THE TOP 500 POP
SONGS OF THE 1980S
THIS WEEK’S FEATURED SONG
Hold Me Now by Thompson Twins - Song #288
This song was an international hit for British pop band Thompson Twins, and reached #3 on the U.S. Billboard Top 40. Billboard ranked Hold Me Now as the 24th most popular song of 1984. The song was a big hit in Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, and the U.K.
Initially a new wave group when formed in 1977, Thompson Twins switched to a more mainstream pop sound in 1982. The lineup changed, but the band is most well-known as the trio of Tom Bailey (guitars, keyboards, and vocals), Alannah Currie (drums, percussion, and vocals), and Joe Leeway (keyboards, percussion, and vocals), which was the lineup from 1982 to 1986. Joe Bailey left the band in 1986; the remaining duo of Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie continued to record until 1993——and got married in 1991, but divorced in 2003. The band was named after two bumbling detectives (Thomson and Thompson) from the Belgian comic strip The Adventures of Tintin, a series of 24 comic albums created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé; this series of comics was one of the most popular in Europe in the 20th century.
Hold Me Now was written by Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie after a heated argument: “Emotionally, it was written as the result of some argument that was resolved between Alannah and myself,” explained Tom Bailey. “We actually decided, well, this is an interesting emotional subject. What it feels like to get back together again after separation and the kind of ideas that come up and the way that emotion and physicality somehow are brought together.”
Thompson Twins’ sound typically relied on electronic instruments, but Alannah Currie said that Hold Me Now was different: “It’s such an emotional song [that] we wanted to have that warmth you often can’t get from synthesizers.” Hold Me Now features guitars, xylophones, piano, and Latin percussion. Tom Bailey explained the unusual structure of the song: “Musically, one thing I notice about this song is that the bass line and the chord sequence are the same in the verse as they are in the chorus. There’s no change. The only change is in the amount of instrumentation that goes on top of that. So you could play the same four chord trick around the verse and the chorus continuously. The only time it diverts from that is in the middle eight immediately after the second chorus. So, it’s very repetitive. And of course, although it’s a medium-tempo emotional song, because of its repetition and its groovy-ness, it has one foot in the dance department, as well.” In fact, Hold Me Now was a #1 song on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Club Play chart. The extended dance version of the song, which is almost 10 minutes long, accentuates the intricate song structure (click here).
The percussion in Hold Me Now is particularly distinctive. According to Tom Bailey, “Well, that was a trick we discovered. Because when we first started making music with machines, with drum computers and synthesizers, the drum computers made a very robotic, repetitive, machine-like rhythm that’s very impressive and very insistent, but it’s not quite happy enough. It doesn’t give the impression of a party going on. But as soon as you add the tambourines, as soon as you add the cowbells, the cymbals, the marimbas, the tympanies and things, it feels like there’s a human party going on around that very insistent, machine-like rhythm. So that became one of our secrets of technique: Write the drums for the record with the machine, but play the percussion sometimes quite loosely and not in the most accurate sense. Play it loosely around those rhythms and it feels great.”
Hold Me Now is Thompson Twins’ only song on this list of THE TOP 500 POP SONGS OF THE 1980S, and it is the biggest hit of the group’s seven U.S. Billboard Top 40 songs. In 1982, prior to their pop hits, the band hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Dance/Club Play chart with In the Name Of Love. At that time the group had seven members; they then scaled down to a trio and achieved international success. Their other hits in the U.S. were 1982’s Lies, 1984’s Doctor! Doctor!, 1985’s Lay Your Hands On Me, 1985’s King For a Day, 1987’s Get That Love, and 1989’s Sugar Daddy. Thompson Twins had additional ‘80s hits in the U.K. and other countries including Love On Your Side, We Are Detective, You Take Me Up, Sister Of Mercy, and Don’t Mess With Doctor Dream.
Hold Me Now is featured in the following films: 1998’s The Wedding Singer, 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You, and 2014’s Better Living Through Chemistry. The song has been featured in many TV shows, including Cold Case, Everybody Hates Chris, The Simpsons, EastEnders, The Blacklist, Scream Queens, New Girl, and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Thompson Twins performed Hold Me Now on July 13, 1985 at Live Aid (watch it here), a huge benefit concert that raised funds to help people who were experiencing severe famine in Ethiopia, held simultaneously on stages in Philadelphia and London. After performing Hold me Now on the Philadelphia stage, Thompson Twins performed The Beatles’ Revolution with Madonna on backup vocals and tambourine, and producer Nile Rodgers on guitar (watch it here). According to Rolling Stone magazine, “Forget Queen, U2 and whoever else: This song was the true star of Live Aid. The startling zenith of the follically resplendent U.K. trio’s career, Hold Me Now is an all-timer, the lovers-quarrel lyrics just a shade darker than the gossamer, arpeggiated synth-pop splendor swirling around them. He doesn’t assert himself until the final chorus, but the yelping backing vocals from synth/percussion specialist Joe Leeway——a former Thompson Twins roadie and current uncertified hypnotherapist——steal the show. The sneak-attack MVP of the Wedding Singer soundtrack, too.” Rolling Stone ranked Hold Me Now the #26 song on its list of 100 Best Singles of 1984: Pop’s Greatest Year.
Using the TABLE below, you may sort the list of THE TOP 500 POP SONGS OF THE 1980S by rank, title, artist, and year.
When sorting song titles or artists in the table, they will be alphabetized. (The four songs that begin with a parenthesis will be listed first, followed by the four songs that begin with numbers.)
Songs and artists that begin with A or The are alphabetized that way. (For example, you’ll find The Police and The Pretenders with the letter T, and A Flock Of Seagulls with the letter A.)
Solo artists are alphabetized by their first names. (For example, Bryan Adams is with the letter B, and Richard Marx is with the letter R.)
To see all of an artist’s songs ranked in order, enter the artist’s name in the search box, and then, to sort the results by rank, click on the # at the top of the first column.
THE SEARCH BOX
The SEARCH BOX is in the top right corner of the table. When you type a word or words into the SEARCH BOX, the table will collapse, revealing the search results, which you may then sort by clicking on the table headers. (NOTE: To get back to the full list of 500 songs after doing a search, you must clear the search box.)
SORTING BY YEAR
To see songs from a specific year ranked in order, enter an apostrophe and the year (for example: ‘84) in the search box, and then sort the results by rank. The year listed is the year that the song entered the United States Billboard Top 40.
DETAILS ABOUT THE SONGS & ARTISTS
For more information and interesting facts about the songs and the artists, plus other great ‘80s songs that didn’t make this TOP 500 list, and much more, check out PAGE 2: THE MUSIC.
WHO HAS THE MOST SONGS?
Who has the most songs on the list – Madonna, Prince, George Michael, Whitney Houston, or Michael Jackson? Click HERE to find out.