Best of the '80s Redux, Poll — April 13, 2020 at 8:00 am

Top 100 Songs of 1986: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s Redux — Part 7

Dark times right now amidst this global pandemic, but perhaps we can offer some diversion as we finally deliver the seventh installment of our Best of the ’80s Redux series, the sporadic Slicing Up Eyeballs poll in which our readers have now ranked the Top 100 songs of 1986.

A quick refresher: The Best of the ’80s Redux song polls were launched five years ago following our wildly popular Best of the ’80s year-by-year album polls, but slowly petered out after we conducted the Top 100 songs of 1980 and 1981 surveys. (This whole site went dormant for nearly two years.)

RELATED: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Top 100 songs of 1986 playlist on Spotify

We resurrected the polls in 2018, and completed balloting on the 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 surveys.

Now comes the results for 1986.

For the ’86 poll, readers were asked to vote for up to 25 of their favorite songs that first were released in some form — as a single, B-side, on an album, etc. — during that calendar year.

We received 6,528 total votes, and, after weeding out songs from the wrong year — including eight that already appeared on previous years’ rankings, such as “Cities in Dust,” “What You Need” and “West End Girls” — and flipping a coin to break ties, we created this list. And, invoking the so-called “Radio Free Europe” rule, we’ve included one song that previously charted in 1981: The Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink,” since it was re-recorded for the 1986 film.

So thank you all for voting and sharing your thoughts. Take a look at the Top 100 list below — and feel free to offer your own take on the results, good or bad, in the comments below.





1. New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”
2. The Smiths, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”
3. R.E.M. “Fall On Me”
4. XTC, “Dear God”
5. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “If You Leave”
6. Crowded House, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”
7. Public Image Ltd., “Rise”
8. The Smiths, “Bigmouth Strikes Again”
9. Peter Gabriel, “In Your Eyes”
10. The Housemartins, “Happy Hour”


11. Prince and the Revolution, “Kiss”
12. Depeche Mode, “Stripped”
13. The Psychedelic Furs, “Heartbreak Beat”
14. Duran Duran, “Notorious”
15. Hüsker Dü, ”Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely”
16. Skinny Puppy, “Dig It”
17. Billy Bragg, “Greetings To the New Brunette”
18. Depeche Mode, “Black Celebration”
19. They Might Be Giants, “Don’t Let’s Start”
20. The Smiths, “Panic”


21. Talking Heads, “Wild Wild Life”
22. Depeche Mode, “But Not Tonight”
23. Billy Bragg, “Levi Stubbs’ Tears”
24. The Chameleons, “Swamp Thing”
25. The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Some Candy Talking”
26. The Smithereens, “Blood and Roses”
27. R.E.M., “Superman”
28. The Smiths, “Ask”
29. The Blow Monkeys, “Digging Your Scene”
30. Pet Shop Boys, “Suburbia”


31. The Pretenders, “Don’t Get Me Wrong”
32. Erasure, “Oh L’Amour”
33. World Party, “Ship of Fools”
34. The Human League, “Human”
35. New Order, “Shellshock”
36. The Psychedelic Furs, “Pretty in Pink”
37. Depeche Mode, “A Question of Time”
38. Love and Rockets, “Kundalini Express”
39. Sigue Sigue Sputnik, “Love Missile F1-11”
40. Ministry, “The Angel”


41. Pet Shop Boys, “Love Comes Quickly”
42. Big Country, “Look Away”
43. Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer”
44. The Smithereens, “Behind the Wall of Sleep”
45. Peter Gabriel, “Don’t Give Up”
46. Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Candyman”
47. Gene Loves Jezebel, “Desire (Come and Get It)”
48. The Bangles, “Manic Monday”
49. Peter Gabriel, “Red Rain”
50. Love and Rockets, “All In My Mind”


51. Depeche Mode, “A Question of Lust”
52. Erasure, “Sometimes”
53. R.E.M., “Begin the Begin”
54. Suzanne Vega, “Left of Center”
55. The The, “Infected”
56. Julian Cope, “World Shut Your Mouth”
57. Midnight Oil, “The Dead Heart”
58. Big Audio Dynamite, “C’mon Every Beatbox”
59. Beastie Boys, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”
60. David Bowie, “Absolute Beginners”


61. The Stranglers, “Always the Sun”
62. The Smiths, “The Queen is Dead”
63. XTC, “Earn Enough For Us”
64. The Call, “I Still Believe (Great Design)”
65. Bananarama, “Venus”
66. Billy Bragg, “Help Save the Youth of America”
67. Eurythmics, “Missionary Man”
68. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “(Forever) Live and Die”
69. Berlin, “Take My Breath Away”
70. New Order, “As It Was When It Was”


