Best of the '80s, Poll — September 30, 2013 at 8:14 am

Top 100 Albums of 1987: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s — Part 8

Best of 1987

We’re not quite into October yet, but we’re going to ahead and unveil the results of Part 8 of our year-long Best of the ’80s feature, a year-by-year poll of Slicing Up Eyeballs’ readers to determine the best albums of each year of the 1980s — and then, at the end of 2013, we’ll run a colossal best-of-the-decade poll to crown the overall kings of the ’80s.

For the second straight poll, the 1987 survey brought in more than 50,000 total votes, with more than 300 different albums earning votes, both via the pre-selected ballot and write-ins.

As you can see from the Top 10, 1987 was a pivotal, break-out year for ’80s alternative artists, with many act releasing the albums that crossed them over to the mainstream or flat-out made them superstars.

Once again, the Top 10 albums landed more than 1,000 votes apiece — in fact, the Top 14 received more than 1,000 each — with the records that made the Top 5 each scoring more than 2,000 votes each. And, just as we saw in the 1986 poll, the No. 1 record exceeded 3,000 votes.

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 stay tuned for the Best of 1988 poll, which will launch next week.

PAST RESULTS: 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986




The Cure, 'Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me'

1. The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

BACKSTORY: With their seventh studio album, Robert Smith and Co. cracked the American Top 40 with a sprawling double album that dabbled in both pure pop and dark, goth-flavored soundscapes.
SINGLES: “Why Can’t I Be You?,” “Catch,” “Just Like Heaven,” “Hot Hot Hot!!!”
BAND: Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Lol Tolhurst, Boris Williams
PRODUCER: David M. Allen and Robert Smith
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



Depeche Mode 'Music for the Masses'

2. Depeche Mode, Music For the Masses

BACKSTORY: Depeche Mode’s sixth album helped cement the band’s breakthrough popularity in the U.S., with three charting singles and a huge tour that peaked with the famous ‘101’ concert at the Rose Bowl.
SINGLES: “Strangelove,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” “Behind the Wheel,” “Little 15”
BAND: Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, Alan Wilder
PRODUCER: Depeche Mode and David Bascombe
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



The Smiths Strangeways Here We Come

3. The Smiths, Strangeways, Here We Come

BACKSTORY: Released following the band’s break-up, The Smiths’ fourth and final album is viewed by both Morrissey and Johnny Marr as the group’s pinnacle, and found the group broadening its sonic palette.
SINGLES: “Girlfriend in a Coma,” “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish,” “Last Night I Dreamt that Somebody Loved Me,” “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”
BAND: Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce
PRODUCER: Johnny Marr, Morrissey and Stephen Street
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



R.E.M., 'Document'

4. R.E.M., Document

BACKSTORY: With its fifth album, and last on IRS Records, R.E.M. finally cracked the mainstream, scoring a Top 10 hit (“The One I Love”) and a major-label deal with its more straightforward rock sound.
SINGLES: “The One I Love,” “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” “Finest Worksong”
BAND: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
PRODUCER: Scott Litt and R.E.M.
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



U2 The Joshua Tree

5. U2, The Joshua Tree

BACKSTORY: Fueled by three huge singles and a massive stadium tour, U2’s fifth album cemented the Irish rockers’ ascent to the status of being the biggest band in the world.
SINGLES: “With or Without You,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “In God’s Country”
BAND: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
PRODUCER: Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



INXS 'Kick'

6. INXS, Kick

BACKSTORY: INXS turned into global superstars with their sixth album, which churned out a trio of hit pop-rock singles, including, in the U.S., the chart-topping “Need You Tonight.”
SINGLES: “Need You Tonight”/”Mediate,” “Devil Inside,” “New Sensation”/”Guns in the Sky,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” “Mystify”/”Kick”
BAND: Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers
PRODUCER: Chris Thomas
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



Echo and the Bunnymen

7. Echo & The Bunnymen, Echo & The Bunnymen

BACKSTORY: With their fifth studio album — and last for a decade with Ian McCulloch — the Bunnymen pushed for a more commercial sound, and proved successful with hit single “Lips Like Sugar.”
SINGLES: “The Game,” “Lips Like Sugar,” “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo”
BAND: Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant, Les Pattinson, Pete de Freitas
PRODUCER: Laurie Latham
BUY IT: (CD, digital), iTunes (Digital)



The Jesus and Mary Chain Darklands

8. The Jesus and Mary Chain, Darklands

BACKSTORY: With their second album, the Mary Chain stripped down to a two-piece, abetted by a drum machine, and toned down the feedback squall in favor of more melodic songcraft.
SINGLES: “April Skies,” “Happy When It Rains,” “Darklands”
BAND: Jim Reid, William Reid
PRODUCER: William Reid, Bill Price and John Loder
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



The Replacements Pleased To Meet Me

9. The Replacements, Pleased To Meet Me

BACKSTORY: The ‘Mats were down to a trio on their fifth album following the firing of Bob Stinson, and turned out a more diverse, somewhat soul-influenced effort recorded in Memphis.
SINGLES: “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “Alex Chilton,” “The Ledge,” “Skyway”
BAND: Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars
PRODUCER: Jim Dickinson
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



