Top 20 Albums Of 1986 (Nos. 6-10)

For this week's Ranked!, we compiled our twenty favorite albums released in 1986. Did we get it right? Let us know in the comments!

Here are numbers 6-10:

10. Various Artists, Top Gun Soundtrack

About a million years ago I used to work for Borders Books. I was the supervisor that came in at 5:00 AM with the inventory team and helped get the new books out onto the sales floor. We had total control of the store's overhead music system. We could open any CD in the store and play it; we could also bring in our own albums to listen to. One of my colleagues was in her 40s and was really into Rammstein. Now, I like Rammstein as much as the next girl, but "Du Hast" at 5:00 AM before you've had breakfast is incredibly painful and it kind of makes you want to torture kittens. I'm pretty sure they play Rammstein at Gitmo.

So we started trying to find good music to get us going, music that wouldn't want us to go all kinds of crazy. One morning someone decided it would be '80s Day and kicked the day off with the Top Gun soundtrack. This was a team full of music snobs, who bickered every morning about so-and-so's crappy taste in music. But this day? This day we all agreed that the Top Gun soundtrack is epic and awesome and a great way to start your day. When the rest of the team rolled in at 9:00 AM, we were all fist pumping and singing and happy campers. That's the power of the Top Gun soundtrack, friends.

Incidentally, I asked a friend of mine, who's a total Top Gun fanatic, for some reasons why this album rules. Here's what he had to say: "It's got his Logginness, Eddie Van Halen, Cheap Trick, the make out song of 1986, and oozes freedom and sexuality. If someone calls me up and the anthem is playing, I know it's time to flight suit up. We could end the war on terror by playing the soundtrack on loop and broadcasting it to our enemies. They can't defeat awesome. When the zeds come, their defeat will be to the sound of this soundtrack. It's probably been the winning soundtrack at the air guitar world championships. Waldo is hiding because he heard the soundtrack and he's a freedom-hating hippie. To get the iconic carrier shot that leads into danger zone, the director wrote a check to cover the cost of fuel to turn it. How many civilians have told the navy what to do with their carriers? One, for Top Gun's soundtrack. "Danger Zone' is practically cannon at every sporting event. And in America, sports are religion. Ergo, "Danger Zone" is our "Ave Maria." So there you have it: Top Gun, best soundtrack ever.--Archphoenix

9. Van Halen, 5150

One of the good things about being a relatively new Van Halen fan in the '80s (1984 being my first prolonged exposure to the band), I didn't have a whole lot invested in the idea of David Lee Roth being THE frontman for the band. So when Sammy Hagar took over as lead singer, it wasn't the least bit traumatic to me. There is definitely a very real difference in the sound of this album compared to the band's earlier work, but Eddie's guitar work is still awesome and Sammy can really belt out a tune. "Why Can't This Be Love" and "Love Walks In" are among my favorite Van Halen tunes--even if they are from the "Van Hagar" era. I've seen the band in concert--a few years back, when David Lee Roth got back with the band for a tour--and I enjoyed it. But I found myself wishing that differences could have been set aside so that both Sammy and Diamond Dave could have toured with the band. I think both eras of Van Halen are worthwhile and cool in their own way. (Note that I didn't say all three eras--Sammy Hagar? Fine. Gary Cherone? Uh uh.)--Dave

8. They Might Be Giants, They Might Be Giants

TMBG has been a go-to favorite of mine, without ever really listening to many albums, for a long time now. It's the band that my entire group of high school friends used to go see when we could, largely just because one of them was a fan and sucked us all in. Those shows were always a good time though, and this album is where it all started. I chose this not for the songs, but for the legacy that was to follow from it. This band has done just about anything and everything they've wanted to, from crazy funny songs to kids' albums, in all sorts of different styles. Everyone I know knows who these guys are and I've never heard a negative comment about them or their music, and this is where it all started!--J-Hawke

7. Madonna, True Blue

Prior to 1986, I thought Madonna was just another trashy chick that sang catchy tunes. Then, I heard her single "Live To Tell." It was a dramatic change for Madonna, and was a major hit. For me, I thought, wow... she's a real singer. I guess she stopped singing out of her nose! When True Blue was released, it was the longest #1 album in the world in 1986. Major hit singles include "Papa Don't Preach," which riled up a bunch of controversy. "True Blue," was an ode to 1950s pop, and I remember MTV held a cool contest that required participants to shoot a music video for the single, and the winner was chosen by Madonna. "Open Your Heart," which was originally written for Cyndi Lauper, went to #1 towards the end of the year. "La Isla Bonita" is the final single released, and it was originally offered to Michael Jackson. True Blue was the album that made Madonna a bona fide mega star.--Jay

6. Paul Simon, Graceland

There aren't very many albums that I can say actually changed me. But Paul Simon's masterpiece, Graceland, did; it taught me that I can expect more from music, and that originality, beauty, worldliness, and art are utterly achievable in popular music. It didn't stick to some predictable formula or radio-friendly genre of the time, but instead used the familiar as a springboard to something refreshingly, stunningly unique. Much has been written of Simon's journey to South Africa during apartheid to discover the music of Soweto and how he incorporated it into the music of Graceland. It's a great story, but it's nothing compared to the stunning music. I remember watching Paul Simon perform "Diamonds On The Souls Of Her Shoes" on Saturday Night Live in '86 with Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing a capella and dancing behind him, utterly smitten and silenced by the music. That song, as all the songs on this album, weaves a human story that is both epic and familiar and surrounds it with lush African rhythms and instrumentation. Graceland is a mind-expanding album, connecting us to the larger world and opening up musical possibilities most musicians would never dare. And it's not just that it's a bold album; it invites sing-alongs and impromptu dance parties in our home, too, in a way few albums do. One of the absolute high points of the '80s.--CroutonBoy

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