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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1986: August 10, 1986

Prince and Michael Jackson get all the glory, but they weren't the only American male artists who dominated the charts during the '80s. This week in 1986, new singles from two other incredibly successful male performers debuted on the ARIA singles chart.

Lionel Richie knew what the feeling of having a hit record was like

One was a brand new song by a singer whose previous album spent a total of 119 weeks on the top 100. The other was also a fresh track from a man whose eight albums released during the decade all made the top 10. Both singers had already achieved number 1 singles during the '80s, although only one of the new entries came close to repeating that feat.

A female singer who is often spoken of in the same breath as Prince and Michael Jackson was the new chart-topper this week in 1986. "Papa Don't Preach" gave Madonna her fourth number 1 hit and would stay on top for six weeks - her longest stint yet.

Off The Chart

Number 100 "Fadeaway" by BoDeans

Peak: number 76

A decade later, they'd almost make the top 10 with the theme song from Party Of Five, but in 1986, BoDeans were just starting out and "Fadeaway" was their debut single. 

Number 97 "Nothin' At All" by Heart

Peak: number 87

Yet another top 10 hit for Heart in the US, the kind of ordinary "Nothin' At All" was the band's first single to miss the ARIA top 50 since their power ballad makeover. They'd be back in fine form in 1987.

Number 90 "Distraction" by Flotsam Jetsam

Peak: number 90

One of those Australian bands whose name I remember more than their music, Flotsam Jetsam were fronted by Stephen Ferris, brother of DJs Pee Wee and John. "Distraction" was their third single.

New Entries

Number 50 "Before Too Long" by Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls

Peak: number 15

I've always thought "Before Too Long" was Paul Kelly's first hit single, but it seems he sneaked into the top 40 in early 1981 with "Billy Baxter", his third release with former backing band The Dots. Five years and three albums later, Paul Kelly was back with new band The Coloured Girls (named after a line in Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" and renamed The Messengers in the States). Their incredibly catchy first single together took Paul into the top 20 for the first time in his career, while the song's fun music video featured the singer picking up passengers in a taxi and driving around Sydney.

Number 47 "Take It Easy" by Andy Taylor

Peak: number 30

I had completely forgotten about this song. Following releases by The Power Station and Arcadia, as well as John Taylor's solo single, this soundtrack release by Andy Taylor was the latest Duran Duran side-project to reach the ARIA top 50. The very American-sounding "Take It Easy", which also reminds me of "Get It On", was from flop film American Anthem - a sports movie starring Olympic gymnast Mitch Gaylord as a football player who decided to try his hand at gymnastics (wonder why that bombed?). When Duran Duran came back from their hiatus later in 1986, Andy was no longer part of the group and wouldn't reunite with his former band-mates until the early 2000s. Although this was his only solo hit, he kept himself busy as a songwriter and producer in the meantime.

Number 42 "Dancing On The Ceiling" by Lionel Richie

Peak: number 2

With a song title like "Dancing On The Ceiling", producing a music video for the lead single and title track of Lionel Richie's third solo album was never going to come cheap. And it didn't - the special effects involved in having Lionel and dozens of others literally dance on the ceiling made the clip the most expensive of all time (up until that point). But Lionel could afford it (and he'd be the one paying for it once his record company recouped the costs). In between his hits with Commodores and the success of his first two solo albums, he'd sold millions of records. 

In Australia alone, he'd had four number 1 singles ("Three Times A Lady" with Commodores, "Endless Love" with Diana Ross, and solo hits "All Night Long (All Night)" and "Hello"), while his chart-topping second album, Can't Slow Down, registered more than two years on the top 100. "Dancing On The Ceiling" almost became his fifth number 1 hit, blocked from the top spot by Bananarama's "Venus". Surprisingly, it was also his final top 40 entry (except for a brief visit by a new version of "All Night Long (All Night)" in 2011).

Number 29 "Modern Woman" by Billy Joel

Peak: number 21

Here's our second American male hit-maker with the first track from his 1986 album, The Bridge. Somewhat overlooked in Billy Joel's back catalogue, "Modern Woman" was also included on the soundtrack of the Bette Midler/Danny DeVito comedy Ruthless People. Despite appearing in a relatively successful film and being the lead single from his first new studio album since 1983's Innocent Man, "Modern Woman" wasn't one of Billy's biggest singles. And, he'd had plenty of those, including the chart-topping "Uptown Girl" and eight other top 20 hits dating back to debut hit "Piano Man" (number 20 in 1976). Meanwhile, on the albums chart, every LP Billy had released since 1977's The Stranger had reached the top 10. Maybe a music video might have helped "Modern Woman" become more of a chart hit, although the song had no such difficulty in the US, where it reached number 10. Billy would be back in the ARIA top 10 with his next single and, unlike Lionel Richie, had some of his biggest hits still to come.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1986:

Next week: the return of the take-home ARIA chart, the debut of the Single Of The Week section and 10 new entries, including the latest from the first act to debut at number 1 on the singles chart, a re-recorded version of a song that had made number 99 in 1980 and the first hit from one of my favourite groups of all time.

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