Thursday, July 25, 2013

Top Songs of the Summer of 1983

David Bowie photo davidbowie_1983_zps3b5a320e.jpg Irene Cara photo Irene_Cara_zps0db627fe.jpg
The Police photo The_Police_zps0552cc9f.jpg Eurythmics photo eurythmics_zpsb0688a02.jpg
Clockwise: Davie Bowie; Irene Cara; The Eurythmics; and The Police.

Thirty years ago, there were four songs that hit #1 for the sixteen weeks from the end of May to the end of August of 1983. And when looking at the songs, it is no wonder they topped the Billboard Hot 100. I actually owned three of the four songs, and enjoyed each and every one of them. I am starting with the #1 song for the week ending May 21. Although he was no longer Ziggy Stardust nor was he the Thin White Duke, David Bowie was still a superstar and had many, including myself, rushing to the record stores to buy whatever he was putting out. His 'Scary Monsters' album still remains a favorite of mine, as did the follow up, 'Let's Dance'. With producer Niles Rodgers, there was some magic going on, including in the title track. I not only remember buying and loving the album, but hearing this track everywhere in New York City. I was surprised to learn it was his second of only two #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Enjoy the music video for "Let's Dance".

In 1983, you couldn't go anywhere and not feel the reach of the movie 'Flashdance'. The movie was a surprise hit, and people were lining up to see it. There was the fashion impact, with cut out sweatshirts, and the leg warmers were everywhere as well! And there was the soundtrack album, put together by Giorgio Moroder, who did an incredible job. There were two singles off the album, and both made it to #1 on the US Pop chart. The first was the soaring "Flashdance...What A Feeling", re-establishing Irene Cara's hold as queen of the soundtrack. She had already scored big with songs from the movie 'Fame'. With the new song, Cara spent six weeks at #1, from the week ending May 28th to July 2. I hope you love Irene Cara singing "Flashdance...What A Feeling".

Now I remember coming across much new music when I was in college, first hanging out with guys working at the radio station, and soon hanging out in the station itself. There I found an album called 'Outlandos d'Amour', by a band I hadn't heard about. They were The Police, featuring the amazing Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers. I fell in love, and was ready to race to the mall to get whatever was coming out next. By the time 1983 hit, they were releasing their fifth album, sounding much more polished and finished than their punk roots every predicted. They still had an edge - after all, how can Sting not bring edge? The first single off 'Synchronicity' was the brooding "Every Breath You Take". The song kept The Police in the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for an astounding eight weeks, from the week ending July 9th to August 27th. I can't believe you haven't heard their ode to stalking, "Every Breath You Take", but perhaps it hasn't been recently.

There was another sweet surprise in 1983, with another new group to get to know. I hadn't really heard of the Eurythmics before, and neither Annie Lennox nor David Stewart were names that were familiar. That would quickly change, with one song at the end of summer. Out of nowhere, I saw the music video for "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" on MTV, back when they were all about music, not entitled teens and twenty-somethings. Everyone was blown away, not only for the music, which was great, but also the visuals, with Annie sporting an androgynous look. Annie was a startling talent on so many levels, with that incredible voice, an ability to look gorgeous one moment, and oddly striking the next. But for the week ending September 3, The Eurythmics spent one week at #1 with "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"

As our summer in kicking into high gear, you just have to wonder if thirty years from now, will people be able to look back at the #1 songs of 2013 with the same wonder we can look at 1983. Quite literally, from the week ending May 21, to the week ending September 3, 1983, these four incredible artists tied up the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for sixteen weeks, and on the minds of all paying attention to music. I hope you enjoyed revisiting the songs as much as I did.

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