Various Artists

'80s Gold

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Beneath the flourish, extravagance, and pretension that saturated the pop charts during the '80s lay a culture rich in innovation that brought about the rise of truly groundbreaking music and an indomitable spirit of independence, not to mention nationwide networks that fostered originality and valued substance over style. That side of things is nowhere documented in '80s Gold. However, there was such an overabundance of highly polished, catchy tunes in such a wide variety of genres that it's nearly impossible to document it all (though there have been more than enough earnest attempts) without leaving a sense of exhaustion. This two-disc, 33-song collection represents some of the best of the best of the decade, as every single song on here was a number one Billboard Hot 100 chart hit at one point or another. And to its credit, Universal presents a wide scope of sounds and styles here. Case in point: where else can one find Blondie sitting right next to Christopher Cross' smooth "Sailing" anthem next to Diana Ross next to Rick Springfield and have it all make sense? There is literally something for everyone here, from new wave to new jack, and while it's easy to point out all of the obvious omissions, the quality control is so high that it's quite easy to forget about what's missing and simply enjoy what's here. Most fans of '80s music will already have most of these tunes on other compilations, but those looking for an awesome starting reference point will find that '80s Gold is an excellent edition to any pop collection.

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