The Sistesr of Mercy Floodland

10. The Sisters of Mercy, Floodland

BACKSTORY: On his sophomore effort under the Sisters banner, Andrew Eldritch teamed up with Meat Loaf collaborator Jim Steinman for a bigger, more bombastic goth-rock sound.
SINGLES: “This Corrosion,” “Dominion,” “Lucretia My Reflection”
BAND: Andrew Eldritch, Patricia Morrison, Doktor Avalanche
PRODUCER: Andrew Eldritch, Larry Alexander, Jim Steinman
BUY IT: (CD, digital, vinyl), iTunes (Digital)



11. The Cult, Electric
12. Sinead O’Connor, The Lion and the Cobra
13. Love and Rockets, Earth, Sun, Moon
14. Pet Shop Boys, Actually
15. Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust
16. Hüsker Dü, Warehouse: Songs and Stories
17. Siouxsie and the Banshees, Through the Looking Glass
18. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction
19. 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe
20. Dinosaur Jr, You’re Living All Over Me



21. Sonic Youth, Sister
22. Erasure, The Circus
23. Dead Can Dance, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
24. Prince, Sign O the Times
25. The Housemartins, The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death
26. Front 242, Official Version
27. Nitzer Ebb, That Total Age
28. The Psychedelic Furs, Midnight to Midnight
29. Public Image Ltd., Happy?
30. Sting, …Nothing Like the Sun


terence trent darby

31. Terence Trent D’Arby, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby
32. Tom Waits, Frank’s Wild Years
33. Big Black, Songs About Fucking
34. Bryan Ferry, Bête Noire
35. David Sylvian, Secrets of the Beehive
36. Skinny Puppy, Cleanse Fold and Manipulate
37. The Dukes of Stratosphear, Psonic Psunspot
38. Suzanne Vega, Solitude Standing
39. Butthole Surfers, Locust Abortion Technician
40. Julian Cope, Saint Julian


Eurythmics, Savage

41. Eurythmics, Savage
42. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Mainstream
43. Eric B. and Rakim, Paid in Full
44. Hoodoo Gurus, Blow Your Cool!
45. Spacemen 3, The Perfect Prescription
46. Wire, The Ideal Copy
47. The Go-Betweens, Tallulah (TIE)
47. Oingo Boingo, Boi-ngo (TIE)
49. Public Enemy, Yo! Bum Rush the Show
50. The Wedding Present, George Best


X, See How We Are

51. X, See How We Are
52. Fields of the Nephilim, Dawnrazor
53. Dead or Alive, Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know (TIE)
53. fIREHOSE, If’n (TIE)
55. Faith No More, Introduce Yourself
56. Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
57. The Alarm, Eye of the Hurricane
58. David Bowie, Never Let Me Down
59. Guadalcanal Diary, 2×4
60. The Grapes of Wrath, Treehouse


Icehouse, Man of Colours

61. Icehouse, Man of Colours
62. Aztec Camera, Love (TIE)
62. Warren Zevon, Sentimental Hygiene (TIE)
64. Game Theory, Lolita Nation
65. The Dead Milkmen, Bucky Fellini
66. Cabaret Voltaire, Code
67. Descendents, All
68. Swans, Children of God
69. Men Without Hats, Pop Goes the World (TIE)
69. Squeeze, Babylon and On (TIE)


The Connells, Boylan Heights

71. The Connells, Boylan Heights
72. Ramones, Halfway to Sanity
73. The dB’s, The Sound of Music (TIE)
73. Happy Mondays, Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out) (TIE)
75. ABC, Alphabet City
76. Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense!
77. Close Lobsters, Foxheads Stalk the Land (TIE)
77. Gene Loves Jezebel, The House of Dolls (TIE)
79. That Petrol Emotion, Babble
80. The Lemonheads, Hate Your Friends


The Bolshoi, Lindy's Party

81. The Bolshoi, Lindy’s Party
82. Einstürzende Neubauten, Fünf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala
83. Pop Will Eat Itself, Box Frenzy (TIE)
83. Deacon Blue, Raintown (TIE)
85. The Chills, Brave Words
86. Flesh For Lulu, Long Live the New Flesh (TIE)
86. The Gun Club, Mother Juno (TIE)
86. Indigo Girls, Strange Fire (TIE)
89. The Communards, Red
90. The Bats, Daddy’s Highway


Marc Almond, Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters

91. Marc Almond, Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters
92. Yello, One Second
93. Loop, Heaven’s End
94. Pulp, Freaks
95. The Style Council, The Cost of Loving (TIE)
95. Laibach, Opus Dei (TIE)
97. Opal, Happy Nightmare Baby
98. Screaming Blue Messiahs, Bikini Red
99. Dumptruck, For the Country
100. The Flaming Lips, Oh My Gawd!!!







  1. It’s as if my selections simply became the top 10!

  2. This is the first year I actually own 9 of the top 10. I feel so mainstream all of a sudden.

  3. INXS and the worst Echo & The Bunnymen album in the top 10?

    • nononononono. this is the last great echo & the bunnymen album. look at it that way instead and it belongs there. You’re right about INXS, other than the singles (and that’s debatable) the rest of that album is the classic example of FILLER. I’d add the cliche about looking up the word “filler” in the dictionary and seeing the album cover of Kick there.

      • Nah. The Grey Album was the Bunnymen’s worst 80s album. Just because it was their last album (at the time) doesn’t excuse the poor writing and production. 3 good songs (4 if you count Ship of Fools the b-side) does not justify top 10 placement. I know it’s only because of Lips Like Sugar that it made it on here- but most of these final results are more “top 10 because we’ve been conditioned to think that”, not true Top 10 based on quality/originality.

