Monday, February 20, 2006

Awesome 80s Birthday Bash

My wife and I have our birthday today. Yup, same day, year, and everything. After accounting for time zone differences, I am two hours older. Having a shared birthday sure makes remembering it a lot easier. And it's more fun that way too. We usually just celebrate by going to dinner. Since our anniversary is in September, that spreads two nice meals out through the year. But one year we had a big birthday bash.

Two years ago, as we were staring the Big 4-0 in the face, we got really into the numerology of it. Our birthday is February 20th or 2/20. 2 times 20 equals 40, which is how old we were turning. 2 times 40 equaled 80 and the 1980s were a very important decade to us. We went on our first date in 1980; we graduated high school in 1982; we got married in 1986; and our kid was born in 1990. It was a decade with a lot of changes in our lives.

To celebrate, we rented the banquet room of a local restaurant and invited friends and co-workers for an 80s themed bash. We used Trivial Pursuit 80s Edition cards for ice-breaker games. We put out an impossible trivia quiz with questions like, “What was the movie we saw on our first date? (A: Breaking Away)” Some of the guests brought 80s memorabilia. Since most of the participants were similarly aged, it became a great night for looking back.

I put together the music. I went through my iTunes list and then went down to Tar-Jay and bought up all the “Monster Hits of the Eighties”-type compilations I could find. I came up with a playlist of 40 songs I felt embodied the 80s in all their Reagenesque/New Wave-ish contradictory glory. I hooked my iPod up to some speakers and when the guests started arriving, we all got into the 80s groove.

That particular playlist is lost to history, but here is a reasonably accurate recreation:

1. “Down Under” – Men At Work
2. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cindy Lauper
3. “I Ran (So Far Away)” – A Flock of Seagulls
4. “Born In The USA” – Bruce Springsteen
5. “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” – Wang Chung
6. “Come On Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
7. “Goody Two Shoes” – Adam Ant
8. “Little Red Corvette” – Prince
9. “Material Girl” – Madonna
10. “Jesse’s Girl” – Rick Springfield
11. “Take On Me” – aha
12. “Relax” – Frankie Goes To Holywood
13. “St. Elmo’s Fire” – John Parr
14. “The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats
15. “Mickey” – Tony Basil
16. “Walking On Sunshine” – Katrina and the Waves
17. “Stand” – R.E.M.
18. “Stray Cat Strut” – The Stray Cats
19. “Walk Like An Egyptian” – The Bangles
20. “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” – Culture Club
21. “Hungry Like The Wolf” – Duran Duran
22. “Whip It” – Devo
23. “Money For Nothing” – Dire Straits
24. “Sunglasses at Night” – Corey Hart
25. “Would I Lie To You” – Eurythmics
26. “Obsession” – Animotion
27. “Juke Box Hero” – Foreigner
28. “Rock The Casbah” – The Clash
29. “Rock Me Amadeus” – Falco
30. “Jeopordy” – Greg Kihn Band
31. “The Power of Love” – Huey Lewis and the News
32. “Open Arms” – Journey
33. “She’s A Beauty” – The Tubes
34. “Broken Wings” – Mister Mister
35. “Doctor, Doctor” – The Thompson Twins
36. “True” – Spandau Ballet
37. “You Can Call Me Al” – Paul Simon
38. “Maniac” – Michael Sembello
39. “Like A Virgin” – Madonna
40. “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper

Unlike my Cheesy 70s Songs, this list is not exhaustive or canonical. You may have lived through a different version of the decade. Feel free to disagree or expand. I know there are some major omissions. For example, The Go-Gos are missing. And the lack of hair bands is intentional.

There is also lot of room for debate on the individual songs. Which Madonna or Prince songs best embodies the spirit of the decade? Which is the definitive Men at Work song, “Who Can It Be Know?” or "Down Under”? These are the questions music scholars will be debating for decades long past the musical treasure house that was The Eighties.

And I’m sorry for any tune cooties I may have inflicted on you.

No, I’m not.

If you are here for the first time from the Complimenting Commenter site please read all my recent posts and check out my Best of 2005.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to you ♪♫
Happy Birthday to you ♪♫
♪♫ Happy Birthday dear yellojkt and Mrs. yellojkt,
Happy Birthday to you!!!♪♫

There was an article in our newspaper about a group of women who got together because they met on their mutual birthday--just strangers standing in line, one mentioned it was her birthday, another said, "me too" and a third joined in, they started talking and they formed a little birthday club and they've celebrated every year for 10 years or something.