71. Hüsker Dü, “Sorry Somehow”
72. Prince and the Revolution, “Mountains”
73. The Smiths, “Cemetry Gates”
74. Love and Rockets, “Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)”
75. New Order, “Paradise”
76. Run-DMC, “It’s Tricky”
77. New Order, “All Day Long”
78. John Taylor, “I Do What I Do (Theme for 9½ Weeks)”
79. Ministry, “All Day Remix”
80. David + David, “Welcome to the Boomtown”


81. Run-DMC, “Walk This Way”
82. Crowded House, “World Where You Live”
83. Howard Jones, “No One Is To Blame”
84. New Order, “State of the Nation”
85. The Mission, “Wasteland”
86. R.E.M., “I Believe”
87. a-ha, “I’ve Been Losing You”
88. Cocteau Twins, “Love’s Easy Tears”
89. Duran Duran, “Skin Trade”
90. Cutting Crew, “(I Just) Died In Your Arms”


91. Eurythmics, “Thorn In My Side”
92. Furniture, “Brilliant Mind”
93. Sonic Youth, “Starpower”
94. Belinda Carlisle, “Mad About You”
95. Andy Taylor, “Take It Easy”
96. Beastie Boys, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”
97. Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors”
98. Paul Simon, “The Boy in the Bubble”
99. Primal Scream, “Velocity Girl”
100. Madonna, “Live to Tell”






  1. Great year, great list!

    Only 11 of my top 25 made the cut, but 7 of those made the top 10 (including the top 3) and many, many, many of those songs from the master list I had to whittle down to 25 are here.

    Bring on 1987!

  2. thomas solimine

    How about (in no particular order):

    APB – Missing You already
    Robyn Hitchcock – If you were a priest
    Secession – Michael
    Jesus Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking
    Wedding Present – You should Always Keep in touch with your friends
    The Servants – Sun a Small Star
    The Go- Betweens – Spring Rain
    Cactus world News – the Bridge
    The Godfathers – This Damn Nation
    Talk Talk – Give it Up

    I could go on and on. Someone give this list a re-think. Please!

  3. So many of my choices did not make the cut. I’m sad. :(

    The Smithereerns, “Blood and Roses”
    Swing Out Sister, “Breakout”
    Queen, “A Kind of Magic”
    Pet Shop Boys, “Love Comes Quickly”
    Level 42, “Lessons in Love”
    Bryan Ferry, “Is Your Love Strong Enough”
    Cutting Crew, “I’ve Been in Love Before”

  4. steinomite

    The Call? Really?!

    Anyways, in my opinion, these are notably missing…

    1. Happy Mondays – Freaky Dancin’
    2. Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It
    3. Front 242 – Quite Unusual
    4. Colourbox – Baby I Love You So
    5. Colourbox – Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse
    6. Cocteau Twins – Little Spacey
    7. Bill Drummond – The King of Joy
    8. Felt – Ballad of the Band
    9. Felt – All The People I Like Are Those That Are Dead
    10. Nitzer Ebb – Murderous
    11. A Certain Ratio – Mickey Way (The Candy Bar)
    12. The Durutti Column – Tomorrow
    13. This Mortal Coil – The Strength of Strings

  5. Finally! A Sonic Youth song made the cut! Not the one I voted for ( (Expressway To Yr. Skull), but I don’t care. After voting for a Sonic Youth song in the polls for 82, 83 (2 actually. The only time I’ve done that) and 85, they finally made it. It was disheartening to see them miss while Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Phil Collins and Rush make it. Now, just gotta make sure they make the list in 87 and 88.

  6. Here’s the songs I voted for that didn’t make it.

    The B-52’s – Wig
    Big Black – Kerosene
    Butthole Surfers – Creep in the Cellar
    Camper Van Beethoven – The History of Utah
    Ciccone Youth – Into the Groove(y(
    Elvis Costello – Uncompilcated
    Kraftwerk – Electric Cafe
    Ministry – Just Like You
    Sonic Youth – Expressway To Yr. Skull
    Talking Heads – Love for Sale

    Happy that Sonic Youth’s Starpower made it. Surprised that nothing from one of the two 86 Elvis Costello made it. Of course New Order has 6 songs make the list.