      • Great top 4 but I’d have Smiths, Cure, DM, REM. PSB, SP.

    • Whaaaaaat? “Lips Like Sugar” and “The Game” alone were brilliant songs off that album. In fact, loved just about all of it.

      • New Direction, Satellite, All My Life were great too, and the production was great as well I can’t say there was anything wrong with it at all. Actually I like every song on there just as much as any of their earlier material. I think some people didn’t like that they had more pop appeal with Lips Like Sugar and Bedbugs and Ballyhoo (still not sure if I like the original version more or not) so they pan the whole release. It sold because it was GOOD and deserved it’s rank here.

    • This is such a “my favorite band” poll that it’s not even funny. My two favorite bands are Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Ramones. That being said, I could not bring myself to vote for either of their 1987 releases – as both were sub par.. There is a great big world out there outside the Smiths and Depeche Mode. Go explore it..

      • i agree that the smiths and dm albums in question were not their best. but the cure record is as good as it’s made out to be.

      • I disagree. The bands that keep topping these polls put out consistently great albums, and that’s why they are here. Most people I know that grew up with this music are more discerning than that. They won’t vote for everything their favorite band put out unless it was actually good.

  4. Pretty much my top 10 except I had – The Cult, Sinead O’Connor and Husker Du instead of The Replacements, U2 and Sisters of Mercy

  5. agree w/ Jim…wow…am surprised to see the relatively poor showing of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr…figured they would be a lock for the top 10.

  6. hmmm…just checked and only 4 of my picks actually cracked the top 100 (SY, Dino Jr, Chills, Smiths). Ouch.

  7. Disappointed to see The Connells and Hoodoo Gurus not higher…but about what I expected from the list.

  8. Really shocked to see Flesh For Lulu down at 86. Thought it would’ve placed higher.

  9. YES YES YES THERE IS A GOD AFTER ALL! U2 DIDN’T TAKE THE #1, 2 3 OR 4TH SLOT! My only issues are why are the replacements making the top ten on any of these lists–esp. when things like the sinead o’connor debut or the cult’s masterpiece fall out of the top ten. I’d argue the replacements aren’t even alternative in any way. They’re just a rock band I can’t stand. That’s all.

    • Wow. Get a life.

    • If the Replacements are “just a rock band,” then what is the Cult? Electric is a straight-up guitar oriented rock album — start to finish. Good God man, they cover born to be wild on it!! Any pretense at goth left over from Love fell away with Electric.

      That said, I love them both and would have put Electric high in the top ten (still my favorite Cult disc), but the Mats always deserve a spot there.

      One last thing, not related to your comment. The revisionist history of these lists is really illustrated here. I remember being one of the few of my friends to like Darklands, yet it’s in the top ten and Midnight Oil (of whom i was not particularly found) is not? That album was EVERYWHERE on alternative radio that year. And they were a critics favorite.

      On more last thing — Nice to see The Hardline According to Terrance Trent Darby making a respectable show. That disc is great and Wishing Well is one of the best songs of the 80s.

      • Your rational, nice to see. I agree about TTD and Wishing Well.

      • Well said and I agree about Darby.That was a good album.

      • I completely agree with you about the cult! they were more like a metal band than anything alternative, other than Love which had it’s psychedelic side. When I posted that I had thought it was Love, not Electric, so my bad there. My friends loved Darklands and thought Midnight Oil were posers trying to get that political/conservationist edge just to sell albums.

    • replacements aren’t alternative but the cult is?

  10. Ooof the close lobsters in the 70s!? Any of you that voted for the smiths or REM should pick Foxheads Stalk This Land up and love it.

  11. Swans, Gun Club, Einsturzende Neubauten close or below 70, Big Black at 33, Sonic Youth 21 and their albums are masterpieces…something’s wrong, terribly wrong

    • If Daydream Nation doesn’t top the next list there is certainly something wrong.

      • It’s not going to top the poll. Neither is Tender Prey by Nick Cave. There is nothing wrong, people have different taste than you do.

        • yep. there’s less than no chance of that happening. i bet r.e.m.’s green takes it, which would make me perfectly pleased. wonder if the sugarcubes’ debut has a chance as a dark horse. rattle and hum will probably place high as well.

    • these are “masterpieces” if your definition of “alternative” is trying so hard to be “different” that you prefer noise rock that communicates nothing but attitude, contrarianism, button-pushing and art-for-art’s-sake over things that actually have melody and tell a relatable story in some way, with singers who can actually sing and players who can actually play.

      • Word “alternative” is by definition “something different” as substitute to common so there’s nothing bad in it. Yes, they were trying hard to do it, they were telling stories but many didn’t want to hear it, they delivered attitude and is it sacrilege to have it? Art is not always melody, nice singing or bedtime story. Got to be ugly sometimes and in contrary with mainstream to reach you. Anyhow, I voted for Cure and Smiths earlier, but certanly not for albums from 1987. For INXS for an example – never.

  12. Scott, you simply don’t understand college rock. That is all.

  13. This year’s poll was, by far, the toughest one yet for me! Sadly, 1987 was also the year that many alternative acts became ‘mainstream’ (The Cure, REM, U2) and began to also crack the Top 40 popular music charts. Is it just me, or did things just kind of all go downhill from there???

