We Bop

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(Pictured: Cyndi Lauper on stage in 1984.)

We continue here with American Top 40‘s countdown of the Top 100 hits of 1984. This is AT40‘s own tabulation of the hits and not Billboard‘s, a distinction that will be important later.

64. “All Through the Night”/Cyndi Lauper
34. “She Bop”/Cyndi Lauper
24. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”/Cyndi Lauper
21. “Time After Time”/Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi, Huey Lewis and the News, and Lionel Richie are the only artists with four songs among the Top 100. (Nine others have three.) “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” will be in the first paragraph of Cyndi’s obituary, but “Time After Time” and “All Through the Night” are immeasurably better, and “All Through the Night” (which is down at #64 because it hadn’t finished its chart run when the Top 100 was tabulated) is another nominee for best song on the show.

63. “Love Somebody”/Rick Springfield. Does anybody remember “Love Somebody”? How about the movie it’s from, Hard to Hold, in which Rick Springfield starred? Anybody? Hello?

62. “Almost Paradise”/Mike Reno and Ann Wilson
15. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”/Deniece Williams
6. “Footloose”/Kenny Loggins
Casey says that the Footloose soundtrack has tied Urban Cowboy for the most Top-40 singles from one movie soundrack, with six—three of which are on this show. (It is not, however, the #1 soundtrack album of the year; that’s Purple Rain.) Thirteen movie songs are on this year’s Top 100 in all, the most since 1978, when there were 12.

57. “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”/Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson. This didn’t really happen, did it?

56. “State of Shock”/Jacksons
27. “Somebody’s Watching Me”/Rockwell
The way the rest of the Jackson family glommed onto Michael for the Victory tour in 1984 was a distasteful hype, and so was the lazy, uninspired Michael/Mick Jagger duet on “State of Shock.” Similarly, “Somebody’s Watching Me” wouldn’t have gone anywhere had it not featured Michael, although the fact that Rockwell was Berry Gordy’s son couldn’t have hurt it.

40. “Twist of Fate”/Olivia Newton-John. It’s a legitimate shocker to hear this at all, let alone up so high on the list. More than practically any other record on this list, it’s gone down the memory hole—and it went down fast. I don’t think anybody played it for long after it fell out of recurrents. ONJ herself quickly fell out of fashion, too. “Twist of Fate” was her last big hit.

38. “Oh Sherrie”/Steve Perry
37. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”/Elton John
33. “Love Is a Battlefield”/Pat Benatar
32. “Break My Stride”/Matthew Wilder
30. “Self Control”/Laura Branigan
In the 30s the show becomes a largely a blur, with a string of songs nobody really needs to hear again.

35. “99 Luftballons”/Nena. Casey plays a special hybrid edit of both the German and English versions.

22. “Talking in Your Sleep”/Romantics
12. “Out of Touch”/Hall and Oates
I’m not surprised either of these are on the list, only that they’re up this high. I can’t remember the last time I heard “Out of Touch” on the radio; if you’re going to program, for example, a dozen Hall and Oates oldies, there are a lot of better ones in line ahead of it.

17. “Dancing in the Dark”/Bruce Springsteen. Casey flashes back to the Time and Newsweek covers of 1975 that called Bruce “rock’s newest superstar” and says that fans and critics believed it. Then he says, “It wasn’t until 1984 that the entire nation discovered Bruce Springsteen,” with the release of Born in the USA. All except for The River doing a month at #1 in 1980, yeah, Bruce Springsteen was a virtual unknown.

16. “The Reflex”/Duran Duran. Casey says that from #16 on up, it’s all #1 singles. They include some of the most memorable records ever made in any decade. “The Reflex” doesn’t seem like one of them. Sometime in 1984, the Durans reached a point where it ceased to matter if their records were all that good; they hit big regardless.

10. “I Just Called to Say I Love You”/Stevie Wonder. Casey back-announces this by saying, “Stevie Wonder, phoning in the tenth most-popular song of the year,” thereby being inadvertently truthful.

5. “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)”/Phil Collins. Casey says this was the most-requested song of 1984 for Long Distance Dedications.

4. “What’s Love Got to Do With It”/Tina Turner
3. “Jump”/Van Halen
2. “When Doves Cry”/Prince
“When Doves Cry” was #1 for 1984 according to Billboard, but this isn’t Billboard‘s chart. 

1. “Say Say Say”/Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. As Casey introduced this, talking about two superstars pairing up on the #1 song of the year, I honestly could not remember what record he was talking about until he spoke the names. True, it did six weeks at #1 (in December 1983 and January 1984), but who plays it now?

23 thoughts on “We Bop

  1. mikehagerty

    Oh, someone (we really need an italics tool) will lead Cyndi’s obit with “She Bop”. Probably at Stereogum.

    “Love Somebody” came up in a 1984 aircheck I listened to recently and I swear it’s the first time I ever heard it. That can’t be, because I was only 28 and still very much a CHR listener that year. But it’s a total blank.

    You’re not wrong to say that Olivia “quickly fell out of fashion”, but let’s note that she did so 13 years after her first sort-of hit (“If Not For You”, which peaked at #25 in the U.S.) or 11 years after her first undeniable hit (“Let Me Be There”, which peaked at #6).

    Re: Springsteen. RKO’s refusal to add “Born to Run” on KHJ and KFRC was the only thing that kept that from being a top 10 single. And the album was a monster. Even ignoring that, Casey should have remembered “Hungry Heart” was Top 5.

    1. SteveE

      Mike Hagerty: Any idea why KHJ didn’t play “Born to Run”? I was still listening to the station in ’75, but the only place I heard it on the radio was on “AT40.” Also, I will stand up for two of the disparaged records in the 30s: “Break My Stride” and “Self Control.”

      1. mikehagerty

        SteveE: I don’t know. Charlie Van Dyke was the PD at the time. He and I worked together in the 90s and are still in touch…he said he didn’t remember. Looking at back issues of R&R, WRKO, Boston was the only RKO station to play it.

        KHJ and KFRC may have been right. It actually stiffed on the back page of R&R, too—a two-week peak (10/17 and 10/24/75) at number 26. Looking at the parallels, the problem seemed to be a lack of major market support, apart from WRKO, WFIL, Philadelphia and WCFL, Chicago WABC, New York added it late—on 10/24, at number 36. It fell to number 40 in the second week.

        But beyond that, only a handful of the secondary and tertiary stations playing it showed it going top ten. It pretty well stalled out mid-chart at every station that played it. Go figure.

  2. spinetingler

    99 Luftballons is the best on the list, and there are about a half a dozen others I wouldn’t change the dial if they came on.

    Still a pretty bad period for “pop” music.

    1. I recall a comment by Z-104/Madison Program Director Jonathan Little on the music of the 1980s (and 1984 in particular): “lousy songs with great looking videos.”

  3. Alvaro Leos

    “To All the Girls” would begin a dark period for country crossover, with a full three years until a country song even made the top 40 of the pop charts. Does anyone know why? I know we’re tempted to just say “MTV”, but remember “Islands In The Stream” topped the chart in the tail end of 1983.

    1. JP

      As a C&W fan myself, I’d have to say that 80s country sucked until the New Traditionalists like Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam showed up.

      Maybe that’s why…

  4. Alvaro: Yeah, but….

    “Islands In The Stream” was barely a Country record. It had two huge Country stars singing it, but it was a Bee Gees song originally written for Marvin Gaye. And, with Country, Adult Contemporary and CHR airplay combined, it got to #1.

    I’m not even sure you can count “To All The Girls”. Willie defied categorization and Julio Iglesias made that more an AC record that crossed over to Country on the strength of Willie’s name.

    Given all that, I think the answer IS “MTV”. But there were always exceptions to MTV driving CHR’s playlists. If there hadn’t been, every CHR station would have sounded like KROQ.

    Which then raises the question—what was the last true Country crossover to CHR before the three years in the dark?

    1. Aaron McCracken

      Mike: Perhaps Deborah Allen’s “Baby I Lied” from late ’83/early ’84… Off the top of my head, 1983’s Country crossovers were scant. Kenny’s two pop hits prior to “Islands” (“We’ve Got Tonight” and “All My Life”) were also pop/AC tunes that qualify as Country only because of the artist’s name. Same goes for Ronnie Milsap’s “Stranger In My House”, which broke his streak of number one Country hits by peaking at #5. Alabama’s “The Closer You Get” was a Country chart topper, but really lacks the Country “sound” (and barely scraped the pop Top 40 besides). So back to 1982?…

      1. mikehagerty

        Aaron: I don’t count Juice Newton (an AC act with some Country seasoning), and I’ll argue that Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle’s duet of “Just You and I” (which peaked at #7) was an AC record by two Country stars.

        So I’m gonna say mid-1982, when Willie Nelson’s “You Were Always On My Mind” was getting Top 40 airplay, along with Alabama’s “Take Me Down” and Ronnie Milsap’s “Any Day Now” (though we could certainly debate whether a Bacharach tune could ever be Country).

        After those three left the chart, I think that was it.

      2. porky

        John Anderson’s “Swingin’?” Though it just missed the pop top 40 it was like an 80’s equivalent of Freddie Hart’s “Easy Lovin’.” Anderson’s tune was everywhere, remember them spinning it in a club next to Talking Heads’ “Burnin’ Down the House.”

        Off the top of my head re: Bacharach country song “Story of My Life” by Marty Robbins. Man, the “is it pop or is it country?” debate cannot be easily solved.

  5. JP

    Re: Bruce Springsteen…up until 1984, he was essentially an album artist. His hit singles were few, far between and hardly remembered (except for “Hungry Heart”). So, in the land of America’s Top 40, he may as well have been a stranger from nowhere. In the summer of ’85, I overheard three teenage girls talking about music on the bus. Somebody mentioned Springsteen, and another girl said she liked his “first” song, “Dancing In The Dark,”

    As if his previous six albums didn’t exist (and as if he wasn’t already popular). But again, these were teenage consumers, not historians.

    1. mikehagerty

      JP: Excellent point. And to a teenager, “Hungry Heart”, five years back, may well have been before she was listening to Top 40.

      It’s like the old story (probably apocryphal) of the teenage girls browsing the record bins in the 70s when one excitedly shouts to her friend “Hey! Paul McCartney was in some group before Wings!”

  6. David

    It’s obviously not a popular opinion in these parts, but I consider the 1983-84 era to be THE golden age for Top 40. There’s a really well-written overview by the critic Michelangelo Matos that just came out (“Can’t Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop’s Blockbuster Year”) that plausibly argues the same thing.

    I realize, of course, that age is perhaps the determinative factor when someone sees a halcyon era in pop music, but I’d argue that this was a wonderful era for a wide variety of commercial records that used the opportunity presented by MTV, synthesizers, and the return of dance music to really lift the industry out of the doldrums of the early 1980s through a marriage of melody, fashion, image, technology, and beat. Sadly, by 1986, the counter-revolution had largely won, and the late 1980s–at least with respect to Top 40–were, in large part, garbage. But this brief era between “Thriller” and Mister Mister, pump it straight into my veins!

    Also, although it was a pooh-poohed a bit yesterday, I’d go to the mat for Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” as being incredibly influential. It was a foundational song for HI-NRG/House Music and still sounds terrific. Though I admittedly have a high tolerance for synths and fake Kenny Loggins on the chorus . . . .

  7. Wesley

    63. I remember in the glory days of pay cable TV checking out Hard to Hold after its theatrical run. One of the first plot points had Rick’s character take a shower after a concert and somehow end up naked in public. At that point I turned it off, figuring I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this flick. Leonard Maltin was right in nicknaming it Hard to Watch.

    57. Yes this hit, thanks mostly to our parents and/or grandparents. It spawned a parody on The Tonight Show where Johnny Carson assumed Willie’s part, and given Johnny’s marital (and extramarital) entanglements, it made more sense as well as producing some chuckles.

    56. One unimpressive duet follows an even worse one. Between this and his grating teaming with David Bowie a year later to redo “Dancing in the Street,” Mick Jagger managed during his short solo career away from the Stones the dubious feat of coming up with the two worst top 10 duets of the 1980s IMO.

    35. Though many sources classify it as a foreign language hit, most stations I heard then and now play only the English language version titled (wrongly) “99 Red Balloons.”

    1. Dammit, I was afraid this was going to be number one as I previously noted. What was it I just said about Jagger having the worst pair of hit duets in the 1980s? Maybe I need to retract that statement …

  8. Brian L Rostron

    “State of Shock” was lazy (wasn’t the original idea a duet with Freddie Mercury? And I think MJ complained that Mick sang offkey), and “Dancing in the Street” was camp, but “Ebony and Ivory,” “The Girl is Mine,” and “Say Say Say” was a run of three bad duets that combined for 13 weeks at #1 and a #2 (and the debut single from “Thriller”). Of course, McCartney was probably smart to team up with great talents as his songs gradually became less successful in the early ’80s.

  9. John Gallagher

    Even though Rick Springfield is primarily known for “Jessie’s Girl”, I do remember “Love Somebody” as well as “I’ve Done Everything For You.” The one song from Rick in 1984 that I have no recollection of, except for the title, is ‘Bruce.”

  10. mikehagerty

    Porky: I guess that would have depended on where you lived. Peaking at #43 isn’t “everywhere”, at least on the radio. Clubgoers (especially by ’83) were a small percentage of the population, even within the demographic.

    Checking “Swingin'” out on the ARSA Las Solanas database, its biggest Top 40 success was a 14-week (!) chart run at WLS in Chicago. It peaked for two weeks at #12, and, uncharacteristically, they rode it all the way to the bottom six weeks later at #41.

    WABX in Detroit played it, as did KBEQ in Kansas City.

    Beyond those, its Top 40 airplay came from Canada (one station in Alberta, one in British Columbia, and one in Nova Scotia), Mexico (Baja’s “Mighty 690”, which was the only West Coast station to play it), one station in Florida (Palataka, 55 miles south of Jacksonville), three in Maine (Caribou, Presque Isle and Bangor), one in Minnesota (St. Cloud), two in North Carolina (Monroe and Greensboro), one in Ohio (Akron), one in Pennsylvania (Waynesboro), one in Texas (Portland, a suburb of Corpus Christi), one in West Virginia (Charleston).

    So I’ll stick with “You Were Always On My Mind” and “Take Me Down” as the last gasps.

    As for Bacharach, yeah, “Story of My Life” was a hit for Marty Robbins, who was Country. But there’s nothing inherently Country about the song. Perry Como could have cut it. Instead, Perry cut Bacharach’s “Magic Moments” (which musically is only about two steps away from “Story” and went to #1 instead of #15.

    1. WLS charted “Swingin’,” but if they actually ever played it, I never heard it. There were a few records they charted back in that early-80s day but didn’t play. On the other hand, they tended to keep what we’d consider recurrents around at the bottom of their survey for a really long time. If they did that with “Swingin’,” then maybe they did play it. But I don’t think they played it much.

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