Sunday 19 December 2010

Top 100 Dance Songs of the 80s

We've done the 00s. We've done the 90s. Therefore it would be remiss of me not to inflict my taste of all things musical and 1980s-related on the AVPS-reading public. Well, that's a bit of a fib. Below is a list of the top 100 *dance* songs of that decade. No poodle rock. No goths. No Smiths. This is one hundred percent synthy bleepy beaty electronica in all its manifestations. So kick off your slippers and take a nostalgic trip down musical memory lane, all the while moaning how "they don't make 'em like that any more".

Edit: Four years later I got round to doing a top 100 of the 1970s too!

2nd edit: And here is the Top 100 of the 2010s!

Requiem by London Boys (1989)
Angel Eyes by Lime (1983)
Sign o' the Times by Prince (1987)
The Jack That House Built by Jack 'n' Chill (1987)
You're The One For Me by D-Train (1982)
Tears by Frankie Knuckles presents Satoshi Tomiie (1989)
p:Machinery by Propaganda (1985)
Heart by Pet Shop Boys (1988)
Moments In Love by Art of Noise (1985)
91) Forget Me Nots by Patrice Rushen (1982)
90) Waves by Blancmange (1983)
Criticize by Alexander O'Neal (1987)
88) Celebration by Kool & the Gang (1980)
87) Promised Land by Joe Smooth (1987)
86) Living on the Ceiling by Blancmange (1982)
Don't Go by Yazoo (1982)
Keep on Movin' by Soul II Soul (1989)
Ain't Nobody Better by Inner City (1989)
A Night To Remember by Shalamar (1982)
81) Big in Japan by Alphaville (1984)
House Arrest by Krush (1987)
People Hold On by Coldcut feat. Lisa Stansfield (1989)
Jack Your Body by Steve 'Silk' Hurley (1986)
Round & Round by New Order (1989)
Always On My Mind by Pet Shop Boys (1987)
Beat Dis by Bomb the Bass (1987)
Push It by Salt-n-Pepa (1987)
Pump Up the Volume by M/A/R/R/S (1987)
Get a Life by Soul II Soul (1989)
Rockit by Herbie Hancock (1983)
Menergy by Patrick Cowley (1981)
Doctorin' the House by Coldcut feat. Yazz (1988)
Here Comes the Rain Again by Eurythmics (1984)
Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) by A Flock of Seagulls (1982)
Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald (1989)
Suburbia by Pet Shop Boys (1986)
Your Love by Frankie Knuckles (1987)
We Call It Acieed by D Mob (1988)
Fresh by Kool & the Gang (1985)
61) Venus by Bananarama (1986)
1963 by New Order (1987)
Love is a Stranger by Eurythmics (1982)
Voyage Voyage by Desireless (1987)
57) Love Can't Turn Around by Farley Jackmaster Funk feat. Daryl Pandy (1986)
56) Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry (1989)
55) What Time is Love? by The KLF (1988)
Nobody's Diary by Yazoo (1983)
Domino Dancing by Pet Shop Boys (1988)
Read My Lips (Enough is Enough) by Jimmy Somerville (1989)
Let's Groove by Earth, Wind & Fire (1981)
Big Fun by Inner City (1988)
Ship of Fools by Erasure (1988)
Mirror Man by The Human League (1982)
Forever Young by Alphaville (1984)
This Time I Know It's For Real by Donna Summer (1989)
Sometimes by Erasure (1987)
Play At Your Own Risk by Planet Patrol (1982)
Don't Make Me Wait by Bomb the Bass (1988)
Getting Away With It by Electronic (1989)
Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) by Kate Bush (1985)
It's Raining Men by The Weather Girls (1984)
Don't Leave Me This Way by The Communards (1986)
(Keep Feeling) Fascination by The Human League (1983)
Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money) by Pet Shop Boys (1985)
The Theme from S-Express by S-Express (1988)
Good Life by Inner City (1988)
34) Manchild by Neneh Cherry (1989)
Souvenir by OMD (1981)
Tell It To My Heart by Taylor Dayne (1987)
Sin by Nine Inch Nails (1989)
Kylie Said to Jason by The KLF (1989)
It's My Life by Talk Talk (1984)
Together In Electric Dreams by Giorgio Moroder with Philip Oakey (1984)
There Must Be An Angel by Eurythmics (1985)
Ride on Time by Black Box (1989)
Yé ké yé ke (Afro Acid Mix) by Mory Kante (1988)
Tainted Love by Soft Cell (1982)
True Faith by New Order (1987)
Let the Music Play by Shannon (1983)
You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead or Alive (1984)
The Model by Kraftwerk (1981)
Temptation by Heaven 17 (1983)
The Only Way Is Up by Yazz and the Plastic Population (1988)
What Have I Done to Deserve This? by Pet Shop Boys feat. Dusty Springfield (1987)
Enola Gay by OMD (1980)
Move Your Body by Marshall Jefferson (1985)
14) A Little Respect by Erasure (1988)
Don't You Want Me by The Human League (1981)
Atomic by Blondie (1980)
Vienna by Ultravox (1981)
Never Can Say Goodbye by The Communards (1987)
Only You by Yazoo (1982)
19 by Paul Hardcastle (1985)
Fade to Grey by Visage (1980)
Pacific State by 808 State (1989)
Blue Monday by New Order (1983)
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics (1983)
It's a Sin by Pet Shop Boys (1987)
Smalltown Boy - Bronski Beat (1984)

