Saturday, January 28, 1984

Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit #1 in the UK with “Relax”

First posted 11/13/2019.


Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Writer(s): Peter Gill/Holly Johnson/Brian Nash/Marc O'Toole/Paul Rutherford (see lyrics here)

Released: October 24, 1983

First Charted: November 26, 1983

Peak: 10 US, 13 CB, 10 RR, 15 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: 1.0 US, 2.15 UK, 3.20 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 41.8

Streaming *: --

* in millions


“Merseyside-based group Frankie Goes To Hollywood…first premiered this track on pivotal [UK] music show The Tube. It sounded like late-Seventies funk. So they hooked up with producer Trevor Horn…[who] made three versions, before finally hitting on his fourth version as the final cut…frontman Holly Johnson says it inspired the dance boom. Oddly, the only presence of the group on the final cut – apart from Johnson’s lead vocal – is the sound of them all jumping into a swimming pool.” MG

“As the record’s prospects were mounting, with it finally entering the Top 40 after more than a month on sale, the BBC banned it” MG from daytime radio airplay in Britain after Radio 1 DJ Mike Read refused to play it DR because of “its sexually orientated lyrics.” MG Of course, that immediately made people curious about the song, “ensuring its swift rise from #35 into the [UK] top ten (#6) the following week, and on to #1 two weeks later.” MG

Astonishingly, after it had started slipping, Frankie took the song back to #2 “in June 1984…while their second single ‘Two Tribes’ had soared off record store shelves in its first week and gone all the way to #1…’Relax’ spent 48 consecutive weeks on chart. It later re-entered to bring the weeks on chart total to 52, and a 1993 re-issue brought the current total to 59 weeks.” MG

The band will also “be remembered for the record’s unique marketing technique: the t-shirts. Paul Morley, co-director with Horn of ZTT Records, dreamt up the idea, and sold it to the band for £200-300. Soon everybody had snapped up a t-shirt, emblazoned with phrases such as ‘Frankie Says ‘Relax!’” MG

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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Monday, January 9, 1984

Van Halen released 1984: January 9, 1984

Originally posted January 9, 2012.

image from

Van Halen’s sixth outing, 1984, “was a successful record not only because it contained solid, catchy hard rock, but also because it incorporated synthesizers into the mix, the first metal album to do so to any serious extent.” AZ However, that “hoopla…was a bit of a red herring since the band had been layering in synths since their third album, Women and Children First. Those synths were either buried beneath guitars or used as texture.” AMG

“Of course, the mere addition of a synth wasn’t enough to rope in fair-weather fans – they needed pop hooks and pop songs, which 1984 had, most gloriously on the exuberant, timeless Jump.” AMG “The synths played a circular riff that wouldn’t have sounded as overpowering on guitar, but the band didn’t dispense with their signature monolithic, pulsating rock. Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony grounded the song…and David Lee Roth simply exploded with boundless energy.” AMG It was “one of the chief reasons [1984] became a blockbuster.” AMG

Earlier albums “placed an emphasis on the band’s attack, this places an emphasis on the songs” AMG and offers “the best set of original tunes Van Halen ever had.” AMG Panama features “the band’s signature sound elevated to performance art” AMG while Hot for Teacher is “lean and giddy, their one anthem that could be credibly covered by garage rockers.” AMG

“To a large extent, it was 1984 that set the standard for ‘80s pop metal, and David Lee Roth who set the standard (or takes the blame, depending on your point of view) for the aggressively good-time attitude most pop-metal bands took for their own.” AZ He “turned the frontman role into an art form.” AMG “It’s the best showcase of Van Halen’s instrumental prowess as a band, the best showcase for Diamond Dave’s glorious shtick, the best showcase for their songwriting, just their flat-out best album overall.” AMG As Rolling Stone’s J.D. Considine said, it is “the album that brings all of Van Halen’s talents into focus.” WK


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