Somehow I Believed We’d Always Survive

Any smart corporation releases its strongest product in the fourth quarter to show positive sales growth going into a new year. Record companies would utilize this ploy as well. That is why we have a stacked Top 20 here in early January ’80. Sixteen of these twenty songs are by artists who have already had a Top 10 hit. Out of the last four, two will become superstars. Even the one-hit-wonder has a hitmaker attached. Most of these songs still get played today, thanks to the emergence of yacht rock stations. And more importantly, this group is in my wheelhouse. Let’s review the Top 20 from January 26th, 1980.

20. K.C. and the Sunshine Band – Please Don’t Go

This was the Florida band’s fifth #1 single (sixth, if you believe the story of Keep It Comin’ Love getting the shaft) over a five year period, a rare and risky ballad for a Disco group.

SXMFU – On this Big 40 Countdown, Alan mentions that this single comes from Wanna Go Party, but the album is titled Do You Wanna Go Party? He also notes that this is the band’s last hurrah, which was not true either. The band released two more albums, and although they didn’t spawn any hits, a third release, All In A Night’s Work, did. Give It Up in #1 for three weeks in the Uk in the Summer of 1983. Since their US record company, Epic, wouldn’t release it, KC had to find an independent label to put it out, which meant he would have to release it under his own name. It made the Top 20 here in early 1984.

19. Isaac Hayes – Don’t Let Go

Some know him as Gandy. Some know him as Chef. But all music fans know that Isaac always throws down. This smooth and soulful disco jam, the title track to his fourteenth album., was a cover of a 1958 Roy Hamilton hit. He’s one spot away from his peak.

18. Daryl Hall and John Oates – Wait For Me

Even though this duo racked three Top 10 singles, with one of them reaching #1, their ride through the 70s was not a smooth one. It took them the decade to find their sound and the right players to help them achieve it. By the time of their eighth album, X-Static, they have guitarist G.E. Smith on board and sax player Charlie DeChant, both stable members of their 80s crew. Produced by David Foster, the album featured minor forays into disco as well as glimpses of their New Wave-inspired rock and soul. This potential graduation ballad is at its peak.

17. Dionne Warwick – Deja Vu

RAR – We heard Isaac Hayes at #19 with a song someone else wrote. Now here’s Dionne singing a song that Isaac wrote for her. And it’s produced by Barry Manilow, but even he can’t fuck up this sweet, sultry groove. If you were born around Thanksgiving in 1980, you might be a product of this song’s potent prowess.

16. Teri DeSario with KC – Yes, I’m Ready

OHW – Henry W. Casey and Teri were classmates back in Miami. So when she was looking to record her second album, she asked him to produce and sing a few duets. This one, a 1965 Barbara Mason smash, was the first single released, and it’s on its way up to #2., held down by Queen. After this, Teri found Jesus and disappeared.

15. Kenny Loggins – This Is It

Here’s WestCoast at his most mystical with a mother collaboration with Michael McDonald, one it’s way up to #11. It’s become a Yacht Rock staple, no doubt due to its inclusion in this.

14. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Don’t Do Me Like That

This Gainesville, FL quintet shoots a missile towards Pop programmers with their first single from their third album, Damn The Torpedos. Benmont Tench is working the piano and organ simultaneously like a champ. And Tom is ready to punch if you do him wrong. It will become their first Top 10 hit.

13. Kool & The Gang – Ladies Night

PD – I went down a rabbit hole and found a 1980 performance at the American Music Awards on YouTube. Check out who’s in the audience diggin’ on this jam.

12. Dr. Hook – Better Love Next Time

RAR – Dr. Hook sprinkled in a tinge of disco vibes into their music and a nice run in the Top 40 between 1978 and 1980. This single was the first released from their 1979 LP, Sometimes You Win, and it’s chillin’ at its high. Somehow it even crossed over to the Country charts, peaking at #91.

11. Prince – I Wanna Be Your Lover

Here is the first of many Top 40 smashes by the Purple one. And just like Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren before him, he plays everything on this Polymoog-soaked disco smoker. Supposedly this song was inspired by meeting and developing a crush on singer/ keyboardist Patrice Rushen. It will be his first R&B #1 and also gave us this fantastic American Bandstand interview.

10. Fleetwood Mac – Sara

Is this song about Stevie Nicks’ best friend marrying Mick Fleetwood? Is this song about her & Don Henley’s unborn child? Or is this just another sublime performance by the WestCoast witch on a double album, Tusk, full of some of the band’s most experimental moments?

9. Eagles – The Long Run

They have one of the best selling albums of all time. They permanently jacked the price of concert tickets up. A 3-hour 2013 documentary on the group won two Emmys. Now that the run is over, I guess we all found out that they made it. Bastards.

8. Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love

PD – I like Danny Zucco look that Freddie adopted around this time. Makes me sad that we never got to hear his version of Sandy.

7. Cliff Richard – We Don’t Talk Anymore

PD – Cliffo is on the verge of one of his biggest US hits as well as his first UK #1 hit since 1968. From his twenty-seventh album, Rock And Rock Juvenile, this Polymoog-led single will hit the top in eight countries and sits at its peak this week in the US. Not bad for a guy about to turn 40. Also, do not hire this man as a shepherd.

6. Stevie Wonder – Send One Your Love

PD – From Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants, his first album in three years here’s Stevie with his first Top 10 since Sir Duke hit #1 in 1977. This jazzy ballad and unofficial F.T.D. campaign slips from its Pop high of #4. It will also be an R&B Top 5 and #1 on the AC charts

5. Smokey Robinson – Cruisin’

RAR – It only took nine albums, but Smokey finally has a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100. Whether you dig it or not, all I know is someone’s getting pregnant by the time this ballad is over. It still bothers me that Gwyneth Paltrow had a #1 AC hit in 2000 with her version of this classic, which is just proof that White people will ruin everything if you let them.

4. Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

PFK – Imagine finally having a Top 40 single climb the charts only to have your record label fold because a deal they made with the Catholic church bankrupted them. Infinity Records released Rupert’s Partners In Crime album just before releasing Pope John Paul’s album of songs and sermons, which they invested heavily in. Pope’s album bombed, but champagne-enthusiast Holmes eventually took his track up to #1 for three weeks. The lesson learned here is obvious.

3. Kenny Rogers – Coward Of The Country

Kenny really got on a roll in 1979 with three significant cross-over smashes – The Gambler, She Believes In Me, and You Decorated My Life. The latter was the first single from Kenny, and now we have the second, a tale of ol’ Tommy going from a yellow-bellied pacifist to beating up the gang-raping Gatlin boys.

