Saturday, December 15, 1984

Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” hit #1: December 15, 1984

Originally posted December 15, 2011.



Bob Geldof made his name initially as the frontman of the Boomtown Rats, an Irish punk-pop outfit which got its start in the late ‘70s and found success with a pair of #1 songs on the UK charts with “Rat Trap” and “I Don’t Like Mondays”. However, in his obituary someday, the leading line will reference him as the man who organized Band Aid and Live Aid.

Geldof was so moved one night by images from a BBC documentary of starving Ethiopian children, that he felt obligated to do something. He connected with Midge Ure, the frontman from Ultravox, to pen a song about the those suffering in the African famine. He then tackled his rolodex to round up a Who’s Who of British pop music to sing a Christmas charity single as the collective Band Aid. Among the stars he enlisted were Bono, Phil Collins, Sting, George Michael, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Status Quo, Paul Weller, Spandau Ballet, Heaven 17, and Kool & the Gang.

The superstars gathered at Sarm West Studios in London on November 25, 1984. They started the recording process by singing the “Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time” refrain first as a group. Then individual singers sang the song the entire way through so that Ure, who also produced the song, could splice the best parts together for the final version. WK The whole song was recorded within a 24-hour period. WK

The song sold 750,000 in its first week of release in England, making it their fastest-selling single in history at the time. MG It went on to sell more than 3.5 million, making it the best-selling song in Britain until Elton John’s 1997 re-recording of “Candle in the Wind”. WK Combined with the 1985 Live Aid concert, Geldof’s efforts raised £110 million. MG




Awards: Resources and Related Links:

Friday, December 7, 1984

Foreigner released Agent Provocateur

First posted 9/20/2020.

Agent Provocateur

Foreigner


Released: December 7, 1984


Peak: 4 US, 13 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.3 UK, 7.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Tooth and Nail (1/5/85, 47 AR)
  2. That Was Yesterday (1/19/85, 12 US, 4 AR, 24 AC, 24 CN, 55 AU)
  3. I Want to Know What Love Is (12/8/84, 1 US, 1 AR, 3 AC, 1 CN, 1 AU)
  4. Growing Up the Hard Way
  5. Reaction to Action (2/2/85, 54 US, 44 AR)
  6. Stranger in My Own House
  7. A Love in Vain
  8. Down on Love (8/17/85, 54 US)
  9. Two Different Worlds
  10. She’s Too Tough


Total Running Time: 42:23


The Players:

  • Lou Gramm (vocals, percussion)
  • Mick Jones (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
  • Dennis Elliott (drums)
  • Rick Wills (bass)

Rating:

3.522 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

Foreigner 4 was the kind of album that set an impossibly high bar. It spent ten weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than ten million copies worldwide on the strength of the #2 power ballad “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and the #4 rocker “Urgent,” not to mention album rock hits “Juke Box Hero,” “Night Life,” and “Break It Up.”

The group followed up that success with the obvious rock cliché – a compilation album (Records) and a few years off. Despite no new material, Records followed the precedent set by all four of Foreigner’s studio albums – it went top ten and sold in the millions.

Agent Provocoteur did manage to match the template by reaching the top 5 on the album chart and going multi-platinum. While it wasn’t as big as 4 (not many albums are), it did accomplish one goal that the band hadn’t achieved – a #1 song. While “Waiting for a Girl Like You” had spent a whopping 10 weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, it couldn’t ever get past Hall & Oates “I Can’t Go for That” and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” to reach the pinnacle.

However, I Want to Know What Love Is, the lead single from Agent, pulled it off. The song also reached #1 in the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and Swdeden. While most of the band’s singles were fairly straight forward rockers, this was a gospel-inflected ballad that capitalized on the audiences who swooned over “Girl Like You.” The New Jersey Mass Choir was featured on the song and in the video.

Foreigner couldn’t match the huge success of “I Want to Know What Love Is” with the next single. However, That Was Yesterday did keep the band on track by giving them a fifth studio album in a row to chart at least two top-20 hits. It was also a top-5 hit on album rock radio.

