Worst Songs of the 80s?....Gimme a break

Rolling Stone magazine recently released the outcome of a readers’ poll for the ten worst songs of the 1980s. Now I’ll be the first to tell you, that there were some songs released in the 80s that made a pancake on a turntable sound good, but I had to laugh when I saw this list. (Even Andy Greene admitted in the article that the readers got it wrong.) I'm gonna give you my take on this list and why this needs to be Rolling Stone's "final countdown."

Here is the list:

#1 Starship - "We Built This City"
#2 Europe - "The Final Countdown"
#3 Chris De Burgh - "Lady In Red"
#4 Wham! - "Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go)"
#5 Men Without Hats - "Safety Dance"
#6 Falco - "Rock Me Amadeus"
#7 Bobby McFerrin - "Don't Worry Be Happy"
#8 Tony Basil - "Mickey"
#9 Taco - "Putting On The Ritz"
#10 Rick Astley - "Never Gonna Give You Up"

My first problem with this poll is there is no real definition of "worst." Is it based on a general dislike for the song? Is it because it sounds bad musically or the singing off key? Or is it because there is no substance to the lyrics? My guess is most people voted because of a general dislike for the song. I could see maybe voting for a couple of these songs for the same reason, but I would have a problem voting for any song that had tremendous success. Here are the positions, respectively, that these songs peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 chart: 1, 8, 3, 1, 3, 1, 1, 1, 4, 1. To reiterate, that's 6 number 1s, 3 top 5s, and 1 top 10!!! It's hard for me to believe with this kind of success, that this poll accurately represents the USA as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. The audience polled by Rolling Stone includes people that should not get a vote. But wait, isn't Rolling Stone a music magazine? Shouldn't its readers know a thing or two about music? Of course they should, but this kind of poll should use an audience that is age appropriate. By that, I mean people who know have heard these songs many times and remember a time when they were first popular. By their own statistics, 30% of Rolling Stone subscribers are ages 18-24. That's people who were born in 1987-93! C'mon, they shouldn't get to vote! If you polled that group on what radio station they listen to, do you think the station would play any of these songs? I'd also venture that 90% of the people who voted for Rick Astley were in this group and voted just because they were sick of being "Rickrolled" three years ago.

I say enough with the top ten list polls as a whole. I think personal top ten lists are fine to voice your opinion, but the right audience needs to be right on any polling topic or else you'll get results such as these. Nice try, Rolling Stone, but next time keep your results to yourself!




3 comments:

  1. You make some good points.

    At least a poll adds validity. I hat when Bloggers (like you or I) do top tens, because imediately I think "says who?" and then there's always something I dont agree with, so I bail.

    That said, I can... hear what you're saying on the younger vote, but I'd counter that perhaps it lends an amount of authenticity to "the test of time". For me, with movies, I love hearing what these young people are saying about movies because its nostalgia and context free. Its like an empirical test as to whether the thing in question is holding up for the next generation.

    That IS crazy though that all of those songs were so popular, because looking at that list, there arent that many I would defend more than halfheartedly...

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  2. I hear what you are saying about the "test of time." I just think it's easy for younger people to write off songs that are identified with the 80s. For us, the children of the 80s and older, I think there would be different songs on this list because we have a wider range of what the 80s offered.

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  3. Nothing wrong with any of these songs... OK, I can't defend "Lady In Red", but otherwise... other than that they're all just kind of tired. It's not the song's fault that it's been overplayed.

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