Phil Clifton picks his top five favourite 80s songs of all time

Virgin Radio

17 Nov 2022, 15:07

(L-R) David Bowie, Phil Clifton, Prince

Credit: Getty

Virgin Radio 80s Plus is stuffed to the brim with incredible hits, and to celebrate the launch of our new station, we're getting our presenters to tell us which 80s tunes they just can't live without.

Last week, Amy Voce gave her rundown, choosing the likes of Blondie, Fleetwood Mac and Simple Minds for her top five, and this week, we've got Phil Clifton give us the bangers that defined the decade for him.

Raspberry Beret, Prince

Taken from his 1985 album, Around The World In A Day, Prince and his band, The Revolution, had fans going wild for psychedelic pop track Raspberry Beret. 

Telling a story of teenage romance, Raspberry Beret quickly became a Prince classic, and for Phil, the track symbolised why the funk artist was known as a trailblazer.

He shared: “One of my biggest music fails was missing Prince when he played in Camden. I had a radio show, which I should have got cover for. He died not too long after. If you're looking for a whole package: Prince. 

“Musically he was so gifted, always sung live, made his whole songs - from instruments, to vocals, to end. He had ‘it’ - different, unapologetic, uncompromising, and eternally a trailblazer.  His fashion, sexual expression, music - it was all art to him, because he had the mind of an artist. That's why we call artists, ‘artists’. Not everyone these days deserves that title. Oh and the song just makes me happy.”

Let's Dance, David Bowie

Taken from his 1983 album of the same name, Let’s Dance is a David Bowie hit that never fails to get people on their feet. 

The track was one of Bowie's fastest-selling singles, entering the UK chart at number 5 on its first week of release, and stayed at the top of the charts for three weeks after that. 

Bowie is an artist very close to Phil’s heart, not just for his music but also for his representation. 

Phil explained: “I LOVE Bowie. I've got this awesome Ziggy Stardust, Carnegie Hall artwork on my wall in my living room and not a day goes by where I don't love it. Same as with Prince, Bowie used fashion, sexuality, music and expression as part of his artistry. Because Bowie was thoroughly an artist in every sense of his being. 

“He was also this incredible force for bisexual representation - a lot of folk back then didn't like gay people and thought bisexuality was either a fad or a lie. He was a bi icon: a bi-con. When I used to DJ indie clubs a lot, Let's Dance would always get a spin - and dance exactly is what the clubbers did.”

Like a Prayer, Madonna

A world away from the ultra-pop she was already known for, Madonna had jaws on the floor with her pop-rock-gospel track, Like A Prayer, in 1989. 

Touching on religion and sexuality, Like a Prayer was just a taste of what was to come for Madonna’s edgy imagery and lyrics, and helped her to dominate the charts upon the release. 

“It's annoying that Steve Denyer already picked this, frankly,” Phil shared. “I'd be tempted to go for something else, but this just has to be in there. Aside from the fact it is still a current-enough sounding bop, the music video still gives me chills. Just for what it meant at the time. 

“Madonna didn't give a f*** about anything that wasn't helping to liberate marginalised communities or challenge the status quo (another great band around in the 80s) - that this video managed to p*** off so many conservative and religious groups is a sign of the times. And very reflective of the challenges still being faced by so many communities today. It takes huge courage to go against the grain and stand up for others. Madge is an inspiration for that.”

Town Called Malice, The Jam 

Debuting right at number one when it was released in 1982, Town Called Malice by The Jam was not only an incredible tune, but helped singer Paul Weller get a lot off his chest. 

“I love a song that is political with a point, but also just an absolute banger, Phil added. 

“Town Called Malice is exactly that. The Town in question was actually Weller's hometown of Woking, but the song was written in the frame of Thatcher's government and a whole bunch of other things happening in the UK at the time. 

“Another big hit with the indie clubs, the intro alone just makes me wanna move my feet. I will simply never tire of this song.”

Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler

And finally, who can imagine the 80s without the legendary power ballad, Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler. 

The 1983 tune became the Welsh singer's biggest track to date, and was the fifth best-selling single of that year, staying in the top 10 for 10 weeks

For Phil, Total Eclipse isn’t just a top choice, but also his love of the singing-into-the-hair-brush-worthy power ballads that dominated the decade. 

“This I've chosen not as a favourite, but because it speaks for what could have been any utterly OTT power ballad of the 80s (White Snake, Robert Palmer etc), and I love them all. Literally anything with a rousing chorus will be on repeat on my Spotify - and the 80s was chockablock with tracks like that. 

“The video for this - which is mental - Bonnie still says she had no idea what was going on, and I think that's wonderful. She also trends on Twitter every time there is an eclipse and I, personally, am on a one man mission to get her verified on Instagram because it is a CRIME that she is not. But if I'd had more options than five you would have absolutely seen me list EURYTHMICS, New Order, the list is endless, to be honest…”

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