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

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I think I really liked "Dear God" the first time I heard it on the radio and now that's mostly curdled into contempt that XTC's best album was overshadowed by an angsty teen journal entry set to music. Like, Andy Partridge called the song "a petulant failure" and I can't argue with it. But then, who's to say I'd have delved into that album without hearing that song on the radio first, I guess?

I always also used to assume that Husker Du were heavier than they actually were, was a real surprise when I finally heard them for the first time. I really should devote the time to listen to full albums of theirs rather than having isolated songs pop up now and then.

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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

In a perfect world, I'd have wrapped this all up in a year. I still could...yet my wife is due to give birth on Monday/Tuesday, so my priorities might be somewhere else for a little while. I appr

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

Rise is a good one. Sometimes you get a bit tired of songs doing the whole "wrong or right; black or white" rhyme but it doesn't really matter. 

Love Can't Turn Around is meh. I like this style in general but this song is lacking something. Also the singer sounds like Homer Simpson.

XTC is a band I've given plenty of chances to because they are the sort of thing I thought I'd like, but they have never really clicked for me. I find them a bit all mouth and no trousers. Dukes of however the hell they spell it is good though.

I love Husker Du. This was the first song of theirs I heard and I was hooked immediately. Making a racket and still doing good pop tunes at the same time is a rare gift, and these guys were among the best at it.

Kiss is great. Not much to it, but what is there is splendid.

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‘Attention Na SIDA’, Franco (1987)

This gets on the list due to Franco being a popular Congolese music artist and this being a very open call for people to ‘Beware of AIDS’. In the country at the time, a lot of the lyrics had to be wrapped up in metaphor to avoid censure, but there is nothing hidden here. Franco would pass away 18 months later, quite possibly from AIDS itself although it was somewhat unclear. This song shows him use a mix of speak-singing and more spoken word sections against a lively percussive background beat. I find this type of song hard to judge; definitely here on merit, but unlike a lot of the other stuff that made the list.


‘Under The Milky Way’, The Church (1987)

Another band from Down Under, but one that had moved to Los Angeles by the time they had international success. I felt like I would know this as it kicked in, yet it wasn’t to the chorus that I realised I had at least heard that part of the song before. This is moody and poetic and unsurprisingly successful as it is a fine piece of music, though the wailing sounds that punctuate the middle of the song I could very much do without.


‘Bamboleo’, Gipsy Kings (1987)

I’m pretty sure I found out that this song was from the 80s many years ago, yet I always try and place it in the 90s. Was it sampled in another song, or was it just that good that it was getting radio play several years down the track and in my formative years? I wouldn’t be surprised either way as this is an absolutely storming track. Lively and passionate, it works its way to a chorus that desires audience participation. Apparently this song helped the album it came from go on to sell seven millions records, which only serves to highlight how exciting this song was for the contemporary audience. Still just as good today, mind.

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Aw man "Under the Milky Way", what a damn good song. I always place their US hits (that, "Reptile" and "Metropolis") like half a decade earlier than they came out. They sound like an early post-punk group but instead they were in many ways setting the stage for a lot of dreamy and even shoegazey 90s bands.

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‘This Corrosion’, The Sisters of Mercy (1987)

This is another band that I’ve always felt that I should have gone back to check out, yet have never got around to it. I’m not entirely sure if I believe I’m missing out having listened to it, though this is at least one example of a Jim Steinman produced song that I can now name outside of his work with Meatloaf (I’m sure I know others, just not that Steinman was involved). If anything, this is a little too electro-poppy for my liking – that isn’t often a bad thing, but I almost expect the vocals to be accompanied by music that was a bit punchier than what I actually got. The multi-tracking backing vocals to create a wailing choir is cool and it isn’t a bad song at all, yet it sits below top tier stuff that this list has kicked up for me. To give it some credit, I was more into it by the end of the song, so maybe it was a grower?


‘Camarón’, Pata Negra (1987)

The problem I have with ‘world music’ in a list like this is that I am so very unarmed when it comes to what I can say about it. I don’t necessarily know if it is a strong representation of the genre it is representing, or whether the artist did better songs elsewhere. I can say that this is a pretty fun song with flamenco mixed with electric blues riffs, creating something that is definitely listenable to…that’s all I got really. To what extent it is worthy of its place is hard to judge.


‘Amandrai’, Ali Farka Toure (1987)


It is tempting to cut and paste what I said before almost word for word, though this time the list celebrates someone that was dubbed the ‘African John Lee Hooker’. However, this one musically feels a little more universal, at least up until Toure’s vocals which are in the language of the Touareg. It is undeniably interesting to hear such a bluesy feeling tune coming out of Mali and it feels pretty cool even without too much knowledge about the narrative of the song. Apparrently a song about a secret lover, this uses the guitar sparingly in places, building to louder bursts to pierce the tension. A song that I enjoyed irrelevant of my lack of knowledge.


