This Week In 1980: July 6, 1980
Plenty of music acts gain a devoted following - in recent years, everyone from One Direction to Beyoncé has had a fanbase with a cute little name. But back in 1980, one band had a fan club like no other.
The band's army of fans ensured their latest single was the highest new entry on the Australian singles chart this week in 1980 and would go on to give them a third consecutive top 5 hit.
For a second week, the biggest single in Australia this week in 1980 was "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors, but Village People were closing in fast.
Off The Chart
Number 99 "Boys Don't Cry" by The Cure
Peak: number 99
Reaching the Australian top 100 - just! - before they did so at home in the UK, The Cure would bring "Boys Don't Cry" back to the ARIA top 30 in a re-recorded version in 1986.
Peak: number 73
We've seen a few hits from regional radio stations so far in 1980, and this was another - a novelty track from Newcastle DJ David Jones, who'd created the character of Dave for his show.
Peak: number 92
At the end of the decade, he'd visit the top 50 with conservation-themed "If A Tree Falls", but before then Canadian folk musician Bruce Cockburn charted with this track from Dancing In The Dragon's Jaws, a song that became his only US hit.
Number 95 "Spacer" by Sheila & B. Devotion
Peak: number 95
Their disco version of "Singin' In The Rain" had made it to number 23 in 1978, but the group fronted by French singer Sheila missed the mark with this track, which would later be sampled by Alcazar.
Number 92 "Against The Wind" by Bob Seger
Peak: number 92
The first single from Against The Wind had almost made the top 50, but the title track fell way short, despite making the US top 5.
Number 91 "Give Me A Break" by The Ritchie Family
Peak: number 91
"Can't Stop The Music" was racing to the top of the chart, but this track, also from the Village People film, came nowhere close for the group who'd previously hit number 3 with "The Best Disco In Town".
Number 87 "Living By Numbers" by New Musik
Peak: number 55
This was the biggest UK hit for the synthpop group, getting as far as number 12 there. It was also their highest-charting single in Australia, but that's not saying much.
Number 50 "Magic Rhythm" by Christie Allen
Peak: number 38
She'd had a pretty good run up until now, with her previous two singles, "Goose Bumps" and "He's My Number One", both reaching the top 5 and "Falling In Love With Only You" making number 20 before that, but this attempt to squeeze one more hit out of Christie Allen's debut album, Magic Rhythm, was only moderately successful. Released as the LP's fifth single, the title track resulted in another top 40 hit, but as a song, it was nowhere near up to her usual standard.
Peak: number 21
He'd been performing since the late '60s and releasing music as a solo artist since the mid-'70s, but 1980 was the year that Jona Lewie's career took off. The singer born John Lewis reached the UK top 20 and just missed ours with this synthpop track, which featured memorable, bored senseless-sounding backing vocals by the wives of the song's producer and the owner of Jona's record label. Kirsty MacColl would later sing in live performances of the tune. We'd be seeing a lot more of Jona over the next 12 months.
Number 48 "Special Lady" by Ray, Goodman & Brown
Peak: number 46
Next up, another act that had been active since the '60s, albeit under an alternate name and with different members. Previously called The Moments, the R&B vocal harmony group changed their name to the surnames of the three men who comprised the line-up at that point and enjoyed a US top 5 with their first single under their new moniker. They also reached the Australian top 50, having never done that as The Moments. But success as Ray, Goodman & Brown was short-lived.
Number 39 "Little Jeannie" by Elton John
Peak: number 9
He'd come close a few times in recent years, but Elton John had not had a top 10 hit in Australia since 1976's chart-topping duet "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". He returned to that section of the chart with this lead single from 21 At 33 - his 21st release, which came out when he was 33 years old. I don't have any recollection of "Little Jeannie" from the time, and it's a song that has been overlooked in the years since, including by Elton himself. Listening to it now, it sounds exactly like you'd expect an Elton John song from that era to sound - the kind of thing an automated song generator would come up with if you typed in all the key ingredients of an Elton tune.
Peak: number 32
In late May, a disco version of the Evita tune had infiltrated the very bottom of the top 100. Whether that had prompted renewed interest in Olivia Newton-John's three-year-old version of the song, or whether her local record company were trying to cash in on Livvy's upcoming success with the Xanadu soundtrack (released on a different label), I'm not sure. Either way, after having been overshadowed at the time by Julie Covington's chart-topping version, ONJ's take on "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" finally had its time in the top 40 sun.
EDIT: I've been informed that in May, Olivia sang this at the Royal Command Charity Concert in front of Queen Elizabeth - an event that was televised and which prompted demand for the single.
Number 31 "Shandi" by KISS
Peak: number 5
KISS had been popular for some years in Australia, but things really exploded for the make-up-wearing rockers on the Australian singles chart in 1979 and 1980. Following number 2 hit "I Was Made For Lovin' You" and top 5 follow-up "Sure Know Something", both taken from the Dynasty album, KISS returned with a brand new song, "Shandi", the lead single from eighth album Unmasked, and it also reached number 5. The mid-tempo track came at a crossroads for KISS, with Peter Criss leaving the band after appearing in the song's music video (despite not playing on "Shandi") and their US chart fortunes going through a downturn. In Australia, the local members of the KISS Army were as devoted as ever, with Unmasked vaulting to number 3 in its second week on the albums chart this week, but it would prove to be a last hurrah for KISS, with the band never scoring a hit as big as "Shandi" again.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: Michael Jackson slows things down for his latest Off The Wall hit and a power pop/rock track that narrowly missed topping the chart.