This Week In 1980: September 7, 1980
It's always surprising how some music legends haven't actually had that many hits in Australia. In terms of American female superstars, a number of singers' local chart careers pale in comparison to those they enjoyed on the Billboard chart.
Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, Linda Ronstadt... all of them haven't had anywhere near as many hits in Australia as in the US, and those they have had often didn't chart as high here. This week in 1980, another member of that list, who already had four US chart-toppers to her name, returned to the Australian top 50 with a song that would give her a long-awaited number 1 hit here.
Until the new arrival got to number 1, that position continued to be held by "Moscow" by Genghis Khan, which extended its time on top to three weeks.
Off The Chart
Peak: number 71
Appearing in Australian war movie Breaker Morant, which was about crimes committed during the Second Boer War, this single was recorded by the film's lead, British actor Edward Woodward.
Number 92 "To Be Or Not To Be" by B.A. Robertson
Peak: number 82
Despite his 1980 album being called Initial Success, the Scottish singer (and future co-writer of "The Living Years") still wasn't having any in Australia with a second top 50 miss to his name.
Number 85 "Midnite Dynamos" by Major Matchbox
Peak: number 57
They'd nearly reached the top 10 with number 12 hit "Rockabilly Rebel", but not even a recent Australian tour could help the British band get back into the top 50.
Number 80 "No Doubt About It" by Hot Chocolate
Peak: number 56
A band whose last three Australian hits had all peaked at number 12 also had no luck returning to the top 50 with this UK number 2 stand-alone single about UFO sightings.
Number 76 "Baby's Had A Taste" by Heroes
Peak: number 76
The first (and biggest) top 100 appearance by Newcastle band and Albert Productions signings Heroes was, as you'd expect, produced by the in-house team of Vanda & Young.
Number 47 "The Winner Takes It All" by ABBA
Peak: number 7
Australia's love for ABBA had cooled slightly since the frenzy of the mid-'70s, with the Swedish quartet not having enjoyed a number 1 song since 1976's "Money, Money, Money" and key tracks like "Voulez-Vous" and "I Have A Dream" missing the top 50 (likely because fans already had the Voulez-Vous album). It wasn't all over yet, though, with a brand new single like ballad "The Winner Takes It All" still able to propel ABBA back into the top 10. Written about divorce — but not, co-writer Björn Ulvaeus claims, his split from band-mate Agnetha Fältskog — the lyrics describe the demise of a marriage where one party doesn't want it to end. Although the specifics of the words may not relate to the pair's divorce, the theme of "The Winner Takes It All" was certainly close to home. Still, Agnetha has cited it as her favourite ABBA song.
Number 37 "Upside Down" by Diana Ross
Peak: number 1
Up until point, the highest Diana Ross had reached on the Australian chart as a solo artist had been the number 5 peak of 1973's "Touch Me In The Morning". (She had also had a handful of top 5 singles as lead singer of The Supremes, but not as many big hits as you'd expect.) In recent years, disco classics like "The Boss" and "Love Hangover" had flopped locally. But the Motown star finally gained an Australian number 1 with this collaboration with Chic's Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, who produced her 10th studio album, Diana. A song about a woman who puts up with a cheating boyfriend, "Upside Down" (and the album as a whole) resulted in a great deal of tension between Diana and the production duo, with the singer insisting on the tracks being remixed to her liking - something she ended up having to get someone else to do when Bernard and Nile refused.
Number 26 "More Than I Can Say" by Leo Sayer
Peak: number 1
It might have debuted higher than "Upside Down", but this other future chart-topper had to wait until Diana Ross had spent four weeks at number 1 before it could step up for two weeks on top. Another case of a singer finally achieving a number 1 after many years of releasing music, Leo's remake of "More Than I Can Say" succeeded where "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" had come close when it stalled at number 2 in early 1977. First recorded by the late Buddy Holly's former band, The Crickets, in 1960, "More Than I Can Say" had already been covered a number of times, but never successfully in Australia until Leo's easy listening take on the track.
Listen to this week's new entries on my Spotify playlist of all the top 50 hits from 1980 (updated weekly):
Next week: a classic '80s one-hit wonder as well as an additional top 50 hit by a band many consider to have only had one hit.