2. Captain & Tennille – Do That To Me One More Time

PFK – Daryl and Toni moved from A&M Records to Casablanca with the apt title, Make Your Move. This single will have to play bridesmaid for a full month before finally reaching the mountaintop during the week of Valentine’s Day. It will be their last Top 40 hit. Tom Scott plays the lyricon solo.

1. Michael Jackson – Rock With You

Last weekend I took my kids to a record store for the first time in a month. Our neighborhood shop, Harvest Records, allows you to schedule hour-long “appointments” to shop by your self in the store. I let my kids pick out a CD to buy. My daughter picked a Jason Mraz CD. My son found Back In Black and Off The Wall and didn’t know which to choose. He eventually selected MJ, and we’ve been rewarded with continuous plays of this month-long #1. Although I would have been okay with AC-DC too.

KEY

  • 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

Find The Words To Say It Yourself

It’s January 26th, 1980, and the world is about to be introduced to one of the biggest toy crazes of the decade: the Rubik’s Cube. It was showcased at the British Toy & Hobby Fair, and the world never looked at nine squares the same again, especially if Paul Lynde wasn’t in the middle. You wouldn’t be able to buy one until May, but as you waited to be equally entertained and frustrated by a combination puzzle, this group of Top 40 songs would do the trick for you.

40. Electric Light Orchestra – Last Train To London

Jeff Lynne keeps his foray into Disco rock rolling with his fourth Top 40 hit from the group’s eighth album, Discovery. It will slide up one mores spot before arriving at its final destination. In the UK, it will the LP’s fourth Top 10 single and the band’s thirteenth overall. Check out how he bites the Mary Tyler Moore theme during the chorus.

39. John Stewart – Lost Her In The Sun

PD – John and co-producer Lindsey Buckingham are in the Top 40 twice. They’re in with John’s third and final Top 40 hit. Then John’s in as a songwriter for Anne Murray and Lindsey, as part of Fleetwood Mac. This song has five spots to go until its peak.

38. The Commodores – Wonderland

PD – Have you ever seen the film, Wonderland? It was about the 1981 Wonderland murders and came out in 2003 with a solid cast. But outside of its disturbing subject matter, it was a total letdown of a movie. I’m glad Lionel didn’t license this song for that, as it wouldn’t have fit. But I wondered if he had a squeeze living in those townhouses, and the address inspired this song.

37. The Spinners – Working My Way Back To You/ Forgive Me, Girl

PD – Without Phillipe Wynne, all they’re these guys are doing with a Disco cover of a Four Seasons tune is padding their 401Ks. Though, retirement investments are never this catchy.

36. Santana – You Know That I Love You

Here’s a fun game to play with someone who’s under 40. Play any Santana or Journey Top 40 song from the early 80s (Don’t Stop Believing doesn’t count) and ask the listener to tell you which band it was. If you don’t think it’s easy to sound like Steve Perry, ask this guy how he did it.

35. Donna Summer – On The Radio

PFK – One of my DS faves will become Donna’s eighth consecutive Top 5 single. It was included on her double LP Greatest Hits compilation, which featured both the long and short versions. The Jodie Foster film Foxes, which came out that Winter, also showcased this track. It will also cap her five-year career at Casablanca Records as she will release her next album, The Wanderer, on Geffen Records.

34. Rufus and Chaka – Do You Love What You Feel

PD – Rufus never got the love they deserved from Pop audiences. Hell, neither did Chaka. How do you explain a track this irresistible stalling at #30 while reaching #1 on the R&B charts?

33. Cheap Trick – Voices

This Rockford Illinois Power Pop quartet shows off their Beatles influences on their second release from the Dream Police LP. It will be their fourth straight Top 40 hit but will also start an eight-year drought. Supposedly Steve Lukather plays lead guitar on this track, but I have no idea why.

32. Little River Band – Cool Change

Time for…a long nap on a boat. And when you wake up, drinks with your brothers, Albatross and Whale. Man, the weed was good back then.

31. Neil Diamond – September Morn

PD – My parents had Neil’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on vinyl, and they asked me to record a copy onto a cassette. Without the proper technology, I had to use a mic positioned near the stereo speakers while the LP played on the turntable. For added effect, I pretended to be a DJ between tracks and added things like, “That was Neil singing about coming to America. And now, here he is wondering where his flowers are.” They were not enthused.

30. Herb Alpert – Rotation

Herb sees his fortunes ascend again in the Top 40 arena, and his single from Rise is in the Top 40. Written by a true Bad Azz (that’s Randy Badazz) and Andy Armer, it features a pulsing bassline triggered from a control pad through a modified Minimoog. No drum machines. No sequencers. It’s sitting at its high this week.

29. The O’Jays – Forever Mine

The Philly soul trio from Canton, OH, squeezed out one more Top 40 single into the new decade. Released from their thirteenth album, Identify Yourself, this smooth R&B ballad written by Gamble & Huff is one spot away from its zenith.

28. Jefferson Starship – Jane

In the Summer of 1978, as Runaway was on the charts, professional drunkard Grace Slick got the heave-ho. By the end of the year, Marty Balin had left as well. How do you replace two founding members of the bands? With the lead singer from Elvin Bishop’s band, as it turns out. Mickey Thomas takes over the lead vocal duties and immediately takes the band into the Top 15 again with this single from Freedom At Point Zero. It will also be the group’s only Top 40 hit in the UK.

27. Styx – Why Me?

PD – This Chicago quintet was nine albums in with Cornerstone, and they were more known for their ballads than for uptempo rockers such as this. That’s probably the reason this won’t travel any higher than #26.

26. Led Zeppelin – Fool In The Rain

PD – No one knew that this band would cease to exist within the first year of the decade, not even the band members. This will be their final Top 40 hit with a #21 zenith next month. I always thought that All My Love could have been another hit from In Through The Out Door, but it was never commercially released. Also, can someone please mash this up with Steely Dan’s Babylon Sisters?

25. Dan Fogelberg – Longer

RAR – Dan gets his biggest Top 40 hit and simultaneously destroys his reputation with this tender love song. He might as well have added the line longer than there’s been cheese in Wisconsin… It will climb up to #2, kept off the mountain top by Pink Floyd. No pudding for poor Dan.

24. The Dirt Band – An American Dream

RAR – This California country-rock band dropped the nitty gritty from their name in 1978 to the more self-effacing Dirt Band. But it paid dividends as they dropped the nitty-gritty from their sound as well, nabbing two Top 40 hits during the early 80s. This was the first one, a Rodney Crowell-penned track featuring backing vocals by Linda Ronstadt, which will top out at #13.

