What were you doing on May 19th, 1984? If you were like me you were tearing up your Strive for Five bumper stickers as the Islanders got crushed by the Edmonton Oilers and won the Stanley Cup. Thankfully I had this great music to fall back on. Spring was in the air while one of the better groups of Top 40 80s songs gathered at once, featuring some of my favorite artists. I don’t even mind some of the familiar overplayed stuff to this day.
Enough chitchat, let’s dig in.
40. Almost Paradise-Mike Reno & Ann Wilson
This is one of four singles from the Footloose soundtrack in the Top 40 this week from the biggest 80s duet partnership of the Northwest. It’s also the answer to the trivia question, Besides Hungry Eyes, name the other Top 10 soundtrack hit from the 80s co-written by Eric Carmen.
39. Eyes Without A Face-Billy Idol
I never bought into the angry punk routine that Billy would always flaunt as I always saw him as a wanna-be Jim Morrison. A song like this confirms my suspicions, especially during the Steve Stevens led bridge. I think this is the best thing he ever recorded but by the time he rereleased his live version of Mony Mony in 1987, I said au revoir.
By the way, I think I have some misheard lyrics from this one, which I will now call ML – I always thought he was talking about a gigolo cruise. Then I would wonder why a bunch of male prostitutes would want to be on a Royal Carribean boat sailing the Gulf Of Mexico fighting each other over escorts. Unless it’s a ship full of cougars.
[It’s actually gigolo pool…and that makes less sense.]
38. Who’s That Girl?-Eurythmics
Whereas Madonna would steal this title in three years from now as a “look at me” reference, Annie uses it as a term of suspicion and jealousy. The video has Annie dressed as a man kissing Annie as a woman so I guess the look at me reference applies here too.
37. Modern Day Delilah-Van Stephenson
OHW – This slice of power pop is heading towards its peak of #22 and was Van’s only Top 40 hit. But when this Van wasn’t rockin’, his bread and butter was Country music and he wrote hits for acts through the 70s, 80s & 90s for Crystal Gayle, Kenny Rogers and Restless Heart, including their #1, The Bluest Eyes In Texas. He then had Country hits as part of the trio BlackHawk throughout most of the 90s.
36. Love Will Show Us How-Christine McVie
NAOHW- The follow up to her Top 10 hit, Got A Hold On Me, was her only other Top 40 hit, on its way up to #30. The song was co-written by guitarist Todd Sharp who was also a part of Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo and played on his 1980 LP, The Visitors.
35. Stay The Night-Chicago
It really pisses me off that they didn’t include any mention of Bill Champlin in the Chicago documentary. He was a great addition and a big contributor to their success in the 80s, great keyboardist and songwriter, and he provided the grittier gruffer vocal complement to Peter Cetera whenever he released his inner Cartman.
34. My Everchanging Moods-The Style Council
OHW – First off, God bless SXM for playing the full 12” version of this song (the album version is just Paul and a piano.) This is my jam and Paul Weller is my man. Through his work leading The Jam, The Style Council and an almost thirty-year solo career, this was his only hit in the U.S. I’ll never know how this one got through but I’m so glad it did. It opened up my world to the Style Council, a band where Paul and his partner Mick Talbot mixed their love of soul with jazz, rock, bossa nova and new wave with some of Paul’s angriest, most political songs he ever wrote – the bitter with the sugar.
Read the lyrics to this Top 30 hit from 35 years ago as you wonder what’s changed since then.
33. A Fine Fine Day-Tony Carey
NAOHW – The former Rainbow and Planet P keyboardist got the first of his only two Top 40 hits with this one from his album Some Tough City. The story recalls Tony’s “Uncle Sonny” coming home from a stint doing hard time to set up a reunion, but with who? A snitch? Tony’s dad? Were they the same? Or was it Tony himself? No one knows and the song leaves it up to the imagination of the listener. (So don’t watch the video.)
32. Run Runaway-Slade
NAOHW – Slade had a long career in the UK for a decade and a half with not much to show for in the States. But after Quiet Riot covered Cum On Feel The Noize, the doors were open for the band to have some Stateside success. Unfortunately, the guys were too drunk to come up with anything very memorable and we got this instead, with lines like I love black and white. You love black and white. Run runaway. Somehow it jigged its way up to #20. Maybe this song clicks after a few or 10 pints of Guinness or played in a mix after Jump Around and Tubthumping.
