Monday, January 28, 1985

“We Are the World” was recorded

We Are the World

U.S.A. for Africa

Writer(s): Michael Jackson/Lionel Richie (see lyrics here)

Released: March 7, 1985

First Charted: March 15, 1985

Peak: 14 US, 15 CB, 13 RR, 12 AC, 76 CW, 12 RB, 27 AR, 12 UK, 13 CN, 19 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 0.25 UK, 20.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 694.16 video, 77.16 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Only in America. With ironic boasts of how they’d “check[ed] their egos at the door” SF at the behest of producer Quincy Jones, a slew of U.S. singers lent their chops to “We Are the World,” a charity song which thematically “could be regarded as tub-thumping for America.” KL-302 The lyrics naively proclaimed “the problems of the starving…to be no match for the power of positive thinking.” MA Billy Joel said most of the performers didn’t care for the song and that, if memory served, it was Cyndi Lauper who said to him, “It sounds like a Pepsi commercial.’” SF

Much like the soft drink giant, though, it moved a lot of product, selling over a quarter million copies in one weekend AMG and leaping to #1 in a mere three weeks, the fastest since Elton John’s “Island Girl” in 1975. BR It was the only song to hit all five major Billboard charts of that time.

“World” was the U.S. counterpart of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” a song penned by singer Bob Geldof in response to a BBC documentary he saw about the Ethiopian famine. TB He enlisted many of the U.K.’s biggest pop stars for a charity single that movingly pondered how the starving Africans would spend their holidays. The song’s 3.5 million sales were bigger than the country had even seen.

Singer Harry Belafonte decided the U.S. should undertake a similar project and called manager Ken Kragen, who contacted Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, and Jones, who had produced Jackson’s Thriller. Jackson and Richie took three days to work on it individually and then came together to write the song in a matter of hours. KL-302 On January 28, 1985, the day of the American Music Awards, 46 recording artists gathered to record the song in a 12-hour session. SF Vocalists, appearing in order, included: Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Carnes, Bob Dylan, and Ray Charles.

Resources and Related Links:

  • AMG All Music Guide
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 605.
  • 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 302.
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Page 459.
  • SF
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 227.

First posted 1/28/2012; last updated 4/24/2021.

Thursday, January 10, 1985

Cyndi Lauper landed Grammy nominations in the Big Four categories: January 10, 1985

Originally posted January 10, 2012.

image from

When Grammy nominations were announced on January 10, 1985, Cyndi Lauper had the rare distinction of landing in each of the Big Four Categories. Her debut album, She’s So Unusual, received a nod for Album of the Year. Her singles Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Time After Time showed up in the Record of the Year and Song of the Year categories respectively. Lauper was acknowledge in the Best New Artist category as well. She also garnered nominations for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for “Girls”) and Best Recording Package, making her the first female artist since Bobbie Gentry in 1967 to receive at least five Grammy nominations.

She won the Best New Artist and Best Recording Package awards. She was also honored by MTV for Best Female Video of the Year for “Girls”, which also was nominated for Video of the Year. That video introduced her fun-loving, even cartoonish persona, but also showcased her ability to deliver a hook-laden song. It went top 10 in 19 countries and hit #1 in 10 countries. WK

On the flip side, second single “Time After Time” served up Lauper’s more sensitive side. The emotional ballad hit the top ten in 15 countries. WK “Time” has been covered by everyone from Everything But the Girl to Miles Davis, “if you need further proof of her credibility.” BB

Lauper also hit the top 5 in the U.S. with She Bop and All Through the Night, making her the first female singer to land four top 5 singles from one album on the Billboard Hot 100. WK A fifth single, Money Changes Everything, was a top 40 hit. They all helped propel the album to 6 million in U.S. sales and 16 million worldwide.

Far from being a guilt pleasure, Lauper’s She’s So Unusual should be acknowledged not as “self-deprecating or even self-parodying; it’s self-congratulatory.” BB The album displays “a giddy mix of self-confidence, effervescent popcraft, unabashed sentimentality, subversiveness, and clever humor” BB and is “one of the great new wave/early MTV records.” STE

Awards for She’s So Unusual:

Awards for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”:
Awards for “Time after Time”:
Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, January 5, 1985

50 years ago: “Blue Moon” charted for the first of 9 times on the U.S. pop charts

First posted 1/5/2013; updated 3/13/2021.

Blue Moon

Glen Gray

Writer(s): Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart (see lyrics here)

First Charted: January 5, 1935

Peak: 13 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.11 video, -- streaming

Blue Moon

The Marcels

First Charted: February 27, 1961

Peak: 13 US, 13 CB, 13 HR, 12 RB, 1 UK, 12 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 16.13 video, -- streaming

Awards (Glen Gray version): (Click on award for more details).

Awards (The Marcels version): (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart made their names as giants of musical theater having written The Garrick Gaieties (1925), A Connecticut Yankee (1927), and Present Arms (1928). Ironically, though, their biggest-selling song TY didn’t become a hit because of an appearance in a musical or movie. The pair wrote a song intended for a 1933 Jean Harlow film which has been said to be called “The Prayer” TY and “Make Me a Star.” BR1 It underwent several revisions, becoming “The Bad in Every Man” and “Act One,” but continued to be passed over for movies.

Jack Robbins, the head of MGM’s musical publishing division, heard the song and said he’d promote it if the lyrics were rewritten to be more commercial. KL The resulting “Blue Moon” became a #1 hit for Glen Gray in 1935. That same year, Benny Goodman had a #2 hit with it and Al Bowlly and Ray Noble took it to #5. In 1949, the song charted again thanks to its appearance in the 1948 film Words and Music. Mel Torme took it to #20 and Billy Eckstine got to #21.

After that, it was featured in movies frequently, including With a Song in My Heart (1952), This Could Be the Night (1957), New York, New York (1977), and An American Werewolf in London (1981). Elvis Presley recorded the song while at Sun Records and had a minor hit with it. However, the song got its biggest boost from a quintet from Pittsburgh who were named after a popular hairstyle. BR1

In 1961, The Marcels revived the song as a doo-wop hit. The group had gone in the studio to record four songs. In their final eight minutes of recording time, they recorded two takes of “Blue Moon.” The vocal arrangement was borrowed from The Collegians’ 1957 doo-wop classic “Zoom Zoom Zoom,” TB a move which Richard Rodgers called “an abomination.” KL After New York DJ Murray the K played the Marcels’ recording 26 times one one show at WINS radio, BR1 became a hit, launching a doo-wop revival. TB It hit #1 on the U.S. pop and R&B charts and also landed on top of the UK charts.

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Richard Rodgers
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Lorenz Hart
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Glen Gray
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for The Marcels
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 87.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh. (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits. Page 74.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press. (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 50.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Pages 72-3.