Sheena Easton, the dance-pop heroine of the 1980s, had her finger on the pulse of a hit from the moment she began her musical journey. She welcomed her breakout success as 1979 turned into 1980 and her songs set the pace for the shifting decade.
Disco sensibilities lingered in her early work which she began to marry with the powerful synthetics that quickly became a trademark of the ’80s. From there, her music continued to see evolution after evolution as she shed her eager innocence for risqué-pop queendom.
Listen to her music evolve in these 10 Sheena Easton essentials.
10. “You Could Have Been With Me”
Thundering drums, alien-like synths, and shrieking strings make “You Could Have Been With Me” an irresistible ’80s hit about a man who doesn’t know what he had. The title track from her sophomore album, the song is a power ballad for the ages.
9. “We’ve Got Tonight” with Kenny Rogers
The vocalist, alongside country legend Kenny Rogers, took on Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight.” Their 1983 duet charted higher than the original upon its release. The tender collaboration showcases the two singers’ unique, yet compatible voices.
8. “Sugar Walls”
Blood races to your private spots / Lets me know there’s a fire / You can’t fight passion when passion is hot / Temperatures rise inside my sugar walls, sings Easton in the dance floor-beckoning “Sugar Walls.”
The punching beats and whiplash synths mask a lot when it comes to the singer’s slightly sassy and oh-so-salacious 1984 bop.
7. “Modern Girl”
Released on the cusp of 1980, “Modern Girl” had an immediate pulse on the decade to come. The supernova of a dance hit was her debut single and introduced the world to a soon-to-be ’80s pop queen.
He said, “Baby, what’s wrong with you? / Why don’t you use your imagination?” / “Nations go to war over women like you / It’s just a form of appreciation,” she sings in the 1984 “Strut.” Against a strutting bass line and bold horns, Easton takes no shit as she responds, Strut, pout, put it out / That’s what you want from women / Come on, baby, whatcha takin’ me for?
5. “Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)”
The thundering dance-pop hit, “Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair),” has that trademark ’80s sound, but is set apart by Easton’s unique voice as crisp and bright as the song’s snapping drums.
4. “Almost Over You”
“Almost Over You” takes this essentials list down a notch. The heart-wrenching, soft twinkling ballad shows the singer’s versatility. She can shine over the most powerful riffs and frantic beats in one song and then, in the next, deliver a soul-stirring performance against more subdued sounds.
3. “For Your Eyes Only”
The theme from the James Bond movie of the same name, “For Your Eyes Only” is an explosive, emotionally charged, piano-driven hit in the 007 fashion.
Easton has been the only artist to appear in a Bond opening title scene, singing the film’s theme.
2. “U Got the Look” with Prince
You’ve got the look, you’ve got the hook / You sho’nuf do be cookin’ in my book / Your face is jammin’ / Your body’s heck-a-slammin’ / If love is good, let’s get to rammin’ / You got the look, you got the look…
While “U Got the Look” is a Prince classic, Easton’s contribution is iconic. Her voice pairs with the legendary artist better than most. Together, they deliver an infectious, dance-inducing, good time of a hit.
1. “Morning Train (Nine to Five)”
Another from her 1980 debut, “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” is the essence of all Sheena Easton essentials. Her early songs have an innocence to them, a sweetness that has lingered in the background of her many hits no matter how many times she has reinvented herself. “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” is among them, a song with the spunkiness of an artist about to make it big.
Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns