As I was writing about Anthony Callea's new album 'Thirty', I couldn't help but think about what I was doing 30 years ago. Unlike Anthony, who was busy being born and getting his diapers changed, I had completed my college education and moving to New York City. I had done my internship at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in the Fall of 1982, and came back to regroup before the big move. I would be joining Bill, who was there already doing his graduate work at Columbia. We were moving into an apartment on the Upper West Side. We were young and poor, so we didn't have air conditioning to keep us cool. Instead, we had screens for the windows, and a box fan to keep the air moving. What this also meant was we were getting the full sounds of the city, including the music that was playing on the boomboxes down below.
Clockwise: Michael Jackson; Men At Work; The Police; and Irene Cara.
I can be fairly sure we often heard the Top 5 songs of 1983, according to Billboard Magazine. I shall begin with the #5 song of the year, the first of two in the countdown by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. His rocking song "Beat It" was a sensation, and it is easy to hear why. Michael certainly was a multifaceted entertainer, able to write, sing, play the instruments, produce, and dance in ways most musicians could not even dream about. Check out the music video for "Beat It".
Australia has long been a good trade partner with the United States, especially when it came to music. They shared The Bee Gees with us, as well as a very young Kylie Minogue doing the "Locomotion". And there was also Midnight Oil, with their big sound on "Beds Are Burning". But in the #4 spot for 1983 we find another Australian band that made the trip across the Pacific worthwhile, Men At Work. They tore up the charts with the song "Down Under", offering us Americans a little slice of Australia, complete with a vegemite sandwich. So here is Men At Work, with Colin Hay on lead vocals, with "Down Under".
In 1983, there might not have been any movie with a bigger influence on Pop culture than 'Flashdance'. The movie was stylishly directed by Adrian Lyne, who used everything at his fingertips, from lighting to steam, to create sexy imagery, from the dancer working in the steel mill, to the ladies dancing in the club. And all this was tied up with a pretty musical bow, as there seemed to be song after song on the soundtrack that was making it up the charts. That includes the #3 of 1983, "Flashdance...What A Feeling" as recorded by Irene Cara. She wrote the song with Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey. Cara was already a proven singer, having placed two songs from the soundtrack of "Fame" on the charts in 1980. Enjoy as she sings "Flashdance...What A Feeling".
I have to say, I was surprised when I learned that Michael Jackson's second entry was not at #1, but at #2. You see, I didn't think anything scored on the Billboard charts like Jackson's "Billie Jean", off his album 'Thriller'. But after checking several places, it does seem like "Billie Jean" placed #2 in 1983, one of the many songs off the album that burned up the charts and off the selves of the record stores. And it had this great music video, with the lighting sidewalk that was so innovative at the time. You see, Michael was always pushing the boundaries. Have fun watching Michael Jackson sing "Billie Jean".
The song that ended up on top of the Billboard charts for 1983 is by on the the oh-so-many British Imports of the 1980s, The Police. Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland came together to form a Punk band in the mid-1970s, and I remember clearly loving their first album, 'Outlandos d'Amour'. The songs off the album were getting airplay on college radio, and I knew some of the DJs at my college station, so I got to hear the music early. "Roxanne" and others were so different, so new. five years later, they were still making music people wanted to hear, including the #1 song of 1983, "Every Breath You Take" from their album 'Synchronicity'.
Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. All the music is available for purchase on most music services, like iTunes and Amazon.