‘Push It’, Salt ‘n’ Pepa (1987)

Influenced by: The Bird • The Time (1984)   

Influence on: Money Honey • Lady Gaga (2008)   

Covered by: Numb (1996) • Ten Masked Men (2000) • Harry (2003) • Girls Aloud (2008)   

Other key tracks: Tramp (1987) • My Mic Sounds Nice (1987)

Now, this is a song I know. The provocative lyrics and rapping were surely eye opening for its time, though I’ve always thought that it was the music in the background that made the song what it was. People came for two ladies talking about people who needed to ‘push it real good’ and stayed for the catchy electro rhythms. This is another song I can’t imagine people disliking – it might not be in their top 10 or 20 or 100 even, yet I’ve never heard a poor word said against it.


‘Bring The Noise’, Public Enemy (1987)

Influenced by: Niggers Are Scared of Revolution • The Last Poets (1970)   

Influence on: AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted • Ice Cube (1990)   

Covered by: Anthrax featuring Public Enemy (1991) • Staind and Fred Durst (2000)

What I’ve always enjoyed about this song was how it appealed to fans of other genres, not just rap or hip-hop. There is a weightiness to everything, from the vocals to the music to the scratching, that works for me even as someone who never particularly cared for this style of music. If I was more knowledgeable about this style, I’m sure I’d be able to talk some more about how complex and multi-layered everything sounds: there feels like there is a hell of a lot going on from start to finish. Oh, and enjoy – if that’s the right word – some Tim Westwood on the video choice.


‘True Faith’, New Order (1987)

Influenced by: Planet Rock • Afrika Bambataa & The Soul Sonic Force (1982)   

Influence on: The Real Thing • Gwen Stefani (2004)   

Covered by: The Boo Radleys (1993) • Dreadful Shadows (1995) • Aghast View (1997) • Flunk (2005) • Code 64 (2005) • Anberlin (2009)

What a song. This isn’t a universal song that I think everyone would enjoy necessarily, but if it scratches that musical itch like it does for me, it ends up there with some of the best of the decade. There is a darkness about the lyrics that is at odds with the sound, a darkness that was even toned down somewhat as the original lyrics explicitly referenced drugs in a way the radio-friendly ones didn’t. This is probably Bernard Summer at his best vocally in terms of what I’ve heard by New Order, whilst the drums and melodic bass touches adds an almost ethereal atmosphere. Bliss.

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I really that Congolese style of music. This is a good one.

Not meaning to be a dick, but none of these Australian bands that keep popping up are that good, are they? This song isn't bad by any means, but it's not great either.

I guess if we are being politically correct we should call them the Gipsy and Traveller Community Kings. LOL. Anyway...I had heard of this band and I had heard this song (it was a favourite in night clubs when I was a student for some reason) but I'd never placed the two of them together. I really like it.

I like Sisters of Mercy a lot. This is a good song but it had never stood out when I listened to the album. I'm a bit surprised it was a single but it's good all the same.

This Pata Negra one is fine.

Ali Farka Toure is great. I think the older he got the better his music got. Certainly all my favourites by him are from the 2000s. But this is still good.

Push It is good fun.

Bring the Noise is really good. Got to admit I never really got into Public Enemy that much, but I like this one.

Finally, at the end of a somewhat underwhelming set, we get an absolute belter. Of course, when you are posting any single by New Order you should be sharing the 12 inch version, so allow me to fix that:


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Let's start with "True Faith", one of those songs that's probably a frontrunner for my most-listened to song ever. It's just, my god, brilliant. I think in a lot of ways this song is the true culmination of the sound New Order were trying to achieve.

I've gone back and forth on how much I want to dig more into Sisters of Mercy but as a goth in my early teenage years I have quite the soft spot for them. "This Corrosion" is kind of an overview song of what they're all about. Real good tune but they have better.

"Camaron" is I believe a new song for me. It's pretty good. Likewise I'm not versed on Ali Farka Toure but I'm interested in exploring him a lot more now. Sounds like the kind of music I'd take a serious liking to.

Salt n Pepa are great for a lot of reasons and have a surprisingly deep catalog for a group known for a handful of hits. "Push It" is a classic and 33 years later female MCs are still looking to it for inspiration.

Public Enemy are one of the best to ever do it. Decades later their lyrics remain just as relevant as they were in the 80s and early 90s. I wouldn't say "Bring the Noise" is my favorite by them (or perhaps even in my top 5) but it's definitely the best song to crossover to a non-hip-hop audience and very representative of what they were capable of. Probably the best track to use to try and get someone into PE.

