Here’s more intense listening for me on the lounge chair in the backyard of a distant relative. But the other strong memory form that Summer was being on a swim team with my brother. We were pretty good too, or at least competitive. Those bus rides to different ice-cold pools were filled with fun music, a lot of it from this July 9th, 1983 countdown. [Also, a Whopper tastes really after a day of swimming in the sun.]
20. Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
Yes, they are. This is the music of my dreams. I want to put that 12 bars of ooh that comes between the chorus and hold your head up on repeat forever. It’s on its way up to #1.
19. Rod Stewart – Baby Jane
Once Rod committed to disco in late 78, he traded in his rock cred for synths & a sax, and in the process had lots of 80s pop hits, enough to string him along until he decided to win back his original fans in the 90s. From that time period comes one of his better and catchier tunes strutting its way to a #14 peak. It would be his final #1 hit in the UK, as of 2019.
18. Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money
Somehow Donna owed the fledgling Casablanca record label another album, so she shunned Geffen records and diligently fulfilled her contract, giving them her best 1980s offering with this track. It will hit #3 Pop and #1 Soul, the best showings on the chart for her during the decade.
And it’s a great song to light candles to.
17. Debarge – All This Love
When a song starts off with I had some problems, you know it’s gotta be the Debarge family. The chronic lawbreakers finally broke into something good in 1983 – the Pop Top 20. I’m a sucker for these Debarge ballads and El really shows off how influential Marvin Gaye was to his singing style. It also features a nice acoustic guitar solo by Jose Feliciano.
16, Tubes – She’s A Beauty
THW – Who would have thought that in 1983 the Tubes would have a Top 10 smash? That’s the power of MTV and the potent combination of talent from David Foster & Steve Lukather who co-wrote this with lead singer Fee Waybill. It was played quite often on straight-up rock stations that Summer and eventually was a #1 hit on the Mainstream Rock charts.
15, Prince – 1999
I talked about Human League’s Fascination being the Sly & the Family Stone of New Wave, but Prince & the Revolution were truly the full embodiment of Sly’s earlier breakthrough and legacy, carrying the torch forward by many leaps.
Prince must have been pissed off that this song didn’t make the Top 40 in 1982. What the hell were we all thinking? It took the success of Little Red Corvette as well as the constant airing of that video for us to finally embrace the ultimate 80s party song and it still only made it to #12. But it would not be denied and for added measure, it hit the Top 40 in 1999 as well as in 2016, which I think makes it the only non-Christmas song to hit the Top 40 three different times. Judges?
14. Stevie Nicks – Stand Back
And here’s more Prince via Stevie Nicks, who was so inspired by Little Red Corvette she wrote this song and then had Prince play a simple-as-hell synth lick on the chorus, but potent enough to get a co-writing credit.
13. Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know?
After DD broke out with two big singles from the second album Rio, Capitol Records said Hey you forgot about this one! and released a single from their debut. It promptly became another big hit for the group and it’s stomping its way up into the Top 10.
12. Elton John – I’m Still Standing
This is an Elton John standard but it won’t place any higher than it is this week. My son loves this song as he first heard it through the Sing soundtrack. Guess who sings it? Taron Egerton, the guy who would play Elton in Rocketman three years after Sing.
PFK – For years I heard the line your blood like Winter freezes just like ice as your brother might win a freezer just like ice.
11. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Family Man
SXMFU – The Big 80s countdown gets a little sloppy by playing a bumper during the intro this song which starts on the one. That’s how you know SXM 1) programs the whole thing on a computer with no editing process and 2) doesn’t care.
The third single from H2O is the only Top 10 single that Hall & Oates did not write as this was a cover of a Mike Oldfield song sung by Maggie Reilly.
10. Madness – Our House
PFK – Oh yes. My jam! This is the Summer of 1983 to me. Playing air guitar with a tennis racket. Finding something deep and loud to smack after singing our house. They toned down the ska and will have soon hit #7. Madness had a ton of UK hits into the late 2000s.
I do have a confession though. I was confused about having a house in the middle of the street. I really thought that the house was in the road. My dense ass didn’t realize that what they meant was that the house was halfway down a street in between two intersections.
9. Styx – Don’t Let It End
What is this doing here? A leftover remnant of the 70s that has not aged very well. We did not need another ballad by these killjoys, (kill-joys. kill-joys) especially since this song has about three fake endings to boot.
8. Kinks – Come Dancing
Another one of my favorites that Summer and some more 60s nostalgia wrapped in 50s nostalgia. It was the first Top 10 for the Kinks in the US since Lola in 1970. I don’t understand the lack of big success between these two hits as they continued to tour and record albums. In fact, 1983’s State of Confusion was their twelfth since 1970.
The song was written about and in tribute to Ray Davies’s sister, Rene who had died during a night of dancing due to a weak heart. The part where Ray recalls his sister keeping his mom up after late nights at the local pally with a myriad of boyfriends was mostly made up since Ray was 18 years younger than her. Nevertheless, it’s a 100% British sweet swinging tune, about the loss of innocence, how things change over time and how they come back around again. And I bet Ray would love to take his sister dancing one more time.
7. Culture Club – Time (Clock Of The Heart)
Boy George and the gang are here with their second #2 hit tumbling down the charts 4 ya. Just about half of the countdown is British, 19 out of the 40 and between them and the Durannies it was a footrace to see who’d be the biggest by the decade’s end.
6. Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
The fourth single from Thriller is inching up in the Top 10. Will it be another number one? (spoiler – it will peak at #5). To me, this is the burner off that album. It’s the opener and sets the tone for the whole LP, so I’m not sure why they waited to release it. There’s no video release either.
Shout out to Manu Dibango who finally sued Michael in 2009 for stealing that mama-say-mama-sah-mama-makossa bit. Michael settled just months before he died.
5. Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
OHW – This is the only one-hit wonder is the countdown this week, produced by #13’s keyboard player, Nick Rhodes. Moody, catchy, simple – a New Wave synthpop prototype, right down to the stupid hairstyles and name. The video features a model named Carolyn Espley, who would eventually become the wife of Dennis Miller.
And isn’t that the quasi indifference of the soul-sucking strategem with just a sous sans of the proverbial kettle calling Dean Martin an alcoholic. I mean really babe….
4. Sergio Mendes – Never Gonna Let You Go
More 60s nostalgia but in name only. Gone is the Brasil ’66. Gone is the bossa nova. All that’s left are an electric piano and two uncredited singers, Joe Pizzulo and Leza Miller. (Mr. Sajak, is there a Z?)
3. Irene Cara – Flashdance… What A Feeling
After six weeks at the top, Coco loses a little fame and falls to three. Irene would win the Oscar for Best Movie Song. She would extend her career with a few more hits and always gets some crazy love whenever she rides in Tyrone Bywater’s cab.
2. Eddy Grant – Electric Avenue
THW – Eddy was a member of the Equals when they had a Top 40 hit in 1968 called Baby Come Back. But since the early 70s, Eddy refocused his career on production and some solo projects. This was written in response to the 1981 Brixton riots and was released in the UK becoming a #2 hit in January of 1983. When MTV started playing more African-American artists, such as Michael Jackson & Prince, Eddy became a direct benefactor (even though he was African-British. He was from Guyana, then moved to the UK. [Is that the right term?]) Me and my friends thought this song was the shit back in the day. Now all I think about when I hear it is Montgomery Ward.
Unfortunately, Eddy stayed at #2 for five weeks behind the juggernaut of Flashdance and our next song…
1. Police – Every Breath You Take
…who will begin a run of eight weeks at #1. So between them and Irene, they hogged the top spot for almost four months. It’s not quite Old Town Road but for 1983 it was pretty close. The band would split up on top, put their horsies in the back and ride off to solo careers
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
ML – Misheard Lyrics
PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
STA – Second Time Around