Five Songs From the ’80s I Love that Destroy My Street Cred

Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

Not really, but in the eyes of some, what I am about to confess will be considered heinous and unforgivable. I believe I have good musical tastes. I listen to a wide variety of styles and genres. I love everything from classic rock and roll to electronica to the great time-tested hymns. Yet my unblemished record of staunch musical discernment is about to come crashing down on my head. Here are five songs from the 1980s that will shatter any respectability I might have created for myself as a knowledgeable music critic.

Buckle up kids, this might get bumpy.

Africa by Toto

Let’s get this party started off right! This song has me right where it wants me from the opening notes of that beautiful 80s keyboard. The light percussion sprinkled in seals the deal. And the harmonies. Oh the harmonies! Toto just goes for it at the end of the song, bringing it all home with passion – every instrument and vocal perfectly blending into a melodious masterpiece.

I realize that it has suddenly become “cool” to like this song. As far as I am concerned, if you just recently started “loving” this song, after years of ignoring or hating it, then you can just take that “love” and head on home. I’ve been “blessing the rains” since my elementary school days. Get that ironic love out of my face!

Do You Believe in Love by Huey Lewis and the News

Let’s get a few things out of the way right off the bat: Huey Lewis and the News are not singing about love in this song, though I don’t think they realize it. Second, the music video for this song is the perfect mix of 80s creepy naïveté. Nothing says “love” like a band full of dudes lying in bed with you while singing the chorus of this song!

But that’s neither here nor there. The song is just great 80s pop rock. It’s a little quirky. It’s fun. It has enough punch to reasonably be classified as rock but settles nicely in the pop world as well. If there ever was a band that was born to be made fun of it, it was Huey Lewis and the News – there isn’t a shred of coolness to their music or style – but that sort of makes their music even better. They played music they liked and I like their music for just that reason. Plus, they are Michael Scott’s favorite band even though he thinks he is listening to Bruce Springsteen.

I’m not going to link the video due to the creepy factor mentioned earlier. It’s not offensive for today’s standards but we are running a family-friendly site after all. Here is an alternative in case you are not familiar with the song.

The Touch by Stan Bush (From The Transformers: The Movie Soundtrack)

I love The Transformers: The Movie. Not the Shia LaCrazy, Michael Bay version that has spawned one million awful sequels. No, I love the original 1986 animated film. It was everything I wanted in a movie when I was 9 years old. It had awesome action. Great one-liners. (The movie is basically a string of one-liners.) And an 80s soundtrack that rocked my world.

The Touch was the theme song of the movie. Sung with ear-splitting intensity by Stan Bush, it had all the necessary ingredients for me to consider it a great song: Epic guitars. A nice layer of keyboard. Big vocals. Pounding drums.

“You got the touch. You got the power. Yeah!” I think that says it all.

In Time by Robbie Robb (From the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Soundtrack)

I’ve written about this one before. Here is a small excerpt from that much more important article:

For a kid that loved 80s rock like it was a part of his soul and responded to power ballads like an addict to his drug of choice, that song, at that moment in the film, felt like poetry, inspiration, and theology…In the film’s vernacular, it was heaven.

This is the kind of song that will always work for me. There is a definite “Richard Marx” vibe happening in this song, though I contend it’s better than anything in his catalog. It has all the hallmarks of a great 80s power ballad with the appropriate levels of sincerity and emotion. I love every freaking second of it!

Take on Me by A-ha

Best. Music. Video. Ever.

I almost don’t want to write anything else about this song. It doesn’t need my help at all. This song could not have been created at any other time or mind-space than in the crazy 80s. It screams 80s in every way imaginable.

Also, is there a better falsetto in the history of popular music? No. No there isn’t.

That’s my list, or at least, the part of my list I am willing to share. There are many, many more songs I could have included. One could even say there are a plethora of songs if one used such words. To be honest, though, I didn’t really write this article and list these songs so that others would get a peek inside my head. No, dear reader, I wrote this hoping to start a dialogue. I wanted to create a safe space where everyone can share what songs they love that would get them kicked out of the cool kids club. There will be no judgment here. No condemnation. Your opinions will be welcomed with open heart and mind.

Phill Lytle

I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation, etc...

14 thoughts on “Five Songs From the ’80s I Love that Destroy My Street Cred

  • October 5, 2018 at 11:16 am

    This is great. “The Touch” is the only one of these I haven’t heard 50X at least. I wrote about my love for the 80s last year and I think music was #1. I have loved Africa since we owned one of those Top Hits of 1986 cassette tapes in the Cannon House. I think it was the #1 song on that tape. For a minute I was sad I didn’t mention “In Time” in my article last year but then I remembered you covered it already, as you mentioned above.

  • October 5, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    I bless the rains….


    Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

  • October 6, 2018 at 8:12 am

    You said this is a safe space and that there will be no judgment or condemnation. Does that apply to people who like “We Built This City” ?

    Asking for a friend.

    • October 6, 2018 at 9:31 am

      I join you Joey in asking for a friend on that song. It’s almost to the point where any song from the 80s gets that treatment from me. There are so few I don’t like. A note on that song: I never saw “Rock of Ages” because I heard it was terrible from too many people. But in the trailer at the end there is a sort of Rock Battle between that song and We’re Not Gonna Take It, just before Tom Cruise comes out. The movie may have stunk but that trailer is among the best ever (outside of the fact it has other aspects of 80s Rock and Rock beside music).

    • October 6, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      You are welcome here brother.

      • October 7, 2018 at 12:55 pm

        Thank you. I, I mean, my friend, really appreciates it.

    • May 20, 2019 at 10:05 am

      Kevin Max did a cover of “Kyrie” and it is awesome. Love the original as well. Perfect song for this article.

  • May 19, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    I love all the songs. The 80s are my fav!!

  • July 10, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Apparently you and the guys from Weezer have similar taste. They covered both “Africa” and “Take On Me” on their recent teal album.

  • January 2, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    All but the two movie songs are terrific radio songs that always test well. Nothin’ to be embarrassed about. You’d be a good classic hits radio programmer, Phill.

    • January 4, 2021 at 11:06 am

      I would, wouldn’t I? That’s the dream. 🙂

  • April 5, 2022 at 10:16 pm

    I was gonna say stuff about Weezer but Dad already said it. Take On Me is amazing so is Africa. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is an excellent movie


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