Don’t Do It to Me Like That One More Time

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(Pictured: Tom Petty on stage in 1980.)

In memory, the winter of 1980 is weird. At the time, it seemed like one of the greatest seasons of my life. I had a hot girlfriend, I was the boy genius program director of the campus radio station, and I had a paying radio gig that showed the world my superior talent. But as I relive that season via the American Top 40 show from the weekend of February 9, 1980, I can’t say that I’m exactly enjoying it. The 2021 me, conscious of how the plans and dreams of 1980 worked out, wants his egotistical, headstrong, and exuberant young self to pump the brakes a little bit.

39. “99”/Toto
32. “Another Brick in the Wall”/Pink Floyd

26. “Why Me”/Styx
24. “Third Time Lucky”/Foghat
22. “Fool in the Rain”/Led Zeppelin
8. “The Long Run”/Eagles
5. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”/Queen

Lots of rock superstars were selling 45s in this week, and we’ll get to Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac in a bit.

38. “Send One Your Love”/Stevie Wonder
29. “Wonderland”/Commodores

4. “Cruisin'”/Smokey Robinson
Motown superstars too.

37. “Ladies Night”/Kool and the Gang
36. “Him”/Rupert Holmes
31. “Refugee”/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
27. “Too Hot”/Kool and the Gang
12. “Escape”/Rupert Holmes
10. “Don’t Do Me Like That”/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Somebody with a more searchable database or a better work ethic might be able to say if having three acts on the chart each with two separate, non-double-A-sided singles is some kind of record.

Casey answers a letter about whether any song has ever topped the pop, soul, and country charts. The answer is yes: Elvis in 1957 with “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” and the Everly Brothers in 1958 with “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” Before you go thinking this could never happen again, remember “Old Town Road,” which topped the Hot 100 (for 19 weeks, the longest run in chart history) and the R&B/Hip Hop chart in 2019. Had it not been disqualified from the Billboard country chart after it reached #19, it might have done the deed too.

Digression: I did not write about “Old Town Road” at this website, although I tried. It was a little absurd for Billboard to say it wasn’t country enough, given the proliferation of trap beats and faux R&B in the genre over in the last decade. Nevertheless, I remain unwilling to draw a straight line from country’s black pioneers, your DeFord Baileys and Charley Prides, to Lil Nas X, although other writers I respect are not.

LDD: “Rise”/Herb Alpert. In which Georgina tells about meeting Bill, a shy young rock musician. She wanted a relationship with him but it didn’t work out because (loose translation) he just wanted to bone. Bill ended up on drugs and she hasn’t seen him for 11 years and even though she’s married to someone else now, she still loves him and thinks about him, and “Rise” is the right song to get her feelings across. (Seems to me that Bill’s interest in rising was the problem, though.)

34. “Lost Her in the Sun”/John Stewart
17. “Daydream Believer”/Anne Murray
This week represents peak John Stewart, with his most beautiful single and his most famous song both in the Top 40.

20. “I Wanna Be Your Lover”/Prince. Casey tells the story of how “Roger Nelson” turned down four record labels before signing with Warner Brothers. That’s OK. Casey will have the next decade to get Prince Rogers Nelson’s name right.

16. “Romeo’s Tune”/Steve Forbert
7. “Sara”/Fleetwood Mac
One of these is my favorite song on the show, unless it’s “Don’t Do Me Like That.”

LDD: “Daniel”/Elton John. In which a girl, forbidden to see her older brother, a blind and legless veteran who hasn’t spoken a word in the six months since he was injured, bursts into his hospital room screaming his name. As the doctors and nurses drag her out, the brother speaks her name. The brother’s name is in fact Daniel, and Bernie Taupin has said the song is about a wounded veteran, but that doesn’t make the LDD any less horrific and tasteless.

3. “Coward of the County”/Kenny Rogers
2. “Do That to Me One More Time”/Captain and Tennille
1. “Rock With You”/Michael Jackson
There’s not much action at the top of the chart; the top five and eight of the top 10 are in the same positions as last week. Michael and the Captain and Tennille hold for a fourth straight week, and Kenny is at #3 for a third week. In 1975, the Dragons did four weeks at #1 with “Love Will Keep Us Together.” “Do That To Me One More Time” would be #1 for only a week, but its eventual two months in the top three makes it hard to argue that it wasn’t the bigger hit.

How Sweet the Sound

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(Pictured: Judy Collins performs on TV, 1969.)

