Gold! Always believe in your soul!
From the gold lamé suit worn by ABC’s Martin Fry to the bleached golden locks of Blondie’s Deborah Harry, the new wave era has always had the Midas touch. Follow Chris Rooney’s rainbow of songs to the very end to find your very own pot of gold standards. (To listen to this or any of our other playlists via Spotify, click here.)
Spandau Ballet, “Gold” (1983)
Spandau frontman Tony Hadley’s recent thoughts on the tune: “’Gold’ is the song which even today’s kids enjoy singing along to in student bars up and down the country, and is one of main reasons I get so many corporate shows. It’s requested all the time at awards shows.” Ironically, the single only achieved Silver in the UK, unlike their previous single, “True,” which attained Gold status with sales of over 400,000 units.
The Human League, “(You Remind Me Of) Gold” (1982)
If Philip Oakey was resistant about releasing “Don’t You Want Me” as a single, he probably later kicked himself for relegating this synthpop gem to second fiddle as the B-side of the Human League’s single, “Mirror Man.”
Marian Gold of Alphaville, “Sounds Like A Melody” (1984)
Born Hartwig Schierbaum, the Alphaville frontman changed his name to Marian Gold. Perhaps he was inspired by another singer with a big, operatic voice and a stage name taken from another element in the periodic table – Queen’s Freddie Mercury?
The Stranglers, “Golden Brown” (1982)
If you were concocting the perfect playlist for a heroin addict, The Stranglers’ hypnotic waltz would lay strung out well between the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man” and The Las’ “There She Goes.”
Simple Minds, “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” (1982)
“Every band or artist with a history has an album that’s their holy grail,” said vocalist Jim Kerr. “I suppose New Gold Dream was ours. It was a special time because we were really beginning to break through with that record, both commercially and critically. The people that liked that record connected with it in a special way. There was a depth to it: it created its own mythology. It stood out. It was our most successful record to date and, critically, the (music journalist) Paul Morleys of this world were writing very nice things about it.”
David Bowie, “Golden Years” (1975)
Bowie allegedly offered the song to Elvis Presley to perform, but that Presley declined it. Ironically, Bowie can still enjoy the song in his golden years unlike Elvis who died two years later. Want to bet that probably only second to The Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four,” this song has played at more AARP conventions than any other?
Golden Earring, “Twilight Zone” (1982)
The Dutch band had been kicking around since their inception in the mid-1960s with some minor success until they finally struck gold in the America thanks to their cinematic video played endlessly on the fledgling music channel, MTV. Interestingly enough, the song was inspired not by the famous TV series of the same name, but by the Robert Ludlum novel The Bourne Identity, which would later be turned into a popular movie twenty years later.
Annie Golden, “Hang Up the Phone” (1984)
Former lead singer of the power pop band and CBGB regulars, The Shirts, Golden went solo for this oh-so-1980s-poppy song used on the Sixteen Candles soundtrack.
The Smiths, “Golden Lights” (1986)
Ah, the pitfalls of fame and the ones you leave behind. Originally written and sung by the melancholic teenage singer, Twinkle back in 1964; “Golden Lights” is only one of two covers that The Smiths ever recorded in the studio. The other was a cover of a Cilla Black song, “Work Is A Four-Letter Word” which Morrissey insisted upon and is what supposedly was the straw that broke the camel’s back when Johnny Marr decided to quit the band in 1987.
Yello, “Goldrush” (1986)
There are two mysteries behind Yello’s music video for “Goldrush”. First, is everyone clamoring for an actual nugget of gold in his pocket or is it something more euphoric like a pocketful of poppers? The lyrics ”You’ve got that nugget in your hand..clouds, love, stars colours…rush” would certainly suggest so. And second, why doesn’t Billy MacKenzie from The Associates make a guest appearance since he’s singing the chorus? William, it was really nothing.
Aztec Camera, “Just Like Gold” (1981)
The debut single by Roddy Frame and the boys shimmers and shines with its jangly guitar work and jazzy drumming. Frame’s quest for more gold came with the band’s 1988 single, “Working In A Goldmine”. No wonder the invading Spanish conquistadors were so interested in fortunes of the Aztec Empire.
Johnny Hates Jazz, “Heart of Gold” (1988)
Johnny may have hated jazz, but he always loved a hooker with a heart of gold. I get the feeling that with Johnny’s luck, it will end with “Shattered Dreams” and a case of venereal disease.
Siouxsie & The Banshees, “Ornaments of Gold” (1988)
Siouxsie’s exquisite, exotic teaser invites you to a hedonistic world of “silver couches to recline upon / and ornaments of gold / silver moonbeams dance in fountains / below shining citadels”. Nothing is too good for Siouxsie.
The Stone Roses, “Fool’s Gold” (1989)
As the 1980s drew to a close, new wave was in the rear-view mirror. After The Smiths’ demise in 1987, the British music press was on the hunt to rave about the next big indie sensation. Lurking in the shadows were The Smiths’ fellow Mancunians, The Stone Roses. The band’s breakthrough came in 1989 with “Fool’s Gold”, their epic ode to pyrite.
This helped to set off the gold rush-like frenzy known as Madchester, the new decade’s short-lived Northern England music scene that mixed alternative rock, psychedelic rock and electronic dance music.