Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Best Of 1982 - part 1

JUMP TO: 30-21 II 20-11 II 10-1

Ready for more of my favourite songs from years past? Me too. Let's pick things up at 1982 – and it was a pretty big year for music in some ways, with the release of Thriller and Madonna’s debut single, “Everybody”, in the second half of the year. Compact discs also made their first appearance on the market.

Of course, CDs wouldn’t become a household item for a few years yet, Thriller’s monumental success wouldn’t really kick in until 1983 after “Billie Jean” had been lifted as the album’s second single, and it would take Madonna a couple more goes until she set the charts alight – but the pieces were in place for some major developments.

Nice hair, shame about the short-lived career - A Flock Of Seagulls hit big in 1982

Meanwhile, the Falklands War dominated news headlines, while here in Australia, the nation was abuzz with the Brisbane Commonwealth Games and – in a different way – with the launch of Sons & Daughters on TV.

The stage set, let’s kick off my top 30 songs from 1982 with numbers 30 to 21.

At number 30 is the ultimate end of the working week party-starting anthem: "Working For The Weekend" by Loverboy, which became the Canadian band's second top 20 hit in Australia (following 1981's "Turn Me Loose"). This was pretty much the end of the road for Loverboy as far as local chart success, but in the US, they were just warming up and would go on to finally score a couple of top 10 hits in 1985-86.

One of the most difficult songs to sing at karaoke can be found at number 29: "Africa" by Toto. With lines like "As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti" and "The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation", it's one tricky tongue twister of a tune (try saying that 10 times fast!), but nevertheless became their biggest hit here in Australia (it got to number 5).  

From Africa via the States, to Woking in the south of England, number 28 is "Town Called Malice" by The Jam, which was an instant number 1 in the UK, where the Paul Weller-fronted group were massive. They were less successful here, although this song became their only top 20 hit. Paul's next band, The Style Council, would do somewhat better in Australia - and were also a big hit in my house, but we'll get to them in coming recaps.

How do you follow up a massive global smash? You release the song at number 27: "Mirror Man" by The Human League, which came out almost a year after "Don't You Want Me" and proved that the UK synthpop act were here to stay. In fact, they've never really gone away for very long, releasing quality songs in the mid-'90s ("Tell Me When") and early '00s ("All I Ever Wanted"), and still touring today.

Making their debut in 1982 was the act at number 26"Young Guns (Go For It!)" by Wham!, who I don't think anyone expected to turn into the biggest pop act of the next few years. This track was the first of many massive hits, storming to number 4 in Australia in early 1983 (after getting one place higher in the UK at the end of '82).

The track at number 25 is "Steppin' Out" by Joe Jackson, which is the biggest worldwide hit by the man born David Ian Jackson (except in Australia, where "Real Men" was much more successful). By changing his name to Joe, the British musician lands right in the middle of those other Jacksons (after Janet and Jermaine, before LaToya and Michael) on the list of recording artists from the '80s and, of course, means he shares a first name with that clan's father. Random, but true!

At number 24, it's "I Ran" by A Flock Of Seagulls - or "I Ran (So Far Away)" depending where you're from. You would think that having a worldwide (although not in the UK) hit like this would be the legacy you'd leave behind, but the Liverpool band are probably as - if not more - famous for those distinctive hairstyles.

A change of pace at number 23: "A Night To Remember" by Shalamar, the band that served as the launch pad for future solo star Jody Watley, who was 23 at the time of this song's release. Although they successfully navigated the demise of disco to score some of their biggest hits in the early '80s (at least in the UK), Shalamar's only real impact in Australia was their debut single, "Uptown Festival", which got to number 20 back in 1977. "A Night To Remember" would go on to be covered by boy band 911 and Popstars also-rans Liberty X, proving a good song never dies.

A man you couldn't get away from in the '80s is at number 22: "You Can't Hurry Love" by Phil Collins - and this upbeat cover of The Supremes hit was the turning point of his solo career. Up until this moment, his music had been less breezy and more brooding (think: "In The Air Tonight"). Following this track's release, he became a one-man hit machine, with regular middle-of-the-road chart-toppers (think: "Easy Lover", "A Groovy Kind Of Love") until the end of the decade. 

At number 21: "Rio" by Duran Duran - and although we saw a lot of them in 1981, they were everywhere in 1982: sailing on yachts, riding elephants, running through jungles... Thanks to a string of flashy videos filmed in exotic locations, Duran Duran were on high rotation on music TV and became international superstars in the process. "Rio" was the fourth and final single of the album of the same name.

Ten down, twenty to go - and I'll post them in two more parts over the next few days. Coming up in Part 2: lots more British music, including a couple of alternative bands who were suddenly sounding quite mainstream, as well as the highest selling single of 1982 in Australia.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm sure it's not the real meaning behind INXS's 'Shabooh Shoobah' album title, but I've always associated it with the 'She-doop wah, she-doop' part at the end of the chorus in The Velvette's 'Needle In a Haystack' (perhaps more evident in the cover version by The Twilights).