The Essential Soundtrack to Pop's Greatest (and Gayest) Year
By Aaron Hicklin
Talking Heads, America’s finest new wave exponents (though with a U.K.-born front man, David Byrne), release their only top 10 hit, the disco-inflected “Burning Down the House.” Oddly, it fails to chart in the United Kingdom, where the band has enjoyed some its biggest successes — though a cover version by Tom Jones and the Cardigans does make the top 10 in 1999.
New Order’s “Blue Monday” changes everything, becoming the biggest selling 12-inch of all time and the ubiquitous sound of Europe throughout that year. Provocatively, it is left off the band’s 1983 album, Power, Corruption, & Lies. “I lugged my cassette player with me to study in France for six weeks that summer with just that tape, and I played it at full volume out of the window of my dorm until it broke,” recalls Nick Sullivan, fashion director of Esquire. “I put on ‘Blue Monday’ when I go to the gym and it doesn’t feel like a tune from 30 years ago — it still feels new.”