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1,001 songs to listen to before you die...

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I guess "Voices Carry" wasn't a big hit in the UK? That song is pretty popular here, and it pops up on radio quite a bit. Also, at this point, you can hear it in the grocery store.

They picked the right a-ha song! As @metalman the bit from 0:50 to 1:30 is just really strong. Hard to top. The "Take on Me" music video, however, is simply better/maybe the best.

I don't really have this worship of Madonna that some people do. I think a lot of the stuff she did well was done better by others. But she put out so many great music videos and also crossed so many stylings into her pop music that it's easy to see why she became so big and iconic. "Into the Groove" is one of the songs by her that I really do like, but of course I've probably heard it a billion times now. The video really is fantastic and you can't separate that look from the 80s.

I've said my thoughts on Kate Bush before but I do really like "Running Up That Hill" as a song. It's one of the only songs by her I actively seek out.

"West End Girls" is a masterpiece. Brilliant song.

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Liam really summarized Love Will Tear Us Apart brilliantly. I love that song, it helped get me through basic training (obviously I had to play it my head, thank you Andy Dufresne).  I personally

There are many a collection of books that talk about the myriad different things you should or could do before you die. Now, most of them involve an element of time that is beyond me (I like a book, b

Yeah, I'll second this. This is the best thread, great work Liam. And I've really enjoyed reading other peoples' thoughts too. 


‘She Sells Sanctuary’, The Cult (1985)

Influenced by: Dazed and Confused • Led Zeppelin (1969)   

Influence on: Available • The National (2003)   

Covered by: Britt Black (2005) • Keane (2007) • The Dandy Warhols (2007)   

Other key track: Love Removal Machine (1987)

I love this song. It was a song my Dad introduced to me and has therefore got a higher position in my musical interest than it might deserve. However, I’d also argue that it has a lot going for it. Billy Duffy’s guitar is the driving force behind the song as a whole, though I’ve always enjoyed the wailing delivery of Ian Astbury on vocals. There is hooky earworm momentum throughout, with all of the parts building up to one very enjoyable tune.


‘Close To Me’, The Cure (1985)

Influenced by: Jimmy Mack • Martha & The Vandellas (1966)   

Influence on: So Human • Lady Sovereign (2009)   

Covered by: Dismemberment Plan (1995) • The Get Up Kids (1999) • -M- (1999) • Kaki King (2008) • I Was a Cub Scout (2008)

This was a strange one for me as I couldn’t have told you what the song was – I know a fair few by the Cure – yet I was immediately aware of it when the opening breathing and simple keys came over the speakers. What that tells me is that this has some interest for me, yet not enough for me to have ever been bothered to remember what it was called. There is a charming simplicity to the tune, and who doesn’t enjoy the excuse for a good rhythmic handclap? However, there are better songs that the band has produced which I hold in a higher regard than ‘Close To Me’.


‘Under Mi Sleng Teng’, Wayne Smith (1985)

This gets on the list due to its influence it would seem as this was an early success in the world of ‘digital’ reggae. The song is undoubtedly catchy, though it is interesting to hear a backing tune that has no live instruments involved…not that I can tell anyway. This was apparently a slowed down rock and roll preset that gave them this tune; whatever it was, it created the foundation for an ode to Smith’s love for marijuana.


‘Cruiser’s Creek’, The Fall (1985)

I have people that absolutely swear by The Fall, yet I’ve never heard a single song of theirs and couldn’t have even guessed what type of music they were. Some take on rock or indie was always my guess, for the record. Mark E. Smith has vocals that will be divisive from the very beginning, but the overall tune is pretty catchy whether you like him or not. The driving guitar melody in particular gives it a hook that makes this – according to the book – about as commercial as The Fall ever became. This is perfectly fine, yet it doesn’t have me rushing to Spotify to check out any more from them if I’m being honest.


