Best of the '80s Redux, Poll — June 7, 2021 at 6:50 am

Top 100 Songs of 1989: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s Redux — Part 10

Well, here we are, after another excessively long wait, back with the 10th installment of our Best of the ’80s Redux series, the very sporadic Slicing Up Eyeballs poll in which our readers have now ranked the Top 100 songs of 1989.

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 1988 playlist on Spotify

We resurrected the polls in 2018, and have since completed balloting on the 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 surveys. Now comes the results for 1989.

For the ’89 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 5,473 total votes, and, after weeding out songs from the wrong year — including a few that got a good number of votes despite having appeared on the 1988 list, including Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy,” Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” and Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” — and flipping a coin to break ties, we created this list.

This year’s heavy on repeat artists, with The Cure taking a whopping seven places with tracks off Disintegration, and the Pixies’ Doolittle and New Order’s Technique — which claimed the top spot in the last poll with the 1988-released “Fine Time” — each taking five apiece. The Stone Roses’ self-titled debut earned four slots.

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.

And what’s next?

As we did with the year-by-year album polls, there’ll be a grand finale poll for best overall songs of the ’80s.

 

SLICING UP EYEBALLS READERS POLL: TOP 100 SONGS OF 1989

 

1. The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Head On”
2. The Stone Roses, “I Wanna Be Adored”
3. New Order, “Round & Round”
4. Love and Rockets, “So Alive”
5. The Cure, “Pictures of You”
6. Electronic, “Getting Away With It”
7. Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus”
8. Peter Murphy, “Cuts You Up”
9. Pixies, “Debaser”
10. The Ocean Blue, “Between Something and Nothing”

 

11. The Lightning Seeds, “Pure”
12. The Cult, “Fire Woman”
13. Pixies, “Monkey Gone to Heaven”
14. Nine Inch Nails, “Head Like a Hole”
15. The Stone Roses, “Fools Gold”
16. The Sugarcubes, “Regina”
17. XTC, “Mayor of Simpleton”
18. The Cure, “Fascination Street”
19. New Order, “Vanishing Point”
20. Pixies, “Wave of Mutilation”

 

21. Beastie Boys, “Hey Ladies”
22. Pixies, “Here Comes Your Man”
23. Public Enemy, “Fight the Power”
24. Throwing Muses, “Dizzy”
25. Tears For Fears, “Sowing the Seeds of Love”
26. Indigo Girls, “Closer to Fine”
27. The Replacements, “Achin’ to Be”
28. The Cure, “Lovesong”
29. The B-52s, “Roam”
30. Bob Mould, “See a Little Light”

 

31. The Cure, “Plainsong”
32. Elvis Costello, “Veronica”
33. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Higher Ground”
34. 10,000 Maniacs, “Trouble Me”
35. The Stone Roses, “She Bangs the Drums”
36. Xymox, “Obsession”
37. The Wonder Stuff, “Don’t Let Me Down, Gently”
38. The B-52s, “Love Shack”
39. Nine Inch Nails, “Down In It”
40. Michael Penn, “No Myth”

 

41. De La Soul, “Me, Myself and I”
42. Ministry, “Burning Inside”
43. The Smithereens, “A Girl Like You”
44. Morrissey, “The Last of the Famous International Playboys”
45. The Mighty Lemon Drops, “Where Do We Go From Heaven?”
46. Lou Reed, “Dirty Blvd.”
47. Madonna, “Like a Prayer”
48. The Cure, “Lullaby”
49. 808 State, “Pacific State”
50. Morrissey, “Interesting Drug”

 

51. Hoodoo Gurus, “Come Anytime”
52. Erasure, “Blue Savannah”
53. New Order, “Run”
54. The The, “The Beat(en) Generation”
55. Chris Isaak, “Wicked Game”
56. Faith No More, “Epic”
57. Public Image Ltd., “Disappointed”
58. The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Blues From a Gun”
59. Nirvana, “About a Girl”
60. The Cure, “Disintegration”

 

61. Kate Bush, “Love and Anger”
62. Nine Inch Nails, “Sin”
63. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Knock Me Down”
64. Ramones, “Pet Sematary”
65. The Stone Roses, “I Am the Resurrection”
66. XTC, “King for a Day”
67. Front 242, “Never Stop”
68. The Ocean Blue, “Drifting, Falling”
69. Peter Murphy, “A Strange Kind of Love”
70. The Replacements, “I’ll Be You”