We continue here with a look inside the American Top 40 show from January 30, 1971, in which we find some key differences between the show as it was heard back then and the version that is repeated today.

EXTRA: “Isn’t It a Pity”/George Harrison
EXTRA: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”/Shirelles
At the end of the first hour of the original 1971 broadcast, Casey played “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” as an extra, part of a feature on the #1 songs “10 years ago today.” On the repeat, it was snipped and offered as an extra at the end of the third hour. The extra included with the first hour of the repeat was “Isn’t It a Pity,” the flip side of “My Sweet Lord,” introduced as a track from the #1 album of the week, All Things Must Pass. But here’s something weird: “Isn’t It a Pity” wasn’t heard on the original 1/30/71 show at all. While on later shows extras are voiced by modern-day announcer Larry Morgan, extras from the earliest shows are often segments voiced by Casey and snipped from original shows. The 1/31/71 extra must have been taken from either January 23 or February 6, when All Things Must Pass was still #1, and when it looks from the cue sheets as if Casey played both sides of the single, albeit a shortened version of “Isn’t It a Pity.” (He had also played both sides on the December 26, 1970, show, including the whole seven minutes of “Isn’t It a Pity,” but that required him to drop a song from the top 40.)

26. “Amazing Grace”/Judy Collins. What does it mean for 50 years to pass? Imagine how unlikely it would be today for a hymn, recorded unironically by a singer with a pure, clear voice and backed by a choir, to be a vast pop success. “Amazing Grace” did three weeks at #1 at WHBQ in Memphis, and also hit #1 in San Bernardino, California, and Birmingham, Alabama. It was a top-10 hit in Dallas, Wichita, Portland, Oklahoma City, Orlando, St. Louis, Fresno, Tulsa, Columbus, Seattle, Kansas City, Phoenix, New Orleans, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and smaller cities including Madison, where it made #3. It would peak at #13 in Cash Box, #15 on the Hot 100, and #5 on Billboard‘s Easy Listening chart.

25. “Watching Scotty Grow”/Bobby Goldsboro. Me, 2018: “I’d rather listen to ‘Honey’ 100 times than ‘Watching Scotty Grow’ once.”

18. “Mr. Bojangles”/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
17. “Born to Wander”/Rare Earth
16. “Immigrant Song”/Led Zeppelin
12. “Black Magic Woman”/Santana
11. “If I Were Your Woman”/Gladys Knight and the Pips
10. “Stoney End”/Barbra Streisand
7. “I Hear You Knockin'”/Dave Edmunds
5. “Rose Garden”/Lynn Anderson
4. “One Less Bell to Answer”/Fifth Dimension

Each of these had a particular sound on my green plastic Westinghouse radio. “Born to Wander,”  “Immigrant Song,” and “Black Magic Woman” came sizzling in like transmissions from another reality, which for 10-year-old-me, they were.

15. “I Think I Love You”/Partridge Family
EXTRA: “Theme From A Summer Place“/Percy Faith
14. “Love the One You’re With”/Stephen Stills
EXTRA: “We Can Work It Out”/Beatles
On the original 1/30/71 broadcast, Casey ends the second hour of the show as you see here. Percy Faith is on as part of a feature about the two acts that have had the #1 song for the entire year twice: the Beatles in 1964 and 1968 (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Hey Jude”) and Faith in 1953 and 1960 (“Song from Moulin Rouge” and this). After “Love the One You’re With,” he recaps the top five from “five years ago today” and plays “We Can Work It Out.” It’s all kind of awkward. (The Percy Faith record was snipped from the repeat and offered as an extra.)

13. “It’s Impossible”/Perry Como. Down from #10 the previous week, and his biggest hit since 1958. He would return to the Top 40 one more time, with the Don McLean song “And I Love You So” in 1973.

9. “One Bad Apple”/Osmonds
3. “Lonely Days”/Bee Gees
“One Bad Apple” vaults to this lofty position from #34 the week before, but Casey reports that it’s already #1 in Salt Lake City. He does something similar after “Lonely Days,” name-checking someone at an affiliate station “on the coast of Maine” who says the song is #1 there.

8. “Your Song”/Elton John. In the second of what would be four weeks at #8.

2. “My Sweet Lord”/George Harrison. On the green plastic Westinghouse, this sounded like God himself playing a 50-foot guitar.

