Purple Rain The Smiths The Big Express Zen Arcade
Treasure Run-D.M.C.All Over the PlaceOn the Nile

Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Thanks to George Orwell, 1984 seemed destined to be a gloomy, ominous year -- and there was some darkness, thanks to Echo & the Bunnymen and the Cure lurking in the background, but 1984 was much, much more than murky English mope rock. This was the year that gave us such blockbusters as Purple Rain, Born in the U.S.A., 1984, and Like a Virgin while also giving us such major underground touchstones as Let It Be, Reckoning, The Smiths, Zen Arcade, and Double Nickels on the Dime, as well as the first undisputed full-length hip-hop masterpiece, Run-D.M.C. -- every one of them albums that defined the decade. But 1984 wasn't just about canonical LPs. If anything, the singles of '84 were even greater than the albums, as this year saw a perfect storm of Top 40, album rock, MTV, and college radio hits, each one seeming better than the next.

To me, 1984 is just about as close as it gets to a perfect year, filled with albums I've listened to countless times and singles I love so much it pains me to leave them off my list -- but if I listed all the songs I love from '84, there would be no room for anybody else.

Prince & the Revolution - Purple Rain
R.E.M. - Reckoning
Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.
The Replacements - Let It Be
The Smiths - The Smiths
The Smiths - Hatful of Hollow
Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
Bangles - All Over the Place
Run-D.M.C. - Run-D.M.C.
The Pretenders - Learning to Crawl
Van Halen - 1984
XTC - The Big Express
Nick Lowe - Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit
Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
Let's Active - Cypress
Madonna - Like a Virgin
Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense
The Go-Go's - Talk Show
Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual
Los Lobos - How Will the Wolf Survive?
Tina Turner - Private Dancer
Wham! - Make It Big

Sheila E. - "The Glamorous Life"
Prince & the Revolution - "When Doves Cry" /"17 Days"
Prince & the Revolution - "Let's Go Crazy" /"Erotic City"
Peter Wolf - "Lights Out"
Dan Hartman - "I Can Dream About You"
David Bowie - "Blue Jean"
Let's Active - "Every Word Means No"
The Go-Go's - "Turn to You"
Van Halen - "Jump"
Wang Chung - "Dance Hall Days"
The Cars - "Magic"
The Smiths - "How Soon Is Now?"
Laura Branigan - "Self Control"
Scritti Politti - "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)"
Utopia - "Crybaby"
The Spongetones - "(My Girl) Maryanne"
Bruce Springsteen - "Pink Cadillac"
Steve Perry - "Oh Sherrie"
Tina Turner - "Better Be Good to Me"
Huey Lewis & the News - "If This Is It"
Tracey Ullman - "They Don't Know"
Night Ranger - "Sister Christian"
Scandal - "The Warrior"
The Style Council - "My Ever Changing Moods"
The Hoodoo Gurus - "I Want You Back"

John Bush
Barring a pair of undisputed masterpieces -- R.E.M.'s Reckoning and the Smiths' debut -- this year wasn't such a hot one for me, and I seem to be in the minority. (If you're looking for records conspicuous by their absence, Minutemen and the Replacements are the two biggest losers.) Maybe my 1984-specific listening has been so completely focused on the best albums by my two favorite bands of the '80s (at least they were my favorites during the '80s) that I didn't want to hear anything else. But it's definitely true that in 1984 R&B and hip-hop were largely trapped between two periods -- old-school and golden age. Meanwhile, most punk bands were winding down and too many indie bands were just starting out.

The rest (basically) speak for themselves; INXS was always so much more fun to listen to than Depeche Mode, the Cult were more creepily psychedelic than Echo & the Bunnymen (although except for 1985's Love they never were again), and most of my other favorite '80s artists represented on this list -- the Fall, New Order, Beat Happening -- did their best work in other years. I should also register my distinct disappointment when I realized that Billy Bragg's "Between the Wars" came out in January 1985, although I'm thinking the Peel Session date was late 1984. Finally, I believe 1984 was the first year that I absolutely had to run out and buy a piece of music to be played over and over, the lucky recipient of my $.77 (for the 45) being John Waite and Meijer Thrifty Acres. (Still, I spent far more time staring at the cover of Van Halen's 1984.)

