Relax: New survey settles music’s best year debate


Prince released Purple Rain in 1984, the album sold 1.5 million copies in its first week. Pic: Flickr/Beverly & Pack

1984 voted as the best year for music according to an independent study carried out by a British radio station

The small survey was compiled by Greatest Hits Radio and involved 1,488 of their listeners. The station also reported that eight in 10 of those asked said music helps bring back nostalgic memories, a statistic that will come as no surprise to most, whereas others will find it strange that two in 10 don’t connect music with past memories.

Although the survey has significant flaws, and there is no scientific way to prove music’s “best year”, it’s easy to see why 1984 was a popular year as Prince released Purple Rain, the Red Hot Chili Peppers unleashed their debut album and the first Band Aid charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas, became a seasonal classic. Also, in that year George Michael reached the top spot five times and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax spent five weeks at No.1 in the charts.

Second place went to 1985, with 45 percent voting the 1980s as the best decade overall for music. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed believe music peaked at one point or another, with one in four believing that was between 1981 and 1985. Queen were voted top band from the 1970s and 1980s, with their Live Aid performance being heralded as the best live event from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. While Oasis were voted best band of the 1990s.

“The results prove how defining the 80s were as a decade for music,” said presenter Mark Goodier. “Artists such as Queen, Wham! and Madonna were at their peak and of course the Band Aid release bought together some of the biggest acts. Songs released in the crucial year of 1984 are still recognised and celebrated today, as many respondents stated, the eighties was a time for classics.”

While the results might be overemphasized, it’s hard to argue against a decade that produced artists like Madonna and U2 who are still held in high regard by millions of music fans worldwide.

Top years for music according to Greatest Hits Radio listeners:

  1. 1984
  2. 1985
  3. 1970
  4. 1999
  5. 1987
  6. 1996
  7. 1976
  8. 1980
  9. 1977
  10. 1986
  11. 1979
  12. 1983
  13. 1995
  14. 1982
  15. 1994
  16. 1974
  17. 1975
  18. 1981
  19. 1998
  20. 1988

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