Top '80s Songs of All-Female '80s Rock Band The Bangles

Although the all-female guitar rock band The Bangles became a top-selling pop act of the mid to late '80s, the general audience of music fans remained relatively unaware of the band's genuine sound and the equally significant contributions of all four members. In truth, each member exercised important functions in terms of songwriting, lead vocals and musicianship. For that reason (among others), it's a bit difficult to crystallize a survey of The Bangles' music into a short list. Nonetheless, here's an attempt to do just that - a chronological list of the finest Bangles songs from the band's signature decade.

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"Hero Takes a Fall"

The Bangles (l-r Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson, Susanna Hoffs and Michael Steele) perform live in in Antwerp, Belgium in1988.
Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty Images

Although The Bangles' debut album, 1984's All Over the Place, was often quite overlooked during the band's '80s heyday, it actually far better represents the group's sound than its hit-packed subsequent albums. This track typifies The Bangles' signature attitude toward collaboration, both as a co-write from Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson and as a spotlight for the quartet's precise harmonies. What's more, the song displays with surplus energy the band's jangly guitars inspired by '60s California rock, with lead guitarist Vicki Peterson particularly showcasing her considerable talents in that area.

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"Dover Beach"

Album cover for The Bangles' 1984 debut LP, 'All Over the Place.'
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia

In place of The Bangles' monster hits "Manic Monday" - a solid song from an outside songwriter (Prince) that has already had more than its share of attention - and "Walk Like an Egyptian," the almost embarrassing novelty hit that has nothing to do with the band's true sound, I submit this lovely track from the band's debut for a place on this list. Thankfully, this tune relies heavily on textured guitars and '60s-inspired vocal harmonies, elements that summarize The Bangles more accurately than the music people have heard the most. At their best, The Bangles are a symbiotic quartet, with no individual member trumping any other.

of 06

"If She Knew What She Wants"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia

Cult singer-songwriter Jules Shear functioned during the '80s as a somewhat major supplier of compositions for better-known artists to record. This lovely track, perfectly suited for The Bangles' chiming guitars and vocal harmonies, comes across as much more artistically sound than most of the bigger hits (some mentioned above) from the group's 1986 breakthrough, Different Light. Unfortunately, however, the tune's quality could not help it climb any higher than No. 29 on the pop charts, a rather paltry peak considering the substantial fluff with which the Bangles competed during the mid-'80s. Hoffs' lead vocals particularly shine here.

of 06

"Walking Down Your Street"

The Bangles' early-1987 single "Walking Down Your Street" (from the smash LP 'Different Light') peaked at No. 11 on the pop charts.
Single Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia

The Bangles occasionally delved into harder-edged rock styles, but this song is a fine example of the band's typical modus operandi. Drawing from the innocent sensuality of Hoffs' image and voice, the song definitely takes inspiration from a broad range of sunny '60s pop. While the verse and chorus are perfectly and consistently pleasant, the tune's sublime moment takes place during the nifty, melodic bridge, as Hoffs hypnotically purrs, "I can't stop the way I feel, so I keep walking on." This is high-quality guitar pop that delivers singular pleasures, and it certainly deserved its No. 11 chart peak in 1987.

of 06

"In Your Room"

The Bangles' "In Your Room" was one of only two of the group's five total Top 5 pop singles to feature internal songwriting contributions.
Single Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia

The release of 1988's Everything moved the Bangles further away from their strength as an egalitarian unit, creating ever more focus on Hoffs as photogenic frontwoman. Nonetheless, this No. 5 pop hit at least showcased the band's typical harmonies even if it was one of many songs on the album that lacked a collaborative songwriting element that had been so integral to The Bangles' previous success. It's still an enjoyable song, offering mildly suggestive lyrics for Hoffs to exploit her coy but sexy image, but too much orchestration and cluttered production dull the tune's impact somewhat.

of 06

"Be With You"

The Bangles returned with 1988's 'Everything,' an LP that focused more on a glossy pop sound than on its earlier releases.
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Columbia

Instead of the popular but atypical "Eternal Flame," I choose this lesser-known track from Everything to round out this list. If, for some reason, you're a reader who can't stand the idea of The Bangles' biggest hits being shunned in this way, at least there's consolation in the fact that we've all heard those songs enough to never be able to forget them. In a perfect world, there should be more attention on Bangles' tunes featuring other members on lead vocals. I'll do my best to make a dent here by spotlighting drummer Debbi Peterson's performance on this lively number that represents the last gasp of the group's guitar-based past.