    • It’s you. Things didn’t actually go downhill until Nirvana swayed the entire industry into a never never land of marketing nonsense. Next year’s list is going to be even more difficult than this one, and when we get to 89 there were going to have to choose which masterpiece matters the most to us.

      • Even though I disagree with this guy’s thoughts on the Replacements, he is right that it all went downhill starting with Nirvana. Think about what was in heavy rotation before Nirvana — The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Charlatans, early Blur, the Farm, Suede (maybe same time as Nirvana). Hard to say those bands were part of a downhill slide.

        • Nirvana blew the whole hair metal band wave of the late 80s early 90s off the charts and into the dustbins of history. They did us all a favor. Record companies were releasing hair metal bands debut albums it seemed like every week. I know, I was a buyer in a record store and it was a joke at the time and the sales reps knew it.

          • That’s true. But as long as hair metal was popular, alternative music was able to flourish. With Nirvana, alternative music became THE mainstream music. That meant that alt music became preoccupied with record sales and alt bandsa that didn’t sell well were drowned out — which led to Offspring to Limp Biskit. . .

            Has there really been a great wave of alt bands since? Here and there you find a few good bands (massive attack, Portishead, White Stripes), but nothing like the 78-91 era.

          • Richard Blade (KROQ and now Sirius/XM DJ) is on the Pet Shop Boys ‘A Life in Pop’ video and said that once Nirvana came out the KROQ station manager put on the ‘Blue Monday’ 12″ and said something like ‘this will never be played here again’. So it wasn’t just hair metal that took a hit.
            Alternative radio changed as well.

          • You blame Nirvana for the decline of good bands since they broke through to the mainstream? You would think it opened the door to a lot of similar bands like The Beatles did when they were the first English group to make it in the USA.

            “Alternative” was always interested in record sales. The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, REM, Janes Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers were selling a good amount of records and becoming mainstream before Nirvana broke through in 1991. It was already starting to happen, they just kicked the already open door down.

            Blaming Nirvana for bad music since Nevermind became huge is to give them too much power. I notice things haven’t been the same since the mid 90s but I don’t blame Nirvana for that. I blame lack of talent and people doing a copy of a copy of other bands and artists to beyond the infinite for it.

          • Hair/glam wasn’t the only thing wrong with music at that time and while Nirvana may have blown hair metal way, it didn’t “cure” all musical ills. There was still plenty of trash around just like there is today. Nirvana changing the world is now somehow accepted as being a fact. It isn’t. Besides, Alice In Chains were a better band in every single way. Don’t get me started on Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder is a huge twat. And screw Soundgarden. A bunch of noise and screaming.

          • I think Nirvana was partly to blame for the demise in alternative music. It wasn’t just Nirvana but also the grunge movement/scene in general. After 1992, everything started to go corporate. It wasn’t just music which was affected. I saw it happen in fashion, in publishing, in radio, media, in just about every sphere of life you can imagine. I agree with other posters, nothing can beat the alt music scene of 1978-1992, everything since then doesn’t even come close with very, very few exceptions.

        • No one blames Nirvana for anything. Nirvana put out a very good record. But the reaction of the music industry to that record changed everything. That’s why we say that the downhill slide started with Nirvana. And for the guy who says that Alt bands were always concerned with record sales, well, yeah, duh. But bands could get airplay in the states and build a nice following selling 200K records before Nirvana (see Echo pre- “lips like sugar,” Stone Roses, smiths (pre-girlfriend in coma . . . ). But after Nirvana, it was an all or nothing on the first disc and the record companies and (radio) pushed that agenda. That’s why a band like Varuca Salt got a $1 million signing bonus, only to be dropped two discs later (they sucked, so that’s ok). The point is that alt bands could no longer take time to build a following after Nirvana. As a result, the musicians, understandably, focused more on instant success than making great music with the hope of building a dedicated fan base. The result has been a downward slide in the quality of music.

  14. no love for LOWLIFE again…shame

  15. I am slightly suprised Earth, Sun, Moon didn’t make the top ten. Other than order of the top ten it’s what was to be expected. Love Echo but that album is weak, it’s like momentum carried over from the first four.

  16. Yeah!

    Have to admit I’m pretty surprised that Sisters of Mercy made it in the top 10. There are a few other albums I thought would make it up there, based on previous showings — Pet Shop Boys, Siouxsie, etc.

    As a DM fan I am happy they made it to #2. I figured it’d be a stretch to make it to #1, but Kiss Me is an acceptable substitute. ;)

    And I’ll take Bryan Ferry at 34!

    *Commence hand-wringing at GnR at #18* :)

  17. If the site didn’t say legacy of 80s college rock and instead said legacy of college rock we could have polls going through the 1990s. Some great albums won’t be voted on because of the 1989 cut off.

    • I’m considering going into the early ’90s. A few people have asked, and I might do it…

      • do a compilation list too – if only so Louder Than Bombs can top all.

        • Let’s hope people have more sense than that…. “Hatful of Hollow” is hands down the best Smiths album and would be in the running for best comp (Barbed Wire Kisses would be nipping at its heals though).

          • Agreed on Mary Chain. Can’t agree on Louder than Bombs. I think a lot of people would be thinking Songs to learn and Sing, along with Substance and, of course, Standing on a beach.

