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

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

First posted 10/3/2011; updated 3/11/2021.

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.” BB100 Still, “the longtime girl-next-door singer” BB100 had doubts about releasing “Physical”, SF a song “loaded with sexual innuendo.” BB100 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 and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Olivia Newton-John
  • BB100 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.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 110.

Saturday, October 31, 1981

Bob Marley’s posthumous Chances Are charted

Chances Are

Bob Marley


Charted: October 31, 1981


Recorded: 1968-1972


Peak: 117 US


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: reggae


Tracks:

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

  1. Reggae on Broadway (5/72, 66 RB)
  2. Gonna Get You
  3. Chances Are (11/81, --)
  4. Soul Rebel (12/70, --)
  5. Dance Do the Reggae
  6. Mellow Mood
  7. Stay with Me
  8. Hurting Inside


Total Running Time: 32:03

Rating:

2.883 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)

About the Album:

“Record-industry grave robbers could scarcely wait until nightfall to cash in on the late Bob Marley’s scattered legacy. In this case, the culprits are the people at Cayman Music and Cissi Music…and the controllers of an obscure portion of Marley’s material, recorded between 1968 and 1972. During this period, Marley and various members of the then-regrouping Wailers made several trips to Europe in an attempt to broaden their base, find a post-rock steady direction and land a decent record deal outside Jamaica.” RS

Chances Are documents a number of demo sessions in which Marley and his musicians exhibited their new reggae sound…A chunk of Marley's publishing rights was quickly corralled in the process. By the time the Wailers signed with Island in 1972, their leader knew plenty about exploitation in Babylon.” RS

“This brittle, callous repackaging of outtakes and arcane singles comes complete with a truckload of perfunctory ‘special thanks’ to anyone connected with Marley (the names of close friends and even his own mother are misspelled). Furthermore, these tracks aren't ‘previously unreleased,’ as the liner notes insist. Reggae on Broadway was issued in England in the early Seventies on CBS International, while slightly different versions of Soul Rebel and Mellow Mood have been kicking around for years in the sleazy repackagings that Jamaican producer Lee Perry sold to England's Trojan label. And so forth. Granted, albums like this will always hold a certain value to archivists, biographers and music historians interested in tracing the evolution of Jamaican rock. But, in the future, one would hope for a scrupulously selected series of bargain-priced LPs, with scholarly notes and a percentage of the proceeds going to the Bob Marley Foundation.” RS

“There are two intriguing songs here: ‘Reggae on Broadway,’ a skanking bit of histrionic soul-funk that shows Marley's great fascination with black American rockers (he was captivated by Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone), and Gonna Get You, a bouncy, playful reggae love pledge of the sort that would reemerge, fully realized, on 1978's i>Kaya. The latter number also boasts the best – albeit still miserable – mix. The rest of the tunes sound like they were recorded at the bottom of Kingston harbor.” RS

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 3/26/2008; updated 5/6/2021.

Saturday, September 12, 1981

Journey’s Escape hit #1

First posted 7/31/2008; updated 9/20/2020.

Escape

Journey


Released: July 31, 1981


Peak: 11 US, 32 UK, 6 CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 9.0 US, -- UK, 12.1 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Don’t Stop Believin’ (8/15/81, 9 US, 8 AR, 6 UK, 9 CN, 100 AU, sales: 5 million)
  2. Stone in Love (8/1/81, 13 AR)
  3. Who’s Crying Now (7/18/81, 4 US, 4 AR, 14 AC, 46 UK, 3 CN, 65 AU, sales: 1.0 m, air: 2.0 m)
  4. Keep on Runnin’
  5. Still They Ride (5/22/82, 19 US, 47 AR, 37 AC)
  6. Escape
  7. Lay It Down
  8. Dead or Alive
  9. Mother, Father
  10. Open Arms (1/16/82, 2 US, 35 AR, 7 AC, 2 CN, 43 AU, sales: 1 million, airplay: 3 million)


Total Running Time: 42:46


The Players:

  • Steve Perry (vocals)
  • Neal Schon (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Jonathan Cain (keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
  • Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steve Smith (drums)

Rating:

4.112 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


Quotable: Journey’s “definitive statement” – Classic Rock Magazine


Awards:

About the Album:

Escape was a groundbreaking album for San Francisco’s Journey,” MD flinging the band “steadfastly into the AOR arena” MD and making “them stadium-filling superstars.” CR The album is marked by songs that “are more rock-flavored, with more hooks and a harder cadence compared to their former sound.” MD

Part of the new sound could be attributed to Jonathan Cain, who came on board as the keyboardist after the departure of founding member Gregg Rolie. He co-wrote every song on the album and his “blatant keyboards” MD combined with “Neal Schon’s grand yet palatable guitar playing” MD and “the passionate, wide-ranged vocals of Steve Perry, who is the true lifeblood of this album, and this band.” MD The “heartfelt songwriting and sturdy musicianship” MD has “a way of rekindling the innocence of youthful romance and the rebelliousness of growing up.” MD

The year of its release could be marked as the pinnacle of arena rock. REO Speedwagon, Styx, Foreigner, and Journey had all been around since at least the mid-‘70s and amassed huge followings, but peaked that year with the only #1 albums of their careers.

All four groups were savaged by critics. Their power ballads were mocked and their proclivity toward radio-friendly rock wasn’t taken seriously. Journey may have had the last laugh, though. More than two decades after Don’t Stop Believin’ first hit the charts, it had a surprising resurgence when it was used in the finale of television’s The Sopranos. Then it also served as the springboard for Glee, giving that television franchise a #4 hit. The song, an evocative tale of “‘streetlight people, living just to find emotion’, became an American classic.” CR “The whisper of Perry’s ardor is crept up to with Schon’s searing electric guitar work, making for a perfect rock song.” MD Thanks to its revival, it has sold five million copies and become the biggest hit in Journey’s catalog.

However, it was only one of three top-ten, million-selling singles from Escape. The lead single from the album, Who's Crying Now, “spotlights the sweeping fervor of Perry’s voice, whose theme about the ups and downs of a relationship was plentiful in Journey’s repertoire.” MD

“One of rock’s most beautiful ballads, Open Arms, gleams with an honesty and feel only Steve Perry could muster.” MD The song, “rejected by [Cain’s] previous band The Babys – was a monster hit” CR and the quintessential power ballad. It was as close as Journey got to a #1 song on the pop charts – it spent six weeks at #2 on the Billboard charts.

“There is a certain electricity that circulates through the rest of the album.” MD While the album is best known for those singles, the album also boasted a fourth single, the top 20 hit Still They Ride, and album-rock favorite Stone in Love. “The songs are timeless, and as a whole, they have a way of rekindling the innocence of youthful romance and the rebelliousness of growing up, built from heartfelt songwriting and sturdy musicianship.” MDEscape became Journey’s “definitive statement” CR – its biggest-selling studio album and “one of their most popular and best-reviewed works to date.” JM

Resources and Related Links: