I hail from Generation X while my fifteen-year-old daughter is a member of Generation Y. Yet while our generations are alphabetically close, there is a vast chasm between us musically. She’s grown up in the American Idol-era of Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daugherty, and Carrie Underwood. To her, N’Sync is “old school” which makes the music of my high school years seem positively pre-historic.
Perhaps because of a lack of exposure, she isn’t able to grasp the strange and subtle beauty of ’80s music. So in order to refine her musical sensibilities, I’ll need open her ears. Which raises a question that I will put to the collective wisdom of the blogosphere:
‘What handful of essential but non-obvious albums would you recommend to a teen to persuade them that the 80’s were not a musical wasteland?’
The key element is “non-obvious.” Anything from REM, U2, The Clash, Springsteen, or the soundtracks of any John Hughes movie is automatically disqualified. Be prepared to defend your choices — especially if your selection includes any hair/metal bands.
Also, if you’re your list includes RATT, Culture Club, or Wham!, please close your browser and never, ever visit this blog again.
Here are a handful of my choices:
The Tubes Outside/Inside — ‘She’s a Beauty’ was the most played song of my junior year though ‘Wild Women of Wongo’ came a close second.
Randy Travis Storms of Life — This debut album marked both the birth of neo-traditional country and the peak of Travis’ career.
A-ha Hunting High and Low — But just the stuff that didn’t make it on the radio (e.g., ‘Sun Always Shines On T.V.’).
The Lost Boys Original Soundtrack — The coolest album of alternative music for alt-wannabes.
Kate Bush The Whole Story – The godmother of Lilith fair-type fem alt-rock.
George Strait Greatest Hits — 50+ albums later, Strait has yet to top this collection from ’86.
Luther Vandross The Best of Luther Vandross — Vandross was Johnny Mathis for Generation-X.
James Ingram It’s Your Night — This one has been in my tape deck (well, CD player now) since 1986. It never gets old.
Steve Taylor I Predict 1990 — The man who saved us from a lifetime of Amy Grant and Petra clones.
Dire Straits Brothers in Arms — Mark Knopfler isn’t a great singer (he sounds like a coherent Bob Dylan) but this album makes the cut solely because of “Your Latest Trick.”
Garth Brooks Garth Brooks — Difficult as it is to imagine now, Brooks was once a great artist. Sadly, he peaked with his debut album (indeed, peaked with his first single–Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)–his greatest song).
Crowded House Crowded House
White Heart Greatest Hits
Sade Stronger Than Pride
Duran Duran Rio
Level 42 World Machine
Squeeze Singles 45’s and Under
Add your list on your blog or in the comments and I’ll include the best entries to this post.