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1982 Songs of the Year

Home > Everywhere > Lists | Music | Performing Arts
by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published December 13th 2018
The music was the best bit of 1982
I recently wrote about the songs of 1981, and how I think, as far as music goes, it is the greatest year. Well, 1982 is not far behind. I was 11 in 1982, in year 7, the last year of primary school. My father had died the previous year and I lost myself in a world of music. I did have a lot of friends, but I achieved a scholarship to a private school, and none of them could understand why I wanted to go that route with my education and we steadily drifted apart.

By the year 2010, I was in regular contact with exactly one old friend from primary school. (Hi, Caryanne!) But that's by the by.

cassette, player, tape, audio
Admit it - you had one of these on your floor at some time...


However, for me, 1982 is something I remembered for the music. I spent all of my spare money on music, especially those K-Tel albums with names like 1982 With A Bullet, 1982… The Summer, etc. I listened to SAFM and 5KA on the radio and watched music video clip shows often. And, of course, Countdown was a staple in Sunday nights on the ABC. I trusted Ian "Molly" Meldrum and if he said to buy an album, I generally tried to.

So, as usual, songs released in the year. And here are those that just missed out on the list (ready for this?): '22 Acacia Avenue' (Iron Maiden); 'Abracadabra' (Steve Miller Band); 'Africa' (Toto); 'Ain't No Pleasing You' (Chas & Dave); 'Allentown' (Billy Joel); 'Avalon' (Roxy Music); 'Bad To The Bone' (George Thorogood); 'Be Good Johnny' (Men At Work); 'Bow River' (Cold Chisel); 'Breaking Us In Two' (Joe Jackson); 'Buffalo Gals' (Malcolm McLaren); 'Chariots of Fire Main Theme' (Vangelis); 'Come Dancing' (The Kinks); 'Come On Eileen' (Dexys Midnight Runners); 'Counting The Beat' (The Swingers); 'Da Da Da' (Trio); 'Der Kommissar' (After The Fire); 'Don't Change' (INXS); 'Don't Go' (Yazoo); 'Driving In My Car' (Madness); 'Electric Avenue' (Eddy Grant); 'Eminence Front' (The Who); 'Eye In The Sky' (The Alan Parsons Project); 'Eye Of The Tiger' (Survivor); 'Girl Crazy' (Hot Chocolate); 'Gypsy' (Fleetwood Mac); 'Happy Talk' (Captain Sensible); 'Hard To Say I'm Sorry' (Chicago); 'Hold Me' (Fleetwood Mac); 'House Of Fun' (Madness); 'Hurts So Good' (John Mellencamp); 'I Melt With You' (Modern English); 'Jenny / 867-5309' (Tommy Tutone); 'Kids In America' (Kim Wilde); 'Love My Way' (The Psychedelic Furs); 'Mexican Radio' (Wall Of Voodoo); 'Oh, Julie!' (Shakin' Stevens); 'Only You' (Yazoo); 'Open Arms' (Journey); 'Our House' (Madness); 'Pac-Man Fever' (Buckner & Garcia); 'Private Investigations' (Dire Straits); 'Rock The Casbah' (The Clash); 'Rosanna' (Toto); 'Run To The Hills' (Iron Maiden); 'Six Months In A Leaky Boat' (Split Enz); 'Steppin' Out' (Joe Jackson); 'Take It Away' (Paul McCartney); 'The Look Of Love' (ABC); 'The Number Of The Beast' (Iron Maiden); 'The One Thing' (INXS); 'The Other Woman' (Ray Parker Jr); 'Thriller' (Michael Jackson); 'Town Called Malice' (The Jam); 'Vacation' (The Go-Go's); 'Valerie' (Steve Winwood); 'White Wedding' (Billy Idol); 'You Can Do Magic' (America).

Wow! What a year already, right? And I don't mind telling you, reducing this to 10 songs was impossible, so that's why this list is 15 songs long.

And here we go!


'The Message' by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

The first true rap song to make an impact on the world (I think we can safely ignore Blondie's 'Rapture'), this protest song about the state of inner-city America introduced us to a new musical style, with incredible lyrics and a driving beat. Rap was the voice of the down-trodden; this showed how powerful that voice could be.


'Industrial Disease' by Dire Straits

Love Over Gold was one of those rare albums where every song was a good one. This track is my favourite (at the moment; ten years ago I would have pegged for 'Private Investigations') and its distinctive guitar and lyrics that make fun of certain segments of society have stood the test of time.


'Voyeur' by Kim Carnes

When people think of Kim Carnes, they tend to think of 'Bette Davis Eyes', but I prefer this song. Maybe because it was not played to death on the radio, but I think it is a better song musically, and on a par lyrically. A forgotten and under-rated song.


