Song of the Decade

I was walking home from work the other evening, as usual – keeping the old carbon footprint down – when a song came on the ipod that I hadn’t heard in a while.

I listened to it, enjoyed it greatly, and then a thought occurred.

‘That pop song’, I thought, ‘is as good a song as any to represent the 1970’s for me.’


So then I got to thinking, what one pop song might represent the other decades that I've lived in? I thought about it a little bit and then I threw a song at each decade.

I gave myself a couple of rules, nothing too strenuous. I made it exclusively pop songs, because they seem to be the most ‘of-their-time’ and thus more apt in summing up a decade.

And then I… nope, that’s it with the rules actually.

I didn’t think about it too hard either. You could tied up in knots trying to be all apt and clever and stuff.

Anyway, the song I was listening to, which started the whole bus of thought (it was too small to be an actual train) was this:

1970’s - Run to Me by The Bee Gees

What a great song that is_ wait, another rule, no editorialising either. Just pick a damn song.

- Jees… ‘touchy or what?

- It’s been a rough day, okay?

- Okay?

- Yeah, okay?

- Okay, jees…

1980’s - True Faith by New Order

1990’s - Losing My Religion by REM

2000’s – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Part 1) by The Flaming Lips.

Hey, I left out the sixties. I was around for much of the sixties but I was quite young so it’s difficult… aw hell:

1960’s Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles. (I may explain why in a comment, if forced.)

A word about that 2000’s choice. My pal Reggie at Fragileheart is doing a period of ‘Pink Blogging’ to promote breast cancer Awareness (to hell with grammar, I ain’t capitalising that shit).

I though this song might be of interest to her because, although it is ostensibly about a young Japanese girl fighting robots, there is a perceived subtext that the girl in the song is actually battling cancer. It’s a great song and it’s got elements in it that couldn’t belong to any other decade methinks.

So, anyone care to play? What pop song sums up a generation for you?

Go on… I dare ya!


Susan at Stony River said...

1970s: the Walton's theme song. If it HAS to be pop music really, Dancing Queen by Abba

1980s: How Soon is Now by the Smiths. New Order is a good choice too.

1990s: I forget them. My first decade with children, so the music that brings it back best is Barney the Dinosaur (oh Lord)

Ken Armstrong said...

Hiya Susan: We'll give you 'The Waltons' so :) Only, I'm be humming the damn thing all night now. I bet you identified with John-Boy up in the sweaty attic with his typewriter.

'How Soon is Now' is a super-dooper choice, 'wish I thought of it. It used to be on an advert in the movies, no vocals, just that extraordinary reverb-guitar-thing.

I remember playing golf one day (I don't anymore) and asking "what's Barney" - boy, did I learn! I still sing 'If all the raindrops were lemon-drops and gum-drops' to my son every night when he's going asleep - and he's eight now - he just won't let me stop. I do it in a medley with 'All the tired horses' by Bob Dylan.

Now *that's* a show!! :)

Lidian said...

Here you go, totally arbitrary and done quickly (no other way for me to do this without endless dithering!)

1960s: Come Together (Beatles)

1970s: Rocket Man (Elton John)

1980s: Modern Love (David Bowie)

1990s: Wonderwall (Oasis)

Don't have one for the 2000s yet, but I'm working on it...

Anonymous said...

Well, I've had Reach Out in the Darkness by Friend and Lover has been rolling through my mind for the past couple of days.

"Reach out in the darkness and you will find a friend." Doesn't that epitomize the bloggosphere?


Cleveland Real Estate said...

*Forces the Rigby issue*

----- 80's -----

With Or Without you... U2

Living On A Prayer... Bon Bon.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun... Yes.

Pour Some Sugar On Me... So, So Def.

You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party... Beastiality.

Sweet Dreams... Love Annie.

----- 90's -----

Ice Ice Baby... Collaborate and listen!

Girl You Know It's True... Dance included.

Anonymous said...

Having been born in '81 I'm not sure I'm qualified to pick an '80s hit but I think I'll pick "That's what Friends are For".

90's: It has to be "Rhythm is a dancer"

2000s: So far, I'm going with 'Belief' By John Mayer.

