I thought I’d get one more of these in before I would start to repeat myself. Since this countdown from February 9th, 1980 had lots of 1979 hits, I figured it would be a good excuse. It ends up being a very solid list. The first twenty are all by established artists – no one or two hit wonders in the bunch.
[Also, just a reminder, the Big 80s countdown is still ripping their info directly from Wikipedia. So if you have the time, have a little fun.]
40. Pat Benatar – Heartbreaker
This is where it begins for Pat, Top 40 wise. No one would call this punk, but it certainly has that same type of energy. And while Pat wasn’t the only woman making rock music in 1980, she was one of the best doing it, because she surrounded herself with top-notch musicians. It’ll crack its way up to #23 and became one of George Steinbrenner’s favorite songs.
39. Toto – 99
RAR – Was this song genuinely written as a tribute to George Lucas’ film THX 1138, as the band states? Or was someone in the group dating Barbara Feldon from Get Smart?
38. Stevie Wonder – Send One Your Love
RAR – Are your ferns drooping over their macrame plant holder? Perk them up with the new Stevie Wonder double LP, Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants! The album was the soundtrack to the documentary, The Secret Life Of Plants, as well as his follow-up to Songs In The Key Of Life. Thus everyone was excited to buy it, but immediately became confused by it. In retrospect, taken on its own, the album has a profound beauty and sensitivity that Stevie rarely achieved again. This single was one of his best love songs, which continues to get lost in his catalog shuffle, but one that seems custom made for FTD.
37. Kool & The Gang – Ladies Night
This track was a game-changer for this Jersey City funk outfit, as it was their first Top Pop single since 1974’s Hollywood Swinging. But more than that, it would begin a serious run of radio smashes through 1987 – 16 Top 40 hits, 10 Top 10s and a #1 single. This would also be their first hit in the UK, peaking at #9.
36. Rupert Holmes – Him
This is the first of two in the Top 40 for Rupert, an amazing feat considering that the record label that released Partners In Crime went out of business three months ago. But sometimes you can’t keep the good stuff down. This will make it up to #6 and then be left for dead by the annals of history. Until a boat, with a yacht rock flag sailed up to its pier.
Fun fact: Rupert recorded a French version for his Canadian friends called Lui, which was only available on 45.
35. Linda Ronstadt – How Do I Make You
Linda must have heard Pat and decided to up her game with this New Wave rocker. Supposedly she listened to the band Billy Thermal’s debut album, even though it never got released. Knowing a good song when she heard one, she plucked this one out, recorded it with a new band, and released it as her debut 45 from Mad Love. It will reach #10, but continually gets overlooked.
Fun fact: Nicolette Larson sings backing vocals.
34. John Stewart – Lost Her In The Sun
This was the third Top 40 hit from Bombs Away Dream Babies, but most people only remember Gold. It’s sitting at its peak this week. John has another song that he wrote in the Top 40 this week somewhere further up the chart.
33. Shalamar – The Second Time Around
Shalamar was a musical spinoff from the show Soul Train. They would take some of the good looking dancers who could sing and record some disco songs. Then Don could have them on the program to promote it. The problem was that they couldn’t get the formula right. They were on album three with their third different lineup. Fortunately for them, Howard Hewitt, Jody Watley & Jeffrey Daniel was the trio that worked, at least for the next four years. This #1 Soul & Dance smash will sashay up to #8.
Also if the second time around is gonna be better, how bad was the first time?
32. Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)
PD – I always eat all of my meat, but I have yet to receive any pudding? What am I doing wrong?
31. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Refugee
…on which Tom perfects the I dumped you. Get over it song that he would still revisit every album. I miss him. Also being a refugee isn’t a choice, so it’s not something you have to do. It’s something you’re forced to do.
30. Rufus & Chaka – Do You Love What You Feel
Rufus used to only feature Chaka Khan. Then by 1977, they received equal billing as Rufus & Chaka Khan. In 1978, Rufus recorded an album without Chaka. No one bought it. So when they hooked up for the Quincy Jones-produced Masterjam, they were now called Rufus & Chaka. When they teamed up for 1981’s Camouflage, they were then known as Rufus with Chaka Khan. At that point, we all had it, and we all jumped ship for a few years. Also, this is a wicked jam!
29. Commodores – Wonderland
We’re only six weeks into the 80s, so pop, rock, and soul still sit very comfortably together on the charts. Here’s the third single from the band’s Midnight Magic LP riding a natural high to its zenith of #25.
28. Barry Manilow – When I Wanted You
Eleven songs in and it’s all good. I don’t even mind hitting a bump like this. I can just time my time filling my wine glass with ice cubes and some Reunite. Yeah, that’s nice.
27. Kool & The Gang – Too Hot
PD – Just in time for more smooth jams, one that’s burning its way up to #5. Although it makes me wonder, why is having a relationship get too hot a bad thing? Is J.T. Taylor just being a prude? Was Nurse Diesel hiding in a closet ready to whip him when he came home?
26. Styx – Why Me
Here’s the release that got Dennis DeYoung preemptively fired from the band. He wanted another ballad to follow-up, Babe. No one else did. The record company eventually released this instead, and it rests at its peak this week. Meanwhile, Dennis continues to sing this song every day.
25. Spinners – Working My Way Back To You/ Forgive Me, Girl
PD – Did you know The Spinners were on an episode of Laverne & Shirley? As themselves? In 1983?
24. Foghat – Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was a Fool)
From their eighth album, Boogie Motel, this single slips from its high of #23. The actual Boogie Motel was a recording studio in Port Jefferson, NY out on Long Island, set inside a large 1751 Victorian house. It grew to be a live-in studio with a cafe and a bar and had Blue Oyster Cult, Zebra, and Aldo Nova as a clientele.
23. Cliff Richard – We Don’t Talk Anymore
After decades of trying, Cliff will finally have some consistent US success, starting with this Top 10 track, which uses a Polymoog as its lead synth, played by songwriter Alan Tarney. It will hit #1 in the UK (his first in 11 years) and other European countries as it climbs to #7 in the US.
22. Led Zeppelin – Fool In The Rain
This was Led Zep’s last Top 40 single, and it will inch up only more notch. Described as Bonham’s last stand, his drums are so heavy and thick throughout, especially during the samba break. Even though he gets the back into the original groove, you can tell he’s worn out. The fills get shorter, and eventually, the song runs out of gas. John will be dead within seven months from this hit, and the band as we know will be no more.
21. Neil Diamond – September Morn
RAR – A nice little train wreck. Neil’s songs are always good for one of those. On the surface, this is a soft sleepy ballad. Dig into the lyrics a little, and you find out it’s a lot more sleazy. The singer recalls his current affair with a woman that he used to know as a little girl. What the fuck, Neil? Oh wait, I see that you co-wrote this with a Frenchman. That may explain a bit of it, but I don’t ever wanna hear Heartlight again.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- STA – Second Time Around
- SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake