MID-EIGHTIES GREATIES: THE TOP 10 SONGS OF 1987

Yes, we just made a word up to bring you this collection of circa 1987 chart-toppers, heart-stoppers and pants-droppers. Some of you reading this weren’t even born yet when these ditties were released, while others might have prayed for certain death upon that first listen. Here, two stalwarts of our editorial department – one of whom was trying to get a grip on larval adulthood, the other trying to grasp one-to-one correspondence – reminisce upon the most popular songs of ’87.

1. THE BANGLES “Walk Like an Egyptian”
Dan: I was 15 that year and, much to my dad’s delight, I was completely obsessed with William S. Burroughs. When this tune came on the radio during its every-10-minute cycle, during the chorus I would intone, “Walk like a junkie … ” in my best raspy-sepulchral Burroughs’ impression. Oh, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place!
Matt: Oh, yes, that’s a horrific dance. Doing that dance has an uncanny way of making someone seem insignificant. When public speaking, rather than imagining folks in their underwear, I’d suggest imagining the audience doing the “Walk Like an Egyptian” dance.

2. HEART “Alone”
Dan: Like many of the day, the video for this song was filmed in a post-apocalyptic wasteland/big house. And why were they so sad, dressed up in all black like a couple of spinsters? The Wilson sisters were already millionaires by then. Sheesh.
Matt: Who could forget that piano intro? Also, it appears women owned the charts in ’87.

3. GREGORY ABBOTT “Shake You Down”
Dan: I have no recollection of this song whatsoever. When it came out, I was probably busy volunteering at the leper colony. However, I just watched the video on YouTube and with his weird hairdo and dour expression, Abbott looks like he could’ve been the villain for Coming to America 2: King Akeem’s Revenge.
Matt: Should I have a memory of this guy? Should I be embarrassed I don’t know his music? I remember Jim Abbott. He was that one-armed MLB player. Then there’s Bud Abbott of Abbott and Costello fame. That’s the extent of my Abbott-knowledge.

4. WHITNEY HOUSTON “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”
Dan: In the mid-’80s, my parents let a friend of my brother’s and mine move in with our family. He worked as a pizza delivery guy and used to blast this song while zipping around in his ’81 Chevette. Every night, he would bring home leftover pizzas and I would eat myself into a salted, bloated stupor while watching repeats of The Beastmaster on cable. That’s all; that’s my little story.
Matt: Any experience I might have had with this song was poisoned by gaggles of braces-wearing middle-school girls belting the chorus at the top of their lungs. The parenthetical addition to the title is interesting, though: Whitney wants to dance with somebody, the subtlety of the parentheses make us wonder if love is a prerequisite for said dance. Again, women ruled the charts in ’87!

5. STARSHIP Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”
Dan: For many Americans, 1987 meant two things: the Iran-Contra affair was resolved (wink!) and the film Mannequin was finally released. Starship’s rallying cry from that film’s soundtrack, oddly enough, also works as an anthem for the Reagan administration during the aftermath of that particular bit of political skullduggery.
Matt: Was this post-“We Built This City”? Couldn’t even keep the Jefferson after that shit-show. Also, what’s Mannequin?

6. ROBBIE NEVIL “C’est La Vie”
Dan: OK, now I think Matt just made some of these songs up to fill space. But I watched (some of) this video and the question remains: In the ’80s, how did people have so much fun without antidepressants? Oh, that’s right – cocaine.
Matt: Dan, I think Wikipedia made these up. I, too, watched the video for this song and had two thoughts: One, this is a very catchy song; two, that’s a very squishy-sounding bass line.

7. WHITESNAKE “Here I Go Again”
Dan: The “Song That Launched a Thousand Camaros,” this is the anthem that dudes would blast, sitting in their cars in various parking lots up and down on First Street in Jax Beach. Then they would scurry home to watch The Golden Girls.
Matt: I vaguely remember a blonde woman rolling around on top of a sports car, but my generation’s connection to this song is more likely to include Will Ferrell rocking, working on his car in Old School, “Hi Mike!”

8. BRUCE HORNSBY “The Way It Is”

Dan: In an alternate world, this main riff is a classic example of minimalist drone music. Here on Earth, it’s the audio equivalent of having your tonsils removed by a nervous, big-knuckled urologist.
Matt: I got nothing. Top 10, really?

9. BOB SEGER “Shakedown”
Dan: Whenever my girlfriend and I go on road trips, to while away the time, we play this game called, “What Celebrity Would You Not Want to Use the Bathroom After?” No. 1 with a (silver) bullet? Bob Seger.
Matt: Seger had one of those voices where he could get away with trite lyrics or whatever rock n’ roll cliché he wanted. This, however, was too much. Cocaine’s impact on the ’80s is evident here.

10. BON JOVI “Livin’ on a Prayer”
Dan: What I remember most about Bon Jovi, other than them sucking, is that their videos invariably featured scenes of their audiences, shot in slow motion. If you watch these videos now, mute the sound, and blast the soundtrack for Ingmar Bergman’s 1968 film Vargtimmen, you will be both mesmerized and appalled.
Matt: It’s hard to believe this song barely cracked the Top 10. It’s even harder to believe it came from such a lovable pop-country band.

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