Saturday, January 28, 1984

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


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, 22 GR, 10 RR, 15 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU, 9 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 41.8 video, 203.99 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“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” MG who had a smash with the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” which he called “a single that you could dance to.” TC He crafted three versions before they hit on the fourth and final cut which only featured member Holly Johnson, with the exception of the sound of the rest of the band jumping into a swimming pool. MG

With its “heavy breathing and the stuttering musical passages, [‘Relax’] owed a debt to Giorgio Moroder’s singles with Donna Summer” TC with “a more mechanical, disco-based sound.” LW The song had stalled within six weeks of its release after a peak at #55. Then its fortunes reversed. DJ Mike Reid had been playing the song, but abruptly stopped – supposedly on air midway through the song – after reading the lyrics. He considered the “sexually orientated lyrics” MG “overtly obscene,” LW despite Johnson’s unbelievable claim that the song, with its “joyful, tongue-in-cheek lasciviousness,” TC wasn’t about sex. LW The BBC then banned the song from daytime radio airplay. DR

Coupled with the news of Johnson’s open homosexuality, TC the controversy generated curiosity 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 The song got another boost, going back to #2, when the follow-up single, “Two Tribes,” soared to #1. “Relax” spent 48 consecutive weeks on the UK chart. After it re-entered and was reissued in 1993, it racked up a total of 59 weeks on the chart. 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


First posted 11/13/2019; last updated 11/25/2022.

Saturday, January 21, 1984

Yes hit #1 with “Owner of a Lonely Heart”

Owner of a Lonely Heart


Writer(s): Trevor Rabin, Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Trevor Horn (see lyrics here)

Released: October 8, 1983

First Charted: November 5, 1983

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 12 GR, 12 RR, 14 AR, 28 UK, 2 CN, 14 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 46.0 video, 215.28 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Based on their musical output in the 1970s, who would ever guessed Yes would land a #1 pop hit? They practically defined progressive rock with songs based on classical music pieces infused with space-themed lyrics that took up entire album sides. This was “a band who “where often criticized for being overindulgent and pretentious” FB who made songs “that couldn’t become hits, almost by design.” SG As Stereogum’s Tom Breihan said, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” is “a total betrayal of everything that the band had done before…It also kicks ass.” SG

It didn’t start out as a Yes song. After their 1980 Drama album, it looked the band was done. Bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White hooked up with South African singer/songeriter Trevor Rabin to form a group called Cinema. Interestingly, Rabin had turned down an offer to join Asia – a band which featured Yes members Steve Howe and Geoff Downes. Tony Kaye, who’d formerly been a keyboardist with Yes, also signed on and Trevor Horn, who’d also been with the 1980 version of Yes, was tapped as the producer. When the group invited lead singer Jon Anderson to participate, “it seemed ridiculous to call the band Cinema when they had unintentionally re-formed Yes.” FB

Rabin wrote the song in 1979 while going to the toilet. WK In 1981, the song was included amongst demos he pitched to Arista Records’ Clive Davis WK who said it “was too weird to be a hit in America” SG but Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records insisted it was a hit. SF In 1983, the toilet played a role yet again in bringing “Owner of a Lonely Heart” to fruition. While Rabin was in the bathroom, his demo tape was running and Horn heard it. He pleaded with the band to record it. WK

Rabin’s version already sported the “big synth sounds and its central riff,” SG but had other parts that were later deleted. Other members of the band polished it and made it “sound bigger and weirder.” SG It may be the first rock hit to use a sample. The drum break at the beginning of the song and the horn stab from several times in the song are similar to a bit from 1971’s “Kool Is Back” by Funk, Inc. SF

The lyrics expressed the idea that “it’s OK to be on your own and that you can decide your own destiny rather than putting all your energy into falling in love.” SG It “describes the paradox of loneliness> Once you’ve been hurt, loneliness is better than a broken heart.” SF

While this was #1 in the United States, “Relax” by Frankie and Hollywood topped the charts in the UK. Both songs were produced by Trevor Horn, giving him the distinction of being the only producer to have simultaneous #1 songs on both sides of the pond by different artists. SF


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Yes
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 582.
  • SF Songfacts
  • SG StereogumThe Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

Related Links:

First posted 8/5/2021; last updated 7/13/2023.

Friday, January 20, 1984

50 years ago: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” hit #1 - for the first time

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Paul Whiteman with Bob Lawrence

Writer(s): Jereome Kern/ Otto Harbach (see lyrics here)

First Charted: December 9, 1933

Peak: 16 US, 2 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

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

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

The Platters

First Charted: November 17, 1958

Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 11 GR, 14 HR, 3 RB, 11 UK, 13 CN, 110 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 28.7 video, 76.69 streaming

Awards (Paul Whiteman):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (The Platters):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

According to Otto Harbach, Jerome Kern originally composed “Smoke” for 1927’s Showboat. It was supposed to be an uptempo instrumental which accompanied a tap dance routine while scenery was changed, LW although another account had the song originating as a march for a radio program which never happened. TY Harbach suggested refashioning it as a ballad, at which point it was left out of Showboat. LW

The song is filled with challenges – such as the octave-and-a-half range for singers and, for players, a surprising key change at the bridge. MM In addition, Harbach works in unlikely words like “chaffed” and “deride” – all leading toward the song’s conclusion about the end of a love affair – and the final line when the title is mentioned for the first time. MM

It resurfaced in 1933 for the Broadway musical Roberta. That same year, Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra charted with it, going to #1 the next year. Leo Reisman (#3), Emil Coleman (#4), and Ruth Etting (#15) also charted with the song in 1934. In 1935, the musical was turned into a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film. Irene Dunne performed “Smoke” in the movie. SB Artie Shaw took the song back to the charts in 1941 (#24). It was also used in the 1946 Kern biopic Till the Clouds Roll By. MM

Roberta was remade in the 1950s as the new musical and movie, Lovely to Look At. LW Then, in 1958, the doo-wop group the Platters took their million-selling version to the top of the US and UK charts, showcasing “the song’s ability to both transcend time and lend itself to varied interpretations and still remain fresh.” LW


  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Paul Whiteman
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Jerome Kern
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Otto Harbach
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for The Platters
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 67.
  • MM Max Morath (2002). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards. New York, NY; Penguin Putnam Inc. Page 181.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 70.

First posted 1/20/2016; last updated 11/22/2022.