Hey everyone! Thanks so much for being patient with me, as I’ve taken an unexpected (but quite enjoyable) absence from the bloggy thing since the end of July. There’s been work stuff, home stuff, I had a fun time attending concerts featuring Blondie, the 80s Retro Futura Tour (including Howard Jones, Modern English, Men Without Hats, Paul Young, Katrina of Katrina And The Waves, and The English Beat!), and most recently, seeing the wonderful Colin Hay in beautiful Rockland, Maine.
I’ve also been spending a lot of quality time with the incredible and awesome Hope, my superfriend, sassy radio co-host and writing hero, which included a swim in the cold Atlantic Ocean here in Maine that changed me forever. There’s a lot more to say, and I will, in a post coming soon that will be about Hope and that swim in the ocean and much more! And Hope comes up again later in this post, so stay tuned!!
When I started my tribute to my radio hero, Casey Kasem, back on June 1, school was in session and Summer was weeks away. Well, it’s now September 9, 2017, school is back in session and Fall is less than two weeks away. I’ve had fun bringing you this tribute to Casey (who passed away in June 2014 at the age of 82), and wanted to make sure (1) you all didn’t think I would hold out on the Number One song of this tribute, and (2) that I get this in ASAFP, because what’s a Top 40 countdown without a Number One song?
Much like AMERICAN TOP 40, this post will be full of nerdy chart facts and then some, but first, I wanted to recap the songs I’ve posted in this series so far. These songs (which include five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), are ranked at the positions they peaked at on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (with peak year), and though they do not represent a definitive Top 40 list for me, but I love all of them, and hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them!
40. CLONES (WE’RE ALL) – ALICE COOPER (1980)
39. SLIPPING AWAY – DAVE EDMUNDS (1983)
38. PROMISES IN THE DARK – PAT BENATAR (1981)
37. WHISPER TO A SCREAM (BIRDS FLY) – ICICLE WORKS (1984; (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s)
36. SOMETIMES A FANTASY – BILLY JOEL (1980)
35. FAKE FRIENDS – JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS (1983)
34. ME MYSELF AND I – DE LA SOUL (1989)
33. PRIDE (IN THE NAME OF LOVE) – U2 (1984)
32. VALLEY GIRL – FRANK & MOON ZAPPA (1982)
31. (GHOST) RIDERS IN THE SKY – THE OUTLAWS (1981)
30. LIES – THOMPSON TWINS (1983)
29. TURN UP THE RADIO – AUTOGRAPH (1985; (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s)
28. POINT OF NO RETURN – NU SHOOZ (1986)
27. THE RIGHT THING – SIMPLY RED (1987)
26. NOT JUST ANOTHER GIRL – IVAN NEVILLE (1988)
25. TAKE ME WITH YOU – PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION featuring APOLLONIA (1985)
24. ONE WAY OR ANOTHER – BLONDIE (1979)
23. YOU CAN CALL ME AL – PAUL SIMON (1986 / 1987)
22. AIN’T NOBODY – RUFUS & CHAKA KHAN (1983)
21. FOOL IN THE RAIN – LED ZEPPELIN (1980)
20. OUR LIPS ARE SEALED – THE GO-GO’S (1982)
19. PUSH IT – SALT-N-PEPA (1988)
18. LET ME TICKLE YOUR FANCY – JERMAINE JACKSON with DEVO (1982)
17. YOU ARE THE GIRL – THE CARS (1987)
16. HOLIDAY – MADONNA (1984)
15. ONE OF THE LIVING – TINA TURNER (1985)
14. DIGGING YOUR SCENE – THE BLOW MONKEYS (1986; (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s)
13. TARZAN BOY – BALTIMORA (1986)
12. WHAT’S GOING ON – CYNDI LAUPER (1987)
11. EDGE OF SEVENTEEN – STEVEIE NICKS (1982)
10. RELAX – FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD (1985)
09. THE ONE I LOVE – R.E.M. (1987)
08. LET THE MUSIC PLAY – SHANNON (1984)
07. WHAT I AM – EDIE BRICKELL & NEW BOHEMIANS (1989)
06. INFATUATION – ROD STEWART (1984)
05. WANNA BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’ – MICHAEL JACKSON (1983)
04. HEART AND SOUL – T’PAU (1987; (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s)
03. LOVE SHACK – THE B-52’S (1989)
02. DANCING IN THE DARK – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (1984)
Throughout this series, I’ve been mentioned how many songs peaked at each position between 1979 and 1989. It’s only fitting that songs which reached No. 1 would have the highest number of songs hitting the apex of the BILLBOARD Hot 100. For this post, I am only counting the songs that reached No. 1 between January 1980 and December 1989, and for that 80s time period, 232 songs went all the way to No. 1. Let’s get nerdy now (if you’re not already there), with some chart feats about No. 1 songs during the 80s and the BILLBOARD Hot 100:
- FOUR (REAL) ONE-HIT WONDERS reached No. 1 during the 80s – Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”), the second-chance single, “When I’m With You” by Sheriff, Jan Hammer’s “Miami Vice Theme,” and Vangelis (“Chariots Of Fire (Titles)”), though the composer did reach the chart separately twice in the early 80s as part of the duo Jon & Vangelis, with Jon Anderson of Yes.
- MOST WEEKS SPENT AT NO. 1 IN THE 80s (27); MOST NO. 1 SONGS FROM ONE ALBUM (5); MOST NO. 1 SONGS IN THE 80s (9) – Michael Jackson. The King Of Pop reached No. 1 in the 80s with “Rock With You” (1980; 4 weeks at No. 1), “Billie Jean” (1983; 7 weeks), “Beat It” (1983; 3 weeks), “Say Say Say,” with Paul McCartney (1983 / 1984; 6 weeks), “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” with Siedah Garrett (1987; 1 week), “Bad” (1987; 2 weeks), “The Way You Make Me Feel” (1988; 1 week), “Man In The Mirror” (1988; 2 weeks); “Dirty Diana” (1988; 1 week).
- MOST NO. 1 SONGS IN THE 80s (if you’re NOT Michael Jackson): Madonna (7), Phil Collins (7 solo hits), Whitney Houston (7), George Michael (6 solo hits, which includes “Careless Whisper”), Daryl Hall & John Oates (5), Lionel Richie (5).
- NO. 1 WITH MOST WEEKS SPENT ON THE HOT 100 – 40 – “Red Red Wine” – UB40. It spent 25 weeks on the Hot 100, including a week at No. 1 in 1988, and had charted for 15 weeks in its first chart run in 1984.
- MOST CONFIGURATIONS AT NO. 1 – PAUL McCARTNEY, with Wings (“Coming Up (Live At Glasgow),” 1980), with Stevie Wonder (“Ebony And Ivory,” 1982), and with Michael Jackson (“Say Say Say,” 1983 / 1984).
- NO. 1 WITH MOST WEEKS SPENT IN THE TOP 10 OF THE HOT 100 (15) – “Physical – OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (1981 / 1982), and “Eye Of The Tiger” – SURVIVOR (1982). SUPER NERDY FUN FACT: the song which spent the most weeks in the Top 10 in the 80s didn’t even reach No. 1 – “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp spent 16 weeks in the Top 10, with four of those weeks in the runner-up spot.
- MOST WEEKS SPENT AT NO. 1 IN THE 80s (10) – “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John (1981 / 1982). While it’s more commonplace on the Hot 100 these days, the biggest song of the 1980s would be the only song to spend at least 10 weeks at No. 1 on the chart for next 10 years. In 1992, Boyz II Men spent a then-record 13 weeks at No. 1 with “End Of The Road.” Two No. 1 songs later, Whitney Houston would break that record with “I Will Always Love You,” which spent its 14th and final week on top in late February 1993. The current record is 16 weeks at No. 1.
