Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The first Australian singles chart of the 1980s - part 2

JUMP TO: 50-26 II 25-1

Originally posted in 2018. Updated in 2020.

We're halfway through our look back at the first Australian singles chart of the 1980s - if you missed numbers 50-26, click on the link above. 

In 1980, ARIA didn't yet exist and there was certainly no nationally available top 50 printout music fans could pick up from record stores. So I made one:

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending January 13, 1980

Let's carry on counting down numbers 25 to 1, which I have to say were a pretty good start to music's best decade...

Number 25 "Heartache Tonight" by Eagles
Peak: number 13
While their previous two albums had both reached number 1 in Australia, Eagles' singles had a much more modest reception locally, especially compared to their tally of five chart-topping singles in the US, including this lead single from The Long Run. Later sampled by Haim in "The Wire", "Heartache Tonight" did give Eagles their best-ever singles chart performance in Australia - surprisingly, "Hotel California" had only reached number 60.

Number 24 "I Was Made For Lovin' You" by KISS
Peak: number 2
Similarly, face-painted rockers KISS had been more of an albums act up until 1979, when they almost went all the way to number 1 with this rock/disco hybrid, created to prove a point about how easy disco songs were to write. One of the songwriters involved was Desmond Child, who we'd be hearing a lot more from as the '80s progressed, and it was one of the first instances of it being OK that a rock group who traditionally wrote their own songs had enlisted the help of an external songwriter. More from KISS soon...

Number 23 "Shape I'm In" by Jo Jo Zep &The Falcons
Peak: number 22
Still moving up on the first chart of the '80s was this follow-up to Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons' breakthrough hit, "Hit And Run". Another reggae-tinged rock track - very on trend given the success of The Police at this point - "Shape I'm In" was the third of five top 50 hits the band had before splitting in 1983, following which Jo Camilleri moved on to form The Black Sorrows.

Number 22 "Stay With Me Till Dawn" by Judie Tzuke
Peak: number 8
Also moving in the right direction was this exquisite tune by 23-year-old Elton John signing Judie Tzuke, who has never managed another hit again despite a recording career that continues to this day. A track that sounds as good now as it did in 1979, "Stay With Me Till Dawn" has lived on thanks to remake and samples, notably a version by 90s dance act Lucid and being incorporated into Mylo's "Need You Tonite".

Number 21 "Please Don't Go" by K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Peak: number 1
Another song that would receive a new lease of life in the '90s thanks to the smash cover version by KWS was this biggest hit by disco favourites K.C. & The Sunshine Band, who surprisingly had only managed one top 10 hit up until this point. "Please Don't Go" would rectify that, reaching number 1 in February.

Number 20 "Choir Girl" by Cold Chisel
Peak: number 14
In Part 1, we saw the debut singles by The Radiators and Australian Crawl, and while "Choir Girl" wasn't the first song released by Cold Chisel, the lead single from the then-still-upcoming East album was their first major hit. That's right, like "Hotel California", "Khe Sahn" had originally missed the top 40, peaking at number 41 in 1978. 

Number 19 "Sad Eyes" by Robert John
Peak: number 9
He'd been recording since the late '50s and had previously reached the Australian chart in 1972 with a version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", but this, it has to be said, rather bland former US chart-topper gave Robert John Pedrick Jr his greatest success locally.

Number 18 "Born To Be Alive" by Patrick Hernandez
Peak: number 1
Next up, a former Australian chart-topper that was anything but bland: disco classic "Born To Be Alive", which not only did well here but topped charts and sold millions right around the world. And then... nothing, with Patrick Hernandez becoming the very definition of a one-hit wonder.

Number 17 "Driver's Seat" by Sniff 'N' The Tears
Peak: number 13
Speaking of one-hit wonders, here's the only hit for British band Sniff 'N' The Tears, who have a pretty complicated history thanks to the multiple incarnations of the group that have existed over the years. The one constant is frontman Paul Roberts, who wrote this song, which still holds up really well today.

Number 16 "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band
Peak: number 14
One of the best things about the 1980s was that as the decade progressed, country music got less and less of a look-in on the chart. But as the decade dawned, country hits weren't that uncommon a sight on the Australian top 50, especially if, like this bluegrass track, they'd previously crossed over onto the Billboard Hot 100. I got through a minute-and-a-half of this before I had to turn it off. You?

Number 15 "We Belong To The Night" by Ellen Foley
Peak: number 15
As Meat Loaf's long-time backing singer, she'd provided the female vocals on his "Paradise By The Dashboard Light", and on this debut single, singer/actress Ellen Foley sounds just as overblown and dramatic. But "We Belong To The Night" is actualy quite good in a "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" kind of way, without being a Jim Steinman composition.

Number 14 "Boy Oh Boy" by Racey
Peak: number 12
1979 had been great for Racey, who'd scored back-to-back number 1s with "Lay Your Love On Me" and "Some Girls". Obviously, such success is impossible to sustain, although did anyone predict just how quickly the British pop band would fall from favour, with "Boy Oh Boy" ending up as their last big hit. Then again, it was pretty repetitive for a song that's under three minutes.

Number 13 "Goose Bumps" by Christie Allen
Peak: number 3
One of my earliest musical memories thanks to its appearance on K-tel compilation tape Hot Nights City Lights, which my family owned, "Goose Bumps" remains one of my favourite songs of all time. The third single by the late Christie Allen, it was the first of her two top 5 hits in Australia.

