I (Mostly) Don't Heart The 80s


I don’t even know what the commercial on TV is advertising. I only know it has Taylor Dayne’s ‘Tell It To My Heart’ as its background music. It’s a song you can still hear on the radio.

I hate that song.

I don’t hate Taylor Dayne. Good on her for singing an enduring song. I don’t hate the people that wrote it. Good on them for still having an income stream from all the radio stations that still play the stupid song. The TV commercial also provides them royalties.

Wikipedia says the songwriters almost didn’t submit the tune for publishing, thinking it wasn’t all that good. I wish they had stuck with that plan. Thirty years later, it’s still wrecking my eardrums.

Having spent my entire career playing music on the radio, it’s always fascinated me which songs become enduring ‘classics’ and which songs disappear from airplay. 

Let’s take any song from Celine Dion. Yes, she’s a 90s artist but a good example of the point I’m trying to make. In the 90s, Celine was all that, putting 21 songs on the Billboard charts. Four of those songs went to #1. Celine reached that pinnacle of getting air time on just about anything she put out. Honestly, I think she could have belched, put it to music, and it would have been a hit.

My personal favorite was “The Power of Love” which spent 4 weeks at #1. Where is it now?

Nowhere. That’s where it is.

How about the song from Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On?” Huge hit, as was the movie. Ever hear it on the radio anymore?

Look, I’m not here to advocate for Celine Dion. Personally, I own none of her music, and I don’t miss hearing the theme from Titanic on the radio. It’s just a curiosity as to how certain songs live on while others, arguably better, do not.

Let me ask you this: is ‘Tell It To My Heart’ a better song than Wang Chung’s ‘Dance Hall Days?’ Where is that song? It’s weird, inexplicable, and perhaps creepy lyrics are way more fun than ‘Tell It To My Heart’. Plus, it’s just as danceable.

Further, ‘Dance Hall Days’ can be heard in twelve movies, including Pretty In Pink. It’s also made a few TV appearances, including Breaking Bad and The Middle. It’s almost a quintessential 80s song, but you never hear it.

Another example: Rick Astley. ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ was a huge song, a world-wide #1. Google up the top songs from 1987 and there’s a bunch of ‘em you still hear. But none of them are Rick Astley.

From my days in pop radio, I know people (women, in particular) love the 80s. Still. Not me. Aside from a couple of her tunes, I thought Madonna songs stunk. Lyrically, most were pointless, just something to sing over a dance beat.

As my radio days were winding down, my morning show partner asked me if there was anything I would not miss. My answer was swift: I will never, ever, ever in the history of the universe listen to The Human League’s, ‘Don’t You Want Me.’ I will no longer have to play it, and I will never hear it again. Like ever.

My ears are tainted because of it.

Aaack! I said, “tainted.” ‘Tainted Love’ is another song for which I cannot understand the everlasting appeal. A wretched piece of pop junk.

I still love and listen to my old station, but when that song comes on, I take a break. That’s a polite way of saying I turn off the radio, stop the car, disconnect the battery, siphon out the gas, break out the windows, slash the tires, pour the gas on the car and set it ablaze.

A fiery exorcism of sorts.

But I know the reason both songs are still on the radio is that they test well. Meaning, people still enjoy hearing them.

Music is subjective. You like what you like, and sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to why certain songs resonate. But if I’m a company executive in charge of my firm’s advertising and you bring me ‘Tell It To My Heart’ as my commercial’s background, I’m gonna Donald Trump you.

“You’re fired.”

If you suggest ‘Tainted Love,’ take cover. After I fire you, I may fire at you.

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