23. Foghat – Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was a Fool)

PD – This UK quartet gave up the blues and boogie for some straight AC cash in 1979. Their final Top 40 song is at its peak. By the way, what happened the second time?

22. Anne Murray – Daydream Believer

Canadian Anne Murray makes Davy Jones sound like Barry White with her version of the Monkees’ 1968 #1 smash. It will reach #3 on Country charts and #1 on the AC list. She’s slowly climbing up to her eventual #12 high.

21. Steve Forbert – Romeo’s Tune

OHW – Steve became a critic’s darling with his 1978 debut, Alive on Arrival, and racked up continued accolades with its follow-up, Jackrabbit Slim. This single, released from that album, is on its way up to #11. And if I’m making a mixtape of my favorite one-hit-wonders, this is track number one every time. Also, according to the album’s liner notes, this song is dedicated to Supremes singer Florence Ballard.

KEY

  • 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

Tired Of All The Darkness In Our Lives

Were you turning on the latest Jim Henson show, Fraggle Rock, or recovering from Kilauea erupting in Hawaii? Then you were alive on January 15th, 1983, and might have been listening to these Top 20 songs during that week.

20. John Cougar – Hand To Hold On To

JC had a year to remember when Hurts So Good and Jack & Diane dominated the charts in 1982. Their success will allow him to begin the transition to his birth name of Mellencamp, and so the third single from American Fool will be his last one credited to John Cougar. It’s one notch away from its peak.

19. Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes

Does it make sense that Adam had more Top 40 hits in the 90s than in the 80s? This will be his only Caseyland entry during the decade of greed. It’s also his first solo single after Adam & the Ants split up, or rather, half of the members joined Bow Wow Wow. This #1 UK smash is on its way to a #12 zenith. Also, love that Al Green name check.

18. ABC – The Look Of Love

With a name like ABC, this UK New Wave quartet always found themselves first in the rock albums rack. [Not so, with a Google search] As early purveyors of sophisti-pop, they find themselves with their first US hit, sitting at its peak this week. In the UK, this was their third Top 20 hit, landing at #4.

17. Kenny Loggins – Heart To Heart

If we go by the Yachtski scale, this along with the Doobie Brothers’ What A Fool Believes in the nexus of the Yacht Rock universe. As the latter was Michael McDonald singing a song he wrote with Kenny Loggins, this track is Kenny’s pipes over a song he wrote with Michael. [McD plays the Rhodes and provides backing vocals.] I always prefer West Coast Kenny to Movie Kenny, and this is one of his smoothest moments. Featuring David Sanborn on the sax solo, his second single from High Adventure is inching up to its final destination of #15. It even somehow crossed over to the R&B charts peaking at #71.

16. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Shame On the Moon

PD – This Country rock song will be Bob’s biggest hit when it reaches #2, until Shakedown in 1987. That’s amazing considering we’re in the midst of a New Wave/MTV revolution. Also, that’s Bill Payne from Little Feat on the piano solo.

15. Phil Collins – You Can’t Hurry Love

From the divorce files of Phil The Shill: A Motown cover of the Supremes 1966 #1 smash, recorded for and released from his second album, Hello, I Must Be Going. The single was successful in many countries and will be Phil’s first US Top 10. It was perfect for the burgeoning 60s nostalgia crowd, who’s Big Chill soundtrack was right around the corner. I wonder if Phil sang this song from memory because he butchers unnecessarily changes many of the original lyrics.

14. Little River Band – The Other Guy

Here’s a defensive divorce song from a group who just went through a messy one, as lead singer Glenn Shorrock has just left. This single released from their Greatest Hits album will feature new lead singer, John Farnham, but will get clipped by DSS at #11.

13. Joe Jackson – Steppin’ Out

Joe is one of my all-time faves and seeing him live, just him and his piano on a Summer night in Central Park, is one of my best concert memories. This single, from his fifth album, Night And Day, a tribute to Cole Porter, was an across-the-board smash hitting the Top 10 here and in the UK and officially began my lifelong love affair with his music. It sonically captures the unique feel of a night out in Manhattan as Joe sings and plays all of the instruments on the track. The pulsating bassline was created by hooking up a Minimoog to a Korg KR55 drum machine, using it as a makeshift sequencer trigger.

12. Eddie Rabbitt with Crystal Gayle – You & I

PD – My son saw a picture of Eddie this weekend and thought it looked like a murderer. Well, he’s definitely killin’ it with Crystal as they continue to take this wedding song up the charts. It will also be the last Top 40 hit for both of them.

11. Laura Branigan – Gloria

PD – I would have never thought in 2021 we would have to collectively take this song back from the folks who thought it necessary to destroy our democracy. They can have How Am I Supposed To Live With You? instead.

10. Dionne Warwick – Heartbreaker

RAR – Much has been discussed about The Bee Gees’ career crashing in the 80s. While their name might have instigated unfair ridicule back then, they were just hiding in plain sight, having hits with others singing lead. It’s not like their voices disappeared either, as their backing vocals were always very prominent. They produced the entire Heartbreaker album, and the title track became Dionne’s biggest solo hit during the 80s, outside of That’s What Friends Are For. It will also hit #1 on the AC charts, #14 Soul, and #2 in the UK.

RFW – Since SXM doesn’t think anyone reads Wikipedia, they still steal their copy from the artist’s song pages, just like this one, where they lift the first two lines under Background.

9. The Clash – Rock The Casbah

THW – This New Wave nee punk quartet from the UK have their biggest US hit when they let this raga drop onto Pop programmers playlists. These folks were always a dance band hiding behind the notion that music and politics can mix, so long as it makes you feel something good. That also explains Mick Jones’ next project, Big Audio Dynamite. Anger is an energy, Johnny Rotten once said. Also, this was the minarets’ bomb growing up, and we turned it up at any opportunity. My daughter thought they were saying Rock In the Cat’s Spa, which is cute and makes me feel old as hell.

8. Patti Austin with James Ingram – Baby Come To Me 

PD – I love the fact that Patti uses her lower register on this song while James uses his upper tenor. Her natural transition from jazz to R&B under Q’s tutelage should have been experienced more by Pop audiences. But alas, this #1 was her only Top 40 hit. At least we got more of him, or as my daughter calls him, James Instagram.

7. Toto – Africa

Ok, kids, settle down. I wrote about this song on another blog a few years back, so here ya go.

6. Toni Basil – Mickey

PD, OHW – The former #1 single, replaced at the top by the song at #4, had also reached the mountain top in Australia & Canada and hit #2 in the UK. Lolly will cover it in 1999 and hit #4 in the UK, and Gorie and Jasmine’s cover will hit #1 in Japan in 2004. Both reference the cheerleader look and chant that Toni created on her own.

5. Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing

The comeback of the year. Marvin had virtually disappeared since 1976, as far as the mainstream was concerned after his revolutionary R&B albums, 1971’s What’s Going On and 1973’s Let’s Get It On earlier in the decade. [1978’s Hear, My Dear, is also a beautiful piece of work] And for those that think drum machines are all sterile, it’s all about the groove, folks. And that aching voice. This song makes Let’s Get It On sound like Oh Babe, What Would You Say in comparison. And yet there is nuance, even if we all know what he’s after. It will spend ten weeks atop on the R&B charts and reach #3 on the Hot 100 for three weeks, held off my only Africa and Australia.

Fun fact: The whispered get up, get up, get up is by singer Harvey Fuqua, who gave Marvin his start and became his brother-in-law when he married Anna, Harvey’s wife, Gwen’s sister, whose brother was Berry Gordy.

4. Hall & Oates – Maneater

I combined my son’s love for dinosaurs and this song (he plays it on a loop) with this shirt that I made him for Christmas. Out of the six #1 singles this duo garnered, Maneater will spend the most weeks at the top at four.

3. Don Henley – Dirty Laundry

This single and lyrical subject is how I expect Don to live his daily life, angry about something to the point of satire but never figuring out the solution. It still sounded good on the radio back then, which is why it reached #3 and boiled Glenn Frey’s blood for years.

2. Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney – The Girl Is Mine

PFK – This is how Thriller‘s phenomenon got started, a soft rock milquetoast pop fight from a ridiculously faithful ex-Beatle and the increasingly androgynous gloved one.  It will still be a #1 smash on the R&B and AC charts. The band is mostly Toto members, their second appearance in the Top 10 with Louis Johnson on bass. They start off the year together at #2 and will end it together at #1 with Say Say Say, a song they recorded back in 1981.

RFW –  SXM is at it again: “The Girl Is Mine” has been the subject of two plagiarism lawsuits, the first in 1984 and the latter in 1993. Ok great, from who and about what? Oh, Wiki doesn’t tell you.

1. Men At Work – Down Under

PD – Before this song makes you book your next vacation to Australia, you should know that this continent has the world’s most deadly wildlife living there. Unless you have a head full of zombie, then, by all means, have fun in the Outback.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • ML – Misheard Lyrics
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia

 

You Know He Leads You On

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.

40. Ray Parker Jr. – Bad Boy

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?

39. Barry Manilow – Memory

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.

38. Air Supply – Two Less Lonely People In The World

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.

37. A Flock Of Seagulls – Space Age Love Song

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?

36. Kim Carnes – Does It Make You Remember

Remember what? (face slapped) This ballad will be the second Top 40 from Kim’s Voyeur LP, and it’s at its peak.

35. Culture Club – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me

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.

34. Moving Pictures – What About Me?

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.

33. Tavares – A Penny For Your Thoughts

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.

32. Peter Gabriel – Shock The Monkey

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.

31. Musical Youth – Pass The Dutchie

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.

30. Kool & the Gang – Let’s Go Dancin’ (Ooh La, La, La)

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.

29. Juice Newton – Heart of the Night

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

28. Lionel Richie – Truly

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.

27. Sammy Hagar – Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy

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.

26. Stray Cats – Rock This Town

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.

25. Stray Cats – Stray Cat Strut

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.

24. J. Geils Band – I Do

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.

23. Billy Joel – Allentown

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.

22. Fleetwood Mac – Love In Store

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.

21. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – You Got Lucky

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.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • STA – Second Time Around

 

 

 

 

How I Learned To Count Backward

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I never adequately eulogized Casey Kasem when he passed away in 2014. He was just a guy. I never met him, and he never met me. But his creation along with Tom Rounds, Don Bustany, and Ron Jacobs had a massive impact on how I partition the success of Pop music. I put a different value on a song that reached #40 than one that peaked at #41. And I understand that myriad of factors that control from aggressive record promotion to straight-up payola, the good or bad timing from distribution and pressing plants to chart manipulation favors for a buddy.

None of that mattered when I listened to the American Top 40 countdown on Sunday. Casey never judges why a record placed at #37 or #14 or #1. He celebrated new artists that debuted, highlighting stories about years of trying hard and finally making it. He passed along tidbits of oddball trivia and was always trying to connect the dots between songs, creating as much of a musical community as he could. It sounded like all of those folks were friends, attending the same fun party. Some barely stayed. Others never left.

Casey had a distinctive yet reassuring voice, and it always felt like he was in my living room talking directly to me. Great DJs can do that, and he was one of the best. His Long Distance Dedication feature can seem cheesy and trite in retrospect, but it was the show’s attempt to establish a deeper relationship with the listener, inviting us in as a special guest.

The weekly broadcast debuted fifty years ago this week just before I was born. So it has been part of my music appreciation ever since. My parents never missed a chance to listen and guess what the most song was. It stoked my interest in Billboard magazine, and for years, I would read it at my local library, making photocopies of the Hot 100 for my collection until I saved enough money to purchase my own subscription to my parent’s confusion. That subscription lasted almost seven years, long after Casey did his last broadcast nearly twenty-eight years to the date of his debut.

American Top 40 continued after Casey, but it was never the same again. Shadoe Stevens, who I did get a chance to meet once, did a serviceable job for the next seven years. Casey eventually started his own program, Casey’s Top 40, which was based on the Radio & Records publication. Even when he returned to AT40 in 1998 for another six years, Billboard’s chart rules had changed so much, there wasn’t much turnover any more, and the fun just wasn’t there. Ryan Seacrest has continued on for the last sixteen years.

My interest in the show was renewed in the mid-90s when I was invited into the basement of a former record store owner, who was selling all of her LPs for $.25. I stumbled across ten original AT40 box sets on vinyl with the original playlist sheets in excellent condition and copied them onto cassette to listen. It was then that I realized the everlasting appeal of the show. They were aural snapshots of a moment in time. Oldies stations had blurred the memories of your favorite past songs, but American Top 40 was a clear picture of what you were listening back then, of what you were doing and of who you were.

Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve collected the broadcasts, and I’m up to over 700 of them. There were way more than that. I continue to put them on and will randomly hear my kids sing, “the hits from coast to coast” jingle. My daughter will also turn on AT40 to discover new music herself. I never imagined that it would continue past my generation, but I’m so glad that it has.

Casey and the show weren’t always perfect, but I was never looking for perfection. Just a chance to root for my favorite songs, and listen to a familiar voice help me count backward.


 

Special shout outs to Rob Durkee, who wrote a fantastic book on the show as well as Pete Battistini, whose book focused on the 70s.

Tom Driscoll, who providing early funding to the AT4o operation. If you’ve ever eaten Driscoll’s berries, you’ve helped the cause.

To the various productions team members whose name Casey mentioned at the end of each show, such as Stu Jacobs, Nikki Wine, Merrill Schindler, Scott Paton, Sandy Benjamin, Matt Wilson, and Guy Aoki. (Apologies for those I forgot.)

To Dick Clark, who was a driving force, an inspiration and confidant to Casey, not to mention a fill-in DJ and the dude who suggested that he pre-record the shows.

To some of my favorite DJ subs such as Mark Elliot, Charlie Tuna, Dave Roberts, Bob Hull (the first sub and L.A. legend), and of course, Charlie Van Dyke, who subbed 31 times, all in the 80s.

To Shannon Lynn and Charis for remastering these shows and preserving their history

And to the DJs and bloggers such as JB, WM, Herc, Kurt, Len, Mark, Dirk, and all the others who write about their love for music with passion and flair and keep inspiring me to do the same.

Believe What You Want To Believe

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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.

KEY

  • 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

The Truth Behind The Lies

u2

I thought I was done with these 80s Top 40 countdowns. But we’re never done, are we? More than that, sitting on the couch hearing these songs in context brought me back to a particular place I tucked deep down somewhere somehow. I don’t know how, especially with my disdain for late 80s Pop radio, and I’m not a good enough writer to put it in words. But it hits enough of a sweet spot that I’m compelled to try.

So here’s the bottom of the Top 40 from January 14th, 1989. [Aside: This was the last week that Casey was in between shows as his Casey’s Top 40 would start next week. So Shadoe “Uff da” Stevens does the original honors here.]

40. Duran Duran – I Don’t Want Your Love

The further the band got away from Duranamania, the more I became a fan. By their 1988 album Big Thing, I was driven to see them live based on the album and this single, which has already peaked at #4. They were whittled down to just Simon, Nick, and John, and by 1990 and their next release Liberty, they wouldn’t hit the Top 40 at all. It’s one of my favorite albums of theirs.

39. Cheap Trick – Ghost Town

RAR – Finally, Cheap Trick had radio’s attention in the late 80s, and they had 4 Top hits between 1988 and 1990. This Diane Warren-penned ballad was the lowest placing of the four, spooking its way down from a #33 high.

38. Robbie Nevil – Back On Holiday

After a successful 1986/87 debut, Robbie’s back with the first single from his new LP, A Place Like This. I thought it was a better album, but the public did not agree with this 45 being the only hit, topping out at #34. Lenny Pickett plays the sax riff. Robbie had one more Top 40 hit in 1991 before going on Top 40 sabbatical.

37. New Kids On The Block – You Got It (The Right Stuff)

PD – This song is here to remind you that nothing’s perfect. In fact, it will always be rigged against you to suck.

36. When In Rome – The Promise

OHW – I caught you a delicious bass. Now let’s play some tetherball.

35. The Boys – Dial My Heart

THW – The Boys were four brothers who never scaled the heights of the Jackson 5, barely even the Sylvers. The first of their two Top 40 hits will hit #1 Soul and was written by Babyface, LA Reid, and Daryl Simmons, who also have songs by Sheena Easton & Karyn White on the charts. Their call will be answered at #13 before getting hung up on.

34. Breathe – How Can I Fall

RAR – Ladies, if you pour your heart out to a guy and you get “how can I fall when you just don’t give me reasons at all?” in response, kick him in the nuts.

33. U2 – Angel Of Harlem

And now for something completely different…here’s U2 in full R&B mode with the Memphis Horns and the Edge playing entire chords. With its references to Lady Day, Miles Davis & John Coltrane, and radio station WBLS, Bono pays homage to the jazz and R&B that he heard when he first visited the US. It is also not lost on me that the band member on their Harlem music tribute’s 45 sleeve is Adam Clayton.

32. Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians – What I Am

OHW – When this future Top 10 came out in late 1988, it sounded so good on the radio. Edie’s sweet voice cut through all the processed bullshit that was being churned out at that time. Sure it gets mocked for sounding like Popeye’s credo come to life, but it pre-dated all of the hippie-inspired 90s rock that has not held up as well as this does.

31. The Art Of Noise featuring Tom Jones – Kiss

THW – Tom Jones was still doing his Vegas in the 80s when the Art of Noise caught him one night and saw him do a version of Prince’s Kiss. Inspired by the thought of pairing with him, they recorded this cover for their upcoming Best Of collection, whose breakdown includes snippets of some of their 80s singles. I also dig that Steely Dan sample of Do It Again for the last verse. I wonder what Fagen and Becker thought when they heard that. It’s resting at its zenith this week.

30. Rick Astley – She Wants To Dance With Me

This will be Rick’s Fourth Top 10 single in a row. Will somebody stop this him? Maybe this guy can.

29. Will To Power – Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley

THW – I hate to use the word wreck when describing anything related to Skynyrd, but Jesus, this is a disaster. And it went to #1. The female vocals are an exercise on how white sing without soul and the male vocals are done by this guy. It’s as if the packed all of the remaining members of Skynyrd into a Convair C-240 and forced them to relive the night of October 20, 1977. Yeah, it’s that bad.

28. Information Society – Walking Away

We start our four-song alliteration set with the second big hit from Information Society’s debut featuring more Star Trek samples from Scotty and Captain Kirk. It will hit #9, and the band will only beam up one more Top 40 hit in 1992. The band missed out on a good collaboration package called the Wrath Of Chaka Khan – an album of Rufus covers.

27. Eddie Money – Walk On Water

After an almost stretch of trying to have consistent success, Eddie starting cranking out hit after hit. Nothing that bad, but nothing spectacular. they just existed, making Money money, with a life doomed to casino elevator speakers.

26. Maxi Priest – Wild World

RAR – After the surprise rise to UB40’s 1983 single Red Red Wine to #1, radio programmers were looking for another token reggae hit, something that sounds like the islands but glossy like candy. This is why we have Maxi Priest covering a Cat Stevens hit, a nice inoffensive dentist office jam, sitting at #26 after peaking last week one spot higher. Jah love!

25. Guns N Roses – Welcome To The Jungle

This is just a hunch, but I don’t think Axl Rose would make a good nurse.

24. Sheena Easton – The Lover In Me

PD – Sheena’s on the upswing with the second-biggest American hit of her career, a future #2, and the biggest during her Prince-corrupted-me period.

23. Samantha Fox – I Want To Have Some Fun

PFK – The song starts off “Don’t you know it’s hard to keep a good woman down?
But then again, maybe that could be fun.” Hooray for woman’s lib. Sam parlayed a topless model career as a sixteen-year-old (yes, you read that correctly) into three US Top 10 hits in the late 80s. Produced by Full Force, whose credits somehow only list busty female singers, it will top out at #8.

