As Round Two of PTBN’s Greatest Song Of The 80s Tournament gets underway, Andy is here to reflect back on the first round and look at some the biggest first round exits.
First off, thank you to everyone who voted in the first round. I hope everyone is having as much fun participating in this tournament as I am. We have many rounds to go until we crown a champion. Let’s keep it up Place To Be Nation!
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, a little background info on me. I was born in 1972 so I am a child of the 80s. I was just shy of nine (and my sister was thirteen) when MTV launched. There was no Sirius XM, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora or podcasts back then. In the car, your only options were the radio or cassettes. Unless you wanted to listen to disco, oldies or classic rock, these were the songs that you choose for listening. These were songs you bought on 45 or later cas-singles. You played them over and over. In the 90s, these were the songs that everyone sang along to when they were played in a bar or club. I started DJing in my early 20s (around 1994) and I just happened to get a job in a club that mostly played music from the 50s to the 90s. Part of the job of us DJs there was to perform lip syncs on stage. Now at the time, my DJ skills weren’t great, but I knew the words to most of the 80s songs that we had to perform (and I had the guts to get on stage every weekend) which how I landed the job.
But enough about me, let’s get down to business: the tournament. Many, if not most, of the songs that you would think made it out of the first round, did. Most groups were stacked, and difficult choices had to be made many times by the voters. I have noticed some trends. Hip-Hop/Rap and Metal did a lot better than I anticipated. I am a fan of both genres, but they don’t spring to mind when you hear the term 80s music. British New Wave artists like Erasure, New Order, Depeche Mode, Naked Eyes, ABC and Howard Jones got little to no love in the voting. I don’t know if it was the result of an inside joke here at PTBN, but only two Billy Joel songs made it through to round two. Songs best known from movie soundtracks had very strong showings as expected since that would keep them more current than other songs from the decade. To be honest, you can’t really argue against just about all of the songs that made it to round two, but I’m gonna try. Here are the 15 biggest first round exits, in my opinion.
“Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo (Group B) was eliminated, coming in sixth place by only five votes. This was one of the biggest one-hit wonders of the decade. At the time when this single was released, many thought they would be as big as Duran Duran. But unfortunately, they never produced another hit and fell into 80s obscurity. The song that I would eliminate in its place would be “Hysteria” by Def Leppard. I am a huge Def Leppard fan, but there are so many better songs like the four other ones that made it through to round two along with it.
“Goody Two Shoes” by Adam Ant (Group C) finished in seventh place, missing the cut by 27 votes. Adam Ant was the epitome of the cool British import. The video for this song was a fun romp with the sexy stuck up woman succumbing to his advances and letting her hair down (both metaphorically and physically) by the end of it. The song that I would eliminate in its place would be “Hearts On Fire” by John Cafferty. It is a fun uplifting song from Rocky IV but the only song from that movie franchise that belongs moving on to round two is “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.
“She Blinded Me With Science” by Thomas Dolby (Group D) finished in sixth place by five votes. You can’t turn on 80s on 8 on Sirius XM without hearing this song at least once a week. This is another iconic 80s one-hit wonder that has withstood the test of time. I can’t hear this without mimicking the old man in the video by yelling “science!” when it comes to those parts of the song. The song that I would eliminate in its place would be “The Way It” Is by Bruce Hornsby. Now, The Way It Is is a good song, but it can be forgettable. Nothing really stands out about it. That’s what the 80s were about, standing out from the crowd. It was not a decade for normal and subdue, which is what I think of when I hear this song.
“Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry (Group D) finished in seventh place, eight votes out of the running. Group D was a tough one. Arguably, there was no bigger band than Journey at the time and when their lead singer released his first solo album, the first single was a huge hit. You can’t hear the opening line “Should’ve been gone!” without it getting stuck in your head. I’m still waiting for South Park to have Cartman singing it in an episode. That would be epic. The song that I would eliminate in its place would be “Holiday” by Madonna. Again, it’s another case where I like the song, but Madonna has eight songs that made it through to round two. She is awesome and iconic but not every one of her singles need this much love. But it is one of the funniest parts of The Wedding Singer, when Adam Sandler (after getting left at the altar) does a pathetic rendition.