And, in my humble opinion, the finest slice of 80s electronica is ... this:


Brother G said...

I'm rather partial to the big band remake of your number one myself:

Cringeworthy, non?

Raven said...

Wow what a list, thanks. Lots of memories here of my 6th form and university days.

Imposs1904 said...

Taylor Dayne?


Nick Fredman said...

Yes some great memories, but surely New Order were shit after 1985? They'd be better remembered for early singles like Temptation and of course the seminal Blue Monday (what 14 year old didn't buy that floppy disk 12" and realise that the world had changed?) or Subculture or The Perfect Kiss from their 1985 album Low Life? Very funky 10 minute version of the latter showing them in all their miserable pasty-faced glory at

Also, you are showing much disrespect to Ms Neneh Cherry by not including at least a dozen of her 80s tracks - what about the 1988 Bomb the Bass dub of Buffalo Stance at for dance track of the decade?

Always deserving of more global recognition was the seminal (for electronica and video art) Australian group Severed Heads - their classic Dead Eyes Opened at (probably better known is a techo remix from the 90s).

No politically-oriented content worthy of note? Heaven 17's We Don't Need that Fascist Groove Thing?

Anonymous said...

You guys are the greatest. And YouTube links! I'm hankering for your 70s. Music didn't get better than 1972 - 1982. That's the decade! I was 12 - 22. All the damage was done then. I'm 50 now, and still killing 'em. The rest of my buddies are at the big club in the sky! What a great present! THANKS!

Anonymous said...

I've always thought that there was a strong correlation between 80's electronica and political revisionism.
Surely the Pet Shop Boys would only be considered "dance music" at the mortuary attendants Xmas party?
No Grace Jones either!


Phil said...

Not bad, Brother G. I was fearing something really ghastly. Like an X-Factor make over.

Phil said...

You protest too much, Darren. Shovel a few pints down your neck and I bet you'll be grooving on the dance floor to every slice of hi-nrg post-disco you care to mention. I bet this never fails to get your booty moving.

Phil said...

Arrgh, the problem of doing a list like this is you always fail to include the glaringly obvious, Nick. Neneh Cherry was indeed quality - I predict the list will shortly be modified to include a couple of her best known hits.

And New Order ... you're having a larf, right? True Faith and 1963 are superb. And Round and Round has the best intro to any 80s song ever. Probably. Very Altern8-ish.

I hadn't heard of the Severed Heads so I checked it out, and you're right, the 1993 remix is better. And as for We Don't Need That Fascist Groove Thing, it's never done ote for me. At the risk of uttering a blasphemy, the rest of Heaven 17's opus is decidedly ... average.

Phil said...

Dunno about revisionism, Prianikoff. Stuff like 19 and Smalltown Boy had more right-on politics n their little finger than a decade's worth of hair metal and later PWL clones.

FlipC said...

I knew 4 of those in the naughties list; 12 in the nineties and... 44 in this one.

Yeah party animal; in my younger days :-P

Entdinglichung said...

Hazell Deans Who's Leaving Who (87) sometimes sounds like a comment on a split in leftwing organisation ;-)

Phil said...

