Oct 09

Popular ’85

FT + Popular/116 comments • 6,007 views

I give every entry on Popular a mark out of 10, and at the end of each year’s worth of entries you get the chance to vote for any YOU would have given 6 or more out of 10 to.

My highest rated tracks were Madonna and Dead Or Alive, with 9 each. Shakin’ Stevens, Midge Ure and UB40 all got 2s.

Which Of These Number One Singles Of 1985 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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Use the comments box to discuss the year in general, critics and readers polls at the time, etc etc. (Hopefully you’ll find plenty to talk about cos the next entry won’t be up until a week on Monday!)


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  1. 31
    Steve Mannion on 27 Oct 2009 #

    8 ticks for me (being a bit harsh on Foreigner and Wham but they stall on 5), a v front-loaded year for sure.

  2. 32
    AndyPandy on 27 Oct 2009 #

    I think 1953 was great: I’d give Jo Stafford and Mantovani both 10, ‘I Believe’ 9, Kay Starr and ‘Hey Joe’ both 7, both ‘Answer Me”s possibly 6. The rest 4 and 5 and only Lita Roza a 2.

  3. 33
    thefatgit on 27 Oct 2009 #

    8 of those made the cut for me. 1985 was the year I got my first car (MK111 Cortina…heap of shit). Foreigner was a proper make out tune. Thank god those seats were vinyl (so easy to clean)! But I digress.

    I was listening to a cassette of Trouble Funk in the car when I had my first crash. I soon grew weary of Go-Go after that!

  4. 34
    IJ on 29 Oct 2009 #

    That was not a very good year. Ticked 5, two only just including Shakin’ Stevens. DoA is the only real standout from that entire list.

  5. 35
    lonepilgrim on 30 Oct 2009 #

    barring some improbable X-factor cover scenario (which now I mention it doesn’t sound entirely improbable given what happened with Hallelujah) I think it’s unlikely that Tom Waits will be troubling these threads – so as this was the year that Raindogs achieved the number 1 NME critics spot I was wondering what others here make of him.
    I’ve always found him entertaining in his use of a theatrical persona (boho glam) to animate some offbeat narratives and his change of style around Swordfishtrombones created an engaging tension between the sentimentality of his lyrics with the dissonant tones of the music. However, both of those two albums mixed in more conventional styles (on tunes such as ‘Downtown Train’, ‘Town with no cheer’ and ‘Time’) alongside the more ‘awkward’ ones.
    Although my opinion of him has stayed pretty constant his critical stock seems to have become somewhat inflated over the years. What seemed like a brave step away from the formulaic style of his earlier records now seems like another formula – and one to which he has clung onto for far longer. I’m not sure he deserves all the critical acclaim he receives compared to other artists such as, for instance, Randy Newman or (a personal favourite) Rickie Lee Jones.
    I gave up on him when the Frank’s Wild Years album came out but perhaps I’m doing him a disservice?

  6. 36
    ottersteve on 1 Nov 2009 #

    Tom #30.

    Welcome to the beginning of the male menopause! One of the first signs of this is the appreciation of music that you absolutely had no time for 20 years previous. I know – I was there. And I simply love it when Dale Winton covers a top 20-of-such&such-week during one year of the 50’s on radio 2. One advantage of this of course that old musuc becomes new music to your ears, and by making allowances for the period it is possible to actually enjoy listening to them in a way you never thought possible.

    Log onto Spotify and simply enjoy!

  7. 37
    LondonLee on 2 Nov 2009 #

    I lost track of Tom Waits after ‘Frank’s Wild Years’ as well, his voice just got too phlegmy (sp?) and the songs a tad too ‘Threepenny Opera’ for me to enjoy.

    I have been listening to the older ones a fair bit lately though, especially ‘The Heart of Saturday Night’ and ‘Blue Valentine’

  8. 38
    Mark M on 2 Nov 2009 #

    Re 35 & TW’s critical stock. I’d argue that Waits was at his peak as a critics’ cause in the mid-’80s, and also much cited by key figures of the day like Matt Johnson and Nick Cave. What happened sneakily in through the 90s is that the number of people buying his music and listening to it grew and grew despite the increasing clanginess of the albums. The degree of wider coverage he now gets is actually, I suspect, more driven by the market than you’d imagine.

    In so far as people write about him, I can’t imagine a musician more praised than Randy Newman, but the bookshops aren’t crammed with books about Newman because he doesn’t haven’t the fanbase*.

    I’d argue that the only one of the proper Tom Waits albums (as opposed to soundtrack etc things) that succumbs to grim self-parody is the largely tune-free Real Gone, all bang and rasp. For those who like the more tuneful Waits, I’d refer you to the consistenly lovely Bawlers disc of from Orphans box set.

    *Millions know and possibly love Newman songs from Pixar films, but they don’t know them as “Randy Newman songs”.

  9. 39
    mike on 4 Nov 2009 #

    OK, deep breath… this was my Singles of the Year list at the time, and it’s more than a little WTF in hindsight:

    1. you are my world – communards
    2. slave to the rhythm – grace jones
    3. johnny come home – fine young cannibals
    4. status quo – donald banks
    5. the show – doug e. fresh
    6. blue – fine young cannibals
    7. i’ll still be looking up to you – wilton felder ft bobby womack & alltrina grayson
    8. the lady don’t mind – talking heads
    9. can’t get there from here – r.e.m.
    10. it’s gonna take some time this time – millie jackson
    11. if things were perfect / hymn from a village – james
    12. walls come tumbling down – style council
    13. the wind of change – robert wyatt & the swapo singers
    14. under mi sleng teng – wayne smith
    15. sisters are doing it for themselves – eurythmics & aretha franklin
    16. raspberry beret – prince
    17. i had a dream – long ryders
    18. chief inspector – wally badarou
    19. tequila – no way jose
    20. leave it to luck – topper headon

  10. 40
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 4 Nov 2009 #

    haha i did a doubletake at no.4 mike!

