Spotify playlist : Top 40 Singles of 1985

1985 was a big year for music, not least for the fact Queen, King, Prince and Princess were all in the charts at the same time but also, it was the year of Live Aid. Following on from the success of the Band Aid single which raised millions for famine relief in Ethiopia, scores of the biggest names in music came together to perform in what still remains the greatest single music event in history. Mick Jagger and David Bowie teamed up to cover the Marvin Gaye penned 'Dancing in the Street' for the same charity, scoring a number 1. Russ Abbot had an All Night Holiday, Denise Lasalle warned us all about messing with her 'Toot-Toot' and Rory Bremner released a rather amusing parody cover of Paul Hardcastle's '19' entitled 'N-N-Nineteen (Not Out)'.  Jimmy Nail surprised us all with his decent singing voice on Series 2 of 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet' and subsequently hit the charts with 'Love Don't Live Here Anymore'. Billy Connolly released a 45 of his theme tune to the Kids' TV Show 'Supergran' and the phenomenon that was Whitney Houston charted for the first time with 'Saving All My Love For You'.

I listened to the 292 singles which entered the top 40 in 1985, whittled them down to a short-list of 132 and after a LOT of deliberation, present to you my best 40 singles of 1985...


After pillaging on the high-seas (or at least dressing like that's what he'd been up to), Pete Burns and Dead or Alive released this mid-80s disco anthem as the third single from their Youthquake album. Producer Pete Waterman disagreed with the release saying it was too different from 'You Spin me Round' and would therefore alienate record buyers. He was partially correct as the song only reached number 14 but I actually think this is brilliant, regardless of how unalike the two records are. I particularly enjoy the clever synth motif before each verse, being as I am, a connoisseur of such things.


Madonna was definitely getting into her groove with this release. To say that she was ubiquitous in 1985 is to understate just how 'everywhere' she was.  This was her first number 1 single in the UK and remains her best selling single to date. The song also featured in 'Desperately Seeking Susan' in which she appeared.  This is a proper pop song; infectious, punchy and provocative, it was clear, even at this moment in time, that Madonna was destined for great things.


This was the debut single of band 'King', getting nowhere when it was first released in 1984. The world clearly wasn't ready for lead singer Paul King's shiny drainpipe trousers. It was re-released after a TV performance generated interest and it shot all the way up to number 2. The video features Paul wasting cans of spray paint and ruining his new Doctor Martens on a demolition site. There's worse things to get up to on a Saturday I suppose.

The B-side of the double seven-inch pack was called 'I Kissed the Spikey Fridge'. Told you there were worse things to get up to.


A wonderful ditty this. Prince tells us about the time he worked in a shop, became entranced by a customer wearing a reddish-brown French hat and then popped off to a local farm with her before getting trapped in a barn by a thunderstorm. It doesn't sound like the best song in the world but it's definitely one of the best 37 songs of 1985.

In the video, Prince sports a lovely cloudy sky print suit with regency neck ruffle - a look that not every pop star could successfully sell as entirely normal. Legend has it that Ian Broudie mis-heard the lyric 'Thunder drowns out what the lightning sees' and, when he found out they didn't actually contain the phrase 'Lightning Seeds', he used it to name his band.


A mini-Thin Lizzy reunion, Gary asked Phil to join him on a song he'd written about the troubles in Northern Ireland and Phil obliged. It's raucous, raw and stark with a brilliant opening thirty seconds. Gary also released the excellent 'Empty Rooms' in 1985 which reached number 23. Out in the fields peaked at number 3 giving Gary his highest chart placing since 1979's Parisienne Walkways.


I was laughed out of a classroom at school once for calling this band 'De-Pesh-Ay Mode' - mainly because that's what David 'Kid' Jensen called them on the radio constantly. Apparently it's pronounced 'De-Pesh Mode', not that I'm still haunted by that particular moment in my life. This was a new song which they included on the compilation 'Singles 81-85' and released as a single in April '85. They'd really begun to master the industrial sound at this stage of their career and would only get better.



What a debut single this was. Problem was, they didn't follow it up; this number 15 peaking single was their only UK chart entry. Co-writer Nick Laird-Clowes had none other than Paul Simon as a mentor and when he told him he was going to call the song 'Morning lasted all day', Simon told him that was rubbish and to try again. 'Life in a Northern Town' was born, a tale of the decline of the Shipping Industry. The African-esque chorus was sampled by Dario G in 1997 for their hit single 'Sunchyme'.


It's Hammer time, and Jan  can be seen programming a Fairlight in the video - oh how jealous I was. I had to put up with a slightly out of tune upright piano in 1985 but it certainly added a certain jaunty air to 'Alex F' that the composer hadn't intended. This was the theme tune to the hugely popular Miami Vice, a TV show I was too young to either watch or understand. The synth stabs part-way through bear too much similarity to the main hook of 'Celebrate' by Kool and the Gang for my liking. However, this was a very exciting record which paved the way for more electronic instrumental singles in the coming years.


Long before Mariah Carey tried using every single available note in every song, Annie Lennox managed it in this chart topping piece of perfection. It was Dave and Annie's first and only number 1 single after which they diversified from their winning formula of accessible jaunty pop music into more brooding and serious songs which always made the best of Annie's unique and beguiling vocals. I don't care for many Eurythmics songs but I listen anyway for the vocal performances alone.

Stevie Wonder pops up half-way through with his harmonica - a prolific session musician, it would blow your mind if you saw the list of songs he'd lent his vocals, keyboard and harmonica skills to over the years. His harmonica can also be heard on Elton John's "I Guess That's Why they Call it the Blues", Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You" and Prefab Sprout's 'Nightingales".


Ahh, the first song I attempted at Karaoke and quickly realised that 2-Unlimited's 'No Limits' was probably more my style. Billy had started his career strongly with two number 2 peaking singles in 1976/1977 before disappearing from the charts for 7 years. He popped back up again in 1984 with the release of his fifth album "Suddenly".

The song "Suddenly" was a surprise chart success in that the arguably more-radio-friendly "Caribbean Queen" and "Loverboy" had already been released from the album and reached 6 and 15 respectively.  This ballad (usually a mis-step for a Pop/Disco artist) did better than either, nestling in at number 4 in June. This surprise is borne out by the fact they didn't make a video for the song; it was just Billy on stage performing to an audience. Saved them a bit of cash I suppose and it didn't do the chart placing any harm at all. Billy's vocal here is as good as you'll ever hear on a pop record.


Nonsense was Simon Le Bon's forte. He was able to write lyrics that sounded profound but on looking a bit closer, don't actually make any sense whatsoever. Simon invited Grace Jones to read a monologue in the middle of the song and wrote this for her : "Cut open murmurs and sounds be calm hands on skin. Carry further entangled strands." Nonsense aside, "Arcadia" is was what Simon, Nick and Roger did after Duran Duran took a hiatus. Everything was highly stylised from the look to the album art work and although the parent album was a masterpiece, it wasn't quite what the remaining Duranies were after. Neither though, was "The Power Station", the group John and Andy went on to form the same year.

"Election Day" reached a respectable number 7 in the UK.


Thank goodness (Or EMI, whichever you prefer) for the series that was "Now That's What I Call Music". Having purchased every edition up to the then-current number 5 (on which "The Word Girl" appeared as track 2), I was baffled by how many songs in the circa. 30 tracks each edition contained that I'd never heard on the radio or Top of the Pops. This was one such song. A bouncy uplifting pop song with chirpy vocals and lovely bright keyboards. I still think "Scritti Politti" sounds more like a kind of skin disease though.


Kevin Godley was not only a member of 10cc but went on to direct music videos such as , U2's "Even Better Than the Real Thing", Erasure's "Blue Savannah" and Blur's "Girls and Boys". Along with former bandmate Lol Creme (which is what you text back if someone asks if you want milk or cream in your coffee), he directed Duran Duran's "Girls on Film", Frankie's "Two Tribes" and The Police's "Don't Stand so Close to me" among many many others. And so, when Godley and Creme released "Cry", and they needed a video, there were only two men for the job.  Before CGI, they used clever wiping and dissolving effects to make people with very different faces slowly morph into each other. (Something Michael Jackson did on his video for "Black or White" but with much more sophisticated tools.)

Serial producer of hit singles Trevor Horn is involved here but it's not clear whose idea it was to increase the pitch of the word 'cry' until only dogs could hear it right at the end. Sort of ruins the experience, like coming out of a film you've really enjoyed and having the ushers throw popcorn at you as you leave, sort of.

Despite it's mesmerising video and heavy rotation on many different mixed-media TV shows, the song only reached a paltry 19. Baffling really as it belies it's simplicity and is imbued with a wonderful, almost unique atmosphere. Try doing that in 2024.

Incidentally, after Gary Moore and Phil Lynott, this was the second time ex-bandmates had teamed up to release a song together in '85.


