Primal Alt Rock Favorites

I love teh 80s

“I ♥ 80s” by Kwintin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s alt rock and 1st Wave alt rock lately and I decided to create a list of my favorite early alt rock bands or songs. Some of these bands were basically one hit wonders and some of them turned into superstars, and some are still actively making new music and touring. I’ve seen other similar lists with other bands, but those other bands simply never struck a chord with me. There might even be a few on here you haven’t heard.

I ended up with 67. Why 67? Well, this is how many I found that met my criteria, of being considered alt rock by someone or on a band comparison to someone else on this list, was before 1995 and wasn’t obviously conventional pop. Some of these songs border on pop or more conventional rock. It was hard to differentiate where to draw the line. Many of these bands have multiple songs that I dig, but I just picked one that I really love by that band. The first on this list is a perfect example.

This is not representative of all of the music I listened to back then. I love metal and straight up rock as well as some bluegrass and some country music, but it is very representative of great alternative rock music from that era. There is some incredible alternative music being made today, but these bands set the stage of what would follow, and it is a pretty diverse set. All of these songs are awesome! Links provided for a YouTube song. There are lots of versions for most of these songs.

U2 – Stories for Boys – I found a really old version of this maybe their first video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE7sw7WcLqc

Album version is better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwQKp3ecotU

R.E.M. – Begin the Begin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DELYQ9087o

The Smiths – How Soon is Now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OztC_7nkAd8

The Cure – In Between Days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDMDb8unsIA

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Cities in Dust https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsOHvP1XnRg

Pet Shop Boys – Two divided by Zero https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ht9xsdrcoM

The Clash – Rock the Casbah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ9r8LMU9bQ

Echo and the Bunnymen – The Cutter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMplIrSlg8E

Violent Femmes -Blister in the Sun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rswiq4Hi-tc

The English Beat – Mirror in the Bathroom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHWrmIzgB5A

Eurythmics – Missionary Man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-Q3cp3cp88

Culture Club – Karma Chameleon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmcA9LIIXWw

Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WZ33w3B8Hw

Still makes me want to get up and dance!

OMD – If You Leave https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPmTGFg06zA

The The – Infected https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orIy18qIaCU

Modern English – I Melt with You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuN6gs0AJls

DEVO – Whip It https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z56XSG5LUbU

Oingo Boingo – Dead Man’s Party https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UbGtjnluyY

Psychodelic Furs – Love My Way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGD9i718kBU

Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0AKJMGxwpE

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCOSPtyZAPA

New Order – Blue Monday https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYH8DsU2WCk

The Police – Don’t Stand So Close to Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNIZofPB8ZM

Talk Talk – It’s My Life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ixRWvrkUHo

The Call – The Walls Came Down https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAxg8nuvPKM

The B-52s – Private Idaho https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXmnmvDl-ao

Naked Eyes – Always Something There to Remind Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVrELhxOFnM

Kajagoogoo – Too Shy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsjzcT1QKYs

Heaven 17 – Let Me Go https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOhtf4oQVj0

ABC – Poison Arrow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a70yJwgQtzo

Spandau Ballet – True https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR8D2yqgQ1U

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTaW5qHMRNw

Billy Idol – White Wedding https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAZQaYKZMTI

Duran Duran – Rio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTizYn3-QN0

The Godfathers – Birth School Work Death https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO5dcW0P75M

Berlin – Masquerade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azr2ooLlfzQ

General Public – Tenderness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XegL32Btzs

Yaz (Yazoo in Britain) – Situation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D3udbawA1Q

They Might Be Giants – Don’t Let’s Start https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJQnZZ-Wmao

Simple Minds – Don’t You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdqoNKCCt7A

Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejorQVy3m8E

Hoodoo Gurus – Miss Freelove ’69 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_UCks8O0FA

Split Enz – I Got You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmQlBfxh4Us

Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST86JM1RPl0

A Flock of Seagulls – I Ran https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIpfWORQWhU

Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me with Science https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJxSwxexZYo

The Alarm – Strength https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYtE4lXk9-U

A-ha -Take on Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914

The Pursuit of Happiness – Hard to Laugh https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVQ_er14oIA

The Human League – Don’t You Want Me? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPudE8nDog0

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – Grey Cell Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqGzBqPnNBk

Gary Numan – Cars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99fRdfVIOr4

Soft Cell – Tainted Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26q_aarfaEA

Big Country – In a Big Country https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=657TZDHZqj4

Haircut 100 – Love Plus One https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_msHpEa3_Y

The Tubes – She’s a Beauty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ_k_VG6Syc

Missing Persons – Words https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IasCZL072fQ

INXS – The One Thing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJyKTNdPL5s

Howard Jones – What is Love? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w34vnz_LEX4

Thompson Twins – Lies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wuv4f-AmKE4

Dead or Alive – You Spin Me Round https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGNiXGX2nLU

Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88sARuFu-tc

Animotion – Obsession https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIs5StN8J-0

Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoXu6QmxpJE

Gene Loves Jezebel – 20 Killer Hurts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NWkSFKArpw

After the Fire -Der Kommissar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBfFDTPPlaM

Real Life – Send Me an Angel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R6WIbx8ysE

 

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