This week, our classic rockstar Yisel is back with another insightful look into the music of the past. This week she takes a dive into the dawning of an entirely new musical era: the ’80s! Take a look at Yisel’s top 5 songs of the year 1980:


1. “Call Me” By Blondie From American Gigolo


At the supermarket, the dentist, or in your car, the desire to sing this song cannot be evaded. “Call Me” is one of those songs you want to sing in your microphone- hairbrush and fall back into the ’80s. A new wave hit, “Call Me” was the theme song for the film American Gigolo, which tells the story of a male escort in LA. The main character, the gigolo, starts a romantic relationship with the wife of a politician, while at the same time becoming the main suspect of a crime. Debbie Harry wrote the lyrics to fit the film’s script, so it takes the perspective of a male escort. “Call Me” is exactly that: the story of a seductive relationship with a sense of intrigue.


2. “Once in a Lifetime” By Talking Heads From Remain in Light

Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime (Official Video)


A large automobile? A beautiful house? and a beautiful wife?

All the things social expectations ask of you, come together in this song. Produced and co-written by Brian Eno (yes, the one and only Brian Eno from Roxy Music), the song imitates a religious sermon. Half spoke and half sung, the lyrics work to create the feeling of a call and response that creates a critique on the social standards. In the video, David Bryne appears well-dressed in a suit dancing to strange movements that are supposed to be taken from different footages of preachers, sects and people in trances. The song’s perfect funk-afrobeat sound helps the listener to avoid feeling bored with all of the song’s repetitions.


3. “A Forest” By The Cure From Seventeen Seconds

A Forest (Remastered Version)


Close your eyes, because you are about to advance into a reverie. “A Forest” is an atmospheric experience. Consider part of the gothic years of The Cure, this song has that sound that can only be linked to the band. The song starts by introducing the synth, followed by the bass guitar. During those first seconds, I can picture myself entering an obscure forest far from civilization just as the lyrics inspire,”Into the trees/Suddenly I stop/But I know it’s too late/I’m lost in a forest/All alone.” The song ends with the instruments fading away, creating a sense of hopelessness. A  perfect song to play on repeat on a gloomy day.


4. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” By Joy Division From Closer

Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]


Again, Joy Division makes it to my top 5. What can I say? I really, really love them. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was recorded in February of 1980, and wasn’t released until June of the same year. During this period of time, Ian Curtis who was struggling with an epilepsy diagnosis and issues in his relationship, took his own life that May. The posthumous release became their first--and only--commercial hit. The opening lines, “When routine bites hard/And ambitions are low/And resentment rides high/But emotions won’t grow,” always grasp my heart. They simply depict the worst moment of an ending relationship, where someone feels trapped. The video was shot casually during a band rehearsal, which reeks of nonchalance. The song is structurally very simple, yet powerful with its hypnotic bass line and background synth.


5. “Ashes to Ashes” By David Bowie From Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

David Bowie - Ashes To Ashes (Official Video)


A dark melody with vocal layering’s, “Ashes to Ashes” is Major Tom’s reappearance after “Space Oddity.” The lyrics follow Major Tom’s experience as a junkie in what Bowie has called an ’80s nursery rhyme. The strange music video was the most expensive video made during the ’80s. In the music video, Major Tom is dressed as a Pierrot, a customary pantomime character used in the seventeenth century. Basically, a sad clown with white makeup, loose blouse, wide white pants. Some scenes take place in what looks like a white room of a mental hospital, depicting perhaps the fight with the struggle and urge of drugs that can be heard in the lyrics, “Time and again I tell myself/I’ll stay clean tonight.” The song retains a funky bass that gives some comfort to the sadness conveyed in the song. Every time I listen to this song I cannot avoid thinking about what the title conveys— one truth of life, we are all destined to be ashes.