I’m not much for SEO, marketing, or analytics. I don’t have the right mind for it, and frankly, trying to decipher the reasons people click (or don’t click) on an article or video is about as interesting to me as watching another episode of Freddy’s Nightmares. Still, I couldn’t help noticing that the most popular articles I have written for the 80sXchange thus far have both been “Top Five” articles about the best summer movies to watch this season.
It reminded me about an article I once read—this was years ago when I was trying to get more traffic to my own website—about popular topics, one of the most effective being top five or top ten lists. Apparently, there’s just something about them that excite people. The guys over at The Purple Stuff Podcast must have figured this out early on, as every episode is essentially a list of things from a chosen topic (cereal, songs, toys, green things), and I can’t stop listening.
Since I’m a sarcastic and cynical chap, rather than take this knowledge to heart, I wrote an article cataloging my top five “top five '80s topics.” Because yeah, I’m a sneering curmudgeon that way. At number five…
FIVE: Top Five One Hit Wonders
I’ve read a couple of these types of articles over the years, and they never quite do it for me. Part of the problem is you get many the same picks on most of the lists, like "She Blinded Me with Science," by Thomas Dolby or "Mickey," by Toni Basil. Secondly, and infinitely worse, all these lists tend to do is remind me of a bunch of songs I don’t like much and embed the dreaded ear worm deep within my central cortex where it feeds hungrily at my lingering fragments of sanity. Why is it on the list at all? Because despite my misgivings, I always end up reading them due to morbid curiosity.
FOUR: Top Five Defining Moments
This one ekes out the earlier selection by a fraction of my waning interest. Defining moments is an inherently interesting area of exploration that often reveals deeper truths of the ‘80s, yet it can also feel a little too much like history class. At its best, this topic reminds us of momentous occasions that we experienced as kids like the launch of MTV or the Nintendo Revolution. At its worst, it bums us out with reminders of how bad the ‘80s could be with selections like The Challenger Disaster.
THREE: Top Five Movies
I had to sneak movies onto my list of lists, though if I’m being honest, a writer tackling this particular topic should narrow it down (as I did with “Obvious/Not So Obvious Summer Movies”) because there are way too many great ‘80s movies to choose just five. Even narrowed down to just “Horror Movies” or “Blockbusters” is not enough, but it doesn’t stop ambitious writers.
TWO: Top Five Video Games
Like movies, this topic has to be narrowed down to be effective: Top five games of a particular year or of a particular genre for example. Maybe the top five Game Boy games of 1989? I like how much one can drill down into ‘80s video games, even going as far as looping in gaming magazines, commercials, and other ephemera. It’s a rich area of exploration.
ONE: Top Five VHS Covers
Now, before you get your knickers in a twist, don’t forget this is my list and totally subjective. Although something a bit more obvious would probably make sense here (top five bands, commercials, cereals, happy meal toys, etc.), I wanted my top spot to have a little more allure. VHS cover art certainly gets talked about (heck, there are books about it, and I even wrote about it in a recent article), but it’s still obscure enough to make for an interesting top pick. I almost chose top five movie posters, which has a lot of the same appeal, but lacks that ‘80s oomph I was looking for.
As I wrote this list of lists, it occurred to me that I may have to actually write these top five articles now. If I do, you get front row seats to the spectacle of irony transforming into hypocrisy before your very eyes. It will be a sight to behold.
What is your favorite “Top Five” topic about the ‘80s?