The album did have some other decent rockers in album-opener Tooth and Nail and Reaction to Action From a chart standpoint, however, neither generated much attention. Both barely scraped the album rock charts and as the album’s third single, “Reaction to Action,” missed the top 40, as did fourth single Down on Love.

The album also featured the muscular She’s Too Tough which, while not quite on par with classics like “Hot Blooded” and “Urgent,” proved that Foreigner still knew how to crank up the guitars and not just produce ballads.

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Monday, November 19, 1984

Tears for Fears released "Shout"

First posted 8/7/2020.

Shout

Tears for Fears

Writer(s): Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley (see lyrics here)


Released: November 19, 1984


First Charted: December 1, 1984


Peak: 13 US, 12 CB, 13 RR, 6 AR, 1 CO, 4 UK, 12 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.25 UK, 1.35 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 85.0 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

In the UK, “Shout” was the lead single from Tears for Fears sophomore album Songs from the Big Chair. However, the song wasn’t released in the United States until after “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” hit #1. “Shout” followed its predecessor to the top in America, besting its #4 peak in the UK.

People understandably assumed the song was about “primal scream treatment, which worked by getting people to confront their fears by shouting and screaming.” SF The band did, after, all take their name from Prisoners of Pain, the book by Primal Therapy psychologist Arthur Janov. The band also used primal scream therapy as a theme for their first album, The Hurting.

However, according to band member Roland Orzabal “Shout” was not about primal scream theory. He said, “It is actually more concerned with political protest.” WK Bandmate Curt Smith said the song “encourages people not to do things without actually questioning them.” WK

Musically, the song was marked by “power chords, heavy percussion, a synth bass solo, and a vocal-sounding synth riff.” WK Orzabal said it was written on a small synthesizer and a drum machine. He thought the chorus “was very repetitive, like a mantra” WK and after playing it for Ian Stanley, the band’s keyboardist, and Chris Hughes, the producer, “they were convinced it would be a hit around the world.” WK


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Monday, November 5, 1984

Bryan Adams released Reckless

First posted 3/28/2011; updated 9/7/2020.

Reckless

Bryan Adams


Buy Here:


Released: November 5, 1984


Peak: 12 US, 7 UK, 14 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.9 UK, 12.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. One Night Love Affair (8/31/85, #10a US, 7 AR, 19 CN, 85 AU)
  2. She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’
  3. Run to You (11/3/84, #6 US, 11 UK, 1 AR, 4 CN, 4 AU)
  4. Heaven (1/28/84, #1 US, 38 UK, 9 AR, 12 AC, 11 CN, 4 AU, airplay: 2 million)
  5. Somebody (1/19/85, #10a US, 35 UK, 1 AR, 13 CN, 76 AU)
  6. Summer of ‘69 (12/8/84, #4a US, 42 UK, 40 AR, 11 CN, 3 AU, airplay: 1 million)
  7. Kids Wanna Rock (12/15/84, #42 AR)
  8. It’s Only Love (with Tina Turner) (11/24/84, #14a US, 29 UK, 7 AR, 14 CN, 57 AU)
  9. Long Gone
  10. Ain’t Gonna Cry


Total Running Time: 37:58

Rating:

4.444 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

“Sales figures may point to 1991’s Waking Up the Neighbors as the peak of Bryan Adams career, but the songs from Reckless will most certainly prove to be his lasting legacy.” ER His fourth album upped the ante on Cuts Like a Knife from the year before. That album had given Adams’ his first appearances on the Billboard top 40 with 3 songs, including top ten hit “Straight from the Heart” and the top 20 title cut.

“Bryan Adams capitalized on the momentum…with 1984’s Reckless, a virtually flawless collection of melodic hard rock which would dominate radio for years to come.” ER “Although some songs haven’t aged very well (especially the overtly cheesy Kids Wanna Rock), these weak links are easily eclipsed” ER by a hits-loaded package. The album’s six singles all charted within the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100, a feat previously accomplished only by Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.. WK

Run to You was a brilliant lead-off single which remains one of Adams’ best songs ever.” ER The song was Adams’ first #1 album rock track and his second top-ten pop hit. It was also his highest charting hit to date in his native Canada, reaching #4.

