Best of the '80s Redux, Poll — February 10, 2015 at 9:18 am

Top 100 Songs of 1980: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of the ’80s Redux — Part 1


And so it begins: After much number-crunching and tabulation, we’re thrilled to present the first results of our yearlong Best of the ’80s Redux series, the Slicing Up Eyeballs readers poll that has now determined your collective ranking of the Top 100 songs of 1980 — the year, not the decade, although judging by your votes, that was a point of confusion.

RELATED: Playlist: Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Top 100 Songs of 1980 (Minus the 5 not on Spotify)

Following our Best of the ’80s album polls in 2013, we decided to change formats for this year’s song polls, so, instead of giving you a pre-selected menu of tracks to choose from, we’re going with pure open, anything-goes voting. The result, as expected, was far fewer votes cast.

For this 1980 poll, there were 8,180 total votes cast, compared to the total of 120,000 in the final best-of-the-decade album poll the last time around (although in that case, voters could pick 20, not 10, selections). But we fully expect the numbers to rise with each year’s poll as they did last time.

As you can see below, Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” took the No. 1 spot, not exactly a surprise, as it surely will be a contender to take that top prize in the eventual best songs of the decade wrap-up poll.

As mentioned, though, there was some confusion over whether this was a 1980 or a 1980s poll, but that should subside once we move on to 1981. But there were a surprising number of votes for songs by New Order, The Smiths, Depeche Mode and R.E.M. — bands that didn’t exist or didn’t put out music in 1980.

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.




Love_will_tear_us_apart1. Joy Division,
“Love Will Tear Us Apart”

PRODUCER: Martin Hannett and Joy Division
BUY IT:, iTunes



AForest_single2. The Cure,
“A Forest”

RELEASE: Single; appears on Seventeen Seconds
PRODUCER: Mike Hedges and Robert Smith
BUY IT:, iTunes 



Onceinalifetimesingle3. Talking Heads,
“Once in a Lifetime”

RELEASE: Single; appears on Remain in Light
SONGWRITERS: Talking Heads and Brian Eno
BUY IT:, iTunes



AshesToAshes34. David Bowie,
“Ashes to Ashes”

RELEASE: Single; appears on Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
PRODUCER: David Bowie and Tony Visconti
BUY IT: Amazon.comiTunes 



U25. U2,
“I Will Follow”

RELEASE: Single; appears on Boy
PRODUCER: Steve Lillywhite
BUY IT:, iTunes



Games_Without_Frontiers6. Peter Gabriel,
“Games Without Frontiers”

RELEASE: Single; appears on Peter Gabriel (aka Melt)
SONGWRITER: Peter Gabriel
PRODUCER: Steve Lillywhite
BUY IT:, iTunes



The_Clash_-_Train_in_Vain_(single)7. The Clash,
“Train in Vain”

RELEASE: Single; appears on London Calling
SONGWRITERS: Joe Strummer, Mick Jones
PRODUCERS: Guy Stevens and Mick Jones
BUY IT:, iTunes 



Enola_Gay_-_OMD_-_CD_Single8. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “Enola Gay”

RELEASE: Single; appears on Organisation
SONGWRITER: Andy McCluskey
PRODUCERS: OMD and Mike Howlett
BUY IT:, iTunes



Devo9. Devo,
“Whip It”

RELEASE: Single; appears on Freedom of Choice
SONGWRITERS: Gerald Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh
PRODUCER: Robert Margouleff
BUY IT:, iTunes



Blondie_-_Call_Me10. Blondie,
“Call Me”

RELEASE: Single; appears on “American Gigolo” soundtrack
SONGWRITERS: Debbie Harry, Giorgio Moroder
PRODUCER: Giorgio Moroder
BUY IT:, iTunes



11. The Pretenders, “Brass in Pocket”
12. The Beat, “Mirror in the Bathroom”
13. Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Christine”
14. The B-52s, “Private Idaho”
15. Dead Kennedys, “Holiday in Cambodia”
16. Split Enz, “I Got You”
17. XTC, “Generals and Majors”
18. Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Happy House”
19. Echo & The Bunnymen, “Rescue”
20. The Jam, “Going Underground”