 

71. Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, “Madonna of the Wasps”
72. Ian McCulloch, “Proud to Fall”
73. The House of Love, “I Don’t Know Why I Love You”
74. Lenny Kravitz, “Let Love Rule”
75. Ministry, “Thieves”
76. The B-52s, “Channel Z”
77. The Sundays, “Can’t Be Sure”
78. Tom Petty, “Free Fallin’”
79. Camper Van Beethoven, “Pictures of Matchstick Men”
80. New Order, “Mr. Disco”

 

81. James, “Sit Down”
82. Revenge, “7 Reasons”
83. Neil Young, “Rockin’ in the Free World”
84. Erasure, “Drama”
85. Ministry, “So What”
86. Pixies, “Gouge Away”
87. Prince, “Batdance”
88. Concrete Blonde, “God is a Bullet”
89. Soul II Soul, “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)”
90. Kate Bush, “The Sensual World”

 

91. The Creatures, “Standing There”
92. Kirsty MacColl, “Days’
93. The Cure, “Untitled”
94. The Blue Nile, “The Downtown Lights”
95. Wire, “Eardrum Buzz”
96. Madonna, “Express Yourself”
97. New Order, “Dream Attack”
98. Morrissey, “Ouija Board, Ouija Board”
99. Love and Rockets, “No Big Deal”
100. The Call, “Let the Day Begin”

 

 

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45 Comments

  1. Personal Jesus at No.7 not N0. 1!!!!! WTF is wrong with you other 5,472 people LOL

  2. What?! “Debaser” didn’t make it to number 1? Truly a sign that Slicing Ip Eyeballs does not interfere in the voting.

  3. I say it got to no. 1 because of the pixies cover, even though I love that JAMC album and don’t like the pixies cover.

    • Jay Montgomery

      I think this was the first year I had the No. 1 vote-getter in my picks, as I tended to not vote for popular stuff that would likely get plenty of votes. I was usually disappointed to not see more of my choices in the top 100, but especially disappointed after the 1987 poll. People only voted for the singles from R.E.M., U2 and Midnight Oil – no “Exhuming McCarthy” or “Running To Stand Still” (for example). So I changed my strategy for the final two polls and was pleased to see more of my choices on those lists – 14 in 1988 and 15 in 1989.

      • Jay, this is how you don’t get a good representation though. Like if you and three hundred others don’t vote for Personal Jesus say, this is how it ends up at number 7 instead of higher.

        • also how I think B-52’s, despite putting out a stellar album, fall so far with Roam as their first track. It was crammed at everyone so people so much don’t want to vote for it (I call it “how soon is now? syndrome”) but it’s still historically important. Any of the bands that broke top 20 in the US before Nirvana are important if you ask me

  4. Ten from my list made the final cut, with two of them, “Pictures of You” and “Cuts You Up” finishing in the top ten. Not bad.

    Curious, though, why were the vote totals left off on this one.

    I am already agonizing over the prospect of a overall 80’s poll. Taking the 250 songs I voted for in all ten individual year polls and narrowing in down to just 25. Ugh! Deep breath…..here we go. Bring it on!

  5. 1989 was an interesting year. The last of the 80’s. A bit more distance was being put between me and college graduation, and a lot of the music that was so vital to me in college was continuing to make waves into the mainstream, while it would still be 2-3 years before Nirvana would explode into that mainstream and end up making the term “alternative” in the music world synonymous (a term that itself had previously been known as “college rock,” which had been known as “post-punk’) with “grunge.”

    There was a lot about the 80’s that was screwed up, but damn, do I miss that decade. Musically speaking, anyway, 1989 was a good sendoff.

    • Neil Carver

      ’89 was college graduation for me, so there is about half this list that is powerfully resonant for me, and a bunch of stuff that leaned more toward where the ’90s would go that I just didn’t get at the time. The list has that sense of transition and is a bit messy for that… but probably the strongest Top 10 of any year? (Minus New Order, but I quibble.)

  6. With all due respect to the voters, the best song of 1989 didn’t even make the list: “Bewitched” by the Wedding Present.

    • thomas solimine

      While I love the Wedding Present as anyone Brassneck is still the best song on Bizarro. Though Bewitched is great too. Nice pick!

  7. Neil Carver

    14 out of 25 made it on the list. I had a few alternate, less popular tracks from big albums.

