In 1981, I had just moved to Frankfurt, Germany and, at first, my radio was my best friend. There was one American radio station who played Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 every Sunday from 2-6 in the afternoon. I listened to that show religiously, but also experimented with some German radio stations. During one of these forays, I heard a song with one of the coolest guitar riffs I had heard. The song was completely in German so I could not understand a word, but I did pick up on the artist: Falco. Fast forward to 1983 and I hear that guitar riff again, only this time I could understand the lyrics. After the Fire covered (and translated) Falco’s song and hit #5 on the AT 40 with “Der Kommissar.” My wife, who is a high school German and Spanish teacher, tells me that the translations is not bad, understanding that they had to change things to have it make sense in English. A ‘kommissar’ is a police chief or government officer and in this song he is on the trail of a couple who is constantly trying to escape his notice. The lyric that remains in German, “Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?” is translated into “Everything OK, officer?” They know he is chasing them and they are feigning innocence. When you watch the video look for the waiter – that’s Falco! This song has legs. Not only is it recorded in German by Falco and in an English translation by After the Fire, but the music is also used by Laura Branigan in her song “Deep in the Dark” (yes, I am a closet Branigan fan). Of course, we all know that Falco will have his own hit “<a href="http://” target=”_blank”>Rock Me Amadeus” in just a few years – can I count him as a One Hit Wonder for that song? I am including links to Falco’s German version, After the Fire’s English version, and Branigan’s song that uses the music.
Welcome back as we continue the countdown! If you missed the previous articles, you can check out songs 40-31 and 30-21. I think this has been a great countdown this week already. But, today’s list features quite a few of my favorite bands of all time! These songs may be familiar to most of us, but it is really nice to go back to the time when these hits were new to us. So, let’s Return to the week ending May 28, 1983, and continue the countdown.
What better way to start the day than some classic ’80s! This was the biggest hit for The Tubes, topping out at #10. The disturbing music video was directed by Kenny Ortega. Ortega was the choreographer on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Dirty Dancing, as well as directing Michael Jackson’s This is It.
Here is an awesome ballad by an awesome band! This song came off the album Toto IV, which also provided us with “Rosanna” and “Africa“. [I’m pausing the countdown right now as I listen to “Africa”. If this countdown is late, you’ll know why. Oooh, shiny object!]
Yet another classic ’80s tune! This countdown is a great time capsule for ’80s music. This song was originally performed by Falco. Falco’s version is in German, so it wasn’t a big a hit in the U.S. as it was in Europe. However, a year later, After the Fire recorded this song in English, and made it a smash hit, topping out at #5 on the charts.
I think we would be hard-pressed to find a countdown in the early-to-mid ’80s that didn’t have at least one Hall & Oates tune. This song was written, and originally performed by Mike Oldenfield, featuring Maggie Reilly on main vocals. A year later, Hall & Oates took the song, and made it a huge hit, reaching up to #6 on the charts. I prefer the Hall & Oates version, but the original is also really good.
One of my all-time favorite bands of all-time! Incredible song off of an incredible album. Def Leppard is still going strong today, as they just released a new, self-titled, album. If you are interested in Def Leppard at all, you really need to check out that album. It’s probably their best since Hysteria, in my humble opinion.
This was a very cool ’80s song…until Weird Al ruined it for me. Now, whenever I hear this song, I can’t get Weird Al’s “I Lost On Jeopardy” out of my head, complete with Don Pardo telling Weird Al that he doesn’t win a year supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat, he doesn’t get to come back tomorrow, he doesn’t even get a lousy copy of the home game. He’s a complete loser!
Another one of my favorite bands, and their second entry on the countdown this week. This is a very nice Dennis DeYoung ballad from Styx’s Kilroy Was Here album. I knew that this was a great hit, but I didn’t know that it charted as high as #6.
Yet another one of my favorite bands! Queen and Journey are my #1 and #2 bands. This song is one of Journey’s most recognizable hits. It is such a great ballad. Between Steve Perry’s incredible vocals, Jonathan Cain’s awesome keyboard riff, and Neal Schon’s classic guitar solo, this is perfection. When I saw Journey in concert in 1999 for their comeback with Steve Auggeri, they closed out the concert with this song. I had never been to a rock concert that closed out with a ballad. It was very classy.
And we have yet another classic ’80s song that is also a cover. This song was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in the ’60s. It reached up to #49 on the charts in 1964 by Lou Johnson. And just as Naked Eyes has that classic ’80s sound, Lou Johnson has that classic ’60s soft rock sound. The Naked Eyes version was a big hit in the U.S., topping out at #8.
We’ll wrap up today with some Rick Springfield! And it’s not “Jessie’s Girl”! This is an outstanding rock song. It was actually nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1984. But, just like anybody else who released any songs between 1982 and 1984, he lost to Michael Jackson.
Well, that’s it for today. We’ll close out this awesome countdown on Friday. Again, feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts of any of the music we’ve covered so far.