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 as we continue this week’s countdown! If you missed songs 40-31, you can go ahead and check them out. This is a lot of fun discover new old music! It looks like there are 2 songs that I know today. The rest is a mystery right now. Hopefully there will be more pleasant surprises. So let’s Return to the week ending March 6, 1983, and find out! And don’t forget, you can click on the song title to listen/watch the YouTube video, and you can click on the album cover to purchase the song from Amazon.
This single from the Mirage album, was a big hit in the U.K., but did not chart in the U.S. This Linsdsey Buckingham tune sounds like a ’50s song. It’s not bad. It can’t touch anything from Rumours, but it’s not bad.
I never heard of Joan Armatrading before. She had 3 Top 40 songs in the U.K., and none in the U.S. This is actually her highest charting single in the U.S. topping out at #78. I love this song! I need to listen to more of her music, and see why she didn’t hit it big. This definitely should have been a bigger hit in the U.S.
Here is a familiar tune. It was a big hit in 1978 for Bob Seger, who also wrote the tune. But, Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton crushed it, making it a #1 hit in the U.S., and making it a world wide hit, including here in the U.K.
OK, I’ll admit that I was a little nervous bringing this video up on YouTube, thinking that with a name like Haysi Fantayzee, that I would have a stripper dancing on my work computer. Luckily, Haysi Fantayzee is a group and not a person. This is a good New Wave song, with a totally ’80s sound.
While Soft Cell is basically know for “Tainted Love” in the U.S., they had a string of hits in the U.K. The double A-sided single “Numbers” / “Barriers” failed to reach the Top 20, breaking the duo’s run of five consecutive Top 5 singles in the UK. But, it’s still not too shabby, peaking right here at #25.
I’m liking this song by this English synth-pop band. I feel like this could have been in a John Hughes film.
That wraps up today’s list of songs. Lotso New Wave songs. I would have been uninterested back then, but I’m loving it now. We are already halfway through the countdown. What do you think so far? I’d love to hear from you. Come back tomorrow for the next 10 songs.
Welcome back as we wrap up this week’s countdown. If you missed the previous songs, you can go back and check out songs 40-31, 30-21, and 20-11. If you are in the U.S., I hope this countdown has provided a little escape from the election day craziness. This has been a great week of music. For those of us who grew up around the time of this countdown, we were so lucky to enjoy some great music. Now let’s Return to the week ending November 10, 1984, and wrap up this countdown.
Earlier in the countdown, we had a song by Tommy Shaw in the wake of the band Styx falling apart. Now we have the former Styx frontman, Dennis DeYoung with his solo effort. This is an outstanding song, that would peak right here at #10.
Thanks to producer, David Foster, we were right in the middle of Chicago’s renaissance. I do get slightly annoyed that most people only know of Chicago from their power ballads, even though they have some incredible rock songs. But, with a song like this, I can totally see why. This is one of my favorites by them. I love that both Peter Cetera and Bill Champlin sing on this. I love both of their voices. Great combination!
David Bowie (still can’t believe he is gone) was still making an impact on the music world at this point. This song was off of his Tonight album, which was his follow-up to the mega-successful Let’s Dance album. This song was launched with a 21-minute short film, Jazzin’ for Blue Jean. The film won the 1985 Grammy Award for “Best Video, Short form” (Later renamed “Best Music Video”), which would be Bowie’s only competitive Grammy Award during his career. He was nominated for several, but this was his only win, in addition to his Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
This song is from Tina Turner’s huge comeback album, Private Dancer. This song was originally recorded and released in 1981 by Spider, a band from New York City with one of the co-writers, Holly Knight, as a member. Of course Tina had the most successful version. The song won Tina Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female, one of four Grammys awarded to Turner in that ceremony.
There weren’t too many acts as big in the ’80s as Hall & Oates.This was their lead single from their 1984 album Big Bam Boom. It would be their last #1 hit. The song was also their 14th straight top 40 hit since 1980.
Before we continue, let’s see what was topping some of the other charts this week in 1984:
While Prince was a megastar performer himself, he also wrote music covered by other artists. This was one of them. Prince wrote this song, and it was on his debut album. It was also covered by The Pointer Sisters on their 1982 album, So Excited!.
Then Chaka Kahn took over, and this song would start a big comeback for her. Melle Mel (from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) did the rapping. And Stevie Wonder is on the harmonica.
This was Wham!’s big breakthrough hit. It became their first American and UK number-one hit. To be honest, I really hated this song when it first came out. I like it now because of its nostalgic value. It should also be noted that while it was at the top of the charts for two weeks, it prevented the next song from becoming a #1 hit…
Yes, perhaps Prince’s signature song, this never hit #1 (still can’t believe he is gone). That doesn’t change anything though. This is an iconic song of the decade. For a lot of people, when you mention the ’80s, one of the first images that come to mind is the cover of the Purple Rain soundtrack and movie poster. And if you listened to our Prince episode of the Return to the ’80s podcast, you would know that there is a Journey connection here. After recording the song, Prince phoned Jonathan Cain from Journey asking him to hear it, worried it might be too similar to “Faithfully“, a Journey single composed by Cain which had recently been in the charts. Cain reassured Prince telling him the songs only shared the same four chords. Prince was extremely sensitive to Copyright infringement. It’s good to see he put his money where his mouth was, and was careful himself.
This was one of Stevie Wonder’s most commercially successful hits. It was featured in the Gene Wilder (still can’t believe he’s gone) movie The Woman in Red. The ballad won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was also nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year and Best Pop Instrumental Performance at the Grammy Awards.
