Songs from 1985

From 1983 and Toto to 1985 and this, from Dire Straits. (No, I’m not trying to pretend that 1984 never happened; we’ve all sung along to the most frivolous Wham! songs and felt ashamed afterwards. Get over it.)

This song, ‘Money for Nothing’ from Brothers in Arms – top of the UK album chart on this day in 1985 and the first album to sell a million copies on the somewhat new Compact Disc format – topped the US singles chart for three weeks, yet only made it as far as No. 4 in the UK. It won the year’s Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with a Vocal. The video is a classic.

1985 was, of course, the year of Live Aid and the charity singles it spawned in the wake of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ (‘We Are the World’ and the David Bowie and Mick Jagger cover of Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘Dancing in the Street’). David, as you all know, who had been working with Bryan Ferry on his Boys and Girls album, as well as on the Legend soundtrack (at least, in the US, on the song ‘Is Your Love Strong Enough?’), would accompany him at the famed global event.

Two Eagles saw their best-known solo songs chart in 1985: Don Henley with ‘The Boys of Summer’, Glenn Frey with ‘The Heat Is On’. Katrina and the Waves gave us arguably the ultimate feel-good tune in ‘Walking on Sunshine’, whilst Foreigner’s contribution to the twelve months under scrutiny is perhaps the best power ballad of all-time. Or was that Mr Mister? (Could be a discussion for another time…?)

A few of my favourites from 1985, anyway, before I stand by to receive yours:

– The Alarm, ‘Deeside’
– The Dream Academy, ‘Life in a Northern Town’
– Simple Minds, ‘Alive and Kicking’
– The Smiths, ‘How Soon Is Now?’
– Tears for Fears, ‘Everybody Wants To Rule the World’


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  2. Rick

    Great list!

    I did not know two of them, but they are great songs too.

    Big hug of a big Brazilian fan!

  3. Paul

    Although I’m not very familiar with much music from this year, I will say Meat Is Murder is one of the best albums of that year. I think it’s beautiful that ‘How Soon Is Now?’ was noted as a favourite from 1985 (as well as appropriate).

  4. KenF

    Ahhh, 1985, another seminal year for me. My daughter Sarah, was born 5 days before my own 30th birthday.

    Musically ’85 was somewhat transitional, IMO. There was plenty chintz around, but there were also numerous releases which made it to the fore, as already mentioned.

    ‘The Power Of Love’ was a popular title in this year, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Jennifer Rush & Huey Lewis & The News all had hits under this banner.
    Other notable nuggets include:

    ‘Cry’ – Godley & Creme, Groundbreaking Morphing at the time…
    ‘Into The Groove’ – Madonna
    ‘Kayleigh’ – Marillion
    ‘Move Closer’ – Phyllis Nelson
    ’19’ – Paul Hardcastle
    ‘One More Night’ – Phil Collins
    ‘One Vision’ – Queen
    ‘Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush
    ‘Shout’ – Tears For Fears
    ‘Slave To Love’ – Bryan Ferry
    ‘Some Like It Hot’ – Power Station
    ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ – John Parr
    ‘Summer Of ’69’ – Bryan Adams
    ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’ – Aha
    ‘West End Girls’ – Pet Shop Boys
    ‘You Spin Me Round(Like a record)’ – Dead or Alive
    ‘Your’e The Voice’ – John Farnham

    All in all, not a bad year, musically, by 80s standards.

  5. NewYorkDan

    Sting’s album “Dream of the Blue Turtles” was hot that year, and Nick Mason’s album with Rick Fenn (“Profiles”) was out. Talking Heads had an album, “Little Creatures,” that one critic called an unabashed pop album. R.E.M. had an album, “Fables of the Reconstruction,” that I consider an overall weak album but it had some of their best stuff, up to that time.

    10,000 Maniacs were a hot band at the time, don’t know if they had a current release. In fact, I saw them in 1987 opening for R.E.M. in a show at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

    Natalie Merchant seemed to be uncomfortable in her own skin, did weird movements with her arms and had no stage presence.

    Incidentally, I have always thought that a great tour would be Talking Heads with Simple Minds.

    • NewYorkDan

      I nearly forgot about the horrible Yes album “Big Generator.” A big mess from some musicians who should have known better.

    • Alessandra


      speaking about R.E.M., I just found this website.

      It seems it’s Michael Stipe explaining the meaning of his lyrics. At page #5 you can find information about “Hope”. :)

    • NewYorkDan

      Thanks, Alessandra, for the link to Michael Stipe describing his work. It was great to read. Hope is especially illuminating!

