Billboard’s Top Hits of 1985!

This week’s Time Capsule!

Every year Billboard freezes the charts for the last week of December or first week of January, holding all the hits at the same position as the previous week. The charts published in that week’s magazine show the top hits for the whole preceding year. Let’s take a moment to look at the chart champs for 1985 as revealed in the January 4, 1986 issue.

Wham-Careless-WhisperTop 10 hits on the Hot 100

  1. Carless Whisper – Wham! featuring George Michael
  2. Like A Virgin – Madonna
  3. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
  4. I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner
  5. I Feel For You – Chaka Khan
  6. Out of Touch – Daryl Hall + John Oates
  7. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears For Fears
  8. Money For Nothing – Dire Straits
  9. Crazy For You – Madonna
  10. Take On Me – a-ha (the only time a Norwegian act cracked the year-end Top 10!)

Madonna began her chart dominance in 1985, ruling the year-end list with five singles, two in the Top 10. Phil Collins had five as well, including a duet with Marilyn Martin and a major assist to Philip Bailey. George Michael and Wham! did well in their first chart year with four singles on the list including two of the Top 3. Five acts managed a trio of songs on this chart: Bryan Adams, Kool and the Gang, Bruce Springsteen, Tears For Fears, and Tina Turner. With twelve acts managing a pair of songs (including Duran Duran, which also had two members in the Power Station), a total of 69 different acts appear on the list.

The biggest hits of 1985 on the other Billboard Charts were:

  • ADULT CONTEMPORARY: Cherish – Kool and the Gang [6 weeks at #1, #17 on the Hot 100 final countdown]
  • COUNTRY: Lost In the Fifties Tonight – Ronnie Milsap [2 weeks at #1]
  • R&B: Rock Me Tonight – Freddie Jackson [6 weeks at #1]
  • ROCK: Lonely Ol’ Night – John Cougar Mellencamp [5 weeks at #1, #86 on the Hot 100 final]
  • ALBUM: Miami Vice Soundtrack [11 weeks at #1, including two songs on the Hot 100 final: the title theme at #27 and Glenn Frey’s You Belong to the City at #30]

It is useful to note Billboard‘s methodology for the year-end charts. They use an inverted point system for every week a hit is on the chart (#1 = 100, #2 = 99 and so on). This means that a song with longevity may rank high relative to its peak and a flash-in-the-pan #1 may rank relatively low. This allowed Chaka Khan to land her #3 song I Feel For You at an impressive #5 on the year-end list because of its 26-week run. The Time had the lowest peaking single on the chart, landing their #20 Jungle Love at #91 thanks to 25 weeks of chart activity. On the opposite end of the spectrum was David Lee Roth’s cover of California Girls. Despite going all the way to #3, the song’s rapid rise and fall landed it at #88, below many lower-peaking songs.

It’s also significant that points are calculated by a very strict 12-month window for tabulation and publication purposes, usually ending in early November. That means that any song that debuts in the latter part of a year may split its score across two years and rank fairly low in each year despite a high total score. That kept Madonna off the top of the list; despite six weeks at #1 to Carless Whisper‘s three, Like A Virgin split its run neatly across two years.

1985 was a very different year than 1984. Songs generally moved through the chart faster and peaked for fewer weeks. As a result, most of the final Hot 100 were Top 10 singles. As a matter of comparison:

  • In 1985, only three songs in the Top 50 peaked below #5, compared with eight in 1984.
  • Only four songs that peaked outside the Top 10 showed up on the 1985 list; 1984 had an impressive 15.
  • In 1984, only three Top 10 singles missed the year-end list, one of them due to the split tally; 1985 lost 13 Top 10 singles, all due to competition and short runs.

The year-end chart had a bit of fun as well. Billy Ocean’s Loverboy and Teena Marie’s Lover Girl wound up side-by-side at #28 and #29 respectively. Julian Lennon’s first two singles kept each other company with Too Late For Goodbyes at #77 and Valotte at #78; Duran Duran may have been fractured for most of the year, but they stayed cozy at with A View to A Kill at #35 next to #36 with The Wild Boys.

It was also a year of super-groups. USA For Africa landed at #20 with their fundraiser single We Are the World. The Honeydrippers sailed the Sea of Love to #34, and the Power Station plugged Some Like It Hot in at #79.

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


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


all contents © Robert Hulshof-Schmidt

Weekly Top 40

The Weekly Top 40 1955-2017

Major Spoilers

We know you love comics. We do, too.

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

Greatest British Songs

The best songs from British bands and artists

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

The Falcon's Nest

The Home of All Things Rock and Sometimes Roll

%d bloggers like this: