You had a job waitin' after your graduation 50 thou a year would buy a lot of beer. You were doin' all right, gettin' good grades; future was so bright, you had to wear shades! A growing economy, inflation down, employment up, Reagan midway through his second term, Top Gun in theaters triumphalism all around! The music biz's future looked slightly less certain, but there was hope in new technology: "Annual record sales continue to fall," noted a 1986 Detroit Free Press piece, "while CD sales climb faster than the industry expected." The future wasn't punk kids buying Metallica/Beastie Boys/Run-D.M.C. vinyl, no way: it was upwardly mobile grown-ups who could afford shiny discs by Dire Straits or Robert Palmer, or Paul Simon's Graceland. So the music got super tasteful, almost always using the same antiseptic cocaine-studio drum pulse, even in Van Hagar's hard rock. "With CD production due to catch up to consumer demand in 1987, and with hardware prices continuing to drop," Richard Harrington wrote in the Washington Post, "just about anybody can be a yuppie, at least in terms of sound." Or, to put it another way, "Pick a habit, we got plenty to go around," as L.A. duo David and David sang in "Welcome to the Boomtown," their era-defining, lone Top 40 hit. "All that money makes such a succulent sound."
So here's a playlist full of truly succulent sounds for the young 1986 Distributive Education Clubs of America marketer, entrepreneur and/or middle manager on the rise. Your MBA is mere years away, and it might require a couple all-night cram sessions between frat parties, but like Billy Ocean says, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Or, for even more inspiration, recall Peter Gabriel in "Big Time": "I'm on my way to making it ... I'll be a big noise with all the big boys/ There's so much stuff I will own." It's a highway to the danger zone, and we don't need another hero, but we're livin' in America and lovin' every minute of it. So be good to yourself. And above all, don't forget to heed the Pet Shop Boys' excellent advice: "You've got the brawn/ I've got the brains/ Let's make lots of money."