22. Tone Loc – Wild Thing

THW, PD – This will be the most successful single record by a hip-hop artist when Tone hits #2 next month. Biggest doesn’t always mean best.

21. Paula Abdul -Straight Up

PD – Paula is dancing up the charts with her first Top 40 hit and the beginning of three #1s in a row. That’ll make Aresnio smile.

20. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – Little Liar

Here’s a forgotten Top 20 gem from Joan Jett that she co-wrote with Desmond Child. I don’t remember radio playing it a lot back then, but I really dig it, and I’ll take this 100 times over the song the NFL ruined. It will be her eighth Top 40 hit (counting the Barbusters), moving up only one more notch.

KEY

  • 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

 

 

 

My Generation Will Put It Right

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It’s amazing that as the year winds down and we enter the holiday season, radio playlists get very soft. Case in point, the week of December 20th, 1986. Minus a few songs, this countdown is an aural Twinkie.

20. Timbuk 3 – The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

OHW – Talk about a leftfield hit, this one came from out of nowhere by a married couple od DIY musicians. Between the two of them, they play everything on the record. It’s gonna inch up one more spot before going dark. It’s a shame this was their only hit because they had a lot more interesting tunes such as this one.

19. Billy Ocean – Love Is Forever

Billy’s ballads were already a might treacly. But when he started recorded Hallmark card reject songs like this one, it was the beginning of the end. Collect your money, Billy. Your fans will soon be done with puberty and won’t be back.

18. Kool & The Gang – Victory

Here’s some more weak-ass funk. Scratch that. This is boring phone-it-in dance-pop that will somehow still hit the Top 10. The funk is long gone for this band, as well as any good ideas. Singer JT Taylor split after this album, and the next one, released in 1989, is even worse.

17. Howard Jones – You Know I Love You… Don’t You?

HoJo’s third album One To One was manhandled by producer Arif Mardin who made it sound beautiful but complicated, veering too far away from what initially worked. I have a feeling the record company interfered. So this single, which is at its peak, is the only hit from it, and you may not even remember it.

16. Genesis – Land Of Confusion

Invisible Touch is the Genesis album that finally rode Phill the Shill’s coattails into the luxury life. This will be the third consecutive Top five hit from the album and includes a video containing lots of celebrity puppets created by Splitting Image living through a Reagan nightmare.

15. Survivor – Is This Love

Oh Jesus. You guys are back again? Was there a specific quota to fill for midwest rock, like a reverse Can con?

14. Bon Jovi – You Give Love A Bad Name

PD – This is a shot to the heart but not like the one Travolta gives Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. It’s a real shot that destroys my ventricles. Actually, it’s more like a shot to the nads. Nirvana couldn’t get here soon enough.

13. Janet Jackson – Control

If he hasn’t done anything for you lately because he’s a nasty boy, there’s nothing left to do but take control. Janet grabs her life by the scruff of its neck and Jam & Lewis create some of their finest electronic funk riffs for her third consecutive Top 10.

12. The Pretenders – Don’t Get Me Wrong

RAR – Chrissie Hynde had to redo her band once again, so her followup to Learning To Crawl took longer than expected. Still, it yielded this bubbly Top 10 that may or may not have been inspired by her then-husband Jim Kerr of Simple Minds.

11. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – War

Bruce was so massively popular in the mid-80s, he could release a five LP box set of live recordings, and folks would line up to buy it, even from the back of a delivery truck. It would debut at #1 on the album charts and stay there for seven weeks and, to this day, is one of the best selling live albums of all time. He released his cover of the Edwin Starr #1 hit from a September 1985 performance in Los Angeles. It will be his eighth consecutive Top 10 single.

10. Peter Cetera & Amy Grant – The Next Time I Fall

PD – Good for Bobby Caldwell for writing a #1 hit. Unfortunate for us that it featured Cartman and Wonder bread. Excellent for dentists whose patients slowly say How when it starts playing in the exam room so they can quickly look at your molars.

9. Ben E King – Stand By Me

Ben is one of a handful of artists to have a Top 10 twice with the same song. Good for him. Unfortunately, I have heard this song so much in my life because of that, that its simple charm has worn thin.

8. Robbie Nevil – C’est La Vie

This one immediately got stuck in my ear back then and I became obsessed with it. Little did I know that the song began its life on a Beau Williams album released in 1984. Robbie and producers Alex Sadkin & Phil Thornally polished it up and made it the earworm it is today. It will only climb to #2, held back by song #5 and #22. Robbie would later create music for High School Musical & Hannah Montana. Hey, he got a job. That’s OK.

Fun fact: While Robbie was tearing up the charts, brother Alex was getting a recurring role on one of the hottest shows on TV at the time, Cheers as Martin Teel, Rebecca’s new boss.

7. Huey Lewis & The News – Hip To Be Square

PFK – Here’s a song that was written so well that, according to Huey, nobody understood that it was ironic. Damn us! We also didn’t understand why you hired football players as your backup singers, but hey to each his own.

6. Billy Idol – To Be A Lover

Here’s Billy doing a revved up New Wave dance version of a Stax record first recorded by Willam Bell in 1968 called I Forgot To Be Your Lover. The original is sung like a soulful apology, whereas Billy decided to turn it into a demand. Whether you liked it or not, he was going to spend his life making love to you. So be prepared, if you’re just hanging out and watching TV. This could happen.

5. Gregory Abbott – Shake You Down

OHW, PFK – Here’s a #1 song that has been lost to time. It was also a #1 Soul hit, #2 AC, and a Top 10 UK smash. Billboard listed it as the third biggest song of 1987. If you’re unsure what this composition is about, Wiki P gotcha hooked up.

4. Duran Duran – Notorious

DD2 was down to a trio by 1986 with only Simon, John & Nick carrying the band forward. So they brought pal, Nile Rodgers in to give the group a leaner, funkier sound. Thus it ends up being my favorite LP of theirs. The song will be kept off the mountain by the current #1.

3. Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight

So too for this 45. Hey, white people need some rock songs with tribal passages to clod around to, which is why I love this clip.

2. Bruce Hornsby & The Range – The Way It Is

PD – This was last week’s #1 and apart for that cheesy drum machine, showed the world the talent that Bruce would bestow on us for the next thirty-plus years.

1. The Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian (1 wk at #1)

I bet their record label thought they were done with any more popular singles from their second album, Different Light, But this, their third single, opened the band up to many riches when it went to #1 and spent a week up there. I like that three members sing lead on this one, but the video is painful to watch. I had the album, had seen The Bangles live earlier that year and they played this song. I had no inkling this would be huge.