21. Squeeze, “Pulling Mussels (From a Shell)”
22. Visage, “Fade to Grey”
23. Joy Division, “Atmosphere”
24. Adam and the Ants, “Antmusic”
25. David Bowie, “Fashion”
26. The Police, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”
27. The Cure, “Play For Today”
28. The Vapors, “Turning Japanese”
29. The Jam, “That’s Entertainment”
30. Blondie, “Atomic”


31. X, “Los Angeles”
32. Echo & The Bunnymen, “Do It Clean”
33. Ultravox, “Vienna”
34. Devo, “Girl U Want”
35. The Clash, “The Magnificent Seven”
36. Ramones, “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?”
37. Japan, “Gentlemen Take Polaroids”
38. Motorhead, “Ace of Spades”
39. Kate Bush, “Babooshka”
40. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “Messages”


41. Bauhaus, “Dark Entries”
42. Joy Division, “Isolation”
43. Blondie, “Rapture”
44. Peter Gabriel, “Biko”
45. AC/DC, “Back in Black”
46. Bob Marley & The Wailers, “Redemption Song”
47. X, “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene”
48. Roxy Music, “Same Old Scene”
49. Generation X, “Dancing With Myself”
50. Adam and the Ants, “Dog Eat Dog”


51. The Police, “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da”
52. Adam and the Ants, “Kings of the Wild Frontier”
53. The Jam, “Start!”
54. Simple Minds, “I Travel”
55. Devo, “Freedom of Choice”
56. The Psychedelic Furs, “Sister Europe”
57. Talking Heads, “Crosseyed and Painless”
58. Romantics, “What I Like About You”
59. Ramones, “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”
60. Queen, “Another One Bites the Dust”


61. Joy Division, “Twenty Four Hours”
62. The Beat, “Best Friend”
63. Martha & The Muffins, “Echo Beach”
64. Mission of Burma, “Academy Fight Song”
65. Kate Bush, “Breathing”
66. Elvis Costello, “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down”
67. David Bowie, “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”
68. Bauhaus, “In the Flat Field”
69. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “Electricity”
70. The Waitresses, “I Know What Boys Like”


71. Oingo Boingo, “Only a Lad”
72. Squeeze, “Another Nail In My Heart”
73. Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Israel”
74. John Foxx, “Underpass”
75. Dexys Midnight Runners, “Geno”
76. Devo, “Gates of Steel”
77. The Clash, “Bankrobber”
78. The Soft Boys, “I Wanna Destroy You”
79. The B-52s, “Give Me Back My Man”
80. Kate Bush, “Army Dreamers”


81. Pete Townshend, “Let My Love Open the Door”
82. Bob Marley & The Wailers, “Could You Be Loved?”
83. Bauhaus, “‘Stigmata Martyr”
84. XTC, “Respectable Street”
85. The Cramps, “Garbageman”
86. Rockpile, “Teacher Teacher”
87. Dead Kennedys, “California Uber Alles”
88. The Police, “Driven to Tears”
89. The Cure, “M”
90. The Cars, “Touch and Go”


91. Joy Division, “Decades”
92. Echo & The Bunnymen, “Villiers Terrace”
93. Bruce Springsteen, “The River”
94. The Psychedelic Furs, “India”
95. Magazine, “A Song From Under the Floorboards”
96. Madness, “Baggy Trousers”
97. Killing Joke, “Requiem”
98. AC/DC, “You Shook Me All Night Long”
99. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Refugee”
100. The Specials, “Too Much Too Young”







  1. I really thought “A Song From Under the Floorboards” would have charted a lot higher. Definitely in my top 10.

  2. Way too many Joy Division songs

  3. Such incredible music in just one year. I feel sorry for the youth of today with such mediocre music about. If they were smart, they would just purchase all of these songs and be prepared to have their lives changed.

  4. so, this time I voted based on anything that was released in 1980. this meant that for much of US bands I had to figure out if singles released on an album in 1980 count, or if I should wait until the year they were released, because typically in the US the album comes out and then singles. I had to do the reverse for europe where a lot of singles are released leading up to the album.

