The 80s are Alive and Well: Forgotten Songs From the Neon Decade

Written by on February 6, 2024

The 80s bled with colors so bright you almost had to look away. With big hair, parties by night, and a societal progression towards a better world during the day, the 80s were about innovation in the most self-proclaimed way. The old records that your parents keep hold more secrets than you think. The roots of the music played on the radio today dwell in forgotten records, old CDs, and dusty cassette tapes. 

The 80s is one of my favorite eras of music to dissect. What used to be the everyday radio replay has now become an acquired taste. However, there’s something special that emanates from the 80s. Here are some of my favorite songs.

1. “When Love Breaks Down” by Prefab Sprout

The British pop band, Prefab Sprout, is known for their impeccable lyricism. Paddy McAloon was a true poet, and it is visible through each album. Prefab Sprout speaks truth through a jubilant mix of sounds.

2. “O Pamela” by The Wake

One of the most underrated 80s bands, The Wake dips into post-punk and indie pop in an extraordinary way. They balance the typical synth with guitar riffs that cannot be ignored. They turn a catchy tune into a melodramatic metaphor in the finest way possible.

3. “Ask Me Jon” by The Ocean Blue

Forming the band as teens in the late 80s, The Ocean Blue’s self titled is a gem painted with a beautiful interpretation of angst and the perfect amount of nostalgia.

4. “Fortune” by Felt

Heavily inspired by bands like Television, Felt created their own definition of post punk/pop inspired music.

5. “We Could Send Letters” by Aztec Camera

This Scottish band never felt short of providing the perfect blend of indie and pop. Aztec Camera opens the door to a different perspective on jangle pop.

6. “The Soul Awakening” by China Crisis

This is a sweet, electronic layered song that gives room for the listener to reflect while dancing. China Crisis dips into the new wave genre while carrying their own ambience throughout their discography.

7. “Lemon Firebrigade” by Haircut 100

Lead vocalist Nick Heyward began Haircut 100 in 1980. The band contributed to the progression of 80s music, adding a jazz influence to their fast tempo pop music.

8. “Don’t Let Go” by Pink Industry

Following the break up of Pink Military, Pink Industry emerged from the partnership of Jayne Casey and Ambrose Reynolds. Never quite making it on mainstreams terms, they still carried the 80s sound well.

9. “Wonderland” by XTC and Alex Sadkin

One of those songs that brings feelings of reminiscence and hope at the same time, XTC is a staple band from the new wave scene.

10. “No Words” by Clan of Xymox

With their atmospheric sound coupled with a gothic influence, Clan of Xymox is an inspiration in the dark wave and goth electronic genre today.

11. “Don’t Fall” by The Chameleons

Yet another English band with a unique twist in the post punk genre, The Chameleons fans fall into the boat where Siouxsie and the Banshees or The Cure lovers reside.

12. “Messages” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark contributed to the immense staple electronic sound of the 80s. Perhaps seen as just another typical one hit wonder band, OMD’s discography has so much more to offer than “Enola Gay” or “Electricity.”

13. “Mother of Earth” by The Gun Club

A mysterious track with a country twang sung by lead vocalist Jeffery Lee Pierce makes a good listen for a long evening drive. The Gun Club delved into their own punk, blues, jazz and rockabilly inspired sound and remain one of the bigger influences in L.A.’s underground scene.

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