I do feel a bit sorry for singers with such unique voices that could have gone stratospheric but for the right songwriting team. Kiki Dee is one and Lisa Stansfield is another. If only they'd been luckier with the songs made available to them. This was the case with Princess. She was a session singer and was hired by SAW (Stock, Aitken and Waterman) to do some vocal work on a project for Dee C. Lee. After winning over the production team, they worked on a few tracks together. Once this track was finished, no record label was actually interested in it so SAW created Supreme Records and released it themselves. It reached number 7 and based on SAW's output in the latter part of the 80s, you'd never guess this was theirs.  Sadly, her subsequent singles didn't reach the same heights.


Apart from the bizarre opening minute of the song, this is brilliant. It chugs along, taking you with it and never stops for breath. Brian May's excellent guitar riff is the kind of thing that makes a kid want an electric guitar for Christmas and Freddie's vocals are probably some of the best he ever laid down on tape bar "These are the Days of our Lives".

Bizarrely, the final iteration of the words "One Vision" are actually "Fried Chicken", which is a nod to a part of the writing process where they didn't have words for the chorus and started singing "One prawn, one clam, one shrimp, one chicken...".  It reached number 7 in November.


King made two albums and then they were done. Shame really as they had some proper good singles. Despite the uncomfortable imagery that comes with thinking about someone tasting someone's tears, you'd be really proud of yourself if you'd written this song. It's got so much character and so many great moments - especially the second verse where lead singer Paul gets all shouty and passionate. It's definitely moreish and lights that little flame of nostalgia. Paul went on to host various shows on MTV and became a VJ (like a DJ but for Videos).


I could never see Katrina and the Waves as a serious band after this single. They weren't a bubble-gum pop band full of optimism and jolly intentions - they were a Motown inspired mood band full of introspection and pessimism.  Although "Walking on Sunshine" was a hit, it ruined their ethos and regardless of anything profound they came up with later, they'd always be the "Walking on Sunshine" band. They leaned into this by writing something similar the following year but "Sun Street" wasn't as catchy and only reached number 22. "Sunshine" got to number 8 and is probably one of the most recognisable tracks of the decade.

Katrina re-emerged in 1997, representing the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest and winning with the song "Love Shine a Light" (which gave the band their highest chart placing with a quite impressive number 3).


Robert "Mutt" Lange might not be a hugely familiar name to you but as a producer and a songwriter his accomplishments include producing the second biggest selling album of all time (AC/DC's "Back in Black") and the best selling album by a solo female, Shania Twain's "Come on Over" in 1997. He's also got his paw-prints all over Bryan Adams' "Waking up the Neighbours", The Corrs' "Breathless" and Heart's "All I Wanna do is Make Love to you".

It's clear from the blood-stirring intro to "Loverboy" that his influence was strong in this track. The best thing about it is it's non-linear style - there's no fear here in the production or the structure. Just listen to the experimentation in the middle 8 - it's so unusual for a commercial pop song. It works though and I've still got this on rotation 40 years later. Superb.


Cherrelle was and probably still is an unknown to UK music fans. Part of the successful Minneapolis stable headed up by Prince and Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson's Songwriting team), she shot straight into the R&B top 10 with Jam and Lewis' first ever composition "I Didn't Mean to Turn You on" (covered by Robert Palmer in 1986). She teamed up with another singer who'd worked with Jam and Lewis, Alexander O'Neal, on "Saturday Love" before he went on to have a string of UK hits in his own right.

I can't adequately describe the feeling I had when I first heard this. It was an entirely different musical experience to anything I'd heard before. I'd heard a few Prince songs and enjoyed "When Doves Cry" in particular and though this came from two of his proteges, it was the equivalent of having bad eyesight and putting on a pair of glasses. Music suddenly went up to 4K. When Alex's "Hearsay" album came out, I bought it, listened to it over and over for more years than I care to acknowledge and never looked back. It's not hyperbole to say that Jam and Lewis are probably two of the most important and influential musicians of the 1980s (and beyond).


Only in the late 90s did I come to appreciate Simple Minds for what they were. Big songs with a huge voice, I always got the impression they were trying to be U2 but without the lyrical gravitas. Jim Kerr's voice was every bit as powerful and expressive as Bono's but the rest of the band lacked an identity and their songs were definitely written more for radio than for their own musical growth and enrichment.

