Friday, July 1, 2011

Billboard Top 5 of 1984

billboard,top 5

It was an interesting year, 1984. Things were settling in for me as I settled in to life in New York City. Bill & I started the year in an apartment in Spanish Harlem, just west of Amsterdam Boulevard on 109th Street. I had made the move from intern to Master Carpenter at Circle Repertory Theatre Company, working just off Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village. I finished up my first season there with a production of Lanford Wilson's Balm In Gilead, a tense and biting urban drama. It was co-produced by Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and had a magnificent cast. It was directed by John Malkovich and featured Gary Sinise, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, James McDaniel, Glenne Headly, and Giancarlo Esposito. After an extended run in the theater over the summer, the show moved to the Minetta Lane Theatre, also in the West Village. In the Fall, Bill & I moved to a new apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I loved that neighborhood.

The Billboard Top 5 was quite eclectic in 1984, including the #5 song, the progressive rock band Yes and Owner Of A Lonely Heart, from the album 90215. It is interesting, but the UK band scored their best chart position in the US, hitting #1 on the Pop and Mainstream Rock charts. With the highly recognizable vocals of singer Jon Anderson, and Steve Squire's guitar work, it was classic Yes music put through the Pop strainer of producer Trevor Horn. It was the only Pop #1 on the US charts for the band, who were known more for their edgy rock than hitting the Top 40 airwaves.

Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael made for pretty pictures and catchy pop, especially when sharing the stage under the name Wham! With the perky Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Wham! managed to top most of the charts around the globe, including taking the #1 spot on the US Pop Chart. The #4 song of the year was the first single off their second album, Make It Big. Should anyone have glucose-tolerance issues, beware before you hit the play below. If not, be warned, the catchy tune will live in your mind for days.

When Culture Club made it across the ocean, it was with the song Karma Chameleon. Boy George was leading the band, his gender-bending appearance mesmerizing audiences around the world. The song, from the Kissing To Be Clever album, topped the US pop charts, firmly establishing the band as a new force on the music scene, and the song was the #3 song of the year.

Movie theme songs had been losing power on the chart, but not for singer.songwriter Ray Parker, Jr. His song Ghostbusters, for the hit movie of the same name, spent three weeks atop Billboards Hot 100 chart. Jaunty and catchy, the song was an instant hit. It was in the middle of a controversy in a matter of months, when Huey Lewis & The News released their new single, I want A New Drug. Shortly thereafter, a lawsuit was filed, claiming Parker has plagiarized Lewis' song, and the case was settled out of court. It certainly didn't slow the song up, as it was the #2 song of 1984.

Claiming the #1 song of the year honors was someone cheered far and wide, both for her awesome talent as well as an amazing comeback story. Tina Turner was part of the highly touted Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Ike and Tina were married, but with the fame came indulgences that left Ike out of control, and Tina running for her life. So when she released the album Private Dancer, the critics and the buying public couldn't get enough of her first since the 70s. What's Love Got To Do With It? was the first single off the album, and was the top single of 1984.


  1. Hey Howard - just as an FYI, these complilations that Rhino put out do not actually reflect Billboard's real Top 10 of each year. They name these CDs as "TOP HITS" just for titling purposes. The actual Top 10 of this year were (in order of 1-10): “When Doves Cry”, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, “Say Say Say”, “Footloose”, “Against All Odds”, “Jump”, “Hello”, “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, “Ghostbusters”, and finally “Karma Chameleon”.
    The titles of these collections are totally misleading and totally understandable that one would think this was the actual Top 10 of the Year.

    (P.S. - I'm gonna miss our Secret Shows!!!! I'm feeling the withdrawal already!)

  2. I love every single song in that Top 10...the 80's were just the best. You look at that list, and there's classic rock (Yes), R&B (Denise Williams); New Wave (Thompson Twins) and pure pop magic (Wham!)!

    1984 was a great year to for music - Prince making his landmark Purple Rain, Whiney coming on the scene, hard rock from Twisted Sister, Autograph, Dokken etc was making an impact, New Wave was the mainstay, and Born in the USA/Reckless was out....sweet!

  3. Jeffrey, I know, but this list came with a convenient graphic...

    SteveA, So true. Ah yes, I remember it well. LOL



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