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‘It’s A Sin’, Pet Shop Boys (1987)

Influenced by: Passion • The Flirts (1982)   

Influence on: Like a Prayer • Madonna (1989)   

Covered by: Gamma Ray (1999) • JJ72 (2001) • Paul Anka (2005) • And One (2009)   

Other key tracks: What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1987) • Always On My Mind (1987)

Though I didn’t immediately recognise the song when I read the title, I assumed that it was likely to be something I had heard before. However, it was a vague recollection at best, while I heard songs like ‘West End Girls’ so much when I was younger. This is the Pet Shop Boys aiming to be at their most theatrical and it is a storming dance-pop offering that unsurprisingly confirmed them as superstars, at least nationally. It is a hook-laden offering that includes some interesting additional elements such as thunder, organs and synth flourishes. It wouldn’t usurp the other songs by them I like, but I can see what the appeal would have been.


‘Pump Up The Volume’, M|A|R|R|S (1987)

A collaboration between AR Kane and Colourbox, yet mainly a showcase of the latter’s talents, this was a crossover between the underground dance scene and a myriad range of other sounds through samples. I can believe that this would have sounded urgent and vital to music fans who were looking for something a bit different. It isn’t necessarily for me, though the appeal is obvious and it is a tune that even had me shuffling away on the sofa as I wrote this entry.


‘Birthday’, Sugarcubes (1987)

I’ve never heard anything Björk that wasn’t just her solo work, so to have a song from her initial band before her solo success is pretty cool. What was even more eye-opening was that this lyrically explored the ‘relationship’ between a five year old girl and a fifty year old man. Really experimental Björk does little for me, yet I do really enjoy her whisper to wail vocal delivery played out against a backdrop of pretty conventional indie rock. The birth of an eventual superstar, I guess.


‘Beds are Burning’, Midnight Oil (1987)

Influenced by: Clampdown • The Clash (1979)   

Influence on: Zombie • The Cranberries (1994)   

Covered by: Split Lip (1996) • Augie March (2001) • Novaspace (2003) • Misery Inc. (2007)  

Other key tracks: Dream World (1987) • Gunbarrel Highway (1987) • The Dead Heart (1987)

Another band from Australia, though based on the write-up and the number of views on this video, this is something a bit bigger than some of the other offerings from that country in the global musical scheme of things. This is another one I expected I might have heard before, but I legitimately had no idea what it was. Lyrically, this was a call for the Australian government to give land back to the indigenous peoples and it is definitely a catchy rock song with a hooky chorus. I’m not a huge fan of the singing style of the lead vocalist if I’m being completely honest, which detracted a bit from my enjoyment…but it was hard not to enjoy especially when the chorus kicked in.


‘Yé Ké Yé Ké’, Mory Kanté (1987)

Influenced by: Lan Naya • Bembeya Jazz National (1985)   

Influence on: Tekere • Salif Keita (1995)  

Covered by: Picco (2008)   

Other key tracks: Akwaba Beach (1987) • Nanfoulen (1987)

This was not what I expected at all. Take a Guinean love song and slap some techno-style beats and you get this floor filler from 1987. Apparently, this getting released shortly after the concept of ‘World Music’ began to take off helped it reach to a broad audience, including multiple remixes and covers (in different languages) over the years. Not for me, but an enjoyable curio nonetheless.


‘Just Like Heaven’, The Cure (1987)

Influenced by: Another Girl, Another Planet • The Only Ones (1978)   

Influence on: Taking Off • The Cure (2004)   

Covered by: Dinosaur Jr. (1989) • Goldfinger (1999) • 30footFALL (1999) • In Mitra Medusa Inri (2001) • Gatsby’s American Dream (2005) • Katie Melua (2005)

This is such a good song. Still not my favourite by The Cure - ‘Inbetween Days’ probably holds that crown – though the two songs aren’t a million miles away from each other sonically. This is perfect pop really in terms of the melody, whilst Smith’s lyrics add that extra poetic element that takes it to another level. Considering how the band could be viewed as one that celebrated melancholy, this is all pretty uplifting, helped significantly by the soaring string (at least I believe that is what it is) arrangements. We even get a cameo from Smith’s wife in the music video.

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Just a small note. That wasn't Bjork's initial band. Bjork's first band was a punk rock-ish band although they already had some experimental songs. I don't know much about them but the LP they released in 83 is cool. Then, she was in KUKL.

KUKL is kinda post-punk, very artsy.. some weird as fuck songs. It starts to sound a bit more like what you'd expect from Bjork, only harder. I like it.

Only then you have the Sugarcubes, which are alright I guess. It's a bit bland for my tastes, but the first album (Birthday's on it) is still cool. That's the most boring song on the whole record for me, which obviously meant it was their first and most successful single, because that's how things usually go. I've heard a few songs from the following albums but I didn't bother looking too much into it.


As for the rest, I like Just Like Heaven. It's also one of my favourite from the Cure - from that time period at least - and although I like old Midnight Oil, that one, not so much.

Also, they may be getting more views lately because they came back some 3 years ago and have been touring everywhere since then. They've been in plenty of european festivals in the last few years, I think. I believe that's why they're kinda relevant again.


Finally, I had no idea who Mory Kante was but I think I've actually heard this song before? I don't know. I don't think I'll listen to it again though, but who knows... 

