College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 28 – 26

28. Big Country, “In a Big Country” When trying to introduce a band to an international audience, there are worse strategies that releasing an anthemic single that has the group’s name right there in the title. “In a Big Country” wasn’t the first single from the Scottish band Big Country, but it was the first to get them significant attention in the U.S. (Its predecessor, “Fields of Fire (400 Miles),” was a Top 10 hit in the U.K., a level “In a Big Country” didn’t reach.) Officially considered the third single from the band’s 1983 debut album, The Crossing, the … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 28 – 26

College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 31 – 29

31. Adam and the Ants, “Antmusic” “We name our music ‘antmusic’ to prevent classification and bracketing from other people,” Adam Ant told Tom Snyder when he appeared on Tomorrow to promote the 1980 album Kings of the Wild Frontier. “I don’t think that’s pretentious considering it’s taken four years to get the sound.” Besides the stretch of time identified by the singer, Adam and the Ants had gone through quite an ordeal on the way from their first to their second album, including the collapse of the band itself. Following a first flush of minor success — and some pigeonholing … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 31 – 29

College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 34 – 32

34. Sinéad O’Connor, “Mandinka” It didn’t start with a picture of the Pope on live television. Sinéad O’Connor was at war from the beginning. “I had no illusions that there were such things as record deals — I just happened to be lucky enough to get one,” O’Connor noted shortly after the release of her 1987 debut album, The Lion and the Cobra. “I didn’t realize there were such bastards in this business.” Her famously shaved head — a look especially out of step with late-eighties fashion trends — was O’Connor’s rebuttal to label attempts to impose a more MTV-friendly style … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 34 – 32

College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 37 – 35

37. U2, “I Will Follow” Iris Hewson died in 1974, when her son Paul was fourteen years old. Understandably, the pain and loss stuck with him for years. But what better tribute could a boy provide than to make a song about his mother — indeed, a song written from the perspective of his mother — the first track on the first album from his rock ‘n’ roll band, especially if that group in question goes on to become one of the biggest acts in the world? Leading off the 1980 album Boy, the first from U2, “I Will Follow” is about … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 37 – 35

College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 40 – 38

40. The English Beat, “Save It for Later” Since this is a chart for U.S. college radio that we’re tracking through, we are obligated to refer to the band featuring both Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger among the ranks by the vulgar and pedantic moniker the English Beat. In their native U.K., there was no need for the geographic qualifier, of course. The original name for the group preserved truth in advertising since the ska-singed beat delivered didn’t necessarily call to mind the British Isles. The Beat were already a force on the U.K. charts by the time they released their third … Continue reading College Countdown: CMJ Top 250 Songs, 1979 – 1989, 40 – 38