This Week In 1985: May 12, 1985
Music can conjure up all sorts of memories and associations - a summer holiday, a first crush, a classic movie... But it takes a certain calibre of song to define an entire decade. This week in 1985, two songs made their debut on the ARIA singles chart that have become quintessential '80s tunes in the years since.
Not only were they both massive, inescapable hits, but their bold, stadium-ready sound perfectly sums up the decade where bigger was better. Listening to just the opening bars of either song instantly takes you back to a time of huge hair, OTT fashion and double cassette ghetto blasters (with high-speed dubbing).
An era-defining song of a different kind was still at number 1 this week in 1985. "We Are The World" by USA For Africa spent its fifth week on top
Off The Chart
Number 100 "The Last Kiss" by David Cassidy
Peak: number 60
If you think this sounds like a Cliff Richard track, then that's because it's a reworking of "Young Love", a track from Cliff's Wired For Sound album. Taken from David's only album during the '80s, "The Last Kiss" was a UK top 10 hit and features George Michael on backing vocals.
Number 96 "Radioactive" by The Firm
Peak: number 96
Not the same act as the one behind "Star Trekkin'", this The Firm was a rock supergroup comprised of members from Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and Uriah Heep - and "Radioactive" was their short and to-the-point debut single.
Peak: number 82
Last week, we saw Commodores bounce back with a song featuring a new lead singer, but fellow Motown legends The Temptations didn't have as much luck with theirs, despite it being quite a good tune.
Number 91 "Shine The Light" by Venetians
Peak: number 91
A couple of under-the-radar Australian bands now - although Venetians would break through in a big way later in the year. For now, "Shine The Light" was another single that didn't quite connect.
Number 87 "Fool's Way" by Geisha
Peak: number 53
Next up, the debut single from Melbourne's Geisha, who put an Aussie twist on the New Romantic sound. "Fool's Way" really deserved to be a bigger hit, but fell agonisingly short of the top 50.
Number 50 "Say It Again" by Santana
Peak: number 39
Who knew Santana ever went all synthpop? Well, I didn't - since I don't recall this single at all. But given it was only a minor hit here and in the US, it's not surprising it's faded into obscurity. The only single lifted from the Beyond Appearances album, "Say It Again" features the vocals of Greg Walker, who'd last recorded with Santana in the late '70s. Like everyone else in this line-up, he was brought on board by Carlos Santana after ditching the band that'd played on his last album.
Peak: number 6
Here's the first of our era-defining singles - and it's a song that Simple Minds almost didn't record. In fact, the band turned down the track, which had also been offered to Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol, more than once before finally relenting and transforming the demo they didn't think much of into the rousing barnstorming anthem beloved by millions. Featured on the soundtrack to classic '80s film The Breakfast Club, "Don't You (Forget About Me)" not only gave the Scottish band another hit in the UK and Australia, but it topped the US chart, taking their career to a whole new level.
Peak: number 44
On paper, this should have been a much bigger hit. He, of course, was the lead singer of Australian Crawl, who were still one of Australia's biggest rock bands at this point, coming off a number 2 chart placing for their best of album, Crawl File, that'd been released in time for Christmas 1984. She was the vocalist for up-and-coming local band Electric Pandas, whose debut single, "Big Girls" had been a top 20 hit a year earlier. But the song itself is just terrible, with both singers' tuneless screeching making Jimmy Barnes sound like Mariah Carey - especially on the monotonous chorus. A thoroughly deserved chart flop.
Number 44 "Rock And Roll Girls" by John Fogerty
Peak: number 26
A couple of months ago, we saw the ARIA top 10 hit that I'd completely forgotten about ("The Old Man Down The Road") from the former Creedence Clearwater Revival singer. This was the follow-up - and my recollection of this song is even hazier. In fact, I'm not even 100 percent certain I'm remembering this single and not some other '70s-style American rock song since it sounds like so many others of that genre.
Number 41 "Every Time You Go Away" by Paul Young
Peak: number 20
He'd previously turned obscure soul songs "I'm Gonna Tear your Playhouse Down" and "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" into hits, and for his next trick, Paul Young took a Hall & Oates album track all the way to the top of the US chart. Paul's version of the tune, which bore the slightly revised title "Every Time You Go Away", was also the lead single from The Secret Of Association in America, while in Australia and the UK, it was the third and most successful single from the album.
Peak: number 2
Our second classic '80s track was another number 1 in the US, where it was released ahead of "Shout" to launch Songs From The Big Chair. Whether or not it's because the video features Curt Smith (who took lead vocals on this single) driving across America in a convertible, I always think of "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" as the ultimate road trip song - the musical equivalent of driving down the highway with the wind blowing through your hair. A year later, the song was re-released in the UK as "Everybody Wants To Run The World" in support of Sport Aid - and it once again hit the top 5 there.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1985:
Next week: another couple of era-defining tracks from a pair of duos - including the husband and wife act that achieved their biggest hit as singers although not as songwriters and producers.