In the most recent tabulation of the Greatest Of All Time Hot 100 songs for BILLBOARD’s legendary singles chart, many songs from the 80s were represented, and are currently ranked as follows:
08. “Physical” – OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (1981 / 1982; 10 weeks at No. 1)
15. “Bette Davis Eyes” – KIM CARNES (1981; 9 weeks)
16. “Endless Love” – DIANA ROSS & LIONEL RICHIE (1981; 9 weeks)
24. “Eye Of The Tiger” – SURVIVOR (1982; 6 weeks)
29. “Every Breath You Take” – THE POLICE (1983; 8 weeks)
31. “Flashdance…What A Feeling” – IRENE CARA (1983; 6 weeks)
40. “Another One Bites The Dust” – QUEEN (1980; 3 weeks)
41. “Say Say Say” – PAUL McCARTNEY & MICHAEL JACKSON (1983 / 1984; 6 weeks)
54. “Call Me” – BLONDIE (1980; 6 weeks)
57. “Lady” – KENNY ROGERS (1980; 6 weeks)
63. “Centerfold” – THE J. GEILS BAND (1982; 6 weeks)
64. “(Just Like) Starting Over” – JOHN LENNON (1980 / 1981; 5 weeks)
68. “I Love Rock ’N Roll” – JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS (1982; 7 weeks)
73. “Ebony And Ivory” – PAUL McCARTNEY & STEVIE WONDER (1982; 7 weeks)
75. “That’s What Friends Are For” – DIONNE & FRIENDS (1986; 4 weeks)
77. “Upside Down” – DIANA ROSS (1980; 4 weeks)
83. “Billie Jean” – MICHAEL JACKSON (1983; 7 weeks)
86. “Abracadabra” – THE STEVE MILLER BAND (1982; 2 weeks)
89. “Say You, Say Me” – LIONEL RICHIE (1985 / 1986; 4 weeks)
91. “All Night Long (All Night)” – LIONEL RICHIE (1983; 4 weeks)
95. “Waiting For A Girl Like You” – FOREIGNER (1981 / 1982; 10 weeks at No. 2; still tied for a record for spending the most weeks peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100)
98. “Hurts So Good” – JOHN MELLENCAMP (1982; 4 weeks at No. 2)
So, for now, the 80s represent more than a fifth of the greatest hits to grace the BILLBOARD HOT 100. Pretty damn cool. I know it won’t always be like that, and I always wonder why some huge hits like Prince’s “When Doves Cry” (No. 1 for 1984) or Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” (No. 2 for 1980) aren’t up there, but songs these days tend to stay atop the Hot 100 (and the chart as a whole) a lot longer than they did back in the day, but honestly, I’m grateful for the songs that are still there.
When I was preparing for this hefty blog post (prolly my second-longest, save for the Prince tribute post in April 2016), I was going through the list of No. 1 songs, and there are some songs I’ve already featured as a “song of the day” (Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” comes to mind, and has often as of late), and there are many others I love.
But, I concede that there are some real stinkers in there, too: Will To Power’s awful covers medley of “Baby, I Love Your Way” and “Freebird” (subtitled “Freebaby,” which is just heinous)?! How in THE HELL did that get to go to No. 1 and “I Don’t Want Your Love” by Duran Duran stops at No. 4, and U2’s “Desire” stops at No. 3?! For the love of all things holy! And though I admit enjoying the movie MANNEQUIN, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship?! Are you kidding me?! Even Grace Slick denounced that piece of shit. While the go-to “worst song of the 80s” award is usually 1985’s “We Built This City,” I can tolerate that way more over “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Yes, I’m THAT guy.
If I was going for my absolute favorite No. 1 song of the 80s, there’s no competition. It’s “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds. It’s also my all-time favorite song. But it’s a post I want to save for another time. So, I thought it would be fun to bring in Hope, my writing hero, who, unlike yours truly, doesn’t obsess and write about nerdy chart facts or Top 40 hits, let alone ones that hit No. 1. I thought it would be cool to have her choose the song for this post.
On August 11, 2017, Hope was kind enough to send me her list of her picks for No. 1 songs from the 80s, many of which have been already mentioned in this post! One of those songs, and a song that is almost universally loved (like “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie, “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper, or the aforementioned Tears For Fears, Prince and Simple Minds gems) is “Abracadabra” by The Steve Miller Band.
Hope had included “Abracadabra” under the category of “Situational” No. 1 songs. For Hope, “Abracadabra” was popular during the Summer after her high school graduation (“the glamorous Summer in The Hamptons!”), and she loves the line, “black panties with an angel’s face.” Who wouldn’t love that line?! It’s awesome (much like Hope herself)!
Milwaukee, Wisconsin native Steve Miller formed his Psychedelic Rock / Blues Rock band in San Francisco back in 1966. Since his first two albums were released in 1968, through to his 1988 Jazz album, BORN 2 B BLUE, Steve Miller had been on Capitol Records, and he had some huge albums in the 70s.
After 1981’s CIRCLE OF LOVE album (with the sweet Top 40 hit and criminally-forgotten gem, “Heart Like A Wheel”) failed to become his fourth consecutive platinum album here in America (though it was certified Gold), Steve was undeterred, got to work, and released the ABRACADABRA album in mid-June 1982.
Of the album, ROLLING STONE said, “The essence of good magic is deception, and with the release of this album, Steve Miller has earned the right to twirl his wand and shout, ‘Abracadabra!’”
