Sunday, August 7, 2016

Milestone! 1983: The Year in Review

For me, 1983 was just the warm-up for my favorite year of pop music, 1984! But 1983 was no slouch either. It was mainly dominated by Michael Jackson, but there were several other enduring classics that would come out during the year.

The album chart was pretty much blocked the majority of the year by Michael Jackson and The Police. Only six albums were able to reach #1 in 1983, which included Quiet Riot's Mental Health, often considered the first heavy metal album to hit the top spot (and a sign of more changes to come in pop music).

I can also tell that 1983 was a year I really liked because I rated 51% of the chart songs at 7 or above. This is a solid increase over 1982 where the same stat was at 41%. (Previous years were 38% for 1981 and 31% for 1980.) Or maybe I'm just getting softer in my ratings? Nah! I'm expecting the percent for 1984 to increase slightly, but will have to wait for the final numbers (in a year or so - yikes!).

One aspect of this project that I haven't mention before that I enjoy is discovering songs and/or artists that have never charted in the US, or perhaps did ages ago. When doing research on a chart entry, I will sometimes come across some info that peaks my interest and I'll pursue it just for kicks. That's how I discovered British singer Mari Wilson. Digging into the history of a chart song led me to her. Wilson's retro style (complete with B-52 'do) and sound got my attention right away as did her 1982 UK #8 hit "Just What I Always Wanted." I quickly found a compilation of her songs and I've been playing it since. I also discovered Michael Bolton's hard rock past with his band Blackjack. Listening to them put Bolton in a different light for me (a better one because I'm not a fan of his AC days). So besides the chart singles, there are plenty of other discoveries to be made along the way.

I'm still enjoying this project and I hope anyone who encounters the blog will have fun as well. Keep reading, pass it along to friends, feel free to send comments, and don't forget to "Rate It!" at the bottom of each post. Here is a recap of 1983:

Number of charted songs in 1983:  445  (431 in 1982)
Time it took listen/post all songs:  1 year, 49 days  (1 year, 24 days for 1982)
Number of songs that debuted in 1983 to hit #1:  15  (15 in 1982)
Number of songs that debuted in 1983 to reach the Top 10 (excluding #1's):  70  (59 in 1982)
Artist with the most chart entries:  Michael Jackson - 6  (4 artists had 4 each in 1982)
Number of gold singles:  19  (22 in 1982)
Number of platinum singles:  7  (10 in 1982)
Number of songs that won a Grammy:  8  (12 in 1982)
Number of One-Hit Wonders:  10  (7 in 1982)
Number of Rated 10 songs:  16  (12 for 1982)
Number of Rated 1 songs:  3  (0 for 1982)

Top 5 favorite chart songs of the year:
  1. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics
  2. "Let's Dance" by David Bowie
  3. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police
  4. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
  5. "Church of the Poison Mind" by Culture Club
Worst song of the year:  "Bread and Butter" by Robert John
Best song I didn't know existed:  (tie) "Canvas of Life" by Minor Detail and "Solid Rock" by Goanna
Favorite discovery:  The retro sounds of Mari Wilson and her #8 UK hit "Just What I Always Wanted." She never charted in the US, but research on Rita Coolidge's "All Time High" led me to her.

A few other fun stats:

Highest debut:  #26 - "Say Say Say" by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson (peaked at #1)
Lowest debut:  #98 - "I Think You'll Remember Tonight" by Axe (peaked at #94)

Longest climb to peak position:  (tie) "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics and "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder each climbed 89 positions. "Sweet" made it to #1 from #90, while "Break" went from #94 to #5.

Longest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1983:  "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics took 17 weeks.
Quickest trip to #1 for a song debuting in 1983:  "Every Breath You Take" by The Police took 6 weeks.
Most weeks at #1 in 1983:  8 - "Every Breath You Take" by The Police

Most weeks on the chart for a song debuting in 1983:  29 - three songs hit this mark:  "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack (#16), "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler (#1), and "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder (#5).

Average number of weeks a song spent on the chart:  12
Position on chart where the most songs debuted:  #90 - 26 songs debuted at that spot (4 hit Top 10, 1 #1)
Longest song title:  "Where Everybody Knows Your Name (The Theme from 'Cheers')" by Gary Portnoy
Shortest song title:  "Rio" by Duran Duran

A few artists who got their first chart single in 1983:  "Weird" Al Yankovic, Bananarama, Berlin, Chris de Burgh, Cyndi Lauper, DeBarge, Def Leppard, Elvis Costello, Eurythmics, INXS, Madonna, Night Ranger, R.E.M., U2, Wham!

Runners-Up:  8 songs peaked at #2, 2 songs peaked at #11, and 2 songs peaked at #41

Some interesting things learned (click links for more details in previous posts):
  • Dexys Midnight Runners were named after a drug.
  • Yacht rock icon Christopher Cross once played guitar for Deep Purple.
  • Neil Young's Trans album was inspired by his son who has cerebral palsy.
  • Rachel Sweet wrote and produced episodes of the hit show Hot in Cleveland.
  • Phil Collins got the lead roll in a 1967 children's film called Calamity the Cow.
  • Terri Nunn of Berlin was in the running for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars.
  • Thomas Dolby ("She Blinded Me with Science") played keyboards on Foreigner's 4 album along with Def Leppard's Pyromania.
  • Jon Bon Jovi was briefly a member of the band Scandal before forming Bon Jovi and appeared in one of their videos.
  • Robert (now Alexis) Arquette, of the Arquette family of actors, was the boy in the video for The Tubes' song "She's a Beauty."
  • Prince thought his new song "Purple Rain" sounded too much like Journey's "Faithfully."
  • Michael Bolton initially began as a hard rock singer in a band called Blackjack with a future member of Kiss.
  • Donna Summer based her song "She Works Hard for the Money" on a real person and that woman appears on the album's back cover.
  • Goanna's "Solid Rock" was the first song to chart in the US that used a didgeridoo.
  • Stevie Nicks' "Stand Back" was inspired by Prince's "Little Red Corvette" and he ended up playing the keyboard part on the song.
  • Producer Mutt Lange did the pseudo-German countdown at the beginning of Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages."
  • Paul Anka wrote a song with Michael Jackson that ended up getting released after Jackson's death ("This Is It").
  • Toto did the score to the sci-fi film Dune.
  • Kenny G played on Meco's Ewok Celebration album and Meco would later produce Kenny G's debut solo album.
  • Actress Winona Ryder's stage name was inspired by rocker Mitch Ryder.
  • Rick Springfield was in the original Battlestar Galactica movie.
  • Rick James' song "Cold Blooded" was inspired by actress Linda Blair. 
  • Aretha Franklin had a son at a very young age and has never revealed the identity of the father.
  • Frank Stallone was once in a band called Valentine with John Oates, of Hall & Oates fame.
  • Irish singer Sheena Easton won a Grammy for Best Mexican/Mexican-American Performance even though she didn't speak or understand Spanish.
  • What sounds like a foreign language passage in of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" is not a language at all - Richie made it all up.
  • After "Karma Chameleon" hit #1, Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley had a #7 Country hit with a satirical song about Boy George called "Where's the Dress."

According to the year-end chart for 1983, these were the year's Top 10 singles:
  1. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police
  2. "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
  3. "Flashdance...What a Feeling" by Irene Cara
  4. "Down Under" by Men at Work
  5. "Beat It" by Michael Jackson
  6. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
  7. "Maneater" by Daryl Hall & John Oates
  8. "Baby, Come to Me" by Patti Austin with James Ingram
  9. "Maniac" by Michael Sembello
  10. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics

So long '83,  and as Lionel Richie might say, "Hello" '84!



  1. I've read just about every post and still looking forward to 1984. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks! Glad to know folks are enjoying it. I've certainly had fun and can't wait for '84!