    In the end I decided if it was available in 1980, that would be the criteria to follow and the easiest way to break it down. thoughts anyone? I love these polls and thank you btw!

    • I agree… for me, I just looked at anything with an official release date in 1980, to be safe. Like, Gary Numan… I thought it was released in 1979, so figured it was NOT appropriate. Since he wasn’t on the list, I assume I was correct in this assumption.

    • I agree it’s an issue, and it just now occurs to me that lack of consensus is going to hurt some songs in the voting.

      For instance, we’re about to vote for 1981, the year “Radio Free Europe” was released as a single (on Hibtone). Obviously, that’s a HUGE release in the annals of alternative music. But arguably, more people actually associate the song with 1983 when the album “Murmur” was released.

      Which year should I vote for it? Which year will *most* people vote for it? What if lack of consensus splits the vote?

      I suppose as weird as it seems, I could just vote for it in 1981 AND 1983, because they were different recordings. And in either year, it deserves to finish at the very top of the list.

      I will pose this question again once the 1981 voting commences, just to see what people think.

      Yours, Perplexed.

  5. Awesome list. Can’t imagine how difficult it is to parse some very small vote numbers.

    A couple ideas… perhaps expand the number of songs to 15 or 20… so more songs get a chance to get a vote? Might help to differentiate results.

    Second, it might not be obvious that people don’t HAVE to come up with 10 (or more) songs. You might get more participation if you indicate, “If you can only think of one great song, then vote for that one! You don’t have to have ten songs in order to vote!”

    Just an idea (I work in the research space, so how you frame questions can be as important as the questions themselves.)

    Great stuff. Very fun and appreciate this site and all the effort that goes into this. And it drives sales, as I realize music I don’t have in my collection and need to go out and find it!

    • Thanks. I am VERY interested in getting input on how this one went, and how it could be handled better in the future, both in the actual voting, and what the rules are for eligibility.

      Because this time around I’m not providing a pre-approved list to choose from, and instead am letting people write whatever they want, it’s actually much more time-consuming to tally, both in checking whether songs picked are eligible (many weren’t this time), and in just counting, since the way people wrote their entries made them sort differently.

      So any advice on how to improve the process — or just feedback in general, bad or good — is honestly appreciated.

      • For 1981 something like,

        Vote for your favorite song of 1981.

        You can vote for one song only, or list up to 20 songs you feels should be considered “Best of 1981”

        New Wave/Post Punk is where it’s at, but you can vote for any song released that year, Pop, Rock, AOR, Classic Rock, Soul, R&B… as long as it was from 1981!


        Just keep it clear and short… then add an instructional paragraph below that people can read if they want more detail, but the basics are clear and simple.

        Also, not sure how this blog/site is structured, but could you create a format that had two text boxes, one labled “Artist” one labled “Song”. Might help.

  6. Thanks for this.

    Some thoughts – request formatting. Not everyne will do it, but it might give you SOME structure… Artist – Song… so everyone uses the dash, or even ask for a weird format if that makes it easier to parse… {Artist} – [Song] … so you can work that out of a bunch of messages.

    Also – enlist some folks to help – send lists of songs to people and ask them to check years… just means you make a tally, and then determine if something is written off afterwards.

  7. This is such an impressive list. It’s hard to believe all this music came out in the same year. I echo the comments about today’s music standing up to this list — that is, today’s music does not. There are, for sure, some good bands out there (Horrors, Ty Segall, Tame Impala to name a few), but those bands are few and far between. And none of them are putting up songs of this caliber. For God’s sake, the Clash’s Bankrobber is in the middle!!
    I just have a few comments. One, never cared for Games Without Frontiers. That, Shock the Monkey, and Salisbury Hill always generate an immediate station change for me. But I chalk that up to a mere disagreement, as opposed to knocking Peter Gabriel’s talents. One song I will knock is OMD’s Enola Gay. It’s just not that good of a song and does not stand up over time. Given their popularity in the 80s, OMD has a right to be on the list, but nowhere near the top ten (seriously? Better than That’s Entertainment, Bankrobber, Los Angeles, and Rock and Roll High School!?!?). Another song that appears too high is Whip It, which is huge, but really a novelty song at best (Girl you Want is so much better). Finally, the Wait by the Pretenders really should have been in there. That said, great list and thanks for doing it.