    It probably says something about the end of an era as the mix of music gets more diverse.

    Still.. way too much New Order at this point. I love their previous work, but Technique? ugh.

  8. Why, oh why does Madonna make these lists? I was a college rock DJ from 1986-90, and we did not play Madonna. Not a fan of when Top 40 pop songs or AOR make these lists, but I digress.

    Anyway. 17 out of my 25 songs made the list. This was only the second time I voted for the song that finished #1. 1982 was the other.

    Very glad the Cure, Personal Jesus or New Order didn’t finish at #1. I’m still miffed that a New Order song beat Sonic Youth for #1 in 1988.

    • I will sometimes vote for a more “mainstream” hit on occasion. For example, I voted for #78, “Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty because sometimes you just have to acknowledge a great song is a great song regardless of genre.

      But I’m in total agreement with you about Madonna. Her appeal among even the top 40 crowd baffled me enough, but seeing her on these lists or discussed on the context of “alternative” makes no sense.

      • thomas solimine

        Tom Petty mainstream in the 80’s because he was on the radio and the Cure and Depeche Mode selling out stadiums worldwide at the same time. Petty mainstream? I am confused.

        • Fair point, but Petty had been filling stadiums for longer. By 1989 DM and The Cure were finally becoming big and mainstream in the US.

          When he first arrived on the scene in the late 70’s Petty was closely tied to new wave. By the 80’s he was recoding duets with Stevie Nicks.

          Of course he was also working with Dave Stewart of Euythmics, and writing songs for Lone Justice, so he covered a lot of bases.

      • I got more annoyed with more mainstream songs making the list after the polls came back after the sites hiatus. I thought it was kind of cute for 1980-81. After that, not so much.

        If I was going to vote for something from Full Moon Fever, I would’ve voted I Won’t Back Down, but that’s me.

        • Well, there’s mainstream and then there’s mainstream.

          Tom Petty tended to be classified as new wave in the very early part of his career (as were The Cars) but went on to be a big name in the 80’s (as did The Cars.) He was a well regarded as an accomplished musician.

          Madonna, on the other hand, has never been regarded as an accomplished musician. A brilliant marketer, perhaps, a savvy businesswoman, maybe, but a musician, no. She has two songs on this list, one of hit lands significantly higher than the sole Tom Petty song.

          We could talk for days about what they does and does not mean, but there you are.

    • David, you’re glad that arguably the three most popular alternative artists of the 80’s didn’t have a song finish at number 1…why exactly?

      • Neil Carver

        As much as I like the Cure, their ubiquitous appearance at every level of this and other lists is a bit much. The irony is, that Disintegration is such a good album that multiple songs got votes, reducing the count for any particular track. Instead they get seven places on the list.

        That New Order is anywhere above 50 on this list is pure hangover from when their work truly was dominant. I wouldn’t like them again until Get Ready.

        I’d have put Personal Jesus at #1 of those three, but I’m most interested in how Head On beat I Wanna Be Adored. Perhaps rightly so, but I found that surprising.

        • There Cure is the most well regarded/popular Alternative act of all time, if Disintegration is such a good album then why would it be “a bit much” to have so many songs included, I’m confused

          • haunted when the minutes drag

            There are a lot of people who would disagree with that statement. Me, being one of them.

            Now, two of these bands are not my favorite, but The Smiths, Depeche Mode, and U2 all have arguments to make. (clearly, U2 would be the most popular alternative band of all time, even though they moved into the mainstream as their career went on).

            If anyone is interested, I would rank the Smiths among my favorites, though not the top (looking at you Stone Roses). And I would rank the Smiths as the “the most well regarded” alternative band of all time. Pretty sure a lot more people would agree with that than with the Cure holding that spot.

          • And I would further argue that this UK slant/bias doesn’t fit my experience… because Talking Heads or R.E.M. or The Replacements would be above all three of these (maybe not DM), with The Smiths being bottom of the pack in terms of my “alternative” experience and reference. I was listening to a helluva lot more The The or Shriekback or Lloyd Cole or Squeeze or The Jam or The Beat or Madness than Smiths by far… even New Order I’d put above the Smiths. The Church or Split Enz then Crowded House… way higher up the ladder.

            I think it is all a matter of taste and personal experience in what was relevant in your particular circle at the time.