Oh and thanks for the mention love, but YouTube is acting up for me again so I can't watch that video. Will have to revisit it another time :)

Alan said...

No, no editorializing, not from this one.

Things I'm grateful for today
-I've never heard that BeeGees song before:)
-Haven't heard True Faith in years and years :)...actually don't really remember it:)
-I'm glad it's probably around 4am in Ireland right now
"me runs and hides now before he wakes up"

I loved the Waltons

Hey the 80's +90's were Madonna...get into the groove!!!

Anonymous said...

"...Ah, look at all the lonely people..." That probably set off the hippy era right there! With Rocket Man right along with it.

To go with those two, I'd have to add in Guitar Man. Or Yellow Submarine.

For the 80s - Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

I switched over to country by the mid 80s, so have no other pop tunes after that.

Now I have the Walton's theme running through my head...

Jim Murdoch said...

Okay, as far as I'm concerned pretty much all the good music in the world was written prior to 1980 so the 1970s has been a problem. Basically it splits into two halves, pre- and post-punk. I'm picking the obvious one from the glam rock era. I would've picked Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll (Part II) only he's persona non grata at the moment.

70s (1st half) – Slade, Merry Xmas Everybody

As for the second half… How do you choose? All of these mark an aspect of that time. I really hadn't realised till now just how much things were in flux at that time.

70s (2nd half) –
Sex Pistols, Pretty Vacant
or Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)
or Meatloaf, Bat out of Hell
or Tubeway Army, Are 'Friends' Electric?

The rest were easy:

80s - Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Relax
90s - Bryan Adams, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
00s - Kyle Minogue, Can't Get You Out Of My Head

Carrie Berry said...

Songs I am least likely to ‘just listen to’ by decade:

1940s – I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams)

1950s – Tears on My Pillow (Little Anthony & the Imperials)

1960s – The House of the Rising Sun (Eric Burden and The Animals)

1970s – Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

1980s – Don't You Forget About Me (Simple Minds)

1990s – Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O'Connor)

2000s – Mad World (Michael Andrews/Gary Jules - 2001 cover of 1982 Tears for Fears hit)

Rachel Fox said...

Well, this is pretty impossible...what with decades being really a false kind of a timeframe and pop music being such a huge field and the fact that I often only like pop songs once they're not popular any more! But hey, I'll have a go anyway.

1960s - Carole King 'You make me feel like a natural woman' her version or Aretha's. It was out in 1967 - year I was born. It's a great song. Maybe there are songs that sum up the 60s more...but how would I know?

1970s - probably something by T Rex ('Get it On'?). I liked Chic too - 'Freak out' - but I reckon T Rex gets the whole 70s covered more somehow.

1980s - such a bad decade for music (and clothes...I can't believe some of those fashions have been rehashed of late too). I hate a lot of 80s music (so many bad drum machine sounds, so much cheesey production!) but I'll go for the Smiths here I think - 'Heaven knows I'm miserable now'. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Madonna's musical output (so crap, so catchy, so you buy the cd, so you never listen to the bloody thing)...but I suppose in all honesty her records were a big part of the pop story of this decade...'Vogue', 'Express Yourself'...take your pick.

1990s – by this time I'd stopped even knowing what was in the charts, what was pop. I was either listening to dance music (lots of unknown remixes) or, later on, quiet semi-acoustic music to help me recover from the dance music excesses. Nirvana and 'Smells like Teen Spirit'...that was just in the 90s wasn't it...but got played for years after. Maybe that? If it had to be a dance's so hard to pick one...I don't think I can. It really depends at what stage you joined the dance music thing, which clubs you were in etc.

2000s – it's not over yet. Who will it be and will I have even heard of them now I listen to even less pop than in the 90s? Probably not. Pop is so last decade...or the one before...or the one before that. And I'm too old to care now.


Anonymous said...

Whoah that Bee Gees song is deep.

The old shuffle on the iPod was working overtime to serve up that one.

i'm gonna go the opposite of the deep thinkers and go with the cool vibes:

More than a Feeling: Boston
Sweet Home Alabama: Lynyrd Skynyrd
We are the Champions: Queen
Kung Fu Fighting: Carl Douglas

The 70's was so great (musically - as I'm to young to have experienced it myself) that it would be impossible to name just one song.

