Top 10 Songs All Time #7

  • Song: Hanging on a Heart Attack
  • Artist: Device
  • Year: 1986

Hanging on a Heart Attack is the oldest song on the list. Back in the 80’s, long before Internet and the media deluge that surrounds us now, hearing new music wasn’t so easy. Especially if you had a taste in music that heavily deviated from what you normally heard on the Finnish radio. But, thanks to the local radio stations that started popping up everywhere in the 80’s, we got some new music programming that that was sorely absent on the national radio waves. And so it happened that I started listening to the American Top 40 hosted by Casey Kasem, and it was this show that really opened up the world of pop music for me. Until then, I hadn’t listened to much any music at all, I was kind of a late bloomer in that respect. I also became totally hooked on charts and it remained my #1 hobby until photography took over in the early naughties. Now I have no clue about what’s happening on the charts, and I don’t care either. But I still like making lists, why do you think I have this Top 10? 😉

People usually say that 80’s is the decade that good taste forgot, and a lot of the music from that time has not aged well. But everybody is rooted to the music they listened to while growing up, and so I have a soft spot for 80’s pop, especially the songs I heard on the American Top 40. Thanks to that, I was loving the music of Miami Sound Machine years before their international breakthrough (when they became Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, and then just Gloria Estefan, and then I didn’t like the music so much any more), and there’s quite a few other artists and/or songs that I listened to that almost nobody else in Finland had ever heard of. I didn’t get all of my music from the US though – I also followed the Swedish music scene to some extent already back then, and got into Roxette long before The Look catapulted them to global success. By the early 90’s, you could have asked me just about anything about music charts and I would have been able to answer.

So that was a long back story for Hanging on a Heart Attack. I really have trouble telling you exactly why I like this song so much that I put it in my All Time Top 10. It not just that it’s such a big part of my teenage years, I’m not including anything in this list for purely sentimental reasons. The song has to stand the test of time, and I still need to like it enough to listen to it regularly. And I think that the secret of this song is the drive it has, or flow, like I described yesterday in Cose della vita, except in this one it comes packed with much more punch. Some songs have it, and Hanging on a Heart Attack has it in spades, and I’m loving it. Every time. After 30 years! And I don’t think that the song really shows its age either, with just some small tweaks, I could have been produced yesterday.

The song peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, which means that I didn’t get to hear it many times on the American Top 40 show. It was just one of those songs that stuck with me the first time I heard it, and then I needed to catch it again to record it on cassette tape! It took me years before I got hold of the 7″ single so I could listen to the song with decent quality.

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From a skiing trip in Funäsfjällen in February 2013
From a skiing trip in Funäsfjällen in February 2013

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