Dare! Moving Pictures Pretenders II Controversy
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts Computer World Tattoo You Private Eyes

MTV launched late in the summer of 1981, which means 1981 is the last year when the music video channel did not have a massive impact on what songs appeared on the charts. Instead, the year was a wild mix of fading punks, aging rockers, brave new wavers, soft rock crooners, synth-pop mavericks, disco aftershocks, smooth Urban Cowboy country, and arena rock. Underneath the surface, new sounds that would define the '80s were beginning to surface, notably hip-hop and hardcore punk, so this year marked the end of an era (the vaguely anonymous album rock of the '70s) and the beginning of a new one (the stylish, personality-driven pop of the '80s). And both sides of the coin produced plenty of music to love -- the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up," Daryl Hall & John Oates' "Private Eyes," "The Adventure of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel," the Human League's Dare -- and we run through many of those reasons in AllMusic Loves 1981.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [Spotify]
As it turns out, 1981 has been one of the absolute toughest years in AllMusic Loves for me to compile and there's a pretty good reason why. This is the year that I started actively buying music, beginning with Daryl Hall & John Oates' Private Eyes and Juice Newton's Juice. My fondness for those two albums has never faded over the years and, as I grew older, I've discovered tons of 1981 music I love, including new wave, synth-pop, and power-pop, but also the big, shiny pre-MTV album rock and the scores of great soft-rock singles. As always, I couldn't fit all my favorite songs onto my singles list, so there is a spillover on the Spotify playlist, but not all the great 1981 singles are there, due to various licensing restrictions.

Rick Springfield - Working Class Dog
Tenpole Tudor - Eddie, Old Bob, Dick and Gary
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Trust
Squeeze - East Side Story
Daryl Hall/John Oates - Private Eyes
The Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat
Rolling Stones - Tattoo You
The Human League - Dare
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Hard Promises
Dave Edmunds - Twangin'
Lindsey Buckingham - Law and Order
Warren Zevon - Stand in the Fire
The dB's - Stands for Decibels
The Who - Face Dances
The Clash - Sandinista!
Rush - Moving Pictures
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Almost Blue
Pretenders - Pretenders II
Replacements - Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
Prince - Controversy

Lindsey Buckingham - "Trouble"
.38 Special - "Hold on Loosely"
Juice Newton - "Queen of Hearts"
Soft Cell - "Tainted Love"
The Human League - "Don't You Want Me"
The Specials - "Ghost Town"
The Jam - "Absolute Beginners"
Kim Carnes - "Bette Davis Eyes"
Smokey Robinson - "Being with You"
Merle Haggard - "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink"
James Taylor - "Her Town Too"
Split Enz - "History Never Repeats"
Tom Tom Club - "Genius of Love"
Pretenders - "Cuban Slide"
Quarterflash - "Harden My Heart"
Kirsty MacColl - "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis"
Luther Vandross - "Never Too Much"
Marty Balin - "Hearts"
Rosanne Cash - "Seven Year Ache"
Joey Scarbury - "Theme from Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)"

John Bush
New Order - Movement
Echo & the Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here
Brian Eno-David Byrne - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Bauhaus - Mask
The Cure - Faith
The dB's - Stands for Decibels
B.E.F. - Music for Listening To
The Fall - A Part of America Therein, 1981
Eyeless in Gaza - Photographs as Memories
Pretenders - Pretenders II
Cold Crush Brothers Vs. Fantastic Romantic 5 - Live MC Battles from Harlem World 1981
Cabaret Voltaire - Red Mecca
The Church - Of Skins and Heart
Foreigner - 4
Lindsey Buckingham - Law and Order
Rush - Moving Pictures
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Juju
Squeeze - East Side Story
Genesis - Abacab
The Monochrome Set - Love Zombies

B.E.F. - "Groove Thang"
Roger - "So Ruff, So Tuff"
The Treacherous Three - "Feel the Heartbeat"
ESG - "Moody"
The Clash - "The Magnificent Seven"
Bauhaus - "Kick in the Eye"
The Chameleons - "The Fan & the Bellows [Peel Session]"
The Cure - "All Cats Are Grey"
New Order - "Ceremony"
Josef K - "Sorry for Laughing"
Altered Images - "Dead Pop Stars"
R.E.M. - "Radio Free Europe"
New Order - "Everything's Gone Green"
Daryl Hall/John Oates - "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"
Cybotron - "Alleys of Your Mind"
Rush - "Tom Sawyer"
Rick Springfield - "I've Done Everything for You"
Lindsey Buckingham - "Trouble"
Genesis - "Abacab"
Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five - "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel"

Tim Sendra
Altered Images - Happy Birthday
The Barracudas - Drop Out with the Barracudas
The dB's - Stands for Decibels
Def Leppard - High 'N' Dry
Felt - Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty
The Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat
The Human League - Dare
Josef K - The Only Fun in Town
Kraftwerk - Computer World
The Psychedelic Furs - Talk Talk Talk
Radio Birdman - Living Eyes
The Time - The Time

