Ranking Modern Rock hits 1988-1989

Blame my Anglophilia, I guess, but few songs from the Pre-Cambrian Era of the modern rock chart struck me as deserving of referral to The Hague. Candidates will announce themselves in the next couple years, I assure you. Even Ian McCullough’s “Proud to Fall” has a self-assured jangle that made it more than okay (and stronger than Echo & the Bunnymen’s material by at least five years). Cheers then to Psychedelic Furs’ entry in the barely occupied category of good songs recorded for compilations, Tears For Fears going for baroque for one of the last times in these parts, and R.E.M.’s tight kiddie anthem, my first R.E.M. single bought in real time. Readers may wonder why “So Alive,” a harbinger that something strange was happening in the alternative pop crossover; I appreciate the T. Rex-with-gated-drum homage as gesture.


Hoodoo Gurus – Come Anytime
Big Audio Dynamite – Just Play Music!
U2 – Desire
XTC – Mayor of Simpleton
Love and Rockets – So Alive
Camper Van Beethoven – Pictures of Matchstick Men

Solid, Sound Entertainments

The Replacements – I’ll Be You
R.E.M. – Orange Crush
The B’52’s – Love Shack
PiL – Disappointed
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Blues from a Gun
Lou Reed – Dirty Blvd
Ian McCullough – Proud to Fall
Julian Cope – Charlotte Anne

Good to Great

The B-52’s – Channel Z
R.E.M. – Stand
Psychedelic Furs – All That Money Wants
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Peek-a-Boo
The Cure – Fascination Street
Kate Bush – Love and Anger
Elvis Costello – Veronica
Tears For Fears – Sowing the Seeds of Love

5 thoughts on “Ranking Modern Rock hits 1988-1989

  1. Jukebox

    The Mehs?

    Love and Rockets. My Excuse: It sounded positively alien in AT40 in a shitty year. This back to back to “Love Song” was like all of a sudden Milli Vanilli and Mark Damien or Peter Cetera and Cher or…etc. haven’t existed. I didn’t know back then about the new Billboard Format. In fact I didn’t check it until it was available online, deep into the 2000s! and my list for the 80s were closed atm. Gothic pop in AT40 were unheard of and these shining moments were golden, even years after the real thing.

    Mayor of Simpleton. Excuse: Sorry, It seems we couldn’t meet on an XTC track. Well, I own both English Settlement and Oranges and Lemons. Of course, ultrapsychedelic, messy XTC annoyed me for the most part, except for this song. I don’t know. I liked it back then and didn’t re-think it. Plus, It’s next to “Veronica”, so when I discovered they were back to back number ones I couldn’t believe it, so left is as is. They both have this Beatlesque propulsive beats. And my list of movies I like in letterboxd it’s called “Garden of Eartly Delights”, so it must be a subconscious thing. I don’t like that album, really. Perhaps “Simpleton” is my only memento for it because it was my first XTC album I purchased. I prefer it over “Senses Working Overtime” which might be better but that build up to the killer chorus is a chore. Slooowly…

    U2. Ok,no excuses. NOBODY loved Rattle and Hum. I think Zooropa is terribly underrated for starters and vastly prefer it over this messy and uneven thing… except for the first two singles. I don’t know, I believe them being deep into Black Roots music. In restrospective, it sounds to me rawer and more organic than the Philly sound they intended afterwards (that song with the One direction of that time!!) and the lame “return to form” in 2001. Well, except for that killer melody that is “Stuck in a Moment”. Really, indeed the last decent melody they found. They should have dissapeared after that. Well, “Desire” is short. That’s a plus. And 1989 was an appalling year for radio pop in general. At least, the radio here. Only Guns ‘n’ Roses were rocking it. what should I picked, “Look Away”?:)

    The solid: Dirty Blv. Orange Crush, Love Shack (I could have picked the whole Cosmic Thing!!)
    The great: Stand, Veronica, Seeds of Love. I prefer Lovesong and Pictures of You over Fascination as “singles”. They both in my list.) Never heard of the Furs track. I have to check it out!!

    1. Jukebox

      I can’t stop listening that Phoebe Snow song now!! Listening the whole album now, never heard it here on radio. How in hell this was a hit?? I’m in love.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s