“I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister (Group H) finished only five votes out of fifth place. Though not as iconic as “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, it is a hair metal anthem that still finds its way into popular culture today. The song that I would knock out in its place is “Fade To Black” by Metallica. Like many “posers”, I didn’t really get into Metallica until the 90s with the release of their Black album. I believe that was the first real commercially successful crossover album the band had had, it led to me (like most) discovering the greatness of some of their earlier hits. But as great as it is, I don’t think of Metallica when it comes to 80s hits.
“She’s A Beauty” by The Tubes (Group I) finished in seventh place, sixteen votes back. Although it is from the early 80s, this song endured throughout the decade with a memorable music video. It had everything you’d want in an 80s song: synthesizers, fun and memorable refrain and guitar riffs. The song that I would replace with would be “Eyes Without A Face” by Billy Idol. In terms of Billy Idol’s hits, this one is a bit on the weaker side. I think Billy was just trying to keep up with the trend, at the time, of all hard rock artists in the 80’s having at least one power ballad.
“And We Danced” by The Hooters (Group P) finished eleven votes out of the fifth spot. Another iconic one-hit wonder of the decade. This became a party anthem for years to come. You can still The Hooters perform at many a county fair these days. The song that I would replace for it with would be “One Night In Bangkok” by Murray Head. To be honest, this was a tough one. Both are very 80s, but head to head, I would go with the former choice here. Although, Mike Tyson’s rendition of “One Night In Bangkok” from Hangover 2 was probably the best part of that very disappointing sequel.
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin (Group Z) finished only a mere three votes behind the fifth spot in a very close race. This song was iconic for Bobby McFerrin’s ability to produce a hit pop song without any instruments. Everywhere you went you saw the title on t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. And who can forget Robin Williams just being his silly self in the music video. The song that I would knock out in its place would be “The Stroke” by Billy Squier. It was so overplayed on the radio back in the 80s that some of his better work was forgotten over time, like “Lonely Is The Night” and “Rock Me Tonite”, which were both eliminated in the first round as well.
“She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer (Group AF) finished in seventh place, twenty votes back. “Dr. Feelgood” by Motley Crue finished in sixth, and an argument could be made for that song as well. However, even though Donna Summer may be better known as a disco queen of the 70s, this an anthem for the ladies. So much so, it can be considered the “I Will Survive” of the 80s. The song that I would knock out in its place would be “Get Outta Of My Dream, Get Into My Car” by Billy Ocean. I was a big fan of the movie License To Drive when I was 16, but even then, I thought this was a terrible song. Outside of “Caribbean Queen”, not a big fan of his work. The song from The Jewel Of The Nile is even worse, in my opinion.
“Mountain Music” by Alabama (Group AG) finished in sixth place a whopping twenty-seven votes behind fifth place. Not a lot of love for country music in this tourney. Alabama was the crossover country act of the decade. They dominated the charts and the Grammys. Only “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” & “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” were, arguably, more popular songs outside of the country charts. The song that I would knock out in its place would be “Eat It” by “Weird” Al Yankovic. I think Weird Al is awesome, but none of his songs belong going past the first round in this tournament. They were fun novelty videos, but I don’t think they have held up over time.
“Hazy Shade Of Winter” by The Bangles (Group AJ) tied for last place in this group, although it was a three-way tie for the spot. This is where The Bangles got a bit of an edge with a bit of a harder sound and a sexier look with the cover of the Simon & Garfunkel hit from the movie Less Than Zero. The song that I would knock out in its place would be “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood. Much like Bruce Hornsby, Steve Winwood is very vanilla to me and nothing really stands out about his hit songs, at least in this forum.
