Thursday, December 31, 1981

My Personal Top 100 Songs (pre-1982)

Updated 12/1/2018.

I was 15 in the summer of 1982 and was pretty enthralled with the popular music of the day. When my local top 40 radio station did a countdown of their all-time songs, I decided to emulate the list and make my own. It turned into my own weekly countdown list which I maintained all through high school, college, and even into my young adult years. I consider it ground zero for my fascination with charts.

Here are my top 100 songs from before 1982. While this list was created many years later, it is designed to reflect my tastes at that time.

1. Styx “Babe” (1979)
2. Styx “Reneage” (1978)
3. Styx “The Best of Times” (1981)
4. Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” (1979)
5. Olivia Newton-John “Magic” (1980)
6. Chic “Le Freak” (1978)
7. Journey “Open Arms” (1981)
8. Foreigner “Waiting for a Girl Like You” (1981)
9. Air Supply “Lost in Love” (1980)
10. Soft Cell “Tainted Love” (1981)

11. Styx “Come Sail Away” (1977)
12. Kenny Rogers “Coward of the County” (1979)
13. Blondie “Heart of Glass” (1978)
14. Neil Diamond “America” (1981)
15. Billy Joel “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” (1980)
16. John Williams “Star Wars” (1977)
17. The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963)
18. Debby Boone “You Light Up My Life” (1977)
19. Kermit “The Rainbow Connection” (1979)
20. REO Speedwagon “Keep on Loving You” (1980)

21. Barry Manilow “I Write the Songs” (1975)
22. Andrea McCardle “Tomorrow” (1977)
23. Eagles “Heartache Tonight” (1979)
24. Olivia Newton-John “Physical” (1981)
25. Little River Band “Lonesome Loser” (1979)
26. Kool & the Gang “Ladies Night” (1979)
27. Little River Band “Cool Change” (1979)
28. Billy Joel “Just the Way You Are” (1977)
29. Harry Chapin “Cat’s in the Cradle” (1974)
30. Climax Blues Band “I Love You” (1980)

31. Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” (1978)
32. Foreigner “Hot Blooded” (1978)
33. Supertramp “The Logical Song” (1979)
34. Blondie “Dreaming” (1979)
35. Eagles “I Can’t Tell You Why” (1979)
36. Queen “Another One Bites the Dust” (1980)
37. Rupert Holmes “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” (1979)
38. Air Supply “American Hearts” (1980)
39. Blondie “Call Me” (1980)
40. Kool & the Gang “Celebration” (1980)

41. Charlie Dore “Pilot of the Airwaves” (1979)
42. Kenny Rogers “Lady” (1980)
43. Foreigner “Juke Box Hero” (1981)
44. Journey “Who’s Crying Now” (1981)
45. Neil Diamond “Love on the Rocks” (1980)
46. Queen “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (1979)
47. Supertramp “Take the Long Way Home” (1979)
48. Foreigner “Double Vision” (1978)
49. Queen “We Will Rock You” (1977)
50. Queen “We Are the Champions” (1977)

51. Commodores “Three Times a Lady” (1978)
52. Electric Light Orchestra “Don’t Bring Me Down” (1979)
53. Sister Sledge “We Are Family” (1979)
54. Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive” (1978)
55. Nick Lowe “Cruel to Be Kind” (1979)
56. Sniff ‘N’ the Tears “Driver’s Seat” (1979)
57. Eddie Rabbitt “I Love a Rainy Night” (1980)
58. Dolly Parton “9 to 5” (1980)
59. Journey “Don’t Stop Believin’” (1981)
60. Kansas “Dust in the Wind” (1977)

61. Olivia Newton-John with Electric Light Orchestra “Xanada” (1980)
62. Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” (1977)
63. Charlie Daniels Band “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (1979)
64. Kansas “Carry on Wayward Son” (1976)
65. J. Geils Band “Centerfold” (1981)
66. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts “I Love Rock and Roll” (1981)
67. Lionel Richie & Diana Ross “Endless Love” (1981)
68. Kim Carnes “Bette Davis Eyes” (1981)
69. Styx “Too Much Time on My Hands” (1981)
70. Billy Joel “You May Be Right” (1980)

71. Dirt Band with Linda Ronstadt “An American Dream” (1979)
72. Paul McCartney & Wings “Silly Love Songs” (1976)
73. Barry Manilow “Copacabana (At the Copa)” (1978)
74. Village People “Y.M.C.A.” (1978)
75. Commodores “Still” (1979)
76. John Denver “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (1972)
77. The Beatles “All My Loving” (1963)
78. REO Speedwagon “Ridin’ the Storm Out (live)” (1977)
79. Rush “Tom Sawyer” (1981)
80. Blondie “Shayla” (1979)

81. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band “Against the Wind” (1980)
82. Foreigner “Urgent” (1981)
83. The Cars “Shake It Up” (1981)
84. Eagles “Take It Easy” (1972)
85. Pratt & McClain “Happy Days” (1976)
86. Van McCoy “The Hustle” (1975)
87. Chicago “If You Leave Me Now” (1976)
88. John Denver “Rocky Mountain High” (1972)
89. Hues Corporation “Rock the Boat” (1974)
90. Stars on 45 “Medley I” (1981)

91. The Beatles “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” (1967)
92. Willie Nelson “On the Road Again” (1980)
93. The Human League “Don’t You Want Me” (1981)
94. The Beatles “With a Little Help from My Friends” (1967)
95. KC & the Sunshine Band “Please Don’t Go” (1979)
96. Waylon Jennings “Just Good Ol’ Boys (Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard)” (1980)
97. John Denver “Sunshine on My Shoulders” (1971)
98. Paul McCartney & Wings “My Love” (1973)
99. Gerry Rafferty “Baker Street” (1978)
100. Rick Springfield “Jessie’s Girl” (1981)


Saturday, December 12, 1981

The Human League hit #1 in the UK with “Don’t You Want Me?”

Don’t You Want Me?

The Human League

Writer(s): Jo Callis/Philip Oakley/Philip Adrian Wright (see lyrics here)


Released: November 27, 1981


First Charted: December 5, 1981


Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 42 HR, 3 RR, 4 AR, 1 CO, 15 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.78 UK, 2.93 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 90.0 video, 245.46 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

When recording parent album Dare!, the Human League considered their adherence to a “strict policy of synth-only sounds” LW to be very cutting edge and a much needed break from the “archaic and antique” use of guitars. SF The song, “Don’t You Want Me?,” provided a synthesizer riff as memorable as any guitar lick, TB quieting critics who condemned the instrumental tool as bland. MJ Marc Almond of Soft Cell went so far as to call the song “the greatest record of all time.” KL He wasn’t alone in his love for the song; it moved over 1.4 million copies in the UK to become the biggest seller of 1981. SF

In the US, the song was the first English synthesizer chart-topper, BR effectively launching a second British invasion, the first being helmed by the Beatles in 1964. KL That second influx of British music owed much to the launch of MTV. UK bands comprised a large chunk of the fledging music channel’s initial library, thanks to a prevalence of video shows in Europe. SF While the Human League were frequently lumped in with British New Romantic acts KL like Duran Duran, Culture Club, and Adam Ant, they really had more of a post-punk energy and were more likely to use Kraftwerk as a musical reference point. LW

The song sports a “consciously cheesy boy-girl duologue” MJ between Phil Oakley and the two female singers. That and his “emotion-free style of his singing” LW alongside a funky melodic bass line made the song a classic. LW

Oakley has stated that an article in a woman’s magazine inspired the song SF and that it is “not a love song but about power politics between two people.” SF Interestingly, Oakley had decided that the group needed women who could dance and sing backup vocals BR and so, as suggested in the song, he found them in a cocktail bar and “turned them into something new.” LW Apparently their look took precedence over all else since the pair could neither sing nor dance. TC


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Human League
  • DMDB page for parent album Dare!
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 556.
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 627.
  • 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 276.
  • LW Lewens, Alan (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 151.
  • MJ Mojo Ultimate Jukebox (supplement with April 2003 issue of Mojo magazine). “The 100 Singles You Must Own”
  • SF Songfacts.com
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 193.

First posted 12/12/2011; updated 4/25/2021.

Monday, November 23, 1981

AC/DC released For Those about to Rock We Salute You

First posted 9/4/2010; updated 9/7/2020.

For Those About to Rock We Salute You

AC/DC


Buy Here:


Released: November 23, 1981


Peak: 13 US, 3 UK, -- CN, 3 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, -- UK, 8.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: hard rock/heavy metal


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. For Those about to Rock We Salute You (12/5/81, #15 UK, #4 AR)
  2. Put the Finger on You (12/19/81, #38 AR)
  3. Let’s Get It Up (12/19/81, #44 US, #13 UK, #9 AR)
  4. Inject the Venom
  5. Snowballed
  6. Evil Walks
  7. C.O.D.
  8. Breaking the Rules
  9. Night of the Long Knives
  10. Spellbound


Total Running Time: 40:10


The Players:

  • Brian Johnson (vocals)
  • Angus Young (guitar)
  • Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
  • Cliff Williams (bass)
  • Phil Rudd (drums)

Rating:

3.500 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)


Quotable: “A record Beavis and Butthead would describe as ‘cool’ – and, as usual, they’d be right.” – Andrew Mueller, Amazon.com

About the Album:

“Lesser bands might have been put off their stride by the death of their lead singer, but not AC/DC. No sooner had Bon Scott met his whiskey-sodden end in 1980 than AC/DC recruited a new singer, Brian Johnson – who sounded almost exactly like Scott – and released, in Back in Black, the biggest-selling album of their career.” AM

