As we entered the holiday season during the week of November 26th, 1983, we were still reminded daily of the international unrest between the Russians and us as the nuclear arms race kept heating up. On November 7th, Russia mistakenly thought we were in the midst of an airstrike against them. People got to see what life would be like after a nuclear holocaust with The Day After. Must have sucked to have been an intelligent fearful adult back then. Thankfully I was not and could enjoy life blissfully listening to these Top 40 hits.
40. Kim Carnes – Invisible Hands
Was it only two years before this release than Kim lit the world on fire with Bette Davis Eyes? And now she can barely get a song into the Top 40. This one is peaking at #40, and there’s not much to it – a lot of drum machines, synth noises, and the chorus repeated over and over. It does feature Steve Lukather on guitar and the current rhythm section of Heart, Mark Andes & Denny Carmassi.
39. DeBarge – Time Will Reveal
The second most significant family act on Motown enters the Top 40 with another ballad, this one written by Bobby, Bunny & El, who produced it as well. It will go #1 Soul and #18 on the Pop charts, showing off El’s falsetto range.
38. Barry Manilow – Read ‘Em And Weep
This is the first of three Jim Steinman songs in the countdown, which means we are at peak sufferage. Barry “I Rarely Write The Songs” Manilow shares a love of bombast with Steinman, so it was only natural that he would one day cover one of his songs.
37. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride
THW – Matthew gets hits first Top 40 hit with a song that runs all the way up to #5 before breaking. This faux-reggae track is a reflection on how much we changed as a society, continually working and moving, never stopping to take a break, especially when it comes to holding dreamers. Matthew would have a second career as a producer and score success with No Doubt’s debut album, Tragic Kingdom.
Fun fact: MW was in a duo with Peter Darmi and released an album as Matthew & Peter called Under The Arch. Here’s a smooth folk album track, Smiles.
36. JoBoxers – Just Got Lucky
OHW – Sitting at its peak, here’s a song that takes me right back to late 83. The British New Wave band JoBoxers (who didn’t sue these guys) was led by American Dig Wayne and had a few Top 10 hits in the UK, including this one, an upbeat 60s-flavored track.
35. Elton John – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
The key to Elton having three decades of success was that he rarely followed the trends. And during the few times he did, the results were mighty weak. (I’m looking at you disco Johnny B. Goode) He just set out to write timeless pop songs. And when he & (mostly) Bernie hit the mark, the results were life-changing. This song is as melodically haunting as it is lyrically heartwrenching, thinking about being far away from someone you love, trapped like a prisoner or a soldier or a bearer of bad circumstances. I’m not missing anyone right now, and it goes straight to my heart with each listen. And capping it off with one of Stevie Wonder’s most beautiful harmonica solos makes it one of the best in EJ’s catalog. Can you imagine being in the studio after he did this take?
The video is a heartbreaker too. Poor dude leaves his girlfriend to join the Army, and as he sits in his bunk thinking about her, she kills her loneliness by dancing with a Paul Young lookalike.
ML – well, Army girl….nope….wait on me girl. But, mother, never….nope…but more than ever.
34. Asia – The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
This is the fourth Top 40 single from the supergroup, Asia, which is at its final resting place. Amazingly the group continues recording and touring to this day.
33. The Rolling Stones – Undercover Of The Night
Sometimes the tensions between Jagger and Richards work to their disadvantage as on this track, which will nevertheless reach the Top 10. This is about as political as the Stones got, but musically this song is a mess. I can’t believe they tortured Charlie Watts with that drum beat on which he can barely keep up.
32. The Human League – Mirror Man
Here’s a song written as a musical tribute to Northern Soul, which was basically lots of R&B stompers & Motown deep cuts. The followup to (Keep Feeling) Fascination is falling from its zenith of #30. Spoiler alert: The Mirror Man is actually Adam Ant.
31. Dionne Warwick & Luther Vandross – How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye?
This is the first of four duets in the countdown, back when additional, featuring, and special guests were not as commonplace as they are now. We must have been in a very collaborative mood back then. This is Luther’s second time in the Top 40, even as he’s established himself as an R&B mainstay. And by the way, no one remembers this song.
30. David Bowie – Modern Love
Speaker of Luther, here’s a guy who utilized Vandross’ talents on his 1975 Young Americans LP. He’s in with his third Top 40 hit from Let’s Dance, his most popular album in terms of singles, that tumbles from its #14 high.
29. Rick Springfield – Souls
The third single from Living In Oz is floating up the charts where it will be the 23rd most popular song before disappearing from everyone’s memory.
28. Jackson Browne – Tender Is The Night
This title had been used as a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a 1962 film starring Jennifer Jones & Jason Robards, a 1961 song by Tony Bennett and an album by Johnny Mathis before Jackson used the phrase himself. He turned into a song that reached #25 last week.
27. Yes – Owner Of A Lonely Heart
PD – This song was initially written by Trevor Rabin for his eventual debut. Then he formed a band called Cinema with Alan White & Chris Squire of Yes and hired Trevor Horn to produce them. Horn heard Rabin’s demo and convinced Cinema to record OOALH, which they did. In early 1983 Jon Anderson joined the band and sang lead on this recording. Once he became a member, the group turned into a new version of Yes. And the rest is history.
26. Rufus with Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
This is my jam! Chaka hooks up with Rufus one final time for a live album called Stomping At The Savoy on which they recorded four new studio tracks. It was a big #1 hit on the Soul charts but will only hit #22 on the Top 40. Damn you, white people!
25. Peter Schilling – Major Tom (Coming Home)
OHW – We heard Bowie at #30. Now here’s German Peter Schilling borrowing David’s Major Tom character from Space Oddity to give us an unofficial remake of the astronaut lost in space floating in his tin can. It will travel to #14 by the end of the year before bidding Auf Wiedersehen.
24. Big Country – In A Big Country
OHW – This anthemic rocker put the big in Big Country as well as made everyone try to play their guitar like a bagpipe. That effect was via the use of an e-Bow, but we all thought they were tech geniuses. It was the Scottish band’s only US hit, globe-hopping up to a #17 high. This song makes me feels so good, and I still love rocking this tune to this day.
23. Journey – Send Her My Love
Another midtempo ballad by Steve Perry and company, the fourth from their LP, Frontiers, which is stuck at #23.
22. The Police – Synchronicity II
YESSSS! Thank you for reminding us that you can rock and think at the same time. This song is five minutes of unrelenting tension that never releases even after the song finishes. It will top out at only #16 before the year is over, mostly because we all had the album by then. It also helps that The Day After premiered on TV this week.
21. Olivia Newton-John – Twist Of Fate
Here’s a new Livvy tune that will peak at #5 in early January. Written by Steve Kipner & Peter “Player” Beckett, it will be the first single from the Two of A Kind soundtrack, starring ONJ and John Travolta. The flip side of the 45 is Take A Chance, a duet between the two. All of this mess was too little, too late.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- ML – Misheard Lyrics
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- STA – Second Time Around
- WPWFU – White People, We F(_)cked Up