Monday, 18 May 2020

This Week In 1980: May 18, 1980

So far in our trip back to the Australian singles chart of 1980, we've seen one-hit wonders Player [1] and Fiddler's Dram - two acts that reached the top 10 and never returned to the top 50.

Contrary to popular belief, The Vapors' song was not about masturbation

This week in 1980, the decade's first ultimate one-hit wonder arrived. Why ultimate? They reached number 1 with their big hit and never visited the top 50 again - something only 16 acts did during the '80s.

Australian Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending May 18, 1980

A chart-topping band who were anything but one-hit wonders continued to rule the roost this week in 1980. "I Got You" by Split Enz stayed at number 1 for a fifth week.

Off The Chart
Number 99 "Off The Wall" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 94
This was a shock. After two top 5 hits, the third single from and title track of Off The Wall bombed spectacularly. No video and healthy album sales wouldn't have helped its cause.

Number 98 "Let Me Sleep Alone" by Cugini
Peak: number 98
Not a one-hit wonder, songwriter-turned-singer Don Cugini was more like a one-single wonder, with this under-performing disco track seeming to be his only release.

Number 92 "Run Like The Wind" by Mike Batt & Friends featuring Roger Chapman
Peak: number 78
From the man I know best for turning The Wombles into a music act, this track with vocals by Family singer Roger Chapman came from Mike Batt's Tarot Suite album.

New Entries
Number 46 "An Englishman In New York (Strange Apparatus)" by Godley & Creme
Peak: number 17
Before they became known for directing many of the most memorable music videos of the 1980s - everything from "Girls On Film" to "Don't Give Up" to "Rockit" - Godley & Creme gained plenty of attention for this self-directed clip featuring a band comprised of mannequins. Taken from their third album, Freeze Frame, "An Englishman In New York (Strange Apparatus)" is a different song from the Sting track of the same name (without the brackets), and one that I'd suggest might not have charted anywhere near as well as it did without such a landmark video. The only other time Godley & Creme reached the top 50 was with their 1985 track "Cry", which also came with a highly influential clip.

Number 45 "Ride Like The Wind" by Christopher Cross
Peak: number 25
While an oddity like "An Englishman In New York" went top 20, this debut single by Christopher Cross - which stayed at number 2 in the US for four weeks - had to make do with a peak position halfway up the chart. The song that comes to mind when I hear the term "yacht rock" - a phrase which didn't exist until 2005 - "Ride Like The Wind" is the epitome of smooth soft rock, with its backing vocals from Michael McDonald and slick, easy listening production. We'd be seeing more of Christopher in the months to come, but it would seem that Australia's palate for yacht rock, a genre I'm quite partial to, was not as insatiable as America's.

Number 35 "Coming Up" by Paul McCartney
Peak: number 2
A decade after his debut solo album, 1970's McCartney, Paul McCartney got around to releasing his second, aptly named McCartney II (I assume it didn't take him 10 years to come up with that). Of course, he'd spent the majority of the '70s recording with his band Wings, and the lead single from McCartney II, "Coming Up", signalled the new era in his career by taking a shift in direction musically, with the song boasting electronic and new wave influences like its sped-up vocal. By reaching number 2, it also became his biggest hit since the number 1-hogging behemoth "Mull Of Kintyre/Girls' School", which held down the top spot across summer '77-'78. "Coming Up" was also the second new entry for the week with a music video that featured a band of identical musicians - although, in this case, The Plastic Macs were all Paul McCartney (and a couple of Lindas).

Number 29 "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors
Peak: number 1
Here's our chart-topping single by a one-hit wonder band. "Turning Japanese" was the only top 100 appearance by new wave group The Vapors - and it's a song that has long inspired debate as to its meaning, with many people assuming the title is a euphemism for masturbation. That's not the case, with the lyrics describing what it's like for someone to turn into something they weren't anticipating becoming. For the British band, that was to be Japanese, but singer David Fenton, who wrote the song, says it could equally be "Turning Lebanese" or "Turning Portuguese" - i.e. anything "foreign" that you become when you go through an angst-filled break-up. The Vapors released two albums in the early '80s, with the band splitting following the lack off success of 1981's Magnets, but 40 years after their breakthrough hit, they have just released their third - in fact, Together came out three days ago.

Number 26 "Call Me" by Blondie
Peak: number 4
Even though their recent chart entry, "Atomic", was still on the rise - at number 14 this week - Blondie's record company couldn't wait for that to peak before issuing soundtrack single "Call Me", even though the film it was taken from, American Gigolo, wasn't released locally until July. The song was co-written by Giorgio Moroder, who came up with the instrumental track, and Debbie Harry, who wrote the lyics (inspired by the film's male prostitute protagonist played by Richard Gere) and melody - and it brought Blondie back to the top 10 for the first time since their 1979 chart-topper, "Heart Of Glass/Sunday Girl".

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

Next week: a complete WTF track and a new entry by a band whose 1980 greatest hits collection was one of the few albums my parents owned.

Back to: May 11, 1980 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: May 25, 1980


  1. So 'Run Like The Wind' and 'Ride Like The Wind' debuted in the same week? :)

    I much preferred 'Ride Like The Wind' to Christopher Cross' more 'yachty' songs

    I was totally creeped out by the dummies in the Godley and Creme filmclip. As an adult, I can appreciate what a witty, lyrical masterpiece the song is.

    I thought the filmclip for 'Coming Up' was state of the art at the time :) As for the song, I actually quite liked it and still do, especially in comparisom with some of Paul McCartney's and Wings' material from the sane era.

    For some reason, I've never liked The Vapors' track, though it got to #1 for them.

    I do like 'Call Me' a lot though, one of my all-time favourite Blondie tracks, and in my Top 20 of a strong year. Giorgio Miroder strikes again, he perked up many songs during this era. I think he will strike again soon....

  2. A story that i read about Çoming Up' was that John Lennon having been out of the music business since about 1975 (to raise his son sean) had visited McCartney when he was recording and hearing the aforementioned single had lit a fire under him and he had apparently said 'I need to get my act together'. A nice reminder that even though they were musical rivals,one could still influence the other. That was the friendship the two of them had.

  3. I could have sworn I'd read (so it must be true) that 'Turning Japanese' was a reference to the... shape of the eyes due to the facial expression during an orgasm. I'm slightly disappointed that it's not that, but the 'real' meaning is still intriguing. Not sure how it fits with getting a doctor to take a picture so the narrator can look at the subject from inside as well, though.

    I didn't know the Godley & Creme song until catching it on rage in the late 2000s. Good but creepy video.

    It's interesting that 'Ride Like the Wind' and 'Run Like the Wind' are listed on the same week. I didn't know the latter; it's really nice. I came to know 'Ride Like the Wind' via the East Side Beat cover, though didn't hear that until a few years ago - so I keep expecting Christopher to sing "to be, to be free again", but he doesn't.

    I assume the keyboardist with the Hitler moustache in the Paul McCartney video is meant to be the guy from Sparks?

  4. loved the video clip for "coming up". Sounded like they were singing "tummy up".

    And like everyone else, I also admired but was creeped out by the Godley & Creme video. Remember watching it in 1980 & thinking the 12 year old's equivalent of "wtf??" From what i've read/heard about G&C since, it seems they drew a lot of inspiration from mind-altering drugs. That would explain a lot about this video...