Well, Steve thought so too, but Capitol wasn’t so sure. The song inspired by Diana Ross (whom Steve met on a Pop music TV show in the 60s) told THE HOWARD STERN SHOW in 2016 that Capitol Records didn’t see a hit with the song “Abracadabra”:
“Capitol didn’t believe in [“Abracadabra”] and didn’t want to release it. I had a different deal with Phonogram in Europe. When it came out in Europe, I cancelled my American tour because it was Number One everywhere in the world, except the States.” Once again, the record label got it wrong.
Well, after seeing the success of “Abracadabra” overseas, Capitol gave in and released it in the U.S., a month before the ABRACADABRA album was released. “Abracadabra” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late May 1982 at No. 75, and took just four weeks to debut within the Top 40.
The next few weeks were a steady climb, and by late July 1982, “Abracadabra” had become Steve Miller’s first Top 10 hit in five years, to the month. With John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” camped out at No. 2, and Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” camped out at No. 1, “Abracadabra” was stuck at No. 3 for four weeks before it could work its magic on reaching No. 1.
In early September 1982, after 15 weeks on the chart, “Abracadabra” finally hit No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, giving Steve Miller his third No. 1 U.S. single overall, and his first No. 1 single since 1976’s “Rock’n Me” spent a week on top. The No. 1 run of “Abracadabra” was just as quick as “Rock’n Me,” and his first No. 1 song, 1974’s “The Joker,” which also spent a lone week at No. 1.
The following week, Chicago’s “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” snuck into the No. 1 position when no one was looking and stayed there for two weeks. “Abracadabra” dropped to No. 3 (behind previous No. 1, “Eye Of The Tiger”). But, in a magical chart feat, “Abracadabra” moved back up to No. 2 the next week, and by the end of September, “Abracadabra” reclaimed the No. 1 spot for one more week, before John Mellencamp’s little ditty about “Jack And Diane” started its four-week run at No. 1. “Abracadabra” stayed on the Hot 100 until mid-Novemer 1982, and left the chart after nearly half a year. It finished the year at No. 9 here in America.
Around the globe, “Abracadabra” worked its magic on the singles charts of many countries, reaching No. 1 in Switzerland (six weeks), Sweden (four weeks), Australia and Canada (two weeks), and Austria, No. 2 in the U.K., Germany and Ireland, No. 4 in Norway, No. 8 in New Zealand, and No. 26 in the Netherlands.
“Abracadabra” was the last song The Steve Miller Band placed inside of the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100, though they charted several more times through 1993, including the brilliant but oddly-underrated “I Want To Make The World Turn Around” from 1986.
Steve Miller continues to tour today, and in 2016, he was inducted as a solo artist into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, where he had some not so nice things to say about the whole thing, calling the Hall a “private boys’ club full of fucking gangsters and crooks,” and vowing to make it better.
He suggested taking the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame nominating committee, replace every one of them and start over. I hope it works out, because Devo, from Akron, Ohio (less than an hour south of Cleveland, where the Hall is based), should have been inducted years ago, much like the incomparable Cyndi Lauper, who has taken on Blues, Standards, Folk, Dance and Country music in the past 15 years, not to mention writing a book, winning a Tony Award and co-founding the True Colors Fund, which works to end homelessness among LGBT youth, and even testified before Maine Senator Susan Collins in 2015 about this very subject.
As for me and Hope and many others for “Abracadabra,” it’s one of those infectious songs that deserved to go to No. 1, and 35 years later, it still holds up. At least the five-minute, eleven-second album version. When the single was released, I bought it, but was instantly pissed it wasn’t the long version! Sure, it’s only a minute and change difference, but if you hear the single version vs. the album version, you can tell the single version is a bit sped up, and the kick-ass instrumental that closes out the rest of the song isn’t there. That’s even why I chose the video link below. It’s not a link to the actual video, but to the album version. You know, all these years later, I’m still impressed that sped up, edited single version got the song to No. 1. Maybe that was magic too.
Speaking of magic, Hope inspired me recently to start training for a 5K using the Couch To 5K app (C25K); we’re both training for it, and finishing Week 5 of 8 this weekend! Hope and I haven’t run a proper 5K in our adult lives, and the last time I ran the equivalent of a 5K was in high school during Cross Country, where I lettered my senior year. Holy cats, that was 33 years ago!
But, you know what? Maybe it’s not magic after all that’s got us training for our first 5K ever – and in our early 50s! Maybe you just need to believe. Just like Steve Miller believed he had a hit with “Abracadabra,” even as his longtime record label disagreed – and he was right! It’s one of THE BEST songs of the 80s and of all-time. And I believe getting through this 5K (and other aspects of my life) will happen with belief over magic, though I have to say, when it happens, it will feel pretty damn magical and then some…