Saturday, March 22, 1980

Pink Floyd hit #1 with “Another Brick in the Wall”

Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)

Pink Floyd

Writer(s): Roger Waters (see lyrics here)

Released: November 23, 1979

First Charted: December 1, 1979

Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 15 HR, 42 AR, 15 UK, 16 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 1.1 UK, 4.26 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 643.0 video, 530.84 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Pink Floyd started in the late ‘60s as a psychedelic rock band and had some successful UK singles, but by the late ‘70s, they “were one of the biggest album-sellers on the face of the planet.” SG They “made grand and pretentious statement-albums” SG and were “keen to distance themselves from the fads and fashions of the singles market.” HL Their only Billboard Hot 100 hit had been the #13 peak of “Money.”

With 1979’s The Wall Pink Floyd undertook their most ambitious endeavor yet, crafting a double album built around the concept of alienation as shaped by the album protaganist’s construction of an imaginary wall to shield him from the outside world. The concept was partially inspired by the band’s aversion to becoming a band big enough to tour stadiums in the U.S.

It therefore was even more surprising when the seemingly popularity-averse band released a single to promote the album. The song, “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II),” was singer/songwriter and bassist Roger Waters’ “vicious attack on teachers…inspired by the cruelty of his own schoolmasters.” RS500 The song topped the charts in the UK and U.S. and “pulls off the rare concept-album trick of serving the overarching narrative while still working as its own discrete piece of music.” SG

Waters originally saw the song “as a solo-acoustic number” SG but producer Bob Ezrin challenged guitarist David Gilmour to hit the clubs and check out the sound of disco music. Gilmour “hated what he heard” SG but one “can at least hear some distant echo” SG of the genre in the song.

Ezrin and Gilmour have both been credited with the song’s most important signature – a chorus song by a kids choir at Islington Green School which adds “a taste of juvenile rebellion.” DT While initially intended for the background, the strong results led to the choir being featured up front in the vocals instead. TB It “adds subversion by having a bunch of school kids sing the refrain.” DT The apartheid regime of South Africa ironically fed right into Waters’ message when they banned the song because the black school children were adopting it as a protest against the country’s repressive educational system. TB


Related Links:

First posted 4/24/2021; last updated 3/30/2023.

The Jam’s “Going Underground” debuted at #1 in the UK

Going Underground

The Jam

Writer(s): Paul Weller (see lyrics here)

Released: March 10, 1980

First Charted: March 22, 1980

Peak: 17 CL, 2 CO, 13 UK, 50 AU, 7 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.25 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.9 video, 37.85 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Jam were an English punk rock/new wave band which formed in 1972 and released six studio albums before their breakup in 1982. Their first chart single was 1977’s “In the City” from their debut album of the same name. Their success steadily grew until their tenth chart entry, “Going Underground,” debuted atop the UK charts. It was the first song to do so in six years. KL Despite The Jam’s success in their homeland, they never reached the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

The Jam were actually touring the United States when they found at “Going Underground” hit #1. Drummer Rick Buckler said, “It was a shock when we got to #1, otherwise we wouldn’t have been in the states…We had a good drink that night. However, everyone wanted to be back in Britain. We made out we had all come down with a virus. We canceled the rest of the tour of the States. We flew back to Britain on Concorde to record ‘Going Underground’ on Top of the Pops for the following week.” SF

The song wasn’t intended as a single. It was supposed to be the B-side of “Dreams of Children,” but “Going Underground” became the hit. “Striking the right balance aggressive punk posturing, Beatlesque guitar and catching singalong pop to create perfect harmony, the single would become The Jam’s defining release.” XFM

“Going Underground” might appear to be about London’s tube rail system, but it wasn’t. KL Singer Paul Weller wrote it in protest of the British Conservative government’s policy to spend taxpayers’ money on building their nuclear arsenal instead of funding other government programs. SF The song references the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. KL


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Jam
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 259.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia
  • XFM Mike Walsh (editor) (2010). The XFM Top 1000 Songs of All Time. Elliott & Thompson Limited: London, England. Page 205.

First posted 10/13/2021; last updated 11/12/2022.

Wednesday, March 12, 1980

Billy Joel’s Glass Houses released

First posted 3/6/2011; updated 9/22/2020.

Glass Houses

Billy Joel

Released: March 12, 1980

Peak: 16 US, 9 UK, 17 CN, 2 AU

Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.1 UK, 11.2 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/rock singer-songwriter


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

  1. You May Be Right (3/15/80, 7 US, 2 CL, 48 AC, 6 CN, 28 AU, gold single)
  2. Sometimes a Fantasy (10/11/80, 36 US, 12 CL, 21 CN)
  3. Don’t Ask Me Why (8/2/80, 36 US, 8 CL, 1 AC, 4 CN)
  4. It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me (5/13/80, 1 US, 1 CL, 45 AC, 14 UK, 1 CN, 10 AU, 2x platinum single)
  5. All for Leyna (4/12/80, 17 CL, 40 UK)
  6. I Don’t Want to Be Alone
  7. Sleeping with the Television On
  8. C’Etait Toi (You Were the One)
  9. Close to the Borderline (25 CL)
  10. Through the Long Night

Total Running Time: 35:06


3.653 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)

Quotable: “The closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


About the Album:

“The back-to-back success of The Stranger and 52nd Street may have brought Billy Joel fame and fortune, even a certain amount of self-satisfaction, but it didn’t bring him critical respect, and it didn’t dull his anger. If anything, being classified as a mainstream rocker – a soft rocker – infuriated him, especially since a generation of punks and new wave kids were getting the praise that eluded him.” STE

“Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles, from McCartney-esque whimsy (Don’t Ask Me Why) and arena rock (All for Leyna) to soft rock (C’etait Toi [You Were the One]).” STE

“Comparatively a harder-rocking album than either of its predecessors, with a distinctly bitter edge, Glass Houses still displays the hallmarks of Billy Joel the pop craftsman and Phil Ramone the world-class hitmaker. Even its hardest songs – the terrifically paranoid Sometimes a Fantasy, Sleepin’ with the Television On, Close to the BorderlineSTE and “the snarl of the motorcycle-ridingt You May Be RightDB “have bold, direct melodies and clean arrangements, ideal for radio play.” STE

“Plenty of panicked mainstream rock stars were trying to ‘go New Wave’ at the time. Thanks to his innate brattiness and gift for stylistic wandering, Joel was able to pull it off better than just about anyone.” DB With a sound that “ironically is closer to new wave pop than rock,” STEJoel showed on the “Cars-imitating It’s Still Rock and Roll to MeDB that it “came naturally to him.” DB

The Stranger and 52nd Street were fine albums in their own right, but it’s nice to hear Joel scale back his showman tendencies and deliver a solid pop/rock record… [that is] the closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album.” STE

Resources and Related Links: