This Week In 1980: June 22, 1980
A couple of months earlier, disco seemed to be on its last legs, but it's not over until the fat lady sings. Or a group of six men in fancy dress costumes.
This week in 1980, two major disco records burst onto the Australian singles chart on their way to number 1. Genre resurgence or last hurrah?
Rocky Burnette enjoyed a last hurrah at number 1 this week at number 1 as "Tired Of Toein' The Line" spent its second week on top.
Off The Chart
Number 100 "Blue Skies" by Willie Nelson
Peak: number 53
The country star's version of the Irving Berlin standard briefly charted in late 1978 when it was released from the Stardust album. Returning to the chart in mid-1980, it moved Willie Nelson ever closer to his first top 50 hit.
Number 95 "Let Me Be" by Korona
Peak: number 80
As Starbuck, this American band reached number 25 in 1976 with US top 3 hit "Moonlight Feels Right". Whatever the reason for their rebranding as Korona, it didn't help their chart fortunes.
Peak: number 38
Just six months after he released his eighth album, Kenny (from which top 10 hit "Coward Of The County" was taken), Kenny Rogers moved quickly on to his ninth LP, Gideon. The album's only single was a duet with Kim Carnes, who made her first appearance on the Australian top 50 with "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer", a song she wrote with her husband, David Ellingson. The ballad was the first of a number of duets Kenny scored with in the next few years, while Kim would go on to much bigger things in the next 12 months.
Number 49 "Stomp!" by The Brothers Johnson
Peak: number 13
Funk duo The Brothers Johnson had last been seen on the top 50 in 1977 with their version of "Strawberry Letter 23", which peaked at number 25, and the pair did even better with "Stomp!". The dancefloor-ready track was once again produced by Quincy Jones, who had worked on all George and Louis Johnson's records up until this point, and gave "Stomp!" a disco-adjacent feel similar to the funk and R&B-influenced work he'd done on Michael Jackson's Off The Wall that ensured it thrived despite the growing disco backlash of the time.
Number 45 "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc.
Peak: number 1
While "Stomp!" was part of the shift away from disco, this debut single by Lipps Inc. was pure disco. Created by songwriter Steven Greenberg, the group fronted by singer Cynthia Johnson hit number 1 around the world (including Australia) with this song inspired by New York - the funky town that Minnesota-based Steven was drawn to. With its earworm of a synth riff and simple, repetitive lyrics, "Funkytown" is one of those songs that is once heard and never forgotten. It is also one of a small number of tunes that has been to number 1 on more than one occasion, with Pseudo Echo's slightly retitled synthrock remake, "Funky Town", hitting the top in 1986. Although Lipps Inc. continued to release music until the middle of the decade, "Funkytown" would be the group's only substantial hit, but not their only top 50 appearance, as we'll see in the coming months.
Peak: number 6
While Lipps Inc. just miss out on technically being a one-hit wonder, here is a band that does qualify as one - although two of its members both scored many hits following their time in The Tourists. Featuring future Eurythmics duo Annie Lennox and David Stewart in its line-up, the British band reached the top 10 both here and at home with their rocky version of the much-covered debut single by Dusty Springfield. By reaching number 6, The Tourists' remake equalled the chart position achieved in Australia by Dusty in 1964 (and outdid other hit recordings of the song by Bay City Rollers and Samantha Fox). In the UK, The Tourists had one more top 10 single, "So Good To Be Back Home Again", but they never visited the Australian top 100 again.
Peak: number 10
"You May Be Right" was still inside the top 40, and this week, the next single from Glass Houses joined it on the chart. The song that would give Billy Joel his first US chart-topper, "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me" was the singer/songwriter's comment on new wave music and other developing genres, which he believed weren't that new at all. Far from being out of touch, Billy landed his biggest hit since 1978's "My Life" with the song - his first of six top 10 hits in the 1980s.
Number 28 "Can't Stop The Music" by Village People
Peak: number 1
The movie of the same name had premiered in Sydney at the start of the month and was followed by queues outside cinemas to see it, and this week in 1980, the title track of the film very loosely inspired by the formation of Village People stormed into the top 50 on its way to spending four weeks at number 1. Although the movie was panned - it won two Razzies, including Worst Picture - and the single didn't even reach the Billboard Hot 100, Australia could not get enough of Can't Stop The Music, with the soundtrack staying at number 1 for nine weeks. We even had the album in my house - I've mentioned before that my parents' record collection was not very extensive - and I distinctly remember seeing the movie on the big screen. The second chart-topper for Village People locally, following 1978's "Y.M.C.A.", "Can't Stop The Music" maintained the group's disco feel (which is why it didn't do so well in the US), but even in Australia, their time was soon-to-be up.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: a band that scored 10 top 10 hits in the late 60s were back with an EP featuring a number of those. Plus, Peter Gabriel and Mi-Sex return to the top 50.