I found the video for this song particularly stressful as they decided to set up all of their equipment at the edge of a precarious cliff. The production on the track was right up my street though with huge reverbed drums, glass piano chimes and soaring chorus vocals that dilate every blood vessel. It's a song that you could release in any year and get a top ten single. 1985 was brilliant wasn't it?


In the UK we didn't get a lot of information about American acts like DeBarge. For example, I didn't know if this was the same DeBarge who sang "Who's Johnny" on the Short Circuit soundtrack because that was by "El DeBarge" - I couldn't go to Google so that, and many other musical questions and mysteries, hung around until just now, when it popped back into my head and made me Google it. El DeBarge, it turns out, is the lead singer of DeBarge. Who knew?

Before "Miami Sound Machine" popularised the latin-beat on pop singles, it was present here - written by Diane Warren (who also wrote LeAnn Rimes' "Can't Fight the Moonlight", Aswad's "Don't Turn Around" and Michael Bolton's "How can we be Lovers") and omnipresent in April 1985. It peaked at number 4 in the UK.


Simple Minds didn't want to record this song originally because they didn't write it. Several other artists also declined to record it for the soundtrack to the movie "The Breakfast Club". After a lot of persuasion, they agreed to record it and was a good job they did. Despite having a few low-grade hit singles, this catapulted Simple Minds into the zeitgeist and made the record buying public (and the radio) care about subsequent releases. If not for this song, Simple Minds might have continued to hover around the mid-twenties of the chart before vanishing altogether.

Despite the hollow production, this track is a bona fide generational classic.


Howard's chart career was quite short-lived despite him continuing to release albums and perform live to his army of fans to this day. He first charted in 1983 and his last hit fell out of the chart in 1986. This song has some of my favourite lyrics of the decade, framed by a brilliant musical framework. The backing track is a network of intricate motifs and keyboard genius. The single featured the support of backing group Afrodiziak who also featured on  The Jam's "Beat Surrender", Elvis Costello's "Everyday I Write the Book" among others and one of the group, Caron Wheeler, went on to perform lead vocals on the Soul II Soul song, "Back to Life".

Howard sings, "Treating today as though it was the last, the final show, Get to 60 and feel no regret. It may take a little time, a lonely path, an uphill climb, success or failure will not alter it." I think about this verse a lot for many reasons and were it not in a pop song, it should have won some kind of Pulitzer. The song reached number 6.


Being a self-confessed Duranie, I was all over this at the time. Little did I know it would spell the end of the five-some for nigh-on fifteen years. I bought the single and I went to see the film at the cinema three times in the week it was released. The faultless Christopher Walken plays perfectly off Roger Moore even if the movie is a little bit forgettable. The single stalled at number 2 because Paul Hardcastle's "19" was hogging the top spot, something which still baffles me to this day.


This song sounds like it was great to record. Every moment in it is filled with joy - from the saxophone intro to Glenn's "Woah-oh-wo-ho" and the "Tell me can you feel it" mantra. It's a blast from start to finish. It was written for the movie Beverly Hill's Cop by Harold Faltermayer (he of "Axel F" fame, from the same movie) and recorded by the second solo member of "The Eagles" to have a hit single in 1985 (the first being Don Henley). Competition for places in the charts that year meant it only reached number 12 despite sounding like a sure-fire number 1 all day long.


There's many a dissertation that could be written about this song and still not fully capture what listening to it whilst nursing a tot of Jack Daniels whilst staring out of a rain soaked upstairs window can. Morrissey was always able to capture that sense of ennui behind every human interaction, however positive or mundane. The Smiths probably had no right to be in the pop charts at all - very little of what they released had commercial appeal but they spoke to millions of us in a way nobody else could. We loved that they understood how we were feeling and that we had someone up there in the midst of the important people who understood how we were living and more importantly, how isolated or ignored we felt socially or politically.

The work that went in to getting the tremolo guitar line (having to time oscillating amps in 10 second bursts, stopping and starting the tape to do so) and harmonising the slide guitar pays off hugely. This was one of the secrets of creating an enduring record - garnering a sound that nobody else ever had or ever could again. I'm still not sure if the line "I am the son and the heir" is meant to sound like "I am the sun and the air", but maybe that's part of the intrigue. As the song had already been released as the B-Side of "William, it was Really Nothing", when it came out in its own right, it only reached number 24.


After the huge success of "Take on Me", expectations were high for the follow up. Given the track records of bands who burst onto the scene with a huge smash hit, it was expected that the follow-up wouldn't reach the same heights. In one of those rare moments however, the follow-up absolutely smashed the first single out of the water. I'm talking metaphorically of course because "Take on Me" reached number 2 and this, number 1.