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‘The One I Love’, R.E.M (1987)

Influenced by: Break It Up • Patti Smith (1975)   

Influence on: Morning Glory • Oasis (1995)   

Covered by: Butthole Surfers (1989) • Moog Cookbook (1996) • Sufjan Stevens (2006)   

Other key tracks:It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) (1987) • Everybody Hurts (1992)

I’m a big fan of R.E.M, but I’ll be honest that it was Guitar Hero/Rock Band that first got me interested in this song, whichever game it ended up on (if not both at some point). This was apparently the big breakthrough for the band as they went from being a college radio band to signing a multi-million dollar deal with Warner Brothers. I’ve always loved Stipe’s vocals on the chorus part of the song, as well as enjoying the darkness of the lyrics. I find it funny that – according to the book – people believed this to be a love song, when the lyrics are anything but pro-love or relationships.


‘Fairytale of New York’, The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl (1987)

This is the only song on the list thus far that I haven’t listened to. The reason? Even this list won’t have me listening to a Christmas song in October. However, with this being my own favourite Christmas song, I don’t really need to listen to it in order to know how it all goes. I’ve already espoused my opinion on the Pogues and this is a great anti-Christmas song in as much as that is a thing, or at least one that chooses to focus on how things aren’t always bright and rosey during that time period. I get a bit precious sometimes as it is a song that I liked a lot before it seemed to become everyone’s favourite Christmas song, but so be it – it is better that it gets airplay over and above some of the other crap from that part of the year.


‘Paradise City’, Guns ‘n’ Roses (1987)

I’ve never liked G’n’R as much as I feel I should, though their ‘big’ hits are pretty much all bangers to various degrees. This probably sits between Sweet Child O’Mine and Welcome to the Jungle in terms of my enjoyment (Child being the ‘best’) when it comes to the main tracks from Appetite For Destruction. Axl Rose is a vocalist that has me asking the same questions as I do of Billy Corgan of all people: how did they become lead singers in a band with their style of singing? I mean, Rose is a more typical rock and roll singer, but the high pitched wailing is so very distinctive and not always entirely pleasant. However, it works and when supported by a blistering rhytmn section, it all comes together to create something exciting.


‘Never Let Me Down Again’, Depeche Mode (1987)

Apparently, this was a song that underperformed in the UK, yet had fans in the US flocking to check out what Depeche Mode had to offer. I’ve only ever really listened to the singles by Depeche Mode, so this might be coming from ignorance, but this does feel the most fully realised Mode song in terms of the sound they had been striving for after Vince Clarke left. It is dark and moody, more muscular in tone from what they had created before especially in an atmospheric closing minute or so. Not my favourite song by them, though it isn’t hard to see why this drew the attention of many new fans to the band.

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The One I Love is great. Very bright and punchy, which isn't the case for most of REM's 80s music. That makes it instantly catchy.

Fairytale of New York is a bit shit. I don't mind the Pogues but I've never got into this. Far too overproduced. Shane MacGowan hamming it up even more than usual and I've never really liked Kirsty MacColl's voice. Save it for the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special. You get all these bores boring on about it being an injustice Always On My Mind by the Pet Shop Boys kept it off number 1, BUT THAT'S BECAUSE ALWAYS ON MY MIND IS A MUCH BETTER SONG. I mean, I can see why people like it but I don't really like to spill lager on people when I sing songs so this isn't for me.

Paradise City is a banger. One of those songs that is just made for a stadium (I've never been to a stadium gig in my life, but I'm assuming)

That Depeche Mode one is fine. I keep meaning to give them a proper chance. 

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That is a very, very strong group of songs. Perhaps my favorite REM song, though like a lot of the other great groups on here there are others which are strong contenders.

I agree that "Always on my Mind" is a better song. I don't have a sentimental relationship with "Fairytale of New York" and it's definitely got the feel of that kind of song which loud people love. I think if I had a more sentimental attachment to it I'd quite enjoy it. Similar to how I loudly sing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" when I have a few drinks in me and it comes on in public.

I'm not a devout GnR fan but "Paradise City" is one of those songs that just makes me want to be in a massive stadium watching them play. Such a big song. Might be my favorite song by them now that I think about it. It really announces that this is a band which is going to put on a killer live show for you.

"Never Let Me Down Again" is one of my very favorite Depeche Mode songs. It took the dark sound they perfected on their "Black Celebration" album and makes it so much cleaner and bigger feeling. The "Music for the Masses" album is all songs that need to be heard live. And it's no wonder this album was followed with a massive tour culminating in their famous show at the Rose Bowl. What really makes "Never Let Me Down Again" work is that it's the first song on the album. Depeche Mode's 3 best albums in my mind all start with an absolutely great track. "Never Let Me Down Again" might be the top of them. It just hits you with all the themes and sounds Depeche Mode had spent the last 5-6 years working on all at once with a kind of polish and emphasis that David Bascombe (who worked with Tears for Fears and Peter Gabriel) could make possible. 

