Sunday, April 8, 2018

The 1980s Project

So on April 9th, 2018, I turn 49. This is probably a good time for reflection coupled with a bit of nostalgia. We are shaped by the pop culture of our youth. There are no movies like the ones that we saw in our teen years, no television shows like the ones that we watched as kids, and no music like the music that was the soundtrack of our adolescence. By sheer coincidence, my teen years almost exactly coincide with the decade of the 1980s: I turned 11 in 1980, and turned 20 in 1989. This means that the songs of the 1980s are also the songs to which I grew from a child to an adult.

Covering all of the music of the 1980s would be an impossible task, so I'm going to limit this project to the songs that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles or the Cash Box Top 100 charts in the United States or reached #1 on the U.K. Chart in the United Kingdom during that time period. This project is to list and comment on, in chronological order, this list of #1 songs from the beginning of 1980 through the end of 1989. Because these three charts diverged as much as they coincided, this means that the account here will be a weird amalgamation of these three sources. I have a rough plan in mind for what order to list the songs on the various charts, that basically boils down to "list the next song to reach #1 on any of the charts, and only list each song once". To the extent that there might need to be tie-breakers, I will simply be incredibly arbitrary about it and just pick which song I want to write about first.

This will obviously miss a lot of good music from the era - including a lot of music that I like more than the music that is on these lists - but these are the songs that shaped the popular culture around me. Even though I actively disliked a fair number of these songs when they were popular (and still do for some of them), these songs were more or less inescapable when they came to the public consciousness. Even if you wanted to ignore them, most of them were so omnipresent that it just wasn't really possible.

I'm merging this project with my regular Musical Monday, so for the foreseeable future, the Musical Monday selections with also be part of the 1980s Project as I work through the decade starting with Another Brick in the Wall (Part II), Escape (The Piña Colada Song) and Please Don't Go and running through Another Day in Paradise and Do They Know It's Christmas? and place each of these songs into my own personal context.

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

04/09/18: Please Don't Go by KC and the Sunshine Band
04/23/18: Escape (The Piña Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes
04/30/18: Rock with You by Michael Jackson
05/07/18: Brass in Pocket by the Pretenders
05/21/18: Do That to Me One More Time by Captain and Tennille
05/28/18: Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers
06/04/18: Cruisin' by Smokey Robinson
06/11/18: Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen
06/18/18: Atomic by Blondie
06/25/18: Longer by Dan Fogelberg
07/02/18: Together We Are Beautiful by Fern Kinney
07/09/18: Going Underground/Dreams of Children by the Jam
07/16/18: Working My Way Back to You - Forgive Me Girl by the Spinners
07/23/18: Call Me by Blondie
07/30/18: Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners
08/06/18: What's Another Year by Johnny Logan
08/13/18: Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.
08/20/18: Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) by the Mash
08/27/18: Crying by Don McLean
09/03/18: Coming Up by Paul McCartney
09/10/18: The Rose by Bette Midler
09/17/18: It's Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel
09/24/18: Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra
10/01/18: Use It Up and Wear It Out by Odyssey
10/08/18: Magic by Olivia Newton-John
10/15/18: The Winner Takes It All by ABBA
10/22/18: Take Your Time (Do It Right) by the S.O.S. Band
10/29/18: Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie
11/05/18: Sailing by Christopher Cross
11/12/18: Start! by the Jam
11/19/18: Upside Down by Diana Ross
11/26/18: Feels Like I'm in Love by Kelly Marie
12/03/18: Don't Stand So Close to Me by the Police
12/10/18: Another One Bites the Dust by Queen
12/17/18: Woman in Love by Barbara Streisand
12/24/18: The Tide Is High by Blondie
12/31/18: Lady by Kenny Rogers
01/07/19: Super Trouper by ABBA
01/14/19: Master Blaster (Jammin') by Stevie Wonder
01/21/19: (Just Like) Starting Over by John Lennon
01/28/19: There's No One Quite Like Grandma by St. Winifred's School Choir

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  1. This should be interesting as I'm about 6 months older than you.

    1. @Laura: It's going to be a long and interesting ride.