Where the video for "Take on Me" left off, the video for this picked up and led to the band standing on a stage in a church playing a concert to hundreds of mannequins. "The Sun Always Shines on TV" motors along with more energy than I've ever had in my entire life all the way though until the final bass piano note. Morten Harket's vocals soaring over and above everything else like no other pop singer in the world. This was the second of six consecutive top 10 hits in little over 12 months for the band.

One small tip, if the sun is shining on your TV, just shut the curtains.



The Cult hadn't done much for me; it wasn't the kind of music I leaned towards naturally and nothing they'd done sounded interesting enough to pay attention to - until this single. This has a unique energy which is as infectious as a Disco or Heavy Metal track, somehow incorporating sensibilities of both. Ian Astbury's vocals suit this perfectly, whereas I find them rather tedious on most of the other songs of theirs I've heard. This got to number 15, their second highest placing bar "Lil' Devil" which reached number 11 in 1987. Nope, me neither.


Despite the sweaty video, this is a tour de force. The track is layered with so many cleverly written synth parts and overlaid with Peter Cox's gravelly vocals to the point where you almost have to switch it off halfway through to get your breath back. It was the duo's debut hit, reaching number 5 in February and followed by three more top 30 singles in 1985. Cox's vocal gymnastics are quite something - it's a shame they never really pushed on from this early promise (they didn't manage to enter the top 10 with any of their subsequent 8 singles).


Written by Billy Bragg for his 1983 album Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy, the song becomes a little less impressive when you know that the opening lines were taken from a Simon and Garfunkel song (Leaves that are Green) and the tune was taken from a Thin Lizzy song (Cowboy Song). MacColl heard Bragg singing it in his rough busker style and immediately heard it differently in her head with harmonies and instrumentation.  She and then husband, Steve Lillywhite, set about recording it. She thought it was too short so Bragg wrote her another verse (and changed "I'm just looking for another girl" to "Are you looking for another girl").

This gave Kirsty her highest chart placing with a number 7 in February.


This song breaks all the conventions of a hit pop single. The intro is weird, the verse doesn't have a "Whistlable" melody and the singer was a complete unknown. She had no further chart success but continues to provide background vocals for artists such as Seal, Aerosmith and the magnificent Lana Del Rey. She scored a respectable number 11 in the UK with this brilliant track.


Lead singer of Marillion, Derek Dick ("Fish" to his friends), looked like someone you'd get drawn against in the Darts Round-Robin at your local on a Friday night. I didn't like this song originally because it was good, which meant it was competing with Duran Duran's "A View To a Kill" for the top spot. Turned out both only reached number 2 behind The Crowd's "You'll Never Walk Alone" and Paul Hardcastle's "19" respectively.

I remember thinking this song was the spiritual successor to Hot Chocolate's "It Started With a Kiss"; love stories are always a winner, especially when sprinkled with regret, could-have-beens and lessons learned. But with lines like "Dawn escapes from Moon-washed college halls" and "Barefoot on the lawn with shooting stars", you just feel this song in your bones. A forever classic.


Hairstyles in the 80s were eclectic to say the least but the one Jennifer Rush sported during the chart run of the uber-successful "The Power of Love" made her look like she'd been electrocuted in a wind tunnel. This was brilliant, if you like this sort of thing, which I don't particularly, but I got why it stayed at number 1 for five weeks and troubled the chart for a total of 33 weeks. It didn't kickstart a successful chart career however as her follow-up single "Ring of Ice" only reached number 14 and everything else barely scraped the top 100. Shame really as her voice was phenomenal and really should have been given more exposure - I think she would have done to Beverley Craven's "Promise Me", what she did to this track but alas, it was not to be.

This was the second single entitled "The Power of Love" to enter the chart in six months (the previous one was by Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and there'd be another barely five weeks later when Huey Lewis and The News released the title track to 80s Blockbuster "Back to the Future".


Second song in a row I don't really care for but understand it's importance and unique genre shifting power. Neil Tennant had been a journalist for Smash Hits before turning his talents to 'singing'. It's probably an unpopular opinion but I thought The Pet Shop Boys could have been even better had they given their songs to other people to perform. They did this several times of course with much success (adding weight to my argument) writing "I'm not Scared" for Patsy Kensit and Eighth Wonder, Dusty Springfield's "In Private" and Liza Minelli's "Losing My Mind".

