Friday, October 12, 2012

10 Awesome '90s Songs By Awesome '80s Bands

Bell Biv DeVoe "Do Me!" (from Poison, 1990) Better known as three-fifths of New Edition, the biggest R&B boy band of the '80s, before they went from boys to men, before Boyz II Men. More than two decades later, I'm still dying to use this song's most memorable line -- "To the Jacuzzi, ooh, that booty, smack it up, flip it, rub it down, oh no!" -- on someone.

Pet Shop Boys "Being Boring" (from Behaviour, 1990) Though the duo's biggest hits were in the '80s, much of PSB's best work -- including the production of Boy George's comeback hit "The Crying Game" -- arrived during the following decade, which began with PSB's hands-down masterpiece, one of the best albums of any decade.

Siouxsie and the Banshees "Kiss Them for Me" (from Superstition, 1991) It's a long long way, chronologically and creatively, from 1978's "Hong Kong Garden" to Siouxsie and her Banshee's only Top 40 U.S. hit, but what a strange, twisted trip it was, with not a single dull moment.

INXS "Heaven Sent" (from Welcome to Wherever You Are, 1992) I read somewhere that Terence Trent D'Arby was a huge fan of Welcome to Wherever You Are, possibly the best '90s album by a quintessentially '80s band, after U2's Achtung Baby and Pet Shop Boys Behaviour. (I'm not counting R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People. Since the band's commercial and creative zeniths both came in the '90s, I've never considered R.E.M. quite '80s.) If D'Arby had been installed as the permanent lead singer of INXS after Michael Hutchence's death in 1997, not only would we have been spared Rock Star: INXS, but the merged '80s bestsellers probably would have struck platinum for the first time since Ronald Reagan (in D'Arby's case) and George (Bush) I (in INXS's) were living in the White House.

Sade "Like a Tattoo" (from Love Deluxe, 1992) Contrary to popular belief, the name Sade refers to both the woman and the band, the procrastinating outfit that has released exactly one excellent album per decade since its holy '80s triumvirate of Diamond Life, Promise and Stronger Than Pride.

Tears for Fears "Break It Down Again" (from Elemental, 1993) "What is Tears for Fears?" I asked then-sole official TFF member Roland Orzabal at a record release party for Elemental in New York City's East Village on June 7, 1993. His response: "Tears for Fears is a way of life." What a douche. The single, TFF's final one to make it into the U.S. Top 40, rocked, though.

Ric Ocasek "Crash" (from the Speed soundtrack, 1994) Okay, so it wasn't a Cars reunion (that wouldn't come until last year's Move Like This), but today I listen to "Crash" more than I do anything by the '70s/'80s band that Ocasek fronted. Considering how much I love "Let's Go," "Magic" and "You Are the Girl," that's saying a hell of a lot.

Depeche Mode "Barrel of a Gun" (from Ultra, 1997) Despite how I feel about the right to bear arms, if I could listen to any Depeche Mode song all day long while staring down a firearm, it would be this one.

Duran Duran "Electric Barbarella" (from Medazzaland, 1997) Noteworthy as much for being the great first single from DD's overlooked Medazzaland as for being the subject of my very first conversation with my now BFF.

Eurythmics "I Saved the World Today" (from Peace, 1999) One of several tracks on Eurythmics' end-of-the-decade reunion album (the others being "Power to the Meek," "Peace Is Just a Word," "I've Tried Everything" and "Lifted") that stand up to the duo's best work from its late-'80s soul phase, if not its earlier synth-pop classics. I once heard the song, a No. 11 UK hit, on an episode of The Sopranos, which, interestingly, was the only one I ever saw. (I hate mob stories.)

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