Jonathan Ball [Spotify]
Rolling Stones - Tattoo You
King Crimson - Discipline
The Police - Ghost in the Machine
AC/DC - For Those About to Rock We Salute You
Rush - Moving Pictures
X - Wild Gift
Motörhead - No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith
Daryl Hall/John Oates - Private Eyes
Bauhaus - Mask
Black Flag - Damaged
Van Halen - Fair Warning
Honorable mention: Joy Division - Still

Daryl Hall/John Oates - "Kiss on My List"
The Jam - "Absolute Beginners"
Bauhaus - "Kick in the Eye"
Squeeze - "Tempted"
The Pretenders - "Message of Love"
Tim Curry - "Take Me, I'm Yours"
The Police - "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"
Duran Duran - "Girls on Film"/"Planet Earth"
Talking Heads - "Once in a Lifetime"
Juice Newton - "Queen of Hearts"
Vangelis - "Chariots of Fire"
Split Enz - "One Step Ahead"
.38 Special - "Hold On Loosely"
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - "A Woman in Love"
Kim Wilde - "Kids In America"
Blue Öyster Cult - "Burnin' for You"
Rolling Stones - "Waiting On a Friend"
The J. Geils Band - "Centerfold"/"Freeze Frame"
Adam and the Ants - "Stand and Deliver"
Soft Cell - "Tainted Love"
R.E.M. - "Radio Free Europe"
Kim Carnes - "Bette Davis Eyes"

Matt Collar
Duran Duran - Duran Duran
Echo & the Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here
Foreigner - 4
The Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat
Toninho Horta - Toninho Horta
The Human League - Dare
Japan - Tin Drum
Joan Jett - Bad Reputation
Wynton Marsalis - Wynton Marsalis
John McNeil - Faun
Stevie Nicks - Bella Donna
The Police - Ghost in the Machine
Ramones - Rock 'N' Roll High School
Lee Ritenour - Rit
Woody Shaw - United
Rick Springfield - Working Class Dog
Squeeze - East Side Story
Billy Squier - Don't Say No
Stray Cats - Stray Cats
U2 - October

Andy Kellman [Spotify]
Associates - Fourth Drawer Down
The Comsat Angels - Sleep No More
Japan - Tin Drum
The Human League - Dare
Slave - Show Time
Rick James - Street Songs
Brian Eno/David Byrne - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Gang of Four - Solid Gold
Soft Cell - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
Kraftwerk - Computer World
The Sound - From the Lion's Mouth
Echo & the Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here
Logg - Logg
Phew - Phew
Grace Jones - Nightclubbing
This Heat - Deceit
Quincy Jones - The Dude
YMO - Technodelic
Wipers - Youth of America
Leon Ware - Rockin' You Eternally

D Train - "You're the One for Me"
Prince - "Controversy"
Taana Gardner - "Heartbeat"
Change - "Paradise"
New Order - "Everything's Gone Green"
The Comsat Angels - "Eye of the Lens"
Inner Life - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Associates - "White Car in Germany"
Liaisons Dangereuses - "Los Niños del Parque"
Lene Lovich - "New Toy"
Evelyn King - "I'm in Love"
Luther Vandross - "Never Too Much"
Freeez - "Southern Freeez"
Soft Cell - "Memorabilia"
The Human League - "Don't You Want Me"
Convertion - "Let's Do It"
Central Line - "Walking into Sunshine"
Romeo Void - "Never Say Never"
Yoko Ono - "Walking on Thin Ice"
The Past Seven Days - "Raindance"

James Christopher Monger
Rush - Moving Pictures
Ozzy Osbourne - Diary of a Madman
Robyn Hitchcock - Black Snake Diamond Role
Billy Squier - Don't Say No
King Crimson - Discipline
Black Flag - Damaged
Journey - Escape
John Williams - Raiders of the Lost Ark
Tannahill Weavers - Tannahill Weavers 4
The Teardrop Explodes - Wilder
Men at Work - Business as Usual
Black Sabbath - Mob Rules
Electric Light Orchestra - Time
The Cramps - Psychedelic Jungle
Dick Gaughan - Handful of Earth
Stray Cats - Stray Cats
The Modern Lovers - The Original Modern Lovers
Bauhaus - Mask
Mötley Crüe - Too Fast for Love
Adam Ant - Prince Charming

Saga - "On the Loose"
AC/DC - "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)"
O.M.D. - "Joan of Arc"
Soft Cell - "Tainted Love"
Prince - "Controversy"
The Go-Go's - "Our Lips are Sealed"
Psychedelic Furs - "Pretty in Pink"
Def Leppard - "Bringin' on the Heartbreak"
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"
Greg Kihn Band - "The Breakup Song"
The Moody Blues - "The Voice"
Kim Wilde - "Kids in America"
Daryl Hall/John Oates - "I Can't Go for That (No can Do)"
Heaven 17 - "Let's All Make a Bomb"
The Kinks - "Destroyer"
Sparks - "Tips for Teens"
Kim Carnes - "Bette Davis Eyes"
Bob & Doug Mckenzie - "Take Off"
Rick Springfield - "Jessie's Girl"
Duran Duran - "Planet Earth"