As the album’s second official single, Somebody, with its “irrepressible pop chorus,” ER gave Adams his second album-rock chart-topper.

The third single was Heaven, “the ballad to end all ballads.” ER The song had actually emerged at the beginning of 1984 as part of the soundtrack for A Night in Heaven. It gave Adams his first chart-topper in America.

Summer of ‘69 emerged as the fourth single from the album, although it had received radio airplay on album rock stations when the album was first released. It gave Adams his second top-five hit in the U.S. There is some debate about whether the title refers to the sexual position or the year. Adams has said it is about the former, but Jim Valance, the song’s co-writer, has denied this.

In August 1985, during the chart run of “Summer,” Reckless finally topped the Billboard album chart. The album had initially peaked at #6 in January 1985. Two more singles – One Night Love Affair and It’s Only Love, a duet with Tina Turner, would keep the album in the spotlight for the rest of the year.

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Thursday, November 1, 1984

Pat Benatar's Tropico released

First posted 9/20/2020.

Tropico

Pat Benatar


Released: November 1, 1984


Peak: 14 US, 31 UK, 21 CN, 9 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.06 UK, 1.16 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Diamond Field (Giraldo, Myron Grombacher, Benatar) [3:20] (20 AR)
  2. We Belong (Eric Lowen, Dan Navarro) [3:40] (5 US, 3 AR, 22 UK, 8 CN, 7 AU)
  3. Painted Desert (Giraldo, Grombacher) [5;24]
  4. Temporary Heroes (Nick Trevesick, Ginny Clee) [4:30]
  5. Love in the Ice Age (Giraldo, Charles Giordano, Grombacher, Benatar) [4:05]
  6. Ooh Ooh Song (Giraldo, Benatar) [4:28] (36 US, 22 AR, 89 CN, 41 AU)
  7. The Outlaw Blues (Giraldo, Grombacher) [3:47]
  8. Suburban King (Giraldo, Billy Steinberg) [1:48]
  9. A Crazy World Like This (Giraldo, Tom Kelly, Steinberg) [4:02]
  10. Takin’ It Back (Giraldo, Benatar) [4:07]


Total Running Time: 39:18

Rating:

3.502 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

After three top-5 albums, Benatar missed the top 10 with her Live from Earth album. Tropico also missed the mark, but maintained her perfect record of million-selling albums, giving her a sixth platinum record.

The album marked a conscious attempt to “move away from Benatar’s hard rock sound and start experimenting with new gentler styles and sounds.” WK The previous studio album, Get Nervous, had started that movement by focusing on more pop and new-wave sounds. All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine said “the change in direction revitalized the singer, resulting in her best album since Precious Time.” AMG That praise is a bit odd, since Get Nervous was the only other studio album she’d released since Precious Time.

The lead single, We Belong, matched the top 5 success of “Love Is a Battlefield” from the year before. While it still reached #3 on the album rock chart, it was a decidedly more pop-leaning song than previous rockers like “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” and “Heartbreaker.” The same was true for the follow-up single, Ooh Ooh Song. It was a top 40 hit and minor hit on the album rock chart, but was a long way from her more guitar-driven rock staples.

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, October 13, 1984

Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” hit #1

First posted 11/14/2019; updated 4/21/2020.

