The Essential Soundtrack to Pop's Greatest (and Gayest) Year

2.26.2014

By Aaron Hicklin

A Musical Primer to 1983 (if there was a better year for music, we'd like to hear it).

MAY:
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.”

Tags: Music
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