  11. 41
    swanstep on 4 Nov 2009 #

    One song that I’ve been surprised not to see on any of these lists is Princess’s ‘Say I’m your #1’. It was massive in clubs in the second half of 1985 IIRC, like Dead or Alive’s hit it was an early, superior outing from Stock Aitken Waterman, its knicking of musical figures from Strawberry Letter 23 felt genuinely inspired, and it had some of the appealing spaciness that Madonna’s ‘Crazy for you’ had (which was one of the great sounds of the year). I just checked wiki. and apparently ‘Say..’ sold over a million copies worldwide…

  12. 42
    AndyPandy on 4 Nov 2009 #

    Yes “Say I’m Your Number One” was thought “street” enough (although obviously poppy too) to feature on the pirates heavily for some time around the same period as Mai Tai “History” and the Cool Notes “Never Too Young” IIRC to bring up a couple more poppier pirate tracks from the same time…

  13. 43
    Billy Smart on 4 Nov 2009 #

    1985/6 was the regal period when Prince, Princess, King and Queen all had hits!

  14. 44
    swanstep on 5 Nov 2009 #

    @Billy Smart 43. Ha, yes, it’s odd when a naming theme emerges seemingly out of nowhere (like the three huge ‘Power of loves’ in 1985). People forget now, but in 1993 (or whenever it was that Radiohead emerged) there were ridiculous numbers of bands around with -head names (Machinehead, Radiohead, Basehead, the Propellorheads, Head of David, etc., Shinehead was still around. And Bush had a song that was played to death called ‘Machinehead’.). A lot of people *wanted* to dismiss RH early on as one hit wonders (RH hurt themselves on that front by sometimes playing ‘Creep’ twice per set on their first US tour – critics pounced), and that they had one of the most generic/boring names of the time played into that and made some people (quite unfairly) think of RH as bandwagon jumpers of some sort. The Bends showed everyone of course, but also by 1995 RH were essentially the only (esp. grungy) -head act still standing, so now their name felt neutral or better.

  15. 45
    mike on 5 Nov 2009 #

    And we’ve currently got a glut of “Crystal” indie bands: Crystal Castles, Crystal Stilts, Crystal Antlers, The Crystal Method, Crystal Fighters, Crystal Skulls. Lord knows why…

  16. 46
    Steve Mannion on 5 Nov 2009 #

    Crystal Tipps & Alistair just reformed.

  17. 47
    swanstep on 5 Nov 2009 #

    @45, 46. Good lord, well the only ‘Crystal’ outfit I recognize on that list is The Crystal Method. I’m seriously out of the loop these days.

  18. 48
    Billy Smart on 5 Nov 2009 #

    I’m pretty sure that I have some idea who Crystal Castles are. Aren’t they supposed to be sweary, guerilla-gigging, punk types? Or perhaps that was one of the other ones.

  19. 49
    Steve Mannion on 5 Nov 2009 #

    you’re thinking of Crystal Palace fans

  20. 50
    Billy Smart on 13 Nov 2009 #

    NME Readers’ Poll for best single, 1985;

    1. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Never Understand
    2. The Smiths – How Soon Is Now
    3. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Just Like Honey
    4. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
    5. The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
    6. The Smiths – The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
    7. The Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down
    8. Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny Come Home
    9. New Order – The Perfect Kiss
    10. The Pogues – A Pair Of Brown Eyes
    11. U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
    12. Billy Bragg – Between The Wars
    13. The Jesus & Mary Chain – You Trip Me Up
    14. The Ramones – Bonzo Goes To Bitburg
    15. Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere

  21. 51
    Billy Smart on 13 Nov 2009 #

    Melody Maker Readers Poll, Best Single 1985;

    1. The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
    2. Echo & The Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses
    3. Billy Bragg – Between The Wars
    4. The Cure – Inbetween Days
    5. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
    6. The Smiths – The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
    7. Simple Minds – Alive & Kicking
    =. Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere
    9. U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
    10. Propaganda – Duel

  22. 52
    DV on 28 Dec 2009 #

    Musically speaking, this was a year of total fail.

  23. 53
    wichita lineman on 18 Oct 2010 #

    In Italy, Band Aid hit number one on Feb 17th and Wham!’s Last Christmas eventually got there in March. They wish it could be Christmas every day, I assume.

  24. 54
    punctum on 11 Jun 2014 #

    TPL gets going with 1985, a year that never really gets going. First, a wrecked soul with something to say, and if only we could hear it through the wall of benign plastic that she’s stuck behind.

  25. 55
    punctum on 24 Jun 2014 #

    TPL asks: is this land still his land?

  26. 56
    punctum on 26 Jun 2014 #

    TPL gets to the year’s most violent and confrontational opposing popstrological star.

  27. 57
    punctum on 27 Jun 2014 #

    TPL update: this is what Thatcher’s Britain wanted instead of socialism.

  28. 58
    punctum on 29 Jun 2014 #

    TPL on that difficult (but not in a bad way) second album.

  29. 59
    punctum on 29 Jun 2014 #

    TPL update. Nearly three thousand bloody words. I’m sorry.

  30. 60
    punctum on 1 Jul 2014 #

    TPL on the biggest album of the decade.

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