I Just Called to Say I Love You

Stevie Wonder

Writer(s): Stevie Wonder (see lyrics here)


Released: August 1, 1984


First Charted: August 18, 1984


Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 12 RR, 13 AC, 13 RB, 16 UK, 13 CN, 18 (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.91 UK, 4.54 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 160.3 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

Singer Dionne Warwick was the song coordinator for the movie The Woman in Red. She suggested Stevie Wonder for the score to the Gene Wilder film. Despite Wonder being blind, he “watched” the film and, according to Warwick, “He saw the film. There’s no way in the world that you can write the pieces of music that he wrote, for the sequences he wrote for, so directly.” BR1

Jay Lasker, who was then the president of Motown Records, wasn’t too excited. He discouraged Wonder from doing the soundtrack because it had already been four years since his last album and he wasn’t sold on the first three songs Wonder had written for the movie. Wonder responded with “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Lasker’s response was that it “is probably going to be the biggest single in the history of Stevie Wonder. This is the record I picked and said I wanted out as a single.” BR1

Lasker’s hunch was right. The song topped a record 19 charts and remains Wonder’s best-selling single. WK It was his eighth chart-topper on the Billboard Hot 100 and tenth on the R&B chart. It was his only solo trip to the top in the UK, where it also became Motown’s biggest-selling single ever. WK

Songwriters Lloyd Chiate and Lee Garrett, a former writing partner with Wonder, sued him in October 1985. They claimed he stole the title and chorus idea for the song from a song they wrote in September 1976 called “Hello It’s Me/I Just Called to Say.” During the testimony, Wonder said he wrote the chorus on July 16, 1976 when coming home from visiting his mother. He also said he had John Lennon in mind when he worked on the song, imagining the Beatles singing with him. SF Chiate dropped the lawsuit in 1986, but Chiate continued it. In 1990, a jury ruled in favor of Wonder. SF

The fact that Wonder said he’d written much of the song in 1976 put its Oscar win for Best Song in doubt since songs were only eligible in the category which had been written specifically for film. However, no action was taken and Wonder kept the award. SF


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Wednesday, September 26, 1984

Prince released “Purple Rain” as a single

First posted 11/17/2019.

Purple Rain

Prince & the Revolution

Writer(s): Prince (see lyrics here)


Released: September 26, 1984


First Charted: September 21, 1984


Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 12 RR, 4 RB, 18 AR, 6 UK, 3 CN, 41 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.0 US, 0.69 UK, 1.69 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 193.40


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

“Purple Rain” was the third single from Prince’s monstrous 1984 soundtrack of the same name. It followed two #1 songs – “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” It peaked at #2, but after Prince’s death in 2016, it re-charted, hitting #4. In the UK, the revived song hit #6, two spots above its original peak, and in France it went to #1 after the original stalled at #12. WK

Prince originally reached out to Stevie Nicks to write lyrics for what was then a country-tinged 10-minute song. She said, “I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. It’s too much for me.’” NME She’s also said she suspected he wanted a relationship with her. SF He eventually wrote three verses – one about his parents, one about Apollonia (his girlfriend at the time and co-star in the movie), and his band mates. NME In the movie, Prince’s band mates Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman complain that he never uses any of their material. The move ends with him taking the stage and introducing the song as being written by them. SF

Coleman said the song symbolized “a new beginning. Purple, the sky at dawn; rain, the cleansing factor.” NME Prince explained it by saying, “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple…purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.” NME The idea echoed a theme from his “1999” song two years earlier in which he sang “…could have sworn it was Judgment Day, the sky was all purple…” WK However, the phrase was first used in America’s 1972 hit “Ventura Highway” and the line “Sorry boy, but I’ve been hit by purple rain.” SF

Prince also reached out to Journey’s Jonathan Cain because he was worried the song sounded too much like the band’s “Faithfully” ballad. Cain was okay with it, noting that songs only shared a few chords. NME He told Prince, “I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.” SF

The song was recorded live at a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theatre on August 3, 1983 at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis. NME The songs “I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m a Star” were also recorded at the performance and used on the Purple Rain soundtrack. WK The song was also memorably featured in his Super Bowl halftime show in 2007 – while it was raining.


Resources and Related Links:

Awards:


Saturday, September 22, 1984

Stevie Wonder’s The Woman in Red charted

First posted 6/20/2008; updated 11/7/2020.

