On this episode of Return to the ’80s, Robert and Paul welcome Ty Ray, from the Beats and Eats podcast, to the show. The guys Return to 1981, and count down the year’s top songs, movies, and television shows. Also, find out what the biggest selling toys were in 1981, and reminisce on the big news stories of the year.
As this current decade comes to a close, come join us to Return to the greatest decade ever, and check out the awesome year of 1981!
Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 – January 25, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome
Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets 4-2
New York Islanders defeat the Minnesota North Stars 4-1
LA Dodgers beat the New York Yankees 4-1
January 20 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days freed
March 6 Walter Cronkite signs off of CBS Evening News
March 30 Reagan Assassination attempt
April 18 The Longest Game – Pawtucket Red Sox tie Rochester Red Wings 2-2 in 32 innings (game resumed 23rd June)
May 11 Cats premieres in London
May 13 Assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II
Jun 2 Barbara Walters asks Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be
Jun 5 AIDS Epidemic officially begins when US Centers for Disease Control reports on pneumonia affecting five homosexual men in Los Angeles
Jun 12 Baseball players begin a 50 day strike, their 3rd strike
July 29 Royal Wedding
Aug 1 MTV premieres at 12:01 AM
Aug 3 13,000 Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) begin their strike; US President Ronald Reagan offers an ultimatum to workers: ‘if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated’
Sep 12 “The Smurfs” animated cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera first broadcasts in North America
Sep 25 Sandra Day O’Connor sworn in as 1st female supreme court justice
Dec 11 Muhammad Ali’s 61st & last fight, losing to Trevor Berbick
Dec 28 1st American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr is born in Norfolk, Virginia
Welcome back to this week’s Top 40 Countdown!!! If you missed the previous songs, you can go ahead and check out songs 40-31, 30-21 and 20-11. We are down to our top 10 songs. We have some true classic songs coming up, so let’s get to it. Let’s Return to the week ending November 27, 1982, and wrap up this week’s countdown.
Speaking of Michael Jackson, this was the first single released from his up and coming album, Thriller. At least he got the worst song out of the way! It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for all that yapping at the end.
Love this song by Joe Jackson! It peaked at #4, and was Jackson’s highest charting hit in the U.S. This song received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year in 1983 but lost to “Rosanna” by Toto, which is fine by me.
Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with this song. My mom is the biggest Neil Diamond fan, so this was my life. I do like his early stuff a lot. But, I didn’t care much for his easy listening music. This song was written by Diamond, Carole Bayer Sager and her then-husband Burt Bacharach. They were inspired by the blockbuster movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which Diamond, Bayer Sager and Bacharach had all seen together.
This classic duet is from the film, An Officer and a Gentleman (which I have yet to see). The movie’s producer, Don Simpson, demanded “Up Where We Belong” be cut from An Officer and a Gentleman, saying, “The song is no good. It isn’t a hit.” (Sounds like a Trump tweet. Oh shit, here come the comments and emails!). It’s a good thing Simpson was a movie producer, and not a music producer. The song was a #1 hit in the US for three weeks, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also won the BAFTA Film Awards for Best Original Song in 1984. Cocker and Warnes also won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1983.
This is one of those new songs that was placed on a Greatest Hits album. And this song definitely belongs there! I love this ONJ song! It was the first single released off of Olivia’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
I have always loved Laura Branigan’s voice, and I had a huge crush on her. I was devastated when she died in 2004 from a brain aneurysm. This was Branigan’s signature song. It peaked right here at #2, and remained her for three weeks.
“Hello” seems to get all the love out of Lionel Richie’s ballads. But, this one is my favorite. This was also Richie’s debut solo single. It was the first single released off of his self-titled debut album. The song won a Grammy Award for Richie in the category Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Not a shabby start for a solo career.
That wraps up this week’s countdown. I hope you enjoyed it. Did you have any favorite songs this week? Are there any that you got sick of hearing? I’d love to hear from you. Until next time, Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.
Welcome back as we continue this week’s countdown! If you missed the first 10 songs, you can go ahead and check out songs 40-31. My addiction to MTV was still in full force this week. There are some classics here today. So, let’s Return to the week ending November 10, 1984, and move on with the countdown.