KEY

  • 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

 

To Work Much Harder Than This

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It’s Christmas 1986. Were you having a Smoky Mountain Christmas with Dolly Parton? Or sharing A Christmas Gift with John Denver? Or ignoring the holidays like I was to listen to these songs from the week of December 20th, 1986?

40. Georgia Satellites – Keep Your Hands To Yourself

OHW – This is just a simple 12-bar blues number that peeked and poked its way through the reverb-heavy dance-pop landscape up to a #2 showing. It was kept out by Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer. Now tell me which one you would rather listen to right now.

39. Madonna – True Blue

PD – Madonna wrote this for her then-husband, Sean Penn. They’ll be divorced in three years. But she continues to get royalties from this former Top 10.

38. Tina Turner – Two People

Tina’s followup to Typical Male lands in the Top 40, but it won’t go any farther than #30 in early 1987. Folks that that was a let down from the massive success of Private Dancer. But honestly, any new music from Tina was a triumph, especially in establishing her legacy.

37. Billy Joel – This Is The Time

Was this played at every graduation in 1987 or just the ones on Long Island? I’m sure this is why Green Day wrote Good Riddance.

36. Talking Heads – Wild Wild Life

From the soundtrack to the Jonathan Demme film True Stories, here’s the last Top 40 single for the Talking Heads tumbling from its high of #25. The video, which consisted of band members and various actors singing karaoke and dressing up as other stars such as Prince, Billy Idol & Madonna, was on high rotation at MTV.

35. Boston – Amanda

PD – This song had no video. For MTV. In 1986. It still went to #1. The power of Boston.

34. Nancy Martinez – For Tonight

Here’s dance-pop from Quebec, Canada. Nancy’s second album came South of the border and yielded this #32 hit. And then she took off for the Great White North.

33. Pointer Sisters – Goldmine

This sounds like a Bananarama reject, not fitting for the sisters Pointer. Their name got it into the Top 40, but it will not travel any farther than where it is this week. They need to put it in a cart and wheel it down a shaft. It will be the Pointers’ last Top 40 song.

32. Cyndi Lauper – Change Of Heart

Cyndi’s followup to True Colors is on its way to a #3 placement. It features backing vocals by the Bangles and guitar work by Nile Rodgers. It was co-written by singer-songwriter Essra Mohawk who also wrote some songs for Schoolhouse Rock, such as this one.

31. Samantha Fox – Touch Me (I Want Your Body)

One year prior, Sam Fox was name-checked in Elton John’s Wrap Her Up. Now here she was moaning and groaning through her first Top 40 song. The song will finish with a #4 climax before falling down the charts and forgetting your name. And please do not confuse her with the porn star of the same name, even though the song may suggest otherwise.

30. Miami Sound Machine – Falling In Love (Uh-Oh)

Miami Sound Machine’s album Primitive Love was set loose in August of 1985, but it was still spawning hits into 1987, such as this one which will slowly climb up to #25. Also that uh-oh, uh-oh should be played on a loop throughout each Dolphins game.

29. Run DMC – You Be Illin’

The second Run DMC Top 40 hit is at its high this week. And if you’re not sure what illin’ means, in this song, it’s referred to as being a dumb ass. But if you’re acting wild and crazy, having a good time, you could be illin’ too.

28. Carly Simon – Coming Around Again

Carly had been MIA from the charts for most of the 80s until this track, which used in the 1986 film Heartburn. It was her first Top 40 since 1980’s Jesse, but unfortunately would be her last, after its climb to #18. And if you like circles like me and things coming around again, you can consider this the sequel to her first hit, That’s The Way I Heard It Should Be.

27. Madonna – Open Your Heart

Once Madge debuted in the Top 40 with Holiday, it felt like she never left the charts again in the 80s [She actually took most of 1988 off, but I digress.] This is her second one in the Top 40 on the way to becoming her fifth #1 single. It’s a pleasant little slice of dance-pop that sounds so innocuous; you don’t even realize it’s filled with sexual innuendoes. She’s so good at selling it you don’t know you’re buying it.

Also, this video is creepy AF. What the hell is a little kid doing at a peephole strip club?

26. Human League – Human

PD – Right after Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis recorded Control with Janet Jackson, they got an assignment to work on the next Human League album. Another song that’s so beautifully produced, you might forget it’s about some cheating jackass that needed to fill a void. The Shyamalan twist is that she cheats on him too. Burn.

Also, using the I’m only human excuse to explain away an affair is not going to fly in the real world.

25. Kansas – All I Wanted

RAR – This is about as far removed from Carry On Wayward Son as Kansas will get. Gone are the violin solos and prog-rock riffs. Enter vanilla sap. It will reach #19 and be their final Top 40 hit.

24. Lionel Richie – Love Will Conquer All

PD, RAR, SXMFU – This is former #9 is so soft, it makes Wonder Bread feel like a brick.

Sirius XM’s Big 80s Countdown mentions that this was Lionel’s tenth AC hit in a row. It was his tenth, just not in a row. He’d eventually have eleven. And when the Top 40 and R&B hits dried up, he continued to rack up an additional 10 Top 40 hits on the AC chart. Someone, please give him back the funk.

23. Cameo – Word Up!

THW, PD – At least it never left Larry Blackmon and thank God it didn’t, otherwise this former #6 smash might not have existed. And someone needs to keep a better eye on him in the recording studio so that he doesn’t hurt himself so much.

22. Billy Vera & The Beaters – At This Moment

STA, THW – This was originally recorded for a Live album at the Roxy in Hollywood for the album Billy & the Beaters. It was released in 1981 and made it up to #79. Then on Family Ties, this song was played every time that Alex got horny for his lab partner, Ellen. And because so many people watched the show, they all wanted to know what the song was, prompting the reissue label, Rhino, who owned the rights to rerelease it. And to everyone’s surprise, not the least Billy’s, it became a #1 hit in early 1987.

Fun Fact: Billy & the Beaters was produced by Steely Dan/ Doobie Brother member, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

21. Glass Tiger – Someday

This Canadian quintet pumped out another heartbreak anthem for the post-puberty Smash Hits set. Produced by Jim Vallance, it’s on the way to a #7 zenith.

 

KEY

  • 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

 

The Banks Of Chaos In My Mind

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And now the top half of the Top 40 from the week of December 13th, 1980.

20. Blondie – The Tide Is High

Blondie is in line to get their third #1 with a cover of the 1967 recording by the rocksteady trio, The Paragons, although they may have been more familiar with the 1978 Gregory Issacs version.

