Sunday, 10 July 2016

This Week In 1983: the first ARIA chart - part 2

JUMP TO: 50-26 II 25-1

If you're just joining us, we're halfway through counting down the very first ARIA chart. Or, to give it its original name, the Countdown Chart (authorised and endorsed by the Australian Record Industry Association). You can catch up on numbers 50 to 26 in Part 1, and we'll crack on with the top 25 shortly.

ARIA Top 50 Singles and Albums Chart - week ending July 10, 1983

But first, the question has to be asked: if this was the first ARIA top 50, does that mean there weren't charts before July 10, 1983? Well, yes and no. There wasn't a national chart you could pick up in record stores around the country. But since 1974, the Kent Music Report had tallied national music sales. Chart expert David Kent compiled the report, which was later known as the Australian Music Report. Before that, local music magazine Go-Set had published charts.

As you can see from the printout above, the sales data in the Kent Music Report was the basis for the ARIA chart - and would remain so until mid-1988. And, as you can also see, every song on this first chart has a chart position listed for the previous week (unless it was a new entry). The record-buying public might not have been able to hold that previous chart in their hands, but it did exist.

Number 25 "Der Kommissar" by Falco
Peak: number 7
In Part 1, we saw After The Fire's cover of "Der Kommissar", but here's the German-language original by Austria's Falco, which actually dated back to 1981.

Number 24 "China Girl" by David Bowie
Peak: number 15
Originally co-written and produced by David Bowie for Iggy Pop, who released it in 1977, "China Girl" became the follow-up to "Let's Dance" and also featured a music video filmed in Australia.

Number 23 "You Are" by Lionel Richie
Peak: number 17
Lionel Richie's solo career was ticking along nicely, with this latest single from his self-titled album following "Truly" into the top 20. Little did we know how big a year 1983 would turn out to be for the ex-Commodore.

Number 22 "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 1
Speaking of big years, Michael Jackson was having one of those as he lifted hit after hit from Thriller. Biggest of all was "Billie Jean", which had spent five weeks at number 1 in April/May.

Number 21 "Love Is A Stranger" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 17
Thanks to the success of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)", which we'll come to in a bit, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart's previous release, "Love Is A Stranger", shot up the chart as well.

Number 20 "Baby Jane" by Rod Stewart
Peak: number 10
I have no memory of this Rod Stewart single, a UK chart-topper which would go on to become his eighth top 10 single in Australia. He wouldn't score his ninth until 1991.

Number 19 "Orchard Road" by Leo Sayer
Peak: number 17
Future Australian resident Leo Sayer had been a chart regular since 1974, but those days were numbered, with this ballad about a bust-up with his wife ending up as his final top 50 hit. 

Number 18 "Blue Monday" by New Order
Peak: number 13
Famously the highest selling - and most expensive to manufacture - 12" single of all time, "Blue Monday" would be a hit again in 1988 and (in the UK) in 1995 thanks to regular remixes.

Number 17 "Let's Go To Bed" by The Cure
Peak: number 15
Taking a break from their gloomier sound turned The Cure's chart fortunes around, as "Let's Go To Bed" improved on the peak of 1981's "Primary" by almost 80 positions. No doubt, hardcore fans despaired at the mainstream attention. 

Number 16 "Jeopardy" by The Greg Kihn Band
Peak: number 11
In 1981, "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)" reached number 14, and pun-loving Greg Kihn (his band's albums have titles like Next Of Kihn, Kihnspiracy and Citizen Kihn) improved slightly with a song later parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Number 15 "I Was Only 19" by Redgum
Peak: number 1
This two-week chart-topper from folk rock band Redgum detailed the experience of soldiers serving in Vietnam, with proceeds donated to veterans.

Number 14 "Drop The Pilot" by Joan Armatrading
Peak: number 6
Ever wondered what "Drop The Pilot" is about? According to Joan it means "don't go out with that person, come out with me. It's just a different way of saying that." So there you go.

Number 13 "Fraction Too Much Friction" by Tim Finn
Peak: number 8
The Split Enz member couldn't have hoped for a better solo debut, although being stuck for four weeks at number 8 might have been a little frustrating. He'd never see chart highs like that on his own again.

Number 12 "Solitaire" by Laura Branigan
Peak: number 5
We saw her in Part 1 with the enduring "Gloria" from debut album Branigan. "Solitaire" was the lead single from Laura's imaginatively titled second album, Branigan 2, and, like "Gloria", had started life as a foreign language hit. The English lyrics were penned by up-and-coming songwriter Diane Warren. 

Number 11 "Church Of The Poison Mind" by Culture Club
Peak: number 4
The week's biggest jump within the top 50 came from this song, the first release from Culture Club's second album, Colour By Numbers. It was a big hit, but the band's next single would be absolutely massive.

Number 10 "Always Something There To Remind Me" by Naked Eyes
Peak: number 7
A top 50 single for Sandie Shaw in 1964 and for RB Greaves in 1970, this much-recorded Burt Bacharach and Hal David tune was the only hit for Naked Eyes (although later singles "Promises, Promises" and "When The Lights Go Out" are worth checking out).


Number 9 "Send Me An Angel" by Real Life
Peak: number 6
Like Machinations, who we saw in Part 1, Real Life were proving you didn't have to be a pub rock band to have chart success. Debut single "Send Me An Angel" would end up having a lengthy lifespan, with both this original version and a 1989 remix reaching the US top 30.