'You Should Hear How She Talks About You' by Melissa Manchester

The 1980s were filled with female pop stars who had one or two hits, then disappeared. Melissa Manchester is one of those, which is a shame because she had an awesome voice and this song is one I still find myself singing along to when I hear it. Another forgotten track.


'The Safety Dance' by Men Without Hats

Yes, I've talked about this song before, but it still holds true – one of the best songs of the 80s and a one-hit wonder that should not be forgotten, and it came with one of the best 12-inch mixes ever. You're welcome.


'Jack & Diane' by John Mellencamp

I like a lot of John Mellencamp's music (or John Cougar, as I believe he was known when this song was released). This song is one of the best of them. It's simple story is actually full of hope, but you are sort of left in no doubt that they never achieved their dreams. Deservedly considered a classic.


'Hungry Like The Wolf' by Duran Duran

In the 1980s you couldn't turn the TV or radio on without encountering another song by Duran Duran. The problem was, they deserved it. They released some of the best pop-rock of the 1980s, and this song is at the very top of that heap. And its Indiana Jones video just adds to its majesty. Such a cool song.


'Gloria' by Laura Branigan

Unfairly dubbed a one-hit wonder, Laura Branigan is another of those who is under-rated and under-valued. In my opinion she did the definitive version of 'Forever Young' and her track 'Spanish Eddy' is one of the best tracks of the 1980s. And this, her first single, showed the world just what they were in for, if only they'd pay attention. I was infatuated with her; she was taken from the world too soon.


'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?' by The Clash

The Clash's string of hits ran through the 70s and into the 80s, and this is such a great song, with that guitar sound that has been sampled so often since, and lyrics that are so easy and fun to sing along to.


'Goody Two Shoes' by Adam Ant

From its opening driving drum beat to its staccato guitar, this track showed that, even after the demise of The Ants, Adam Ant was still a force in pop music, with a track that basically railed against gossip. Some fine lyrics and some great music, with Adam Ant's distinctive voice – another classic track.


'Pressure' by Billy Joel

Billy Joel is yet another artist who I have collected most of his recorded output. His piano playing and masterful lyrics are rarely matched. (I also saw him live with Elton John at Adelaide Oval – what a show!) This is one of my favourite of his songs, with its rock beat and desperate sounding singing style, which suits it perfectly. And it has one of the greatest lines in a rock song ever: "Sesame Street, what does it mean?" Yes…


'I Know There's Something Going On' by Frida

"Another one hit wonder?" I was asked when I mentioned this song to a mate. Hardly. Frida is better known from her time as one of the two female singers in Abba. Yes, that Frida. With a Phil Collins drum beat behind her, she showed here she did not need to be in Abba to show her singing prowess. Another song forgotten, but should be re-appraised and re-evaluated. This song deserves more.


'Johnny Can't Read' by Don Henley

With what ended up being the temporary demise of The Eagles, Don Henley released the album Can't Stand Still and this song – a protest song against education standards and societal attitudes – was the lead single. It is yet another great song, which too many people do not know about. In fact, for some reason, it did not appear on the Don Henley greatest hits album I bought in the early 2000s. Shame.


'Heat Of The Moment' by Asia

One of the 1980s prog rock supergroups that came out of a bunch of other prog rock groups, Asia had a rotating roster of artists over the years. But this track, off their self-titled debut album with the original line-up remains the pinnacle of their recorded output. The lyrics are really strong, and I love the guitar riffs throughout, and that sing-along chorus is worthy of being screamed while driving the car. Trust me on that one.


'Blister In The Sun' by The Violent Femmes

And we finish with my favourite song of the year. This is one of he few songs I can play on guitar, and yet it is also one of the most common songs I have seen performed live by pub rock acts. But nothing can come close to this original. Its theme has been debated (it's probably not overly savoury) but I don't care. It's fun to play, it's fun to sing and it's such a joyous-sounding song.


And there you have it! 1982 in song. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. What in my list of honourable mentions should have been on the main list? What did I miss out completely? What did I get completely wrong? Comments, please!

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Why? A great year for music
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Your Comment
A couple of your choices have stood the test of time but mostly they are too poppy for my tastes and have dated poorly. Branigan 's version of Forever Young definitive? I don't think so.
by May Cross (score: 3|3932) 64 days ago
The song 'Gloria' sung by Laura Brannigan is timeless it seems. Still played today. When introduce to new friends, the first two words is what is sung to me!
I'm 'Forever Young' - "not old 'till I'm ready". RIP Laura, always remembered but not as a 'one hit wonder'.
by Gloria (score: 2|163) 63 days ago
Who remembers waiting by the boombox waiting for your fave song to come on?
by Michael Genrich (score: 2|832) 57 days ago
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