Speaking of the Buggles …

And, more specifically, the brief time (one album) in which the Buggles were absorbed into Yes, here’s Tempus Fugit.

It’s a good song, and the album (Drama) had a couple of them. It’s clear that Trevor Horn was more comfortable behind the boards in a recording studio than he was fronting a band, but the interplay between Steve Howe (in roughly his 10th year in Yes) and Geoff Downes (Horn’s fellow Buggle) was better here than it was in Asia, and that’s high praise. Perhaps it’s because Chris Squire and Alan White are a more propulsive rhythm section than Asia’s John Wetton, who basically just thumped the bass while singing in his unique charisma-free style, and Carl Palmer.

So yeah, it’s kind of a shame this combination didn’t last longer. Then again, by the time Yes had broken up and reformed, they did pretty well. The next album was 90125, which was introduced to everyone with Trevor Rabin’s distinctive riff on Owner of a Lonely Heart.

Which was introduced to us in a truly bizarre extended video that I don’t think was shown much once the edited version took hold on MTV.

(In case you’re wondering where we were speaking of The Buggles, check here.

Back to the VH1 list

To recap, see the whole list of 80s songs and my comments on 1-25.

26 Guns N’ Roses / “Welcome to the Jungle” 1987

Hey, hockey teams need theme songs. One of the last great riff-driven songs.

That said, I’ve been known to break into parody that seems appropriate for this long, long-inactive band:

Welcome to McDonald’s / We’ve got burgers and fries
(haven’t figured out the next part)
Would you like some ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cheeeese?! Cheese?!

27 Kajagoogoo / “Too Shy” 1984

Here’s where I differ from the average snarky kid-in-T-shirt they drag onto these shows. Most of these people remember Kajagoogoo for the hair. I remember them because Nick Beggs is a helluva bass player.

(Tangent alert …)

You also have to like Beggs because he figured in not one, but two, Bands Reunited episodes. One with Kajagoogoo, of course. The other was ABC, though that was a bit of a sham because Beggs was actually part of ABC’s touring band at that point anyway.

(Further tangent alert …)

How has this Wikipedia entry on former ABC “member” Fiona Russell-Powell gone unedited?

(And back to a previous tangent …)

Back to Bands Reunited, here’s an epilogue on Extreme:

“Nuno Bettencourt refused to be filmed on camera. After a conversation with Gary Cherone (who wasn’t sure on participating either), they decided it wasn’t a good time to reunite. Since then, they have reunited in 2004 and 2006.”

This is when you call bullshit. As if the original episode itself didn’t have enough bullshit in it, given Cherone’s attempt to explain More Than Words as something other than a sleazy “If you loved me you’d do me” drunken frat-boy warble. Then Nuno refuses to appear on camera, apparently because he’s too big in Japan or some bullshit like that. Who does he think he is, Nigel Tufnel?

So Nuno and the guy who bombed as Sammy’s replacement in Van Hagar take a stand for artistic freedom and privacy by refusing to reunite, even though the other guys — who seemed like the only guys you’d ever consider meeting over a beer — were up for it.

And after all that … they play some reunion concerts elsewhere?

Yeah. That’s bullshit.

OK, back to the list.

28 Wham! / “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” 1984

I hated this song in high school. And I still do. And the video is an affront to the eyes.

(Could I say “affront” on VH1? Probably not.)

29 Talking Heads / Burning Down the House 1983

This band spend a lot of time in the deep end without a life vest, but when they put it together and let Chris Frantz play drums, they did good stuff. I liked the video, too, with a diverse collection of people switching places back and forth with the band and matching the choreography.

30 Pat Benatar / “Love is a Battlefield” 1983

Beware the Shimmy of Death! And the overwrought acting!

“You leave this house now …”
“No one can tell us we’re wrong …”
“… you can just forget about coming back!”
“Search in our heart for so long …”
“Hey! Could you cut the operatic crap for a minute?! I said, ‘If you leave this house now’ … ah screw it.”