            Still — I’ll take Louder than Bombs and Barbed Kisses over the lot of the them

          • yep. there’s less than no chance of that happening. i bet r.e.m.’s green takes it, which would make me perfectly pleased. wonder if the sugarcubes’ debut has a chance as a dark horse. rattle and hum will probably place high as well.

    • Just make it an “unofficial” top 100 through the 1990s:)

  18. Gotta agree with the dissenters here. By 1987, MTV was broadcasting 120 Minutes and effectively pulling the likes of the Cure, Depeche Mode, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen out of college radio. Albums like Sonic Youth’s “Sister” and the Butthole Surfers’ “Locust Abortion Technician” were way more popular at the college radio station I worked at in this year.

    • An excellent point. But it’s also a mistake to think of this as a college radio poll. Yes, I use the phrase ‘college rock’ in the title of the site (I picked it namely to seize upon a phrase that people would remember from back then, but might not carry much weight with those who didn’t go through it). But I’ve also made it pretty clear that what I cover here is a broader swath of ’80s “alternative,” and these polls, and the results, definitely reflect that. To me, anyway, the results make perfect sense: the popular stuff, like The Cure and The Smiths, comes in high, and the more cult acts fill out the bottom end. There are tons of great albums up and down this list, and, yes, some are more mainstream than others.

      • “To me, anyway, the results make perfect sense: the popular stuff, like The Cure and The Smiths, comes in high, and the more cult acts fill out the bottom end. There are tons of great albums up and down this list, and, yes, some are more mainstream than others.”

        Exactly, to me also it makes perfect sense. This isn’t rocket science at all. You do have to take your taste out of the equation which, in my experience, people have a hard time doing.

  19. Save for the Sisters, a really vanilla top 10. C’mon people, in a year where Front 242, Laibach, and Swans released career-defining and possibly paradigm-shifting albums, INXS and U2 stand out?

    • matthew topaz

      while i agree with you, you also gotta remember that U2 was still fairly unknown (outside of modern rock fans) and when Joshua Tree came out there was nothing about it that sounded mainstream at the time. Their eventual massive success (and douche-iness) doesn’t discount what a great album it is ;)

    • it’s probably because about 12 people on earth care a damn about front 242, laibach and swans, all 3 of which are barely listenable. alternative doesn’t have to mean difficult or offputting.

      • So what if only 12 people liked those bands? Have you actually listened to them to declare them “unlistenable”? Alternative also doesn’t have to mean boring or uninteresting. (INXS or Depeche Mode) Oh, and as far as Green finishing #1, I hope not. While Orange Crush is one of R.E.M.’s best, Stand has to be one of the WORST songs they ever recorded. Speaking of unlistenable…..

        • yeah, i’ve listened to all those bands. i have a pretty encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, and i am 41 and came of age in that era–did college radio at a very well-regarded station from ’90-92. and orange crush isn’t even the 5th best song on green. but if you hate stand so much, you’re probably someone who digs noise and aggression over melody, and can’t appreciate the simple joy of a great pop song.

          • I am 52, have encyclopedic knowledge of popular music too, but these aren’t arguments for judging for an example – SWANS. A simple joy is when someon’s telling you that great pop songs sometimes beclouds your view on different and unknown. Of course, then you see it agressive and barely listenable.

          • pretty sure anyone on this site has (or thinks they have) an “encyclopedic knowledge” of this era of music. So, I don’t think that statement is helping too much.

  20. My prediction for 1988’s poll:
    1. Jane’s Addiction – ‘Nothing’s Shocking’
    2. R.E.M. – ‘Green’
    3. Erasure – ‘The Innocents’

  21. Sad _Up for a Bit With the Pastels_ didn’t make the cut.

  22. people think I’m mad for loving The Cure, but who’s laughing now!! best band ever,next to The Damned and Siouxsie & The Banshees!!- all more top albums are on here, such a good year!!

    • Who’s laughing now? The people who voted for Jesus and the Mary Chain and the Replacements. And we have been laughing for 25 years now!!!!

    • The Cure is my favorite band but Love and Rockets are better musicians, singers and song writers. They know what goes where and what doesn’t. Kiss Me x3 is largely a mess and never needed to be a double disc.

      • every single thing you said here is the opposite of true.

        • Actually, it is fact. Fact that can’t be contested in any court of law or court of public opinion. If I say or write it then it is the gospel.

      • Why does it always have to be one or the other? They are are both good bands. I personally like Express better than anything the Cure ever did, but I still like a lot of what the Cure did.

  23. matthew topaz

    damn, gotta be the strongest overall year of music of the decade.

  24. 1987: The year alternative became pop
    The slide downhill has started

  25. Men Without Hats at 69!

  26. The Cure in its rightful place and it’s so NICE to see Floodland get some love. I’d be very interested to know which albums place the highest with the lowest in sales. I think that would be a very interesting stat.

  27. Pretty much what I expected. The INXS album cover used here looks like a photoshopped version – the original definitely had a Vision Psychostick with some dodgy Doc Marten’s foot placement going on.

    1988 is going to be tough.

    Dinosaur Jr – Bug
    Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
    Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation of Millions
    Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking
    Pixies – Surfer Rosa
    REM – Green
    Mudhoney – Superfuzz Bigmuff
    Morrissey – Viva Hate
    Beat Happening – Jamboree
    My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything

  28. Happy with top 10, But still think Nitzer Ebb should have been higher, probably in the top 10

  29. #91 Marc Almond. Bought the cassette album aged 13. Didn’t (at the time) understand why the cashier found the title so amusing!