‘Life in a Northern Town’, The Dream Academy (1985)

Influenced by: The Thoughts of Mary Jane • Nick Drake (1969)   

Influence on: Sunchyme • Dario G (1997)   

Covered by: Voice Male (2003) • Neema (2006)   

Other key tracks: Test Tape No. 3 (1985) • Poised on the Edge of Forever (1985)

As soon as I saw the ‘influence’ section, I was waiting to hear something I knew as it rang a bell. Indeed, the song ‘Sunchyme’ liberally reworks the chorus chant to create a chart-topping hit. Thus, this song feels out of place for me even if it really isn’t – I can’t look past the idea of a 90s dance track. It is an odd dichotomy between the largely muted sound away from the chorus….to the chorus itself. It allows the song to finally kick into gear, though perhaps wouldn’t be as effective without the more subdued moments to create an engaging dynamic. An interesting choice as much as anything else.

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Ohhhh "She Sells Sanctuary" is such a great song. I love, love, love how it starts. One of the strongest first 30 seconds of a song I can point to. As soon as it comes on I have to start singing along and tapping my feet.

"Close to Me" is a fine Cure song. Definitely stronger possible inclusions but this is a good one too.

"Under Mi Sleng Teng" is definitely a big departure from a lot of other reggae, and is absolutely just a guy signing over digital beats. It's a pretty strong song overall and has a really smooth flow to it and naturally goes from verses to chorus.

The Fall could easily be confused for a band 10 years later at times. This song in particular sounds a bit like a British take on Pixies music. I haven't listened to too much of their music and I think that the likely reason is that it's never hit me at the right time. This isn't the right time either.

"Life in a Northern Town" is a song I think you just have to listen to on high volume. That chorus is supposed to absolutely hit you in the face and it works. It's not a song I always listen to when it comes on on shuffle but I enjoy it.

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I've listened to the entirety of The Cult's album Electric quite a few times, but I'm not sure if I've ever listened to She Sells Sanctuary all the way through, which is a bit weird given I'm fully aware it's by far their most celebrated tune.. It's fine, I'm not wild about it but it's decent enough. Quite a bit less hard rock than their songs that I know a bit better.

I really like Close To Me and I think it is also my favourite Cure song. I really like catchy pop songs that have a bit of a haunting, dark edge, and the Cure were great at that. It's why for the most part I prefer the poppy Cure to the gothic Cure. Although I like both a lot.

This type of "digital reggae" reminds me of when I lived in Bermondsey and the people next door pretty much constantly had barbecues in their garden and only ever listened to this music. Mind-numbing. Hearing it out of this context, it's slightly better, but I'm still not a huge fan. 

I've listened to hundreds of Fall songs over the years and can barely remember any of them. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Cruiser's Creek sounds like hundreds of other Fall songs. Again, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. But I like this song fine enough. Mark E Smith always seemed to surround himself with good musicians (that he'd be a bastard to) and they supply a good little groove for him to slur over.

Oh my. Life In A Northern Town is just one of those songs you here everywhere. I'd never sought it out, had no idea who did it, had no idea where it was from or when. Wasn't even entirely sure it was called Life In A Northern Town to be honest. It's okay, verses drag on a bit. Whereas I absolutely love Sunchyme. Takes the best bit of the song and plays it ad infinitum. All you need. Plus it reminds me of those kids clubs where my parents would dump me during the summer holidays because they couldn't stand me. Probably heard this in the ice skating rink, the place where I discovered pop music.

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"She Sells Sanctuary" is a song I haven't thought of in years, but was in constant rotation during my teenage goth years. It's brilliant, and one of a select few songs that benefits from the gated reverb drum production of the '80s, rather than feeling horribly dated by it. 

"Close To Me" is one of my favourite Cure songs. It's a good balance between their pop and their goth sides, and the pop stuff sounded best when it was almost nursery rhyme-like in its simplicity, with an illusion of depth. 

I love The Fall, but this is definitely from a period where they were turning out a lot of songs that sound the same. It's good, and has some of my favourite MES vocals, but they get more interesting - if less consistently good - later on. I much prefer them as a patchy band with moments of genius that as a consistently quite good post-punk outfit.

Life In A Northern Town is a really nice song, but I don't really have anything more to say about it than that. Another I hadn't thought about in years, but brings a smile to my face.

