This Week In 1984: September 23, 1984
In 1984, U2 were just another up-and-coming band. They'd already had a couple of minor hits in Australia, but were years away from selling out stadiums and appearing unannounced on people's Apple products.
This week in 1984, the song that would set them on the path to world domination debuted on the ARIA singles chart. A game-changer, it established them as a chart force on a global scale, not just in Ireland.
George Michael proved what a chart force he was — with or without Wham! — this week in 1984, when his debut solo single, "Careless Whisper", moved into the number 1 slot, just two weeks after "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" departed it. The song would stay there for four weeks.
Off The Chart
Number 98 "To France" by Mike Oldfield
Peak: number 97
Like 1983's "Moonlight Shadow", this lead single from Discovery featured uncredited vocals by Maggie Reilly. Not a success in Australia or the UK, "To France" did well across Europe.
Number 96 "I'm Ready / Carrie-Ann" by Swanee
Peak: number 72
The A-side was a cover of a Bryan Adams single from Cuts Like A Knife, while double A-side "Carrie-Ann" was a self-penned number. Not a great debut for his new deal with RCA.
Number 93 "New Hero" by Dear Enemy
Peak: number 93
A brand new song from the band behind "Computer One", "New Hero" featured on the soundtrack to boxing film Street Hero. Dear Enemy would make one final top 100 appearance in 1986.
Number 44 "Drive" by The Cars
Peak: number 10
They missed the top 50 at the start of the month with "Magic", but The Cars had no such trouble with the third single from Heartbeat City, which equalled the peak of 1981's "Shake It Up" to give them a third top 10 hit in Australia. A synth-soaked ballad with lead vocals by bass player Benjamin Orr, "Drive" was a shift in direction for the normally more upbeat new wave band. The music video featured actor Timothy Hutton and model Paulina Porizkova, who'd go on to marry The Cars' other main singer, Ric Ocasek. In the UK, "Drive" became a top 5 hit twice over — once in 1984 and again in 1985, after the song was used as a backing track for footage of the famine in Ethiopia during the London component of Live Aid.
Number 42 "Wilderworld" by Dragon
Peak: number 42
Like the Dear Enemy song, this latest release from Dragon was included on the Street Hero soundtrack, but "Wilderworld" had also appeared on the band's Body And The Beat album, which had spent the last 13 weeks in the top half of the albums top 50. Yet another Dragon single that should've done much better, "Wilderworld" boasts a typically soaring chorus courtesy of songwriters the Hunter brothers (Marc and Todd) and Todd's partner, Johanna Pigott, who'd all also been responsible for "Rain".
Peak: number 10
As former chart-topper "When Doves Cry" made its way down the top 10, it was joined on the chart by the next release from Purple Rain — the album and movie. As energetic as its predecessor was moody, "Let's Go Crazy" is a good-time burst of infection pop/funk that gave Prince his fourth top 10 locally (although not consecutively, since a couple of singles missed the top 100 completely between "Little Red Corvette" and "When Doves Cry"). Tucked away on the B-side of "Let's Go Crazy" was one of Prince's most notorious songs, "Erotic City", in which he dropped the F-bomb years before "Sexy MF".
Number 13 "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" by U2
Peak: number 4
"Gloria" had reached number 32 in 1982 and "New Year's Day" had managed number 36 a year later, but this lead single from The Unforgettable Fire propelled U2 to new chart heights, remaining at number 4 for five weeks and helping the album debut at number 1 in early November (the same week as Midnight Oil's Red Sails In The Sunset entered behind it at number 2).
Inspired by Martin Luther King especially, and written about non-violent activism and resistance in general, "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" took the Irish band to a whole new level. As well as its Australian success, it reached number 3 in the UK (their highest position until "Desire") and was their first top 40 success in the US.
The song had started out as a Reagan-bashing track, but lyricist Bono changed tack and turned it into a positive, celebratory song about MLK, with one of the most rousing choruses in music history. Even I was a fan of it (and I've spoken about my disdain for 1980s U2 elsewhere) — and until 1991's "Mysterious Ways", it remained the only original U2 song I truly loved (although I was also quite partial to their cover of "Everlasting Love").
Fun fact 1: Chrissie Hynde sings backing vocals on "Pride". Fun fact 2: Bono sometimes corrects the lyric "early morning, April 4" when he performs it live, singing "early evening, April 4", which is an accurate description of the time of day MLK was assassinated.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1984:
Next week: Stock Aitken Waterman's first hit single, a song about self-pleasure and one of the worst party songs of all time. Plus, Corey Hart, David Bowie and The Jacksons.