The Eighties. I was 8 years old in 1980 and 18 in 1990. That means I certainly came of age in the Eighties. For some reason I've developed a creeping urge to hear Eighties songs. So I downloaded a bunch of 'em from several different compilations, and kept only the ones I knew I would listen to - some 150 songs. I was surprised at what made the cut. I found I wanted to hear Cyndi Lauper (awesome), Soft Cell, Katrina & the Waves...stuff I didn't particularly like back then. Interestingly, I was less interested in late Eighties stuff. Once my mix hits the Bobby Brown/Aerosmith Resurgence years the pickings get sparse, with almost no entries from metal (this was pretty much a pop collection), the only exceptions being Twisted Sister and Europe (although I'm not sure the latter is exactly metal...I had to put The Final Countdown in there). Other late Eighties picks are Fine Young Cannibals (She Drives Me Crazy - a gem I was oblivious to at the time) and Love Shack, which I'm vaguely embarrassed about.
I'm not sure I can explain entries from Lionel Ritchie, or why I like Toto's Africa so much. I'm sure much of it is nostalgia. But it's been great to rediscover a song like Madonna's Crazy For You, which I could not have appreciated back in the day. - Oh, and is Rock Me Amadeus in the original German not a really freakin' weird song when you get right down to it? I also think Loverboy actually rocks pretty hard, provided you're blasting them at maximum volume. Crowded House was an excellent little band that deserved to be a lot more popular. Same goes for the Rainmakers. When you listen to Michael Jackson in headphones for the first time in your life you realize how awesome Quincy Jones is. Richard Marx sucks. Those are just a few of the nice little insights I've been having on this journey through the music of my youth.
Of course, nearly all of the obligatory hits from 1980-86 or so are in there, and there are a few more I need to round up. There is always the temptation to give one artist too many selections. Prince, of all people, got more than anyone. The Police deserve more than just Every Breath You Take and Huey Lewis & the News deserve more than just Power of Love. I'm sure this will be an evolving collection.
Maybe the real reason I like all this stuff is that it puts me in an easier mindset, more like the way I was when I was a kid before I got so jaded and cynical. But it seems pretty clear there was just a lot of good music back then. The Eighties gets a bad rep for its somewhat confused fashions. But no one can say it was not a distinctive decade, and the older I get the more I realize how much the pop culture of that decade - music, movies, books, everything - shaped who I am.
...and for the record, I'll never be able to hear Sister Christian again without hearing John Bilbrey sing, "Motorhead! What's your price for flight?"