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love the Sugarcubes, love the Pogues, love Sisters of Mercy, so this has been a real good bunch. Not my favourite tracks by any of those bands, but all good nonetheless.

"It's A Sin" is probably my favourite Pet Shop Boys song. I adore it. "Beds Are Burning" is a song I get stuck in my head on pretty much a weekly basis, but can't remember the last time I ever actually heard it.

"The One I Love" might be my favourite R.E.M. song. Henry Rollins once said that he wished he could ever have written a lyric as heartless as "just a prop to occupy my time". It's so spiteful and cynical, but brilliant.

"Paradise City" isn't my favourite G&R song and, these days, I'm not much of a fan of the band as a whole, but I have to admit that Appetite For Destruction is just a superb album, capturing them before they disappear up their own arses and are still just a really solid rock group. "My Michelle" is my favourite track on the album, because it has a bit more of a bar-room blues swagger, and "Welcome To The Jungle" has a bit more bite to it, while "Paradise City" feels like a bit too much of a concession towards some of the worst excesses of hair metal - still better than anything on Use Your Illusion, though.

Public Enemy, man. Still so fresh and interesting, and just so far ahead of everyone else doing what they were doing at the time. I love them. Chuck D might be one of my favourite people in music.

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Yeah @Skummy basically articulated my feelings on GnR as a band post-Appetite for Destruction. Though I said I really like "Paradise City" it definitely does teeter on that edge between fun and annoying hair metal. For me it stays on the right side and is just a big feeling arena song. Also, I had forgotten about "My Michelle" and that song is really strong as well.

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‘Faith’, George Michael (1987)

The title song from an album that sold millions, saw seven singles released from it and won a Grammy, ‘Faith’ was the start of Michael’s ascension to pop icon. With lyrics that touched upon Michael’s own personal need to believe following a dark time in his life and some pretty simplistic sounding guitar work to provide the bouncy rhythm, the song is one that does a lot with very little. It doesn’t try and do too much, relying on the quality of the songwriting to carry everything, something which I think it achieves with aplomb. Not my favourite song by him necessarily, but an understandable eye opener for those wondering what he would offer post-Wham!


‘Need You Tonight’, INXS (1987)

This is a song from my childhood inasmuch as I remember my Dad having the ‘Kick’ VHS video. There is something ultimately very slinky and sexy about how everything comes together for the song, helped somewhat by the video – Hutchence wasn’t a bad looking chap at all. The quick bursts of guitar are the personal highlight for me, adding a discordant element to things that helps to create the darker, seedier tone. Apparently, the creation of the song was very casual, even up to the fact that the tune stopped abruptly as it was practically an unfinished song when Hutchence put lyrics to it. If you believe the story, that pretty much became the song we hear today, with the abrupt ending another element that helps the song stand out for me.


‘With or Without You’, U2 (1987)

U2 upset me. They have become a byword for shit music at times, whilst Bono is someone who makes it ever easier to laugh at him as the days go past. However, some of their work in the mid to late 80s and even into the early 90s is sublime. The latter era work as it is tends to detract from that and I always wish it wasn’t lost to the wider musical world. This is another example where I can say this isn’t the best song by them in my opinion, yet I know it was probably the one that first really grabbed my attention. It is indelibly attached to my growing up and is still a song I enjoy to this day, even if I rarely go out of my way to listen to it.


‘Freak Scene’, Dinosaur Jr. (1988)

Influenced by: Schizophrenia • Sonic Youth (1987)   

Influence on: Smells Like Teen Spirit • Nirvana (1991)   

Covered by: Godeater (2001) • Belle & Sebastian (2008)   

Other key tracks: Don’t (1988) • Keep the Glove (1988) • No Bones (1988) • Pond Song (1988) • They Always Come (1988) • The Wagon (1991)

That this is suggested as an influence on bands such as The Pixies and Nirvana speaks to how important Dinosaur Jr. were to the shaping of some of the music that came out in the new decade. The quiet/loud mishmash with acoustic-y work and singer/songwriter-esque stylings giving way to distorted guitar solos was probably quite eye-opening at this time and created a song that still sounds interesting today. I’d argue that this style has somewhat been surpassed by what came after it, yet it set the tone and deserves to be lauded thusly.


‘Follow The Leader’, Eric B. and Rakim (1988)

Influenced by: Listen to Me • Baby Huey (1971)   

Influence on: Root Down • Beastie Boys (1994)   

Covered by: Parliament Funkadelic & P-Funk Allstars featuring Rakim (1995)   

Other key tracks:Just a Beat (1988) • Microphone Fiend (1988) • Lyrics of Fury (1988)

This is very much outside of my wheelhouse, so the extent to which it is or isn’t good or is or isn’t worthy is beyond me. However, I can say one thing for sure – Rakim is one quick MC/rapper (delete as applicable). There is a funkiness in the bass, the samples and the mixing, but Rakim feels like the star of the show here, at least for my uneducated ears. The single was a powerful opening to an album that didn’t quite reach those heights again, according to the book. Whether that is true or not is for those who know more than myself, though I can say it was a pretty powerful way to get things going.