West End Girls won the best single award at the Brits and an Ivor Novello award no less.  It of course hit number 1 for two weeks and remained in the top 10 for 8 weeks.


"Take on Me" had to be released three times before it charted. It was mixed, re-mixed and re-re-mixed with three different videos. Warner Brothers really believed in the band and it's to their credit. Unique isn't the word when you're describing Morten Harket's vocals. Add those to as catchy a track as you'll ever hear and point people in its direction, you've got a hit. It just shows that writing good songs was never enough - even with a little bit of radio airtime; marketing was everything and the pencil-sketch video which took 6 months to make, drew everyone's attention. The song reached number 2 in the UK for three weeks, stalling behind Jennifer Rush's "The Power of Love".


Talking of unique artists, Kate is truly a maverick and approaches song-writing from as many obtuse angles as she can muster. There are some artists who transcend the singles chart. You have to have some commercial success as an artist so that you can go on being an artist and not have to work a full time job, which gets in the way a bit. It struck me that Kate never worried about commercial success when writing songs - "Army Dreamers" which entered the top 20 in 1980 is a prime example of this. It just doesn't make any sense as a commercial single release - neither did "Wuthering Heights" for that matter but it rose to number 1 because it was so so different to anything before it.

The "Hounds of Love" album should be in everyone's record collection. "Running up That Hill" is probably the most accessible song on it in terms of catchy pop, but the rest of it is just a sublime mix of thoughts and atmospheres, lyrical erudition and expert vocalisation.  For best lyric of the decade, try this for size : "You don't want to hurt me, but see how deep the bullet lies".


I was surprised to see how much hate this song received at the time. The band didn't like it much and it's frequently listed on "Worst Songs Ever" lists. However, it's a great single, which is what this list is all about. Whether you're "Knee-deep in the Hoop-la" or "Playing the Mamba", it doesn't matter, the intro to this song drags you by the ankles into the verse and by the end of the first chorus it has your full attention. It reached number 12 in November.


There are some songs that I am just in awe of. Songs that chill the blood with their minor key changes and brooding vocals which really evoke a set of emotions you'll never feel anywhere else. Although I don't know what this song is specifically about, it's July in a seaside town isn't it? For me, more Scarborough than California, but even so, the smell of the sea, fish and chips, seagulls cascading towards your face and the heat of the day slowly fading as you sip Coors in a bay-side café.  It's actually about the passing from youth to middle-age and lamenting past relationships, but hey, if I can get a 99 with a flake along the way, why not?  It got to number 12 in 1985 and when it was re-released in 1998, it got to number 12 again.


 What a song this is by the way. There were a few German acts in the 80s; Falco (who sang in German), Nena with her balloons, Alphaville, Milli Vanilli, Kraftwerk and Trio (of "Da da da" fame) to name a few. Propaganda had already flirted with the charts, releasing "Dr. Mabuse" in 1984 and reaching number 27. This single fared a little better, settling at 21 before falling out of the chart. It's another example of a song which just didn't get enough exposure as it's a fabulous single. Another entry into lyric of the decade here too : "The first cut won't hurt at all, the second only makes you wonder, the third will have you on your knees, you start bleeding, I start screaming". Stick that in your Ivor Novello and smoke it.


Dear me. If you didn't like this song then you were either paid not to or lying. It's quite clever of them really, writing a pop song in a time signature rarely visited. It's in 12/8, which to those of you not au fait with music theory means, each bar still has four beats (conventional pop songs have this for rhythmic stability) but with an off-kilter undertone created by using three quavers per beat instead of two. It was unusual at the time so it made the track stand out immediately. Other songs using this rhythm include Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel", Toto's "Hold the Line" and R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" albeit a much slower 12/8 where you can actually hear the three quavers per beat.

When I first heard this song I was mesmerised. £1.49 was duly saved up and a trip to Sounds Nice on the high-street beckoned.  The song was originally titled "Everybody Wants to go to War" which was a theme running through "Songs from the Big Chair", its sister album. "Mother's Talk" is about the threat of Nuclear War which was ever-present in the mid-80s and "Shout" is a protest song about such things.

Tears for Fears didn't appear at Live Aid even though they were originally supposed to. Ironic then that this song only reached number 2, being held off the top-spot by the "USA for Africa" song "We are the World". They atoned for their absence by re-recording the song with the title "Everybody Wants to Run the World" for Sport Aid in 1986.


If you want to see my blog about 1984 click here, or if you'd like to dip into the 70s, click here


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