The Cars - Heartbeat City
Cocteau Twins - Treasure
The Cult - Dreamtime
Echo & the Bunnymen - Ocean Rain
The Fall - The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall
Manuel Göttsching - E2-E4
INXS - The Swing
Madonna - Like a Virgin
Prince & the Revolution - Purple Rain
R.E.M. - Reckoning
The Smiths - The Smiths
Van Halen - 1984
Beat Happening - "Run Down the Stairs"
The Cars - "Hello Again"
Cocteau Twins - "Ivo"
The Cult - "Spiritwalker"
Depeche Mode - "People Are People"
Echo & the Bunnymen - "The Killing Moon"
The Fall - "C.R.E.E.P."
INXS - "Original Sin"
Madonna - "Like a Virgin"
New Order - "Thieves Like Us"
Prince & the Revolution - "Let's Go Crazy"
The Smiths - "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"
John Waite - "Missing You"
Van Halen - "Panama"

Matt Collar
Echo & the Bunnymen - Ocean Rain
The Church - Remote Luxury
The Psychedelic Furs - Mirror Moves
R.E.M. - Reckoning
The Replacements - Let It Be
Sade - Diamond Life
Run-D.M.C. - Run-D.M.C.
The Smiths - The Smiths
Minor Threat - Out of Step
INXS - The Swing

Andy Kellman
Prince & the Revolution - Purple Rain
Manuel Göttsching - E2-E4
Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
Run-D.M.C. - Run-D.M.C.
The Smiths - The Smiths
Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth
The Blue Nile - A Walk Across the Rooftops
Cocteau Twins - Treasure
Kashif - Send Me Your Love

Prince & the Revolution - "Erotic City"
The S.O.S. Band - "Just the Way You Like It"
LL Cool J - "I Need a Beat"
Section 25 - "Looking from a Hilltop"
T La Rock & Jazzy Jay - "It's Yours"
Cocteau Twins - "The Spangle Maker"
Propaganda - "Dr Mabuse"
The Smiths - "How Soon Is Now"
Scritti Politti - "Hypnotize"
52nd Street - "Can't Afford to Let You Go"

Jason Lymangrover
Ah, 1984. The year I bought my first boombox. After saving up my allowance for months, I dialed straight to WJLB and set that radio faithfully by my side. In a hammock reading Fantastic Four? Check. At recess learning how to do the backspin on cardboard? Check. In the driveway wobbling on my Variflex skateboard? Yep, and unfortunately there'ss a horrible photo in my parents' house as proof. More embarrassing than the constipated expression and the Bloom County t-shirt is the neon orange fannypack hanging around my waist. Even at my peak of nerdiness, I knew fannypacks were stale, but the contents inside were essential: a pouch of Big League Chew, a few cassettes (Ratt - Out of the Cellar, Fat Boys - Fat Boys, and a blank Memorex for taping Casey Kasem's American Top 40), with four packs of spare D batteries just in case. Things were so simple then. It was good to be 30.

Prince & the Revolution - Purple Rain
Yellowman - King Yellowman
Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
Van Halen - 1984
Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
Whodini - Escape
The Replacements - Let It Be
The Smiths - The Smiths
Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets II
Breakin'

Tones on Tail - "Go!"
Jacksons with Mick Jagger - "State of Shock"
The Egyptian Lover - "Egypt, Egypt"
Billy Ocean - "Suddenly"
Corey Hart - "Sunglasses at Night"
Peter Wolf - "Lights Out"
Cyndi Lauper - "Time After Time"
Billy Idol - "Eyes Without a Face"
Night Ranger - "Sister Christian"
Shannon - "Let the Music Play"

J. Scott McClintock
Albums that I still take out and play in their entirety...
Tones on Tail - Pop
Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth
Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth
Julian Cope - Fried
Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains
Madness - Keep Moving
Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry
Metallica - Ride the Lightning
King Crimson - Three of a Perfect Pair
Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
Cristina - Sleep It Off
Heaven 17 - How Men Are
Ricky Skaggs - Country Boy
Whodini - Escape
XTC - The Big Express
Yellowman - King Yellowman
Zebra - No Tellin' Lies
The Alan Parsons Project - Ammonia Avenue
Iron Maiden - Powerslave
Violent Femmes - Hallowed Ground

Best alternative (when that actually meant something) singles...
Howard Jones - "What Is Love"
Echo & the Bunnymen - "The Killing Moon"
The Smiths - "What Difference Does It Make?"
Prefab Sprout - "When Love Breaks Down"
Scritti Politti - "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)"
Romeo Void - "A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)"
Icicle Works - "Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)"
Talk Talk - "It's My Life"
INXS - "I Send a Message"
Real Life - "Send Me an Angel"

Best "I'm underage, and I just snuck into this Detroit club" singles...
Ebn Ozn - "AEIOU Sometimes Y"
Nina Hagen - "New York, New York"
Dazz Band - "Let It All Blow"
The Egyptian Lover - "Egypt, Egypt"
Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel - "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)"
Laid Back - "White Horse"
Twilight 22 - "Electric Kingdom"
Cabaret Voltaire - "Sensoria"
Dominatrix - "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight"
Depeche Mode - "Something to Do"

