Spineless Movement And A Wild Attack

As we look at the top half of the Top 40 from February 28th, 1981, it’s a solid list of veteran artists’ songs. But it took many decades, format changes, and technology enhancements for many of them to get recognized and played again.

SXMFU – On the Big 40 Countdown, they intro the show as the year that Chariots of Fire wins the Oscar for best picture. That won’t happen until the 54th Annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1982. Ordinary People won the Oscar in 1981. Again, folks, this info is not a secret.

20. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – What Kind Of Fool

PFK – Here we are on year two of the 80s, and the Bee Gees are still with us with their songwriting and with Barry’s smooth vibrato. This duet with Babs will be the third Top 10 from her Guilty LP. It will also spend a month atop the AC charts.

19. Cliff Richard – A Little In Love

Sir Cliffo nabs his fourth US Top 20 hit in a little over a year with the follow-up to his #10 smash, Dreamin(g). Not bad for a guy who took twenty years to get his first one.

18. Tierra – Together

OHW, PD – Tierra’s en fuego with their first Top 20, a cover of the 1967 Intruders song written by Gamble & Huff. Unfortunately, the Salas brothers will not be back for a return appearance. It wasn’t due to a lack of good material. They were on Neil Bogart’s Boardwalk label, and when he passed away in 1982, the label went under.

17. Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen

PD – No matter how much you may love the lead single off of Gaucho, you will never be able to shake the feeling of sadness and desperation that permeates through your soul as it plays. This could be you one day. This may be you today.  Sink a little lower, now.

Fun fact: This never spent a week at #19, so forget what I said about Billboard’s sense of humor.

16. John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over

PD – It’s barely been three months since John was murdered, and the radio kept his memory alive by playing songs from his new album incessantly. As this song spent its fifth week at #1, Woman was already at #27. I still find it hard not to hear this song and not travel back to that time as a kid trying to make sense of what happened and feeling all of this song’s optimism and hope just vanish away.

15. Blondie – Rapture

I think it’s safe to say that the immense success of Blondie is easily lost in history’s shuffle. There weren’t many bands in the 70s and 80s that had at least four #1 singles. [add your list in the comments] On top of that, all four had a different sound. The second single from Autoamerican is part New Wave, part disco, part rock, and part hip-hop. Fab Five Freddy gets a shout-out, and most of America won’t know who he is until Yo MTV Raps debuts later in the decade. In the UK, they will rack 6 #1s, but this will only make it up to #5.

14. Neil Diamond – Hello Again

PFK – Wanna know how bad The Jazz Singer is? Neil Diamond covers for his friend at a gig, but because his buddy is an African-American, he decides he’ll show up in blackface. It just gets worse from here. At least, Neil was smart enough to write and record karaoke-worthy ballads such as this one.

13. Rod Stewart – Passion

PD – Between 1976 and 1994, Rod only missed placing a single in the US Top 40 in 1985 and 1987. This seems like an early attempt to do anything he could to keep that streak alive.

12. Stevie Wonder – I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It

The second single from Stevie’s Hotter Than July is a Country-tinged affair and another great hit that’s been lost in his impressive catalog. It’s one spot away from its peak. This always makes me think of that Cotton Land sketch that he did with Eddie on SNL.

Fun fact: That SNL episode was from 1983. Stevie performed Go Home & Overjoyed, two songs that wouldn’t be released for almost three more years.

11. Don McLean – Crying

PFK – It had been eight years since Dreidel hit the Top 40 when Don roared back with this Roy Orbison cover. It was recorded for the LP, Chain Lightning which was released back in late 1978. He’ll be driving his Chevy all the way up to #5, and it will be his only other Top 10 hit aside from American Pie. It was also hit #1 in the UK.

10. ABBA – The Winner Takes It All

This is the definitive ABBA song. Yes, Dancing Queen is sonically beautiful, and Waterloo and Mamma Mia are catchier. But this encapsulates everything about the group’s dynamic that they hid behind a shiny Pop veneer. This will be their fourth and final US Top 10 smash, and thank God for that cause alimony is a bitch.

9. Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne

PFK (and, please do it while I’m there) – This song was inspired by Dan meeting his high school sweetheart at a convenience store when he was back home in Peoria visiting his parents on Christmas Eve 1975, six years after they graduated. They end up splitting a six-pack of Olympia in the parking lot. Dan would have been 24 and just had his first Top 40, Part of the Plan, from his third album, Captured Angel. And yet, here he was bitchin’ about traveling to perform at paying gigs.  This single was released ahead of his seventh album, The Innocent Age, and will become his second Top 10 hit. Michael Brecker plays the sax solo at the end.

8. Delbert McClinton – Giving It Up For Your Love

OHW – The man who played harmonica on Bruce Channel’s #1 smash Hey Baby and had a decade of solo albums under his belt finally breaks through with his only Top 40 hit, which is sitting at its zenith this week. This sounds so much like a Bonnie Raitt song that I’m surprised that she’s never covered it.

7. Blondie – The Tide Is High

PD – Not many songs have number one in their lyrics and then end up hitting #1. Did anybody else do it?

6. Styx – The Best Of Times

All the older kids in my neighborhood were into the Paradise Theatre, to the point which they would tease me that I wasn’t. Why would anyone defend this album and/or song unless you were on a prom committee?

5. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You

I like to pretend that these guys are one-hit-wonders, that they wrote this, that it hit #1 (which it did), and then they disappeared. That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

4. Kool & The Gang – Celebration

PD – I love this group, and I love that Yah- Hoo! The rest of this song can vanish and take every last yellow ribbon with it.

3. John Lennon – Woman

Paul McCartney was right, and he sleeps just fine. His love does it good, and there’s nothing wrong with filling the world with silly love songs. I just wish John was around longer for us to hear him perfect a mix of his rough and tender sides. This track that he possibly could.

2. Dolly Parton – 9 To 5

Dolly Parton Gets First Shot of COVID-19 Vaccine

1. Eddie Rabbitt – I Love A Rainy Night (1 wk at #1)

PD -I didn’t think anyone could not like this song. Until I saw this:

For some reason, that made me laugh so hard. [Thanks, JB. No disrespect intended.] Now every time I hear this, I’ll think of someone listening to that finger snap and hand clap interplay, wanting to haul off and throw a brick through a window. Actually, I’m going to watch The Big Lebowski scene where Walter destroys the car with the sound off and this song playing instead.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake

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