  6. snow

    It may have been the first (one of the first?) albums to be recorded in a DDD format, but I only have it on vinyl. I didn’t realize that it had something in common with the Division Bell (some songs were edited so it would fit on a single LP and that it was also released on a double LP without editing)

    1985 was also the year one of the best bands of all time were facing some challenges, which they would overcome.

    Some of the songs that I was listening to back in 1985:

    Slave To Love / Bryan Ferry
    Don’t Stop The Dance / Bryan Ferry
    Listen Like Thieves / INXS
    Out Of Mind Out Of Sight / The Models
    Addicted To Love / Robert Palmer
    Don’t Come Around Here No More / Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
    Some Like It Hot / The Power Station
    Russians / Sting
    And She Was / Talking Heads
    Shout / Tears for Fears
    Easy Lover / Philip Bailey & Phil Collins
    The Boys Of Summer / Don Henley
    Private Dancer / Tina Turner
    Smooth Operator / Sade
    Would I Lie To You? / Eurhythmics
    Brothers in Arms / Dire Straits
    Progress / Midnight Oil
    Can’t wait to so you / Eurogliders
    Idiot grin / Do-Re-Mi
    Sounds of then / Ganggajang


  7. Andrew

    Wow (or should I say Wham!), just looked over a list of Billboard’s Top 100 songs for 1985. Gosh, so much bubble gum pop music. But here a few I enjoyed although not all were on that Billboard list:

    California Girls – David Lee Roth cover of the Beach Boys classic. What a fun video too.
    If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free – Sting
    Just Another Night – Mick Jagger
    Weird Science – Oingo Boingo (only cause it is a neat name for a band and it was a fun movie)
    Slave to Love – Bryan Ferry

    Some of the bands that formed in 1985 includes, Guns N Roses and Racer X. Racer X was the precursor to Mr. Big and Mr. Big was actually a decent band that was more popular in Japan than here in the states.



    • FEd

      Lots and lots and lots of bubblegum pop.

      I have to say, this was one of the toughest yet in our ‘Songs from…’ series of posts. The good tunes stick out like a sore thumb, don’t they? It’s almost as if they’re reaching out to you, crying out to be pulled clear from a sea of artificial, synthesised, pointless dross.

    • John nff

      You know what?

      Songs with sweet sounding melodies/hooks (bubblegum pop) are very difficult to create. Any serious musician can randomly throw a bunch of notes/lyrics together along with some instrument(s) shredding thrown in and call it progressive, alternative, indie, etc and hey, hell, aren’t we great… but try writing a simple pleasant melody that will become an instant commercial sensation. Bet you can’t…

      Sugar Sugar… long live The Archies.

    • NewYorkDan

      I remember from that time, that Oingo Boingo got its name from a Japanese tool used to remove hub caps from car wheels.

  8. Alessandra

    Apart from “Money For Nothing”, some of my favourites are:

    Marillion – Kayleigh
    Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
    Eurythmics -Would I Lie To You?
    The Pogues – Sally MacLennane
    R.E.M. – Driver 8
    The Cult – Rain
    Talking Heads – And She Was

    • lorraine

      What the Birthday Girl said, plus:

      Waterboys – ‘The Whole of The Moon’
      Pet Shop Boys – ‘West End Girls’
      Bryan Ferry – ‘Slave To Love’
      Fergal Sharkey – ‘A Good Heart’
      Dionne Warwick – ‘That’s What Friends Are For’
      ZZ Top – ‘Legs’

      Kate Bush wins 1985 by a country mile.

  9. Hydrea

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Alessandra!!

    So, now you are an “old lady”… :))

    Bye, Hydrea

    • FEd

      Have a great birthday, Alessandra. If you can make it to the chatroom today, there will be a cyber-cake with cyber-candles for you to blow out. :)

    • Alessandra

      Thank you very much, Hydrea and FEd. :)

      Of course, I’ll find the time to join the chat today.

    • Alessandra

      :)) Great video, Michèle! Thank you very much.

      You Italian was just perfect. :)

  10. ash

    I always felt that I’d missed the eighties because my children were born during those years, we had only one salary, kids clothes and shoes in particular are expensive so we weren’t buying many albums. Besides that though, I never seemed to have the time for anything other than home and children!

    I thought I wouldn’t remember any songs from the eighties never mind one year but I drew up a list of 32! I’ve whittled it down a bit. 😀

    I had eight of yours on my list Fed so will go for something different.

    Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads.
    Sisters are Doin’ It for Themselves by Aretha Franklin and the Eurythmics.
    Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer.
    Jealous Guy by John Lennon.
    Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News.
    Raspberry Beret by Prince and the Revolution.


    • ash

      Gotta add another:

      Walls Come Tumbling Down by Style Council.

      ash (just can’t leave Weller out)

    • FEd

      Prince is another I ought to listen to, along with Bruce Springsteen, because I’ve never quite understood his appeal, save for the odd track.

