Okay…I admit to being a UK popophile (Hey now!). What can I say? The ’80s was the decade of my youth, so naturally I’m going have a special place in my musical heart for songs that come from that era. Nothing wrong with that really, but I try not to get stuck in a particular time frame — even though it seems to be happening more and more.
Since I’ve been listening to a lot of ’80s UK pop, I might as well get some mileage out of this and drag you along. Some of these songs you’ll probably know. Others? Maybe not so much. But one thing’s for sure: they are all in the key of “pop,” so get ready for hooks o’ plenty.
“View From a Bridge,” Kim Wilde (download)
I had such a mad crush on Kim Wilde in high school. It was 1982, and my parents took me on a trip to jolly old England to visit with family and to vacation in both the UK and France. Well, we were watching “Top of the Pops,” and there was Kim singing this song, and I was smitten. It didn’t help matters much that the BBC was playing the crap out of this song and I heard it on the radio almost every day I was there. I bought the LP before leaving England and then proceeded to buy everything else she released until Another Step. Sure, she’s known for “Kids in America, ” and the cover of “You Keep Me Hanging On,” but this song just brings back certain memories for me — like driving up to Scotland with my folks in 1982 in a crappy rental car, blasting this song and really annoying my aunt in the back seat.
“Highly Strung,” Spandau Ballet (download)
I have to admit to not understanding the appeal of this band, but oh boy, was it there! “True” was their biggest hit in the U.S., but they were quite the hitmakers in their native UK — with 15 singles breaking into the top 40. “Highly Strung” peaked at #15 back in 1983 while it pretty much tanked in the U.S.
“My Ever Changing Moods,” the Style Council (download)
When I first started working in radio, this song was released in the U.S. with a decent showing for a band whose name evokes images of a government department. The AC station I worked for played it in ’84, and it became one of those easy air drum songs you just kind of fall into.Â I just heard “My Ever Changing Moods”Â on the radio the other day and I thought, “This has to go in a mix.” And look, it did.
“Fantastic Day,” Haircut 100 (download)
What the hell is up with the name of this group? Nick Heyward must have been smoking something wicked, ’cause “Haircut 100” is kind of stupid-sounding. I mean, if you were in a pub really boozin’ it up, and started bragging about being in a band that was called MotÃ¶rhead orÂ Haircut 100, which name would get you beaten up? Your honor, I rest my case.
“House of Fun,” Madness (download)
I always wonder why some Brit bands make it in the U.S. (i.e., Duran Duran and Culture Club) and others just kind of languished in the pastoral hamlet of “One Hit Wonder-ville.” Madness is one of those bands that certainly had the chops to churn out the hits… but not in the U.S.
“Agadoo,” Black Lace (download)
To be honest,Â I first heard this song a couple of years ago.Â I don’t know how I stumbled upon it, but I included it because 1.) It was a huge hit in the UK, and 2.) It kind of looks like my last name. It’s a stupid tune that gets stuck in your head in a most blissfully annoying way.