  30. Can’t believe You’re Living All Over Me was #20. shoulda been top 5

  31. Top 3 is perfection!
    It starts to go a bit wrong from there.
    The Lion & The Cobra should have been in the Top 10!
    Oh and Secrets Of The Beehive should be a lot closer to the top end, it’s David Sylvian’s greatest moment!!!

    • I never bother to complain about these types of lists but I’ll make an exception to agree re Lion & the Cobra, should be Top 10 for sure!!

  32. Love your blog, and love the memories it brings back. I was 16 in 1987 and loved the music that came out that year, but it did not seem that anybody else did. I am glad to know i was wrong.

  33. Ashamed for you all for not even getting American Music Club’s Engine in top 100, lets hope common sense is back for “California” in 1988.
    1988 will be the hardest year by far!

    • “Engine” was a good record but flew well under the radar. “California” was an even better record, but I think they were still an album away from wider critical/public attention.

  34. There is something quite nice about seeing so many of my favorite albums rank so highly.

  35. Again we have failed the Ramones by voting them at 72. Like the Dead Milkmen sang “You”ll dance to anything by The Smiths. You”ll dance to anything by Depeche Commode.”.
    Can someone tell me who Cabaret Voltaire is and why they rank higher than the pioneers of punk The Ramones? ”Because we were there and we remember the Ramones” – Fleshtones
    I’ll admit not their best album but far better than the minus DeeDee era.

    • Hey Shib.. The Ramones have yet to have a decent placement in these polls. “Too Tough to Die” even placed poorly – shame.. If you look at the top ten in this poll (and the past polls), it’s easy to see what’s going on. It’s mostly the stuff that crept onto the top 40 radio (and dance club goth). Bands like the Ramones, Cramps, Dead Milkmen, Hoodoo Gurus, Sonic Youth and the Screaming Blue Messiahs really have a disadvantage.

  36. Sister by Sonic Youth at 21? That should’ve been at least 15, if not top 10. Of course, Depeche Mode’s snoozefest was in the top 10,along with INXS. Ick. Hopefully Daydream Nation will make the top 10 in 88 along with the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa.

  37. Close Lobsters at #77 is fantastic news even if it deserves to be in the top three. And I don’t know why everybody critizices that Echo & the Bunnymen album. It’s a great record, very underrated, in my opinion. As for “Strangeways here we come” I’m surprised it’s not number one, it’s a total masterpiece.

  38. Minty Fresh

    Cool! I must have been the only person who voted for Redd Kross.

    • that makes 2 of us. Neurotica is far and away the best album from 1987. I wish more people heard it.

      Most of those albums in the top 20 are ones I lost interest in by the end of the 80’s, if i ever liked them in the first place, and rarely have revisited since.

  39. Wow, I own 27 of these, and have seen 20 of the bands live.

  40. As some other comments already pointed out, groundbreaking albums by Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth are definitely underappreciated at no. 20 and 21. Preceding the music of the ’90s, their fans don’t seem to be so frequent visitors of SUE.

    With a lot of British indie bands doing well, I’m surprised to see the failing impact of Creation Records and assorted twee/shoegaze sounds on this list: Biff Bang Pow, Momus, The Pastels, Primal Scream all outside the Top 100.

    And even Felt’s ‘Poem of the River’, Mekons’ ‘The Mekons Honky Tonkin’ and Spear of Destiny’s ‘Outland’ didn’t make the cut. Which goes to show what a packed year of alternative gems 1987 was ..

    Noteworthy: These countdowns are dominated (too much) by male white vocalists: 1987 is the second year (after 1983) without a female singer in the Top 10, and we still haven’t seen a female singer in the Top 5 at all (Yazoo coming close in 1982 at no. 6). And Prince’s No. 24 is already the highest entry of a non-white singer in all of the eight years evaluated yet (not counting Ranking Roger, co-vocalist with The Beat, ranking at no. 17 in 1982).

    • well, white male vocalists have made the majority of the noteworthy music in these subgenres, so it stands to reason that their numbers will dominate.

  41. What the heck does white, non-white, female, male vocalists have to do with the list? This is simply about the best albums of the year….

  42. Well of course the list is silly but that’s ok. A small handful of surprises and disappointments: I am not so obtuse to think my 10 choices would all appear in top 20 seeing as its a popularity contest and nothing to do with the music, but a bit surprised albums by Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr weren’t 5-10 spots higher (I voted for neither, but based on the clown contingency who do vote its a surprise). Official Version as well could be 5-10 higher, and quite shocked Sinead and LnR weren’t top 10 (those three I did vote for). Sadly Skinny Puppy’s greatest effort falls to 36 I’d have liked to see a top 20—just listened to it again after voting this poll, it’s flawless. Ditto Butthole Surfers best album. I also listened to my copy of the Echo album and it was dreadfully monotonous and lacking any syncopation to keep me interested. It’s a weak album and top 40 was too kind, but again it’s position herein isn’t unexpected. Doesn’t mean it’s not WRONG.

    I wanted to give props to all of you and what I find an interesting discussion in these comments. I may not agree w some of you but the banter is well stated and civil. I’m not sure Nirvana’s role re: alt music, and an surprised that moniker is given them without pause. Sobeit. I do find it interesting that both Cobain and Dave Mustain (Megadeth) both were very conspicuous of their personal influence by the Sex Pistols and thus the punk movement where our polls started 1980. Don’t know what it all means, other than we all took our influences in different directions where Nirvana and Front 242 are musical cousins.

