The Summer of 1980 still lingers in my mind with two big memories – long days visiting my mom in the hospital and late nights watching the Cosmos in Giants Stadium. I filled those days escaping the only way I knew how as a kid – into a radio. Those nights were filled with driving through Manhattan close to midnight with the whole world lit up, a city that truly never went to sleep. These songs from the July 5th, 1980 countdown were my soundtrack.
40. Clones – Alice Cooper
Remember that time that you saw Alice Cooper on a golf course and you were like, Alice Cooper plays golf? Wow, that’s so weird. C’mon, he’s just a regular guy who had some early 70s success “shocking” people with his stage antics during the glam rock era. From that point on he chased every musical trend out there trying to stay relevant. Thus you have this song, which sounds like a guy who plays golf trying to create a new wave record.
39. Atomic – Blondie
And now a band that only not only represented early New Wave but transcended the genre. It seems odd to me that Blondie either had a #1 record or barely made the Top 40. This one is at its peak and is the second Top 40 hit from Eat To The Beat. [They had a monster in between the two that you’ll hear about later.]
38. Walks Like A Lady – Journey
Journey was three albums deep with their new lead singer Steve Perry and started to accrue some minor Top 40 hits, like this one which will peak at #32. They hadn’t broken out yet and that might be because they still hadn’t fully gelled or completely agreed on a musical direction. This track has more of a jazzy laid back feel with a walking bass line under some soulful organ licks rather than powerhouse straight ahead rock. Escape was still one year away, when the doors would blow open and radio stations played just about everything Journey gave them.
37. Ashes By Now – Rodney Crowell
OHW – For an artist so associated with Country music, it’s amazing that he crossed over to the Top 40 Pop charts before he even had a Country Top 40 hit. In fact, it wouldn’t be until 1988 when he had five Country #1s in a row that he finally firmly established himself as a Nashville superstar. His wife at the time Rosanne Cash would have a bigger pop hit in 1981, Seven Year Ache which hit #22, while Rodney’s crossover wouldn’t get past its stay at #37.
36. Theme From New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
There’s a lot to unpack with this song but I’ll just hit the highlights and save the dissertation for another time.
- The song was first recorded by Liza Minnelli for the 1977 Martin Scorsese film, New York, New York. Her version bubbled under the Hot 100 at #104.
- Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded his version for his 3 LP set called Trilogy: Past Present Future. It was featured on the Present record and you should really listen to the Future set. Frank is totally out there.
- It was his first Top 40 hit since 1969’s My Way, which hit #27, proving that chart positions rarely determine a song’s status as a classic.
- It was Frank’s last Top 40 hit reaching #32 during the same year that he released his last film, The First Deadly Sin.
- He’s the only artist to have a Top 40 hit in the 1930s and the 1980s.
- This song is played after many NY sporting events. But the most amazing stat is that it will start getting played after Yankees games in July 1980 while the song is still on the Hot 100 and that tradition continues to this day.
- This song was also recorded [but never released] by Queen for the movie Highlander.
35. Let My Love Open The Door – Pete Townshend
THW – From Pete’s third solo album comes his first Top 40 hit, coincidentally the same year Roger Daltrey had his first and only. It jumps fifteen places into the Top 40 this week and will eventually hit #9.
Fun fact: The Who have had as many US Top 10 singles as Pete did as a solo act.
34. Sailing – Christopher Cross
RAR – Chris was riding high on the momentum of his first single Ride Like The Wind when he breezed in with this WestCoast classic and future #1. It would also win Grammys for Record & Song of The Year and made me want a pet pink flamingo.
33. Emotional Rescue – Rolling Stones
Entering the Hot 100 at #33, we have this hot mess of a song by the Stones which would eventually hit #3. It was fine when they added a smidge of disco and came up with Miss You, but Mick when extracted all the forgettable and formulaic parts of that genre and exaggerated them to the point of parody, you ended up with this helium induced vocal spaz fest with unironically spoken lines like I am your knight in shining armor.
They righted the ship next year with Tattoo You but for a while, it looked like they were quickly sinking.
32. Stand By Me – Mickey Gilley
OHW – The double LP soundtrack to Urban Cowboy was a tremendous success, with three singles from it in this week’s Top 40 and three more to come. This was Country singer Mickey Gilley’s only crossover hit, a cover of the Lieber & Stoller classic which was last heard in the Top 40 in 1975 by John Lennon. The film takes place at Gilley’s, which was a honky-tonk that Mickey opened in 1971 in Pasadena, Texas, years before his first Country Top 40. I wanna ride that bull.
