As the new year draws closer, we’ve decided to take a look the music that’s gotten us to where we are today. So in an effort to broaden our musical horizons and our understanding of contemporary artists, we’re counting down 2012 by counting up from 1952, taking a look at a handful of songs from a different year every day until January 1st. You can find the full list here. Today we’re heading back to 1985!
Various Artists – “We Are the World”
Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and starring far too many celebrities to name (hi Wikipedia, luv u), this anthem managed to raise over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the US – mostly from merchandise like books, posters, videos, and t-shirts – and still holds up as an ambitious but extremely well-executed idea. Between the incredibly catchy song and the novelty of seeing a stage full of pop and rock stars jammin’ like one big happy gang of buds, I can see why people were shelling out for this.
Aha – “Take On Me”
A quintessential eighties song with a quintessential eighties video, Aha’s trademark hit has inspired infinite covers: New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman recorded a surprisingly excellent version for the Starbucks-sponsored compilation Sweetheart: Our Favorite Artists Sing Their Favorite Love Songs; this guy plays it with hand fart sounds, for some reason; and here it is Maro Paint Composer-style.
Whitney Houston – “How Will I Know” live on Peters Popshow
Here’s Whitney Houston at just 22 years-old, staying true to her legacy of being a both a phenomenal vocalist and a magnetic stage presence. She’s a total babe too.
Velvet Underground – “Stephanie Says”
1985 saw the release of VU, a collection of ‘lost’ Velvet Underground songs that includes this 1968 recording. Lou Reed had released “Caroline Says II,” a different and wayyy darker version of this song, on his 1973 album Berlin, but this version is far less depressing.
Huey Lewis & The News – “The Power of Love”
Back To The Future has aged surprisingly well, but this half-movie-promo-half-music-video is pretty obnoxious. It takes over two minutes before the song actually starts, at which point the plot line of the Delorean getting stolen gets tossed out the window, and we’re left watching stupid Huey Lewis be all handsome for four minutes. Still, BTTF is good enough that this song rules purely by association.