“Round And Round” by Ratt (Group AW) finished in seventh place, eleven votes out. This is one of the biggest travesties of the first-round eliminations. This one of the top hard rock hits of the decade. The music video featured the legendary Milton Berle for goodness sake! And who could forget Mickey Rourke and Marissa Tomei rocking out to this tune in The Wrestler. The song that I would knock out in its place would be “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael. I don’t consider this one of his best songs from the 80s, way below tunes like “Faith”, “Careless Whisper” and “Father Figure”. It always felt like too much like a novelty song. Although both songs are probably still in heavy rotation at strip bars across the country today.
“Voices Carry” by Til’ Tuesday (Group AY) finished in seventh place, twelve votes out. This is another case of a one-hit wonder not getting a lot of love in the tournament. This was a staple of early MTV and later became a popular choice to be included in mix tapes during the 80s. The song that I would knock out in its place would be “Land Of Confusion” by Genesis. Definitely not one of the band’s best hits. I’m convinced that it got most of its votes due the music video with the freaky puppets of the 80s icons that it featured.
“Pass The Dutchie” by Musical Youth (Group AY) finished in eighth place, thirteen votes out. This was another tough one for me. Both songs that I will talk about here are very 80s but I would have to give the edge to “Pass The Dutchie”. Many of us suburban kids had to ask what exactly a “dutchie” was. Remember, there was no internet back then. The song that I would knock out in its place would be “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors. Again, not much to say here except it’s much more of a Novelty Song like Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio”.
“Kyrie” by Mr. Mister (Group BJ) finished in eighth place, eleven votes out. Mr. Mister may have been a flash in the pan so to speak with only having this and “Broken Wings” as hits but their sound, synthesizers and all, was extremely 80s. They were like a poor man’s Europe, if that’s even possible. The song that I would knock out in its place would be “Mad World” by Tears For Fears. The main reason is that I can’t really remember the song and pretty much could remember just about every other song (all 650 of them) that was included in the field.
Here are some Honorable Mentions. They are here because they are iconic whether they are one-hit wonders, it was the artist’s biggest hit, it was memorable from a movie that feature it or a song you hear commonly at sporting events. I categorized them as honorable mentions because I couldn’t really find an arguable replacement in their groups for them:
- “Close My Eyes Forever” by Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford (Group B)
- “Party All The Time” by Eddie Murphy (Group E)
- “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” by Information Society (Group F)
- “Maniac” by Michael Sembello (Group H)
- “Kiss Me Deadly” by Lita Ford (Group L)
- “Higher Ground” by Red Hot Chili Peppers (Group M)
- “Tempted” by Squeeze (Group O)
- “Xanadu” by Olivia Newton-John (Group U)
- “How Soon Is Now?” by The Smiths (Group V)
- “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship (Group Y)
- “Centerfield” by John Fogerty (Group Z)
- “What About Love” by Heart (Group AB)
- “Der Kommisar” by After The Fire (Group AC)
- “In A Big Country” by Big Country (Group AE)
- “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow (Group AK)
- “The Glamourous Life” by Sheila E. (Group AQ)
- “Would I Lie To You?” by The Eurythmics (Group AR)
- “Stray Cat Strut” by Stray Cats (Group AT)
- “Modern Love” by David Bowie (Group AT)
- “One Thing Leads To Another” by The Fixx (Group AX)
- “I Remember You” by Skid Row (Group AY)
- “It Takes Two” by Rob Base (Group BA)
- “Shakin” by Eddie Money (Group BC)
- “Hold Me” by Fleetwood Mac (Group BG)
- “Seventeen” by Winger (Group BI)
So there you have it, my take on Round 1. I’m sure there are many out there that will disagree with me but that’s part of the fun of these tournaments. The “spirited” debates and the fun discussions that come out of it. We’re all here just to have some fun folks, as the late great Dean Martin would say. Comment below and tell me if you agree or that I’m wrong and join in the discussion.
Bring on Round Two!