Number 8 "Little Red Corvette" by Prince
Peak: number 8
Sexually suggestive, but not so blatantly that anyone in the US got offended, "Little Red Corvette" slowly but surely became Prince's first US top 10 hit. As a result, "1999" was reissued in America and made number 12. In the UK, the two tracks finally reached the top 10 when re-released as a double A-side in early 1985. Things weren't so complicated in Australia, where Prince was rewarded with another instant hit.

Number 7 "Save Your Love" by Renée And Renato
Peak: number 3
One-hit wonder time: this former UK Christmas number 1 by Hilary Lester and Renato Pagliari didn't reach the top here but hung around long enough (kind of like a bad smell) to be 1983's seventh biggest single.

Number 6 "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" by Eurythmics
Peak: number 6
The song that turned things around for Eurythmics was actually the fourth single from the album of the same name (although the other three had all come out in 1982). "Sweet Dreams..." was a strong enough track that it probably would've been a hit regardless, but the music video and Annie Lennox's striking image certainly helped establish the duo.

Number 5 "Every Breath You Take" by The Police
Peak: number 2
Album Synchronicity would debut at the top of the albums chart the next week (their fourth number 1 album in a row), but stalker-ish lead single "Every Breath You Take" would never reach the summit in Australia, as it did in both the US (for eight weeks) and the UK (for four). The track also won the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year.

Number 4 "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John
Peak: number 3
Ballad "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" had kicked off the album in the UK, but in Australia, the upbeat "I'm Still Standing" and its flashy Cannes music video launched Too Low For Zero and gave Elton his biggest hit since "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"

Number 3 "Beat It" by Michael Jackson
Peak: number 2
While Thriller spent a third week at number 1 on the albums chart this week, its Eddie Van Halen-featuring third single fell back a spot from the runners-up position it had held for four weeks. A US chart-topper, "Beat It" was specifically responsible for two of the eight Grammys Michael Jackson won in February 1984 - Record Of The Year and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

Number 2 "Flashdance... What A Feeling" by Irene Cara
Peak: number 1
Here's another Grammy Award winner and US number 1 record, but unlike "Every Breath You Take" and "Beat It", the theme to Flashdance also reached the top of the Australian chart - for seven non-consecutive weeks. In fact, it's the song responsible for denying The Police a chart-topper. "Flashdance... What A Feeling" was Irene Cara's second big soundtrack hit, following 1980's "Fame", and was co-written and produced by Giorgio Moroder. It wound up as not only Australia's second-biggest single of 1983, but also my number 2 song of the year.

Number 1 "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
Peak: number 1
Taking out the number 1 spot on the first ever ARIA chart is a song that'd also spent the previous five weeks as the highest-selling song in the country. The first fruits of the collaboration between Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler and writer/producer Jim Steinman (who'd been behind Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell juggernaut), the epic "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" ran to seven minutes on the album Faster Than The Speed Of Night. Even though it was cut back for single release, the track lost none of its melodrama and grandeur - quite a change of style from the last time Bonnie had been at number 1, with 1978's "It's A Heartache". Yet another song that also topped the British and American charts, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" has stayed in the public consciousness in no small part thanks to a hit remake in the mid-'90s by Nicki French and the mid-'00s literal video.

Listen to every top 50 hit (that's on Spotify) from the second half of 1983 on my playlist:

Next week: my 1983 recaps continue, following the format of my regular 30 Years Ago... and 25 Years Ago... posts - a brief look at the top 100 entries that missed the top 50 and a closer look at the top 50 debuts, which will include two reggae hits, a one-hit wonder and the latest single by a group rapidly becoming the biggest pop act in the world.

                                                                      GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Jul 17, 1983


  1. Interesting to see Toto Coelo's 'Dracula's Tango' and Bananarama's 'Na Na Hey Hey' (and Eddie Grant for that matter) in the Tassie top 10, but nowhere to be seen in the national top 50 this week.

    'Sweet Dreams' seemed to constantly be on the radio in '83 (which I didn't mind, as I liked it), but I never heard 'Love Is a Stranger' until getting their 'Greatest Hits' in '91. If I remember correctly, both singles entered the top 50 during the same week, which I think Adeva is the only other artist to have pulled off having 2 simultaneous entries with their first top 50 appearance (pre-downloads, anyway).

    'Blue Monday' (the original) is probably my favourite song of all time.

    I've always assumed 'Let's Go To Bed' was The Cure's parody attempt at making a hit record, though it is quite good.

    I loved 'The Breakup Song' (which I thought was by Billy Idol for years), but hadn't heard 'Jeopardy' before.

    'Drop the Pilot' was another radio staple in '83. I think I thought it was sung by a man at the time.

    It seems strange that each of Laura Branigan's first 3 Australian hits, in the span of little more than a year, were from different albums.

    I wasn't familiar with the Naked Eyes track until it appeared in Romi & Michele's High School Reunion.

    I'm surprised Real Life didn't have any UK success with their synth-pop sound. Wikipedia says the video was filmed in Victoria in the burnt forests following the Ash Wednesday bushfires, which I remember driving through.

    Thankfully I was spared (or have no memory of) the Renee & Renato track.

    I remember seeing the 'Beat It' video on TV quite a bit, as a fill-in between programs.

    'Flashdance' and 'Total Eclipse..' were 2 of my favourite songs that year, so it's fitting to see them at #1 and #2 on this chart.

  2. What a brilliant Top 10 for the first week of the ARIA charts.