Sammy’s signature song. This is a classic song and classic video. In 1994, Sammy was interviewed on the show In the Studio, and said this about the song:
“I was in a rent-a-car that wouldn’t go much faster than 55 miles an hour. I was on my way back from Africa. I did a safari for three months throughout Africa. A really great vacation after Three Lock Box. I was traveling for 24 hours, I got to New York City, changed planes, Albany, New York. Got in a rent-a-car. Had a place in Lake Placid at the time, a little log cabin, I used to go there and write with my little boy. Aaron, at that time, went to North Country school when I was on tour. I would go there and see him. It was a really cool getaway. But it took two and a half hours to drive there from Albany. And I was driving from Albany, New York at 2:00 in the morning, burnt from all the travel. Cop stopped me for doing 62 on a four lane road when there was no one else in sight. Then the guy gave me a ticket. I was doing 62. And he said, ‘We give tickets around here for over-60.’ and I said, ‘I can’t drive 55.’ I grabbed a paper and a pen, and I swear the guy was writing the ticket and I was writing the lyrics. I got to Lake Placid, I had a guitar set-up there. And I wrote that song there on the spot. Burnt.”
Another great song! This was the theme for the film, Teachers. I really need to get back and revisit this movie. I remember enjoying it at the time. And check out this cast: Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Ralph Macchio, Richard Mulligan, Laura Dern, Crispin Glover, and Morgan Freeman.
Yet another classic song. This was one of Duran Duran’s biggest hits, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video was pretty cool too. It had a post-apocalyptic feel too it, like the Mad Max movies. The video should have been good. It cost over one million British Pounds to make, which was a staggering amount for a music video at that time.
This was the fifth and final single released from the Sports album. All the previous singles from the album was severely overplayed. This song was one of my favorites from the album, and I don’t ever remember hearing it on the radio! This was Heuy Lewis and the News’ commentary on the Vietnam War.
Originally a #1 R&B hit in 1959 by Phil Phillips. The Honeydrippers were formed by former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant. The band also included fellow former Led Zeppelin member Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and other friends and well-known studio musicians. They scored a big hit with this song, peaking at #3. The band released only one recording, an EP titled The Honeydrippers: Volume One. With the EP’s success, Plant stated that a full album would be recorded, but it never was.
This title track to New Edition’s second album, was their big breakthrough. It would peak at #4 on the Hot 100. They were trying really hard to be the new edition of The Jackson 5. They did have some pretty decent music, including this song.
I didn’t remember this song at all. It was released off of elton John’s Breaking Hearts album, which featured the song “Sad Songs (Say So Much)“. This may be blasphemous on this page, but I much prefer Elton John’s ’70s music to his ’80s music. He does have some really good ’80s songs. But a lot, like this song, are just middle-of-the-road.
Well that wraps up today’s list of songs. What do you think, now that we are halfway through? Any favorites? The countdown is just going to keep getting better. Come back tomorrow as we continue the countdown.
Welcome back as we wrap up this week’s Top 40. If you missed the previous songs, you can go back and check out songs 40-31, 30-21, and 20-11. This has been a great week of music so far. And there are some classics here today. And don’t forget, you can click on the song title to get to the YouTube video to listen to the song. Now, let’s Return to the week ending October 17, 1981, and wrap up this week’s countdown.
We begin the top 10 with a decent rock song. This is off of The Little River Band’s Time Exposure album. The album was produced by George Martin. This was the band’s last album with Glen Shorrock on lead vocals until 1988, and with lead guitarist David Briggs.
This was the first single released from the legendary Escape album. This began the hugely successful commercial run of Journey, 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees. Do hear more about Journey, check out the first episode of the Return to the ’80s Podcast:
This was the first single from Stevie Nicks’ debut solo album, Bella Donna. It was written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell, inteneded to be a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song. However, Jimmy Iovine, who was also working for Stevie Nicks at the time, arranged for her to sing on it. This was a good call, because these two unique voices sound great together.
This was the theme song of the 12th James Bond movie of the same name. Easton is the only artist (to date) to be seen singing the theme song to a Bond movie during its opening titles. This song was also nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1982.