31. It’s My Life-Talk Talk
OHW, ML – To those who watched MTV as much as I did in 1984, this video was Wild Kingdom set to a New Wave dance soundtrack. To a shy kid entering his teen years, this was a personal cry for freedom and my call of rebellion. [For decades I also misheard the line in the chorus It never ends as And I’m a wreck. That didn’t help.]
When Mark Hollis passed away earlier this year, I was amazed at how many musicians gave tribute and had been influenced by his music like The Cure and The The as well as newer bands such as Xiu Xiu and Slowdive
30. It’s A Miracle-Culture Club
Knowing this song was originally titled It’s America really makes me rethink lyrics like Guns that cross the street. You never know who you might meet. Who’s in disguise?
29. You Can’t Get What You Want (Til You Know What You Want)-Joe Jackson
Another all-time favorite artist of mine. Sadly this was Joe’s final Top 40 but it’s on its way up to the Top 20. The LP, Body And Soul was recorded in a church somewhere in Manhattan, I believe, which accounts for the big open sound on this album and especially on this song. When Graham Maby slaps that bass on his solo or Gary Burke hits the snare on the offbeat you can hear it reverberate all around that room. And that horn section sounds like a Duke Ellington freight train.
28. Jump (For My Love)-Pointer Sisters
Because of the success of Van Halen’s Jump a few months earlier, The Pointer Sisters had to add (For My Love) when they released this single so that we the public would not confuse the two. I’m sure they played this a lot during those Edwin Moses hurdle montages that Summer in Los Angeles.
27. Rock You Like A Hurricane-Scorpions
When English isn’t your first language, it’s OK to rhyme am with hurricane.
26. White Horse-Laid Back
OHW – Now for a song that sounds like it’s not from around here…it’s a duo from Denmark with some electro-pop and two simple messages: it’s better to ride a white pony than a horse and only bitches get the money.
I’ve always wondered if Prince heard this song and thought I can do this, better releasing Erotic City as proof as the B-side to Let’s Go Crazy and then slyly referring to it in Sign O The Times singing about his cousin doing horse.
25. Miss Me Blind-Culture Club
Culture Club singles overlap in the Top 40 again, with this former Top 5 smash sliding on down. They would also have a new song called The War Song make the Top 20 later in the year. And then someone got on the white horse….
24. Self Control-Laura Branigan
Man, Laura loved those obscure Italian disco songs. She goes to il pozzo again for a song originally recorded by Raff and co-written by Giancarlo Bigazzi, the man behind her first big hit, Gloria. Thankfully no recordings of Whatsamatta You? have ever surfaced.
23. No More Words-Berlin
NAOHW – It’s amazing this band even existed in 1984 since singer Terri Nunn had left twice and the band officially broke up in 1981. Somehow they started over, everything clicked and they had their first hit. Of course, it helps that Giorgio Moroder was the producer. I still can’t believe they needed six people in the band to create this song.
We all know Madonna’s story. Her debut took a year to really cook and this became her second Top 40 single eventually becoming her first Top 10 in June 1984.
The producer of this track and most of Madonna’s debut was Reggie Lucas, a jazz guitarist whose first big break was playing with Miles Davis in the early to mid-70s. He met percussionist James “Juicy Fruit” Mtume in the band and their writing partnership produced hit songs for Roberta Flack (The Closer I Get To You) and Stephanie Mills (Never Knew Love Like This Before) And then came his opportunity with a spunky New York club kid transplant.
Supposedly Madonna had her boyfriend Jellybean Benitez remix some of the singles such as Holiday and Borderline because she didn’t like the album cuts, but I prefer the originals any day.
21. The Heart Of Rock & Roll-Huey Lewis & The News
And then sometimes you need a single edit, like on this Sports track which I’m sure was intentionally created for their live gigs. It starts and ends with a heartbeat (get it? the heart is still beatin’) as Huey sings about New York with its “modern music” (do you mean rap? or punk? or new wave?) and L.A. with its “hard-rockin'” music ( do you mean metal? or punk?) I’m laughing as I type this. This sounds like my dad wrote a song about the history of rock music if he only listened to Elvis.
As an aside Huey sued Ray Parker Jr. for ripping off I Want A New Drug with Ghostbusters but why didn’t Billy Joel sue Huey for ripping off It’s Still Rock N Roll To Me with this?
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
NAOHW – Not A One-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke
RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
ML – Misheard lyrics