This Week In 1980: October 26, 1980
Some artists stick to their sound through thick and thin, pumping out album after album of the same type of material. Other acts mix things up, knowing when to jump onto a new sound or take their music in a different direction.
This week in 1980, two top 50 regulars did the latter, and reaped the benefits of their shift in sound. Interestingly enough, one experimented with disco, while the other, who had made her name in that genre, moved away from her dance background.
Still at number 1 this week in 1980, Diana Ross' "Upside Down" enjoyed a fourth week as the biggest song in Australia.
Off The Chart
Number 99 "She's Everywhere" by John Farnham
Peak: number 90
His comeback was over almost as quickly as it began, with the follow-up to "Help!" bombing out big time. Like most of the Uncovered album, "She's Everywhere" was co-written by Little River Band's Graeham Goble.
Peak: number 56
They might not have made the top 50 but the American band fronted by Texan Gary Myrick achieved something they didn't back home in the US — a top 100 single.
Number 73 "Face The Day" by The Angels
Peak: number 67
Their trip into the top 10 earlier in the year was increasingly looking like an anomaly with another flop from Dark Room, but The Angels were playing the long game.
Number 62 "Talk Of The Town" by The Pretenders
Peak: number 55
Also having trouble getting back inside the top 50 were The Pretenders. After the re-released "Kid", new song "Talk Of The Town" fell just short of giving them a second hit.
Number 50 "A Five Letter Word" by The Numbers
Peak: number 40
We saw debut single "The Modern Song" creep into the top 50 earlier in the year, and after 10 weeks slowly climbing the top 100, follow-up "A Five Letter Word" did the same. (Side note: the single label has the title as "A Five Letter Word" while the single cover drops the "A" — don't you love consistency?). I have to say I much prefer this song — whatever it's called — to its predecessor, but number 40 would be as good as this and any subsequent song by The Numbers managed.
Number 49 "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen
Peak: number 5
If there's one thing Michael Jackson knew, it was a hit record. And when he heard Queen's Chic-influenced track "Another One Bites The Dust", he advised the band to release it as a single. Finally, after two run-of-the-mill ballads, they came to their senses and issued this disco-tinged tune as the fourth single from The Game. And just like their previous break from the routine, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", this song took them into the Australian top 5. "Another One Bites The Dust" was also particularly successful in the US, where it became their second chart-topper and was at the centre of a storm of controversy about the supposed backmasked exhortation to smoke marijuana.
Number 39 "Generals And Majors" by XTC
Peak: number 24
While Queen were no strangers to the Australian top 50, fellow Brits achieved their first hit locally with this lead single from fourth album Black Sea. Featuring their record company boss, Virgin's Richard Branson, in the music video, the song was a satirical comment on war, and one of three hits XTC would achieve here over the next 12 years.
Number 32 "The Wanderer" by Donna Summer
Peak: number 6
While Queen embraced disco on their latest hit, Donna Summer was distancing herself from the genre that had made her a star — as well as her former record label, Casablanca, as she moved on at Geffen Records. The title track from her eighth album, "The Wanderer" saw her maintain her collaboration with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, but they took her sound in a less club-friendly direction. For me, the song about a woman with wanderlust is only saved by its chorus — I find the verses pretty irritating — but enough Australians liked the new Donna Summer sound to send it into the top 10, something she hadn't been able to achieve with her previous, more typical hit "On The Radio".
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: a five-year-old soundtrack song becomes a massive hit, plus a female two-hit wonder also enjoys her belated success with her second smash.