19. The Korgis – Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime

OHW – Sometimes, a song is so simple yet captures a certain feeling that makes it worth repeated listening. The Korgis were a quartet from London featuring two formers members of Stackridge. They had this leftfield Top 20 hit in late 1980, which is one spot form its high. The original single is nearly impossible to find because the band re-recorded the track when they released Dumb Waiters on CD, which is now out of print.

Fun fact: The Korgis recorded All I Want For Christmas Is You about ten years ago, so if you’re tired of Mariah’s version, here you go.

18. Diana Ross – It’s My Turn

Diana had been cultivating a disco following in the last few years but decided to throw a bone to her MOR fans with the title track to this 1980 film starring Jill Clayburgh & Michael Douglas. It’s on the way to the Top 5 and seemingly killed all the momentum for releasing any more singles from Diana.

17. Devo – Whip It

OHW – The men from Akron spent three weeks at #14 before spending another two at #17, which is where they are this week. I forget that this song was originally a hit in late 1980, which means its success was strictly from sales and airplay and hardly any video exposure. But once MTV came around in mid-81, they played this one like crazy. Speaking of which, this video is a giant WTF with ridiculous misogyny that just doesn’t fly or come off as funny as the band intended. And lady, why are you blaming the drummer Alan? It was Mark who was whipping that woman.

Fun fact: The whipping sound in the song was made on a Minimoog.

16. The Police – De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

If I’m feeling out of sorts, all it takes is some Police to get me back together. Sting’s simple song about the fact that word matter will make it to #10, back to back Top 10s for the group.

15. Christopher Cross – Never Be The Same

RAR – The third single from CC’s multi-Grammy-winning debut is stalling out at #15, though it would be his first #1 AC hit. Dig that horse gallop woodblock thing he’s rocking throughout.

14. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out

No one plays guitar with more joy, soul, and warmth and can still be funky as hell than Nile Rodgers. Bernard Edwards is one of the melodic bass players ever, and Tony Thompson is a monster drummer. Put a diva like Diana Ross out front who possesses one of the purest and most effortless voices in music, and you can guarantee you’ll have a hit every time. It’s too bad this relationship between Chic and Diana soured for a while because I would love to have heard further collaborations between the two.

P. Diddy used the break in the song for his monster production of Biggie’s 1997 #1 Mo Money, Mo Problems.

13. Heart – Tell It Like It Is

Heart is about to rack up their first Top 10 in the 80s with a cover of Aaron Neville’s 1967 hit. It’s gonna get up to #8 in early 1981 and was tacked on to their Greatest Hits/ Live LP.

12. Daryl Hall & John Oates – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling

This was the first cover that Hall & Oates recorded that made the Top 40, and it was their biggest hit since Rich Girl in early 1977. But there was much more to come this decade, and these brothers were about to get righteous.

11. Air Supply – Every Woman In The World

You’re every woman in the world to me? Every woman? What the hell does that mean? The best woman in the world, I get. Are you saying she’s just like everyone else, or are you saying she’s every single female in the world wrapped into one? That sounds a bit greedy if you ask me.

10. Pat Benatar – Hit Me With Your Best Shot

PFK – Pat puts her first Top 10 notch in her lipstick case with this pop-rocker, written by Eddie Schwartz. It will end up being one of her defining classics from her catalog.

9. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – Guilty

RAR – The second single from Guilty is one of two duets on the album and the only track written by all three Bee Gees. It will unashamedly climb to #3 and will be Barry’s first solo (kind of) entry into the Top 40. It will also win a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal – Duo or Group in 1981. The album was such a massive hit for Babs that it spawned a sequel in 2005 called Guilty Pleasures. Barry made the demo available to the public in 2006.

8. Barbra Streisand – Woman In Love

PD – One year into the 80s, and the Gibbs have yet to slow down. Even though they didn’t release an album this year, Barry and his brothers were responsible for five Top 40 hits, including this monster #1, which spent three weeks at the top and went to #1 in the UK. Don’t sleep on Babs. As long as she’s still with us, you never know what other great things she has yet to deliver.

7. Bruce Springsteen – Hungry Heart

Seven years after his debut, the next big thing in rock hits the Top 10. Harnessing all of the power of the E. Street Band into a pop song was difficult, but it paid off on his LP, The River, and one of his most triumphant records to date. It’s gonna eat up two more notches before settling in at #5.

6. Neil Diamond – Love On The Rocks

PFK – Originally titled Scotch On the Rocks, here’s the first single from The Jazz Singer soundtrack. The movie bombed out, but the album proved to be Neil’s biggest. This track is gonna roll it itself up to #2, kept off the mountain by John Lennon, the way it should be. This was also Neil’s biggest hit in South Africa going to #1 there, yet another reason to fight Apartheid.

5. Stevie Wonder – Master Blaster (Jammin’)

Stevie’s first album of the 80s, Hotter Than July, gave us this #5 track, a tribute to Bob Marley, which feels forgotten within his catalog. But damn, he’s had a lot of hits, so that’s gonna happen. Rather than do everything himself, he plays here with a full band, which allows for its live airy vibe.

4. John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over

I can’t tell how many times this song was played in our house that Christmas. It was to the point that I’d hear those three triangle hits, and I’d run and hide. This song was recorded only four months before he was shot, which would have been last week with respect to this chart, placing it at #6. We waited five years for new music from John, and when we finally did, it was over. It was already a big hit for him, but after his death, it will rocket up to #1 and stay there in tribute to him for five weeks.

3. Queen – Another One Bites The Dust

PD – Here’s the second #1 from Queen’s The Game, which owes as much to the songwriting prowess of bassist John Deacon as it does to the power of Bernard Edwards’ melodic bass lines. It also will hit #2 on the Soul charts as well as the Disco charts. Yes, had it not been for Stevie Wonder, Queen would have had a #1 R&B song.

2. Leo Sayer – More Than I Can Say

RAR – And had it not been for Kenny Rogers & John Lennon, Leo would have had his third #1 hit. Instead, this cover, originally written by Sonny Curtis & Jerry Allison of The Crickets, will spend a total of five weeks as a bridesmaid.

Fun fact: This song was played in early setlists by The Beatles.

1. Kenny Rogers – Lady (5 wks at #1)

RAR – Congratulations, Kenny. And congratulations, Lionel. This is the biggest for both of them to date. Even though Kenny would have more hits in the 80s, including another #1, it was songwriter Lionel Richie would have a lot bigger hits. He was still a Commodore at this point, but just barely. He had one more Lady song left to give them.

KEY

  • OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
  • THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
  • PD – Previously Discussed
  • PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
  • RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
  • STA – Second Time Around