Want to see a good Benatar video? Check out Shadows of the Night, with her and the band as a WWII band of pilots on some sort of secret mission. Not her fault Top Secret came out around the same time and seemed to use a lot of the same sets.

And Benatar did far better songs. If we were going for quality, Heartbreaker would be worth a shot here.

31 Queen and David Bowie / “Under Pressure” 1981

F— Vanilla Ice.

The impression I get of the English is that this song ranks only slightly behind the Bible and the 1966 World Cup on their list of things that are to be treated with nothing other than reverence. And that’s understandable. This is a legitimate classic, one of the rare rock songs that could be called “majestic” without any trace of irony or snark. It’s also quintessentially English, building wonderfully from that understated bass line to Mercury’s soaring pleas to get along and Bowie’s calming response.

I’m unable to find a link to the story behind the video, and that’s too bad. As I recall, an unknown director was told to make a video for it without the musicians, leaving him to assemble it from stock footage. The result, like the song, is a classic.

They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Guster comes close, singing about difficult situations while offering a pat on the back and encouragement to stick it out, but that’s about it.

32 Night Ranger / “Sister Christian” 1983


Don’t turn your drums sideways and yell “Motoring” at me like it’s supposed to be some sort of meaningful statement.

Disturbing news from the VH1 special — drummer Kelly Keagy’s sister has apparently been hounded constantly about the song, of which the Wikipedia entry says, “It became a cautionary anthem for teenage girls across a conservative America, warning them not to ‘give it up before their time is due’.” But if you’re not Kelly Keagy’s sister, see Mongo over there for a backstage pass.

33 Soft Cell / “Tainted Love” 1981

Does YouTube have the ad in which the guy starts singing this in the hospital? I couldn’t find it under “tainted love ad” or “tainted love hospital.”

I don’t need to hear this song often. It’s a little thin beyond the still-novel synth sounds and that unforgettable rhythmic hook. But that hook and the vocals are pretty cool, aren’t they?

34 Poison / “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” 1988

“Just like every dog has his day … just like every cowboy wears disco boots … every girl … would rather listen to something else.” Come on. Nobody likes this song.

35 Phil Collins / “In the Air Tonight” 1981

The Wikipedia entry on this one covers it quite well. Section 1.1 — Drum sound. Section 2 — Urban legend.

This was Phil at his peak. For all the computerized recommendations that tell me I should listen to early Genesis, I simply cannot listen to early Genesis. The band started to hit its stride in the early 80s, and so did Phil, who managed to do interesting stuff on his own and with the band for a couple of albums before degenerating into Illegal Alien and Invisible Touch. Not to mention all the videos about making videos.

The song is simply mesmerizing. And Collins was a damn good drummer back in the day.

36 Tommy Tutone / “867-5309 / Jenny” 1981

Another classic case of a journeyman stumbling upon a couple of interlocking hooks that just drill themselves into your head. This is easily the best song ever about a phone number, closely followed by Public Enemy’s 911 Is a Joke. (So why did Duran Duran cover the latter and not the former? I’m not kidding.)

37 Aerosmith / “Janie’s Got a Gun” 1989

I may lose tons of street cred here, but I don’t like this song. Please allow me to explain.

I don’t like the way Aerosmith gets a free pass on things that, if done by another band, would draw the snarkiest of critics’ commentaries. They can use an orchestra for a live performance of Dream On, and it’s brilliant, but when Yes calls in the strings, they’re pretentious jerks.

In this case, they do an allegedly serious song about an abused daughter, then sabotage it with cutesy synth-horn blasts in the prolonged fadeout. Let’s call this the Chopsticks rule. You can add Chopsticks to the middle section of Blinded by the Light, and it works. You can’t do that to, say, Sting’s Fragile. You’re either trying to say something, or you’re not. Make up your mind.