1. “Knock Three Times”/Dawn. In its second week at #1. Casey introduces it in an oddly downbeat fashion, musing that most young American males have been in the position of falling in love with a woman they’ve never met or spoken to. “That’s what this song is about,” he says.

I hadn’t been there yet, but it wouldn’t be long.

Good Time

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(Pictured: Van Morrison at work in 1971.)

Before we get into the American Top 40 show from January 30, 1971, let me stipulate for the rest of this year/decade that I can’t believe it’s been a half-century because it doesn’t seem that long ago to me, etc. and so forth.

With this show, American Top 40 reaches the end of its seventh month on the air. It’s still evolving: in spots, Casey still talks too fast and it feels like he’s ad-libbing, but he’s miles better than he was, and he and his producers are starting to figure out the template that the show would use throughout its long life, one that countdown shows everywhere still use today.

40. “Somebody’s Watching You”/Little Sister
39. “Precious Precious”/Jackie Moore
38. “Tears of a Clown”/Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
36. “Do the Push and Pull”/Rufus Thomas
35. “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved”/James Brown
This show gets jumpin’ with a soul-music party. In AT40‘s earliest days, Casey would say that the Billboard Hot 100 is based on sales data from 100 record stores across the country. That does not seem like a lot, and I am betting that the bulk of them were in major metros. And so I wonder if that might have skewed the chart performance of hard R&B records with little pop appeal, like “Do the Push and Pull” and “Get Up, Get Into It,” which were more likely to sell in New York or Chicago than in, for example, Dubuque or Allentown.

37. “1900 Yesterday”/Liz Damon’s Orient Express. Right in the middle of all that soul shoutin’ comes a record as ethereal as the cigarette smoke mentioned in the lyric. This original video, made in the group’s native Hawaii, really doesn’t fit the song, but watch it and see if you can identify the actor reading the newspaper in it. (Answer below.)

34. “Games”/Redeye
31. “Amos Moses”/Jerry Reed
30. “One Man Band”/Three Dog Night
23. “For the Good Times”/Ray Price
20. “We Gotta Get You a Woman”/Runt
I would have heard these songs on my first radio, the fabled green plastic Westinghouse tube-type, and as I listen to them today, I can see it sitting in its spot next to my bed. Casey tells how Jerry Reed commutes from his home in Nashville to Los Angeles every week to tape episodes of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, on which he’s a guitarist in Campbell’s band. Casey says Reed prefers the 1800-mile round trip to actually living in Los Angeles.

32. “Domino”/Van Morrison
I’m halfway sure that “Domino” was the first record I ever bought with my own money, unless it was “Love the One You’re With,” on this show at #14.

29. “River Deep, Mountain High”/Supremes and Four Tops
21. “Stoned Love”/Supremes
19. “Remember Me”/Diana Ross

Diana Ross left the Supremes at the end of 1969 but it didn’t hurt them much. Jean Terrell stepped into the lead-singer slot and the group’s hits (so to speak) just kept on comin’. As for “Remember Me,” it’s another one of those green plastic Westinghouse records.

28. “If You Could Read My Mind”/Gordon Lightfoot. Which Casey introduces in his FM-radio register, so mellow he’s barely audible.

On the original 1971 broadcast, “If You Could Read My Mind” was followed by a national commercial for MGM Records. MGM was of the show’s earliest major sponsors and plugging the new Eydie Gorme album, It Was a Good Time. In a radio world where formats and audiences were not as fragmented as they would become, it’s not the craziest buy I can think of. The Eydie Gorme spot appears three times on the show in all.

The Increase label also had three spots on the show to plug its Cruisin’ series of 50s and 60s oldies compilations, which also feature DJ patter. The series was the brainchild of Ron Jacobs, one of the co-creators of American Top 40. The first seven volumes of Cruisin’ came out in 1970; featured DJs included Dick Biondi, Hunter Hancock, and Joe Niagara. Once upon a time, the Cruisin’ albums were ubiqitous in used-record stores, although I imagine they’re pretty pricey nowadays.

It will take us another installment to get through all of this show, so stop back tomorrow.

(Answer to the question above: the actor reading the newspaper in the “1900 Yesterday” video is Gilbert Lani Kauhi, who billed himself as Zulu, and is most famous for playing Kono in the first four seasons of the original Hawaii Five-O. )

Let’s Do It Again

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(Pictured: Paul Simon on stage in December 1975.)

Several years ago, I referred to the week of January 10, 1976, as “one of the half-dozen most 70s weeks of the 70s”. I discovered that I have in my archives the American Top 40 show from that week, which I have somehow never written about. So here we go.

40. “Slow Ride”/Foghat
39. “Golden Years”/David Bowie
38. “Theme From S.W.A.T.“/Rhythm Heritage
37. “Paloma Blanca”/George Baker Selection
36. “Squeeze Box”/The Who
“One of the half-dozen most weeks of the 70s”. QED. I could quit right now.

35. “Let’s Live Together”/Road Apples. Casey says this band is from Beloit, Wisconsin, which is about an hour south on I-90 from Madison, although there’s not a single citation on the Internet that confirms it. By 1976, they were based in Cambridge, Massachsetts, and a popular local act: “Let’s Live Together” hit #1 in Boston, Providence, and Pawtucket. (Bakersfield, California, too.) It’s technically a debut on American Top 40, but this is its third week in the top 40 of the Hot 100. Twelve songs entered the 40 over the two holiday weeks on which Casey did his year-end show.)

Casey answers several letters in the first hour of the show. One about the soundtrack with the longest run on the album chart reveals that the four longest-running soundtracks were all from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. Questions about whether there has ever been a week in which all of the Top 10 were by female artists, and another about whether there has ever been a week with no debuts within the Top 40, are disposed of with a single word: no.

Over the course of the show, Casey welcomes 10 new stations to the AT40 family. By the end of 1976, the show would be on over 350 stations coast to coast and around the world.

29. “Fly Robin Fly”/Silver Convention
24. “Winners and Losers”/Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds
21. “Over My Head”/Fleetwood Mac
18. “Evil Woman”/Electric Light Orchestra
17. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”/Paul Simon
13. “Singasong”/Earth Wind and Fire
6. “Fox on the Run”/Sweet
One of these is the best song on the show. My fondness for “Fly Robin Fly” and “Winners and Losers” borders on the irrational. With “Over My Head,” Fleetwood Mac started a chart run that would keep them somewhere in the Hot 100 for most of the next two years. “Evil Woman” and “Singasong” (one word, as it was styled on some early copies) still get radio play today. “50 Ways” was up from #34 the week before and would hit #1, in one of the great cosmic jokes, during Valentine’s week. And it occurs to me that nothing else sounds quite like “Fox on the Run.”

19. “Let’s Do It Again”/Staple Singers
5. “Saturday Night”/Bay City Rollers
These songs each hit #1 while Casey was doing the top 100 of 1975, on December 27 and January 3. (I wrote about that show in 2014: part 1 here, part 2 here.) He quotes reports in the Soviet press saying that the Rollers’ music “is designed, like all drugs, to stupefy people,” and that Rollermania is “more hysterical, more maniacal” than that inspired by the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. The Rollers’ manager responded by threatening to have the band march on Moscow. Well played, sir.

16. “Fly Away”/John Denver
15. “Rock and Roll All Nite”/KISS
A massive train wreck, without a commercial break or even a jingle between them.

12. “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)”/Glen Campbell. Casey reminds us that for 1975, Campbell had the #1 song of the year on the country chart and #2 on the pop chart, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” “Country Boy” peaked at #11 pop and #3 country during its chart run and was Billboard‘s #100 hit of 1976, but I’m betting that if there’s one song in the top half of this Top 40 that you don’t know, this is it.

4. “Love Rollercoaster”/Ohio Players
3. “Theme From Mahogany“/Diana Ross
2. “I Write the Songs”/Barry Manilow
These were all in the same spot as the previous week. “Love Rollercoaster” was in its third week at #4. It would stay #4 for one more week before going to #3 and then to #1 on January 31.

1. “Convoy”/C. W. McCall. With so little chart action at the top over the holidays, seeing “Convoy” vault from #6 to #1 is another indication of just how hot a record it was as 1976 began. I’ve written about it a lot over the years as a example of textbook storytelling technique, but here, it locks down the basic premise of this post: that the week of January 10, 1976, was as purely 1970s as the 1970s ever got. Oddball records and timeless classics, superstars and one-shots, they’re all here.

(Note to patrons: a new Sidepiece, with commentary on Wednesday’s events in Washington, went out yesterday. Check your spam filter. To receive future editions, sign up here.)

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?

Can’t Slow Down

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(Pictured: Lionel Richie performs at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.)

On the weekend of December 29, 1984, American Top 40 counted down the Top 100 hits of 1984. It was an eight-hour show that stations were required to air on either the 29th or 30th; if they wanted to repeat it over New Year’s, they were free to do so. The show was structured so it could be played in two four-hour blocks, should a station prefer to air it that way. In the intro, Casey says the year-end tabulation ends with the second week of December, making it a more accurate representation of the year than shows from earlier years, when the chart ran from November to November.

The music on this show is peak 80s, with a literal ton of iconic records that have never been off the radio in 36 years. We’ll need two installments to get it all in, and we’re going to skip around a lot.

100. “Lights Out”/Peter Wolf.  Introduced with a “number 100” jingle. When you have the top syndicated radio show in the world, you can afford to pay for a production element you’ll use once a year.

95. “Breakin’ (Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us)”/Ollie and Jerry
94. “I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You”/Ray Parker Jr.

89. “Think of Laura”/Christopher Cross
87. “Got a Hold on Me”/Christine McVie
84. “Desert Moon”/Dennis de Young
77. “They Don’t Know”/Tracey Ullman
73. “Breakdance”/Irene Cara
65. “Let the Music Play”/Shannon

Lots of iconic records on the countdown, yes, but also a few that were already being forgotten by the end of 1984 (even Christine, sadly).

93. “Head Over Heels”/Go-Gos. The Go-Gos are a band I respect more than I like, and “Head Over Heels” is the best thing they ever did, by a mile.

86. “Wrapped Around Your Finger”/Police. This is probably my favorite thing by the Police, although it’s slathered with the insufferably showy erudition that makes Sting’s solo work unlistenable. I imagine him writing in his study at home, thinking up the rhyme of “tuition” with “fruition,” and then saying to the cat, “Listen to this, it’s great.”

82. “Cruel Summer”/Bananarama. Casey was always quite interested in the breakdown of foreign acts vs. Americans, male vs. female, the number of songs with girls’ names (six on this countdown, by the way) and so on, although your mileage may vary as to whether it’s information worth knowing. That said, he notes that Bananarama is only the second all-female foreign act to hit the Top 40 in America. Silver Convention was the first.

79. “Penny Lover”/Lionel Richie
48. “Running With the Night”/Lionel Richie
31. “Stuck on You”/Lionel Richie
8. “Hello”/Lionel Richie
In addition to putting four songs on this show, Richie was also Billboard‘s Album Artist of the Year thanks to the mega-gazillion success of Can’t Slow Down. It was not, however, the #1 album of 1984. That honor went to Thriller, just as it had in 1983. Thriller was #1 from December 1983 into April 1984, even though all of its seven singles had been released by the end of ’83. Only four other albums hit #1 in 1984: the Footloose soundtrack, Sports by Huey Lewis, Purple Rain, and Born in the USA.

78. “I’m So Excited”/Pointer Sisters
70. “Strut”/Sheena Easton
58. “Sister Christian”/Night Ranger
47. “I Can Dream About You”/Dan Hartman

46. “Automatic”/Pointer Sisters
44. “The Heart of Rock and Roll”/Huey Lewis and the News
28. “Jump (For My Love)”/Pointer Sisters
20. “Caribbean Queen”/Billy Ocean
14. “Missing You”/John Waite
13. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”/Wham
11. “Ghostbusters”/Ray Parker Jr.

I’ve told the story before, how we switched to a Top 40 format at my radio station in the fall of 1984, and how “The Heart of Rock and Roll” was the first song we played. These and other songs on this countdown remind me of the early days of that format, when it was a thrill to hear my station coming in hot.

69. “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again”/Peabo Bryson
61. “Borderline”/Madonna
52. “Sad Songs (Say So Much)”/Elton John
39. “Union of the Snake”/Duran Duran
36. “Drive”/Cars
29. “Joanna”/Kool and the Gang
25. “I Feel for You”/Chaka Khan
18. “Say It Isn’t So”/Hall and Oates
One of these is the best record on the countdown, but I can’t decide which. Is it “Drive”? It’s probably “Drive.”

68. “Legs”/ZZ Top. Me, at the top of this post: “The music is peak 80s, with a literal ton of iconic records that have never been off the radio in 36 years.” It took 32 songs to reach one of those icons, although your mileage may vary with “Thriller” (#77) or “Heart and Soul” by Huey Lewis (#80).

Coming in the next installment: distasteful hypes, big-but-forgotten singles, and a surprising #1 song of the year.