Kat Mortensen said...

This was just not that easy. I could easily inter-change a number of songs in each category, but these suggest at where my life was at in those eras.


Sixties – Simon and Garfunkel – El Condor Pasa (If I could)
Seventies – Cars – Let the Good Times Roll
Eighties - Sinéad O’Connor – I Want Your Hands On Me/Jump in the River
Nineties – Waterboys – Preparing to Fly/Paul Simon - Old
Two Thousands – Third Day - Tunnel
Daniel Powter - Bad Day


Anonymous said...

Hi Lidian: 'Modern Love'! 'takes me back... :) and 'Wonderwall' is a great nineties choice.

Margaret (hi) I don't know the song but I sure second your emotion.

Cecelia: 'Ice, Ice, Baby?' Are you sure? :)

Hi Reggie! I don't know you're 2000 song but then I *am* shockingly old. Off to look it up in a vain attempt to be cool.

Alan - Are you 'making fun' of my considered choices (surely you like the Bee Gees song???) You 'mock' me and then you go and pick Madonna? You are holding a big stone but your are standing in the middle of a conservatory, my friend, a virtual conservatory... :)

Theresa! I am *so* pleased you picked 'Yellow Submarine' because it relates to why I chose 'Eleanor Rigby' both songs were released as a double A side single and it was the first record I ever got - I was supposed to love Yellow Sub 'cos I was a kid but I loved that flip-side just a little more.

Jim: Now I have to add 'eclectic' to my JM-Superlatives... damn!

Hi Carrie, 'always a genuine pleasure! Hank Williams - we have things in common, you and I... and 'Mad World' is such a good choice. 'Donnie Darko' is a fine film and I've enjoyed introducing it to my son quite recently.

Hi Rachel, I'm listening to your folk singer's myspace tracks as I type - how great they are (check Rachel's latest post everyone. Am I your Randy Newman reader? I am aren't I? I was going to just type his first name but imagine the juvenile confusion that might erupt around here. :)

Hi Music News - thanks for chipping in - 'sad thing was, that Bee Gees song wasn't on 'shuffle' :) 'More Than a Feeling'... try driving along any piece of coastline on a sunny day with that puppy on the eight track... well, it helps if there's a road.

Hi Kat: Whoa, I *really* like Paul Simon (was listening to Hearts and Bones just today) but I don't know that song - my look-up list grows...

Anonymous said...

What a great idea for a posting. . . I love the songs and the comments. For me the best music was written after woodstock and before the invention of karaoke . . . So that might leave Instant Karma, The Kinks' Lola, Gasoline Alley by Rod Stewart, Bell Bottom Blues and Beware of Darkness as my favorites from 1970ish. Maybe John Barleycorn Must Die is in there too. . .

Cleveland Real Estate said...

Uhh... Yeah.

If there was a problem yo I'll solve it...Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it...


Rachel Fox said...

Actually I was thinking of Singing Bear who posted some Randy Newman recently. I think of you more as the Tom Waits guy. But better looking...obviously!

Catherine @ Sharp Words said...

Although I don't remember the 1960s - anything by Dusty Springfield

1970s - Tiger Feet by Mud

1980s - I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston

1990s - Parklife by Blur

2000s - I don't actually have anything for this decade yet, nothing that shrieks 2000s! to me.

I think part of the problem is that I could more easily give a song for each 5 year period (what's the right term for that, a quinade?) because I listen to music of all eras much too much.

Anonymous said...

Hi Koe and thanks: I find it's fun to post about music and memories from time to time. One can know bloggers a little better from their song choices, I think. :)

Cecelia: You are *so* brave in your selection.. but I'm here standing in the Bee Gees Conservatory and I'm not about to start a stone-throwing contest with anyone. :)

Rachel: Think of me as the 'Tom Waits Guy', that'll do nicely, although I think we did discuss 'Louisana' some time ago. Tom Waits did name check one of the song choices from above - 'I still got that record by Little Anthony and the Imperials but someone stole my record player now how do you like that?"

