Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dave's Music Database Hall of Fame: Song Inductees (April 2021)

Originally posted 4/22/2021.

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the DMDB blog on January 22, 2019, Dave’s Music Database launched its own Hall of Fame. This is the ninth set of song inductees. These inductees were selected because of their iconic presence on MTV in the 1980s. These are the 11 highest-ranked ‘80s songs on the overall DMDB list that make the DMDB’s list of the “Top 100 Videos of All Time”). It does not include previously inducted songs “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson (1982) and “Every Breath You Take” by the Police (1983).

Michael Jackson “Beat It” (1982)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

The one-two punch of Jackson’s #1 songs “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” from his monstrous Thriller album sent him into the superstar stratosphere. With Eddie Van Halen on guitar, it was the most rock-oriented song Jackson had ever done. He also broke down racial barriers as one of the first black artists to get massive airplay on MTV. The iconic video was a mini-movie version of West Side Story with rival gangs facing off in a choreographed rumble. Read more.

Michael Jackson “Thriller” (1982)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

This was the seventh and final single from Jackson’s album of the same name. It became the first album in history with seven top-ten hits. Jackson tapped director John Landis, who’d done An American Werewolf in London, to direct the nearly-fourteen-minute, zombie-themed mini movie which served as the video for the song. It became what the Library of Congress called “the most famous music video of all time.” It was the first video to be inducted into the National Film Registry in 2009. Read more.

Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” (1983)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were in the British pop group the Tourists in the latter half of the ‘70s before forming the new wave duo the Eurythmics in 1981. They released one album which went nowhere and then three singles from their second album before they found success with the title cut. It reached #2 in the UK and topped the charts in the United States, giving them what is arguably their signature song. The video, with its surreal imagery, is considered a classic of the early-MTV era. Read more.

Cyndi Lauper “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (1983)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

New wave singer Robert Hazard originally wrote and recorded this song in 1979. In his hands, it came across as misogynistic, but the remake by Lauper turned it into a sing-along party anthem for women’s empowerment. It was her first single as a solo artist and went all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video, in which she got friends, family, and business assocates to serve as a volunteer cast, was a fun-filled romp that showcased her quirky look and sense of style – and played a huge role in making her a star. Read more.

Van Halen “Jump” (1983)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

In the late ‘70s, Van Halen established themselves as one of the most popular hard rock acts, thanks to Eddie Van Halen’s legendary prowess on guitar and David Lee Roth’s frontman-extrordinaire schtick. When Eddie presented the band with the synth-driven “Jump,” they initially rejected it as too much of a departure. Roth thought it would look like they were selling out for radio airplay. When producer Ted Templeman heard it, he convinced Roth to give the song lyrics and the result wasn’t just the band’s first top-10 pop hit, but a huge #1. The performance video captured the band’s charisma and playfulness and especially turned Roth into an early star of MTV. Read more.

A-ha “Take on Me” (1984)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

The pop trio A-ha first recorded “Take on Me” in 1984 and it reached #3 in their native Norway. However, after they re-recorded the song and a new video, it became an international hit. Steve Barron, who’d done Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” directed the revolutionary video which combined live action with pencil-sketch animation. It took 16 weeks to make, but got heavy rotation on MTV and won six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. The success of the video sent the song all the way to #1 on the U.S. pop charts. Read more.

Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” (1985)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

Steve Barron has a hand in three of the most important music videos ever made with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” A-ha’s “Take on Me,” and Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.” The video used innovative computer animation to bring to life the band’s song about working-class guys who lambast rock stars for garnering massive paychecks without having to work for their money. It gave the group a #1 hit in the United States. Read more.

Peter Gabriel “Sledgehammer” (1986)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

Gabriel was the lead singer for the British progressive rock band Genesis from 1967 to 1975 and then went solo. More than a decade later, he had the biggest success of his career with “Sledgehammer,” a #1 song fueled by a wildly inventive video which incorporated Claymation, stop motion, and pixilation. It eventually became MTV’s most played video of all time. Read more.

Run-D.M.C. with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler & Joe Perry “Walk This Way” (1986)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

The rock band Aerosmith had a top-10 hit with this song from their 1975 album Toys in the Attic. More than a decade later, the rap group Run-D.M.C. remade the song. It became even bigger, becoming the first rap song to hit the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100. The video humorously presented Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry as Run-D.M.C’s neighbors trying to out-blast each other before they unite on stage to perform together. Read more.

Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (1987)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

The 1980s saw the rise of hair bands, which were pop-metal groups with decadent images outfitted in tight leather pants and – of course – the massive ozone-destroying, hairsprayed-to-the-extreme poofed-up hair. Guns N’ Roses managed to simultaneously check all the boxes while simultaneously giving the genre a grittier vibe. However, it was “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” a sentimental love ballad, which gave the group a #1 hit and made the band an inescapable presence on MTV. Read more.

Madonna “Like a Prayer” (1989)

Inducted April 2021 as “MTV in the ‘80s”

Madonna became a massive star and the Queen of MTV because of her ability to craft catchy pop songs and ooze charisma while always finding new ways to generate press with one controversy or another. The gospel-flavored “Like a Prayer” raised eyebrows with its mix of sex and religion, especially through its video fueled by images of burning crosses and Madonna kissing a black saint. In 2005, it was voted the most groundbreaking music video of all time. Read more.

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