Top Ten 80s Songs #6: The Riddle – Nik Kershaw

The Riddle

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. 

Nik Kershaw: The Riddle (1984)

The RiddleReleased in the UK in November 1984 and reaching no.3 in the charts, Nik Kershaw’s wonderful song would prove to be something of a nightmare for the 80s pop star. As it was called “The Riddle” listeners assumed it was a puzzle waiting to be solved and Kershaw’s record label, without informing him, decided to run a competition to find out the meaning. Though some fans profess the song is about war, Nik Kershaw revealed the song is simply a load of nonsense and has no meaning, though that hasn’t stopped fans saying otherwise.

The music video begins with Nik opening a door and entering a series of rooms where he opens drawers and meets a horde of peculiar characters, including Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland.” The Riddler from the Batman comics appears to be the brains behind the labyrinth and as the song closes we find Nik is lost in a maze shaped like a “?” Nik sports a typical 80s hairdo in the video but because the song is so good I’ll forgive him for abiding by the zeitgeist of the decade.

I am grateful to Absolute Radio, previously Virgin, for helping me discover “The Riddle.” I once worked in Leeds for four years and when I wasn’t out on Friday nights with colleagues I would head home to my small flat, tune into party classics on Virgin Radio and drink lager or whisky while I worked on some writing. I discovered many 80s songs that I could vaguely recall from childhood but didn’t know either the artist or the song. “The Riddle” was a gem I had overlooked in my youth but one song of Nik’s I can remember distinctly is “Wide Boy.” Nik Kershaw’s reign high in the charts was sadly brief but the group of hits he left us will remain 80s classics and “The Riddle” will always be, for me, Nik at his peak.

Top Ten so far:

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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