er Boi – Avril Lavigne
    6. The Game Of Love – Santana Featuring Michelle Branch
    7. Girlfriend – N Sync & Nelly
    8. The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
    9. How You Remind Me – Nickleback
    10. Heaven – DJ Sammy
    11. Without Me – Eminem (edited)
    12. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minogue
    13. U Got It Bad – Usher
    14. Hero – Chad Kroeger Featuring Josey Scott
    15. A Thousand Miles – Vanessa Carlton
    16. Ain’t It Funny – Jennifer Lopez & Ja Rule
    17. Just A Friend 2002 – Mario
    18. Gotta Get Thru This – Daniel Bedingfield
    19. Cleanin’ Out My Closet – Eminem (edited)
    20. Whenever, Wherever – Shakira
    I can’t bring myself to list the entire top 40 for that year.
    Congrats to Scruggs!!!

  29. David

    Ian, don’t you realize just how much sex has gone on with Sade in the background?? You, my friend, are clueless. I read your site religiously and am amazed that a grown person can be so lovable yet SO oblivious.

  30. Annie

    GFWD, I will drop Mariah like a hot potato if you (or anyone!) will join me at Perryfest 2007…
    NAH nah nah NAH nah nah…NAH nah nah NAH NAH…
    Congrats (again) to Scruggs and Elise and family!!!

  31. Father Tim

    Don’t sleep on “Private Dancer”. This is where Tina officially and completely morphed into her British accent.

  32. LFMD

    I just checked out Sean’s blog (I had not been over there lately). Oh my God!!!!!!!! They took on all that house remodeling AND the baby is coming soon! Braver folks than me.
    We just moved into our new house, and we have major renovations to take on. Unfortunately, husband and I don’t know how to do anything. We are both lawyers and perfect examples of the “all book-smarts and no common sense” mantra. Sean may not realize this yet, but his photos are going to guide me through my bathroom remodeling. His bathroom looks lovely, by the way! Love those fixtures and that beadboard!

  33. PledgeBro

    I am in tears (not for fears) now with the rememberance and the HEELS>>>>by god they are good!
    Walt M

  34. litlnemo

    Well, speaking of Tears for Fears, where the heck are they? I call BS on the source of your top 60 list, because there should be at least two Tears for Fears songs there — “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout”. Both of those were big enough pop hits to make the top 60, I think. One in the spring and the other was huge by September, when I saw TFF in a sellout show at the Seattle Center Arena.
    I could also swear that there would be a Thompson Twins track on there — I’m pretty sure that “Lay Your Hands on Me” charted in the US by the end of ’85. I know I got an import copy of it in July that year.
    There was a Squeeze album out in September 85 (Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti) but unfortunately it didn’t chart.
    You are right about Sade. What utter blandness.

  35. Ian

    Wendi, you and I may be the only human beings in America who care about “Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti.” That album positively changed what I thought pop music was allowed to do, and helped me get through the first year of my parents’ divorce. Now it’s completely out of print.
    Good call on TFF – I hadn’t even thought about that. Maybe they were on an “alternative” chart? Unlikely.

  36. Ray

    Hey michelle at November 30, 2006 10:35 PM: You must be my never-to-be-found soul mate. I’m 54 and got a school-kid crush on a 28-year-old last summer. I felt as if I were 13 going on 16. Wiser than me, she broke my heart before I did anything too foolish. Three days later I put “Boys of Summer” on a CD I called “Bittersweet.” I couldn’t bear to listen to until December.


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