Mrs. MMM points out a flaw in the video. She shoots him in his home office. But he’s found on the tracks. That’s a drag, so to speak.

38 U2 / “Pride (In the Name of Love)” 1984

Now here’s a band that knows how to make the music fit the lyrics. And wow, this was awesome. U2 always had a social conscience, obviously, but this song started Bono down the path as one of history’s greatest humanitarians. And the Edge, Adam and Larry have always known how to make us march along.

39 Modern English / “I Melt With You” 1982

The Clash were a scowling political band whose legacy on current radio playlists is a couple of lighthearted songs. Same deal here. But in this case, the shoe may fit a bit better. Maybe love songs weren’t their primary interest, but they made a good one.

40 The B-52’s / “Love Shack” 1989

(Snarky, VH1-friendly take) A Chrysler that seats about 20? Haven’t these people heard of being environmental? And what’s with the OLD guy in the video? Ewwww …

(My actual take) Somebody tell all the gangstas rapping about smoking blunts and making videos indistinguishable from MTV Cribs that THIS is how you’re supposed to party.

41 Mötley Crüe / “Dr. Feelgood” 1989

Always good to see hard-rock bands with a little groove. Big leap forward for these guys, who started out as a cartoon in the Shout at the Devil days.

42 The Clash / “London Calling” 1982

A very well-delivered song, with that staccato guitar telling you it’s time to listen up. If only I had any idea what Joe Strummer was talking about. I can get a general sense from the tone, but I have to file this under “songs I love even if I don’t quite get the lyrics.” The AllMusic review doesn’t really help. Yeah, it’s a call to action. To do what?

I’m nit-picking, I know. This is a good one, establishing a mood of urgency that makes you want to join whatever rebellion Strummer’s selling.

43 ABC / “Look of Love (Part One)” 1982

ABC did better songs than this. Poison Arrow and Be Near Me, to name two. This one provides a likable backdrop for Martin Frye to do his English soulman bit, but if I put one ABC song on an iPod, it’s Poison Arrow, which has far more going on musically.

44 Bananarama / “Cruel Summer” 1984

Oh yeah — I remember hanging out at the pool, dancing and singing along. It was kind of my theme song for a while.

Oh wait. No, it wasn’t. It was an insubstantial pop ditty I would’ve forgotten years ago if VH1 didn’t keep dredging it up.

45 Janet Jackson / “Nasty” 1986

Gotta love those pop-feminist “treat me with respect” anthems, dating back to Aretha. This one fits nicely. Every comedian for the next two years did some variation of the “Miss Jackson if you’re nasty” bit.

46 The Police / “Every Breath You Take” 1983

Another one of those songs on this list that isn’t the best song by this band but is the most unforgettable. The simple melody, the limerick-style verses, Sting’s aching vocal on the bridge — one listen, and this joins half the Beatles catalog and a handful of ’70s tunes as a pop standard in your head.

Didn’t like the video(s), though. The camera and lighting effects were anything but smoothly integrated.

47 Twisted Sister / “We’re Not Gonna Take It” 1984

What a fun career Mark Metcalf has had. He was apparently on Buffy, he was The Maestro on Seinfeld, and he was able to reprise his Animal House character in these Twisted Sister videos.

Sure, the video is full of goofy humor that seems dated today, but that’s OK. This was never high art.

But geez, Dee Snider was an ugly cross-dresser.

48 Bruce Springsteen / “Born in the U.S.A.” 1984

Poor Bruce. One of the most misunderstood songs in history, right up with CCR’s Fortunate Son. (No, advertisers, it’s NOT a patriotic anthem — it’s a nasty rip on the draft and the way those who encourage our wars are rarely the people who fight them.)

The talking heads on VH1 had it wrong here — Bruce was already big. If anything, this was a comeback after the low-key album Nebraska. (In an alternative “non-hits but nevertheless vital songs of the ’80s list,” we’d need to discuss Atlantic City.)

