Five More Songs From the 80s I Love That Destroy My Street Cred

A few years ago, I confessed my love for five less-than-universally loved songs from the 80s. Loving those songs probably makes me look pretty lame. I’m okay with that. I’ve never really believed I was cool, except for a short time during the 4th grade when my hair was on point and my dodgeball skills were at their peak, so my lack of coolness did not come as a huge surprise. Well, I come to you today with five more songs from the 80s that will destroy my street cred. Let’s just dive into the list and rip this off like a band-aid!

I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) by Whitney Houston

This song is a bit of a dichotomy. On one hand, it’s about feeling lonely and sad and desperately wanting to find some sort of human connection. On the the other hand, it sounds like the happiest song in the world. I think the fact it can work on both levels is why it has held its appeal for this long.

We’re all friends here, so can I be completely honest and open? There aren’t many people who have been able to sing like Whitney. Holy cow! And she sings this song with so much emotion, both joyful and wistful. And while I’m not a dancer, this song makes me wanna dance. Of course, I do that dancing in my home where the sight of my blunderous and awkward gyrations will not hurt anyone’s eyes or well-being. (Think: Elaine Benes dancing skills.)

You’re welcome. In short, the song has a purpose and it accomplishes said purpose with total aplomb.

We Built This City by Starship

This song is hated by a lot of music people. Hated might not be a strong enough word. Blender Magazine, GQ, and a Rolling Stone reader’s poll all list this song as the worst of the 80s. Who am I to argue with the brilliant minds of Blender, GQ, and Rolling Stone readers? Well, I’m Phillip Scott Lytle and I don’t give a flying flip what those chucklenuts* believe. (*Hat tip to local radio legend, Mickey Ryan for that awesome word.) I’m willing to admit this song is a goofy cheese fest. So what? It has all the hallmarks of an over-the-top 80s anthem and maybe that is why I love it so much. Yes, it’s manufactured nonsense and it feels like it was created in an 80s music laboratory, but I’m okay with that. It puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. Even the ridiculous “Marconi plays the mambo” (or is it mamba?) line. It’s a wonder there is a song about a city being built by rock and roll that is so devoid of actual rock and roll yet that somehow makes it even more endearing to me.

Glory of Love by Peter Cetera

My beautiful and amazing wife is a big fan of the band Chicago – particularly the Peter Cetera era. Due to this, I have become a fan myself. I never disliked Chicago or their David Foster/Peter Cetera hits from the 80s but when you are married to someone who sings along with every song at the top of her lungs, it’s hard to not give in.

Glory of Love is just an extension of those huge Chicago hits like You’re the Inspiration and Stay the Night. It has all the necessary ingredients: utter sincerity, soaring vocals and harmonies, exquisite production, and an 80s sheen that sparkles. When I am feeling particularly romantic, I like to sing the chorus to my lovely wife. I think it perfectly captures everything in my heart. (I’m joking. I don’t sing songs to my wife. If there was any romance in the air, singing to her would kill it for good.)

I am a man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero you're dreaming of
We'll live forever, knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love

99 Luftballons by NENA

Please don’t tell me this song is about something depressing as I don’t think I could handle that sort of news.1 This is another song that just makes me happy when I hear it. I don’t have to know what it’s about. I just know it’s a lot of fun to listen to. The moment the band kicks in is 80s pop rock perfection.

The Final Countdown by Europe

I’m not going to write anything about this song other than to say, if you have seen Arrested Development, you understand why this song belongs this list. Here’s video proof:

You are either Team Buster or Team Lucille when you hear this song, and I am firmly on Team Buster.

That’s my confession for the day; five more 80s songs that destroy my street cred. How about you? What are some songs from the 80s that you love that would lose you some “cool” points? I’d love to read your list. Post it in the comments or on our social media accounts.

  1. I kid. I do know what this song is about but I prefer to just enjoy the cheery vibe instead of thinking about how red balloons could inadvertently cause World War III.

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...

8 thoughts on “Five More Songs From the 80s I Love That Destroy My Street Cred

  • June 30, 2021 at 10:19 am

    Great memories, I’m sure. Thanks for sharing. I’m not sure I know any of those songs, but I have my list, too. Thanks, Phill!

    • June 30, 2021 at 2:28 pm

      I would love to see your list!

  • June 30, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Yes. Yes and amen. All of this! And I couldn’t even begin my list because the 80s are my fav. I love them all. The cheesier the better!

    • June 30, 2021 at 2:29 pm

      Let’s see a few of the songs that would make your list. Come on, Stephanie!

  • June 30, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    Definitely would listen to 1, 2, 3 and 5 any day–and would enjoy them deeply. They also make me happy. Glory of Love would be my kind of tune regardless, but the KK2 connection deepens my love for it.

    I never saw “Rock of Ages” the movie because a few people said it wasn’t good, but I love the trailer with We Built This City and We’re Not Going to Take It dueling at the end. I’ve always loved the former song but that trailer just took my love to another level. Much like the previous one I talked about.

    The Final Countdown–AD, what more can you say? Especially the scenes with Steve Holt and Gob.

    I mentioned “I Want to Dance With Somebody” in my article on the 80s a few years ago. I’d never thought of the conflicting music/lyrics before. When people communicate like that in daily life, that kind of disconnect could be disconcerting but in music it works! Also, agree about how Whitney could sing. Her National Anthem at the 90/91 Bills-Giants Super Bowl is legendary and often considered the best rendition ever in that kind of context. I thought she really belted “I Will Always Love You” out of the park as well, taking a song Dolly did superbly and actually doing it even better to me. In fact, I think Bill Simmons told story after she died about how one day his dad and he parked the car while Whitney was singing that song. And before they got out, his dad made him listen to the end. Bill says his dad wasn’t that kind of guy at all. He’d never done anything remotely similar. But looked at BIll after it was over and said something to effect of “That is an amazing singer”.

    • June 30, 2021 at 11:02 pm

      I found the Bill Simmons story. From his mailbag in 2012. I misremembered some details but the essences is the same:

      One last Whitney story because I think it explains the “you had to be there” aspect of Whitney’s brief apex. My father took me to visit Tufts University right around the time her first album came out. Dad was looking for parking and “Saving All My Love” had just come on the radio. About halfway through the song, he found a spot and I thought we were getting out of the car. He told me to hold on until the end of the song. When I made fun of him, he explained simply, “Whitney really belts it out in this one.” You have to know my dad. He never, EVER says things like this. And you know what? He was right. I didn’t even challenge it. I just don’t think there’s ever been another singer who would have kept two people in their car during a random winter day in New England like that. Just Whitney.

  • July 1, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Oops! I started checking back to the 80s: popular songs, country songs (huge number of the greatest of all time), CCM (likewise; think Amy Grant, Twila Paris, Imperials, Petra), Southern Gospel. Trouble is, they are all “well known” in their field, and some universally. So I don’t know if I could come up with a list!

    • July 1, 2021 at 9:08 am

      Most of the songs I have picked are well known – some very well known.


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