Billboard #1s for the Week Ending December 12, 1981

This week’s Time Capsule!





Hot 100 Physical Olivia Newton-John


R & B Let’s Groove Earth, Wind & Fire


Country Still Doin’ Time George Jones


Adult Contemporary The Old Songs Barry Manilow


Rock Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic The Police


Album 4 Foreigner


This week sees an song that is unique in many ways debut on the charts. The cryptically titled Titles by Greek electronic musician and composer Vangelis entered the Hot 100 at #94. The song was the instrumental track played over the titles of the movie Chariots of Fire. In its eighth week, the single was relabelled Chariots of Fire (while it sneaked up to #68). After that, it moved a bit more briskly, finally entering the Top 40 in its 11th week; it broke into the Top 10 in week 16 and finally hit #1 in its 22nd week. That makes it the slowest song ever to hit the top, even after more than 30 years.

It is also the last instrumental movie theme to top the charts and the next-to-last instrumental at all (followed by Jan Hammer’s Miami Vice Theme in 1985). In fact, only five instrumentals have even broken into the Top 10 since Chariots. Vangelis is also the only Greek act to top the Billboard Top 100. Although frequently considered a One Hit Wonder, this is not literally true; he scored two Hot 100 hits as part of the duo Jon & Vangelis with Yes lead singer Jon Anderson.

About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight uses statistical analysis — hard numbers — to tell compelling stories about politics, sports, science, economics and culture.


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