Floating In A Beam Of Light


In 1982 the US was in the midst of a major recession that was deeply felt by many industries, no more so than record companies. Money which was usually spent on developing new talent was quickly  diverted towards proven winners. Plans became conservative, risks were averted, recordings and releases slowed down. And that’s why you end up with Top 20s like this –  not good, not bad, but not very exciting either. Just…there.

We had only 15 #1s in 1982, with six of them spending at least a month up top. By 1985, only three years later, we’d have 26 different chart-toppers. And talk about gumming up the works – almost half of these Top 20 songs have been hanging around for at least two months or longer, including the top six.

But I digress. Here’s the Top 20 from October 8th, 1982:

20. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)

Now that Joan Jett was a big star, Boardwalk Records decided to reissue her first album as Bad Reputation and pulled this single from it which is at its peak this week. Joan & her band rock the hell out of it, but once you realize it was written by Gary Glitter, you may start to get sick. BTW: The B-side to Gary’s version of this song is I Would If I Could But I Can’t. You can’t make this stuff up.

19. Michael Martin Murphey – What’s Forever For

After a six-year absence on the Pop charts, Triple M is back with another Top 20 forgoing his skills as a sodbuster and instead questioning the properties of infinity. This would also go to #1 on the Country charts beginning a streak of hits for him through the 80s.

18. Laura Branigan – Gloria

You may think of Sally Struthers. Or Van Morrison. But when I hear this song I think of Gena Rowlands, because somehow for years I thought this was the theme song to the John Cassavetes-directed movie she starred in called Gloria. However it’s just an American cover of a 1979 Italian song by Umberto Tozzi that would kick off Laura’s career rocketing its alias up to #2.

17. Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes – Up Where We Belong

PFK, RAR – I guess with a title like this, you’d expect it to climb to the top. That’s where the fans of the song and the film An Officer & A Gentlemen lifted it in the Fall of 1982. It is definitely the oddest successful duet in history. I mean, how the hell do you blend your voice with Cocker’s? It sounds like Jennifer is barely there, keeping her distance from the microphone as if she was afraid that Joe might flail around, have a heart attack and crush her.

16. Santana – Hold On

RAR – When Ian Thomas released The Runner in 1981, it bombed in the US. However, it ended up as his most successful LP due to the fact that songs he wrote on the album were remade as hits by Manfred Mann & Santana. The latter artist is clutching to the Top 20 about to move up one final notch before letting go. Is it just me or does singer Alex Lighterwood sound like Steve Perry on ludes?

15. John Cougar – Hurts So Good

PD – This song has been in the Top 40 since May and is still inflicting pain on the Top 20. It will spend one more week on before crumblin’ down and out while his other little ditty continues to shine.

14. Melissa Manchester – You Should Hear How She Talks About You

PD – As I listen to this, I imagine two ten-year girls finishing up an episode of Solid Gold pulling out their Goody hairbrushes and singing into them in front of a mirror together. It’s then that I realize that Melissa is really talking to herself. That’s who she’s in love with.

13. Juice Newton – Break It To Me Gently

Juice covers a 1962 Brenda Lee hit and is about to take it into the Top 10. For me personally, just rip the band-aid off.

12. Elton John – Blue Eyes

Elton kept churning out the hits in the 80s and he’s in full-on crooner mode as he’s stuck at the twelve mark. Although it doesn’t get played much anymore, this track is surprisingly sweet and tender. This will be the last Top 40 song that Elton wrote with Gary Osborne supplying the lyrics.

Fun fact: The drum part was not played by long-time EJ band member Nigel Olsson, but instead by Jeff Porcaro.

11. Olivia Newton-John – Heart Attack

Livvy was enjoying new career heights as she released her Greatest Hits Vol. 2 collection. Co-written by Steve Kipner, the guy who penned Physical, this was one of two new songs recorded for the compilation, on its way to a high of #3.

10. A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)

Don’t know about you, but I heard this as a New wave geography lesson, as in the country with Tehran as the capital was many miles from wherever the singer was.

9. America – You Can Do Magic

RAR – This band, now cut down from three to two, had a mini-comeback in the early 80s. After a six-year absence (where did I hear that before?), they embraced the WestCoast sound and came roaring back into the Top 10 with a song written and produced by Argent’s Russ Ballard.

8. Jackson Browne – Somebody’s Baby

Maybe you get another visual when you hear this song, but all I can think about is sweet Stacy losing her virginity to a stereo store salesman named Ron in a baseball dugout. Thanks a lot, Cameron.

7. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)

Once you first heard that slick groove laid down by Jeff Porcaro and Thunder Thumbs Johnson, you knew it was all over for the Doobie Brothers. [They’d recover, but not with Michael]. Mic Mac hit the Top 10 on the Pop, Soul & AC charts with this one. It would also be sampled to great effect by Warren G for his Top 10 single in 1993 Regulate. [but this is the video you need to watch.]

Fun fact: The woman singing on this song is Michael’s sister, Maureen.

Fun fact 2: Mike had to give Lieber & Stoller a songwriting credit because they said it infringed on their song, originally recorded by Chuck Jackson. Really?

6. Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger PD

5. Men At Work – Who Could It Be Now PD

4. Alan Parsons Project – Eye In The Sky PD, RAR

3. Chicago – Hard To Say I’m Sorry PD

2. Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra PD

1. John Cougar – Jack & Diane (2 wks at #1) PD

And now we come to our anti-climactic ending. Five of these six remaining songs were or will be a #1. [Sorry Alan.] Between them they’ll spend 15 weeks at the top from July 24th to October 30th. Most of these are still played today on either 80s or AC/ Yacht rock formats, with the exception of the biggest hit, Eye of The Tiger. It became so associated with Rocky III and even more so, the unironic sentiments of early 80s music that the future generations have embraced it as a funny artifact rather than a quality pop song. I can’t argue with that. I still have memories of my elementary school class gathering around our music teacher’s piano to sing this song. I rarely made it through without laughing.


  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • ML – Misheard Lyrics
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake
  • STA – Second Time Around

2 Replies to “Floating In A Beam Of Light”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.