American Top 40 Flashback: September 10, 1983

The full chart: https://weeklytop40.wordpre…

How’s the chart as a whole?

Freakin’ fantastic. 1983 is a banner year for pop music. I’m not sure the world of American pop music would ever feel so unified again: the rock of this year swung, and the R&B rocked. It’s interesting to get this just a week after 1982; many artists have stayed the same (promoting newer albums though—it feels like the album cycle was shorter then), but the context feels so different. There were a lot of cruel cuts in making my “top” lists at the bottom this week. Sorry Michael, Annie, Stevie, David, Kenny and Dolly: you were all great this week, really, but my allegiance will always be to the obscure and forgotten. This week gets an A for sure.

Forgotten gems

#16: Men at Work, “It’s a Mistake”

I mentioned my love for Men at Work’s 1983 hits in the comments last week, and, well, here we are. Aside from some tinniness to the jangle, which dates it, this is a classic song. Colin Hay’s boast, “We are the Men, and we’ll see you again!” after winning the Best New Artist Grammy may have made them a target for mockery –but they absolutely deserved that award. Their four top-10 hits feature major-league songcraft.

#13: Jackson Browne, “Lawyers in Love”

It was a good week for Cold War paranoia on the pop charts. Boy, if you thought our leaders were crazy then…

#15: Air Supply, “Making Love Out of Nothing at All”

Written by Jim Steinman and featuring a guitar solo from Rick Derringer, this is the only hit from the Air Supply discography that I can stand. I wonder if there were radio stations at the time that played this back-to-back with “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for maximum epic Steinman value.

#25: Shalamar, “Dead Giveaway”

Their discography doesn’t seem especially deep, but Shalamar’s three pop hits (and one near-miss at #44) between 1980 and 1984 are fantastic and feature a nice transition from disco to electronic funk.

#19: Naked Eyes, “Promises, Promises”

A decent-sized hit at the time that seems to have been overshadowed by the #1 hit “Always Something There to Remind Me,” this epitomizes the groovy rock of 1983.

Justly forgotten

#37: Sheena Easton, “Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)”

A total ripoff of “Gloria.” I’d much rather listen to the original.

#29: Loverboy, “Hot Girls in Love”

“She likes her tapes on 10
And it’s the same as her anatomy
She’s on a rainbow cruise
All the way to my room”

Ugh. Other than a few blips, Canada did not have a good decade on the American pop charts. Check out the list of Juno winners for Album of the Year in the 1980s — poor, poor Rush.

#20: Laura Branigan, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You”

Later a bigger hit for its cowriter, Michael Bolton, this song just doesn’t suit Branigan at all.

Bubbling under:
Madness’ “It Must Be Love,” The Motels’ “Suddenly Last Summer,” Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”

Is there a Rick Springfield song?

Top five:
#8: Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
#16: Men at Work, “It’s a Mistake”
#13: Jackson Browne, “Lawyers in Love”
#25: Shalamar, “Dead Giveaway”
#33: Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House”

Honorable mention: 
“Promises, Promises,” “She Works Hard For the Money,” “King of Pain,” “One Thing Leads to Another,” “(Keep Feeling) Fascination,” “Don’t You Get So Mad”