Top 20 Albums Of 1981 (Nos. 6-10)

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to compile our favorite albums from 1981. Did your favorite make the cut? Did we get it right? Let us know in the comments!

Here are numbers 6-10:

10. Styx, Paradise Theater

I was introduced to Styx when I was in junior high school, back when I knew very little about music and was pretty uncool when it came to what I did listen to. (Not that that has stopped me from being a Barry Manilow fan lo these many years...) Over the course of a couple of years, I picked up every Styx album that was out at the time, and started buying their new stuff as soon as it came out. Little did I know that they would peak so soon after I became a fan.

Paradise Theater is, sadly, the last of the good Styx albums, but what an album it is. Side one (remember sides?) is nothing but hits, every one of which is as good today as it was in '81. I was working in fast food when this album was hot, and "Nothing Ever Goes As Planned" was my work anthem. ("You get up every morning and you go to work each day, Been doin' the same damn job for ten long years this May") Come to think of it, it still kind of is. It's sad that the group kind of jumped the shark after '81.

By the way, I still have all of my vinyl records to this day, and Paradise Theater is the coolest one that I own: one side has the album cover art laser etched into it. It's pretty awesome.--Dave

9. Duran Duran, Duran Duran

So you think guys with crazy asymmetrical haircuts and new romantic tassels on their blouses can't make you get up and dance around your living room? Wrong.

I was as much of a skeptic as the next gal when I picked up this record on a whim after hearing from a friend who had just returned on the last flight from London that "these are the guys to watch." Never would I imagine that this band, and this record, would become one of my all time favorites almost eclipsing the all consuming love I already had for a certain three blond dreamboats.

Suddenly, I found myself easing Duran Duran's debut album onto the turntable with some regularity and I even designated myself a favorite band member: the still wildly popular John Taylor. They've seen mind-boggling highs and some bottomed-out lows since 1981 but this is a band that has endured endless lineup changes, personal turmoils, and changing tastes, but they have come out the other side with a fan base so rabid and loyal that it boggles the mind. I dare you to listen to this record, with the infectious grooves and swirling otherworldly melodies and try NOT to dance around just a little bit.--Dufmanno

8. Rolling Stones, Tattoo You

Tattoo You was the Stones' last masterpiece. The World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band had long since established their right to that title, yet there they were--as the last gasps of the '70s were being expunged by the Yamaha keyboards and skinny ties of the '80s--casually showing the world how the professionals rock. You could argue that the opening riff to "Start Me Up" is the definitive Stones riff, a declarative statement that disco, punk, new wave, and MTV were no match for balls-out rock awesomeness. They were bawdy ("Little T&A"), bluesy ("Black Limousine"), and boppy ("Slave"), and the album closes with one of the most affecting paens to friendship ever recorded, "Waiting On A Friend." They may seem like a band of old-timers, but when musicologists count the chips there are few that can compare to the Rolling Stones, and Tattoo You is one of their strongest hands.--CroutonBoy

7. Billy Joel, Songs In The Attic

I didn't know much about the early work of Billy Joel when Songs In The Attic was released in 1981. I had no idea that his first album almost tanked and it was through a few strokes of luck and a lot of piano playing in dive bars that would make Billy Joel a superstar. All I knew was that the beware-the-future track, "Miami 2017," rocked. I thought the Western themed "Ballad Of Billy The Kid" was cool and I liked singing along to "Captain Jack," even though I didn't yet understand what it was about. Songs In The Attic was my entry step into the deeper cuts of Billy Joel's catalogue and I nearly wore out my cassette.--Daddy Geek Boy

6. Hall & Oates, Private Eyes

The song "Private Eyes" was the trigger that awoke my obsession music. I was eleven years old, and somewhere in the middle of that song I came online. Sure, I'd been exposed to music and could recognize Blondie and the Bee Gees, but it was that song, and that album, which provided the winding key to my appreciation of music. It was the first album I really wanted, the first time I could look past the single and the radio play and actually want to hear the rest of what Hall & Oates did. The whole '80s aesthetic was defined by this album, from the pink jackets and the feather hair (Hall) to the crime-fighting mustache (Oates). As I've said before, every American city should have a statue of them in their town square, and Private Eyes was them at their most awesome.--CroutonBoy

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