If you were a baseball loving kid like me in the Summer of 1981, you may have been excited that the strike was over and that games began again, only to realize that the whole season was completely destroyed by the MLB’s stupid playoff rules. The Dodgers tanked in the second half and still went on the win the World Series with strong teams like the Cardinals & Reds not even eligible for the playoffs. It was also the only season when the Montreal Expos made the postseason and they needed a strike and some poorly thought out decisons by the MLB to make that happen. If you were one of the few that attended games that Summer, you may have been treated to some of these Top 20 songs from August 22, 1981 in between innings.
20. Greg Kihn Band – The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)
SXMFU – I do not understand why SXM constantly plays the wrong version of a song on the countdown. You can go on Amazon and buy the original single version released in 1981 that Greg and the band is selling for $.99, digitally remastered. I don’t want to hear a crappy re-recorded version where Greg can barely hit the notes. Get your shit together Sirius.
Also this was a hit before Jeopardy, not after as they mention on the Big 80s countdown.
19. Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
I love that an urban legend sprang up around this song about how Phil the Shill saw a guy drowning in a lake and the person close to him refused to help him. And then Phil saw him at a concert and pointed him out to the audience. The first time I heard that story was from a friend of mine in the 8th grade. Don’t know where he heard it, but it sounded legit to me. And I think we can all agree that as much as the drum fill is iconic, it’s also pretty lame.
18. Pablo Cruise – Cool Love
The good ship Pablo is pulling in to the Top 20 dock on its way to a #13 mooring. It would be the last Top 40 hit for them. Founder Cory Lerios would go on to a second career in TV scoring, including writing the theme to Baywatch. Ka-ching!
17. Billy Squier – The Stroke
This is Billy’s first Top 40 hit resting at its peak this week. It was also a Top 10 in Australia, so in exchange the Aussies sent us Men At Work. We made out on that deal.
16. Carpenters – Touch Me When We’re Dancing
The Carpenters career came unnailed towards the end of the 70s as the album they were recording for a 1978 release took an additional three years. While Richard was battling a pill addiction, Karen was battling anorexia. Unfortunaltely we know how that ended two years after this, their last hit.
Fun fact: This was originally recorded and released by a band called Bama in 1979. Then the band Alabama recorded it in 1986. To this date, no one named Ala has a version out there.
15. Foreigner – Urgent
Foreigner 4′s popularity started off with this single, Urgent on its way up into the Top 10, Musically the song is fine, a tight little rocker with synth touches by Thomas Dolby and a sax solo by Jr. Walker. Lyrically, Foreigner sticks to what they know best, writing about fast, shallow love with crazy girls that have insane desires who love to get around.
14. John Schneider – It’s Now Or Never
OHW – How about never, Bo Duke? Just put the guitar down and slide back over the General Lee into your seat while Roscoe calls you a dipstick.
13. Oak Ridge Boys – Elvira
THW, PFK – Man this song hung around for a long time. It’s finally falling out of the Top 10. It will always remind me of a dude name Jojo who got up to sing this at a karaoke bar and sang my heart’s on fi-ra for El-vira. He also passed out drunk on stage before he finished the song.
12. Marty Balin – Hearts
THW – I hate the irony of a singer having a hit with a song whose chorus goes hearts can be that way who ends up having open heart surgery. And when he complained of chest pains, what’s the first thing that you suppose someone asked him?
11. Journey – Who’s Crying Now
Journey quickly knocked out their LP, Escape and ended up having their first major success as a band. This track is heading up to #4 as the first of three straight Top 10s while Atari was prepping the legendary video game for the 2600 called Journey Escape. It included this awesome premise which I will share with you:
You’re on the road with Journey, one of the world’s hottest rock groups. A spectacular performance has just ended. Now it’s up to you to guide each Journey Band Member past hordes of Love-Crazed Groupies, Sneaky Photographers, and Shifty-Eyed Promoters to the safety of the Journey Escape Vehicle in time to make the next concert. Your mighty manager and loyal roadies are there to help, but the escape is up to you!
10. Commodores – Lady (You Bring Me Up)
In late August 1981, it was Lionel Richie’s world and we were all living in it. The man was responsible for three different songs in this week’s Top 10. How do you like your Lionel? If you like him funky, you will dig this one, the second song he wrote called Lady to make the Top 10.
9. Ronnie Milsap – (There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me
The Top 10 is one-third Country this week. Here’s a guy that’s been charting since the mid 60s getting his first Top 10 Pop hit at the same time it becomes his 18th Country #1. Of course anything mellow with a smooth sax solo was going to be a hit in 1981.
8. Juice Newton – Queen Of Hearts
Even though Juice was considered a Country artist, most of her songs did better on the Pop chart. This one is on an interesting ride. It’s been stuck at #9 for the past three weeks. Maybe it likes the Beatles’ White album. It will eventually deal itself up to #2.
7. Manhattan Transfer – Boy From New York City
There have been vocal jazz groups in the rock era before the Manhattan Transfer as well as after, no doubt influenced by them. But none were as successful as they were and I believe it was all about timing. They snuck this one in before MTV’s influence told hold of radio playlists. This Jay Graydon-produced ditty is at its zenith.
6. Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
This 45 takes a fifteen notch leap into the Top 10 poised to become the first #1 for each artist. Alas it would only move three more spots up to #3 before it fell back down the charts. Neither Hall of Fame artist would record a #1 pop record. [although Stevie wrote and sang one for Fleetwood Mac.]
Fun fact: As the Heartbreakers were in between bass players, Donald “Duck” Dunn is filling out the bottom here.
5. Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl
This is just about the best thing Rick ever did, so it’s nice that it aligned with the record reaching #1. Guess we all thought the same.
4. Pointer Sisters – Slow Hand
3. Kenny Rogers – I Don’t Need You
If you like your Lionel countrified, look no further than Kenny’s denial fest produced by Lionel, which is peaking at #3. I hope he fired people from his Roasters franchises by coming into the restaurant to sing this to them. That would be the best exit interview ever.
2. Joey Scarbury – The Theme From “The Greatest American Hero”
OHW – Three artists in this Top 10 also had hits on the Hot 100 ten years previous. I’m sure you’d guess Diana Ross, who had four. And maybe you’d guess Kenny Rogers with the First Edition who had one. But would you guess that Joey Scarbury was the third? He had a single chart called Mixed Up Guy which reached #73 in 1971. Then ten years later his second charted hit was a monster and should have been #1, except for…
1. Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – Endless Love (2 wks at #1)
And here are two Motown artists having the biggest hit of their lives, in the middle of a nine week run at the top. Lionel would use all of this to springboard into his solo career and Diana would be back in the Top 10 in just a few months on the RCA label, leaving Motown behind after 20 plus years.
Also this song sucks. To call this song sappy is an insult to maple trees. It’s like one big suck-your-cheeks-in deep breath in and one long obnoxious deep breath out. And when it’s over you forgot it was even there. The movie it’s from blows too.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- ML – Misheard Lyrics
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
- SXMFU – A Sirius XM mistake
- STA – Second Time Around