Songs That May Be Intolerable – Unless They Are Played on Friday Nights at a Roller Skating Rink Sometime in the 1980s

For those of us who grew up in the 1980s – or who at least were in high school in the 80s … that music is a bond between us that can NEVER be broken.

I posted on it once before – Songs From High School Dances of my Youth.

But – Mr. Z in the comments to my St. Elmo’s Fire post below suggests an elaboration of that theme:

Songs That May Be Intolerable – Unless They Are Played on Friday Nights at a Roller Skating Rink Sometime in the 1980s

Here are some of my thoughts:

— “Everybody’s Workin’ for the Weekend” – Loverboy

— “You Should Hear How He Talks About You” – Melissa Manchester

— “White Wedding”/”Dancing with Myself” – Billy Idol

— “I Love Rock and Roll” – Joan Jett

— “Rock Lobster” – the B52s

— “The Heart of Rock and Roll” – Huey Lewis

— “Take On Me” – Aha

— “Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats

— Anything by Devo. Devo was HUGE.

— “Angel is a Centerfold” – J. Geils

— “Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen

And, of course, the aforementioned (and melancholy) “No One is to Blame” by Howard Jones – which was always a slow “couples-skate” – and I would watch from the sidelines. Apparently, so would Mr. Z.

This is a 1980s fest. Please begin the discussion.

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38 Responses to Songs That May Be Intolerable – Unless They Are Played on Friday Nights at a Roller Skating Rink Sometime in the 1980s

  1. Anne says:

    Um, I love White Wedding. I could listen to that anytime.

    Heard that song about being stuck in 1985 this weekend, and felt named by it.

  2. red says:

    Anne – you’re right. All of these songs can still get me going. Perhaps the real title of the post should be:

    “Songs That Act as Time-Travelers for Those Who Grew Up in the 1980s”

  3. Bryan says:

    Your comment on narrow ties was what served as a time-traveller for me. I still have mine, hoping that they will eventually come back into style. I used to have a theory that tie width was correlated with the party that held the White House, i.e., when a Republican was president, ties became narrow and solid colored, whereas when a Democrat was president, ties became wide and multicolored. Bush didn’t bring back the narrow ties, though, but they did become solid colored again.

  4. spd rdr says:

    The other day I came across a three disc compilation of 1980’s 12-inch extended versions It was buried in the mess of a move I made last January! (Procrastinate much? NO!)

    Anyway, this thing go me rolling. Romeo Void, Berlin, Haircut 100, Oingo Boingo, Bauhaus, bang bang bang, one after another. Good lord I ffelt old.

    I had to cool down to some James Brown.

  5. red says:

    Oingo Boingo!! ha!

  6. Emily says:

    I never could figure out that g#$%%%^@ f*&*&*#ing &$^%*#head of a Rubik’s Cube. I am still bitter about this. Not that you can tell.

  7. red says:

    heh heh heh

    Rubik’s! What a craze. Kids on the school bus, huddled over those crazy things …

    My cousin Susan was obsessed with them, and ended up becoming kind of a Rubix cube genius. I never got a handle on it.

  8. Barry says:

    “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol

    “Freeze Frame/Centerfold” by J. Geils Band

    “Open Arms” by Journey

    “Don’t Cry” by Asia

    “Rosanne/Africa” by Toto

    Those may not necessarily by rollerskating songs (I’d stopped rollerskating by the time I was in high school) but they’re definitely what remind me of the early-mid 80’s.

    In fact, my rollerskating days were in junior high (late 70’s) and I remember “YMCA/In the Navy”, “Le Freak” and “King Tut” more.

  9. Mr. Z says:

    I see your “Take On Me” and raise you an “I Melt With You.”

    I’ll actually admit to actually liking both songs, even when not suffocating on “rental shoe deodorant” fumes…

    And while it may look like I’ve got a steel-trap memory for ’80’s music, but I actually have these on my iPod. The playlist? ’80’s Torture Mix. Muhuwaahaahaahaa!

    “Caribbean Queen” – Billy Ocean

    “Main Street” – Bob Seger (another couples-skate classic)

    “Boy Meets Girl” – Haircut 100

    “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Tears for Fears

    “Harden My Heart” – Quarterflash

    “Here I Go Again” – Whitesnake

    And one that I can ONLY listen to under certain, extremely controlled situations (such as a roller skating rink):

    “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Rick Astley

    Bearing a passing resemblance to Rick Astley is no way to go through the ’80’s…

  10. red says:

    King Tut! Oh GOD. Who was cooler and weirder and more insane than Steve Martin back then??

    “Born in Arizon-uh
    Moved to Babylon-uh
    King Tut”

  11. Mr. Z says:

    Emily – try living through that decade with the last name of “Ubik.” :-)

  12. Emily says:

    You know, I was trapped in one of those unfortunate situations where one has the genre of “easy listening” music foisted upon them last week and came to remember Air Supply, which recorded these love ballads that were duets between 2 guys. Just what in the hell was that all about?!?!?

  13. Bryan says:

    Since the topic of the Rubik’s Cube came up, for those who are interested in math, there is a fun book out that teaches abstract algebra via the Cube. At the conclusion is a rigorous mathematically derived solution of the Cube.

  14. I was a Rubik’s Cube spaz. I could get maybe one side or two at the most to be the same color. I tried peeling off the stickers and rearranging them. Later, I broke it apart with a screwdriver and tried to reassemble it. In case you’re wondering, neither method worked.

  15. Patrick says:

    Electric Avenue – Eddie Grant

    Have you ever heard the Mark Wills song, 19 Somethin’? (Country Music)

    “It was 19 eighty somethin’ in the world that I grew up in. Skatin’ rinks and black Trans Ams, big hair and parachute pants. Lookin’ back now I can see me. Oh man, did I look cheesy. I wouldn’t trade those days for nothin’.”

