This Week In 1984: February 19, 1984
It'd been around for years, but 1984 was the year breakdancing went mainstream. There were films, songs, stories on kids' shows like Simon Townsend's Wonder World! and Wombat... In fact, my mum had probably heard of it.
The best known crew associated with the craze was signed to a record deal and, this week in 1984, entered the ARIA top 50 with their debut single. It would be followed by even more breakdancing-related hits.
There was a new number 1 in Australia this week in 1984 as Pat Benatar charged to the top with "Love Is A Battlefield". There she would remain for five weeks.
Off The Chart
Number 96 "Why" by Randy Crawford
Peak: number 92
She had two top 40 singles to her name - one of which was a live cover of "Imagine" - but this single from Nightline didn't become soul singer Randy Crawford's third hit.
Number 95 "Never Never" by The Assembly
Peak: number 95
This post-Yazoo, pre-Erasure single from Vince Clarke (and Eric Radcliffe) featured a post-Undertones, pre-solo fame Feargal Sharkey on vocals. It had also been a UK top 5 hit.
Number 87 "Hooked On Australia" by Louis Clark & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Peak: number 87
The Hooked On Classics series of albums (and one top 10 single) had been an early '80s phenomenon, but there was little interest in this symphonic medley of local standards like "Click Go The Shears" and "Waltzing Matilda".
Number 81 "Middle Of The Road" by The Pretenders
Peak: number 52
After festive ballad "2000 Miles", The Pretenders kicked things up a gear with this rock track from Learning To Crawl. It'd be the band's last appearance on the ARIA chart for two-and-a-half years.
Number 48 "New Moon On Monday" by Duran Duran
Peak: number 48
Well, this was a surprise. Duran Duran's previous two singles, "Is There Something I Should Know?" and "Union Of The Snake", had debuted on the ARIA chart at number 6 and 8 respectively. "New Moon On Monday" had entered the top 100 at number 70 before spending the next eight weeks going 48-50-49-50-50-49-48-51. Of course, the big difference was that both those earlier releases had been unavailable on an album at that point and "New Moon On Monday" was included on Seven And The Ragged Tiger, which had been out since November.
It wasn't the first time Duran Duran had experienced a flop single in Australia, with "Careless Memories" (number 60), "Rio" (number 60) and "Save A Prayer" (number 56) all having under-performed - so maybe it's not that big a surprise. I like "New Moon On Monday", but I've never watched the music video before, which is apparently the band's least favourite and features some pretty hilarious dancing at the end.
Peak: number 33
You can just imagine the meeting at the record company: "How can we jump on this breakdancing thing all the kids are into?" For Charisma Records, it was to snap up America's preeminent b-boy crew, who already had some exposure thanks to their appearances in Flashdance and Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals" music video. The young dancers were signed to a record deal they didn't understand, and given a song co-written and co-produced by Stephen Hague (who'd go on to become one of my favourite producers) that didn't exactly challenge their limited vocal abilities. Sometimes such cynical cash-ins can fall flat, but "(Hey You) Rock Steady Crew" was a great pop song that was brought to life in the music video, which allowed the Crew to show off their real talents.
Number 42 "In The Mood" by Robert Plant
Peak: number 37
In late 1983, Robert Plant had scored his first solo hit with a song that wasn't actually about a large piece of wood. In early 1984, he was back in the chart with a song that wasn't a remake of the Glenn Miller big band classic, although I'm kind of intrigued what that might have sounded like. Probably more interesting than this "In The Mood", which isn't much of a song at all and I'll no doubt have forgotten by the time I get to the end of this sentence. The next time we'd see Robert in the top 50 it would be with a cover version - The Honeydrippers' version of "Sea Of Love" would arrive in the final weeks of the year.
Number 38 "Talking In Your Sleep" by The Romantics
Peak: number 14
Just when it looked like The Romantics' hit-making days - or should that be day? - were behind them, they pulled another big single out of the bag. Not quite as huge as "What I Like About You" in Australia, "Talking In Your Sleep" was far and away the band's biggest hit in the US, where it reached number 3 (compared with number 49 for "What I Like..."). The song also reached the UK top 20, but not for The Romantics. A quickie cover version by Bucks Fizz charted there.
Number 35 "Sticky Music" by Sandii And The Sunsetz
Peak: number 11
Someone might have to explain "Sticky Music" to me. I have no recollection of it from the time, which is odd given it almost made the top 10. And listening to it now, I don't quite understand how it was such a big hit. I expect Countdown played some part in that. It's a pleasant enough tune, but also sounds a little like a chewing gum jingle. Fronted by the half-American, half-Japanese singer Sandra O'Neale, Sandii And The Sunsetz never returned to the ARIA chart after this.
Number 21 "Radio Ga Ga" by Queen
Peak: number 2
The week's highest new entry came from a band that were making their return to the ARIA chart after two years away. Last seen on the top 50 with 1982's "Body Language", Queen sped up the rankings with this first single from The Works, proving they'd lost none of their popularity in their absence. "Radio Ga Ga" was written by Queen drummer Roger Taylor after he heard his son say "radio caca" and is a comment on music video taking over from increasingly predictable radio playlists as the dominant medium in music. It's also classic Queen, with its audience participation handclaps and anthemic quality. The song, from which Lady Gaga took her stage name, almost gave Queen their third chart-topper, but thanks to Pat Benatar, they had to settle for number 2 instead.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:
Next week: two of the most-talked about hits of 1984 - one, a record that'd been banned in the UK and the other, a hit from the latest gender-bending star. Plus, a hard rock act discover synths.
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