The Sweetest Melody Is An Unheard Refrain


What a great mix of Westcoast, New Wave, classic rock and even a little soul during this countdown from April 2, 1983. Let’s dig right in.

40. Kenny Loggins – Welcome To Heartlight

It’s Westcoast Kenny! The original title of this song is Heartlight. But when they released this as a single they didn’t want anyone to get it confused with Neil Diamond’s hit from late 1982. C’mon, what are we, idiots?

39. Phil Collins – I Don’t Care Anymore

Gated reverb anyone? Another Phil solo 45 inspired by his first divorce, the gift that keeps on giving. It’s sitting at its peak this week hanging with his neighbor, Steve-O….

38. Stephen Bishop – It Might Be You

PFK & RAR …who would write a #1 song for Phil from the movie White Nights. Stephen takes a songwriting break but not soundtrack break with this mellow love song from Tootsie.

37. Eddie Rabbitt & Crystal Gayle – You And I

The official slow dance for fifth-grade school dances. It would also be the last time either of these country artists crossed over to the Top 40.

36. OXO – Whirly Girl

OHW – If you weren’t around in 1983, you may think this song was made by the company that sells housewares and cooking supplies. Wait, there’s more. OXO was an actual band of Floridians came up with this name and released an album. Led by former Foxy member Ish Ledesma, Whirly Girl is a goofy little tune written about his wife, Lori, who would eventually have a hit of her own in the band Company B.

This track was featured on a K-Tel ripoff album called Summer Fun Vol. 2, which I played endlessly in 1983. My friends & I would hear this song and laugh our heads off. I have no idea why.

Fun fact – there was a documentary called Frank & Cindy which was filmed over a year’s time by their son documenting their lives together. Frank Garcia was the bass player of OXO.

35. Billy Joel – Allentown

Between the arrogance of Glass Houses and the nostalgia of An Innocent Man, Billy Joel released the underrated The Nylon Curtain. It only spawned two Top 20 hits, so many fans outside of Long Island forget about this. Had he not been ripped off by his brother-in-law in the early 80s, he might have traveled down a more experimental path after this album rather than releasing a highly commercial 60’s rewrite follow-up.

34. Debarge – I Like It

Motown and specifically the Gordy label was already invested in the Debarge family in the late 70s with the band Switch led by Bobby and Tommy Debarge. By the time of Switch’s last LP in 1981, The Debarges as they were called then featuring 5 different siblings, made their debut. With their second album, Debarge finally crossed over with their first pop hit reaching #31.

Teddy Riley paid homage to this song in Rump Shaker, starting with the bit about liking the way you comb your hair. Who combs their hair, except for someone’s balding grandpa?

33. Laura Branigan – Solitaire

If there was a restaurant named Branigan’s, I would dine there all the time, if only to eat alone while they played this song over and over. Another Top 10 for Laura and the first for songwriter Diane Warren who wrote English lyrics to this French song originally recorded by Martine Clémenceau.

32. Men At Work – Down Under

Colin Hay and the gang tumble down the charts back into their fried-out combie from a four-week stay at the top. They were the first Australian act to have a #1 album and single in the US & Australia simultaneously. Not bad for a song and album that were almost 2 years old at the time.

31. Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby, Come To Me

PFK – Speaking of things that take time, this single from Patti Austin’s 1981 album, Every Home Should Have One peaked at #73 in May of 1982, barely making the R&B Top 40. Then General Hospital, the soap opera tastemaker, started playing it while the doctors were cheating on each other in the OR or something, which prompted the record company to re-release it. We collectively got our shit together realizing it was the smooth quiet storm jam that it always was and pushed it up to #1 if for no other reason than to break up the Michael Jackson monopoly. Written by Rod “the Man” Temperton who made it rain on the charts when it came to soulful pop hits.

30. Thompson Twins – Lies

The Twins slimmed down to a trio and had their first hit, which is resting at its peak. For some reason The Big 80s countdown always talks about the album under its British released name, Quick Set & Side Kick rather than just Side Kicks, which proves they just get their copy straight from Wikipedia. Twisted truth and half the news is a great way to sum up the Reagan years.

29. Dan Fogelberg – Make Love Stay

RAR – I liked this song the first time when Dan called it Hard To Say. But I’ll give him credit for hanging on to the charts when he really didn’t belong there.

28. Toto – I Won’t Hold You Back

Toto was riding a lot of momentum into 1983, with their #1 hit Africa and a bunch of Grammys in February 1983 for Toto IV, including Record & Album of the Year. But as their fourth single zooms up the charts, no one could have predicted that this would be their last Top 10 hit.

27. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Even Now

I’m not a Seger fan, but when the man figured out what his audience wanted he worked hard to give it to them over and over. This is first of two Seger singles on the chart. Another artist who constantly found his place in the Top 40 even when the musical trends changed.

26. Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science

OHW – Dolby got hired by Mutt Lange to play keyboards on Foreigner’s 4 LP and made a substantial sum, which he then invested in himself and recorded this song which became a Top 10 smash. Thus begat the credo – When life gives you Urgent, give them Science!

25. ABC – Poison Arrow

This new wave ditty from the Trevor Horn-produced quartet couldn’t make it past the quarter mark. What I thought was fire was only the spark. [maybe if you had the LP, you’d get it] The B-side of this 45 is a jazzy piano version of Poison Arrow called Theme From Mantrap. Also seek out the hour-long movie Mantrap, directed by Julian Temple. And check out this uberhip group of dancers in the club.

24. Prince – Little Red Corvette

The first time Prince hit the Top 40 was with the disco funk of I Wanna Be Your Lover. Now with three more albums behind him with his look and sound perfected and polished comes one of his best singles of all time. Man does this sound great coming out the speakers – a mix of new wave infused soul and catchy pop hooks with a guitar solo that blows everyone else out of the water until he did it again with Let’s Go Crazy. With that said, it still took six months after the release of the 1999 LP before he started breaking big on pop radio.

23. Joe Jackson – Breaking Us In Two

One of my favorite artists of all time. The man was not afraid to experiment and incorporate different styles of music. By 1982 he already had his hand at power pop, rock n reggae, big band and by his fifth album, Night & Day, he slips on a Cole Porter persona generating his biggest success to that date with Steppin’ Out and this track, which reached #18.

22. Stray Cats – Stray Cat Strut

Another Long Island act in Top 40, but these guys had to travel to England before we thought they were money, so money in the U.S. This was from their debut released two years previous and became their biggest hit reaching #3. [You may notice a theme that it took a while for Americans to catch up with good music in the 80s.]

21. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Change Of Heart

A lost Petty hit, if you will, from their fifth album, Long After Dark and the first with new bass player Howie Epstein. It barreled up the charts only to find itself stalling at its highest position this week.

We’re at the halfway mark so help yourself to a Snapple Root Beer. I’ll be back with other 20 before you can say there’s a Hickory Farms in the mall.


OHW – One-Hit-Wonder

NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder

PFK – Perfect for karaoke

RAR – Rite-Aid Rock

2 Replies to “The Sweetest Melody Is An Unheard Refrain”

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