Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Best Of 1984 - part 2

JUMP TO: 40-31 II 30-21 II 20-11 II 10-1

According to the world's most reliable resource (Wikipedia, obviously), two big inventions arrived on the market in 1984: the Apple Mac and crack cocaine, both of which would go on to be inextricably linked to the music industry - the latter if only because of the late Whitney Houston's infamous "crack is wack" remark.

Madonna changed pop music forever in 1984

It was also the year of the Los Angeles Olympics, although the Soviet Union and several other nations returned the favour and refused to come after a number of countries boycotted the Moscow games four years previously. Unfortunately, however, there was no big Olympics-related hit single in 1984 as there had been in 1980.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Medicare was introduced, "Advance Australia Fair" became our official national anthem and the one dollar coin went into circulation. Rivetting stuff, hey?

So, that's what was happening around the world. In my world, these were some more of the songs I couldn't get enough of...

With the song that started it all - at number 30 it's "Holiday" by Madonna. Proving that the third time really is the charm, "Holiday" succeeded where "Everybody" and "Burning Up" had so far failed (with the latter becoming an Aussie top 20 hit in the wake of the success of "Holiday"). And even though "Holiday" didn't even come with a proper clip - various TV performances like the one below were played instead - the quality of the song and Madonna's potential shine through.

At number 29, it's another appearance for Jimmy Somerville's group: "Why?" by Bronski Beat, who we saw back in Part 1. I say "Jimmy's group", but the band was actually named after Steve Bronski, who, together with third founding member Larry Steinbachek, did just fine after Jimmy left, scoring their biggest Aussie hit without him. That song? "Hit That Perfect Beat", which got to number 3. "Why?" made a respectable number 10.

Also showing up again, at number 28 is "Lucky Star" by Madonna, who was fast on her way to world domination with this, her fourth single. She wasn't quite there yet - but superstardom would come with the release of the title track from her second album, Like A Virgin, towards the end of the year. We'll be seeing Madonna again before we reach my number 1, but not with "Like A Virgin", which I was never a huge fan of. Instead, it's the fifth single from Madonna that was my favourite for the year, but we've got a way to go to reach it...

Number 27 is "Round And Round" by Spandau Ballet, who were basking in the glory of their international breakthrough in 1983 with "True" and "Gold". Their 1984 album, Parade, contained four singles, "Only When You Leave", "I"ll Fly For You", "Highly Strung" and this track - the last one released, but my favourite.

A song that's been covered innumerable times, at number 26 is "Ain't Nobody" by Rufus and Chaka Khan, which was to be the swansong for the long-running funk group. In fact, Chaka (real name: Yvette Stevens) had left Rufus by this stage, but returned for the group's farewell concert, which was filmed and released as a live album. "Ain't Nobody" was a studio recording that was included on the release, and the song would be remixed and released again in 1989. Throughout the '90s, artists like LL Cool J, Diana King and Jaki Graham (who released my favourite cover) recorded their own versions with mixed success, but despite its ubiquity, it's a song that never gets old.

At number 25: "People Are People" by Depeche Mode, the track that would provide the British band with their first American hit. Depeche Mode would grow so huge in the States that they'd film a concert movie there in 1988 and be chart regulars in 1990 thanks to the massive Violator album.

Number 24 is "Shout To The Top!" by The Style Council, the band Paul Weller formed after the demise of The Jam and another act featured in my sister's music collection at the time. In fact, this was also a song that would end up getting played on the family piano since we had the sheet music to it as well. Paul's wife, Dee C Lee, was also a member of The Style Council and would enjoy fleeting success as a solo artist the following year when her song, "See The Day", became a hit.

With another big single, at number 23 it's "Burn For You" by INXS, one of two number 3 hits in 1984 from their first chart-topping album, The Swing.

From Aussie rock to Aussie synthpop, at number 22 it's "No Say In It" by Machinations, which, by getting to number 14 nationally, would make it the Sydney group's biggest hit. From "Pressure Sway" to "Intimacy", I always liked Machinations but, unlike Pseudo Echo or Real Life, they never really crossed over to a wide audience. I recently saw a poster for a show they were doing at a pub in a nearby suburb earlier this year and now I wish I'd gone along, but hopefully it wasn't a one-off.

And a solo hit for the lead singer of Journey at number 21, it's "Oh Sherrie" by Steve Perry, whose band has returned to the spotlight in recent years thanks to Glee's take on "Don't Stop Believin'". Despite being one of the most popular bands in the States in the first half of the decade, Journey never really took off in Australia, with their biggest hit, "Open Arms", only managing a number 43 chart placing. "Oh Sherrie", however, went all the way to number 5 here - and listening to it again now, there's no denying Steve had one of the best rock voices of the era.

Well you can't say I don't mix it up, can you? An awesome rock power ballad to cap off a great string of hits from 1984. Coming up in Part 3: that charity record I mentioned in Part 1, two hits by a self-proclaimed unusual artist and the arrival of Stock Aitken Waterman.

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