    And then there is Christian.
    I’m not sure where he was going with that rant, but allow me to say:

    1) what BLACK artists are being ignored? There’s a reason the Busboys said ‘bet you never heard music like this by spades!’ because it is rare. On top of rare it has to be good to crack top 10. Pray tell what band of color has been dissed?

    2) many many MANY people voted for Sinead as well as Siouxsie in the past. Just didn’t crack top 5—note that I had Sinead #3 on my list. Racists? Chauvinists? Spell it out if you’re saying it, mate.

    3) as for women AND people of color, let me say it’ll be with pleasure I will vote ‘Shad-day’ by Ofra Haza in my top 10 of 1988 in the next couple weeks. Hope that satisfies you. (SUE don’t forget Shad-day please lol).

    Lastly, I am in a couple Facebook groups for defunct clubs we went to that got torn down, and I knew dozens of folk of varying ages and musical tastes, though all tied together by punk-post punk-new wave interests. I can tell you the shoe gaze bands you listed and bemoaned their absence, NO ONE LISTENED TO THAT CRAP, THAT’S why it’s absent from the top 100!

  43. The Echo choice has to be a nostalgia choice for many, or the only album they owned by them in the 80’s. Great band but I have never met a hardcore fan who didn’t think that was their worst album from their classic period. Most of the rest of the list is better than that one by a long shot.

  44. I forgot what a good year 1987 was! Sinead deserved to be in the Top 10 – “Lion” is a breathtaking album that still sounds great today. 10,000 Maniacs was also a top pick for me, sowing the early seeds of the 90’s Lilith Fair movement to come and tapping into a growing trend of self awareness that was absent in the nihilism of punk. Thrilled to see Sisters of Mercy crack the Top 10. Oh, and the likes of Front 242 heralded the coming of NIN and Ministry – nice to see them at the top end of the chart.

  45. HesterMofet

    I agree with those who say a lot of this is revisionist history, especially Midnight Oil not being in the Top 10. Sinead over Love & Rockets? Nope, no way. And what’s all this adoration of The Cure? Yeah, they were good, but they certainly weren’t The Smiths or R.E.M. I wonder how many people voting in this poll are under 30 and don’t even remember these albums (yep, I said albums) when they came out.

    • the cure are widely (and correctly) considered as influential and brilliant a proto-alternative rock band as the smiths or r.e.m., if not MORE so. and sinead o’connor’s debut is roughly 800 times better than anything love & rockets ever crapped out.

      • Oh each statement there is so foolish. I’ll give you a Love and Rockets album that is better than the Lion and the Cobra: Express. Go song for song. I’ll give you “(i want your) hands on me” as a great, great song. But let’s do the comparison with LnR Express — All in Mind (both versions), Express KUndalini(?), Yin Yang and the FLower Pot Man, Ball of COnfusion (a priceless and timeles cover), It COuld be Sunshine . . . And on and on.

        As for the Cure, in what world is their impact greater than the Smiths or REM? What is their legacy? Emo? Bad Marylin Manson songs (well, that covers nearly all Marylin Manson songs), the Killers? REM practically gave birth to indie movement (while completely redefining college radio). And keep in mind, they did this all by the time of Green. Their latter work was not, in my view, all that good, though hugely successful.

        The Smiths? Seriously, do I really need to make the case for how influential they were/are?? There is a reason that people want them — more than any other band, save Led Zeppelin — to reform. Marr’s guitar work is peerless and beautiful. Nearly every note sounds as fresh today as it did back then. Can you really say that about the Cure? I get it, the Cure is good. Hell, I saw them four times in the 80s, but the bulk of their work does not stand up. And this is coming from someone who put Kiss Me3 in the top ten of this year.

    • Stephen Pierce

      Revisionist history? I’m voting for albums that STILL sound great to me, not the ones I loved in 87 but haven’t stood the test of time. And so what if some folks are under 30? Just maybe a lot of people over 30 are voting for mediocre records that happen to strike a nostalgic chord. To quote the man in the number 3 spot “So what difference does it make”?

  46. I love this site. I am remembering and knowing.

    By the way, the best album of the eighties is “Disintegration”, definitely.

    Greetings from Colombia.

  47. Connells best album…deserved to be a bit higher imo.

    Was 23 in 1987, agree with others, “Diesel&Dust” was everywhere that year. U2 was also very much mainstream by 1987.

  48. Lolita Nation is the greatest album that no one has heard of.

  49. This is great..I couldn’t agree more with the top 3 fact I would say they all tie for number one!

  50. So many great comments as usual. I have to admit, INXS placing so highly was a disappointment. They’re the only ‘undeserving’ entry in the Top 10, IMHO. I would have liked to see Guadalcanal Diary place better, but what are you gonna do. I thought they were so much better than REM and still think that.

  51. Glad to finally see Nitzer Ebb make any list. At the time, I thought they fit nicely into the Alternative music landscape. I don’t history has a good place to put them (see ELO in the 70s), especially after Trent Reznor and Richard Melville Hall took over the direction of electronic music. Maybe “Belief” will rank higher in the ’88 poll.