The Woman in Red (soundtrack)

Stevie Wonder


Charted: September 22, 1984


Peak: 4 US, 14 RB, 2 UK, 4 CN, 4 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.3 UK, 8.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: R&B


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. The Woman in Red
  2. It’s You (with Dionne Warwick)
  3. It’s More Than You
  4. I Just Called to Say I Love You (Stevie Wonder) [4:21] (8/1/84, 1 US, 1 CB, 1 RR, 1 AC, 1 RB, 1 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, sales: 4 ½ million)
  5. Love Light in Flight (Stevie Wonder) [6:54] (12/1/84, 17 US, 16 CB, 14 RR, 10 AC, 4 RB, 44 UK, 39 CN)
  6. Moments Aren’t Moments (by Dionne Warwick)
  7. Weakness (with Dionne Warwick)
  8. Don’t Drive Drunk (12/29/84, 62 UK)


Total Running Time: 41:19

Rating:

2.724 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About the Album:

1984 was a good year for Stevie Wonder. Detroit gave him the key to the city and he considered a run for mayer. He played harmonica on “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” Elton John’s biggest hit in 4 years. Wonder released the biggest single of his career with I Just Called to Say I Love You. It became one of Britain’s ten largest-selling singles of all time. The song also won the Oscar for Best Song, but Wonder evoked some anger in dedicating the award to Nelson Mandella. South African radio stations responded by banning his music.

The parent album did well commercially, reaching #4 in the U.S. and going platinum, and also becoming Wonder’s first #1 in the UK. However, the album – a soundtrack to a Gene Wilder comedy – still frustrated fans and critics who didn’t rate it amongst his best material. All Music Guide’s William Ruhlmann said it was “less than a full-fledged Wonder record,” AMG which was a disappointment to fans who’d already waited four years for an entire album’s worth of new material. Ruhlmann said that even “I Just Called to Say I Love You” was a “sappy” AMG and “formulaic TV commercial-in-the-making.” AMG

The album did produce a second top-20 hit, Love Light in Flight and the single Don’t Drive Drunk. The U.S. Department of Transportation used the latter as a Drunk Driving Prevention public service announcement the following year. WK

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Friday, September 14, 1984

Madonna performs “Like a Virgin” at the MTV Video Awards

First posted 11/14/2019.

Like a Virgin

Madonna

Writer(s): Billy Steinberg/Tom Kelly (see lyrics here)


Released: October 31, 1984


First Charted: November 16, 1984


Peak: 16 US, 15 CB, 13 RR, 29 AC, 9 RB, 3 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU
(Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 2.14 US, 0.93 UK, 3.19 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 67.0


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

One could potentially mark September 14, 1984 as the date when Madonna became a superstar. Over the last year, she’d had three top twenty Billboard pop hits with “Holiday,” “Borderline,” and “Lucky Star.” However, the title track from her sophomore album launched her into the stratosphere. She premiered the song on the aforementioned date at the first MTV Video Music Awards. When she writhed on the floor in a wedding dress, the world took notice of her no-holds-barred sexuality. It was “one of the seminal moment in the history of MTV” SF and “one of the most iconic pop performances of all time.” WK

The song wasn’t originally written for Madonna, or even a female singer. Lyricist Billy Steinberg wrote the song from personal experience. He said it wasn’t about truly being a virgin, but about the positive feeling that came with a new relationship. At a meeting with Warner Brothers Record’s Michael Ostin, Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the song’s co-writer, they played a demo of the song and told him they weren’t sure who it would fit. Ostin happened to have a meeting with Madonna the next day and thought it would be perfect for her. BR1

Ostin said, she “went crazy, and knew instantly it was a song for her.” WK Madonna said, “I certainly wasn’t a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words; I thought they were clever.” WK She said she never realized it would become one of her signature songs. WK

Producer Nile Rodgers, best known for being in Chic (“Le Freak”), didn’t want Madonna to record the song initially. He didn’t think the title was, as he told the Los Angeles Times, “the all-time catch phrase. But after about four days I couldn’t get the song out of my head.” BR1 Audiences couldn’t get it out of their heads either. “Like a Virgin” became her first of 12 #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and the biggest song of 1984. WHC


Resources and Related Links:

  • Madonna’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 524.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 113.
  • WK Wikipedia

Awards: