I don't know about you, but there's nothing like the start of a new year or the rest of the world acting like it's the end of the world to make me reassess my life. And what I have assessed most recently is something I never needed to reassess in the first place, but I just felt like talking about anyway, and that thing is filling your life with good music.
Good. Solid. Music.
No, I'm not talking about the latest hit on REAL HITZ 2DAY Radio, or trendy folksy things that make you seem really deep and sensitive, or anything written by Max Martin (so basically every catchy song you've had stuck in your head recently) (sorry Max). I'm talking about 80'S MUSIC. Say what you want, but the music created in the 80s (and much of the 70s) is magical. Just straight up magical. I'm tearing up as I write this (not really, but I could be, and that's the point). It was what music was before the song machine started mass-producing hits. Back when the majority of popular musicians actually were musicians and wrote their own songs, and their goal wasn't to mind control everyone with the catchy hook in their song that was written by a team of twelve people using statistics and robots to manufacture music that is engineered to be popular. Back when a group called Men at Work never "worked worked worked worked worked."
The songs of the 80s were full of beautiful melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and some sixth sense magic that either make you feel many feels or make you feel like you can roundhouse kick anything in the face. 80s music is like my soul food music. It's the freshly-baked never-ending batch of chocolate chip cookies after a hard day, the chicken soup for my post-graduate soul, the mac and cheese that I will eat at any hour of the day simply because it is so good. Is there a little cheese? You bet there is. And that's part of why it's so great.
I would give my left arm to be able to turn the dial to the "Today's Hits" radio station and hear music like this. If all of the artists out there were just waiting for me to say this in order to proceed with making music that is actually good, there. I said it. NOW PLEASE GO MAKE IT AND ENJOY MY ARM YOU CANNIBALS. In the meantime, here are 5 songs I've been listening to that I am of the opinion just make everything a little bit better.
1. "Never" by Heart
To people who didn't think girl power was a thing back in the day, meet the Wilson sisters. And by meet, I mean go watch the video to this song, listen to the rest of their songs, and just bask in their collective glory. While all of their songs are worthy of a mention, this one in particular is on the list because of just how re-playable it is. This song is appropriate for every situation. Need to feel empowered after someone breaks your heart? Need some energy after a lethargic morning in the office? Need the perfect song to celebrate to after completely destroying a test? Having a bad hair day and want to feel like a guitar-wielding 80s goddess? Transporting your great-aunt's casket in a hearse to the cemetery? Blast. It. (Well, maybe not really in the last case, since that would be inappropriate. Unless she really loved Heart. Because then I think it would be inappropriate not to.)
2. "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel
I know all of you are like, "Oh, yeah, Peter Gabriel--that guy who started Genesis and was replaced by Phil Collins after he left the band. I know his stuff," but in case you didn't say that, Peter Gabriel is the guy who started Genesis and was replaced by Phil Collins after he left the band. Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, THIS SONG. I LOVE THIS SONG. Everything about it. If I had a spa, this song would be on repeat. At my spa. Why? It just feels right. Listen to this and feel your troubles melt away. Literally. Make sure you have a bowl to catch them. Or a towel.
3. "Baby I'm-a Want You" by Bread
First, you should already be wanting to listen to this purely because it is sung by Bread. It's not every day you get to hear bread sing, as it is primarily seen toasting, crumbling, and generally being pretty quiet. What really makes this song for me is the falsetto jump at the end of each verse. It just gets me, you know? Oh, and the sheer weirdness of saying "Baby I'm a Want You." The grammar nazi within me wants to time travel back to when Bread was coming up with this song and barge in with a big eraser and force them to make their song make sense, but then the nonconformist within me enjoys their blatant disregard for convention. Because like, whoa, maybe they're trying to say that you can't make sense out of something like love? That a feeling like wanting someone makes words meaningless? Wow. I knew bread was a complex carb, but that's something else. (Also, I know this was written in the 70s. Not the 80s. Sue me.)
4. "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston
I will forever be mystified by how every dance-inducing song that comes out today has to be either super sexual or made up of gibberish words and neolithic grunts that, unbeknownst to me, are probably the exact same noises that signaled man's discovery of fire. I mourn the lost days when Whitney Houston was in her prime, when music could make everyone within a mile radius want to dance and feel uplifted in that dancing instead of objectified or just really, really gross. This song always manages to instantly makes me feel ten times more productive than I am, makes me bob my head back and forth like a jazzy seal, and generally just makes life feel like one big step-aerobics class. Which is a good thing. Throw in that the music video for this song looks like a nightmarish episode of Reading Rainbow, in a good way, and I just don't think it can get any better.
5. "Ride Like the Wind" by Christopher Cross
Feeling lethargic on your morning commute? Need some confidence before you burst into your class to give the presentation of your life? Just want to feel cooler when walking? This is the song for you. And if all of the other elements of this song weren't great enough, MICHAEL MCDONALD KEEPS POPPING UP IN THE BACKGROUND. MICHAEL OLD MCDONALD. What more could you want? I would pay Michael (we're on a first name basis) a pretty sum of money to just pop up in the background of my life and sing with that voice of his. And the line "And I've got such a long way to go/To make it to the border of Mexico" evokes the spirit of Robert Frost's "But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep," and if there's nothing I like more than classic American poetry, it's random songs from this era that I can outlandishly compare to classic American poetry.