It’s not that I don’t like (tolerate) modern pop music. It just seems the themes are too similar: I Look Good, You Want Me, I’m In The Club, You’re Gonna Regret Breaking Up With Me, and Look At Us. In other words, modern pop, given its superficial nature, makes me self-conscious about my burgeoning dad bod. Hence one reason for retrospection.
80’s Time Warp
Another reason for restropection: the beach is stuck in a perpetual 80’s time warp. Neon swimwear, free-flowing Hawaiian shirts, jellies, miniskirts, brightly-colored wayfarers, and Tommy Bahama everything have never gone out of style here. 80’s music just seems to fit here. Unlike my old swimsuit.
Note: it’s the top 80’s pop songs for the beach. Not just top 80’s songs — otherwise, Journey, The Smiths, The Cure, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, U2, Tears For Fears, etc. would occupy more real estate on this list. Also not beach pop songs — the distinction is semantical but important.
My criteria is more like my biases. I want relaxing upbeat. Something that causes me to tap my feet and sway my head but not move enough to spill my beer. There’s also a significant new wave and British slant. Heavy doses of synthesizers in other words. And finally, there’s an undercurrent of nostalgia on the list. Hence multiple songs that are also on the Goonies Soundtrack.
20. “The Power of Love,” Huey Lewis & The News — Every time I hear this song, I think of Marty McFly skateboarding to school.
19. “14K,” Teena Marie — A groovy song that also tells you the exact carat of gold at the end of the rainbow.
18. “Say You Will,” Foreigner — I will, I said.
17. “Eight Arms to Hold You,” Goon Squad — A song about spiders. I think.
16. “Burning Down the House,” Talking Heads — I’d like to figure out how to fight fire with fire. Seems like it would just make more fire.
15. “Bizarre Love Triangle,” New Order — I feel like if a singing algorithm wrote a song, this is what it would sound like.
14. “Down Under,” Men At Work — The “vegemite sandwich” line gets me every time.
13. “Kids In America,” Kim Wilde — But she’s British?
12. “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” Cyndi Lauper — Good song, but nostalgia certainly played a part in the ranking.
11. “Human,” Human League — The popular choice may have been “Don’t You Want Me”, but I’m only human….
10. “Rio,” Duran Duran — It took me awhile to realize that this song, written by Englishman, is sort of a love song about the United States.
9. “Vacation,” The Go-Gos — It’s all I ever wanted too.
8. “Just Like Heaven,” The Cure — For being known as a gothic rock band, these guys sure have some happy songs.
7. “When Doves Cry,” Prince & The Revolution — When doves do cry, I confuse them for owls.
6. “Dancing in the Dark,” Bruce Springsteen — Is this the only Springsteen song with a synthesizer?
5. “I Melt With You,” Modern English — I can’t tell if he’s in love with a person or a candle in this song.
4. “Private Eyes,” Daryl Hall & John Oates — Perhaps creepier than Sting’s
“Every Breath You Take”.
3. “Take On Me,” a-ha — This guy hits the high E with the best of gals.
2. “Come on Eileen,” Dexys Midnight Runners — There’s a banjo in this song. Not sure many folks realize that.
1. “Africa,” Toto — This song both makes me want to drink a beer and save the world, which unfortunately for me, are two fairly opposing forces….
Honorable, or Because-I’m-Indecisive, Mention (in no particular order):
“The Best of Times,” Styx
“A Million Miles Away,” The Plimsouls
“Keep On Loving You,” REO Speedwagon
“Working For The Weekend,” Loverboy
“Need You Tonight,” INXS
“The Metro,” Berlin
“Cruel Summer,” Bananarama
“This Charming Man,” The Smiths
“Love My Way,” The Psychedelic Furs
“Send Me an Angel,” Pet Shop Boys
“She Drives Me Crazy,” Fine Young Cannibals
“Don’t You Want Me,” The Replacements
“Love Is Alive,” Philip Bailey
“Pictures of You,” The Cure