Out of interest, Flip, what were the ones you'd heard of in the 00s and 90s list?

Entdinglichung, it's unknown whether our Hazell ever did a stint selling Trot rags outside dreary, concrete shopping centres on rainy Satday mornings.

Imposs1904 said...

Nothing wrong with Kelly Marie, Phil.

Taylor Dayne, however. I guess you were at an impressionable age. Was this the same time you were hanging around with Workers Power? ;-)

Ever checked out Colourbox, Phil? Brilliant electronic band from the 80s. Up there with the best.

PS= Can't believe you didn't include any Mantronix.

FlipC said...

As I've been asked

00's - 95, 91, 82, 64,

90's - 99, 98, 90, 78,
77, 72, 71, 55,
49, 35, 30, 26,
25, 18, 15

Going through each list more slowly it's still 4 for the 00's but now 15 for the 90's. The additions to which I went "Oh yeah that one" were 71, 55, and 26.

It's still possible that if I listened to them all some might just fire a neuron or two, but I think that list is pretty much it.

Phil said...

Well get your headphones on and acquaint yourself with some top quality choonage then!

Darren, cheers for reminding me about Workers' Power. I still owe you that story about how I ended up at a rave in Amsterdam with them.

I don't know Colourbox so I'll go and check them now. And Mantronix, none of their stuff grabs me apart from 'Got to have your love', and that's 90s innit.

Imposs1904 said...


Got To Have Your Love is from '89.

Btw, Colourbox was half of M/A/R/R/S but there own stuff was better.

Phil said...

I thought it was '91. Going to investigate ... after I've finished writing another post.

Nick Fredman said...

"Dunno about revisionism, Prianikoff. Stuff like 19 and Smalltown Boy"

And Communards have to win kudos merely for the name. I vaguely remember Depeche Mode describing themselves as socialist at some point.

Going a bit more leftfield than the bulk of Phil's list can lead to leftist inclined industrial electronica towards the end of the decade like Meat Beat Manifesto and Consolidated in the US (the latter doing some decent radical white boy hip hop in the early 90s). Also later 80s includes the beginnings of heavy electronic dub from Tackhead, Gary Clail and the On-U Sound stable with radical inclinations.

"And New Order ... you're having a larf, right?"

My dislike of the later New Order may be more to do with my indie guitar period circa 86-93. Also Bizarre Love Triangle is good but spoiled for me by some crap covers. Their World Cup song come to think of it was great, almost as good for the purpose as Touched by the Hand of Ciccolina by Pop Will Eat Itself.

Glad you liked Severed Heads - pioneers here.

septicisle said...

Frankie Knuckles at only 95 and 64? Surely Tears should be top 10.

Nick Fredman said...

Props for adding Manchild: funky, soulful and sharp sociology.

Alex Dawson said...

Good list Phil although as a part-time DJ myself I would have to question the inclusion of some of the more mainstream hits.

Mel and Kim, for example, was a Stock Aitken Waterman number - I would seriously question pigeon-holing it as dance when it really was just straightforward commercial pop. Same goes for Alison Moyet, A-ha, Hazell Dean Taylor Dayne...

However, plenty correct as well - the three Inner City tracks were absolute solid-gold anthems and came out from the Chicago underground, also Bomb the Bass, Coldcut, Art of Noise, Frankie Knuckles, D-Train, KLF are all credible and good choices.

On balance, I do think you were right to include the Pet Shop Boys earlier works - I think the album Disco is a seminal classic - but some of their later stuff I am not too keen on. I would have had West End Girls over Domino Dancing any day of the week. If you were looking for a different track from the Introspective album, I would have plumped for Left To My Own Devices or even the version they did of Always On My Mind/In My House - an extended and broken down version of your number 76 that I think is genius.

Oh and I had forgotten 808 State crept in during 1989. That song would be my number one, with Guy called Gerald just behind it...

Phil said...

Sorry, Septic. Frankie Knuckles is good, seminal, etc, but as far as my taste goes he's in the right place.

I knew the Stock, Aitken and Waterman stuff would raise your heckles, Lozza. Perhaps that's why I included them ;)

Re: West End Girls, it's a tune that's never sat well with me.I don't know whether it's the Pet Shop Boys fault or the awful East 17 cover ...

hazelbazel said...

Where's prince? Erotic City, 1999, cmon!!