When the Secret Pleasures virus swept across the UK in 2006, a generation of forty something’s suddenly found the excuse they’d always wanted to buy that A-Ha or Thompson Twins Greatest Hits. Suddenly pop, as in popular, was all the rage and we could all admit to liking Kim Wilde, Nick Heyward and Deacon Blue without feeling in the least bit ashamed.

   What none of us realised at the time was that buried deep within the Secret Pleasures concept and it’s dizzy rush of middle age hedonism, there lay a disturbing truth revolving around punk and the powerful rejection of its various cultural anathema’s leading to a refusal by my generation to enjoy anything not perceived as cool. And it wasn’t just punks who fell for it. A jaded self consciousness swept British culture so absolutely and successfully that it has continued ever since.

   Coming straight after punk, the eighties was the first decade to suffer. Despite the plethora of truly remarkable music that evolved over those ten years, to this day pop criticism sticks rigidly to just two schools of thought. One complains that it was all crass, commercial crap, breathing a sigh of relief that we made it through that shit while the other celebrates the cheesy fun of it all, the naïve silly singles, bad haircuts and big synthesizers.

   Both of these rather narrow views seem intent on reducing the whole decade to simple nostalgic fodder, ghettoizing an era that in reality was rich in innovation, brilliant one hit wonders, oddities and inexplicable flukes. It could even be argued that the eighties was the last great era for pop singles, the very last time that singles really mattered and the last time something totally unexpected captured the imagination.

   In fact, the decade’s best songs offer some of pop history’s finest Secret Pleasures. That’s why you will never find aged rockist’s making arguments for its numerous benefits like they do for the saintly sixties or seriously rock seventies. I’ve never taken any of these Neanderthal’s seriously. After all, surely anyone can hear the beauty in records like ‘I’m In Love With A German Film Star’, ‘The Day Before You Came’, ‘Feels Like Heaven’, ‘Duel’ and ‘Driving Away From Home’ and how they match those by their more lauded contemporaries. It may have been only pop, but it was pop of the most brilliant kind.




01 ULTRAVOX / Sleepwalk / January 1980

02 SPANDAU BALLET / The Freeze / January 1981

03 THE PASSIONS / I’m In Love With A German Film Star / January 1981

04 KIM WILDE / Chequered Love / May 1981

05 DOLLAR / Give Me Back My Heart / March 1982

06 ABBA / The Day Before You Came / October 1982

07 ICEHOUSE / Hey Litle Girl / October 1982

08 BLANCMANGE / Living On The Ceiling / October 1982

09 THOMPSON TWINS / Love On Your Side / January 1983

10 HAYSI FANTAYZEE / Shiny Shiny / January 1983

11 ALTERED IMAGES / Don’t Talk To Me About Love / March 1983

12 AZTEC CAMERA / Walk Out To Winter / May 1983

13 LOTUS EATERS / The First Picture Of You / July 1983

14 NICK HEYWARD / Blue Hat For A Blue Day / September 1983

15 THOMAS DOLBY / Hyperactive! / December 1983

16 FICTION FACTORY / Feels Like Heaven / January 1984

17 REFLEX / The Politics Of Dancing / January 1984

18 THE ASSOCIATES / Waiting For The Loveboat / June 1984

19 BILLY IDOL / Eyes Without A Face / June 1984

20 STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE / Since Yesterday / November 1984




01 CHINA CRISIS / Black Man Ray / March 1985

02 MATT BIANCO / More Than I Can Bear / March 1985

03 GODLEY & CRÈME / Cry / March 1985

04 PROPAGANDA / Duel / April 1985

05 PREFAB SPROUT / When Love Breaks Down / June 1985

06 HIPSWAY / The Honeythief / February 1986

07 BLOW MONKEYS / Digging Your Scene / March 1986

08 BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE / E = MC2 / March 1986

09 IT’S IMMATERIAL / Driving Away From Home / April 1986

10 PETE WYLIE / Sinful / May 1986

11 A-HA / I’ve Been Losing You / September 1986

12 THE CHURCH / Under The Milky Way / October 1987

13 EIGHTH WONDER / I’m Not Scared / February 1988

14 TRANSVISION VAMP / Revolution Baby / September 1988

15 DEACON BLUE / Real Gone Kid / October 1988

16 HUE AND CRY / Ordinary Angel / October 1988

17 HOLLY JOHNSON / Love Train / January 1989

18 TEARS FOR FEARS / Sowing The Seeds Of Love / September 1989