Saturday, January 24, 1981

Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” topped country chart

9 to 5

Dolly Parton

Writer(s): Dolly Parton (see lyrics here)

Released: November 3, 1980

First Charted: November 29, 1980

Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 15 HR, 2 RR, 12 AC, 11 CW, 47 UK, 12 CN, 9 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.5 US, 1.2 UK, 2.78 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 70.7 video, 407.14 streaming


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About the Song:

In 1980, Dolly Parton starred alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the workplace comedy movie 9 to 5. Fonda and Parton met by chance when they were on the same flight to New York and Fonda realized Parton would be perfect for the movie. Fonda said, “You feel comfortable with her, love her, and hug her like an old friend. All those qualities are in her work in the movie.” TR

It was Parton’s first experience making a movie. She said, “The hardest thing was the long wait between shots, the hours you’d sit in make-up and costume and all…I can’t embroider or nothin’ like that, so I figured if I started writin’ songs, it would change my mood…That’s how I wrote ‘9 to 5.’” TR

Songwriting was nothing new to Dolly. As a preschooler, she crafted stories and melodies which she asked her mother to write down. FB One family member said she started singing about the same time she started talking. FB After she graduated from high school in 1964, she left for Nashville the next morning to launch a singing career. FB

She landed her first country hit, “Dumb Blonde,” in 1967 (#24). Three years later, she scored her first #1 with “Joshua.” She hit the top of the charts thirteen times before “9 to 5” reached #1 on the country chart on January 24, 1981. Four weeks later it achieved the rare feet of topping the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart as well. It became only the second song by a woman to top both charts – the last was Jeannie C. Riley with “Harper Valley P.T.A.” in 1968. “9 to 5” became “an anthem for office workers” WK and made the American Film Institute’s list of “100 Years, 100 Songs.”


  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 537.
  • TR Tom Roland (1991). The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 278-9.
  • WK Wikipedia

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First posted 11/4/2021; last updated 11/7/2022.

Saturday, January 17, 1981

Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” charted

In the Air Tonight

Phil Collins

Writer(s): Phil Collins (see lyrics here)

Released: January 5, 1981

First Charted: January 17, 1981

Peak: 19 US, 19 CB, 6 GR, 17 HR, 11 RR, 1 CL, 2 AR, 2 UK, 2 CN, 3 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.5 US, 1.1 UK, 4.9 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 472.7 video, 499.81 streaming


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About the Song:

Phil Collins’ profile grew substantially in the decade before he released his first solo album. He started as the drummer with prog-rock band Genesis in 1970 and became their lead singer after Peter Gabriel’s departure in 1975. Over the next few years, the band developed a more album rock-friendly sound with hits like “Follow You, Follow Me,” “Misunderstanding,” and “Turn It on Again.” In 1981, Collins released his first solo album, launching himself as one of the premiere artists of the ‘80s as he alternated solo releases with continued work with Genesis.

“In the Air Tonight” was the lead single for Face Value. It was a #1 hit in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden and peaked at #2 in the UK. WK In the United States it barely scraped the top 20, but became his signature song despite numerous hits as a solo artist and with Genesis which charted higher. WK

A popular urban legend developed that the song was about witnessing a person drowning. The story goes that Collins wasn’t in a position to help, but that he saw someone else who could have saved the person and chose not to. He tracked down the person’s identity, invited him to a concert, and sang the song with a spotlight trained on the man the entire time. SF Humiliated, the man committed suicide after the show. SN Eminem even referred to the story in his song “Stan.” There have been many variations of the story, but Collins has denied them all. WK

He explained that he wrote the song after his divorce in 1980. He sang the lyrics spontaneously during an in-studio songwriting session. As he said, “I’m not quite sure what the song is about, but there’s a lot of anger, a lot of despair, and a lot of frustration.” WK The “rock oddity classic” WK creates a mood “of restrained anger until the final chorus when an explosive burst of drums releases the musical tension.” WK It has been called “the sleekest, most melodramatic drum break in history.” WK


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First posted 11/16/2019; last updated 12/26/2022.

Friday, January 16, 1981

Styx charted with “The Best of Times”

The Best of Times


Writer(s): Dennis DeYoung (see lyrics here)

First Charted: January 16, 1981

Peak: 3 US, 5 CB, 6 HR, 13 RR, 26 AC, 16 AR, 42 UK, 11 CN, 23 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.4 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“The Best of Times” is a fitting description of Styx’s success in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They were one of, if not the most, popular bands in America. In 1979, they reached their greatest peaks yet with the #2 album Cornerstone and its #1 single, “Babe.” Following that would be no easy task, but Styx responded with Paradise Theatre, their only number #1 album and their fourth in a row to go top ten and achieve multi-platinum status.

Lead single “The Best of Times” gave Styx their fourth top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It also gave them their second chart-topper in Canada. Overall, Styx had eight top-ten hits in their career, seven of which were written by Dennis DeYoung, keyboardist and one of the band’s founders.

The song served as the centerpiece for Paradise Theatre, a concept album which used a fictional account of the opening and closing of Chicago’s Paradise Theatre as a metaphor for changing times in America. Dennis DeYoung envisioned the idea and embraces it most with “The Best of Times,” whose basic melody and theme is also used in the album’s opening and closing numbers, “A.D. 1928” and “A.D. 1958.”

DeYoung said he paraphrased Charles Dickens’ famous line “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” He said his intent in the song was “when the world goes mad, how do you cope? And in this instance, it’s the love between two people, that they make their own paradise with their companionship, their love for each other, and their own home.” SU


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First posted 1/5/2020; last updated 10/30/2022.