Friends, we’ve come to the end of the 1980s as we enter chart week fifty-two. Only two calendar years had fifty-two editions of the Billboard Hot 100 – 1980 and 1985, which had to do with having an extra Saturday in those years. So why did the others only have fifty-one? I’m going to tell you, but please sit down first. Their employer gave them the week between Christmas and New Years Day off. What? JK.
They were busy creating their end of year charts, which took them a full month to work on and were released on the last week of the year. In doing so, the Hot 100 charts were left unattended, so Billboard created a “frozen” week for week #52. All of those singles got an extra week at their current spot. What a great way to add another week of domination to your #1 record. [Ed note – if someone from the industry wants to give a more precise explanation of the frozen week, please be my guest.]
Without further adieu, here is our final review of The Other Sixty from the years 1980 and 1985.
December 27th, 1980
81. Aretha Franklin – United Together
The Queen’s last three albums of the 70s yielded one Hot 100 entry, Break It To Me Gently, in 1977, which peaked at #85. She needed a change, and, leaving Atlantic Records, she moved over to Arista Records in 1980. This was the first single from her album, Aretha, and the ballad, produced by Chuck Jackson will reach #3 on the Soul charts. It will only reach #56 Pop. She stuck it out with Arista, and two albums later was back in the Top 40. By 1985, she was back in the Top 10. In 1987, she was at #1 with I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), twenty years after Respect hit the top. I bet a former “nineteen”-year-old bought that single.
82. Willis “The Guard” and Vigorish – Merry Christmas In The NFL
Forget Wham-ageddon. Forget Mariah-poclypse. You need to avoid this one at all costs, every year. I think it was the single which precipitated the “anyone using the NFL without consent will be executed” announcement before every televised game. This was created by Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, who would annoy the shit out of us two years with Pac-Man Fever. Thankfully this holiday single will debut at its peak. Also, I learned that vigorish is the bookie’s cut when a bet is placed with them or what’s also known as “the juice.”
88. J.D. Drews – Don’t Want No-Body
I love obscure singles and artists, especially a random one like this. Jurgen Drews was a German Schlager singer who had been performing in groups since the late 60s. In 1974 he released his first solo album, Zeit Fur Meine Songs. Two years later, he nabbed a German #1 song with Ein Bett Im Kornfeld (which translates to A Bed In a Cornfield), a cover of the Bellamy Brothers’ Let Your Love Flow. [This is the point where I tell you that Germans have horrible taste in entertainment. I have experienced this many times first hand. The bar is so low; you have to dig it out.]
Now, someone must have put a bug in Jurgen’s ohr, and told him he was good enough for the American market. He then recorded an album as J.D. Drews and marketed it as he was a lost Ramone. This LP and single sound like a spoof on the burgeoning New Wave power pop genre, minus any humor or self-awareness. It’s absolutely fascinating. Fittingly, it was released on Unicorn Records. His only Hot 100 entry will get to seven-ty nine.
Kansas’ seventh album, Audio-Visions, garnered the group their fifth Top 40 single, Hold On. This was their ho-hum follow-up. It’s not that the song is terrible, but with a title like that, you’d expect more muscle or at least more passion. I think the group was having a hard time with mustering up either by 1980. This 45 will rock on to #75 before disappearing.
December 28th, 1985
88. Joni Mitchell – Good Friends
It’s ridiculous how much lambasting Joni has received throughout her career for her musical choices. God forbid that she did anything different from sitting on a stool with her acoustic guitar, long hair flowing over her shoulders, and singing folk songs. You may not like her move towards a modern synthetic sound in the mid-80s, but it was a lot more tasteful than her contemporaries. And anyway, she doesn’t give a shit what you think.
For me, I love this song. It sounds exactly like being in Lower Manhattan during sunset, looking towards the Hudson, crazy people watching and getting ready for a night of fun with a bestie. And when that dude is Michael McDonald, damn, what else do you want? The synths and programming were done by Thomas Dolby, and it’s also the first album that Joni eschews her guitar. The friendship will last until #85.
89. Roger Daltrey – Let Me Down Easy
If it sounds like you’re listening to Somebody by Bryan Adams, it’s because he and his partner Jim Vallance ripped themselves off and sold it as a new song to the lead singer of The Who. How did Roger miss this? He should have just covered Somebody, but I guess that would have been a waste of time too. At least, we get to hear what a Bryan Adams rock song sounds like with stronger vocals. The McVicar will be let down at #86.
Passion was one thing this band didn’t lack. Lead singer Mike Peters gives his all again with another single that failed to break them out of the U2’s little brother mold. It’s their first Hot 100 entry, the title track from their second album, but it will weaken at #61.
And there you have it. We’ve reviewed all of the singles that charted on the Hot 100 in the 1980s but did not reach the Top 40. We call them The Other Sixty. You can review all of them here, if you like.
Thank you all for reading and commenting. Special thanks to victorvector, who found the tunes that fell through the cracks.