5 of the Very Best

Perhaps more than ever before, the 1980’s were a time when popular music was used to a greater or lesser extent to make political statements. From the reaction in the UK to Thatcherism and to a lesser extent to Reaganism in the US, to generation defining moments such as Live Aid in 1985, the 80’s were a time of activism. That’s not to say that love songs didn’t make a good showing in the pop charts of the day. Far from it – there are any number of fantastic 80’s love songs to choose from. Here’s a mini review of five of my favourites. speed dating

One time lead singer with Northern Ireland punk stars The Undertones, Fergal Sharkey scored his first solo hit with A Good Heart. It was number 1 in the UK singles chart for two weeks from 16 November 1985. Famously penned by Maria McKee – subject of Deacon Blue’s 1988 hit Real Gone Kid, A Good Heart was her take on her relationship with Benmont Tench, keyboard player with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Sharkey’s second solo hit, You Little Thief, gives Tench’s version of events! Being a big fan of The Undertones, I just went mad for this song – it sits perfectly with the direction that later Undertones singles were going anyway, so it’s a natural successor to say, Julie Ocean or Wednesday Week.

The Style Council was Paul Weller’s next big project after The Jam. This song, You’re The Best Thing, charted in 1984 in the UK as a double A side with The Big Boss Groove and rose to the heights of number 5. Weller was perhaps the original angry young man of 80’s pop music, so this came as a bit of a surprise – a gorgeous love song. It’s a song in which Weller tells his love that he’s been tempted, but that nothing could move him from her – ‘I might shoot to win and commit the sin… I’m content just with the riches that you bring.’

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye was Soft Cell’s third UK hit single making number 3 in 1982. It followed on from 1981’s towering hit Tainted Love and Bed Sitter a number 4 effort, also from 1981. Taken from the album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, Say Hello, Wave Goodbye gives a nod to the Beatles Hello Goodbye. The singer is relating his story of a failed relationship – due to the inability of his girlfriend to remain faithful to him, ‘you were a sleep around, a lost and found…’. It’s a delicious, perfect piece of British Synth Pop and to my mind is a better all round effort than Tainted Love.