Essential Oldies Playlist: Simple Minds, The Smiths, Run-DMC/Aerosmith, Hall & Oates, Paul Simon
The 80s were the dark ages for a lot of things — hair, fashion, drugs, Wall Street, pop music, etc. — however, there are some unforgettable and controversial 80s songs that you need to include on your essential oldies 80s playlist (say that ten times fast). Although the 80s were swamped with some admittedly horrible pop music (WHAM!), the backlash to the glam-rock and disco fads prompted some of the best underground rock and hip-hop in history:
1. Simple Minds – “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”
This song instantly became the anthem of the 80s for young people everywhere. The song was penned by Simple Minds as the original song for the 1985 iconic 80s movie, “The Breakfast Club,” and later was included on Simple Minds’ 1987 album, “Live in the City of Light.” The opportunity was originally offered to Billy Idol and Bryan Ferry, who both declined, luckily for us; this iconic song could not be more perfect. The epic 80s movie deserved an epic victory song to match. Epic it was, and epic it remains. Shout-out to the two aforementioned artists who declined the offer; their missed opportunities led to an irreplaceable musical triumph for the music/film enthusiasts of the world to enjoy for decades to come!
2. The Smiths – “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”
The Smiths are a classic 80s band that should definitely be included in your oldies repertoire, and your go-to everyday playlist, at that. The grungy soft rock band turned out some very emotional stuff on their early 80s albums and some very catchy tunes into the 80s before the band broke up. This song in particular was released on their passionate 1984 album “Hatful of Sorrow” and showcases their signature knack for capturing deeply emotional sentiments and channeling them into understated yet profound masterpieces. The song “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” is still a classic today; it was featured on the soundtrack for the angsty 2009 indie film “500 Days of Summer,” which features some great 80s and 90s classics as well.
3. Run-DMC/Aerosmith – “Walk This Way”
Run-DMC — you gotta love ’em — they brought us some of the emergent rap music of the 80s with their signature Run-DMC old school swag. Aerosmith — a very different band — but amazing, also, in their own right. The song “Walk This Way” by Run-DMC with Aerosmith merged the two band and the two genres. At the time when this single came out in 1986, rap was all underground; it resided on the streets of New York and on the down low in major cities. At the time, rap was largely limited to the African-American population, and the audiences for hard rock music, like that of Aerosmith, was dominated by a white majority. This song, however, brought rap to the masses. It broke down racial and cultural barriers; Run-DMC and Aerosmith created one of the first ever (if not the very first) cross-genre collaborations, way before Avicii and Calvin Harris came on the scene. The music video for this song was very controversial and very symbolic; in it, the two groups, Run-DMC and Aerosmith, are separated by a wall, and after some dialogue back and forth between the two, trading off camera shots, they begin to force their way through the solid wall.
4. Darryl Hall & John Oates – “You Make My Dreams Come True”
This upbeat tune is the song everyone hears in their heads first thing in the morning when they spring out of bed! Or not. But it is still a great little happy number that makes the world seem brighter and more beautiful with each beat. It’s one of those songs that if you listen to it on headphones while walking to work, or in the shower, or at the grocery store, or in line at the dentist’s office, you will feel like you’re in a movie and you will get odd looks from those around you who see you tapping your feet awkwardly and smiling too much. No matter when or where you play it, we can assure you that you will dance. We defy anyone who can resist that irresistible urge. The song is fresh out of the 80s; it first appeared on Hall & Oates’ 1980 album, “Voices.” It is also another classic that is featured on the “500 Days of Summer” soundtrack, which we urge you to check out.
5. Paul Simon – “You Can Call Me Al”
Simon & Garfunkel was one of the greatest musical duos of all time, and we would never wish them apart, however, if there was ever anything that could rectify their parting ways, it is the solo-work put out by Paul Simon post-breakup. Paul Simon is, simply put, a musical genius, and this African-inspired 1986 album “Graceland,” is the definitive proof. During his trip to South Africa during the years of apartheid, Simon was inspired by the passionate, deeply spiritual, yet lighthearted tribal music of the native South Africans. The entire moving experience is chronicled in the 2012 documentary about the controversial album, “Under African Skies,” where you see firsthand the process of Simon making music with the African people and the lives that are touched in the process. Listen to his immensely profoundly successful self-titled first attempt at a solo album “Paul Simon” for more of his unique versatility and musical genius.
What is your favorite old school 80s jam? Leave a response in the comments below or find me on twitter @JenksUOhMeASoda