Monday, March 21, 2011

Billboard Top 5 of 1983

billboard,top 5

It was an interesting year for me. I had finished my internship at the Actor's Theater of Louisville at the end of 1982, officially sealing off my college career. I returned home to work for a bit, getting money together as I went to move to New York City to try my hand at working in the theater. To be honest, I am not sure I would have made the move alone, so moving in with Bill, there to work on a graduate degree at Columbia, certainly made it easier to take such a large step 'on my own.' He was also working an internship at the Circle Repertory Theater Company in the literary department. Shortly after moving at the end of April, Bill heard of an opening, and told me about it. I went in to interview with the Production Manager, Kate Stewart, and soon was working another internship, earning $50 a week, with the hopes of getting a real job in the fall. I started work on the production of the Sam Shepard's Fool For Love, with the original off-Broadway cast including Ed Harris and Kathy Baker, and a replacement cast with Will Patten and an unknown actor named Bruce Willis as an understudy. I began work taking care of the wardrobe, but my role expanded to also include set maintenance. By the start of the fall subscription series, I was hired on as the Master Carpenter, and I was totally stoked. I was on the staff of the theater whose roster included Marshall W. Mason and Lanford Wilson, along with designer John Lee Beatty, all nestled neatly in Greenwich Village, while living with Bill in an apartment in Spanish Harlem. We had no money, but it was a great time of my life.

The fifth most popular song on the Billboard chart from 1983 was the punchy electro-pop song by Eddy Grant, Electric Avenue. Grant lived in England, having moved there with his family from Guyana when just a child. He started making music in the 60s, but didn't start a solo career until the late 70e, and went on to have the platinum-selling song which became a hit worldwide.

The band Toto came together in 1977, made up of some the the best studio musicians of the period. Their rock music was a smooth blend of pop and rock, making seamless records tailored to fit each member of the band. Africa was the second hit from the Triple-Platinum album Toto IV, Rosanna being the first in 1982. Both songs soared on the charts and Africa landed at #4 for 1983.

With torn sweatshirts with cut out necklines, the movie Flashdance made a huge impact on popular culture in terms of fashion, but that was not all. It also contributed several chart-topping songs to the mix, including the #3 song of the year, Michael Sembello's Maniac. Sembello was a songwriter of note, working for some of the top names in the industry, including Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Barbra Streisand, among others, before releasing a solo album. One cut, Maniac, was added to the soundtrack to Flashdance, and the combination of great song in a hit movie brought the song to #3 on the Billboard chart for the year.

The New Wave of rock music was still in full bloom, and it earned the #2 spot on the year-end chart when Australian rockers Men At Work with their quirky song, Down Under. The song was the second hit for the band, the first coming in 1982 with Who Can It Be Now?. Down Under spent four weeks atop the US charts, an impressive feat for the band.

Bonnie Tyler had her first hit on US radio in 1977 with the song It's A Heartache, and had to wait six years to get her second. The song, Total Eclipse of the Heart, was penned by Jim Steinman, who to many was the King of Bombast, having written several hits for Meatloaf with histrionics normally reserved for opera. But paired with Tyler, Steinman mined musical gold, and helped the singer avoid the tag of one-hit-wonder forever.


  1. I love hearing your NYC theatre experiences...
    we need to compare notes.
    I like framing your stories with the songs that were part of the soundtrack for the year.

  2. This is my favorite year in the 80's - it was the year of the second British invasion and there were many 1 hit wonders in this year - one thing reigns true - this year had some amazing music!

    Of note is that 5 of the Top 10 songs in this year were not #1's but they were played so much they deserved to be in the Top 10!

    Cheers my friend - I miss you!



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