    • John nff

      ash… I hear you. My 3 children were born between 1983 and 1987. Most of what I can remember from those times are juggling schedules to find time for kids lessons for swimming, dance, gymnastics, baseball, hockey, soccer, birthday parties etc.

      Going through my collection I found only 2 albums from 1985: Chronicles Of The Black Sword by Hawkwind and oddly enough, Fine Young Cannibals. My then wife must have bought that one.

      And FEd… I’m with you about Prince but surprised that you don’t listen to Bruce Springsteen in that he’s in some ways of the same ilk and probably heavily inspired by Bob Dylan in that his music is very lyrics driven. May I suggest to you to listen to Born To Run from start to finish in one sitting with volume set on stun. A true classic album in every sense.

    • John nff

      And thank you. I just picked on your The Dream Academy recommendations and listened to the 2 albums that you mentioned… and I like it. I like it a lot!

  11. caz

    Favourite would be Out in the Fields – Phil Lynott and Gary Moore, though I did love Alive and Kicking and Everybody Wants to Rule the World. I have to admit I remember where I lived when I heard these songs but not so sure of the year- it may have taken longer to reach NZ!

    Do you remember the first song you heard on CD? Mine was Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits and it blew me away.

  12. Michèle

    Among my favourites from 1985:

    – Kate Bush, ‘Running Up That Hill’ – ‘Hounds Of Love’
    – Dire Straits, ‘Brothers In Arms’
    – ZZ Top, ‘Rough Boy’ (Masterpiece guitar, IMHO)
    – Supertramp, ‘Brother Where You Bound’ (Of course. 😉 )
    – Arcadia, ‘Election Day’ (also featuring David – on Stratocaster, I think…???)
    – The Cure, ‘In Between Days’ – ‘Close To Me’

    – David Bowie and Mick Jagger, ‘Dancing In The Street’ – They rock! I do love this video, especially Mick’s yellow shoes. :))

    – Renaud, ‘Miss Maggie’ – Hope some of you will understand the lyrics, about women in general and Mrs Thatcher in particular. They are worth it, the lyrics. 😉

    – Renaud, ‘Mistral Gagnant’

    And I also like a lot the album ‘Birdy’ by Peter Gabriel, soundtrack for Alan Parker’s movie of the same name.

    • ash

      Thanks for the Dancing in the Street link Michèle.

      Didn’t realise I needed a fix till it started playing. 😀


  13. Hydrea

    Oh, I love the 80s! It always on my mind. In particular, I think 1985 it was interesting year about music.

    So, these are some of my favourites songs:

    “The Boys of Summer” – A very romantic song, I love it!
    “Money for Nothing” – A milestone of Rock.
    “Is Your Love Strong Enough”? – Amazing solo guitar by David!


    “The Promise You Made” by Cock Robin
    “Hunting High and Low” by A-ha
    “Head over Heels” by Tears for Fears
    “Would I Lie To You”? by Eurythmics
    “Kayleigh” by Marillion
    “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush

    Thanks FEd, you make fun through these topics. :)

    Bye, Hydrea

  14. Taki

    Hi FEd and all,

    I’m sorry for being quiet the last weeks, but it’s summer time, a lot of my colleagues take their annual vacation, and someone has to keep things running… Anyway another week to go then my family and I are off to an island in Greece. 😀

    Because of some business trips, this will be probably my last post until mid September, when I’m back, as long as I can withstand getting on-line abroad.

    I wish all of you a couple of nice weeks, either at work or on vacations!!

    As to my list, it’s small, too small. Smaller than I expected:

    Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
    Talking Heads – And She Was
    Iron Maiden – Live After Death

    Best regards


  15. rob

    Hmm, since I was 2 in 1985 I don’t have much of an experience to draw on.

    I would echo FEd’s choice from Tears for Fears as an epic song, and if I were to add any others:

    The Cure – Inbetween Days, and Close To Me, which I believe was the theme to a much underrated sitcom ‘The Smoking Room’.

    Probably missing some other belters, but bring on 1987 – Signs of Life!

  16. Sharon Woods

    Thanks for Dancing in the Street, Michèle! 😀 Jagger and Bowie hopping around like bunny rabbits, what fun!

    I recorded it when Live Aid aired live in 1985 (and of course David Gilmour, performing w/ Bryan Ferry!). I’d forgotten about it and hadn’t seen it since I wore that VHS tape out!

    That post sparked a lot of fond summer vacation memories!

  17. Andrew

    It was a pleasure catching up with everyone in the chat. I don’t get that opportunity often so it is a real treat when it does happen.