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‘The Whole of the Moon’, The Waterboys (1985)

Influenced by: 1999 • Prince (1982)   

Influence on: N17 • The Saw Doctors (1989)   

Covered by: Terry Reid (1991) • Jennifer Warnes (1992) • Human Drama (1998) • Mandy Moore (2003)   

Other key tracks: Don’t Bang the Drum (1985) • This Is the Sea (1985) • Fisherman’s Blues (1988)

I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song properly. When I say that, it doesn’t mean I don’t know it – a random friend of mine bursting into the chorus at random times almost twenty years ago covered that at least. It isn’t hard to see what appealed to him, as this does feel pretty epic in terms of the production and sound. Fitting for a song talking about the whole of the moon, really. As I listened, I was just waiting for it to tip beyond sounding nostalgic to sounding dated and twee…I think it fell on the right side of that divide, but not by much.


‘Marlene on the Wall’, Suzanne Vega (1985)

Influenced by: Help Me • Joni Mitchell (1974)   

Influence on: Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Poem • Peter Murphy (1989)   

Covered by: Underwater City People (2005)   

Other key tracks: Neighborhood Girls (1985) • Luka (1987) • Tom’s Diner (1987)

The book notes that Vega was an interesting proposition in a time period where every girl (fan and singer) was inspired by Madonna. An ode to a poster that doubles as a chance to chart the exploration of a young woman on a journey of self-discovery, this gets some kudos from me primarily for being a fair bit unlike a lot of the female-fronted music that has been on the list. It is all very pleasant, if a little underwhelming though if I’m being entirely honest. If you were looking for tunes from a female singer-songwriter during this time, I could definitely see the allure.


‘How Will I Know’, Whitney Houston (1985)

Influenced by: Who’s Zoomin’ Who? • Aretha Franklin (1985)   

Influence on: Waiting for a Star to Fall • Boy Meets Girl (1988)   

Covered by: Dionne Warwick (1985) • The Lemonheads (1996) • Hit the Lights (2008)

Whitney Houston is one of the greatest singers I have ever heard. There. Not only did she have the voice, she also had writers and producers who could spot a tune from a mile away. This is a perfect slice of pop, made all the better for Houston’s then-early 20s vocals that were already something special. This has always been a song that I think is hard to dislike due to the joyous infectious delivery of both the lyrics and the melody, and that belief hasn’t dimmed as I listen to it now in the bleak days of 2020 and as impending middle age leaves me ultimately at my most cynical about ‘nice’ things.

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Oh golly gosh, TWotM is another wonderful tune. Also right up there with West End Girls and Rattlesnakes for the best of the 80s. Epic stuff. The Waterboys are a really underrated band. They're usually a bit more folky sounding than this, but they're always really good. The singer is also my dad's cousin or something like that, but that is not relevant to my deliberations here.

I don't think I'd ever heard a Suzanne Vega song that wasn't that doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo one. This Marlene one is okay. It's definitely a song, you can't deny that. 

How Will I Know is really good. On balance I don't really like Whitney Houston, there's just too many of her songs that I've been forced to listen to for so long that are just so bad. How Will I Know is so good that it almost makes up for all the bad stuff. Almost, but not quite. What was that UK dance song that had bits of How Will I Know and also (I'm pretty sure) sampled With Or Without You? I quite liked that tune.

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‘Manic Monday’, The Bangles (1985)

The first thing I might as well throw out there is that I had no idea that this was written by Prince. When you listen to it with that knowledge, you can definitely feel his fingerprints. It was originally written for another band, but was passed onto the Bangles when the initial plan didn’t work out. There is a sunniness in tone that is pleasing alongside a pretty simplistic chorus that makes it eminently singable. As ‘classic’ songs that I feel a lot of people know goes, it is fairly low down on my list, but it is a perfectly crafted pop tune and would probably place higher for many others.


