The 1980s were a strange time for established rock musicians. For a while there, it seemed like any band that didn't employ a keytar player was destined to fail. Like so many other rockers at the time, Bruce Springsteen recognized this and took steps to "update" his music to keep up with the times.
While songs like "Dancing in the Dark," "Glory Days," and the massively popular title track connected with people in a huge way back then, so did neon shoelaces and skinny ties and shit. It's not the 1980s anymore. When listened to in the unforgiving light of the rest of Springsteen's recorded output, Born in the U.S.A. borders on cringe-inducing. Nevertheless, Rolling Stone named it the 86th greatest album of all time.
Meanwhile, Nobody Talks About: Tunnel of Love
The strangest thing about Springsteen's mid-to-late-'80s work is that, while Born in the U.S.A. is still praised far and wide like those cheesy synthesizers aren't even plugged in, the album that followed it, Tunnel of Love, generally receives all of the criticism for being an embarrassing, synth-laden product of the '80s that Born in the U.S.A. more rightly deserves. Sure, the synthesizers are still there, but they're far less intrusive and corny on this album. Additionally, the "holy shit America is awful" sentiments are replaced with the more traditional "holy shit my heart is broken" kind of stuff. Translation: It's about 1,000 times easier to relate to for the average listener than Born in the U.S.A.
It's also, in my opinion, just a better collection of songs. I'll take "Tunnel of Love," "Brilliant Disguise," and even "One Step Up," the three huge singles from this album, against the three Born in the U.S.A. songs mentioned earlier any day.