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; updated 11/26/2020.

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 (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: (Click on award to learn more).

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; last updated 2/8/2021.

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, 145.3 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

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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Saturday, November 17, 1984

Wham! hit #1 with “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”

First posted 11/28/2020.

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Wham!

Writer(s): George Michael (see lyrics here)


Released: May 14, 1984


First Charted: May 26, 1984


Peak: 13 US, 12 CB, 12 RR, 4 AC, 12 UK, 14 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.6 UK, 2.84 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 338.56 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The British pop duo Wham! was comprised of George Michael and Andrew Ridgely who met in 1975 in school when they were 12 years old. They first made music together in a ska-band called the Executives before forming Wham! in 1981. They achieved three top-10 hits in the UK from their debut album, Fantastic, but couldn’t crack the top 40 in the UK. However, their second album, Make It Big!, proved to be a prohetic title.

The album’s lead single, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” went to #1 in the U.K. in June 1984. It ended up being the crossover hit the group needed in America; five months later it topped the Billboard Hot 100. It also went on to reach the pinnacle in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

The idea for the song came about when George and Andrew were teenagers and enjoyed going to the discos to party. One night when George came by Andrew’s house, he noticed a sign over the bed which he guessed Andrew put on the door for his mom to see before she left for work. It said “wake me up-up before you go-go.” George said it would make a great line in a song, or even as a title. Andrew explained he’d accidentally written “up” twice and the purposely compounded the error with “go-go. “ BR1

When George developed it into a song, he was aiming for “a really energetic pop record that had all the best elements of Fifties and Sixties records.” WK The song tells the story of a guy who’s upset when his girlfriend goes out dancing while he’s asleep. In the future, he asks that she wake him up before she goes.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Wham!
  • DMDB page for parent album Make It Big!
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 598.
  • KL Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 296.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Wham! hit #1 in UK with Make It Big

First posted 5/30/2008; updated 11/29/2020.

Make It Big

Wham!


Released: November 5, 1984


Peak: 13 US, 12 UK, 1 CN, 12 AU


Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 1.2 UK, 13.8 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop


Tracks:

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

  1. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (5/26/84, 13 US, 12 CB, 12 RR, 4 AC, 12 UK, 14 CN, 17 AU, sales: 2.84 million)
  2. Everything She Wants (12/15/84, 1 US, 4 AC, 12 RB, sales: ½ million)
  3. Heartbeat
  4. Like a Baby
  5. Freedom (10/13/84, 3 US, 1 UK, 4 AC)
  6. If You Were There
  7. Credit Card Baby
  8. Careless Whisper (8/4/84, 13 US, 14 CB, 12 RR, 15 AC, 8 RB, 13 UK, 12 CN, 14 AU, sales: 6 million)


Total Running Time: 38:02


The Players:

  • George Michael (vocals, keyboards)
  • Andrew Ridgeley (guitar, backing vocals)

Rating:

3.952 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The title was a promise to themselves, Wham!’s assurance that they would make it big after struggling out of the gates the first time out. They succeeded on a grander scale than they ever could have imagined, conquering the world and elsewhere with this effervescent set of giddy new wave pop-soul, thereby making George Michael a superstar and consigning Andrew Ridgeley to the confines of Trivial Pursuit.” AMG

“It was so big and the singles were so strong that it’s easy to overlook its patchwork qualities. It’s no longer than eight tracks, short even for the pre-CD era, and while the four singles are strong, the rest is filler, including an Isley Brothers cover. Thankfully, it’s the kind of filler that’s so tied to its time that it’s fascinating in its stilted post-disco dance-pop rhythms and Thatcher/Reagan materialism – an era that encouraged songs called Credit Card Baby.” AMG

“If this dichotomy between the A-sides and B-sides is far too great to make this essential, the way Faith later would be, those A-sides range from good to terrific. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go is absolute silliness whose very stupidity is its strength, and if Everything She Wants is merely agreeable bubblegum, Freedom is astounding, a sparkling Motown rip-off rippling with spirit and a timeless melody later ripped off by Noel Gallagher.” AMG

“Then, there’s the concluding Careless Whisper, a soulful slow one where Michael regrets a one-night stand over a richly seductive background and a yearning saxophone. It was an instant classic, and it was the first indication of George Michael’s strengths as a pop craftsman – which means it points the way to Faith, not the halfhearted Edge of Heaven.” AMG

The album reached #1 in the UK in November 1984. Three months later, it topped the charts in the United States as well.

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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.

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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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