    • Alessandra

      I completely agree with Andrew and I just would like to add that it’s been a special pleasure, for me, to receive all your wishes and beautiful words yesterday.

      Thank you, FEd and everyone. :)

    • Hydrea

      I know, you are very special, Alessandra.

      I hope you enjoyed your birthday!! :)

      Have a nice week end to you FEd and everyone.

      Bye, Hydrea

  18. Michèle

    Off topic? Maybe not, since we are talking about interesting things released in 1985… 😉

    Just found this interview with David, from Guitar Classics in January 1985.

    I thought this might be of interest to some.

  19. Bruce

    Happy Birthday Alessandra! Sorry, I’m so late saying that.

    I listened to quite a bit of Don Henley stuff back then along with the Commodores, Prince and Pat Benatar. I was also a big Hughie Lewis and the News fan as well as with Tom Petty and Pete Townshend.

    Night Shift – Commodores
    Face the Face – Pete Townshend
    The Power of Love – Hughie Lewis
    Talk to Me – Stevie Nicks
    Money for Nothing – Dire Straits

    FEd, I really liked The Dream Academy, ‘Life in a Northern Town’ and listened to it back then. There are some good tunes listed in the blogs above and they bring back some good memories. 😀

    • FEd

      FEd, I really liked The Dream Academy, ‘Life in a Northern Town’ and listened to it back then.

      Glad to hear it, Bruce. Their 1991 album, A Different Kind of Weather is my favourite of theirs, but their 1985 debut has plenty of nice tracks on it. Aside from the obvious title-track, ‘Bound to Be’ is the one that stands out for me. I love the bass-playing on that one. ‘New Light’ is another that I particularly like.

      Can you recommend something by Prince for me to listen to?

    • Alessandra

      Thanks Bruce. :)


      I’m sorry you had to post all these “thanks” comments separately. I should have sent one collective message only, but I didn’t imagine to receive all those birthday wishes when I wrote the first answer.

      As I told replying to Andrew’s message, all your wishes and words made me really happy.

      I’m rarely in a good mood recently, because, even though I even stopped talking about it, another year has passed and I still can’t find a job and go on with my own life.

      At the moment, the only good news is that, after some months completely spent writing my Thesis, I’m finally (very late, for some reasons) finishing my University and I should graduate in a few months.

      Looking at the present situation, I doubt it will make a positive difference, but it’s a plan that comes to its end, anyway.

      I still hope that something will change, but I’m afraid it won’t happen as soon as I’d need.

      So, I’d like to say that, living in these hard times, it’s just great to have the chance to write/read the Blog or join the Chat and leave all the bad thoughts behind for a time.

      Thank you for reading.

  20. NewYorkDan

    I can’t believe I missed Alessandra’s birthday. Happy birthday, Alessandra.

    • Alessandra

      Thank you very much, Dan. 😀

      I’m happy you liked the Michael Stipe lyrics website.

    • KenF

      I can’t believe I missed Alessandra’s birthday. Happy birthday, Alessandra.

      Shame on me, I missed it too.

      Belated Best Wishes to you Alessandra.

      I trust you had a wonderful day and enjoyed your ‘Virtual Cake’ from FEd.

  21. Laura

    Another forum just announced that David is producing and has augmented music on a new release called An Introduction to Syd Barrett, to be released in early October.

    A suggested pre-order site was given that posted a great price in pounds with no fee for delivery. I just checked Amazon and that same release is almost 30 dollars, plus delivery.

    Ouch! We Yanks are really getting taken.

    Any thoughts or suggestions FEd?

    Cheers, Lola

  22. Josh

    Well I’d like to think the greatest thing that came out of 1985 was me (if only in my own head), considering it was the year of my birth. Although it is off topic, what I really want to mention is that, we’ve all had previous discussion on what famous songs it might be nice for David to cover.

    Well that is all well and good, but I must point out two songs that have stricken me as songs that I think David would WANT to cover and they are:

    Neil Young, “Cortez the Killer”
    and Richard and Linda Thompson, “Calvary Cross” (in the tradition of the live version)

    When I listen to these songs I sit in silent wonder, and I could only imagine how sublime they would be if David took a turn at them.

    Don’t know what I’m talking about? Look these songs up and I’d be willing to bet that you’ll see what I mean.

  23. garrettk

    The Henley and Dire Straits albums are standouts from that year.

    The other notable song for me that year was the Rod Stewart/Jeff Beck version of “People Get Ready”.

  24. Dan Ogden

    There’s no doubt that the beginning of ‘Money for Nothing’ sounds like it could easily be “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part 1(A)”, and I always used to say that Tears for Fears was the love child of Duran Duran and Pink Floyd. Brought a smile to me to see them included on your list.