Strange days indeed, but a fairly solid top 20 for this countdown of March 10, 1984, with most of these songs acting as a great representation of 1980s music.
19. Joanna-Kool & The Gang
This was Kool & the Gang’s biggest hit after Celebration, peaking at #2 and kept off the top of the mountain by Culture Club. So who is Joanna? Who knows? It was actually written about one of the band member’s mom and since Toto had a #2 with Rosanna, they figured they could have a #2 hit as well. Anyone wanna try Susanna?
18. An Innocent Man-Billy Joel
An Innocent Man, the album, was a tribute to songs and artists from Billy’s youth. An Innocent Man, the song, was a tribute to folks like Ben E. King from the Drifters and was Billy’s 3rd straight Top 10 from his LP. I sure wish they would replace The Longest Time on oldies stations with this one.
17. Adult Education-Daryl Hall & John Oates
Daryl wasn’t sure which was the correct pronunciation of adult so it sang it both ways – ah-dult & uh-dult. Were we supposed to tell him which one was right?
16. The Language Of Love-Dan Fogelberg
Danny, you’re out of your element.
15. Automatic-Pointer Sisters
Ruth Pointer does her best Barry White impression on this Top 5 smash co-written by Mark Goldenberg formerly of the Cretones, from their album Break Out, which they certainly did.
14. Got A Hold On Me-Christine McVie
Another member of Fleetwood Mac got to join the solo party. This was actually Christine’s 2nd solo album, but the first released under her married name of Christine McVie. With backing vocals & synth work by Steve Winwood, this track sailed up to #10.
13. Let The Music Play-Shannon
OHW – No No Nooooo…..and her one hit reached #8, with the distinction of being a great song to club or breakdance to.
12. New Moon On Monday-Duran Duran
My least favorite DD song, if you must know. Just doesn’t do it for me, not enough John Taylor funk. But I think at this point DD could have released a recording of them farting in a box and it would have made the Top 10.
11. Wrapped Around Your Finger-The Police
The last hit for the Police was another Top 10 single from Synchronicity, but all I can think of when I hear this song is who is going to clean up all that wax?
10. Karma Chameleon–Culture Club
“I’m a man who doesn’t know how to sell the contradiction.” Oh, that cheeky George. This was a Culture Club’s only #1 hit and you can tell by listening to the way it was produced it was made for pop radio – short, succinct, catchy. The video is hysterical as it’s supposed to take place in Mississippi in the late 1800s so while everyone is costumed for that time period George is still Boy George. Plus later in the video, you can see parts of London’s tall buildings in the distance. Nice job, editor.
Fun fact – James Taylor sued them for plagiarism because he said they ripped off his song Handy Man…which he didn’t write.
9. Footloose-Kenny Loggins
People like to talk about the split personalities of Kenny Loggins: Movie Kenny and Yacht Rock Kenny. But there wouldn’t be a Movie Kenny if it weren’t for Yacht Rock Kenny. And Yacht Rock Kenny couldn’t keep going without Movie Kenny. Movie Kenny is at the height of his powers with this #1 track, which means in 1985 everyone will get some Yacht Rock Kenny.
8. Here Comes The Rain Again-Eurythmics
Annie Lennox – it’s so amazing when true talent breaks through. And Dave’s no slouch either. But what sells this band for me is hearing Annie’s voice – moody, ethereal, bluesy – like a dream that you don’t want to wake from. The lead single from the Eurythmics 3rd album, Touch, climbed up to #4 and proved that this duo was far from a new wave fad and more of a talented force to be reckoned with.
7. I Want A New Drug-Huey Lewis & The News
According to Huey Lewis, this was the original version of Ghostbusters and he let the courts know it. Perfect song for Yuppies to misinterpret.
6. Nobody Told Me-John Lennon
Recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions but left off the final album, this was eventually rediscovered by Yoko when she compiled Milk & Honey, an album of mostly finished tracks John had recorded in 1980. I wonder whether this would have been a hit had John still been alive. Then again would he have released it, buried it or changed it so significantly that it wasn’t any good? Maybe we just wanted to hear John’s voice on the radio one more time, which might explain Julian’s success later in the year.
5. Somebody’s Watching Me-Rockwell
Ken Gordy is climbing the charts. Actually, the son of Berry Gordy didn’t want anyone to think his dad gave him a job (even though he did). So he changed his name and hired the most famous singer in the world to sing the chorus. Rockwell followed this slab of paranoia with an obsession over an obscene phone caller. His later release, Why Is This Water Wet? did not chart.
4. Thriller-Michael Jackson
We have back to back perennial Halloween classics with Michael Jackson vocals, peaking in early March, at least for their first go-round. This was the 7th Top 10 hit from the LP, Thriller, which had been released 68 weeks prior to this countdown.
3. 99 Luftballons-Nena
The Berlin band, Nena was the most popular German artist in America during its jingoistic heyday and on the Top 40, this song reached #2. Although if your red-white-and-blue-Chevy-truck-driving machismo couldn’t handle it, you could flip the 45 over to hear the English version called 99 Red Balloons. FYI – Luft is not German for red.
2. Girls Just Want To Have Fun-Cyndi Lauper
It’s hard to believe that Cyndi was in her early 30’s when she released her debut album, but she had been working at it for a long time. This track would stay at #2 behind Van Halen but has endured as a pop classic for all time. Turn this on if you want to see every woman in the room start dancing. Quite funny for a song written by a guy (Robert Hazard). In the video Cyndi’s mom is played by her real mom, Catrine and her boyfriend in the tux is Steve Forbert, trying to bring her some Southern kisses to her room.
1. Jump-Van Halen (3rd Week at #1)
Eddie buys a new Oberheim synth and voila! – peak Van Halen. Their only #1 hit and it was all downhill from here. In one year’s time, we’d be putting up with David Lee Roth’s Vegas act and then settling for new vocalist Sammy Hagar, which relieved all creative tension within the band and thus all interesting aspects of their music and performance.
Did Edwin Moses use this song as motivation for his gold medals? Or did he wait on the Pointer Sisters? Regardless we can all agree that Roth was an innovator when it came to yoga pants.