Sean Westergaard
David Byrne - The Catherine Wheel
Brian Eno-David Byrne - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Curlew - Curlew
The Decline of Western Civilization
Devo - New Traditionalists
Robert Fripp - The League of Gentlemen
Robert Fripp - Let the Power Fall
Buddy Guy - Stone Crazy!
Shannon Jackson & the Decoding Society - Nasty
Joan Jett - Bad Reputation
Henry Kaiser - Aloha: Studio Solo
King Crimson - Discipline
The Lounge Lizards - The Lounge Lizards
Material - Memory Serves
Mission of Burma - Signals, Calls and Marches
Prince - Controversy
Raybeats - Guitar Beat
Stray Cats - Stray Cats
Tom Tom Club - Tom Tom Club
Trouble Funk - Live
Muddy Waters - King Bee
X - Wild Gift
Frank Zappa - Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar

Matthew Garbutt [Spotify]
Altered Images - Happy Birthday
Au Pairs - Playing with a Different Sex
Bauhaus - Mask
Echo & the Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here
Eek-a-Mouse - Wa-Do-Dem
Heaven 17 - Penthouse and Pavement
Kraftwerk - Computer World
Mickey & the Milkshakes - Talking 'Bout Milkshakes!
Simple Minds - Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call
Siouxsie & the Banshees - Juju
Soft Cell - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
Tav Falco's Panther Burns - Behind the Magnolia Curtain
The Beat - Wha'ppen?
The Cramps - Psychedelic Jungle
The Gun Club - Fire of Love
The Human League - Dare
The Sound - From the Lion's Mouth
The Stranglers - La Folie
The Wailing Souls - Fire House Rock
Various Artists - Dance Craze

ABC - "Tears Are Not Enough"
Bow Wow Wow - "Go Wild in the Country"
Department S - "Is Vic There?"
Dexys Midnight Runners - "Show Me"
Grace Jones - "Pull Up to the Bumper"
Haircut 100 - "Favourite Shirts"
Johnny Osbourne & Papa Tullo - "Back Off"
New Order - "Ceremony"
Pigbag - "Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag"
PiL - "The Flowers of Romance"
Sammy Dread - "Follow Fashion"
Television Personalities - "Look Back in Anger"
Tenpole Tudor - "Swords of a Thousand Men"
The Birthday Party - "Release the Bats"
The Fall - "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul"
The Jam - "Funeral Pyre"
The Meteors - "Radioactive Kid"
The Monochrome Set - "Avanti (Ten Don'ts for Honeymooners)"
The Specials - "Ghost Town"
Vic Godard & the Subway Sect - "Stop That Girl"

James Wilkinson
The Stranglers - La Folie
Scientist - Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires
Television Personalities - ...And Don't the Kids Just Love It
Felt - Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty
The Barracudas - Drop Out with the Barracudas
Kraftwerk - Computer World
Squeeze - East Side Story
Scientist - Scientist Meets the Space Invaders
The Teardrop Explodes - Wilder
Robyn Hitchcock - Black Snake Diamond Role
Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Tangerine Dream - Exit
The Cure - Faith
Bob Dylan - Shot of Love
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Re-Ac-Tor
Stray Cats - Stray Cats
Madness - 7
Emmylou Harris - Cimarron

The Specials - "Ghost Town"
New Order - "Ceremony"
R.E.M. - "Radio Free Europe"
The Teardrop Explodes - "Reward"
Ben Watt - "Can't"
XTC - "Respectable Street"
Rolling Stones - "Start Me Up"
John Lennon - "Watching the Wheels"
George Harrison - "All Those Years Ago"
The Gifted Children - "Painting by Numbers"
The Jam - "Absolute Beginners"
The Human League - "Don't You Want Me"
Soft Cell - "Tainted Love"
O.M.D. - "Souvenir"
Ultravox - "Vienna"
Blondie - "Rapture"
Bruce Springsteen - "The River"
Dexys Midnight Runners - "Plan B"
XTC - "Love at First Sight"
Kim Wilde - "Kids in America"

Previously
AllMusic Loves 1956

AllMusic Loves 1965
AllMusic Loves 1966
AllMusic Loves 1968
AllMusic Loves 1969

AllMusic Loves 1971
AllMusic Loves 1972
AllMusic Loves 1973
AllMusic Loves 1974
AllMusic Loves 1975
AllMusic Loves 1976
AllMusic Loves 1977
AllMusic Loves 1978
AllMusic Loves 1979

AllMusic Loves 1980
AllMusic Loves 1982
AllMusic Loves 1983
AllMusic Loves 1984
AllMusic Loves 1985
AllMusic Loves 1986
AllMusic Loves 1987
AllMusic Loves 1988
AllMusic Loves 1989

AllMusic Loves 1990
AllMusic Loves 1991
AllMusic Loves 1992
AllMusic Loves 1993
AllMusic Loves 1994
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AllMusic Loves 2000
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AllMusic Loves 2010
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