The lyrics here shine more brightly with every listen. He crams so much detail in every verse. Who can forget this: “Had a brother at Khe Sanh / Fightin’ off the Viet Cong / They’re still there, he’s all gone.”

Attention Toby Keith — THAT’S a boot up your ass, son.

49 Beastie Boys / “Fight For Your Right” 1986

Sure, the chorus sticks in your head, and the video was entertaining. But the lyrics are really, really stupid. I’ll take Sabotage over this one.

50 Eurythmics / “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” 1983

I didn’t know what to make of this when I first saw it. I still don’t. Even 23 years later, after androgyny lost its shock value and after synth-popsters grew tired of such artificial sounds, this song and video are still cutting-edge. And that’s a compliment.

Today’s cool video

Some may find this tribute to Chico Mendes a bit of a bummer for the holiday, but (A) those of us who are unilingual won’t absorb the words because they’re in Spanish, (B) it’s life-affirming and (C) the percussion break near the end is simply awesome.

The resident music geeks here will like the indulgent drum kit, with a couple hundred splash cymbals and enough toms to make Alex Van Halen jealous.

If I were on VH1

The following, taken from here but also appearing on other boards, appears to be an accurate take of VH1’s Top 100 songs of the ’80s.

One of these days, I should live-blog one of these things so you, my three or four readers, can experience the joy of hearing me talk back to some of the vapid mediocrities trotted out for such shows. This one was a particularly mixed bag — Barenaked Ladies were great as always, and Thomas Dolby brought some much-needed intellectual heft to the proceedings. Others … not so much. (My co-worker, of course, was fantastic. Brilliant. Should have used her more. Seriously, she was pretty good.)

So if I’d been on the show, here’s what I would’ve said. I’ve also watched songs 41-100, so if I remember any comments worth rebutting, I’ll include.

01 Bon Jovi / “Livin’ on a Prayer” 1986

OK, fine. One of many songs on this list that have earned a grudging respect from me over the years, though I still don’t care for the vocal delivery. Or the “whoap … whoap … dug dug dug … whoap … whoap” guitar.

02 Def Leppard / “Pour Some Sugar On Me” 1987

Hey, can we have some shots of backstage-worthy women in the crowd, just in case we miss the subtlety of the metaphor? We can? Excellent!

03 Duran Duran / “Hungry Like the Wolf” 1982

When I was 12, there were several aspects of the lyrics and the video that I knew I was supposed to find sexy, even if I didn’t quite understand why. Now, 24 years later, I still don’t quite understand. Great song, but the album version lays it on a bit thick with the squeals that uncomfortably straddle the line between “orgasm” and “getting mauled by a herd of hyenas.”

04 Michael Jackson / “Billie Jean” 1982

Great talent — the songwriting, the singing, the dancing. Whatever happened to him?

05 Prince / “When Doves Cry” 1984

Hated it in high school. Grew to respect it 10 years later. Found it tedious 20 years later. Any song with “Touch, if you will, my stomach” as a key lyric has veered from artistic to pretentious.

06 Hall & Oates / “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” 1981

Funny how they managed to sneak such a catchy hook into such a sleepy song.

07 Guns N’ Roses / Sweet Child O’ Mine 1987

Great guitar riff, unforgettable chorus, but I got really tired of all my sexually adventurous classmates finding deep meaning in chanting “Where do we go now?” 800 times.

08 Madonna / “Like a Virgin” 1984

I’m surprised this song isn’t covered more often. Great hooks, dated production.

09 Run-D.M.C. / “Walk This Way” 1986

As a song, the Public Enemy-Anthrax collaboration on “Bring the Noise” was better. As a cultural event, this was unforgettable. And necessary, bringing hip-hop out of the margins and showing its possibilities as a melting pot of styles. Seemed to help Aerosmith’s career just a bit as well.

