Best songs of 1980 (part 4)

Album: The River by Bruce Springsteen 

While the album is overlong, the title track The River is a timeless classic that deservedly still gets played on the radio. Hungry Heart was an uncharacteristic venture into pop. Rolling Stone ranked it at number 253 on their list of the greatest albums of all time.
A record I want to explore further, and so will his fans with the December 4th release of The Ties That Bind: The River Collection (2015), which includes a wealth of unreleased material.
Listen to:
The River
Hungry Heart
Point Blank

Album: Scary Monsters and Super Creeps by David Bowie

Both a critical and commercial success, Bowie would reach out to a new wave audience while also continuing to experiment. Described as “one of the decade’s quirkiest pop albums”. The music video for Ashes To Ashes is one of the most iconic of the 80s, the lyrics revisit Bowie’s Major Tom character from 1969’s “Space Oddity”. The best three track run on any album, track 3-5.

Listen to:
Ashes to Ashes
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) 

Album: Diana by Diana Ross 

These songs make you want to dance. Nile Rodgers, who wrote the guitar part for Get Lucky (2013), also showed his talent on Diana (1980). “Upside Down” still holds up as a great song and “I’m Coming Out” is good too, regardless if you are straight or gay.

Listen to:
Upside Down
I’m Coming Out

Album: Glass Houses by Billy Joel

A good album, just not as strong as his late 70s work. Most of the singles are very enjoyable. A little more rock based than piano.

Listen to:
It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me
You May Be Right
Don’t Ask Me Why

Album: Unmasked by Kiss 

I’m not familiar with Kiss except their greatest hits. Apparently many Kiss fans dislike this album, I only listened to the singles. Unmasked marked a major departure musically for the band and received mixed reviews. The album’s songs have been largely ignored in live performances, with the exception of “Shandi”. I like the comic book sleeve.

Listen to:

Album: Nothin’ Matters And What If It Did by John Cougar (aka John Mellencamp)

I’m not quite sure why he used a different name. He claims these are “stupid little pop songs” which must have angered the record company. I like the Springsteen vibe in the track I shared, very catchy. There are some nice finds in the singer’s catalogue if you do a little digging.

Listen to:
Ain’t Even Done with the Night 

Best songs of 1980 (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) (part 4) (part 5) (part 6) (part 7) (part 8) (part 9) (part 10) (part 11) (part 12) (part 13)

What do you think of this music, any favorites? Did I miss any songs from these albums which you think deserve praise? As always, comments are welcome.
Next Thursday, I’ll tackle a few 1980 albums by British bands, including The Cure and Joy Division. Stay tuned!

10 thoughts on “Best songs of 1980 (part 4)

  1. “Shandi” I think is a good pop song but from a band like KISS. It's so wrong but it's a guilty pleasure. Yet, the band did lose a lot of cred with their hardcore fans who were accusing them of just wanting to make money rather than do good music. Yet, they still buy their merch and make Gene Simmons rock music's version of the Fascist Asshole.


  2. @thevoid99: I like Shandi and a few of the 80s songs by Kiss are memorable. I’m not able to rank Kiss albums because I haven’t listened to everything, judging from your comment they sold out in the 1980s.


  3. I think Mellencamp was having an identity crisis. Didn't he also go by the full-on John Cougar Mellencamp for awhile? Anyhoo, I never paid much attention to him. Thought he was just a Springsteen knockoff.

    Only remember Upside Down and I'm Coming Out from the Diana album, though I clearly recall my mother listening to it often. Funny you referred to the straight or gay thing. Back then, I was all of 9, so I didn't pick up on that, at all. Years later, I was like “Oh…that's what that song is about,” lol.


  4. @Wendell: I think you are spot on had to do with an identity crisis. The name Cougar was invented by the record company who didn’t like the sound of Mellencamp. At heart I think he is a sincere songwriter and when he became successful, he had enough clout to force the record company to add his real surname. First as John Cougar Mellencamp, and from 1991 simply John Mellencamp. I do really like a handful of the Cougar/Mellencamp songs from the 80s, although I agree his take on heartland rock is not as good as Springsteen.
    Haha, yes sometimes we look at music differently when we are older. I recently learned Bohemian Rhapsody probably is Freddie Mercury’s “coming out” song.(“Mama, just killed a man” is about murdering his heterosexual self), so has changed how I perceive that song.
    I know I was impressionable to the listening habits of my parents. A few of my best loved albums I first heard when I was age 8-12 because my parents played them a lot. The nostalgia is strong with this one


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