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That's an eclectic group.

"Faith" is really an example of what George Michael was capable of at such a young age, but I would agree it's not one of my absolute favorites by him. But, yeah, when you want to show people what he could do this is a really good song to pick.

I love "Need You Tonight" and it might be my favorite INXS song. I think as a group they rely on their hits and I don't think they have a particularly deep catalog, but when it's good it's real good.

Ehhhhh U2. I'm lukewarm on them as a group because I think they're a band who sells on their own hype more than anything. "The Joshua Tree" album is kind of safe rock music, but they're talented guys who do that thing better than most. I used to listen to them a ton when I was younger but where a lot of famous bands in the 80s did so by expanding on ideas, I think they consolidated some big ideas into a more digestible format. This is your standard album-oriented rock ballad with a little more polish and creativity. I mean, not bad, but U2 are to me a band that everyone knows because they're safe but not exceptional.

How much came out of Dinosaur Jr? Like a decade of music, especially in the US, can just point to songs like this as the sound they were working as hard as possible to replicate. I really like "Freak Scene" as a song, and it sounds like it could have easily come out 10 years later. I would agree a lot of the bands that borrowed from Dinosaur Jr have done it better, but I think they're still a good group on their own merits.

"Follow the Leader" is one of those very first east coast hip-hop tracks that is for the connoisseurs. By 1988 the west coast had started to take a foothold in the game and over the next couple years would dramatically surpass the east coast in terms of mainstream attention until Wu-Tang and Biggie came along 4-5 years later. But this era of hip-hop is often called the golden age of New York hip-hop and it might be my absolute favorite. Helped significantly by how phenomenal of an MC Rakim is. Just an impossibly good flow that few have been able to emulate coupled with Eric B. who was one of the top DJs of his day. There's a lot from 1988-1992 that is kind of forgotten about, and I'm glad one of the earliest of those tracks is being represented on this list. Things really matured for hip-hop as an artform around this time as the first generation who totally grew up in it tried to do their own things, and you can sense that there's so much awareness that they can take hip-hop a million different places. I think a lot of the work Eric B. & Rakim did around this time captures that feeling.

Oh, but "Microphone Fiend" is probably a better song from the same year for Eric B. & Rakim.

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I quite like Faith. I played at an open mic at a residential summer school for children interested in studying engineering at university. As you might expect, I was by far the coolest dude at this gathering but I still didn't quite pull it off.

What was that advert with Need You Tonight that was always on a while ago? That kind of made me get annoyed with this song a little bit. It's actually a pretty good tune though, and it's nice to have an Australian song that I've actually heard of turn up.

WOWY is a good one. That song that takes bits of How Will I Know by Whitney Houston (which I think I mentioned a bit back) is pretty much entirely based around the bass and guitar lines from the intro of With or Without You, which I think outlines what a good little hook it is.

Freak Scene is great. One of the best noises in rock music.

I keep meaning to try out Eric B and Rakim one day. I don't know that much about them. The rapping in this one doesn't set my world on fire (in fairness, rapping rarely does - I don't really know how to appreciate it) but the backing track is great.

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‘Where Is My Mind?’, The Pixies (1988)

Another pretty solid example of a band I feel I should have listened to a lot more than I actually have, The Pixies tick a lot of the boxes of music I like, yet it has often been the vocals that put me off for some reason. Still, this is probably my favourite song by them as it gets the balance between the noisy melody and the high pitched singing/spoken vocals just right. There is something oddly romantic about the song as a collective, which is probably why it sat quite well in the closing scenes of ‘Fight Club’. The song lurches in many different directions, whilst still feeling pretty cohesive – an impressive feat in and of itself.


‘Waiting Room’, Fugazi (1988)

I could basically copy the beginning of my last entry for Fugazi, though they are a band I’ve actually heard very little from unlike the Pixies. Again, I can’t necessarily attest to the historical importance of songs from genres that I’m not a big listener of, but this was apparently seen as a shot in the arm as to what punk could offer as Ian Mackaye and friends threw in a mixture of influences, including a particularly funky bass that I can really get behind no matter what others might have thought at the time. Controlled chaos that was always threatening to bust at the seams, this is a good song.


‘Touch Me I’m Sick’, Mudhoney (1988)

Influenced by: Scene of the Crime • Iggy & The Stooges (1981)   

Influence on: Teenage Whore • Hole (1991)   

Covered by: Sonic Youth (1988) • Naked Lunch (2001) • My Ruin (2005)   

Other key track: Here Comes Sickness (1989)

I have this album in my collection somewhere, yet I couldn’t really tell you much about it – speaks to how often I listened to it. I know the importance placed on the group: they were from Seattle, on the Sub Pop label that became home to a number of bands peddling this brand of grunge or rock, and were considered an influence for a number of bands who went on to bigger and better things. Maybe being considered purely as an influencer underplays Mudhoney as a band, but it is hard not to hear early Nirvana in this song in terms of the structure and the sound of what they were offering. However, the thing that stands out the most is that this is a fundamentally catchy song, something that was rarely lost in the grunge period that was to follow.