10 AC/DC / “You Shook Me All Night Long” 1980

Knocking me out with those American thighs, indeed. AC/DC was one of those rare bands that can make a plodding drum beat and guitar riff work.

11 Journey / Don’t Stop Believin’ 1981

Lost a lot of cred with me when I heard a live version in which Steve Perry wailed, “Just a city boy … born and raised in (pause, as if checking a set list) PHILADELPHIA!” But it worked. Journey got a lot of mileage of having Neil Schon adding the power to Jonathan Cain’s power ballads.

12 Whitney Houston / “How Will I Know” 1985

For years, I didn’t recognize the word “Screech” as a character on Saved By the Bell. I recognized it as Houston’s vocal style here.

13 U2 / “With Or Without You” 1984

I had to hear this song about 10 times to realize how brilliant it was. One the best fadeouts in rock history, as The Edge echoes Bono’s longing in his guitar.

14 The Bangles / “Walk Like an Egyptian” 1986

Aside from the fact that I, like every boy my age, had a major crush on Susanna Hoffs (and I still would, if I weren’t married), this song is insubtantial. I liked all the Bangles, but Susanna was the only reason to watch this video. They did better songs — many of them on this album.

15 Van Halen / “Jump” 1984

You can almost read Dave’s mind — “Awww, man, he’s serious about playing keyboards. I’d better amp up the Diamond Dave routine to sell this one.” The creative tension worked.

16 INXS / “Need You Tonight” 1987

I think it was Charles M. Smith — I know it was in Musician magazine — describing this song as a completely sincere pick-up attempt. Not sexist, not demeaning, just a polite yet direct way of saying, “Hey, I’d really like to sleep with you.” It’s actually far less sleazy than, say, Dave Matthews’ Crash.

17 Whitesnake / “Here I Go Again” 1982


18 Dexy’s Midnight Runners / “Come On Eileen” 1982

Underrated. Easy to make fun of the guy for spending half the video showing off his armpits (even worse, check out the pencil-thin 1950s suave look he’s trying now), but the song was terrific.

19 Cyndi Lauper / “Time after Time” 1984

It was tough for Cyndi Lauper to switch gears like this after pushing the She’s So Unusual character. No wonder I didn’t think it worked.

20 Rick Springfield / “Jessie’s Girl” 1981

I think Jessie’s girl would probably take off with Rick. Especially after realizing it’s spelled “J-e-s-s-I-e.” That’s a girl’s spelling.

21 Michael Jackson / “Beat It” 1982

Even in my Top 40-hating high school days, I had to give it up for this song. And the video. And the guitar solo.

22 The Cure / “Just Like Heaven” 1987

Did the Cure have to record a ton of gloomy songs just so the upbeat ones would stand out? It worked. This song is perfect. Great guitar riff over the atmospheric keyboards, well-timed pushes from the drums … pop songs don’t get better than this.

23 Cyndi Lauper / “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” 1984

I respect Cyndi Lauper these days. Still don’t like her songs. There’s a camp value to seeing the old wrestlers trying to scold the “naughty” Cyndi for … what exactly? Coloring her hair? Wearing a goofy hat? That’s it, young lady — you’re grounded!

24 A-Ha / “Take On Me” 1985

I maintain that these guys were NOT one-hit wonders. They did a Bond song, for Pete’s sake, plus the excellent The Sun Always Shines on TV. But yeah, this was huge. If you don’t like that video, you probably have issues.

25 Go-Go’s / “Our Lips Are Sealed” 1981

I liked a few other Go-Go’s songs better than this one, but it’s fine. Not your typical bubblegum fare.

I’ll come back to this. Here’s the rest of the list.