Hi Catherine, if I was forced into a Witney song of the Eighties, I would probably go with 'Saving All My Love for You' - we all loved her in Bracknell back then. :) But good choices all!

Matthew S. Urdan said...

@Susan! Dancing Queen for the 1970s....You are so right!

OK, here we go, but I can't be limited to just one...

1. Bend Me, Shape Me--the American Breed
2. To Sir, With Love--Lulu
3. Help! The Beatles

1. Dancing Queen--ABBA
2. Go Your Own Way--Fleetwood Mac
3. You're So Vain--Carly Simon
4. Let It Be--The Beatles
5. Carry On My Wayward Son--Kansas
6. Another Brick in the Wall Part II--Pink Floyd
7. Breakdown--Alan Parsons Project

1. Into the Groove--Madonna
2. What About Love--Heart
3. The Winner Takes It All--ABBA
4. Thriller--Michael Jackson
5. Stand Back--Stevie Nicks
6. Physical--Olivia Newton-John
7. Keep on Loving You--REO Speedwagon

1. Ordinary World--Duran Duran
2. Don't Worry, Be Happy--Bobby McFerrin
3. How Do I Live--LeeAnn Rimes
4. Foolish Games--Jewel
5. Mysterious Ways--U2
6. Right Here, Right Now--Jesus Jones

1. What About Now--Daughtry
2. Peacekeeper--Fleetwood Mac
3. Mamma Mia!--ABBA
4. Breathe--Faith Hill
5. What's Left of Me--Nick Lachey
6. Hung Up--Madonna

Dave King said...

My choices:
'60s : Needles and Pins
'70s: The Wonder of You - presley
'80s: Faith - George Michael
'90s: God Shuffled His Feet - Crash Test Dummies
(I developed a lot over 4 decades!)

Ken Armstrong said...

Hey Matt! No ABBA in the Nineties? What a lean time that was. :)

Dave: 'Fat Elvis' is my favorite incarnation of the great one and 'Wonder of You' is the epitome of 'Fat Elvis' awesomeness. Better still, we can all sing it perfectly after a few Baileys... can't we? :)

tashabud said...

Hi Ken,
I'll come back later to put my two
cents in. Right now, I have to go to sleep, for I have to work tonight.

Loved reading your post. And oh, I'll let you know if my son and I will have recorded a duet.


hope said...

This is next to impossible... especially without editorializing.

Beatles "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"
[because I snuck down the hall past my bedtime to watch their American T.V. debut on the Ed Sullivan show]
Motown: too many to name

Okay, hard to stop as this was "my" era to grow up in.
Eagles "Hotel California"
Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive"
Billy Joel "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"
Marvin Gaye "Let's Get It On".

Sigh. Big hair, heavy metal and Madonna. Not a great start.
INXS "You're One of My Kind"
Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight"
Simply Red "Holding Back the Years"

Billy Joel "We Didn't Start the Fire"
Alanna Myles "Black Velvet" far, John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change"

Dave...Crash Test Dummies...I am impressed! ;)

Anonymous said...

You come back anytime Tasha, the door is always open and we'll throw the kettle on. :) Sweet Dreams.

It is hard Hope - and I have a harder one in mind for a few weeks down the road.

I see you've got the Bee Gees too - I like them a lot and rate them highly, it's just (rather perversely on my part) the 'Saturday Night Fever' stuff leaves me a little cold. And God how I hate that movie, not for the dancing and such but for the mis-firing pseudo-realism it attempts. But, apart from that gripe, your choices are definitive and great, well done!

(BTW, I know... Dave and Crash Test Dummies - who would have thought?) :)

Kimmy said...

1970s - Miss You - The Rolling Stones. I was 6 years old in 1978 when that song became a hit. I asked my mom to buy it for me. I still have the 45.

1980s - Don't Stop Believing - Journey. It is one of my life songs for the decade.

1990s - Don't Know Much - Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville. My wedding song. (in 1991)

2000s - While there is too many genre's and styles to choose from, Josh Groban stole my heart.

Anonymous said...

