Billboard #1s for the Week Ending December 10, 1983

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Say Say Say Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson 1
R & B Time Will Reveal DeBarge 1
Country Tell Me A Lie Janie Fricke 1
Adult Contemporary The Way He Makes Me Feel Barbra Streisand 1
Rock Owner of A Lonely Heart Yes 3
Album Can’t Slow Down Lionel Richie 2

Nena99This week sees a true One Hit Wonder and rare German band debut on the Hot 100. Nena, named after lead singer Gabriele Kerner’s nickname, formed in 1981 and released their first album, Nena, in Germany in January 1983. One song on the album caught the ears of American radio programmers. 99 Luftballons was an unlikely hit. Although it featured a stunningly danceable keyboard riff and a great 80s pop sound, it was an anti-war song sung in German. The band recorded an English language version, but the German original caught on, and this week entered the charts at #74. Three months later, it manged to sneak in a week at #2 behind Van Halen’s monster hit Jump. Nena never managed another Billboard chart hit. They continued with modest success at home until they broke up in 1987.

German acts are unusual on the Hot 100, but the few that entered the Top 40 have had fairly solid success. The most successful was the infamous lip-synching duo Milli Vanilli, with five Top 5 hits (three of them #1s) in 1989 and 90. Bandleader Bert Kaempfert took Wonderland By Night to #1 for three weeks in 1961 and had a handful of other instrumental hits. Studio disco group Silver Convention also hit #1 with Fly Robin Fly in 1975 and #2 with Get Up and Boogie (That’s Right) in 1976. Producer Michael Cretu notched two Top 5 hits in 1991 and 1994 as Enigma. Real McCoy dominated the airwaves in 1994 and 95 with their #3 techno-dance hits Another Night and Run Away.

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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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