Fittingly, the ’80s were a very colorful time with the advent of neon, multi-colored everything, and shocking patterns that were not only an assault to the eyes, but every thing cell in our bodies. Good thing all those bad fashion choices came hand-in-hand with great music, equally as colorful.
Whip out your fluorescent Miami Vice sports coat, your tighty-whiteys and dance around Top Gun-style to ten of our favorite songs about color from the ’80s.
There was something so alluring about the “lady in red,” with her slight essence of sadness in mystery, that as a young female child, I’d beg my mother to buy me red dresses. Story is De Burgh cheated on his wife and one day, saw her across a crowded club looking fly in a red dress. That’s when he realized that he screwed up and the song was born.
“Red Red Wine”-UB40
This song was actually first written and performed by Neil Diamond. The whole song plays up on the singer’s lovelorn alcoholism and his “blue” i.e. sad heart. Both hope and despair can be seen in the bottom of a bottle.
In the ’80s, drugs were more ubiquitous, especially cocaine. Those “white lines” everywhere might have led to a “colorful” existence, but they were totally trouble as Grandmaster Flash sings in his progressive rap song. Remember when rappers sang about NOT using drugs?
“White Wedding”-Billy Idol
This song is not remotely romantic whatsoever, but is played at weddings all the time because of the repeated word “wedding.” It’s actually about wishing someone would not get married. And a mockery of the purity behind the “white” concept.
Originally “99 Luftballoons” in German, this is the English version, the colorful version. You know, because Americans need some pizzazz to their balloons as they float through the atmosphere idyllically, choking birds.
“True Colors”-Cyndi Lauper
We love Cyndi Lauper, but over the year this song has become kind of trite. Listening to it for its colorful aspect though, it’s easier to overlook the sappy sweetness and massive licensing the song got. Especially when she says our true colors are beautiful, just like a rainbow. Awww. We luh you too Cyndi.
It’s sad that Oingo Boingo didn’t become more popular despite the success of a handful of their songs because we think amazingly socially poignant tunes like “Grey Matter” were missed out on. The song is all about using your brain, a sentiment that could have turned the lackadaisical Gen X into something more interested.
“Blue Monday”-New Order
Luckily, we didn’t forget how to dance to songs like “Blue Monday” by New Order. It’s an entirely different list, but the idea of Monday was pretty prevalent in the ’80s–maybe because of how crappy the economy was in the beginning. People worked at lame jobs and spent their whole weekend partying. When Monday came around, it was back to the coal mines.
“Karma Chameleon”-Culture Club
Re-watching the video for this song, it’s interesting how simultaneously silly and disturbing and kind of racist it is, but we were always jealous of Boy George’s rag-tag colorful gypsy chic and his tattooed eye make-up. He always wakes up looking like that.
“Back In Black”-AC/DC
The baddest of the bunch, “Back In Black” has to be the winner for best color song. It’s even cooler that its a raucous tribute to the band’s deceased singer Bon Scott.
Honorary mentions: Prince‘s “Little Red Corvette,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Purple Rain.” If Prince allowed his music online, they’d totally be at the top of the list.
–Nadia Noir, CBS Radio Los Angeles