Definitely agree on the 90s with Losing my Religion. Don't know what I'd pick for the rest, a decade is too long a time, I have trouble choosing favorites for the year.

Great post.

Cleveland Real Estate said...

It has its own year... (To be determined)...

Anonymous said...

Ken, did you find it yet? From best to good (because there is no worst):

Live @ Webster hall in NYC:

Live on some TV show:

The album version someone made a slideshow for:

Also, for your convenience... the lyrics:

Awesome song.

Matthew S. Urdan said...


Yeah, I know...the 90s were lean...Actually, ABBA just snuck in there in the '80s. They were done by '82 and it wasn't until '93 when ABBA Gold came out that there was a beginning of a renaissance, but it really took Mamma Mia! The Musical in 1999 that brought ABBA back all the way and stronger than they ever were in the 2000s, at least in the States. The '00s were the Decade of Mamma Mia! with both ABBA Gold hitting #1 on the US Album Catalog Charts and the Mamma Mia! Soundtrack hitting #1 on the Billboard 200 charts!

Unknown said...

Nice choice of "Yoshimi." I'm not entirely certain it's gotten the huge popularity of certain other songs of the era though-- at least not here in the US, the Flaming Lips are considered more "alternative" than pop.

Ken Armstrong said...

Nice Choices Kimmy, I was in America in early 1990 when 'Don't know Much' was just coming out and I remember all that in Technicolor. Elton John became number one with 'Sacrifice' and we were driving down the coast to San Diego and beyond, sigh...

Thanks Jennifer, I feared the REM choice might be a bit obvious but it *so* evokes that time for me.

Reggie: that's some cool YouTube right there! Thanks. :)

Hi Jenn, I think it's a great song and you're probably right on the alternative tag.

Cecelia: That link 'cannot be viewed in my country' what is it, purvy or something? ;)

Jena Isle said...

There are many for me, chiquitita 70s, It's been a hard day's night, 60's, 80's fire and rain, now I can't remember the

Matthew S. Urdan said...


Chiquitita is awesome, AND another vote for ABBA!

Cleveland Real Estate said...

Doesn't matter, Kenneth...

tashabud said...

Hi Ken,
I finally made my list. It was so hard to narrow it down to just a few. I think that I'll write a post to list my favorite songs from each decade, which I have many favs.

All I Have To Do Is Dream
Mona Lisa
Too Young

Blue Moon
I Fall To Pieces
Save The Last Dance
Unchained Melody

Bohemian Rhapsody
Dancing Queen
Free Bird
Hotel California
Knowing Me, Knowing You
Late For The Sky
Mamma Mia
Pinball Wizzard
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Stairway To Heaven

Bette Davis Eyes
Burning For You
Danger Zones
I Want To Know What Love Is
Still Haven't Found What I Was Looking For
Take My Breath Away
The Flame
The Winner Takes All
We Are The World

All I Have To Give
As Long As You Love Me
I Swear
Seminole Wind
Some Gave All
Truly Madly Deeply
Un-Break My Heart

Freaky Friday
I Drove All Night
I Don't Want To
I Love You
Live Like You Were Dying
Me Neither
Only Time
Remember When
Smoke Rings In The Dark
Some Beaches
The Keeper Of The Star
Whiskey Lullabye

I know that it's quite long, but I I just can't identify a whole decade with just one song. So I hope I didn't bore you.


Matthew S. Urdan said...

Tasha! Great lists of great songs! Love the ABBA representation....Just looking at everyone's list, Ken, Dancing Queen is the only song on all the lists that appears three times or more.

ABBA Rocks, all the way!

tashabud said...

Why, thank you. I'm glad you like my picks. If I could listen to music 24/7, I would. I wish I could learn the lyrics just by listening, though, so that I could sing along rather than just humming along. In order for me to learn the lyrics of songs, I have to literally try to memorize them. My whole family can't understand why that is. But that's just how my brain works, unfortunately.

Oh, Ken, I love all the Bee Gees songs. Infact, we have their "One Night Only" concert video. If you haven't seen it or don't have it yet, I strongly recommend the video, especially that you're a big Bee Gees fan.