All best-music lists are subjective and open to nerdy nitpicking, including Pitchfork’s recently posted 200 Best Songs of the ’80s rundown, which has been stirring up the social mediasphere lately. The site’s staffers and contributors composed a decent enough list (kudos for Liquid Liquid’s “Optimo,” My Bloody Valentine’s “You Made Me Realise,” ESG’s “Moody,” Fela Kuti’s “Coffin for Head of State,” Spacemen 3's "Walking with Jesus," and Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love”—although Zapp’s “Computer Love” should’ve been replaced by the elite funk workouts of “More Bounce to the Ounce” or “Dance Floor”). But, as you can imagine, there were some glaring omissions that cannot go unaddressed. Below I present the 10 tracks that strike me as most conspicuous by their absence. I suspect you’ll be shaking of your damn head over my list, as well. There’s just no pleasing anybody anymore.
Scritti Politti, “The ‘Sweetest Girl'” (1981). Featherlight dub of sublime sugariness and lyrical brilliance (Green Gartside is the master of the meta love song). This should’ve been in the top 10, y’all. Try to imagine the subject of this composition and how goddamned honored she must’ve been.
Meat Puppets, “Plateau” (1984). Comes at you like a bare-bones Neil Young from the Arizona desert. One of Kurt Cobain’s favorite songs, because that man had great taste. The supernova of awesome that happens at 1:45 never fails to put me on the hovercraft to Nirvana.
Just-Ice, “Going Way Back” (1987). This is a master class in maximizing minimalist elements in a rap context. Just-Ice’s authoritative flow, the grain of his voice, and his vivid history lesson keep you utterly riveted. There’s a reason he’s Autechre’s favorite rap artist.
Talk Talk, “I Believe in You” (1988). Pitchfork listed the inferior “Life's What You Make It” while ignoring Talk Talk's 1988 masterpiece, Spirit of Eden. This is Eden’s acme, possibly the most tender, shiver-inducing slice of soul music the UK’s ever produced.
Dream Syndicate, “Tell Me When It’s Over” (1982). The best tune on the greatest Velvet Underground homage ever, The Days of Wine and Roses.
George Kranz, “Din Daa Daa” (1983). Ubiquitous club smash that still gets played by smart DJs 30 years later. Those three syllables do so much heavy lifting for this expertly arranged, well-hung, and slightly crazy electro-funk chestnut.
Shoes, “Your Imagination” (1980). The zenith of power pop, straight up.
Loop, “Soundhead” (1987). The most streamlined and powerful fusion of the Stooges and the MC5 in one track.
Associates, “Message Oblique Speech” (1981). Peak material from probably the greatest Scottish band of the 20th century. David Bowie wishes he could’ve come up with something this weird and catchy.
The Fall, “New Face in Hell” (1980). Manchester rock legends at their manic-repetition zenith, trying to cover the Velvet Underground's immortal "What Goes On," but getting it gloriously, Grotesque-ly wrong.
PiL- “Flowers of Romance”
Pigbag, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag”
Pussy Galore, “Sweet Little Hi-Fi”
Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Spellbound”
Rip Rig + Panic, "Storm the Reality Asylum"
Butthole Surfers, "Cherub"
Screaming Trees, “Transfiguration”
23 Skidoo, “Coup”
Jon Hassell, "Datu Bintung At Jelong"
Meat Beat Manifesto, "God O.D."
F/i, “Electric Waltz”
Thomas Leer, “Tight as a Drum”
Rain Parade, “Depending on You”
Prefab Sprout, “Faron Young”