When I think about the '80s, I can't help but think about the music. The glorious, cheesy, excessive, iconic, ridiculous, awesome music. Everything about that decade is in some way tied to music: the hair, the fashion, the movies (Brat Pack, anyone?). The '80s gave us some greatest songs ever recorded, but it also gave us some awful tunes. But the year that started the decade is pretty sketchy as far as the record industry was concerned. Disco was dying, hair metal had yet to take root... (sorry for the bad pun), and new wave was just beginning to make waves. The big picture of music in 1980 was an industry struggling to find it's identity.
How ever, I do have a few favorites. They are as follows.
#5 Blondie - Autoamerican: I've never been much of a Blondie fan. They had a few OK songs, but for the most part, Debbie's voice just bugs me. So, why would I include a band that I don't really like in my top five albums of 1980? Was the rest the albums to pick from so bad that this was the best choice out there? Yes... well, kind of. A better explanation is that I want to give credit where credit is due. The single Rapture was the first song with rapped lyrics reached the #1 spot on the Billboard charts. Kudos.
#4 The Police - Zenyattà Mondatta: This is easily The Police's worst album. I'm not not kidding - it was sloppy and self indulgent, and I'm sure Sting would agree with me (if by the unlikely chance he were to ever read this). There are two good songs on this album: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da and Don't Stand So Close to Me. One of those two is one of my favorite songs from The Police. I'll let you guess which one.
#3 U2 - Boy: You are free to disagree with me, but U2 is one of (if not the) greatest bands of all time. Boy was their debut album, and despite being rough around the edges, is an album that has aged well. Thanks to Bono's vague lyrical prose, and The Edge's signature rhythmic guitar style - many of these songs still sound like they could have been recorded today.
#2 Bob Marley and the Wailers - Uprising: This was Bob's final album (posthumous albums excluded). It's essential listening for any fan of reggae (which an ex-girlfriend got me hooked on between my sophomore and junior years in high school). While there are good songs throughout the album, it's the three final tracks that make this album one of my top picks: Could You Be Loved, Forever Loving Jah, and Redemption Song.
#1 Keith Green - So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt: Keith Green is another one of the artists that my parents listened to... a lot. My parents had this record (and by record, I mean those big round black disk with grooves in it). This album is remarkable in many ways - most notably that it wasn't for sale. Kieth and his wife funded the production of this album with their own money, refused to charge people for the album, and offered it for whatever people were willing to pay. Roughly 30% of the albums "sold" were sold for free. I'm not sure if my parents paid for it, or if they are one of the 30,000 that got it for free, but this is one of the first albums I can remember listening to. Musically speaking... Keith was part hippy, part Billy Joel, and 100% Jesus music. His music was unabashedly evangelistic, and musically stunning. While many of Keith's peers were trying to make music with a Godly message that was relevant, Keith was making music that was truly artistic. Strip away the overtly Christian lyrics and you were left with genuinely amazing music that was better than what the majority of mainstream musicians were producing. This album gave us a church worship staple (Oh Lord, You're Beautiful) and the funky - and strangely catchy - title track So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt, along with eight other tracks that showed and artist that was pouring is soul into a project in hopes that it would please his God. Whether or not you believe in God, you can hear the sincerity in every note of this album. Nearly 20 years later it is still a timeless body of work that can't be ignored - regardless of your religious beliefs.