For Those About to Rock We Salute You is a suitably triumphant follow-up” AM with “some decent material,” SH but it also marks the point when “AC/DC’s hot streak began to draw to a close.” SH While Back in Black was infused with the energy and spirit of paying tribute to Bon Scott, it became apparent on the follow-up that the group really did miss Scott more than it initially indicated.” SH The band “slowed down the tempo frequently, sounding less aggressive and inspired.” SH

“Brian Johnson’s lyrics started to seem more calculated and a bit clichéd, lacking Scott’s devil-may-care sense of humor,” SH although they did also show that his “lyrical preoccupations were broadly congruent with those of his predecessor: Let’s Get It Up and Inject the Venom are as subtle as their titles sound.” AM And, of course, no matter how you view the whole album, “the cannon-punctuated title track – the most auspicious marriage of music and artillery since Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ – still provides a spectacular finale to AC/DC concerts.” AM

In the end, this is no Back in Black, but it “is a record Beavis and Butthead would describe as ‘cool’ – and, as usual, they’d be right.” AM

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, November 21, 1981

Queen & David Bowie hit #1 in UK with “Under Pressure”

Under Pressure

Queen with David Bowie

Writer(s): Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, John Deacon, Brian May (see lyrics here)


Released: October 26, 1981


First Charted: November 7, 1981


Peak: 29 US, 22 CB, 26 HR, 23 RR, 2 CL, 7 AR, 1 CO, 12 UK, 3 CN, 6 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 1.2 UK, 3.41 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 487.0 video, 1001.01 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Under Pressure” resulted from David Bowie popping into the studio one night where Queen was recording. KL It evolved from a song called “Feel Like” which Queen had been working on. WK David Bowie and all four members of Queen are credited as songwriters on the track, but bassist John Deacon said it was primarily written by singer Freddie Mercury. Guitarist Brian May said “David took over the song lyrically.” WK The lyrics focus on “how pressure can destroy lives, but love can be the answer.” SF

There is also some debate about who wrote the bassline, which would later be used on Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby,” the first #1 rap song on the Billboard Hot 100. Stylus magazine called the iconic bassline the best in popular music history. WK May and drummer Roger Taylor credit Deacon, but he says Bowie wrote it. Bowie himself says the bassline was already written before he was involved with the song. WK

This was released in the UK the same week that Queen’s Greatest Hits topped the album chart. However, “Under Pressure” was not on the UK version of the anthology. It was on the U.S. version and Queen’s 1982 Hot Space album. This was only the second time in the history of the UK charts that two acts who’d formerly topped the charts collaborated for another #1. The first time was with 1967’s “Something Stupid” by Frank and Nancy Sinatra. KL

All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the song “an utterly majestic, otherworldly duet.” WK A Rolling Stone poll named the song the second best collaboration of all time. WK Far Out Magazine’s Jack Whatley said it “is an incredibly powerful and poignant pop song that we will likely not see matched in our lifetimes.” WK Stylus music critic Anthony Miccio went so far as to declare it “the best song of all time.” WK


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Queen
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for David Bowie
  • 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. Pages 275-6.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia


Related Links:


First posted 8/4/2021; last updated 11/29/2021.

Olivia Newton-John hits #1 with “Physical” for first of 10 weeks

Physical

Olivia Newton-John

Writer(s): Steve Kipner, Terry Shaddick (see lyrics here)


First Charted: October 3, 1981


Peak: 110 US, 18 CB, 19 HR, 2 RR, 29 AC, 28 RB, 7 UK, 16 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.25 UK, 2.65 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 34.2 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

When Olivia Newton-John took the role of Sandy in 1978’s movie version of Grease, it was clear she was looking to change her clean-cut, “good-girl image,” SF considering her character’s transformation “from virginal to vamp.” BB Still, “the longtime girl-next-door singer” BB had doubts about releasing “Physical”, SF a song “loaded with sexual innuendo.” BB Her managers convinced her the song would be a huge hit. SF

Still, lyrics like “There’s nothing left to talk about/ Unless it’s horizontally” got the song banned by some radio stations. At adult contemporary radio the song stalled at #29, but it took off at pop radio. In fact, the controversy probably helped the song toward becoming the biggest hit of 1981 WHC and of Olivia’s career. A Billboard magazine survey even named it the sexiest song of all-time. SF

A video heightened the controversy with what was then considered risqué, but would be tame by today’s standards. JA The video played off the aerobics movement of the day, practically becoming the theme song for the exercise trend. SF Olivia worked out in the gym with out-of-shape men who transformed into body-builder physiques. The end of the video, which suggested the men were gay and consequently immune to Olivia’s advances, was often cut when aired on MTV. WK It still picked up the Grammy for Video of the Year.

The song also was received by some critics with less than an enthusiastic response. AOL Radio’s Matthew Wilkening said, “An entire generation’s leg-warmered, pastel spandex shame is laid bare in just under four minutes.” WK He ranked it one of the 100 worst songs ever. WK


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Olivia Newton-John
  • BB Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 157.
  • SF Songfacts.com
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 110.


Related Links:


First posted 10/3/2011; last updated 12/4/2021.