No one-hit wonders. No two-hit wonders. Just twenty songs from October 24th, 1981 featuring classic artists with some of their least remembered songs, with very few exceptions. Let me put it this way, if you were playing Password Plus and for example, gave the clue “Air Supply”, is Betty White going to respond with “Here I Am”?
20. Quincy Jones – Just Once
Q’s second single from The Dude (or duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) features new protege James Ingram. He sang on the demo recording of this ballad for Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil getting paid $50 for his work. When it got into the hands of Q as he was working on his new album, he flipped and had the publishing company track down James to have him sing this on his recording. And the rest is history.
19. Billy Joel – Say Goodbye To Hollywood
We have two songs from live albums in the Top 20. The first is from Billy’s Songs In The Attic, which is a collection of concert performances from songs recorded before The Stranger. It was a smart move as it stoked fan interest in his earlier albums. Originally released on Turnstiles in 1976, this Wall Of Sound-inspired track is on its way up to #17.
Fun fact: Billy has admitted that he wrote and recorded this with Ronnie Spector in mind. Ronnie recorded her version in 1977 with Springsteen’s E Street Band.
18. Al Jarreau – We’re In This Love Together
Awww yeah. This where Westcoast, R&B, and jazz intersect, creating something as sweet as berries on the vine. Produced by guitarist Jay Graydon and featuring a who’s who in L.A. studio wizards, including Steve Gadd on drums and Abe Laboriel on bass swinging that rhythm together, it is sashaying its way up to a #15 high.
17. Mike Post – The Theme From Hill Street Blues
Mike Post is the man when it comes to TV theme songs, always knowing how to write the perfect melody to introduce a show. He’s about to score (get it?) his second Top 10 pop hit from a program that was about to win eight Emmys for its first season. Mike’s partner in crime on guitar, Larry Carlton plays the solo.
16. Rick James – Super Freak
It’s 1981. Five albums in, Rick has three Top 40 hits, two of them Top 20. Four albums in, Prince only has one. So who are you betting on at this point?
15. Air Supply – Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)
Air Supply is crushing the 80s during this moment in time with another single that will be their fifth Top 5 in a row. It’s the follow-up to The One That You Love whose chorus begins Here I am… These guys sure love to repeat themselves.
14. Kenny Rogers – Share Your Love With Me
Kenny was hot. Lionel was hot. So anything they touched would burn even if it wasn’t very good. Just like anything on a Kenny Rogers Roasters menu.
Fun fact: Lionel sings back up along with Gladys Knight and all of the Pips, even Bubba.
13. Four Tops – When She Was My Girl
Even though this wasn’t one of their best, it was great to hear the Four Tops back in the Top 40. It had been eight years since Sweet Understanding Love back in 1973. They would have one more hit seven years later called Indestructible.
12. Journey – Who’s Crying Now
PD – Journey is wiping up their tears with Ben Franklins as they finally fall out of the Top 10 from their peak of #4.
11. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Tryin’ To Live My Life Without You
From Nine Tonight, Bob’s second live album comes his version of an obscure Memphis Soul song originally sung by Otis Clay. It will be Bob’s fifth Top 10 single.
10. Rick Springfield – I’ve Done Everything For You
This is the only single to move in to the Top 10 replacing Journey. Rick’s ode to unappreciation is his followup to Jessie’s Girl. You’d think that a guy who covets his friend’s girlfriend would have a better understanding of appreciation.
9. Little River Band – The Night Owls
LRB had a solid chart presence from 1976 to 1982 representing the land down under before handing the mantle off to Men At Work. But before their lead singer left and other band members splintered off, they would have a few bigger but forgotten hits such as this George Martin-produced pop shuffle on its way to #6. Lead vocals were sung by their bass player Wayne Nelson rather than Glenn Shorrock.
8. Dan Fogelberg – Hard To Say
The second single from The Innocent Age with Glenn Frey on backing vocals is holding steady at #8 but will fight its way up one more notch. The sax solo is played by Tom Scott. I wonder if Dan ever heard Adam Sandler’s Thanksgiving Song and felt the urge to sue.
Next time you are in Peoria, IL, take a ride on Fogelberg Parkway. Don’t worry if it’s snowing. It’ll soon turn into rain.
7. Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
PD – The top seven are in the same spots as they were last week – a logjam, as Karl Hungus would say. This one has already peaked at #3 and has been hanging out in the top 10 since late August. It would kick off Stevie’s solo career in the 80s even while she still recorded with Fleetwood Mac.
Fun fact: It’s hard to believe but even though they will have a long and successful 40 year career, this will be the last time that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers will have a Top 10 single.
6. Hall & Oates – Private Eyes
In a few weeks, this will be Hall & Oates third #1 hit. And if there’s one song you want running it your head 24/7, it would be this one. Just ask Willem Dafoe.
5. Eddie Rabbitt – Step By Step
PD – The biggest crossover Country stars of the early 80s wrote pop songs with a tinge of Country. They also knew they had a small window of two years between 1980 and 1982 and tried to get as many in as they could before it closed for the rest of the decade.
4. Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only
PD – I got to work as a stagehand during an off-Broadway production for The Hollow Men, a quartet of creative young Brits who performed live sketch comedy. They did a sketch where they reenacted the opening credits to the Bond film, For Your Eyes Only while the theme song played, popping up and down behind a wood table. It was always hilarious, getting big audience laughs.
3. Rolling Stones – Start Me Up
Awwright Mick, enough of that I’m your shining armor knight rubbish. We’re getting back ta business and we’re gonna be the Stones again. Check out this riff I just wrote.
2. Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – Endless Love
PD – For the past three months, this song has been at either #1 or #2. While this would definitely generate more energy into Diana’s career, giving her a new bunch of Top 40 hits, it’s amazing what it did or didn’t do for Lionel’s. This is a guy who wrote a #1 song for nine years in a row between 1978 and 1986 and had amazing solo success in the 80s. Yet outside of dental waiting rooms or casino lobbies, no one really listens to his music much anymore.
1. Christopher Cross – Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) (2 wks at #1)
Newman booked Christopher Cross for his Millenium party in the early 80s. That was a smart move because he was pretty sought after then as each of his hits was bigger than the next. This one is in the middle of a three week run at the top and will garner CC an Oscar.
Also want to mention that three of the Top 4 songs are from movies whose and their title is in the song title as well. When was the last time you watched For Your Eyes Only, Endless Love or Arthur?
Fun fact: Peter Allen got a co-wrote credit for the line When you get caught between the moon and New York City. He came up with it as his plane was circling JFK airport.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- ML – Misheard Lyrics
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake
- STA – Second Time Around