I enjoy recapping the Billboard Top 40 charts from the 80s, so I thought I’d give another one a go since I listened to this on Sirius XM over the weekend. As I heard each song, I could picture just about every video, scene by scene. The images are now permanently linked in my head from Boy George on trial to Tom Petty pushing over an Astro Invader console. Let’s review the first twenty Top 4O hits, Casey-style, during the week of January 15, 1983.
Ol’ Ray’s been kicked out of the house for going back for a little more with the other woman. But now he wants back in. He says, “I’ll do the dishes.” She says, “I have a dishwasher.” Well, “I’ll take out the trash.” “Uh, That’s what I just did” Burn, Ray. Who you gonna call now?
PFK – Here’s a man who never shied away from a key change or two at the end of a song. Maybe he should have. This Cats track from Barry’s twelfth album, Here Comes The Night, is at its peak this week. If you really want drama, listen to Jennifer Hudson’s version in the 2019 film. It sounds like she’s about pound all the Jellicos into kitty litter. If you do like this song, though, search for the original Broadway version with Betty Buckley.
RAR – This sounds like the Australian duo is just ripping themselves off by this point, which is why they’re at their peak with this track. I bet if you asked AI to write an Air Supply song, it would be than this.
This New Wave quartet followed up their immensely successful Top 10 smash, I Ran with a similarly sounding song that wasn’t as catchy, hence its #30 peak. Why didn’t they just write a track called I Raq?
Remember what? (face slapped) This ballad will be the second Top 40 from Kim’s Voyeur LP, and it’s at its peak.
PD – Unfortunately, George will do all the damage to himself that his body can take without dying. This is the first of three songs in this group of twenty with some reggae vibes.
OHW – On SXM’s Big 40 Countdown, Nina will talk about the Australian Pop invasion of the 80s and mention many groups from down under, even the Hoodoo Gurus. But they never mention this band from Sydney currently in the Top 40. This song has been chillin’ at #34 for the past three weeks but will eventually get up to #29. This 45 will get re-released in 1989 and become a member of The Other Sixty as well.
RAR – The five-man group of brothers from New Bedford, Massachusettes nab one more Top 40 hit, their only one during the 80s. Written by Kenny Nolan, this track will not travel any higher than it is today. It will hit the R&B Top 20. Also, adjusting for inflation, your thoughts would now cost $0.
It was only a matter of time that Top 40 would catch up to Peter’s vision, freaky videos aside. Meanwhile, Phil the Shill is further up the chart doing Motown covers. This will be Gabriel’s first solo Top 40 and it’s on its way up to #29. It will also chart on the R&B Hot 100 reaching #64.
OHW – This Mighty Diamonds cover of Pass The Kouchie is reggae-pop entering through the New Wave door. It might not make sense on paper, but that was the unpredictable nature of Top 40 that has since been homogenized. [Don’t get me wrong. It was happening plenty in 1983. It’s just been a slow, steady process.] This 45 makes a giant leap into the Top 40 up from #52 towards its destination of #10. It will hit #1 in twelve countries.
Fun Fact: Kouchie is slang for cannabis pipe. But we couldn’t have kids sing about that. So they changed it to Dutchie, a different type of pot, one you cook with. Next time you go into a La Creuset outlet, have some fun with the clerks.
It was also sampled in this early 90s hip hop song, but I think they misheard the lyrics.
Back to back reggae on the Top 40? Well, it’s a tad lite. It’s not like it’s Tosh & Marley. In fact, it’s some kids from England and a funk group from NJ. Still whatever it takes to spread the Jah love. The second Top 40 hit from As One is at its peak. It will hit the R&B & UK Top 10.
The Juice is losing steam on the Pop charts as her Top 10 days are over. Hell, her Top 20 time has come to a close, too, as Pop radio closes the door on most Country or Country-ish artists. At least there are the AC charts where this will hit #4, while it peaks only four more spots higher in the Top 40
The song that spawned a million wedding first dances was the first true solo release from the former Commodores member, and it went straight to #1. His first thirteen singles will hit the Top 10, and he will not miss until his 1987 duet will Alabama.
Here’s the first Top 40 single from the Red rocker. It will also be his best showing when it peaks at #13. Just for reference, at this point, the highest-charting Van Halen was a Roy Orbison cover, (Oh) Pretty Woman, which hit #12.
What the hell is rockabilly doing here, right? This Long Island trio broke through in the States after taking their act to the UK in 1980 and having a Top 10 hit called Runaway Boys. This Dave Edmunds-produced track was recorded for their debut and re-released on the 1982’s Built For Speed. It’s climbing down from its high of #9.
PD – Back to back felines. The follow-up to Rock This Town was also on the band’s 1980 debut and will be the threesome’s biggest hit in the US, reaching #3.
These guys are still riding that Centerfold momentum. How else to make sense of their appearance in the Top 40 with a live cover of an obscure Marvelows hit from 1965. Actually, I like it more than most of the Freeze Frame album. It’s at its peak this week. Lead singer Peter Wolf will leave the band after the Showtime LP and never look back.
PD – You just know Billy wanted to call this song Levittown but didn’t have the guts to do it. Plus, I’ve been there. There’s nothing that interesting in that town. What would you be waiting for? A black and white at Dortoni’s? Also, Levittown doesn’t have the same ring as that Eastern Pennsylvania town. Did you know that there are at least seven Allentowns in the US? Did you know there was one on the other side of PA, as a suburb of Pittsburgh? So which one is it?
FYI – I once ordered a tuna Shorti at a Wawa in Allentown. Don’t think I didn’t hum this as I waited.
This was the third Top 40 hit from the quintet’s 1982 album, Mirage. Written by Christine McVie, it won’t go any further than where it is now. Still, I think it’s good enough for its own TikTok video. In fact, if Ocean Spray brought back its Mauna Loa drink, I’d do one.
FYI – This is the seventh song in the countdown so far, which has reached its peak.
This is the best song in the first twenty, and it’s not even the best song in the Petty catalog. I loved it back then as I love it now, how Tom growls, telling off a lover who thinks about leaving while the song is underpinned by a lingering sadness showcased through Mike Campbell’s Morricone lone-gunslinger guitar solo and Benmont Tench’s eerie Roland Juno-60 keyboard lick. It’s one notch away from its zenith.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- STA – Second Time Around