  8. I actually preferred the multiple choice. The option to fill in the blank was available on that one too.
    I’m too lazy, I started to fill this one out, then gave up. Way too much work involved.

    • Devin,

      This is why I suggested making it clear that you don’t HAVE to fill out a full ten. Just put down the one or two songs you can think of and good-to-go! I think there would be a lot more responses that way.

  9. Nice list. One way to save you time in confirming whether a track was actually released in a given year (at least in non-obvious cases) would be to ask people to identify the release they mean, maybe by using the database?

  10. This was a great opening poll! A lot of great songs that year, for sure.

    I agree that being able to choose 20 or even 25 songs in the upcoming polls would get more songs in circulation, and give more differentiation to the results. It might not do any favors for your tally staff, but that’s why you pay them so much, right?

    And people — if there’s a question about whether or not a song came out in a given year, you can always post a question here before voting. I was surprised by a couple of 1980 releases, and a couple of songs that were actually from other years. Folks here offered good information before I voted.

    • And agreed, even if you increase the number of songs we can vote for, keep it limited to just 2 per artist. Anyone who can’t think of 10-20 different bands with good songs each year needs to broaden their horizons a bit, or switch to collecting plates.

  11. 8 of my top 10 made the list, with only “Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down” from XTC and Gary Numan’s “This Wreckage” not making the final cut. Overall, a good list. I’ll echo the sentiments of others, that was a great year for music…

  12. I voted but it was hard to work out was was eligible or not and indeed hard to remember what was around. A list with check-boxes like that for the albums may be harder to create but far easier to tally in the end. A couple of hundred songs would be a good start (culled form the top 20 albums of the year) and maybe some blank options for peeps to fill in themselves when voting, which perhaps once a day could be incorporated into the official list.

  13. There are always going to be debates about what belongs on the list, and at the top, eh. :) Most of my favorites squeaked in to the top 100, so I can’t complain too much. All told, a great list.

    I thought the voting process went pretty well. I do like the idea of being able to vote for 20 songs. But I’d keep the cap on two songs per artist.

    Thanks for all the work on this. On to picking my top songs for 1981!

    • Also – If you’re using the “Category:[year]” list of songs from Wikipedia, double check whether or not the song is from that year by clicking through to the song’s listing. I’ve already found several listed in 1981 that aren’t really from that year.

  14. Oh the excitement to open up the list and see the results. Like opening up a Christmas present lol. Good to see my top 3 come up on the list. Cure – A Forest, Psychedelic Furs – Sister Europe and Vapors – Turning Japanese. Love these top 1980 lists you do Matt. Can’t wait to see the results for 1981. Gotta start generating my votes in my head ha ha.

  15. I think this poll went very well. The only thing I’d change is to state clearly that a song should be eligible only in its first year of release on vinyl.

    I wouldn’t change the number of songs to vote for. Not 20 and not just a couple. An avid fan of a certain band shouldn’t get away with just listing his/her two favourites by said band. And all the nerds (including me) should go through that pain of narrowing down.

    Of course this poll is not as ‘convenient’ as a multiple choice one. But it ensures high quality results as voters have to dig deep into the matter. And almost 1000 participants is a very good number!

    One thing to consider: Offering a few more links to music-by-year lists like

  16. All of my songs made the list! Here was my list:
    1. Love Will Tear Us Apart
    2. A Forest
    3. Generals and Majors
    4. Atmosphere
    5. Going Underground
    6. Respectable Street
    7. Once in s Lifetime
    8. Games Without Frontiers
    9. Babooshka
    10. Ashes to Ashes

  17. Cliff Hendroval

    I know that #99 is wrong, because I first heard it on 11/20/79, when “Damn The Torpedoes” was album of the week on WVBR-FM. Me and a bunch of friends were driving back from a Fleetwood Mac show in Rochester when it came on.

    That being said, this is a much better list than I would have expected from the eyeliner addicts who tend to overwhelm this site.

  18. Really, the Waitresses, Tom Petty & NO Smiths?
    There is a light that never goes out…
    How soon is now?…
    Bigmouth strikes again….