This song was my introduction to The Rolling Stones. I didn’t have MTV yet, but I did see the song on the television show, Solid Gold. The basic track of this song was written during the 1978 sessions for the Rolling Stones’ album Some Girls. It was at first cut as a reggae-rock track named ‘Never Stop’, but after dozens of takes the band stopped recording it and it was shelved. In 1981, with the band looking to tour, engineer Chris Kimsey proposed to Mick Jagger that archived songs could be put in the set. It was re-worked to the classic that we now know, and was recorded for the Tattoo You album.
This is Lionel Richie’s third entry on this countdown. This was recorded as the title track of the film adaptation of Scott Spencer’s novel Endless Love. The song ended up being a bigger hit than the movie, reaching number 1 on the Hot 100, where it stayed for nine weeks from August 15 to October 10, 1981.
Before we reveal the #1 song, let’s see what was topping some of the other charts this week.
And we have another movie soundtrack song. Coming off his mega-successful self-titled debut album, Christopher Cross followed up with this smash hit. This would be a #1 hit for 3 weeks. The song also won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Although his music was still great, Christopher Cross’ popularity faded away quickly once everybody started getting their MTV. This was definitely his high point.
Well that wraps up this week’s countdown. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. Let me know your thoughts on this list, and on any part of the countdown. We’ll count down a different year in the near future. In the meantime, Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.
Welcome to the Return of the Top 40!!! And what a week to jump back into this! These were the biggest hits in the U.S. 30 years ago this week. There are going to be some true classics this week. Remember, you can click on the song title to see the video. This is going to be exciting, so let’s get to it, and Return to the week ending March 9, 1985, and begin the countdown.
What better way to Return to the countdown than to begin with one of my favorite Chicago songs. Not only is this a fun, upbeat song, but the video is totally awesome! The first half is Indiana Jones-like, and the second half was influenced by Casablanca.
Boy, summer does sound good about now! This classic Don Henley song went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. The video won the Video of the Year at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards, and also won that year’s awards for Best Direction, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography.
It’s always great to hear Jeffrey Osborne, who is from my home state of Rhode Island. This song is off of his 3rd album, Don’t Stop. I had never heard this song before. It is more uptempo than most of his other songs that have been released. I’m liking this one!
This is a very fun dance song by the family DeBarge. This song was written by legendary songwriter Diane Warren. This song reached all the way up to #3 on the Hot 100 charts, making it the biggest hit by DeBarge.
This was the fifth and final single released from the classic album, Heartbeat City. This is another song that I was unfamiliar with. This ballad isn’t too bad. Not one of my favorites by them, but not too bad.
This collaboration between David Bowie and the jazz fusion band the Pat Metheny Group, was recorded for the soundtrack to the film The Falcon and the Snowman – a movie I never heard of, which starred Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn. This has that classic David Bowie new wavey sound to it.
This is a nice song, written, composed, and produced by Lionel Richie as a tribute to Marvin Gaye, who had died earlier in the year. This is one of those songs that I remembered as soon as I heard it. This song was Diana Ross’ last major hit on the US pop singles chart, hitting the Top 10 in the spring of 1985.
Well, I’m getting better at digging up these Prince videos! If you are new to these countdowns, Prince usually makes an appearance. However, he is about the only artist that does not allow their music on YouTube, or just about anywhere else on the internet, for that matter. So I normally substitute it with another song. The is the second Prince song in a row I was able to find. This song was the final single to be released from the Purple Rain soundtrack.
Turn it up!! Now, we’re in my wheelhouse! This was the lead single released from Autograph’s debut album, Sign in Please. It would be their only Top 40 hit, reaching No. 29 in the Billboard 100. In 1985, Guitar Player magazine awarded Steve Lynch “Guitar Solo of the Year” for this song.
Well, that wraps up the countdown for today. It will continue tomorrow. Did you like these first 10 songs so far? Even though I was 14 at the time of this countdown, I only remembered about half of these songs. I would have thought it would have been more. Did you discover any new music here? Give me your thoughts on the countdown, and what you were doing at this time in 1985.