Number 12 "Cars" by Gary Numan
Peak: number 9
If you wanted to know how music would develop in the '80s, you needed to look no further than this debut solo single by Gary Numan. Synthpop classic "Cars" followed where "Are 'Friends' Electric?", his recent hit as frontman for Tubeway Army, had led, its clinical electronic sound a sign of things to come on the chart.

Number 11 "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats
Peak: number 1
The more things change, the more they stay the same. In 1979, incredulity at an American school shooting prompted Bob Geldof to write this two-week chart-topper. In 2018, "I Don't Like Mondays" stands out as easily the Irish band's biggest hit in Australia - and we're all incredulous at how common school shootings have become in the US.

Number 10 "Message In A Bottle" by The Police
Peak: number 5
It wasn't just Australian bands like Cold Chisel and Australian Crawl that were becoming massive as the '70s turned into the '80s. So too were The Police, who landed their first major hit in this country with the lead single from second album Reggatta De Blanc. In the years to come, the trio would dominate the singles and albums chart with a string of huge releases.

Number 9 "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" by ABBA
Peak: number 8
A group that knew a thing or two about a string of huge releases were up to their 14th top 10 hit and showing no sign of running out of steam at this point. A brand new track included on Greatest Hits Vol. 2, "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" managed to sound like classic ABBA while also feeling completely fresh at the same time. Of course, anyone with half an interest in pop music will know the synth hook from the song became the basis of Madonna's "Hung Up" 25 years later - only the second time ABBA allowed their music to be sampled.

Number 8 "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" by Donna Summer / Barbra Streisand
Peak: number 8
More big-name disco now, and unlike today, when everyone has guested on everyone else's song and has countless collaborations in their discography, this single was an event. The combination of two of the biggest female artists in the world, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" was also a bit of a wasted opportunity - although the duelling divas recording the duet together, they didn't film a music video nor ever perform the song together live.

Number 7 "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac
Peak: number 3
Like The Police, Fleetwood Mac had not breached the top 10 previously, not even with any of the singles from the mega-successful Rumours album ("Dreams" was the biggest hit, peaking at number 19). That finally changed with this Lindsey Buckingham-penned lead single from the double album of the same name - and, as it would turn out, "Tusk" would end up being the band's only top 10 single in Australia.

Number 6 "Babe" by Styx
Peak: number 3
Without wanting to sound like I'm repeating myself, this power ballad from American band Styx finally gave them a top 10 single locally and also ended up as their only top 10 hit. Written by singer Dennis DeYoung for his wife, it was not originally intended to be an official Styx recording, but wound up on their ninth studio album, Cornerstone, when its hit potential was realised.

Number 5 "Dream Police" by Cheap Trick
Peak: number 5
Joining the gang in gaining their first top 10 hit at the turn of the decade were Cheap Trick with this dramatic title track from their fourth album. "Dream Police" had actually been around since the band's debut album and had evolved to the point where they felt it fit for release.

Number 4 "Sure Know Something" by KISS
Peak: number 4
Continuing to ride the wave of their popularity in Australia, KISS followed "I Was Made For Lovin' You" with another disco-influenced single from Dynasty and once again found themselves in the national top 5. They'd return there later in the year with "Shandi" and complete a triumphant tour of the country in November.

Number 3 "Computer Games" by Mi-Sex
Peak: number 1
The top 3 of the first chart of the '80s was comprised entirely of number 1 hits, starting with this one-week chart-topper from New Zealand-spawned, Australian-based synthpop band Mi-Sex. On a par with anything coming from Europe, the electronic track was instantly memorable and incredibly timely, with video games like Atari increasingly finding their way into homes right around the country.

Number 2 "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 1
On his was to spending three weeks at number 1 later in January, Michael Jackson was obviously no stranger to chart success, having already ruled the Australian top 50 with 1972's "Ben", and enjoyed a number of smaller hits with his brothers. Then came "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", which not only kicked off a whole new phase in his career, but signalled the start of the era of music megastars, who thrived by utilising the medium of music video and releasing event albums packed with singles. 
Off The Wall was one of those big LPs, Michael's first release through his solo deal with Epic Records. Co-produced by Michael with Quincy Jones, it was Michael's musical coming of age, a slick mix of pop, R&B, funk and disco that was packed with hooks. The first of five singles from the album, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" was a joyous burst of energy, defying you not to get up and dance. It also showcased the vocal style for which Michael would become famous (and which would spawn countless imitators): all falsetto and vocal ad libs. Even as a five-year-old, I could recognise that this song was something special - and I wasn't alone.

Number 1 "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles
Peak: number 1
Before it was famously the first song aired on American MTV in 1981, "Video Killed The Radio Star" helped usher in the new decade in Australia as it remained at the top of the local singles chart for seven weeks across December and January. But did you know it was a remake? Co-written by The Buggles members Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes with Bruce Woolley, it was actually recorded first by the latter with his band, The Camera Club. 
It was the version by Trevor and Geoff (released as The Buggles' debut single), however, that took off, becoming the final number 1 of the '70s and the first number 1 of the '80s. A comment on how technology was changing the music industry, "Video Killed The Radio Star" would be The Buggles' only hit in Australia and after the release of their second album, the duo would call time on the project, but as one-hit wonders go, they don't get more awesome. A fitting way to start music's best decade.

Listen to this week's chart on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

Next week: A big hit from an Australian double threat and top 50 misses from the likes of Leo Sayer and XTC.

                                                                     GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jan 20, 1980

1 comment:

  1. Your homemade chart looks fantastic, Gavin!! Where did you get all of the data from (do you have the original Kent Report)? Well done!!!