I'm cruel like that.
1973 was a rough year in music. The psychedelic years were over, disco was on the horizon, and the airwaves were...well, had a lot of junk on it. Before we could hear the good stuff on AM radio (FM didn't really get big until the late 70's), we had to deal with stuff like Tony Orlando & Dawn, Vicki Lawrence, Helen Reddy, and Maureen McGovern.
It was rough riding in the rumble seat at the back of the station wagon and hearing that crap. Luckily, there was some great music too. For real rock we had Deep Purple putting out a classic (if not totally plagiarized), Alice Cooper trying to get into government and Queen just getting on the music scene. My hometown bands Chicago keep the sound of a strong horn section alive and REO Speedwagon tried to be safe in a snow storm,. Frank Zappa was, well, Frank Zappa. And Johnny Cash was the man in black, as always. What really saved the 70's was rhythm and blues, funk and the Motown sound. Great releases from the amazing voice of Al Green and soulful groups like The O'Jays and The Spinners were on the charts. However, if I was picking a best song for 1973, it this brilliant piece from The Temptations.
Ahhh, the start of the 80's. I was in high school and I think I really started to appreciate music. It helped to be in a racially and economically diverse high school. I saw all ends of the musical spectrum. That's not to say 1980 was pure joy. I couldn't turn off songs by Captain & Tennille, Air Supply, Rupert Holmes or Dolly Parton fast enough.
But man, the 1980s were great. Alternative music broke out with songs by Blondie, synth master Gary Numan, pioneers Devo, girl fav Adam & the Ants, and English import Split Enz. The kings of puck The Ramones released their 2nd album, along with hits from other rockers like Journey and The Pretenders. Pete Townshend went solo as did Peter Gabriel. Blues made a commercial splash thanks to the Blues Brothers Soundtrack, and the US got it's first taste of U2. For me, though, the band that I got turned on to in 1980, and still really enjoy, released their first album in 1980 - Oingo Boingo.
The third entry of 2014 Archives comes from 1986. I am out of high school, and I was in a few college courses in community college, but '86 was the 2nd term of The Great Communicator Ronald Reagan (insert eye roll), so I had to drop out and get a full time job. Somehow, trickle down just wasn't trickling down. The radio had garbage like Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, and Phil Collins. And 1986 was the year Eddie Murphy thought he was a singer (no - you weren't).
Thankfully, other stuff played on better radio stations. Women really started to show up, bolstered by MTV. You had The Bangles, Bananarama with a remake, Belinda Carlisle going solo,goofy Stacey Q, and the amazing, needs-to-be-in-the-RnR-Hall-of-Fame Pat Benatar. Women were also strong in the rap and hip hop genres with the debut of Salt N Peppa (don't forget Spinerella) and Janet Jackson growing up. Plenty of rock offerings with anthem rockers GTR, Stevie Ray Vaughn's lil' brother in The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Van Halen getting a new lead singer, and Robert Palmer creating one of the most iconic music videos. 1986 spanned the whole scale of music, from Cameo to Crowded House to Weird Al. And while I didn't get into this band until the 90s, best song I can think from 1986 came off the debut of TMBG - They Might Be Giants.
Let's finish off Archives while we finish off the 80's in 1989. This is the year I met the woman that would become my wife (foolish girl). The following year, I would be packing up and heading down to Florida for a year while she had a job in a school district down there. But before we left, we were hitting the scan button on the radio whenever crap came on like Will To Power, lip syncing Milli Vanilli, boy band New Kids On The Block and cute, but annoying, Debbie Gibson.
Fortunately, the first year with my future spouse also had some great songs to put into our memories. College favorite Smithereens started getting the airplay they deserved, as did The Replacements. Rap and hip hop went mainstream thanks to Technotronic, Young MC telling us to move, and Tone Loc selling an aphrodisiac. Rock was well served with the Red Hot Chili Peppers putting out a great remake of a Stevie Wonder song, Eric Clapton kicking the bottle and rocking out, Faith No More being grunge before grunge, Janet Jackson getting in on the hard rock act, and Extreme (before More Than Words) just being insane with a song from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (seriously - watch that video at about 4:15). Bobby Brown felt it was his prerogative to go to the B-52's love shack. However, one song that I find greatest over all is what I feel is Michael Jackson's best song. Talk about Thriller all you want - he nailed it with this tune.