31. Misunderstanding – Genesis
Phil Collins’ divorce from his first wife was a devastating event in his life, so much so it inspired lots of personal songwriting. But you see, when life gave Phil lemons, he squeezed them into his tea and wrote hits like this one, Genesis’ first Top 20 smash on its way up to #14.
Whenever I hear this song I like to sing the chorus of Hot Fun In The Summertime over the verses as my own personal mash-up. It actually hit #1 in Canada – big Sly Stone fans up North.
30. Two Places At The Same Time – Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio
This was the first time that the lead single from a Raydio album wasn’t a Top 10 pop hit, as this is chilling at its apex this week. Maybe it was the band name change. Or maybe it was the fact that this song was creepy as hell.
I wanna be two places at the same time,
Inside you and inside your mind.
What the hell does that even mean? That sounds like the leader of some perverted cult. Ladies, you should probably stay away from Ray.
29. Empire Strikes Back – Meco
In 1977 the battle on the Pop charts between John Williams’ movie scores and Meco’s disco interpretations waged its final battle in 1980 as Meco crushed John into submission with this Top 20 version of the Empire Strikes Back theme. Although not as iconic as the Star Wars theme, it still holds a place in the heart of Yoda lovers everywhere.
28. Stomp! – The Brothers Johnson
Louis & George Johnson and for that matter, Quincy Jones did not give a shit that morons from the Chicago area got excited about blowing up disco records the year previous. That just made Thunder Thumbs and Lightning Licks double down and lay the funk on thicker. From its high of #7, this is sliding down the charts slowly like ketchup from a new bottle.
27. Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer – Kenny Rogers with Kim Carnes
PFK – Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes are two of three artists with double entries in the Top 40. This former Top 5 Pop & Country hit is the perfect duet for you and a true karaoke professional (or someone who’s four bourbons deep).
Caution – unless you’re Bonnie Tyler, please don’t try to sing like Kim does.
26. Call Me – Blondie
This single from American Gigolo spent the bulk of April and most of May at the top of the charts. It was also a #1 hit in the UK and the #1 song of 1980 here in the States.
25. All Night Long – Joe Walsh
Here’s another hit from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. It’s Joe Walsh taking a break from the Eagles to do his Joe Walsh thing. Not a true Country song but rednecky enough for someone who works at an oil refinery and lives in a trailer with Debra Winger. It’ll make the Top 20 in a few weeks and will be included on the Eagles Live album at the end of the year.
24. Love The World Away – Kenny Rogers
Kenny was money in 1980, a virtual cash printing machine. And he hadn’t even peaked yet. That would come soon enough when he hooked up with Lionel Richie & the Bee Gees. [sounds weird, I know] This one is on its way up to #14. Grab your honey and slowly sway with them on the straw-covered dance floor.
23. Take Your Time (Do It Right) – S.O.S. Band
OHW – The only, and I mean only, good thing about the Disco Demolition night, was that it scared enough of the disco posers, charlatans and bandwagon record execs away and let the professionals do their work and rescue the genre. Here’s a great example. I mean, this is a jam- #1 Soul, #1 Disco and it will rise to #3 on the Pop charts. The S.O.S. Band should have had more crossover hits. If they were worth it for Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to stick out their necks and risk Prince firing them from the Time, they had to be good.
Note: Prince did fire them in 1983, but then we were treated to this.
22. Gimme Some Lovin’ – Blues Brothers
The Blues Brothers was an odd SNL sketch. I was never sure whether to laugh at the schtick or appreciate them as performers. Their 1979 album Briefcase Full Of Blues went #1, which meant there was real money to be made. And then thankfully came the movie, which is a hilarious comedy classic. Just the car chase scene alone where they tear up the Dixie Square Mall is enough to make me roll around and slap the couch cushions. This track, a Spencer Davis Group cover which had nothing to do with Chicago blues, is on the soundtrack and will make it up to #18.
21. More Love – Kim Carnes
For her 1980 album Romance Dance, Kim embraced a more modern synth sound. That would suit her well in 1981, but for now, we have her version of a Smokey Robinson & the Miracles hit. While Smokey & the gang only took theirs up to #23, Kim will best them with a #10 showing.
There’s also a charmingly clunky video for the song as well.
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke
RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia