Thursday, May 29, 2014

Milestone! 1981: The Year in Review

As I close out the second year of this project, I just think to myself...why? Why am I painstakingly spending time going through over 4,000 songs year-by-year and trying to come up with something to say on each? I mean, I could just easily listen to all the songs in a short time and be done with it. So why document this stuff? Really, the only answer I have is that I just enjoy doing this. I love hearing the songs, discovering new tunes and artists, revisiting favorites, researching information, and sharing all I find. My hope is that folks will discover the blog along the way and join the journey.

The chart music of 1981 was when songs started to move towards that 80s sound. Leading the way was Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes," which brought a different sound with its dark synthpop. Country crossover was still big with three of the year's Top 10 hits from country artists (Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Eddie Rabbitt). R&B was gaining a little momentum, but rap was still being ignored by pop radio. Hard-edged rock was beginning to make some inroads while soft late-70s sounds were waning. Overall, it wasn't one of my favorite years in the decade, but it did contain some iconic songs that would last far beyond their charting days. Before moving on to 1982, here is a little recap of the previous year:

Number of charted songs in 1981:  413
Time it took listen/post all songs:  10 months - same as last time!
Number of songs to hit #1:  14
Number of songs to reach Top 10 (excluding #1's):  61
Artist with the most chart entries:  (tied with 4 each) Kenny Rogers, Don McLean, Sheena Easton
Number of gold singles:  26
Number of platinum singles:  3
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  11
Number of songs that won an Oscar:  1
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  5
Number of Rated 10 songs:  9
Number of Rated 1 songs:  1
Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
  2. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes
  3. "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones
  4. "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
  5. "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins
Worst song of the year:  "American Memories" by Shamus M'Cool
Best song I didn't know existed:  "No Time to Lose" by The Tarney/Spencer Band
Favorite discovery:  The Tarney/Spencer Band

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts):
  • Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" was originally pitched to Rod Stewart.
  • The song title "Sukiyaki" has nothing to do with the lyrics and was just a word chosen for the English market when originally recorded in 1963.
  • Diana Ross was originally asked to star in an early version of "The Bodyguard" with Ryan O'Neal and she turned it down.
  • Teena Marie sued her label (which was settled) and as a result a law was created and named after her using her given last name.
  • The Bee Gee's "Living Eyes" album was the first CD to be publicly demonstrated on a BBC show in 1981.
  • Blondie wrote a song called "For Your Eyes Only" that they submitted to be the theme for the James Bond movie.
  • Franke & the Knockouts recorded two songs that they didn't release (written by Franke Previte and John DeNicola). Both songs went on the "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack and became huge hits for other artists.
  • The Oak Ridge Boys' "Elvira" was a remake.
  • Randy VanWarmer's ashes were launched into space.
  • Eddie Rabbitt had a pet monkey named Jo-Jo.
According to the year-end chart for 1981, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes
  2. "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
  3. "Lady" by Kenny Rogers
  4. "(Just Like) Starting Over" by John Lennon
  5. "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield
  6. "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang
  7. "Kiss on My List" by Hall & Oates
  8. "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt
  9. "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton
  10. "Keep on Loving You" by REO Speedwagon
Now, let's move on to 1982!


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