26 Guns N’ Roses / “Welcome to the Jungle” 1987
27 Kajagoogoo / “Too Shy” 1984
28 Wham! / “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” 1984
29 Talking Heads / Burning Down the House 1983
30 Pat Benatar / “Love is a Battlefield” 1983
31 Queen and David Bowie / “Under Pressure” 1981
32 Night Ranger / “Sister Christian” 1983
33 Soft Cell / “Tainted Love” 1981
34 Poison / “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” 1988
35 Phil Collins / “In the Air Tonight” 1981
36 Tommy Tutone / “867-5309 / Jenny” 1981
37 Aerosmith / “Janie’s Got a Gun” 1989
38 U2 / “Pride (In the Name of Love)” 1984
39 Modern English / “I Melt With You” 1982
40 The B-52’s / “Love Shack” 1989
41 Mötley Crüe / “Dr. Feelgood” 1989
42 The Clash / “London Calling” 1982
43 ABC / “Look of Love (Part One)” 1982
44 Bananarama / “Cruel Summer” 1984
45 Janet Jackson / “Nasty” 1986
46 The Police / “Every Breath You Take” 1983
47 Twisted Sister / “We’re Not Gonna Take It” 1984
48 Bruce Springsteen / “Born in the U.S.A.” 1984
49 Beastie Boys / “Fight For Your Right” 1986
50 Eurythmics / “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” 1983
51 Ratt / “Round and Round” 1984
52 Dead or Alive / “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” 1985
53 Billy Idol / “White Wedding” 1988
54 Salt-N-Pepa / “Push It” 1986
55 A Flock of Seagulls / “I Ran (So Far Away)” 1982
56 Bonnie Tyler / “Total Eclipse of the Heart” 1983
57 Toni Basil / “Mickey” 1981
58 Culture Club / “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” 1982
59 John Mellencamp / “Jack & Diane” 1982
60 Young M.C. / “Bust a Move” 1989
61 Styx / “Mr. Roboto” 1983
62 Berlin / “Take My Breath Away” 1986
63 Devo / “Whip It” 1980
64 Paula Abdul / “Straight Up” 1988
65 Foreigner / “I Want to Know What Love Is” 1984
66 Depeche Mode / “Just Can’t Get Enough” 1981
67 REO Speedwagon / “Keep On Loving You” 1980
68 Public Enemy / “Fight the Power” 1988
69 R.E.M / “It’s The End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” 1980
70 Joan Jett & The Blackhearts/ “I Love Rock N’ Roll” 1981
71 Rick James / “Super Freak” 1981
72 The Fixx / “One Thing Leads to Another” 1983
73 Nena / “99 Luftbaloons” 1983
74 George Michael / “Faith” 1987
75 Prince / “Little Red Corvette” 1983
76 Thomas Dolby / “She Blinded Me With Science” 1982
77 New Edition / “Candy Girl” 1983
78 Blondie / “Call Me” 1980
79 Human League / “Don’t You Want Me?” 1981
80 Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock / “It Takes Two” 1988
81 Cameo / “Word Up!” 1986
82 Squeeze / “Tempted” 1981
83 Prince / “Kiss” 1986
84 Lionel Richie / All Night Long (All Night) 1983
85 Robert Palmer / “Addicted to Love” 1985
86 Bow Wow Wow / “I Want Candy” 1982
87 Falco / “Rock Me Amadeus 1986
88 Chaka Khan / “Ain’t Nobody” 1989
89 The Pretenders / “Brass in Pocket” 1980
90 Tone-Loc / “Wild Thing” 1989
91 Katrina and The Waves / “Walking On Sunshine” 1983
92 New Kids on the Block / “You Got It (The Right Stuff) 1988
93 Gary Numan / “Cars” 1980
94 The Rolling Stones / “Start Me Up” 1981
95 Debbie Gibson / “Only in My Dreams” 1987
96 Men at Work / “Down Under” 1982
97 The Romantics / “What I Like About You” 1980
98 Bobby Brown / “My Perogative” 1988
99 Wang Chung / “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” 1986
100 Loverboy / “Working for the Weekend” 1981