Top Ten 80s Songs #2: Say Hello Wave Goodbye – Soft Cell

Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

I’m a child of the eighties and proud of it. Musically, it was a funny old decade with some serious songs but also many bizarre ones as well. I think of the eighties as a colourful, fun decade of dominant cheesy pop but with some timeless masterpieces not far behind the chart toppers. Over the next ten days I will attempt to disclose what are for me the ten greatest songs of the eighties. It’s always hard to compile a list of this nature and my opinion is likely to change in the near future, but for now here are my golden ten.

I am indebted to and to all those that have contributed to some very interesting discussions about all the songs featured here. It’s important that everyone finds their own meaning in any song but some of the opinions I heard were certainly eye openers for me. I intend to share my own thoughts on these songs and how, after all these years, they still have a profound impact on my life.

Soft Cell: Say Hello Wave Goodbye (1982)

Non-Stop Erotic CabaretReleased in the UK in February 1982 and reaching no.3 in the charts, “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” is, for me, Soft Cell’s best song, and by saying that I mean, yes, better even than “Tainted Love.” It’s a reflection of a romance that has ended but Marc Almond reveals this isn’t a typical love story, it is one that the protagonist is happy to have but there is a degree of shame in it, “To keep you secret has been hell.” I’ve seen one article where Almond revealed the woman in question is a prostitute and the lines, “Under the deep red light, I can see the make-up sliding down,” seems to confirm this. Rather than a song of loss it is one of strength and clarity with Almond reflecting the perspective of a man who has had enough of his secret woman, “I put up with all the scenes and this is one scene that’s going to be played my way.” There is a degree of cruelty for not only does the protagonist want nothing to do with the woman but should they meet in the future he wishes them to pretend they’re meeting for the first time though such encounters should be brief, hence “Say Hello Wave Goodbye.”

The music video begins with the other half of Soft Cell, David Ball, arriving at the club, The Pink Flamingo, where he takes a seat and watches a woman forlornly, presumably, the one he has loved but is now walking away from. In the club Almond takes us through “Say Hello Wave Goodbye” from a seat on the stage with the same woman Ball is longing for. Almond’s firm dismissal of the woman befits the angry nature of the song. The video closes with Almond aptly waving goodbye while Ball leaves The Pink Flamingo behind, perhaps for the last time.

This is another eighties song that I haven’t discovered until recent years. The radio always plays “Tainted Love,” which is undeniably a great song but it would be nice to hear Soft Cell’s other songs from time to time, this one in particular. When my brother bought Soft Cell’s greatest hits collection and I had a listen myself I was stunned by “Say Hello Wave Goodbye.” Almond’s vocals are simply brilliant and the lyrics so clear you can decipher much of the song’s meaning with minimal effort. It’s an unusual angle on a love story, one that has ended but it’s okay because it was embarrassing to begin with, which is cold and almost unfeeling, but beneath the bravado of the protagonist there is evidence of fragility caused by this woman who comes across as far too much of a challenge for him. It’s a simply stunning song from start to finish.

Top Ten so far:

2) Soft Cell: Say Hello Wave Goodbye (1982)

3) The Smiths: I Know It’s Over (1986)

4) Erasure: Ship of Fools (1988)

5) Ultravox: Vienna (1981)

6) Nik Kershaw: The Riddle (1984)

7) Marillion: Kayleigh (1985)

8) U2: Pride (In The Name Of Love) (1984)

9) Guns ‘N’ Roses: Sweet Child O’ Mine (1988)

10) Depeche Mode: Just Can’t Get Enough (1981)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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One comment

  1. Stunned is accurate. I first heard the long clarinet version around 2005 while at work. Though I had been listening to hours of airplay when this one came on I had to stop working and give full attention. I instantly knew I was hearing something so powerful I would forever be impacted.

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