Seeing as today's date is February 2nd, let's take some of the 1980s' most prolific artists and give you two songs from each. Plus, it's Groundhog Day, so repetition is encouraged. I've even included a special bonus track to round out the night... (Listen on Spotify by searching Playlists for this title!)
  1. U2, "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
    Here's a good place to start, taking a song written about conflicts in Northern Ireland throughout the 20th century and appropriating it for the big game coming up this weekend. Tom Brady might play forever, but he'll never forget his first Super Bowl, with these guys as the post-9/11 halftime show. (Did you know, unless you have a specific sponsorship deal with the NFL, you can't use the phrase "Super Bowl" in advertising? Did you care? Do you care now?)
  2. U2, "Where The Streets Have No Name"
    My wife Kristen and I have discussed "Where The Streets Have No Name" many a time over the years, mostly related to its lengthy intro before the entry of Bono's first vocal line. All told, the album version drones on for a minute and 45 seconds before any lyrics are sung. But it's a great start to The Joshua Tree, and its single release facilitated one of the greatest B-sides of all time by any band: "The Sweetest Thing."
  3. John Cougar Mellencamp, "Authority Song"
    Taking more than a generous portion from Sonny Curtis' "I Fought The Law," "Authority Song" was the least successful single, at least by sales, from the Coug's 1983 Uh-Huh album, the first on which John used his given last name. (He'd keep the "Cougar" moniker through the end of the decade.) But it remains a classic rock radio staple, and itself inspired another timeless track, "The Authority Song" by Jimmy Eat World.
  4. John Cougar, "This Time"
    Off one of my favorite-titled albums of the '80s, Nothin' Matters and What If It Did, the swaggering, shuffling This Time has some clever turns of phrase and a singalong, barroom chorus. It's somewhat faded into history, obscured by the biggest hit off that release, "Ain't Even Done With The Night," which of course we've discussed previously.
  5. Bryan Adams, "This Time"
    Alright, I had to do this. Not only is this a show of back-to-back artists, but I was able to squeeze in back-to-back, identical song titles? Had to do it. Much like "Authority Song," "This Time" was the least impactful single from the Cuts Like a Knife album, but it -- along with the title track and the ballad "Straight From The Heart" -- laid the foundation for what followed: Reckless, which yielded about 73 hit singles and is one of the landmark albums of the decade.
  6. Bryan Adams, "One Night Love Affair"
    This straight-ahead rocker was, indeed, one of those many hit singles from Reckless, and also opens the album. Between about 1983 and 1986, not many people were putting out better music than Bryan Adams, and this period has directly influenced much of the recent work of similarly-named alt-rock god Ryan Adams (an EP called 1984, a self-titled full-length, his full-album cover of Taylor Swift's 1989, and an upcoming release).
  7. Billy Joel, "We Didn't Start The Fire"
    I usually have a pretty strong distaste for this song, simply out of hearing it incessantly over the years (we were pretty big Billy Joel fans in my house growing up), but it just feels appropriate given the rapidly changing world we're in at the moment. I don't think any of that will spur Billy out of songwriting retirement -- the last new material he released came out in December 2007 -- but it sure would be interesting to hear a new version of "Fire" for today's times.
  8. Billy Joel, "The Night Is Still Young"
    There's been an interesting trend in pop music over the years, much of it tied to record company obligations: that of artists recording new, never-before-released songs for greatest hits albums. Coming off a commercial and artistic peak in 1985, Joel was no different, writing "You're Only Human" and "The Night Is Still Young" for his massive Greatest Hits Volumes I & II. Both made the Top 40 in their own right, and Billy can still sing the lower octave of this one, making it a concert staple.
  9. Duran Duran, "Save A Prayer"
    DD was never really known as a "ballads" band, though their out-of-nowhere 1993 comeback was fueled by two terrific ones, "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone." Arriving at the outset of their most successful period a decade earlier, "Save A Prayer," off Rio, bucked that trend. It slowed the tempo and showed off a deeper dimension to the group's songwriting, and to Simon Le Bon's passionate vocals.
  10. Duran Duran, "Notorious"
    The group's original lineup having dissolved following Seven and the Ragged Tiger (splintering into two groups -- Arcadia and The Power Station), Duran Duran resurfaced in 1986 with Le Bon on vocals, John Taylor on bass and Nick Rhodes on keyboards. Ex-Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo was brought in and Steve Ferrone played drums on the resulting album, featuring the memorably funky title track as its lead single. (And it provided a certain '90s rapper with an all-too-obvious sample.)
  11. R.E.M., "Stand"
    An anthem for the directionally challenged, making it sound somewhat dated in today's GPS-dominated society, "Stand" was the major hit from R.E.M.'s first major label release, 1988's Green, on Warner Bros. It's atypical for the band in a lot of ways, not the least of which are the abrupt key change and climactic rhythmic build to the end of the song, and not until "Shiny Happy People" would they write anything else like it.
  12. R.E.M., "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
    By contrast, "End Of The World" still holds meaning these days, and has become not only a rallying cry, but one of the all-time great "challenge" songs at karaoke, along with stuff like "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies. It is hard, really hard, to believe this'll be the year this song turns 30, the last vestige of R.E.M.'s indie days, though at the time of its release it was overshadowed on the charts by the boys' first true "hit" single, "The One I Love."
  13. Madonna, "Into The Groove"
    "And you can dance...for inspiration." Those six words kicked off one of the more sidewinding entries in Madonna's discography. Off the Desperately Seeking Susan soundtrack (a movie in which Madge memorably co-starred), it was never actually released as a single in the U.S. But as the B-side of the massive hit "Angel," from her concurrently-on-the-charts Like a Virgin LP, it got plenty of radio airplay -- as it still does -- and an exorbitant amount of spins in the clubs. You can dance, indeed.
  14. Madonna, "Open Your Heart"
    This woman has had more hits than it seems possible to count, and of all of them here is, pretty easily, my favorite. From the drop of the needle, Jonathan Moffett's drums propel this well-deserved #1, soon joined by a synthy bell-tone lead worthy of a Springsteen glockenspiel. It's one of Madonna's most rock-oriented singles, or at least it was up through 1986, and showed a maturity in its arrangement and delivery that would carry through the rest of the decade.
  15. Bruce Springsteen, "Tunnel Of Love"
    While the songs on Born in the U.S.A. were '80s-level glossy but still maintained a rocking, rootsy feel, the Tunnel of Love album received the full sheen. Ironically, "Tunnel Of Love" the song was most notable in that regard, even given its boardwalk amusement park atmosphere that linked it back to Bruce's Jersey Shore origins. And even with its broad synthesizers and jagged, busy drums, it was another huge single from Springsteen's most commercially viable era.
  16. Bruce Springsteen, "Glory Days"
    Here's an example of everything working in tandem. No wonder the song that starts with a line about a "big baseball player" features Danny Federici's ballpark-y organ so prominently. The stops and starts happen at just the right places, the "fake" fade-out is a unique touch, and little harmonies here and dots of mandolin there all add up to a song that's still popular in concert -- including the '09 Super Bowl halftime program.
  17. Huey Lewis & the News, "Do You Believe In Love"
    I have always thought that this was one of those great pop songs that seems like it never wants to end -- and it's so ear-catching that you don't want it to, either. Huey's first Top 10 -- of bunches that he'd start scoring soon after it -- it's one of his very best. When the song gets to the sax solo and bridge, you realize there's still a couple more choruses to go and a fantastic, background vocal-driven fade that would set the stage for...
  18. Huey Lewis & the News, "If This Is It"
    From the hugely successful Sports album, "If This Is It" combined '80s sensibilities (a minor-key, guitar-solo-dominated bridge) with the '50s nostalgia of a doo-wop shuffle. It's a formula the group would revisit a few years later with "Stuck With You," not to mention their '90s a cappella cover of the Impressions' "It's All Right." And the video for this was an obvious instant classic.
  19. Michael Jackson, "The Way You Make Me Feel"
    Another Super Bowl halftime vet of years past, this one by MJ almost made last week's list (as I think I mentioned) for its rolling bass line. Jackson admitted that he copped the drum pattern from Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World," much like he'd told Daryl Hall years earlier that his "Billie Jean" bass line was lifted from "I Can't Go For That." Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...
  20. Michael Jackson, "Human Nature"
    Just about the only Michael Jackson song I think I could sing at karaoke -- it's slow enough and low enough. I've often remarked that Thriller is essentially a Toto album, and that's true here: Steve Porcaro co-wrote it, and he, David Paich, Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro play on the track. This was one of the songs the King of Pop was to have had in his setlists on the This Is It tour he was rehearsing for when he died in 2009.
  21. Pat Benatar, "We Belong"
    Pat has not necessarily been known for her ballads over the years, so she made sure that when she released this one in 1984, it was a surefire winner. One of my favorites by her...but especially in a long-ago rendition at a high school talent show. The woman who sang this that night shall remain unnamed...but she knows who she is!
  22. Pat Benatar, "Invincible"
    Benatar has had one of the more consistent ensembles in rock music; her husband, Neil Giraldo, has been her guitarist and primary songwriting collaborator for close to four decades. Here, it's longtime drummer Myron Grombacher with a bit of a showcase -- his flashy work highlights this 1985 track that returned Pat to upbeat, edgy pop-rock after the ballad success of "We Belong."
  23. Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, "Separate Lives"
    This was to have been the starmaking vehicle for Marilyn Martin, a then-unknown paired with peak Phil for what became a worldwide #1 hit from the movie White Nights (as did Lionel Richie's contribution, "Say You, Say Me"). But despite subsequent efforts to launch Martin's career, she never quite caught on. So the female voice on here might as well have been Jennifer Warnes, no?
  24. Genesis, "Illegal Alien"
    Maybe hitting a little too close to home considering what has gone on in the U.S. for the past week, but as I give you two Collins songs to end the night, here is the bonus track I mentioned up top, a Genesis album cut sandwiched in. It's from their self-titled 1983 LP and in and of itself, it's a bit goofy -- in contrast to the album's big hit, "That's All," and similarly somber rock radio standbys "Mama," "Taking It All Too Hard," and "Just A Job To Do."
  25. Phil Collins, "Take Me Home"
    A mini-Genesis reunion takes place on "Take Me Home," with Peter Gabriel chiming in with backing vocals, though Phil had continued to contribute drums to Gabriel's solo work through the early '80s. On the Grammy-winning No Jacket Required, it closes the vinyl version, though it's undercut on the CD release by one of Collins' undoubtedly greatest B-sides, "We Said Hello, Goodbye (Don't Look Back)." If I do say so myself, a good way to close down this list.