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  • Gavin Scott

This Week In 1980: March 2, 1980

This week in 1980, it was a big week for new entries on the Australian singles chart, with four future top 10 hits debuting. Two of those were follow-ups to other top 10 hits by Michael Jackson and The Police, another was the latest top 10 single by a country star who'd also been there before.

Eric Idle was Mr Brightside in 1980

And one was a comic ditty from one of the biggest movies of the summer of 1979-80. A song so British you'd expect it to have been a big hit in the UK, like the other three were. Think again.

A song that was a big hit in Australia, the UK and around the world shot up to number 1 this week in 1980. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen spent its first of seven weeks on top.

Off The Chart

Number 82 "Rhythm Of The City (5AD Adelaide version)" by T.M. Singers

Peak: number 62

This jingle was made location specific for a number of radio stations around the world, including 5AD (now Mix 102.3). We'll see another version pop up in a few weeks - and that one is even on YouTube.

New Entries

Number 48 "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson

Peak: number 4

Off The Wall had got off to a great start with the chart-topping "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", and Michael Jackson followed that up with another top 5 hit with the album's second single. Another slice of irresistible disco pop, "Rock With You" was one of three songs on the album written by Rod Temperton, who'd previously been a member of Heatwave (whose US and UK number 2 hit, "Boogie Nights", missed the Australian top 50). More laidback and soulful than the energetic party-starter that was "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", "Rock With You" proved that disco still had some life in it.

Number 47 "Have A Cigar" by Rosebud

Peak: number 18

Speaking of disco... Decades before Scissor Sisters turned "Comfortably Numb" into a pulsating synthpop anthem, another Pink Floyd song was given the disco treatment. In fact, studio outfit Rosebud released a whole album of Pink Floyd remakes and this track, which had originally appeared on the rock band's 1975 album, Wish You Were Here, was lifted as a single. I've never heard it before, but I have to say I quite like it - especially because it reminds me of Scissor Sisters at their peak.

Number 46 "Strangers On A Train" by The Sports

Peak: number 22

The Sports are one of those bands I've always been aware of, particularly when singer Stephen Cummings started releasing solo records in the mid-'80s, but whose music I've never been across since they'd broken up by 1981 and I was still only six years old at that point. And it's a shame I've missed out on this track, the lead single from the band's third album, Suddenly, until now. Their biggest hit up until this point, "Strangers On A Train" is the sort of jangly pop/rock I like and it seemed a good number of Australians in 1980 agreed, with the single peaking just outside the top 20. 

Number 36 "Walking On The Moon" by The Police

Peak: number 9

Here's a band I was definitely aware of, even as a youngster. It was hard not to be aware of The Police in 1980, and this week the British band spent their second (and final) week at number 1 with second album Reggatta De Blanc. They also entered the top 50 with the album's second single, which gave them another top 10 hit. In the UK, it was their second number 1 following "Message In A Bottle". Coming with a video filmed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, "Walking On The Moon" had, so the story goes, started out as a riff Sting came up with in his Munich hotel room after a night out drinking.

Number 35 "Coward Of The County" by Kenny Rogers

Peak: number 6

Next up, another song that made number 1 in the UK but had to settle for a top 10 placing in Australia (and the US, incidentally). A much bigger hit than the first single from Kenny, "You Decorated My Life", which only reached number 61, the album's second release was a huge crossover success for the country star. Telling the story of a man who'd grown up following his late father's advice to walk away from a fight, "Coward Of The County" is actually quite a violent tale. Could that be why it gave Kenny the biggest hit of his career up until this point, surpassing the number 7 peak of 1977's "Lucille"?

Number 28 "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" by Monty Python

Peak: number 9

Released in November 1979 in Australia, Monty Python's Life Of Brian had been making audiences laugh over the summer. Of course, I didn't see it - too young, once again. But I'm pretty sure I heard this song, performed in the movie by Eric Idle... while hanging on a cross. Of course, it's never really gone away in the decades since, so I can't be certain when it first came to my attention. What's interesting is that the comedy tune, which couldn't be more British thanks to its musichall style and stiff upper lip message, flopped in the UK when released... twice (initially in 1979 and again in 1988). It wasn't until a second re-release in 1991, after a BBC Radio 1 DJ had started playing it, that it reached number 3 on the chart there.

Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):

Next week: one of 1980's biggest singles, an early hip-hop hit and one of the decade's worst one-hit wonders.

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