          • haunted when the minutes drag

            To Neil Carver

            All very good points. I certainly love the Replacements and would place them among the very best, although I doubt that you’d find widespread support that they are the most highly regarded alt band of all time – and they would hate that distinction anyway. I agree that the Talking Heads and REM have a case to make for that title, and REM is probably the second-biggest alt band of all time (with U2 being a clear number one). But in terms of continuing popularity and regard (not just with the generation that was raised on it, but with the subsequent generations as well), I would think that the Smiths have eclipsed all of them. To prove the point, imagine the ticket demand if the Smiths reunited and compare that to, say, the Talking Heads or even REM reuniting. The Smiths would sell out soccer stadiums around the world — including here. That is why they have been number one on Coachella’s wish list for over two decades.

            But yes, most of this is subjective, and there is clearly a UK bias when it comes to alt music (particularly during its heyday in the 80s). But in fairness, the UK led the way during the 80s — that is, after the road was paved by the Talking Heads, the Ramones, and the New York Dolls.

  9. haunted when the minutes drag

    So, the Stone Roses are my band. And, don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see I Wanna Be Adored hit so high. But it is crime that Fool’s Gold is not number one (and, worse, not in the top 10). That song invented the 90s and sounds as addictively funky fresh today as it did the first time that I heard it. It’s one of the few songs that I can actually remember hearing for the first time. Totally original, instantly likeable, and groovy beyond compare. I will just say it: It is the coolest song of all time.

    One more thing: glad the Jesus and Mary Chain hit number one, but Head On is not the best on that album. That distinction belongs to Blues from a Gun.

    • I think I like Blues better as well. Stone Roses a classic case of what could have been sadly

    • I think I Wanna be Adored is so high because of American voters. It was the Stone Roses song that got the most airplay here.

      • Neil Carver

        Would agree on your assessment of “I Wanna Be Adored” as I only ever remember that song getting some airplay and it was casual familiarity… I had to go out, late to the party by a long bit, to buy the album and hear the rest of the Stone Roses debut. Just didn’t have any real popular impact at the time in my area. Honestly, wasn’t until Happy Mondays or EMF blew up over here that I got into them. By the time the Madchester sound made it to the US Midwest, it was already past its peak.

        Just seems there was a lot more regionality to “what was big” back then. Now all of that is blurred by the decades and hazy recollection.

  10. thomas solimine

    I agree Blues from a Gun is far better. As for the roses – yes fools gold should be higher as well. both salient points.

  11. As far as Personal Jesus goes, I thought it would be number one since it was the only song they had out in 89. Depeche Mode is a band I used to like, but got out of them years ago. New Order is a band never cared for and I have a love/hate thing for the Cure. It just seems in any 80’s new wave/alternative site those three are gushed over like no other bands exist. On these polls, if one of those bands had an album out in the year being polled 4-7 tracks would be in the results.

    Personally, I was hoping for a Pixies number one, but the Jesus & Mary Chain number one was refreshing. Five years of New Order at number one was too much.

    • I love Pixies as well, Doolittle is a top 10 album all time for me but the others, they always dominate because they have HUGE followings which means they put out great music, isn’t that the goal? to put out music people like?

      • As was already stated by Haunted, just because something is popular doesn’t make it good. I will say Depeche Mode is better than Britney Spears.

        It just got annoying when 5-7 New Order or Cure tracks made this list for whatever album was released in the year being polled. Depeche Mode was, surprisingly, slightly less popular on thse polls, but not much.

        As I stated I was a college rock station DJ from 1986-90. What was popular on American college rock stations at the time? The “Our Band Could be Your Life” bands and similar bands. Pixies and the Replacements did well here. Husker Du did okay. Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Mission of Burma and Dinosaur Jr barely made a blip on these lists. Big Black, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Mudhoney, Minor Threat and Butthole Surfers never made any of the lists. This was college rock in the late 80’s, and was a huge influence on the alternative explosion of the 90’s. It could be the British bias, I don’t know, but a lot of that music should’ve been far more represented. Yet, artists that has nothing to do with college rock/new wave/punk/post-punk/atr rock/alternative ARE here. Madonna, Tom Petty, Guns N Roses and a barely memorable one-hit wonder Danny Wilson made these lists. Knowing what this site is about, I don’t get why people would vote for them here.