James Christopher Monger
Violent Femmes - Hallowed Ground
The Cramps - Bad Music for Bad People
Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains
Spinal Tap - This Is Spinal Tap
The Waterboys - A Pagan Place
Julian Cope - Fried
Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth
Iron Maiden - Powerslave
Judas Priest - Defenders of the Faith
The Pogues - Red Roses for Me
Metallica - Ride the Lightning
Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth
The Pretenders - Learning to Crawl
Van Halen - 1984
Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry
Men Without Hats - Folk of the '80s (Part III)
R.E.M. - Reckoning
Tones on Tail - Pop
XTC - The Big Express

The Pretenders - "Middle of the Road"
Echo & the Bunnymen - "The Killing Moon"
Slade - "Run Runaway"
Autograph - "Turn Up the Radio"
Danielle Dax - "Hammerheads"
Julian Cope - "Sunspots"
David Gilmour - "Murder"
Bangles - "Going Down to Liverpool"
Queen - "Hammer to Fall"
The Cramps - "Garbage Man"
Violent Femmes - "Black Girls"
Ratt - "Round and Round"
Dio - "The Last in Line"
Wang Chung - "Dance Hall Days"
Midnight Oil - "Kosciusco"
Robyn Hitchcock - "I Often Dream of Trains"
Metallica - "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
Accept - "Balls to the Wall"
The Waterboys - "Church Not Made with Hands"
Depeche Mode - "Blasphemous Rumours"

Heather Phares
The Art of Noise - Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise
The Cars - Heartbeat City
Cocteau Twins - Treasure
Echo & the Bunnymen - Ocean Rain
Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains
Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
Madonna - Like a Virgin
This Mortal Coil - It'll End in Tears
Prince & the Revolution - Purple Rain
The Raincoats - Moving
The Smiths - The Smiths
Tina Turner - Private Dancer
Van Halen - 1984
Wham! - Make It Big

The Art of Noise - "Close (To the Edit)"
David Bowie - "Blue Jean"
The Cars - "You Might Think"
Thomas Dolby - "Hyperactive!"
Sheila E. - "The Glamorous Life"
Eurythmics - "Here Comes the Rain Again"
Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel - "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)"
Hall & Oates - "Out of Touch"
Billy Idol - "Eyes Without a Face"
Chaka Khan - "I Feel for You"
Julian Lennon - "Valotte"
Newcleus - "Computer Age (Push the Button)"
The Pointer Sisters - "Automatic"
The Police - "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
Prince & the Revolution - "When Doves Cry"
Scandal - "The Warrior"
Bruce Springsteen - "Dancing in the Dark"
The Time - "Jungle Love"
Tina Turner - "What's Love Got to Do with It"
Van Halen - "Jump"

Tim Sendra
Bangles - All Over the Place
Echo & the Bunnymen - Ocean Rain
The Dream Syndicate - Medicine Show
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth
Lyres - On Fyre
Minor Threat - Out of Step
The Rain Parade - Explosions in the Glass Palace
Rainy Day - Rainy Day
Redd Kross - Teen Babes from Monsanto
R.E.M. - Reckoning

Sean Westergaard
1984 was my first full year of college and a major year of musical discovery for me. Some of these albums were favorites at the time. Others weren't discovered until after the fact. There are some that I haven't listened to at all since the '80s while others are still being played on a regular basis. Lots of great music had to be left off the list as well. I'm pretty sure most of these are still in my collection, whether they're listened to or not.

Wally Badarou - Echoes
The dB's - Like This
Echo & the Bunnymen - Ocean Rain
Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
Ronald Shannon Jackson - Decode Yourself
Jean-Michel Jarre - Zoolook
Henry Kaiser - It's a Wonderful Life
Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets II
Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
Conlon Nancarrow - Complete Studies for Player Piano, Vol. 2
Robert Quine - Basic
Rank and File - Long Gone Dead
Lou Reed - New Sensations
The Replacements - Let It Be
Lakshminarayana Shankar - Song for Everyone
Skeleton Crew - Learn to Talk
David Sylvian - Brilliant Trees
Jamaaladeen Tacuma - Renaissance Man
David Van Tieghem - These Things Happen
XTC - The Big Express
John Zorn - The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone

Chris Woodstra
Albums bought during 1984:
Billy Bragg - Brewing Up with Billy Bragg
The Church - Remote Luxury
Lloyd Cole & the Commotions - Rattlesnakes
The dB's - Like This
Thomas Dolby - The Flat Earth
Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream of Trains
Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
Joe Jackson - Body and Soul
Howard Jones - Human's Lib
Let's Active - Cypress
Madonna - Like a Virgin
The Pretenders - Learning to Crawl
R.E.M. - Reckoning
The Smiths - The Smiths
Talk Talk - It's My Life
XTC - The Big Express

Although several songs in these lists were released in 1983, they peaked in the U.S. in 1984.

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