10. "More Love" by Kim Carnes
9. "Let My Love Open The Door"
For some reason I thought this song came later in the 80s, probably because it sounds ahead of its time. The synthesizer sound was a harbinger of what was to come, and Townsend's softer approach reflected the middle aging of the Boomer generation. It's a great song, and better than any song the Who put out after Quadrophenia in 1973. It's refreshing to hear one of Townsend's more heartfelt songs without Roger Daltry flexing his scrote all over the vocal track.
8. "Give Me The Night" by George Benson
7. "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply
Is there a more Reagan Dawn artist than Air Supply? They drew from soft rock explosion of the 70s, but more polished and less funky with a dash of bombast. It was emotive and shimmery and a little over the top, like an early 80s prime time soap opera. No artist ever had a better soft rock name. I mean "Air Supply" is about as evocative of this music as it gets. From Australia, they are also on the edge of the first wave of the Antipodean Invasion of the 1980s, with Men at Work to soon follow. This cultural phenomenon has given me a lifelong fascination with Australia, which I still yearn to visit.
6. "Fame" by Irene Cara
Contrary to a popular misconception, disco did not die right after the Disco Demolition Night in Chicago in the summer of 1979. It was still all over the charts in 1980, but a little more stripped down and less glammed out. This new disco, instead of dying, would quietly form the basis of 80s dance music. Take Irene Cara, who sang this song in 1980, but went on to do "What A Feeling" in 1983, at which point the Reagan Dawn had turned into new morning. This Giorgio Moroder-fied disco does not have the big string sections, replacing it with synthesizer, a sign of things to come.
5. "Take Your Time (Do It Right)" by The SOS Band
4. "Emotional Rescue" by The Rolling Stones
3. "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John
Like I said, disco was not dead in 1980. Hell, this song comes from a roller disco movie! (Xanadu is one of my fave so bad it's good flicks.) Despite that fact, it is deceptively ahead of its time. The watery guitar and synths would be big 80s pop production elements, although the laid-back drum beat still lingers from the 70s. Olivia Newton-John may have been the representative artist of the Reagan Dawn, hitting her peak in that era with "Physical" in 1981 and soon dropping off.
2. "Upside Down" by Diana Ross
Now this right here is a song. It is appropriate for the dusk of disco, edgier and less ostentatious. The song is built on a wicked, sharp-elbowed groove that has never failed to get me moving. Ross's soft voice provides a sweet counterpoint, yin to the groove's yang. The owl of Minerva flies at dusk indeed.
1. "Sailing" by Christopher Cross
Poor Christopher Cross. In 1980 he wrote and performed what's probably the most successful Yacht Rock of them all, right before the advent of MTV. In the 70s ordinary looking guys could get big if they could write catchy songs, but in the age of videos it would take something more than that. Phil Collins managed to crack to code by making his videos stand out, but in 1981 that wasn't really an option yet. The smooth sound of this track, easy listening but with more of a soul influence, sounds like Reagan Dawn. Cross, like that period, was liminal. Too bad he got caught in between.