‘Sun City’, Artists Against Apartheid (1985)

It is only in recent years that I have realised just how many protest songs have been pumped out into the world. Not all are created equal however, and this was one that largely didn’t achieve its goals when it came to bringing about the end of apartheid. It is debatable that it was one of the more interesting stabs at cultural awareness and politics within this type of ensemble song as rappers and rockers united to create a musical hybrid during a time when that mesh of sounds was still in its infancy. This was also a more diverse selection as Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen and Hall & Oates were amongst the large cast adding their voice. It lacks the overall hookiness of the other notable protest songs, yet the chorus definitely gets burrowed inside your brain.


‘Kerosene’, Big Black (1986)

This is definitely something. It sounds like the prototype for bands like Godflesh and that ilk as the overall sound feels like someone was putting a guitar through a grinder as much as anything else. Lyrically controversial – some people linking the lyrics to gang rape, apparently – this is definitely a song that is unsettling in the sound that is created. As someone who is a fan of the heavier and more alternative musical genres, I definitely ‘enjoy’ this, if that is the right word. It won’t be for everyone, but for me it was beautiful noise.

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I like Big Black a lot, not my favorite of Steve Albini's projects (that would be Shellac) but this is an interesting part of his career. My understanding is that Big Black was initially just him with a shitty tape recorder and some form of synthesizer and he'd put the stuff together on his own. I really like the opening track on this album called "Jordan, Minnesota". The Big Black stuff probably could fall into an industrial category I'd say. They do a pretty solid cover of Kraftwerk's "The Model" on their follow up album "Songs about Fucking". Anyway, really cool to see some Steve Albini on here and I wonder if we'll be seeing more. 

In fact, I'm hoping to see more from the noise era (Jesus Lizard, Girls Against Boys, Scratch Acid, Cop Shoot Cop, etc. etc.). It might be a stretch but I've been surprised by a few things they listed from the 70s, kinda glad we're moving into that era now as maybe I'll start to see some of that stuff. 

Godflesh is a really good shout Liam, their stuff is usually associated with a lot of the stuff I referenced above. Godflesh I think sounds like they were pretty well influenced by something like Killdozer maybe a bit more? 

Oh yeah and forgot to mention the Fall and Pogues. 

I definitely understand where people are coming from with the Fall, they have a huge discography so it can seem daunting to know where to start. I've grown to really like them over the last few years.

And I've loved the Pogues for a long time, maybe not like I used to though. I don't know, my favorite song from that album is the Boys from County Hell but ya know, they're all pretty good. 

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I'm the same with you on Manic Monday. As soon as I found out Prince had a hand in it it became so obvious. It's not a million miles away in terms of ornamentation or feel from Raspberry Beret which he put around this time too (another song I'd like to see appear here). Anyway, I really like this song. Really nice harmonies. I know we are supposed to move on from crude comments on appearances in these enlightened 2020s but Susanna Hoffs is very radiant in this one. 

I think it is an unbreakable rule that any ensemble song with Bruce Springsteen in it is going to be a pretty bad song. And this, sorry to say, is a pretty bad song. Free Nelson Mandela is a kazillion miles better. Bring Him Back Home by Hugh Masekela is two kazillion miles better.

I've never listened to Big Black. I am aware of the album with the rude name and the rude cover and the controversies around their lyrics and of course Steve Albini. But I've never listened to them...but now I have. And this song is okay, sure. I quite liked it.

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Big Black are a real ur-Albini band. There's a fuzzy distortion and rhythm section high in the mix, a driving riff behind just about everything, that you notice in everything Albini produces after that point, so I can see why they made the list. 

Prince's version of Manic Monday was actually released after his death, they brought out an album of his versions of songs he gave to other artists. It's a fun listen, and obviously a superb pop song.

Artists Against Apartheid...yeah. I grew up in a very political household, and while I'm too young to really remember a time when Mandela was in prison, I do remember the tail end of the negotiations to end apartheid, and it being the cause celebre for much of my extended family. This song feels like it's hear on historical significance grounds more than anything, but as Metalman said, there are better, and probably more famous, anti-apartheid songs out there. I hope we see some Johnny Clegg/Savuka in here too.

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