Sunday, March 31, 2019

#1. "True Faith" - New Order (1987)

I always feel so extraordinary when I listen to this song. 

An addictive song about dealing with addictions, "True Faith" by New Order has always been a go-to track throughout the years.

First, and as corny as it may sound, "True Faith" got me through my first breakup. 

Musically, it's a band playing at its peak in 1987 with everyone making notable contributions: from Stephen Morris' dramatic drumming to Peter Hook's melodic bass and Gillian Gilbert's danceable synths. 

The surreal video shows costumed dancers slapping each other and hopping on gym mats to the beat of the tune.

It's also the song that cracked the band in North America. 

But it's Bernard Sumner's honest vocal delivery of poignant and edgy lyrics about the struggle we all experience that puts this track over the top. 

The "morning sun" take on the old adage of a "tomorrow's another dayis proof we all get another chance.  

Fave lyrics: "I feel so extraordinary / Something's got a hold on me / I get this feeling I'm in motion / A sudden sense of liberty"

This is a song that keeps sounding better. Although the instrumental bridge is amazing in the original single, the replacement guitar solo improves it as shown in this recent concert clip from Berlin below.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

#2. "Things Can Only Get Better" - Howard Jones (1985)

Just hearing the first few seconds of "Things Can Only Get Better" by Howard Jones releases the dopamine and always puts me in a great mood.

The song is one of my favourite cheerleading anthems, a reminder that adopting an optimistic attitude towards whatever the problem may be is half the battle.

It's also a reminder of how great music was in the 80s. 

And whoever said that synth has no soul has obviously never heard of this tune.

The rambunctious beat, the bursts of brass and an uplifting falsetto chorus are the obvious highlights. But it's the "Whoa, whoa whoa whoa oh oh-s" in the refrain that liberates us from all our worries.  

Fave lyrics: "It may take a little time a lonely path, an uphill climb / Success or failure will not alter it"

Friday, March 29, 2019

#3. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" - Tears For Fears (1985)

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears For Fears is one of Gen X's greatest anthems, this stunning song is a bit cynical yet also ambitious and optimistic.

One of those rare tunes with a near-universal appeal, it resonates with just about everyone. Is there a catchier song from the decade that also touches on the issues du jour like the environment, yuppies and the Cold War? 

From the profound and ambiguous lyrics that make you think, the vocals, and of course the incredible arrangement. The short but captivating vocal bridge is out of this world just before the sweeping synths and guitars kick in for a longer instrumental one.

The uplifting vibe of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" puts me in a great mood despite the lyrics being a bit on the cynical side. The song only reinforces the type of music I love best: melodic music and dark lyrics.

The lyrics challenge us to live life to the fullest (at the time it was during the Cold War of course) by taking full advantage of its pleasures and liberties before the true nature of the world, war and turmoil, come back again as per the history books.

Fave lyrics: all of it is so thought-provoking. But if I have to choose it's the universal truth of the opening line: "Welcome to your life / there's no turning back...".

One of the best driving songs ever made, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" always makes me want to put the top down and hit the gas. Even in the winter.

The classic video features Curt Smith driving an antique sports car around Southern California interspersed with shots of the full band performing the song in a studio.

My deep affection for the track has a lot to do with the timing of its release. In the spring of 1985 I'd just gotten my contacts and in the midst of a personal re-branding of sorts: I had the feeling I could do anything I wanted to in life. After getting my license days later, it was one of the first songs I cranked in Dad's Ford Escort hatchback. 

When I hear this song today i still get that same feeling. So I'm destined to never, ever tire of this tune. That's some powerful nostalgia.

#4. "Just Like Heaven" - The Cure (1987)

That sweeping layered 50 second instrumental intro is right up there with the best intros of all time (love those cymbal splashes!).

And the rest of the song isn't too bad either. In fact, it's pure ecstasy. 

The churning, shimmering guitars, the melodic synth, the driving beat. The piano at the bridge. 

Combine this with Robert Smith's passionate vocals and poignant lyrics and "Just Like Heaven" is also probably my favorite love song. 

But of course like many of their tunes, it has a twist and not a happy ending. But that's ok because it's all about the journey, albeit a short one at three minutes and nineteen seconds.

Proof that The Cure can produce a pop song as good as anyone from an era of classics.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

#5. "Something About You" - Level 42 (1986)

There's something about "Something About You" by Level 42 that's hard to pinpoint that make me look forward to hearing it again and again

Could be the amazing bass line. 

Those epic falsettos and the harmonies. 

Or perhaps the delicious chorus.

Can't forget about that surreal video, with the lead singer playing the Vaudeville clown in the engaging video.

In fact, it was all of those aspects and more: "Something About You" is simply a perfect pop song with a little R &B and synth tossed in. All the right hooks in all the right places.

All those little things that combine together to make me appreciate the whole of the song.

The tune still transports me back to when Dad used to drive me home for lunch back in Grade 11. The great ones will do that to you, take us back upon hearing the first note. 

Pure nostalgia.

Fave lyrics: 
"These changing years, they add to your confusion
Oh and you need to hear the time that told the truth"