  52. Lousy year, 1987.

  53. So…
    …no love for Secession’s ” A Dark Enchantment ” in this list?

  54. Have to say I was quite impressed by Bowie’s ranking with one of his most criticized efforts. I think it’s a fine album and yes I’m a fan but still!!!

    • The secret: A rapping Mickey Rourke! Proof that Bowie was still ahead of the game, despite all those bum reviews. :)

      Couldn’t vote for it here, but it’d definitely make my Guilty Pleasures Top 10.

  55. Enjoying the spitting contest between the Cure and Smiths cults. Love both bands incidentally, but really, get a grip. Neither reinvented the wheel (nor did REM people, crikey).

    Pretty much everything ‘influential’ about The Smiths was nicked from The Modern Lovers anyway (it’s a bit of a toss up between them and Violent Femmes who owes the Lovers the more massive debt). Does it make me love them any less? No, of course not.

  56. The Cure deservingly won by a large margin. The final Smiths album was disappointing after their pinnacle TQID.

  57. …must add – while I own probably the lion’s share of albums in these ‘Top 100’ list, Depeche Mode is one band I just never liked. To me, they were the same ilk as Boy George and Pet Shop Boys only slower with what seemed to be a pretentious “goth” suicide overlay and later the predictable, injectable drugs.

  58. …must add – while I own probably the lion’s share of albums in these ‘Top 100’ list, Depeche Mode is one band I just never liked. To me, they were the same ilk as Boy George and Pet Shop Boys only slower with what seemed to be a pretentious “goth” suicide overlay and later the predictable, injectable drugs.

    Depeche Mode, a band that never had the lyrical nor musical brilliance of The Cure or The Smiths, but always seem to ride their coattails.

      • Not going to argue here about musical taste or what band is “better” — no sense in that, especially because I like those other bands, too — or what is pretentious. But to say DM rode The Cure’s or The Smiths’ coattails is going a stretch far in my mind. Though I suppose I could ask: how do you figure they rode their coattails? Stylistically? Artistically? Lyrically? Compositionally?

        And it’s not as though the Cure were straight-edge either…

  59. Looking at the results of this and the other polls so far it looks like the best of the decade will be utterly dominated by about a dozen bands – cure, new order, depeche mode, smiths, r.e.m, echo and the bunnymen, U2 and the replacements. Between them will anything else get a look in in top 30 or 40 of the decade? i doubt it.

    Noticing people mentioning going on into the early 90s. Yes please. Somehow nirvana’s success with nevermind seemed to kill it for me. Great record without a doubt but thereafter record companies seemed to be obsessed with imitation rather than innovation.

  60. there is no way that “kick” beats “darklands” in any form. “appetite for destruction” over “sister”?! also, sad to see loop’s “heaven’s end” so very low.

    i’m crying on the inside (therefore happy to see “floodland” in the top 10).

  61. Damn 1987 was an AMAZING year for music!!!

  62. Really disappointed that Miracle Legion’s Surprise Surprise Surprise didn’t even crack the Top 100. I find that record brilliant from start to finish. If you are a fan of IRS-era REM, the Connells, Let’s Active, or Guadalcanal Diary, I recommend you check out Miracle Legion and the great stuff ML’s lead, Mark Mulcahy, is still putting out

  63. Olivier Dodin

    Sign’O The Time (Prince)

  64. Olivier Dodin

    and Flesh for Lulu

  65. number 1 = Strangeways, The Smiths!

  66. David Dylan Malana Puzon.1V

    I would like to give credit to”The Game”Album by Echo and The Bunnymen.Although it was their most mainstream/softest/poppiest sounding album of all time,it was the one that I would most likely pop in the player if I was cuddling with someone that I love.It had a lot of great songs aside from”The Game”and “Lips Like Sugar”like those non single releases namely”Over You”and”Blue Blue Ocean”.I’m just wondering why most of the critics would slag this album.Whenever I read those”1000 Greatest Albums of All Time”,I noticed that those so called experts would choose those albums by bands in their formative years when they sounded raw and then rate them very highly.One example of this is EATBS”Heaven Up Here”and”Crocodiles”(another personal favourite of mine).Sometimes its better not to listen to this experts and just give the album a spin and let your ears,mind and heart do the judging.Me,I’m more of a person who loves to emote and daydream so I think”The Game”has all those perfect qualities that fits the romantic in me…and I know I might raise a few eyebrows with what I’m gonna say but if I may add,”Candleland”(1989)by Ian Mc Cullough is the last great Echo and The Bunnymen album…nuff said

    David Dylan Elizalde Puzon.1V

  67. David Dylan Malana Puzon.1V

    “Strangeways Here we come”by The Smiths is a very dragging and depressing album as opposed to its predecessors and this is only in my humble opinion.I hope I dont get crucified for what I said here

  68. David Dylan Malana Puzon.1V

    What about The Desert Wolves”Pontification”.Its a very good album and it came out in 1987.Im sure most new wavers would agree

  69. Astrid Ennui

    Very sad to see the absence of The Cocteau Twins.

  70. Michael jackson Bad is One

  71. Felipe Restrepo

    Today I learnt about the existence of CMJ New Music Report, a college bi-weekly chart that compiled playlists from college radio in the 1980’s. The importance of this chart is that it predated the modern rock countdown of Billboard Magazine. Radio and Records even published CMJ Top 20 during 1988.
    Is there anybody out there who knows where I can find the biweekly CMJ music report for all the years in the 1980’s?

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