  16. Emily says:

    Some of the cheaper Rubik’s rip-offs could be disassembled and put back together. I did it with mine several times.

  17. Barry says:

    Also: “All Night Long” and “Hello” by Lionel Richie.


    “Total Eclipse of the Heart/Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. (Not to mention “Heartache” by Bonnie several years prior)

    Remember “Take Off” by Bob & Doug McKenzie w/ Getty Lee from Rush?

  18. red says:

    Let us take a moment and say a prayer for Laura Branigan. It seems appropriate at this time.

  19. Laura says:

    Oh man, I spent several birthday parties, outings and gatherings at the Roller Rink, creatively called the Rola-Rena.

    “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was huge.

    “Wild Wild West” by the Escape Club, it allowed us pre-teens to find it fun to say “gimme gimme wild west gimme gimme safe sex”, we felt cool saying it. Gotta love those pre-teen delusions.

    “She’s a Beauty”
    “And We Danced”
    “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” as well as other popular MJ songs, because at the time MJ was cool, and it was cool to be in love with MJ.
    “Walk Like An Egyptian” coincided with goofy gestures while skating

    They also did the Limbo, Hokey Pokey and other things that required way too much coordination, which meant I’d skate over to the carpeted area, and get some candy and soda, or play an arcade game. To this day I’m surprised the awful blisters those cheap crappy puke brown rollerskates gave me ever healed. The cool kids had their own skates. I was not cool.

  20. Easycure says:

    Before The Cure became “My Favorite Band” in 1984, DEVO was. I (almost) have everything they have ever released on vinyl and CD. I still listen to them, and I always will. I probably know 95% of their songs by heart. (Not the band, Heart.)

    The only CD I don’t have is their “EZ Listening” album, which is some of their selected songs they rerecorded in slow Muzak (elevator-type) fashion. If you have that and don’t like it, please, please SELL IT TO ME!


    P.S. Am I really 38 years old? (I am.)

    P.P.S. We are all DEVO.

  21. Easycure says:

    Oh, I still have my skinny leather necktie. I will never get rid of it.

  22. Bill McCabe says:

    I spent Friday night at “The Culture Club”, glorifying all aspects of 80s culture.

    The music is fine, the place just wasn’t my type of thing.

  23. Dave J says:

    What everyone else said. Long live the 80’s!

  24. Phil Melton says:

    I spent the 80s as a manager of a record store, and it was a fun time to be in the music biz. You had the tail end of punk and the beginnings of new wave, MTV was new and playing lots of different kinds of stuff, and some didn’t suck. Springsteen and Prince became huge, and when “Thriller” broke, Michael Jackson was only just beginning to evolve into non-blackness. It was a great time for music.

    Still got some skinny ties somewhere (including the one like piano keys).

  25. I am truly shocked that not one person here has yet mentioned “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” or any other chart-toppers from the British duo of Wang Chung. Then again, perhaps everyone just blocked out those memories.

  26. red says:

    I actually saw Wang Chung in concert. Granted, I was really there to see Tina Turner – and they opened for Tina – so WEIRD – but they actually were great.

    Tina, on the other hand, is emblazoned in my memory forever. She’s, what, 5 foot 2 or something? She seems like she’s 6 feet tall.

  27. That must have been an amazing show. And “Dance Hall Days” was actually a pretty good song.

  28. BTW, Sheila, the other big hit which Wang Chung had was called “Let’s Go.” It was from around the same time as “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.”

  29. Ash says:

    Riding on the range…

    I’ve got my hat… on.

    I’ve got my boots… dusty.

  30. CW says:

    That’s “Angel In the Centerfold”. I know this because when I was in high school, I got all my friends to call the local radio station and request it so the DJs would play it more often.

  31. Beth says:

    oh, the pain of having no one to skate with at couple’s skate. Of course, it was always preceded by a “ladies only” kind of thing which always made me feel like a hunk of meat. “Now I will skate round and round in circles, pretending not to notice that there are BOYS watching all of us, considering who to pick for COUPLES SKATE.” Let me tell you, it is really, REALLY hard to suck your stomach in and skate and try to do that fancy crossover foot movement around the corner all at the same time, and try to appear attractive and maintain your balance. Needless to say, I never skated to “Every Breath you Take” or “Almost Paradise”. I had fainted in the corner from sucking in my gut and skating at the same time.

  32. david says:

    Two words summarize all that is Good and Cool about the 80s…


    ‘Nuff said.

  33. Betsy says:

    I’m taking my son to a concert tomorrow night for his 11th birthday – Phil Collins!

  34. Mr. Z says:

    Phil Collins! A staple of ’80’s radio!

    I don’t know whether I’m proud or ashamed to admit this (probably a little of both), but one of my favorite ’80’s concert moments was seeing Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark open for Depeche Mode. I even think I still have the ticket stashed away somewhere.

    If you leave I won’t cry
    I won’t waste one single day

    Another classic couples-skate song (at least as viewed from the sidelines).

  35. Popskull says:

    Anybody remember a song called “Black Cars” by Gino Vannelli? Man, I loved that. NEVER hear that one today.

  36. eh says:

    I didn’t go to high school dances because I thought they were dopey and cliqueish.

    The one time I remember going to a skating rink, a size large woman skating against and with her back to the flow ran into me when I momentarily wasn’t looking where I was going, and I broke my arm in the fall. No kidding.

    And blech to most 80s music.

  37. red says:

    ONLY the dances were cliquish? I remember all of high school being cliquish.