RIFF Rewind — A time machine for your ears: 1983


Do you recognize these skinny boys?

I really, really wanted to include “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the 1983 top 5 song list.

You know the “so bad it’s good” genre of movies? Stuff like Plan 9 From Outer Space and Manos: The Hands of Fate? “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is, for me, the musical version of that. It’s so weird and makes so little sense that I can’t help but love it. It’s The Room of songs.

You know what? I’m going to embed the video anyway. You earned and/or deserve it.

Another note about 1983: It marks the release of Metallica‘s first album, which means it’s going to be the first of nine appearances by Metallica on these lists. So be prepared for that. (No track from St. Anger was the best of its year. No track from St. Anger was the best of anything. We don’t talk about St. Anger.)

So all that said, without further ado…

Eurythmics — “Sweet Dreams”

I enjoy the music of Marilyn Manson, at least until he got old and didn’t change his lyrical content to reflect it, but boy do I dislike his covers. “This Is Halloween” aside, none of them are better than the source material, and “Personal Jesus” isn’t even better than Johnny Cash‘s version.

I bring this up because one of Manson’s covers was “Sweet Dreams,” and it took work in the ’90s to convince people to listen to the original. They were synth-averse, but I think I more or less won them over. The original is a very good song, after all.

New Order — “Blue Monday”

I swear that being covered in the ’90s isn’t a requirement for these songs. I guess by the mid- to late-’90s, songs from the early ’80s were vintage enough to be coverable but not so old they were uncool. But once again, the original is better, and synths still need to make a comeback.

Metallica — “Seek & Destroy”

I know Metallica wasn’t the first band to play heavy metal with a punk tempo and ethos, and I know they’re not the first metal band to not use an irritating falsetto for the vocals, but they’re definitely the ones who defined both those things. Sure, they’ve since gotten old, and that whole Napster ordeal wasn’t the best, but I’ll argue endlessly that their musical experiments and evolution created entire genres, like musical giants The Beatles and Elvis before them. They inspired enough musicians to change the game.

Yes, there will be eight more of these fawning paragraphs before we’re done. Get used to it.

Pat Benatar — “Love is a Battlefield”

I’m an avowed fan of women who rock, and with the exception of Joan Jett, no woman rocks harder than Pat Benatar.

For more women who rock might I direct your attention to Lita Ford, Lzzy Hale, Suzi Quatro, Debbie Harry, and Lauren Harris (whose dad is bassist for Iron Maiden, if you’re looking for credentials).

Culture Club — “Karma Chameleon”

This one, oddly enough, is on behalf of my grandpa. He loved beer, sports, cars, playing cards and, inexplicably, Culture Club.

Of all the things I got from him (for example a love of sports, cars, playing cards…), one of the ones I didn’t appreciate at first is that he unashamedly liked a band that a guy like him probably shouldn’t. He didn’t care what anyone thought; he liked what he liked. And, while he died before social media became a pervasive thing, that example has served me well in a social media culture that revels in shaming people for liking things they “shouldn’t.”

Honorable Mentions

Styx — “Mr. Roboto
The Greg Kihn Band — “Jeopardy”
Naked Eyes — “Always Something There to Remind Me”
ZZ Top — “Sharp Dressed Man”
Bonnie Tyler — “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Dio — “Holy Diver”
Elton John — “I’m Still Standing”
Talking Heads — “Burning Down the House”
The Police — “Every Breath You Take”
Whodini — “Magic’s Wand”
Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton — “Islands in the Stream”
Lionel Richie — “All Night Long”
Yes — “Owner of a Lonely Heart”

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *