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MUSIC CHEAT SHEET: Back to the '80s

What 1980s playlist is complete without sexy songbird Tina Turner? POSTMEDIA

What 1980s playlist is complete without sexy songbird Tina Turner? POSTMEDIA


There's a lot to listen to, let our earphones do the work

Something pretty cool happened last week - and I'm not just talking about the solar eclipse that had North America looking to the skies Monday afternoon - I'm talking about its musical impact. The Bonnie Tyler '80s smash hit Total Eclipse of the Heart saw a recent renaissance - sales soared to 500 times and the song hit number one in many countries, including Canada and the U.S. The Welshborn singer took to CNN and other media outlets to do a little catching up and performing throughout the day before singing for a cruise ship full of eclipse spectators.

There is something essentially 80s-sounding about Bonnie Tyler's power ballad, but there is also something that still resonates today, and not just because of the eclipse. Total Eclipse of the Heart still thrives because it resonates, and that is the key to designing a classic. It got me thinking about the decade that gave us high jeans, big hair and neon accessories - and the many enduring songs that it generated.

Here is an 80's playlist that mixes nostalgia with a modern sense of what's hot now. Not only are these songs timeless, I chose hits that come with the most amazing music videos - and, unlike in the 80's, they are all at your fingertips online. To those of you post-Internet kids out there who don't have memories of waiting all-day for your favourite music video to come on TV - thank your lucky stars. You can make up for it by revisiting these classics. You can download this playlist on Spotify and the videos are all available on Vevo and YouTube.


Better Be Good to Me - Tina Turner, 1984

I thought about the popular Tina hits (Proud Mary, Private Dancer, What's Love Got To Do With It?) but Better Be Good to Me just sounds like an '80s rock anthem. It is one of the legend's more poppy sounding Ronald Reagan-era jams and that's exactly its charm. It almost has a Duran Duran vibe. It's got synth-ed out guitar riffs, cowbell and some groovy bass on the back end and Tina brings her famous powerhouse vocals to the demanding lyrics; "You better be good to me/That's how it's gotta be now/Cause I don't have no use/For what you loosely call the truth." Just try not belting this song out the next time you get into a fight with a friend.

Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson, 1987

"No message could have been any clearer; If you wanna make the world a better place Take a look at yourself, and then make a change." I can't think of a better message for 2017 and I can't think of an artist more deserving to be on an 80s playlist than Michael Jackson. Man in the Mirror was one of only two songs from the album Bad (one of the best-selling albums of all time) that Michael Jackson didn't write himself but he felt such a powerful connection to the song written by Siedah Garrett (Michael's duet partner on I Just Can't Stop Loving You) and Glen Ballard that he pulled it off like his own. The video for Man in the Mirror was the third of nine short films produced for recordings from Bad. This masterpiece is incredibly raw and poignant.

I'm Still Standing - Elton John, 1983

You may not think of Elton when thinking of the decade but I promise this song has essential 80's swagger. It's also a perfect personal anthem for 2017: "I'm still standing better than I ever did/Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid/And I'm still standing after all this time/Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind." Sing it, Elton! No matter what this year throws at us - we are still standing. You may recognize a young Bruno Tonioli (the over-the-top Dancing With the Stars judge) as a scantily-clad dancer in the stylized video shot in Cannes, France. Duran Duran has infamously owned up to getting Elton John drunk during filming. As if Elton John needs more help staying relevant, Taron Egerton performed I'm Still Standing, as his character Johnny, for the 2016 animated musical Sing and its soundtrack.


The Glamorous Life - Sheila E, 1984

The E in Sheila E stands for everything (it actually stands for Escovedo but you get my point). If you don't know the music from the Mexican-American singer and protégé of Prince - do yourself a favour and get familiar with the woman people call the Queen of Percussion. The Glamorous Life was written by the late, great Prince and produced by both artists. The song is a perfect criticism of our time: its protagonist "wants to lead a glamorous life" but she knows that "without love, it ain't much."

Change of Heart - Cyndi Lauper, 1986

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - that's true but we also are known to have a Change of Heart, which is my favourite Cyndi Lauper track from the Back to the Future decade. It is so vibe-y and poppy. It also reminds me of Degrassi High, tube socks and everything quintessentially 80s. The video - filmed in Trafalgar Square in London - is total MTV cheese complete with fake candid shots, touristy visuals and a public performance.

Dancing On The Ceiling - Lionel Richie, 1986

The first comment on YouTube for the music video to Dancing on the Ceiling is quite fittingly "this is the most 80s thing ever" - and I have to agree. Jamiroquai must have gotten inspiration from this amazing music video that features the loveable Lionel Richie quite literally dancing on the ceiling. The song is a feel-good, smooth song with some solid piano solos and classic rock guitar riffs. The hilarious video is a one-of-a-kind party with cameos from Rodney Dangerfield and Cheech Marin. All Night Long deserves to be on this list too. The Richie pool is too rich in pickings for just one.


Swap out Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi, 1986 for Bad Medicine - Bon Jovi, 1988

On almost every 80s playlist ever is Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer. But hear me out - isn't it due for a break? The most memorable parts of this song are the bass riffs and Bon Jovi has plenty of hits from the 80s that do not get enough attention because Livin' on a Prayer is constantly stealing the thunder. Personally, I like a Jovi slow jam: give me I'll Be There For You or Bed of Roses over Livin' on a Prayer any day. And if we are going to perfectly reflect the decade that brought us Dynasty and Dallas, how about this: "Your love is like Bad Medicine/Bad Medicine is what I need, whoa/Shake it up just like Bad Medicine/There ain't no doctor that can cure my disease."


Girls, Girls, Girls - Motley Crue, 1987

This hair band's music video for Girls, Girls, Girls looks like a spoof of itself. To wit, the women are objectified, the men play tough and the lipsyncing playback is as bad as the outfits. If you're looking for a little Motley nostalgia - check out Nikki Sixx's New York Times best-selling memoir The Heroin Diaries instead. In the autobiographical tale, Sixx breaks down a lot of the phony glamour of the Girls, Girls, Girls decade and paints a not-so pretty picture of substance abuse and tough times that ultimately ends with 16 years of sobriety and hindsight. To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of The Heroin Diaries, it was recently rereleased in multiple formats, including a digital LP, CD, CD/DVD, Special Edition Vinyl, and Graphic Novel.

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