I always loved Billy Ocean’s voice. This is a good one. It won Ocean the 1985 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, making him the first British artist to win in that category.
Well that wraps up this week’s Countdown. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. Did you have any favorites or least favorites? Let’s do another one of these in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.
Welcome back as we continue the countdown. If you missed the previous songs, you can go back and check out songs 40-31 and 30-21. In my opinion, this week’s songs just keep getting better and better. Sometimes, there is a little lull, where there are songs that are just meh. But every day has been solid so far, and it will continue. So, lets Return to the week ending November 10, 1984, and continue the countdown.
This song does not get as much attention in the U.S. as much as a lot of Culture Clubs hits. I like this. I don’t know if it’s because of the quality of the song, or because it does not get played to death on radio. This was the lead single from the band’s third album Waking Up with the House on Fire, and peak at #17 in the U.S. It cracked the top 10 in several other countries.
I have no idea how this song got by me. I love it! And I love all three singers. What a great combination. Then add in the fact that this song was written by David Foster and Richard Marx, and this is pure gold.
This was the beginning of Madonna becoming an ’80s icon. She would be cemented in with that status with her next album, Like a Virgin. But, the songs from her self-titled debut album, including this song, laid the groundwork. This was Madonna’s fourth single released from that album, and her first Top 5 hit, peaking at #4.
“Some Guys Have All the Luck” was written by Jeff Fortgang, and originally performed by The Persuaders in 1973, and became a Top 40 hit. Rod Stewart’s version here was more successful, peaking at #10.
Jeff Fortgang was only in the music industry for three years. He went on to become a doctor in Psychology, and still practices in the Boston area today.
I always get excited when I get to play some Pointer Sisters! This song was originally released in 1982, from their album So Excited! and was a Top 40 hit, peaking at #30. It was re-released, after being slightly remixed, on their 1984 album, Break Out, and hit the charts once again, peaking at #9 this time.
Rhode Island in the house!! John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band (who are from my home state of Rhode Island) performed this song for the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack. This is a fun Springsteenesque rocker. They have a lot of other great songs, but this is their signature song.
This was the fifth and final single released from Lionel Richie’s classic, Grammy winning, Can’t Slow Down album. As with all the other singles taken from Can’t Slow Down (“All Night Long (All Night)”, “Running with the Night”, “Hello” and “Stuck on You”), “Penny Lover” was a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, spending two weeks at #8 in December 1984.
I’m starting to see a pattern this week. This is yet another favorite song of mine by an artist. This was Cyndi’s fourth Top 5 hit in the U.S. It was off her classic She’s So Unusual album. It was originally written and performed by Jules Shear in 1983. In an article in the Chicago Tribune, Jules Shear said, “[it’s] like a big bonus really. Cyndi Lauper does a song (‘All Through the Night’) that’s on a solo record of mine. I just thought, ‘No one’s really going to hear this.’ Then she does it, and it becomes a Top 5 song.”
Welcome back to this week’s Top 40 countdown. If you missed the previous songs, you can go back and check out songs 40-31 and 30-21. At this point in time, MTV was still in its infancy, as it just debuted 2 1/2 months ago. Some artists already threw their hat in the ring, and filmed music videos. Others were not yet ready to embrace this medium. So, this is a very interesting and transitional time. Now, let’s Return to the week ending October 17, 1981, and continue the countdown.
As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with Billy Joel. This song was originally released in 1976 on his Turnstiles album. But, it didn’t have success until it was released on Joel’s live album, Songs in the Attic.
Another fun fact: Billy Joel confirmed that he wrote the song with Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes song “Be My Baby” in mind. Because of this, Ronnie Spector recorded her own cover version of “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” in 1977 with the E Street Band, soon after Joel released his first recording of the song on Turnstiles.
During this part of the decade, there were a lot of country-crossover hits. But, now we have a jazz-crossover hit! This is a song I would never have listened to back when it was released, but absolutely love it now. This song came off of Al Jarreau’s Breakin’ Away album, which was his most popular album, spending two years on the Billboard 200. it also won Jarreau the Grammy Award in 1982 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.
This isn’t exactly one of Kenny Rogers’ most well known songs. But, it did reach number 14 on the Hot 100 and 5 in the US Country charts. It was off of his album Share Your Love, which was produced by Lionel Richie.
This was the first single released off of ELO’s 1981 album, Time, and became an international hit. I’m not sure if I would have heard of this song if it wasn’t featured in The Coffee Achievers TV commercials….
Well, if you’re gonna follow-up “Jessie’s Girl”, this is the way to do it. Rick Springfield proved he was here to stay with this Sammy Hagar penned tune. Just like “Jessie’s Girl”, this rocker came off of Rick Springfield’s 1981 international breakout album Working Class Dog, and would reach up to #9 on the charts.
I’m not sure what the U.S. presidential debate fact-checkers would say, but I believe that this is where the rage of the ’80s sax solo began. This was the first single released from Foreigner’s classic 4 album. The album was produced by “Mutt” Lange. The then-unknown Thomas Dolby played synthesizer on some tracks on the album, including this song. And the aforementioned sax solo was performed by by Motown great Junior Walker.
That wraps up today’s list of songs. So far, this has been a pretty solid week. And the best is yet to come! So come back Friday to see what the Top 10 was this week in 1981. And as usual, I would love to hear your thoughts on this countdown. See ya Friday!