‘Feed Me With Your Kiss’, My Bloody Valentine (1988)

Influenced by: The Living End • The Jesus and Mary Chain (1986)   

Influence on: Revolution • Spacemen 3 (1989)   

Other key tracks: Nothing Much to Lose (1988) • You Made Me Realise (1988) • Blown a Wish (1991) • Only Shallow (1991) • To Here Knows When (1991)

Like The Jesus and Mary Chain who are referenced above, My Bloody Valentine are a band whose name makes you want to listen to them without even knowing what music they produce. I believe I have an album by them lodged deep in my collection, but this isn’t the style of music I particularly associate with them. Clean vocals sit on top of a wall of guitar, ably helped by a driving drum rhythm. I’m not sure I particularly like it, yet as a sign of what they were capable of doing, this is an interesting snapshot. I like the parts, if not the sum of the whole.


‘Buffalo Stance’, Neneh Cherry (1988)

Influenced by: Buffalo Gals • Malcolm McLaren (1982)   

Influence on: Wannabe • Spice Girls (1996)  

Covered by: The Rifles (2009)   

Other key tracks: Kisses on the Wind (1989) • Manchild (1989) • The Next Generation (1989)

Hmmm…I think I’ve heard this before, or at least the component parts. I’m possibly the wrong audience for the tune, as I’m a middle-aged white male from the UK, but the book talks about how empowering it was for a number of upcoming musical acts in the mid to late 90s to have someone talking about female empowerment. From a purely musical standpoint, there is a lot going on here as it bounces around from pop to hip hop to rap and back again. Really fun with a powerful message for a number of people, it isn’t hard to see why this was highly rated by some.


‘Fast Car’, Tracy Chapman (1988)

Influenced by: Down to Zero • Joan Armatrading (1976)   

Influence on: Sometimes I Rhyme Slow • Nice & Smooth (1992)   

Covered by: Amazing Transparent Man (2003) • Hundred Reasons (2004) • Mutya Buena (2007)

I honestly have never met a single person who dislikes ‘Fast Car’. The simple guitar and accompaniment let Chapman’s vocals tell a story that a lot of people can easily empathise if they weren’t already experiencing elements of it themselves. There is nothing for me that is particularly outstanding about any one point, yet it all adds up together to create an all-time classic. At a time when big pop singers were all the rage, it is pleasing that Chapman’s brand of folk wasn’t lost in the shuffle.

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I did not give to give my eulogy of George Michael. Fuck!

George Michael, his discography and Faith meant so much to me at a young age trying to figure out who I was in the world. I knew who George Michael was post-cruising. But I became obsessed. I secretly bought all of his albums and would listen to them on repeat. I was into punk rock, hardcore and metal, but George Michael was someone I could look up too.  I would watch his E True Hollywood obsessively. 

So much of George Michael's solo discography is interesting in retrospect of him being gay. Sure, at the time I am sure there were whispers about his sexuality. But Faith (and the far superior I Want Your Sex) are a triple threat. Amazing pop performance, instantly danceable pop composition and interesting lyrically. I Want Your Sex is interesting because it was so brazen. It is instantly quotable. "I don't need no bible, just look in my eyes", "Sex is natural, sex is good. Not everybody does it. But everybody should. Sex is natural, sex is fun. Sex is best when it's, one on one", and "What's your definition of dirty baby. What do you consider pornography". This was 1987. Without reading the context, George Michael is singing about fucking being good, pornography and alluding to group sex. Heck, reading between the lines you can learn a lot about George Michael's preference. It appears he bottoms because he says "I love you til it hurts me baby, don't you think it's time you have sex with me". To me, a list of the most important songs is nothing without I Want Your Sex. It is a revelation. 

But Faith probably resonates with more people. Because it is a man torn between what he wants to do and what he thinks he ought to do because of "faith". In 1987, the song is a lovely exercise in a man who is being kept apart from what he wants. But after George Michael is outed, it is really a song about a man lusting after George Michael and George Michael refusing to give in due to faith. What a revelation. They don't make pop stars like they used too. 

When George Michael died, I was visiting my family for Christmas. I remember my brother nonchalantly told me George Michael died. I was heartbroken. It was just as sad to me as the day that David Bowie and Joe Strummer died. My brother sort of said "I mean, was George Michael even any good?" Maybe George Michael was "not good", but he meant a lot to me. 

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My Bloody Valentine! Sweet!

I understand choosing something from the first album although it's not the track that I would choose (obviously, it has to be something from Loveless). Nonetheless, the Shoegaze phase part of me is happy.

I even saw their 'comeback' gig in Birmingham a few years back, and that was one of the loudest things I have experienced. Still waiting for that new music, Kevin Shields.

