Top Scandal and Patty Smyth Solo Songs of the '80s

To listen to the distinctive powerhouse vocals of American singer-songwriter Patty Smyth - performed both with her early-'80s new wave-tinged mainstream rock band Scandal and on her own solo records - one would imagine that a woman this talented, charismatic and beautiful would have been an '80s megastar. Sadly, Smyth never reached a level of recognition commensurate to her talent and appeal. Nevertheless, a look back at her modest quantity of '80s recordings reveals a high percentage of top-quality guitar rock songs delivered with vigor and panache. Here's a chronological look at the best '80s songs featuring Smyth on lead vocals, mostly drawn from Scandal's two album releases but also sampling the beginning of her impressive but intermittent solo career.

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"Goodbye to You"

Michael Marks/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

As arguably Scandal's signature song, it still seems utterly amazing that this consistently rewarding, new wave-inflected rock single peaked only at No. 65 on Billboard's pop charts in 1982. It simply has "huge pop single" written all over it in every way. Beyond that, the Zack Smith composition serves as a perfect vehicle for Smyth's sassy, infectiously exuberant performance style. Only a few early-'80s acts proved themselves capable of straddling successfully the line between new wave and arena rock, but Scandal certainly qualifies as one of the best such bands. This is a bouncy rocker full of attitude and verve, and it truly stands proudly as one of the finest '80s tunes of all.

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"Love's Got a Line on You"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of CBS

Scandal's follow-up single is almost as good as its debut - if not a touch melodically superior. Once again, Smyth's vocals are delightfully raspy, utterly distinctive and undoubtedly supercharged. Some detractors have dismissed the songwriting of Zack Smith (who had a composing hand in almost all the band's major tunes) as a bit too commercial and/or accessible, but fans of straight-ahead rock should have no complaints. This early 1983 track may sport typical romantic themes, but it remains memorable because of the intensity of the band performances and, of course, Smyth's sexy persona that almost makes her seem like an attainable love interest for the common man. Notice that I said "almost."

of 07

"Another Bad Love"

This deep album track - from Scandal's self-titled, five-song 1982 EP - rides in on a brooding, somewhat heavy guitar riff that presents a different, slow-burn kind of sound for the band. Once again, Smyth's vocals work wonders (and prove her entirely capable of performing genuine hard rock like she was asked to do for Van Halen back in 1985). In addition, the combined songwriting talents of the similarly named Smith and Smyth demonstrate plenty of magical fusion here. Ultimately, it's probably a good thing Smyth chose the middle ground between hard rock and alternative music for most of her work. But I have little doubt she could have kicked plenty of ass within either of those broad genres, and this song serves as prime evidence to support that view.

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"The Warrior"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of CBS

It's a touch irritating that - in a fashion similar to a sizable percentage of the successful singles for female-fronted acts like Pat Benatar and Heart during the '80s - a song featuring outside songwriting stands as Scandal's biggest hit and only Top 10 single. Nevertheless, this Holly Knight/Nick Gilder composition at least has earned its status as a bona fide '80s power rock classic. Even better, Smyth's confident vocal delivery and soaring style help her make the song sound very much like a Scandal original. Irony-free, good-time rock and roll has rarely scaled the heights reached by this solid, guitar-fueled statement of female sexual autonomy.

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"Beat of a Heart"

Though released as a single in early 1985, this song failed to crack the Billboard Top 40 and build on the success of "The Warrior." That's not because the tune lacks quality, but it could be argued that by this late point of its career, Scandal was running low on distinctiveness in its sound. Smyth sings with typical aplomb and versatile rock texture on this track - written again by Zack Smith and herself. However, this kind of mid-level mainstream guitar rock was beginning to be threatened by the rise of hair metal and the first rumblings of college rock and modern rock. It's earnest stuff - perhaps to a fault - but not even Smyth's generous, widespread appeal could seem to silence the death knell for Scandal and many arena rock acts that made similarly styled music.

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"Say What You Will"

Despite sinking momentum, Smyth & Co. score nicely with this polished and genuinely enjoyable power ballad from Warrior. Smyth's versatility as a vocalist certainly has its recognition among smitten fans of her beauty and her work (as an Internet search quickly reveals), but unfortunately the music establishment never paid enough attention to the ready display of her talents. Still, beyond this reason, the relatively sedate nature of a tune like this has a tendency to fall between the cracks during any dynamic period for pop music. Not that 1985 was really all that dynamic, but the very solid and reputable nature of this song may have just worked against its ability to be heard, if that makes any sense.

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"Never Enough"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia

For her solo debut - also titled

Never Enough

- Smyth benefited not only from the session talents of Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman (the creative core of Philadelphia roots rock band The Hooters) but also their past songwriting highlights. This solid, rousing rocker was initially recorded - in a slightly different version - by that pair's pre-Hooters band Baby Grand. Ultimately, Smyth secured a co-writing credit on this version, but even without that contribution she maximizes the song's charms just with her one-of-a-kind voice and exuberance. One of the great unacknowledged queens of melodic guitar rock, Smyth should go down in music history as one of the artists from which the world would have loved to have heard so much more. For now, though, her modest but impressive catalogue will have to do. Don't neglect this one.