In the sixties and seventies, pop was always something of a fluke, never a genre all on its ownsome. The charts were filled with an odd mish mash of easy listening entertainers, novelty sing songs, disco lightweights with Colgate smiles, and sometimes even serious rockers with a killer riff and catchy hook.
In the eighties, pop began to get serious. A fulltime career option for aspiring young boys with guitars, synths and a little bit of funk in their skinny, white arses. It was a time when theories were drafted and thesis written by po-faced music journalists trying desperately to construct their own future from the rubble of punk. Suddenly pop got complicated. It was inevitable. Everything changes and nothing ever stays simple.
I only had half an ear on this new world, and that was on the innovators; Gary Numan, The Human League, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, none of whom you’ll find here. The rest were opportunists latching onto the surface shit, the glossy videos, the deluxe production, the gender bending and the dressing up. They were the bandwagon jumpers, clones and serial careerists.
Its not like new pop was the only option either. There were plenty of alternatives that were weirder, druggier, nastier, elusive, life changing and occasionally life threatening. After all, this was the age when every sub-genre became a serious youth cult, from Mod to Oi, New Romantic to Goth, Rocker to Psychobilly. But, an odd thing happened. A lot of kids hitting their teens thought these careerist pop fuckwits were the real deal. They were attractive, sexy, glamorous, ‘talented’ and rich. Infact, these new pop heroes were everything their audience ever wanted to be.
Of course, on reflection, none of these teeny teens ever had much of a chance. They were living in grim times, when the war mongering Bitch Queen Thatcher was proclaiming ‘There is no such thing as society, only individuals’. The poor mites were doomed to a life of greed and everlasting smugness.
And yet, despite it all, I still like these songs. Some, like ABC, Bow Wow Wow, Aztec Camera, Everything But The Girl, Lloyd Cole, aren’t really Secret Pleasures at all. As for Wendy James of Transvision Vamp, I had my best wet dream ever over her which neatly sums up why eighties pop wasn’t all that important. It was all just a bit of a tease when there was so much more important stuff happening.
01 ORCHESTRAL MANOUVRES IN THE DARK / Messages / May 1980
02 VISAGE / Fade To Grey / December 1980
03 SPANDAU BALLET / Musclebound / March 1981
04 ABC / Tears Are Not Enough / October 1981
05 HAIRCUT 100 / Favourite Shirts / October 1981
06 DOLLAR / Mirror Mirror / November 1981
07 TEARS FOR FEARS / Suffer The Children / November 1981
08 ALTERED IMAGES / See Those Eyes / March 1982
09 FLOCK OF SEAGULLS / I Ran / March 1982
10 DURAN DURAN / Hungry Like The Wolf / May 1982
11 BOW WOW WOW / I Want Candy / June 1982
12 SCRITTI POLITTI / Asylums In Jerusalem / August 1982
13 AZTEC CAMERA / Oblivious / February 1983
14 AFTER THE FIRE / Der Kommisar / April 1983
15 THOMPSON TWINS / Hold Me Now / November 1983
16 SWANS WAY / Soul Train / February 1984
17 ICICLE WORKS / Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream) / March 1984
18 THE BLUEBELLS / I’m Falling / March 1984
19 BLANCMANGE / Don’t Tell Me / April 1984
20 EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL / Each And Everyone / May 1984
21 LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS / Forest Fire / August 1984
01 STEPHEN DUFFY / Kiss Me / March 1985
02 CHINA CRISIS / King In A Catholic Style / June 1985
03 BELOUIS SOME / Imagination / January 1986
04 THE BANGLES / Manic Monday / February 1986
05 FURNITURE / Brilliant Mind / June 1986
06 BLACK / Wonderful Life / September 1986
07 A-HA / Cry Wolf / December 1986
08 WESTWORLD / Sonic Boom Boy / February 1987
09 CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT / Misfit / June 1987
10 T’PAU / Heart And Soul / July 1987
11 TERENCE TRENT D’ARBY / Dance Little Sister / July 1987
12 VANESSA PARADIS / Joe Le Taxi / February 1988
13 THE ADVENTURES / Broken Land / April 1988
14 VOICE OF THE BEEHIVE / Don’t Call Me Baby / May 1988
15 TRANSVISION VAMP / I Want Your Love / June 1988
16 JANE WIEDLIN / Rush Hour / July 1988
17 DEACON BLUE / Chocolate Girl / July 1988
18 THEN JERICHO / Big Area / January 1989
19 BETTY BOO / Doin’ The Do / April 1989
20 MARTIKA / Toy Soldiers / July 1989