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Mudhoney is great, I have a good amount of the stuff. Great band, esrly grunge, definitely can hear the influence on Nirvana especially on Superfuzz Big Muff (which refers to the Big Muff fuzz pedal where the distorted guitar tones are coming from. A LOT of bands have used it going back to Hendrix though he was more of Fuzz Face user). A good precursor to Mudhoney was a band called Green River, another Seattle based band with some of the same members. 

I did also want to mention my love for Husker Du. Surprised it wasn't a selection from Zen Arcade but they did so much good its hard to go wrong. Their really early days they were pretty heavy and evolved into a melodic but still hard charging group. 

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Pixies, Fugazi, Mudhoney and MBV are all okay but I don't really give a shit. You can have a few too many noisy late 80s indie bands in your life.

Buffalo Stance is AMAZING though. I want you to listen to Buffalo Stance, and then I want you to listen to the video I will post below. It will BLOW. YOUR. MIND.


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I will echo the fact that Buffalo Stance is fucking outstanding. I'm a bit confused by the "I’m possibly the wrong audience for the tune, as I’m a middle-aged white male from the UK" comment to be honest, not least because I also fit that demographic but also because it's a very poppy hit from someone who essentially launched their career in the UK. And the bit where she goes "what is he like?" in the middle is amazing...

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12 hours ago, Colly said:

I will echo the fact that Buffalo Stance is fucking outstanding. I'm a bit confused by the "I’m possibly the wrong audience for the tune, as I’m a middle-aged white male from the UK" comment to be honest, not least because I also fit that demographic but also because it's a very poppy hit from someone who essentially launched their career in the UK. And the bit where she goes "what is he like?" in the middle is amazing...

A good song is a good song, but I don't think it is a stretch to suggest that I'm probably not the target audience for a pop song about female empowerment. Doesn't mean I or you can't like it - was just suggesting that it probably meant more to someone other than me.


‘Straight Outta Compton’, N.W.A. (1988)

This is another perfect example of a song that I feel I really can’t comprehend the impact of from such a distance in the future. I’m not a huge rap fan, but I’ve often enjoyed a song or two from the various members of N.W.A. and it isn’t hard to see what this brought to the table for mainly adolescent teens. A brooding rhythm is accompanied with rhymes about bullets, bitches and bling, rather than a lot of the other feelgood stuff that was in the charts at this time. This isn’t as good in my opinion as stuff like Next Episode or Still Dre, but that speaks more to those being THE rap songs of my own upbringing more than anything to do with quality. This was clearly an exciting change for the music industry and for those who wanted something a little bit different.


‘Opel’, Syd Barrett (1988)

A bit of an oddity as this was written in 1969, yet only ended up seeing the light of day in 1988 due to its placing on a set of unreleased music by Barrett. It was left off of The Madcap Laughs as the costs of production and recording threatened to spiral out of control. This all would probably mean a lot more to a Pink Floyd fan, yet as I am not really one of those, this ends up being a decent singer/songwriter tune with odd lyrics as much as anything to me. That perhaps is a bit harsh as I do like it; I’m just not as wrapped up in the narrative of it coming into existence.


‘Everyday is Like Sunday’, Morrissey (1988)

Influenced by: Sketch for Dawn • The Durutti Column (1985)   

Influence on: Everybody’s Changing • Keane (2003)   

Covered by: 10,000 Maniacs (1992) • The Pretenders (1995) • Colin Meloy (2003) • KT Tunstall (2008)  

Other key track: Suedehead (1988)

I’m much less of a fan of Morrissey’s solo output as I am of his work with the Smiths, though with the odd exception. ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ is one of those exceptions. People often take shots at Morrissey due to his maudlin and melancholy ways, but it is exactly what I enjoy. I think there is something very British about the lyrics, tapping into a self-loathing nature that seems to permeate a lot of English humour, culture and general being, though it is as often celebrated as it is derided. As the book suggests, everyday might be like Sunday, but what is wrong with Sunday?


‘Orinoco Flow’, Enya (1988)

Influenced by: Night Scented Stock • Kate Bush (1980)   

Influence on: Now We Are Free • Lisa Kelly (2003)   

Covered by: The Section Quartet (2001) • Celtic Woman (2005) • Bit by Bats (2008) • Libera (2008)  

Other key tracks: Storms in Africa (1988) • Watermark (1988) • Book of Days (1991) • Caribbean Blue (1991)

I remember hearing this song a lot when I was young and there has always been something captivating about it. The lushness of the layering of sound, the production and Enya’s ethereal vocal delivery create a song that I enjoy enough, yet never makes me want to seek out anything beyond this. It is a touchstone of this style of music for those who don’t really know anything else, whilst I can only assume it is near to the high water mark that this style could ever conceivably reach. In a genre I care little for, why would I listen past what must be the best example of it? I’m probably completely being naïve here…the song is very good though.

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