I guess you and the mrs had maybe a couple other things in common in addition to the birthday, but that would sure be enough to get you started talking.

HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...

Fantastic list! Brings back memories of MTV and junior high. Love it.

yellojkt said...

The whole Lloyd Dobler-esque "meet cute" story about how my wife and I got together is something I'm saving for a special occassion. It will get told eventually.

paula said...

Happy Birthday Mr. & Mrs. Yj!!


trusty getto said...

Happy Birthday to you both!

I've got to say, that is probably the BEST 80s music playlist I've ever seen. It evokes the core sounds, but manages to avoide the really annoying stuff (mostly). I'm somewhat sheepish to admit that I can probably sing the lyrics to 35 of those 40 tunes . . .


yellojkt said...

In a way, the Police and U2 both transcend the 80s. I don't think "80s music" when I hear them, I think "great music". My wife is a bigger U2 fan than I am and likes that they have a "Best of 1980-1990" album because that is the era of their music she prefers over the Achtung Baby/Zooropa stuff.

Jude said...

Stopping by to wish you (and the wife!) a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Here from C.C.'s blog!

Pixel said...

Happy b-day to you and Mrs. Jacket.

Your Mother said...

Happy birthday to both of you!

I remeber the 80's. I was in my teenage prime. I remember hair bands and the debut of MTV (back when they played videos all day and news on the half hour)...oh the memories! And, like many other commenters, I can sing many of those songs on your list.

shari said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.
You weren't a day late, my B-day is the 21st. :)
Happy B-day to you and your wife.

A couple more 80's songs that I love are:
Don't you Want Me Baby (Human League)
and Burning Down The House--was that Talking Heads?
I loved Prince's music in the 80's.

My children even think it was the coolest American decade to date. I agree.

Mooselet said...

Happy birthday to you and the Mrs.!! Gee isn't February a popular month for birthdays - I've had no less than 12 this month with family and friends. What was it about May? ;)

Love the 80's list - I was a big Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Tears For Fears and all the English bands. Although I'd have to take Katrina and the Waves off your list. Can't stand that bloody song. I'd also agree with Mrs. Yello that U2 did some of their best work prior to 1990. The Joshua Tree album has to be one of their best.

Anonymous said...

Late to the party (as usual), but with a few minutes to spare that it doesn't have to be belated. Happy Birthday to you both!

A minor quibble: Cyndi Lauper appears twice on the list. For my money you could drop "Time After Time" and replace it with Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science" or the original German version of Nena's "99 Luftballons", which blew the doors off of the English version. Actually, that whole album was pretty good, even if I didn't know what she was singing.

Also: The Thompson Twins' "In the Name of Love" was far superior to the dreck of "Doctor Doctor". But that's my lame-ass opinion. I have others but I'll shut up now.

yellojkt said...

The German version of "99 Luftballoons" is far better. I took three years of high school German and still could only understand half of it. German has a habit of coining huge mega-long nouns. Cyndi probably doesn't deserve two slots but I liked "Time After Time" as a song about nostalgia and couldn't short shrift "Girls Just Wanna..." which is one of the iconic songs of the 80s.

J.Po said...

Happy belated birthday to both of youse Yellos! That sounds like an awesome party...and I will join the crowd embarrassed at how many of those songs I can sing.

Anonymous said...

Hope you had a good birthday. and she too!

great 80s list. I forgot all about that Aha song. I used to LOVE that video.

Anonymous said...

I've been away and I am now catching up.

I hope you both had a good birthday.

I like your 80s list. It is pretty similar to mine, except that I would have to have some of the British Mod/Two Tone bands:

UB40 "I am a one in ten"
Specials "Ghost Town"
Madness "Our House"
The Beat (Birmingham UK band) "Mirror In The Bathroom"
The Jam "That's Entertainment"

Also Ultravox "Vienna" (not mod or two-tone)

I loved that music when I was in my midteens and it was one way that I remaind different to my friends, who mostly prefered either pop/rock or classical.

Now I'm going to have to get some of these from iTunes.

Anonymous said...

I would have included Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and at least one song by The Smiths, The Cure & The Violent Femmes...I carried those three albums with me every day on the school bus in 8th grade, feigning coolness.
(I realize I'm late to post this, but I was catching up on my Achenblog for the week & stumbled up on it.)

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