1980 :: The year in music :: Throwback Thursday


The Best Songs of 1980 by willtopsmusictv

1980 :: The Year In Music
Throwback Thursday

1980 The MusicI recently received a request to write about certain years in my life, what I remembered, and what, if anything, I missed. It got me thinking, and reminiscing, about the music and movies from my past, how they impacted me as a person, how they corresponded to my rites of passage, and how each year in my life looked and sounded different, on the screen, and through my speakers. I decided to do something different on “Throwback Thursday” moving forward at Lyriquediscorde, and do a two-part post, showcasing a year from my past, one for music, and one for movies, with some personal reflections of the time period weaved in, of course.

My plan is to concentrate on the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, though I may venture in to the first 10 years of the 2000’s at some point. Each post will include a “top ten” feature of highlights from the year selected. The years will most likely come around again, with a next set of “top ten’s” to feature, so if you think I missed your favorites from a year, just wait, they may come around again later. That said, I’d love to hear/read your feedback, what your favorites from the year are, and some of your memories.

To kick this off I decided on 1980, a leap year that started on a Tuesday, my eleventh year in the world, a year when I lived for trips to the record store and my favorite roller rink, the year I listened to the radio obsessively, watched Charlie’s Angels, Three’s Company and The Love Boat, the year of my first sleepovers, and the year I bought my first album with my own money; paid for all in coins that I’d emptied out of my Raggedy Ann “piggy bank“.

This was pre-MTV, so my music consumption on the small screen was made up of Solid Gold and Saturday Night Live musical guests, the latter being the first place I ever saw Blondie perform. Mostly, though, it was the radio DJ’s that brought me music, be it Casey Kasem’s Weekly Top-40, or the not yet “world famous” KROQ and the “Mighty 690“.

So, without further delay, here are my top 10 from 1980, with a memory snippet to go alone with each one:

10. Babe :: Styx

Please believe that it’s true
Babe, I love you.”

Every roller rink had there set of “couple’s skate” songs and this one was top of the rotation most Friday and Saturday afternoons. I would stand at the edge of the rink watching the pairs skate by, holding hands, seemingly “so in love” from the perspective of a not-quite pre-adolescent girl. I was envious and dreamy about it, and would sometimes picture myself out there skating circles of love with a boy I could not quite make out in my mind, though I hoped he was a little like Han Solo.


9.  Don’t Stand So Close to Me :: The Police

It’s no use,
he sees her,
he starts to shake and cough;
just like the old man in that book by Nabokov.”

Though I did not catch the Nabakov reference yet, I definitely understood the idea of crushing on a teacher. For me, it was Mr. Childers, the young for a teacher despite his premature grey hair choir teacher who had the slight hint of a British accent and grey eyes that seemed unreal to me. There was never a moment in the rain, or even a “standing too close” moment, I only admired from afar, but the feelings were very real to me.

28. Hit Me With Your Best Shot :: Pat Benatar

Hit me with your best shot,
fire away.”

This was the slumber party, girls with hairbrush microphones, dancing around in pajamas sing-a-long mantra. One particular sleepover I remember we made up a dance to this song, replaying the song over-and-over as we practiced the steps, often ending in a collapse of laughter as the song ended. I played this 45″ so much I had to replace it, twice.

47. Brass In Pocket :: The Pretenders

Got motion,
restrained emotion.
Been driving,
Detroit leaning.
No reason,
just seems so pleasing.
Gonna make you,
make you,
make you notice.”

Though Olivia Newton-John was my idol, it was Chrissie Hynde’s voice that I loved the most. This was initially due to the fact that I was an Alto in choir, and Chrissie’s voice was right in my low register range. This was my favorite of her songs at the time, though I have to say, the Southern California girl I was never did quite get what “Detroit leaning” was.

56. Upside Down :: Diana Ross

Upside down,
boy, you turn me,
inside out,
and round and round.”

This was on my Christmas wish-list and was waiting there under the tree, the album cover silver like the dangling tinsel. This was another roller skating favorite, though this one I had definitely skated around-and-around to. There was a disco sound to this one that I loved, as I was never a “disco sucks“/burn your disco albums believer.


5. Another One Bites the Dust :: Queen

Are you ready?
Are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip,
to the sound of the beat.”

Queen’s music was everywhere I went that year. The song played on the radio, at the roller rink, off of all my friends’ record players, and from our portable music players, turned up loud at the beach, and out at recess. I close my eyes and push play, even now, and can see my friends and I dancing around to this song.

74. You May Be Right :: Billy Joel

You may be wrong,
for all I know,
but you may be right.”

My absolute favorite Billy Joel song then, and still my absolute favorite of his today. It was full of an attitude that I coveted, a catchy sing-a-long chorus, and a rebelliousness that my parochial school girl self craved. Growing up we all feel crazy at times, and this song seemed to celebrate, instead of criticize, being crazy.

83. Turning Japanese :: The Vapors

I want a doctor to take your picture,
so I can look at you from inside,
as well.”

I did not realize this song was about masturbation back in 1980, to be honest, I’m not sure I had any real idea of what it was about. I did like that it seemed adult and a little forbidden, as it sang about things like sex and drugs and alcohol. Again, this song tapped on a rebellious side that would take years to come out of me, but it was still there, inside of me.



2. Call Me :: Blondie

Call me,
call me,
on the line.
Call me,
call me any,

This was my first 45″ that I bought at a tiny record store right by the grocery store my Mother frequented. I had seen Blondie on Saturday Night Life, and had heard Call Me at the roller rink, and was smitten. I thought Debbie Harry was amazing.


1. Magic :: Olivia Newton-John

My first album that I ever bought was the soundtrack to Xanadu, the week after I saw the movie in the theater. If I could have been anyone back in 1980 it would have been Olivia Newton-John. To me, she was magic.


me in 1980

Me in 1980, Christmas morning, with my dog Daisy

12 thoughts on “1980 :: The year in music :: Throwback Thursday

  1. Marvelous!
    I’m enjoying my trip to 1980 through your eyes.
    I loved music in the ’80s and I keep some memories of which songs I loved to hear come on in the car over late night family road trips (like Fleetwood Mac “Little Lies” or Jefferson Starship “Sara”) but at the time I didn’t know what was new or even think about it unless my Mom brought home a new cassette like Michael Jackson(which I hated) and so I can’t specifically link certain songs to certain years then, not until around 1987 when I was 5. Up until that time whatever was on, whatever was playing it all just always existed to me. And I wasn’t even alive in 1980-how lame of me.
    I’m going absorb your series, at least the early ’80s portion, as a musical education course.
    When we get to the late ’80s I’ll chime in with my picks which will be WAY less cool than your picks.

    1. They will so NOT be WAY less cool – that’s impossible, because even the cheesiest choices are still cool to me 🙂

      Thanks for inspiring me to do this. Hope you enjoy.

      1. That’s perfect…I might become obsessed with that.

        I can’t sing but I should learn Tiffany and then find somebody who can sing it.

  2. I LOVED Tiffany! Probably the first album I had of my own was her’s, I was probably in 1st grade.

    This is a really cool blog idea and I love how you write about music so I’m looking forward to reading more 🙂

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