My 80s Playlist: Paul Young chooses his favourite 80s songs, from Robert Palmer to Duran Duran

Virgin Radio

23 Dec 2022, 09:37

Singer-songwriter Paul Young was a teen musical idol in the 1980s, and so is something of an expert when it comes to hits of the decade. 

Before making it as a solo artist, Paul was the frontman of Kat Kool & the Kool Cats, Streetband and Q-Tips.

He landed on the charts with hit singles including Love of the Common People, Come Back and Stay and Everything Must Change, and he landed two number one albums.

As part of Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas in 1984, Paul also performed the track during 1985’s Live Aid concert, and busted out some of his own hit songs too. 

All this week, Paul sat down with Steve Denyer on Virgin Radio 80s Plus to discuss his 80s Playlist, and revealed what made those songs so special. 

Here is Paul Young’s 80s playlist. 

Robert Palmer - Addicted To Love

With a killer chorus and unforgettable music video, it’s not hard to see why Robert Palmer’s signature track, Addicted To Love, made it onto Paul’s list. 

The 1986 hit reached Top 10 singles charts across the world, and had Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor on lead guitar. 

Paul and Robert used to share a manager, and so had lots to share about his fellow musician. 

“[Robert] was great,” Paul shared. “He's always very intense about his music. He would love a conversation about music and he would get right focused on it. If you look at his career, and the musical changes that he made in fact, there's a similarity between him and me. Both solo stars came out in two or three bands. Then when he went solo he started off doing pure funk for Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley and then morphed through to play….French rock ‘n’ roll.”

Scritti Politti - The Word Girl

British band Scritti Politti had their highest charting hit in 1985 with The Word Girl. 

Paul admitted he chose this track to ensure “people don’t forget the great ones.”

He added: “The Word Girl is also another one that you wouldn't think of first…this is a forgotten gem.”

The Icicle Works - Love Is A Wonderful Colour

A new-wave track now, and Paul included 1983 sophomore track from The Icicle Works - Love Is A Wonderful Colour. 

The tune was the band's biggest hit, reaching number 15 on the UK singles chart.

On the song’s impact on him, Paul shared: “It was one of those songs that drew me in because once again, it was coming out of punk at the time, so it's got that edge to it. But when the chorus comes in the course is standalone, beautiful.”

Level 42 - The Sun Goes Down

Jazz-funk band Level 42 had an overarching hit with their 1983 summer tune, The Sun Goes Down. 

The track reached number 10 in the UK charts, which was their very first single to achieve the feat. 

On his admiration for the track, Paul told host Steve: “I love Level 42. It's funny because they started off like a Jazz band, Mike [Lindup] ended up writing… some great songs. Good, really good pop songs. What I like about this one, though, is I remember it was much funkier than some of their others. It's because they were working with Maurice White, who was the bass player from Earth, Wind & Fire.”

Hue & Cry - Labour of Love

Scottish duo Hue & Cry released their second single, Labour of Love back in 1987 to much fanfare. 

The track landed at number six in the UK singles chart, and in more recent years, they’ve actually toured alongside Paul. 

“I'd done a tour a couple of years ago with [Hue & Cry], Paul explained. “When I was talking to my girlfriend, she was saying, ‘Oh, Who are they?’ And I played it in the car for an hour. I forgot what a great track this is, you know, and so thought I'd put it in.”

Duran Duran - Planet Earth

Duran Duran’s debut song, Planet Earth, was released in 1981 and was an immediate hit for the fledgling New Romantic band, peaking at number six on the singles charts.

“There are songs that I probably like better,” Paul started. “Ordinary Worlds is fantastic. Girls on Film’s good. They've done some really, really good ones. This one popped into my head and I thought, ‘oh my god, I remember it like it was yesterday.’ I think it's near the beginning of the 80s, so all this, once again, was influencing what my album was going to be.”

Prince - When Doves Cry

Prince had yet another worldwide hit with his 1984 classic When Doves Cry. 

It was the lead single from his sixth studio album, Purple Rain, and was the top selling single of that year, according to Billboard. 

Paul reminisced about hearing Prince for the very first time, explaining: “I thought he was the artist of the 80s. He was the Ray Charles of the 80s, whatever you want to call it, like a bit of a musical genius.

“I chose it because there's very few records where there's not a bass on it, there's no bass on this record. Very, very unusual. I mean, I love bass, but I just thought, you listen to the record and the weird thing is you don't really miss it. And that's why I chose this one.”

Mr Mister- Broken Wings 

American pop-rockers Mr Mister had a top 10 charting hit with their 1985 song Broken Wings.

On why he wanted his top US track on his list, Paul said: “I picked this one because when I had to try and come up with the songs, I was driving six hours to a gig from Liverpool to almost the south coast…and then this one came on on the radio…and I thought ‘that is a really good record’. And I guess I'd heard it so much that I'd written it off. Then when you don't hear something for a while, and you hear it again, you go ‘oh that’s so much better than I thought.’ So I thought, ‘well, let's play it again.”

The Whispers - It’s A Love Thing

US R’n’B was part of Paul’s musical background, and so it’s no surprise to see The Whispers on this list with It’s A Love Thing. 

Released in 1981, The Whispers reached the top 10 in the UK, and cemented their post-Disco sound within the decade. 

The disco of the 80s was much more enjoyable for Paul, who explained: “You'd got all this extra technology to hand and you've got a bass synthesiser. I never thought anything could sound better than a bass guitar, but when you get a bass synth, it sounds amazing. When you think of songs like She's a Bad Mama Jama by Carl Carlton, and that's all synth bass but it just grooves like crazy. You've got all that other stuff that you could use, as well as the funk from the 70s. I think those were some of the best club records ever made.”

Kid Creole & The Coconuts - Stool Pigeon 

Disco met Latin American and Caribbean musical styles with Kid Creole & The Coconuts. 

The group’s 1982 hit smashed through multiple genres, and was a personal highlight for a young Paul. 

He shared: “There was a three year period where [Kid Creole] owned the summers all across Europe. He just went bang and he exploded. I'll just remember that melting pot of Calypso and reggae and Cuban music and all this stuff.”

“Kid Creole opened that up for me because it was early days at that point. And, of course, The Coconuts, the whole show, he puts on theatre.”