    Also, no Gary Numan?

  19. I agree whole-heartedly…great list, and super fun to take part in! I had 6 of my top 10 show up in the final 100 (my #1 was “I Wanna Destroy You” – The Soft Boys, which fell into #78). Pretty surprised “When You Were Mine” by Prince didn’t crack the Top 100…must’ve been edged out by Joy Division!

  20. Amazing list! The voters did an incredible job getting it right…although I expected more Gary Numan and Killing Joke!

    It appears to me most will default to singles in most cases but honestly how can you fault this? Look at the sheer quality of the 100 songs here…can’t wait to put this playlist together in iTunes!

  21. 3 songs from 1980 that rate in my favourite songs of all time didnt even make it. No accounting for taste! Joy Division – Dead Souls, Bauhaus – Terror Couple Kill Colonel and Magazine – Sweetheart Contract. And they were all on singles too.

  22. Wow! Just Wow!! What a great list. No arguments from me.

  23. No Depeche Mode? Come on Eyeballs!?!?

  24. Sorry!!!
    I mis-read, I thought it was the top 100 of the entire decade of the 80’s (not just 1980) Duh me!
    Looking forward the rest of the 80’s.

  25. A bit of trivia:

    Acts on the ‘Top 100 Songs of 1980’ that didn’t make the annual ‘Top 100 Albums’ at all
    #28 The Vapors
    #45 + #98 AC/DC
    #46 + #82 Bob Marley & The Wailers
    #58 Romantics
    #60 Queen
    #63 Martha & The Muffins
    #70 The Waitresses
    #93 Bruce Springsteen
    #99 Tom Petty

    Acts from the upper half of the ‘Top 100 Albums of 1980’ that didn’t make the ‘Top 100 Songs of 1980’
    #24 INXS
    #26 The Feelies
    #39 Gary Numan
    #41 Young Marble Giants
    #43 The Teardrop Explodes
    #46 The Birthday Party
    #48 The Damned
    #49 The Human League
    #49 The Sound

  26. No problems with The Top 10…
    …in the painstaking effort to narrow down My List to 10, all but “Call Me” made my Top 25

    Thankfully KILLING JOKE squeezed in to The Top 100 with my fave track. (Mind you, behind Springsteen)

    Nothing from the brilliant debut album by SPANDAU BALLET, the forerunners of The New Romantic sound!?

    Vienna would have been Top 10, but I still don’t think it meets the criteria

    To quote Simple Minds….Bring on “81, 82, 83, 84…”

  27. I have created a playlist for this on Beats Music if anybody has an account and doesn’t want to make their own

  28. This list is comprised of the most obvious songs, not the best. It looks like an 80s mix cd you’d buy in a bin.

  29. James Naugler

    Had i been aware of this poll, i would have had to give my top vote to “Red Light” by Siouxsie, or “Totally Wired” by The Fall.

  30. Just to clarify… it did NOT matter what order you actually listed the songs, correct? There was no weighting where songs listed first had more weight than songs listed 10th, right? I just assumed it was raw number of votes for a particular song, but maybe I was wrong.

  31. I know it made the list but the Clash’s “The Magnificent Seven” was not released as a single until April 1981 so is it the year the album is released or the single itself? This also goes for the Jam’s “That’s Entertainment” as a single, it was released January ’81 but Sound Affects was released in 1980. Not nitpicking, just curious. Looking forward to ’81.

  32. The Waitresses song at #70 is on this list two years too early! Wasn’t released until ’82.

    • “I Know What Boys Like” is a song written by guitarist Chris Butler in 1978 when he was still a member of the rock band, Tin Huey.[1]
      It had been recorded by Butler and released as a single in 1980, but beyond some club success, it did not have an impact on any charts.

  33. When are the results of the 1981 poll out?

  34. While I’m fine with non-alternative songs like “Refugee” on the list, in this case, the album (Damn the Torpedoes) came out in 1979 (though the single was released in 80) so I don’t think it should be on this list.

    Making room for one more?

  35. Shocked Sister of Europe from The Psychedelic Furs never made the list- it’s one of their top 5 best songs!

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