        • Neil Carver

          Really interesting post, David. My alternative experience was very Midwest, shaped by 97X WOXY The Future of Rock n Roll out of Oxford, Ohio. Amazing college radio… but even there, my memory has all those (very roughly) California and Chicago punk/influence bands as minimal air play compared to the bands hitting the top spots (Cure, DM, etc. including Pixies and Replacements, Husker Du and then Mould’s solo work). While I agree I find it annoying that The Cure take up so many spots, as I’d prefer these lists to show more diversity… they do seem to reflect (minus Madonna and company) what I heard being played at the time, and certainly reflects my personal collection.

          So I get where Brad is coming from… while at the same time I agree that it is annoying when a few bands dominate, simply because I like more diversity in my top X lists.

  12. Haunted when the minutes drag

    Not necessarily. Britney Spears had a huge following and sold a huge amount of records. Does that mean her music was great? I would argue no. The number of records sold does not correlate to greatness. In fact, it usually indicates that the given artist is appealing to the lowest common denominator. Just ask The Velvet Underground.

  13. To Neil and Haunted…I would argue that David Bowie and Roxy Music were far more influential on the UK bands than Talking Heads, New York Dolls or The Ramones ever were

    • and Kraftwerk for that matter

    • haunted when the minutes drag

      I grant you Bowie, but suggesting that Roxy Music is more influential than the Talking Heads, the New York Dolls, or the Ramones is simply indefensible. The Dolls and the Ramones created the blueprint for punk rock – even the Sex Pistols admit that. Nearly every punk band credits the Ramones as a defining influence. The Talking Heads pushed every boundary in music and shaped new wave and post-punk. They also perfected the modern concert film. I like Roxy Music, but they did not have a comparable impact.

      Even if you are limiting the impact to influence on UK bands (which I don’t know why you would), the Dolls and the Ramones had a bigger impact than Roxy Music. The legacy of the Ramones and the Dolls is the Clash, the Pistols, Generation X, and the Jam (and in the US the entire 90s punk rock movement). The legacy of Roxy Music is Duran Duran and maybe Depeche Mode (although I think DM is a stretch in that Kraftwerk was a bigger influence on them).

      • Neil Carver

        So while I get the Ramones’ influence, I’ve always been more interested in the Velvet Underground into Iggy Pop influences on Bowie (who would later help save Lou and Iggy from obscurity in return) along with Marc Bolan… and how Bowie transformed all of that and took ownership of glam… but I don’t know the connections to the New York Dolls.

        I’m assuming, while contemporaries, the Dolls were influenced by all of the above, mixing glam and the gutter in a way all their own… I just don’t really know their history.

        To me Iggy Pop is the real proto-punk that everyone after would be indebted to. I think post-punk/new wave is where an interesting UK vs. America split can be seen. On one hand, you’ve got Talking Heads, Blondie, later Ramones, Television, the Cramps… on the other side of the pond you’ve got The Jam, Buzzcocks, The Clash, Gang of Four.

        Then there was the electronic new wave coming out Kraftwerk’s influence, and I count Roxy Music among them… Ultravox, Garu Numan, Visage…

        Was Siouxsie Sioux and early Cure its own curve from post punk into goth?

        Industrial owes as much to Kraftwerk as it does metal…

        Depeche Mode with Vince Clarke seemed like pure electronic doot doot new wave, but then later became the industrial pop I’ve always loved.

        The threads are many and intertwined, but I’m

  14. David Benson

    Is there a Spotify playlist of this or other top 100 lists from slicingupeyeballs?

  15. Neil Carver

    To David D…

    Anecdotal story in support of your comments about The Smiths… I had a brief conversation with an 8th Grader and her brother, a high school senior. Parents are roughly my age and have introduced their kids to “good music” so they know a lot more ’80s bands than most.

    They both confirmed your point on The Smiths being more popular with the younger generations. I listed all the bands we were mentioning and asked if they or their friends were familiar with them… were at all into them. The 8th grader said, “I only know one girl who would know those bands you listed, and she buys Smiths albums!” Her brother concurred, that the few kids into older music would also be more into the Smiths than REM, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads, etc.

    I’d never have thought it, but there you go.

  16. The fact that the biggest album of the year on this list didnt have a #1 and that if you look at the #1 song here and I am a fan was a ’90 video and radio song is suspicious. Something from Disintegration should have been #1… after all MTV and KROQ saw it that way. Blues from a gun was the only 1989 JAMC SINGLE. All of this New Order #1…. nonsense tells me someone’s taste is suspect lol and that people have a horrible memory. The research skills around here are dreadful.

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