Saturday, June 12, 2004

I Love The '80s

Summer is nearly here - it already feels like it in fact - and that always reminds me of the music of the '80s. I guess it's because the summer day care I attended from ages 5 - 9 was where I was first exposed to so much pop music. They were formative times.

A couple of summers ago I started a project to collect and anthologize the '80s music I remembered fondly. It wasn't an easy task...it saw many drafts and revisions as I continued to come across more and more songs. I shudder to think how many hours were spent in front of the computer, phone line tied up, Kazaa or Napster burning brightly on the screen.

My reason for doing this was mostly the aforementioned nostalgia, but also because I was frustrated at how rare it was to find an '80s compilation that was listenable all the way through. I know this is a matter of opinion, but there always seemed to be at least three or four songs that just didn't hold up to multiple listens. I wanted to rectify that.

My parameters were fairly simple. I would not include any songs from artists who I owned best-ofs by (so long Madonna, U2, Bruce Springsteen, The Cure, and countless others). The only exception to this was if there was a song by one of those artists that happened to be excluded from the hits package I own (such as People Are People by Depeche Mode and You Can Do Magic by America). I also ignored the charts for the most part. As long as I remembered hearing the song, and it held up to repeated listens it was given strong consideration.

I downloaded tons of songs (many ultimately unused), racked my memory banks, looked through the Ultimate Band List exhaustively, scanned the shelves at Cheapo, consulted friends and acquaintances. It was no small undertaking. As I said, I made many discs in the trial process, often throwing out the whole thing just to change one song. This went on for awhile. I finally finished the project for better or worse at the end of last year. In total it added up to 10 discs of music, arranged mostly by year.

Check out the complete track listings on the new sidebar The '80s Project.

You'll see that accordingly with my fond memories from age 5 - 9, the years 1982 - 1986 are best represented. I combined 1980 and 1981 into one tight 14 song set. 1983 and 1984 both warranted two full discs! 1987, 1988, and 1989 were all slight enough years to allow for one disc. And then of course I had to make the misc. collection to catch all the missing pieces. I don't rule out a second such volume in the future.

I had some fun with the orders, as astute readers will notice. Check out the first four and last four songs on the '80/'81 disc. Or The Karate Kid soundtrack dominated first disc of '84. Or the second person goodness of songs 14 - 17 on the '82 disc. And I discovered new things, like how great Pat Benetar was (she is by far the best represented artist in the series of discs).

1983 is my very favorite, because I used the first disc to recreate the very first tape I ever owned (it was a gift from my mom and step-dad, along with a Walkman). The tape was called Chartaction '83, and it was a K-Tel compilation purchased at Sears (the modern day equivalent would be the Now CDs). Anyway, I replicated the exact order and added an Asia song that seemed to fit.

I'm sure as you look you'll find some odd choices. Friends have chastised me for this, and for excluding other songs. But remember, this is a personal project, and one that was very much a labor of love.

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