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10 (More) Worst Songs of the 80s

Our recent piece on some of the Worst Songs of the 80s created a lot of buzz…and some complaints. Seems we left a few out, and boy howdy, it was quite the list.

Because we aim to please, this writer is wading back into those neon 80s waters, the ones laced with traces of hair gel, wine coolers, and Designer Imposters perfume. Some of these picks may be guilty pleasures (which pretty much sums up the entire decade), but largely, they’re just 10 more Terrible 80s Songs.

TWO OF HEARTS/Stacey Q (1987)

With a disco beat and slick vocals, it was initially a hit in the clubs before going mainstream. As if the relentless sampling  (“I I I I I need you”) wasn’t 80s enough, Stacey Q – in all her baby-voiced, crimped hair glory — did a guest shot on The Facts of Life performing the track as the fictional singer “Cinnamon.”

HEARTBEAT/Don Johnson (1986)

Miami Vice was the quintessential 80s TV show, shot like a video and with plenty of musical guest stars (Glen Frey, James Brown, Phil Collins, etc). So, it wasn’t a huge leap for star Don Johnson to flip the script and do an album of his own. He gave it his earnest best, but the effect was kinda like getting hit in the face with a dead marlin.

NAUGHTY GIRLS (NEED LOVE TOO)/Samantha Fox (1988)

Samantha Fox made her name as a popular topless “Page 3” girl in a British tabloid. Turning her sex symbol persona into a music career was a natural fit. But to call Fox a “singer” is like saying you read Playboy for the articles. Still, it made it to #3 in the US.

ENDLESS LOVE/Lionel Richie, Diana Ross (1981)

People forget that this overheated ballad was the theme song to a movie starring Brooke Shields as half of a star-crossed teen couple. As with so many other teen romances, arson, mental breakdown, and prison play a big role (or maybe that was just me). At any rate, repeated plays of this mawkish song will have you begging for time in solitary.

PARTY ALL THE TIME/Eddie Murphy (1985)

Between Saturday Night Live and movies like Beverly Hills Cop, 80s-era Eddie Murphy was unstoppable. That came to a needle-scratching halt after he recorded this song. The only saving grace is that Rick James produced it; otherwise, Murphy’s voice was far better suited to creating his amazing characters.

EBONY AND IVORY/Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder (1982)

This well-intentioned ode to racial harmony is proof that even geniuses can write and perform the occasional train wreck. Since its release, it regularly appears on “worst of” lists. Not to worry; both McCartney and Wonder seem to have pretty healthy careers.

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART/Bonnie Tyler (1983)

The songs of Jim Steinman aren’t for every singer: they require a certain balls-to-the-wall bombast which both Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler possessed in spades. Originally, the song clocked in at over 7 minutes; Steinman envisioned it as a love song between vampires. Tyler got a huge hit out of the song, but at some point, you might be tempted to put a stake through the heart of this over-the-top performance.

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN/Europe (1986)

Sure, it was inspired by Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” That’s where the similarities end. This Swedish hair metal band went all-in on blaring 80s synthesizers, pounding drums, and hair-tossing guitar bits. The riff had been tucked away in a drawer for years, which is probably where it should’ve stayed.

MICKEY/Toni Basil (1981)

With its New Wave sound and cheerleader chant, it was catchy as hell. But it was also the worst kind of earworm, the kind that burrows deep into your brain and slowly eats it while you sleep. However, Toni Basil gets props for slipping into her original high school cheerleading uniform for the video…at almost 40.

DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY/Bobby McFerrin (1988)

Bobby McFerrin is a multi-talented jazz singer which is on full display in this acappella hit. What grates are the cheesy lyrics. Drawn from the philosophy of Indian guru Meher Baba, the simplistic advice just wasn’t up to easing anxiety around that year’s bank failures, major plane crashes, and last gasps of Soviet rule. Although taken with enough Valium, we suppose it couldn’t hurt.

If past is prologue, we’re sure we’ve missed a few, so weigh in. What songs would you repeatedly blast to drive a stubborn Panamanian dictator out of his compound?

-Cindy Grogan

Photo: the cast of Dynasty (1981-89) (Getty)

 

17 comments on “10 (More) Worst Songs of the 80s

  1. Eoghan Lyng

    I am outraged….

    Just because…. 😉

  2. Joe Cogan

    We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel.

  3. If anyone witnessed Diana Ross and Lionel Richie sing Endless Love at the Oscars that year, I seriously doubt it would be included on this list. I myself wasn’t a huge fan of this song, until I saw their performance. One of Oscar’s best.

    • Also I think several songs (on both lists) are undeserving of the “worst of the 80’s” label. They just were of their time, and there were plenty, far worse.

  4. “Mickey” sorta seeped into my DNA, Cindy.

    These nine others you chronicle summon a certain sense of sadness that they were once actually listened to in their entirety.

  5. Destiny Chaplan

    Is this based on your own personal opinion? If it’s a ‘worst songs list’, how can you have some that were in the top 10? True ‘worst songs’ wouldn’t even get close.

  6. Rick Profundo

    Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” makes me cringe every time. I cannot image what prompted Macca to release this dog.

  7. Michael Massetti

    OK, so tell me you don’t tap your feet or dance to Mickey or sing along to Don’t Worry! 🙂

  8. Dennis Birnel

    STOP MAKING THESE LISTS !!!!! Quit trashing songs that a lot of people like and or love !!

  9. Dave Bartholome

    So some people really hate these lists, I see. Well, I love ’em. This one in particular. You folks have managed to find some of the most annoying hits of the 80s. And it’s okay if you happen to have a soft spot for a couple of them; it just means you’re human.

    • Thanks, Dave. Yeah, lots of opinions on “best of”, “worst of” lists…we’re not judging anyone for their own likes/dislikes. We just happen to have our own…and frankly, they’re fun to write!

  10. Interesting point about Toni Basil’s Mickey – it is not an original song. It actually is a cover of the band Racey’s song Kitty. The obvious change is the title – Kitty to Mickey, and she added the cheerleading chant that we all know and love(?)

  11. These are not the worst. They’re not bad. Plenty of others of far worse.

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