50 great songs: 1980

This is the start of a thing; my intent is to do at least the first 5-6 years of the ‘80s. My lists will be almost all singles, and I’m being a stickler for release dates. To wit, “Rock With You” peaked in ’80 but was released in ’79, so it’s out, but “Off the Wall” was released as a single in ’80, so it’s in.

For me to include album tracks they have to be real, important-to-me standouts; there are only 6 in this list, and two of those are still “quiet storm” radio perennials (the Maze and Stevie Wonder entries). The others are Steely Dan’s “Glamour Profession” (the best song about selling drugs, ever), the title track from Willie & Ray’s vocal tour de force San Antonio Rose (which I prefer to all of its singles), George Benson’s stunning “Star of a Story (X)” (which I learned from WTLC Indianapolis’s “Jazz at :45” in the mid-to-late ’80s, bless ’em) and the Jean-Luc Ponty track, honest-to-goodness jazz fusion from a violin player. 

Some of these I loved at the time and have endured; others I’ve only learned recently (I’d never heard “Skateaway” until my husband introduced me to it earlier this year). I love all of ’em now, from Chic’s new wave funk to the Cure’s nascent goth to Chuck Mangione’s proto-smooth jazz. Dolly Parton gets two entries because “Starting Over Again” is one of Donna Summer’s best co-writes ever (with her husband), George Benson because Quincy Jones produced the best album of his career, the Jacksons on the back of the best album of their career, and Steely Dan because they’re Steely Dan (and, actually, Gaucho is their finest album, too).

Ambrosia – You’re the Only Woman

Aretha Franklin – What A Fool Believes

Barbra Streisand (duet with Barry Gibb) – Guilty 

Benny Mardones – Into the Night

Brothers Johnson – Stomp!

Bruce Springsteen – Hungry Heart

Chaka Khan – Clouds

Change – The Glow of Love

Chic – Rebels Are We

Chuck Mangione – Give It All You Got

The Cure – A Forest

Dan Fogelberg – Heart Hotels

Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out

Dire Straits – Skateaway

Dolly Parton – 9 to 5

Dolly Parton – Starting Over Again

Donna Summer – On the Radio

Doobie Brothers – Real Love

Dottie West – A Lesson In Leaving

Dynasty – Adventures in the Land of Music

The Gap Band – Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)

George Benson – Give Me the Night

George Benson – Star of a Story (X)

George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today

The Isley Brothers – Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love) (Parts 1 & 2)

The Jacksons – Lovely One

The Jacksons – Heartbreak Hotel

Jean-Luc Ponty – Shape Up Your Mind

Jermaine Jackson – Let’s Get Serious

John Anderson – She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Songs

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

Kim Carnes – More Love

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly – Joy & Pain

Michael Jackson – Off the Wall

Olivia Newton-John – Magic

Peter Brown – Can’t Be Love – Do It To Me Anyway

The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Queen – Another One Bites the Dust

Robbie Dupree – Hot Rod Hearts

Rod Stewart – Passion

Rolling Stones – She’s So Cold

Roxy Music – Same Old Scene

Shalamar – This Is for the Lover in You

Stacy Lattisaw – Let Me Be Your Angel

Steely Dan – Glamour Profession

Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen

Stevie Wonder – All I Do

Teddy Pendergrass – Love T.K.O.

Tom Browne – Funkin’ for Jamaica (N.Y.)

Willie Nelson & Ray Price – San Antonio Rose

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About thomasinskeep

I write about music.
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