  7. The Beastie Boys make the list – TWICE – and yet these do not:

    The Wedding Present – You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends
    The Wedding Present – Once More
    The Wedding Present – At the Edge of the Sea
    The Chameleons – Mad Jack
    The Smiths – Never Had No One Ever
    The Church – Already Yesterday
    OMD – The Pacific Age
    R.E.M. – Hyena
    The The – Out of the Blue
    Felt – Ballad of the Band

    • “Never Had No One Ever” may have been the only song on “The Queen is Dead” that didn’t get a single vote.

      • Actually, that makes sense. I keep forgetting about the two songs per artist rule. I’m guessing that rule caused some difficult cuts for voters, since 1986 was such a massive year for The Smiths.

  8. Shockingly few New Order cuts

  9. Addictedtonoise

    Is the B-52’s Summer Of Love the first instance where one of the singles depicted on the grid ends up not even making the Top 100?

    • I believe so. I even went back and recounted the “Summer of Love” votes because it surprised me.

    • Yep, noticed that too. It’s a perfectly fine offering, but for my money, Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland, is the stronger, more B-52’s-esque single.

    • Jay Montgomery

      Not the first time. Husker Du “Eight Miles High” in 1984, pictured but did not make the top 100. But there was a Husker entry that year, “Pink Turns To Blue.”

  10. Songs I voted for that didn’t make the cut, and where they ranked on my ranked list:

    1. Mercy Street – Peter Gabriel
    4. The Sailor – Big Country
    8. Wonderful Life – Black
    9. Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – Paul Simon
    10. Swallowed By The Cracks – David + David
    12. Higher Love – Steve Winwood
    14. Coming Up Close – ’til Tuesday
    17. Cuyahoga – R.E.M.
    18. Black Light Trap – Shriekback
    20. World Party – World Party
    21. Graceland – Paul Simon
    23. Brilliant Mistake – Elvis Costello
    25. Battered Old Bird – Elvis Costello

    • Neil Carver

      I could have voted for almost any track off of Boomtown, so I’m glad at least one made it on the list. (I voted “Heroes.”) Anything off of Life’s Rich Pageant as well… the lack of Elvis Costello is just sad.

      New Order, Depeche Mode with five each and the Smiths with six… just skews the list so badly.

      I really want the raw votes, to play with them and make lists where only one song (or two or whatever) maximum by an artist… what fills in the open slots?

  11. Not a great year was it…

  12. Some of my favorite music ever is from 1986!

  13. Surprised Kate Bush Experiment IV didn’t make the cut. One of the best music videos that year too.

  14. Can we all vote again for Land’s End from Tinderbox? One of the best album closers ever..truly slept on

  15. SHOCKED that If You Leave by O.M.D. never made the list more than anything else mentioned. That song is a staple!

  16. Nevermind I see it now. I was looking for the abbreviation first!

  17. So 13 of my picks (roughly half) didn’t make the cut. No surprise the usuals like Killing Joke, Talk Talk, Missing Persons, The Bolshoi, Clan of Xymox always getting slept on…

  18. I just keep scrolling through, SURE I am missing at least ONE B-52’s track.

  19. XTC’s Dear God had the buzz, but the one-two punch of Summer’s Cauldron/Grass, is the “single” that made my top 10 for ’86. Like a musical timestamp.

  20. Amylsnorts

    I can do without the Billy Bragg. Yuck.

  21. Neil Carver

    ok… so after checking every day for a while, i just stopped looking, and low and behold I miss this being posted.

    Got 20 out of my 25 on the list, and many from my “almost ran.” My #1 was #92. Bummed that nothing from Elvis Costello made the list… two great albums, I assume the votes got split between so many song choices. A couple of my missed five were alternates to the more popular song (Heroes by David + David and Slow Train to Dawn from Infected). Wish there was more love for Hipsway!

  22. killingmoon

    Many of these songs don’t necessarily fit into the “college rock” format. More like pop or Billboard 100 and even rap! Strange! I don’t get why people are voting for those types of songs? I mean, I noticed someone boded for Paul Simon. Which college station in the 80s played that?

  23. ShynessIsNice

    I’m curious what colleges people that voted on here went too because are you telling me your college radio station played the likes of Madonna’s Live to Tell, Paul Simon’s Boy In The Bubble, Belinda Carlisle Mad About You, Cutting Crew I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight, etc? There’d of been a riot if they played that crap at my school. How can these songs be included in a list which is clearly supposed to be “alternative”? This is MOR and there’s no west coast college station in the 80s that would have programmed that old *****! Why are they included at the expense of songs which are considered “college / alternative” radio?

  24. Fanrodstewart91

    No está “Too Good To Be Forgotten” de Amazulu, una de mis canciones favoritas :(

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