This is a good well-rounded Top 20 representation of coming of age in the 80s during the week of Apr 2, 1983, starting with:
20. Pat Benatar – Little Too Late
The third Long Island musician on the countdown (it’s all about threes) is sitting at her peak position of #20. This was Pat’s 8th Top 40 to date, and she had still not had her biggest hits yet. Dumb question – why is she not in the RNR HOF?
19. Christopher Cross – All Right
Chris Cross had a monster debut, five Grammys, two #1s, and an Oscar. That’s a tough act to follow and build on, but CC delivered a solid sophomore effort in 1983. Even though it didn’t rack in the same awards and albums sold, it still yielded 3 Top 40 hits, starting with one featuring Michael McDonald (who else?) on backing vocals.
18. Eric Clapton – I’ve Got A Rock ‘N’ Roll Heart
Even though this was a Top 20 pop hit and a Top 10 on the AC charts, this one is largely forgotten in his catalog. And with good reason. It doesn’t sound at all like he has a heart, let alone a rock n roll one. It sounds like a man who was forced into alcohol rehab and would soon relapse.
17. Earth, Wind & Fire – Fall In Love With Me
The last EWF Top 40 hit (that makes no sense) was a top 20 hit that is only remembered by hardcore fans, even though it’s built on a thick funky groove. But someone’s got to explain the intro to me. Not only is it too long, but it also builds you up, then some keyboard horn trickery obnoxiously cuts across the intro only to have the beginning softly start over again, totally killing its momentum.
16. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Shame On The Moon
Bob’s here again with a song he took all the way up to #2. With backing vocals by Glenn Frey, this Rodney Crowell tune is also his one and only Top 40 country hit to date, which hit #15.
15. After The Fire – Der Kommissar
OHW – After the Fire started out as a Prog rock band in Britain before turning towards a new wave sound and eventually releasing four unsuccessful albums. They squeezed one more album out before splitting up but it featured a fluke U.S. hit – an American version of the 1982 German rap track written by Falco which was a hit in many European countries. ATF took theirs into the Top 5 before they all ended up slippin’ on the same snow.
Oh and in between Falco and ATF, there was this.
14. Michael Jackson – Beat It
The first of two in the Top 20 for MJ. We all thought this was going to be Off The Wall Part 2 as far as its success was concerned and had no idea what its impact would be. Billie Jean was still at number one while the 3rd single, Beat It was still climbing the charts. By the end of 1983, MJ had tallied 7 Top 10 hits, three of them #1 and was on his way to having the biggest selling non-compilation album of all time.
13. Frida – I Know There’s Something Going On
OHW – Yes, that’s Phil Collins on the drums. How did I know? The gated reverb light was flashing. Phil produced this non-Abba sounding hit written by Russ Ballard, which would be the biggest US solo hit between the Abba ladies.
12. Greg Kihn Band – Jeopardy
When I think of the Greg Kihn Band, I think of the cut-out bin. That’s usually where I’d see his albums, even though he had 3 Top 40 hits. This one was destined for #1 but stalled at #2 when MJ told him to Beat It. Also, this video was made for 5 bucks.
11. Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen
OHW – I remember being in the upstairs of the Woolworth’s in the Sunrise Mall on a Saturday evening and picking up this 45. Maybe we also got a bag of mollies for the aquarium, who knows? I got home, put the 45 on the record player and played it over and over again on the stereo as loud as I could.
Then I remember being allowed to go over to my friend Greg’s house who had an older sister, Ilene. I was so excited to tell him I had that 45 and expected him to agree with me that his sister must love the song too. She found it annoying.
10. Golden Earring – Twilight Zone
NAOHW – From the Dutch band that gave us Radar Love a decade before, here’s their bigger hit, which sits at its peak of #10. Two hits from a Dutch band? That’s what we call in the biz – the double dutch. Wait, what jump rope game?
9. Hall & Oates – One On One
Daryl Hall uses some basketball metaphors to sooth a lady maneater. Does the 12” version mention playing horse or doing the alley-oop? By the way ladies, if “time out is what Daryl is here for”, that means you’ll be lucky to get 60 seconds of loving.
Is this the longest Top 10 title to use only 3 different letters? Someone ask the AT40 crew.
8. Journey – Separate Ways
Time for some air-Jupiter 8 from Jonathan Cain. This was probably their biggest uptempo hit as many of their Top 10 songs were ballads. It’s also amazing how popular the band was in the 80s because they were not a video-friendly outfit.
7. Styx – Mr. Roboto
Speaking of which, here’s another band that was crushed by video. Which is a shame because if you’re going to release back to back concept albums, that should be a perfect compliment to some great or at least entertaining cinema. The song also brought Domo arigato into the pantheon of misunderstood foreign phrases, this one residing in the Asian wing.
6. Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton – We’ve Got Tonight
The third Bob Seger song on the countdown is a cover of Bob’s original found on his Stranger In Town LP which he took into the Top 20 in early 1979.
5. The Pretenders – Back On The Chain Gang
In June 1982, Chrissie Hynde fired the Pretenders bass player, Pete Farndon because he was a drug addict. Two days later their guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died of an overdose. She was also pregnant with her first child and Ray Davies was the father. Out of this chaos and grief and beauty came one of their best and biggest singles.
4. Lionel Richie – You Are
Lionel didn’t totally abandon the funk when he left the Commodores, but this song is an example of him letting his Afro down. So yeah I guess he abandoned the funk. When he knew he could get away with lyrics like You are the sun. You are the rain., then Say You, Say Me was just around the corner.
3. Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
MTV was making already becoming a big influence on radio and singles sales as the Top 3 songs were heavily played on that channel in 1983. DD got their first hit from their second album Rio (minus the parrots) with an exotic video featuring the band hunting through the jungle searching for the elusive beauty whose juice was like wine. Sure beats Two-Buck Chuck.
2. Culture Club – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
It’s as almost as if this band was made by, or at least made for MTV, though it took some time for CC to come up with the right song, which was this – a blue-eyed soul vibe floating on top of a light reggae jam. But the song may not have even received a chance had they not received a last minute invite to fill a spot on UK’s Top of The Pops. Once the image matched up with the song, everyone flipped and a star was born.
1. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
The kid is not my son. I rest my case.
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke
RAR – Rite-Aid Rock