1981! Darkness! Choosing Our Top-12 Songs From This Wild Year

Welcome to 1981. It’s a year that marks some big changes in the music and pop culture landscape. For one, everything sounds so crystal clear and digital this year. Plus, “Ladies and gentlemen … rock ‘n’ roll.” MTV debuts and completely shifts everything, from how we look at music to what songs actually chart.

Tim and Chris talk about 1981 and pick their top-12 songs from the year that was. 

After listening to Tim and Chris, VOTE for the greatest songs of all time! Songs from 1981, plus tunes from 1980, ’79, ’78, ’77 and ’76 are up for a shot to make the Hall of Songs! Vote now at hallofsongs.com and come back on May 6, 2022, to find out which song or songs get in!

Our 1981 nominees (spoilers below; highlight to reveal):

  • “Tom Sawyer” as performed by Rush
    • Written by Rush and Pye Dubois; recorded October 1980; released February 1981
  • “Bette Davis Eyes” as performed by Kim Carnes
    • Written by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon; recorded December 1980; released March 1981
  • “Dancing With Myself” as performed by Billy Idol
    • Written by Billy Idol and Tony James; recorded 1980; released March 1981
  • “Super Freak” as performed by Rick James
    • Written by Rick James and Alonzo Miller; recorded December 1980; released April 1981
  • “Computer Love” as performed by Kraftwerk
    • Written by Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider; recorded 1979-80; released May 1981
  • “Pull Up to the Bumper” as performed by Grace Jones
    • Written by Kookoo Baya, Grace Jones and Dana Mano; recorded 1980; released May 1981
  • “We Got the Beat” as performed by The Go-Go’s
    • Written by Charlotte Caffey; recorded late 1980; released July 1981
  • “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” as performed by Daryl Hall and John Oates
    • Written by Sara Allen, Daryl Hall and John Oates; recorded March 1981; released September 1981
  • “Controversy” as performed by Prince
    • Written by Prince; recorded August 1981; released October 1981
  • “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” as performed by The Police
    • Written by Sting; recorded June 1981; released October 1981
  • “Don’t You Want Me” as performed by The Human League
    • Written by Jo Callis, Philip Oakey and Philip Adrian Wright; recorded summer 1981; released October 1981
  • “Under Pressure” as performed by Queen and David Bowie
    • Written by Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, John Deacon and Brian May; recorded July 1981; released October 1981

Listen to the full episode for more, and then vote for the songs that you think are the greatest of all-time. Scroll down to vote. Then, come back on May 6, 2022 to find out the voting results, and May 8, 2022 for our discussion on 1982.

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