Billboard #1s for the Week Ending September 21, 1985

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Money For Nothing Dire Stratits 1
R & B Oh Shiela Ready For the World 1
Country I Fell In Love Again Last Night The Forester Sisters 1
Adult Contemporary Cherish Kool and the Gang 5
Rock Lonely Ol’ Night John Cougar Mellencamp 3
Album Brothers In Arms Dire Straits 4

Ready-For-The-World-Oh-SheilaThis week sees a woman’s name return to the top of a Billboard chart. Ready For the World formed in Flint, Michigan and built a solid local following. After the regional success of their first single, Tonight, they were signed by MCA. The label released Tonight nationally and it went to #6 on the R&B chart. Their third single did even better, becoming a rare triple-threat. Oh Sheila entered the R&B chart on July 20. Two weeks later it debuted on the Hot 100 and the Dance chart. This week it logs its first of two weeks as an R&B #1, while moving from #15 to #9 on the Hot 100. On September 12, it hit #1 on both of the other charts.

Many songs with people’s names in the titles have hit #1. Only three names have topped the chart twice. Angie was the first; the Rolling Stones had Angie in 1973 and Helen Reddy brought back the name with Angie Baby in 1974. Tommy Roe hit #1 in 1962 with Sheila, making her wait 23 years to come back to the top. Diana had an even longer wait, with over 30 years between Paul Anka’s Diana and Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana.

If deities are allowed in the game, the Roman goddess of love does those other three ladies one better. Venus was Frankie Avalaon’s first chart-topper in 1959. The Dutch group Shocking Blue name-checked her to the apex in 1970; when Bananarama covered that song in 1986, it spent a week at #1 as well. That makes Venus a three-time winner and the topic of one of only nine songs to reach the top in two different versions.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending March 23, 1985

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 REO Speedwagon Can’t Fight This Feeling 3
R & B Nightshift Commodores 2
Country Seven Spanish Angels Ray Charles with Willie Nelson 1
Adult Contemporary Too Late For Goodbyes Julian Lennon 2
Rock All She Wants to Do Is Dance Don Henley 1
Album Centerfield John Fogerty 1

USAforAfricaThis week sees one of the biggest-selling singles of all time blast onto the Hot 100. Inspired by the success of Bob Geldof’s Band Aid project, entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte decided to create a non-profit to combat African famine. Deciding to mount an American equivalent of Band Aid, he contacted manager and promoter Ken Kragen, who agreed to help. Kragen enlisted two of his clients, Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers. They quickly recruited Quincy Jones, who took a break from working on the Color Purple to co-produce and orchestrate the project. They added Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to their initial brain trust and work began in earnest.

Jackson and Richie wrote the words and music for a song that would be sung by a vast array of vocalists with an all-star chorus supporting them. The rest of the team began rounding up other performers to participate in the project, insisting on secrecy and a spirit of collaboration. In late January, with a barely finished song in hand, the assembled talent began a three-day recording project that featured 21 lead vocalists, nearly 30 supporting singers, and a dozen musicians and support staff — all some of the biggest stars in American pop and rock music — recording as USA for Africa. (A complete rundown of the talent is available on Wikipedia.)

When it was released, We Are the World flew off the racks. The combination of an all-star lineup and a clearly charitable project motivated buyers by the millions. One of the fastest-selling singles of all time, it blasted onto the Hot 100 this week at #21. It leapt to #5 in its second week, the fastest rise to the Top 5 since Beatlemania. Stalled out for one week at #2 behind Phil Collins’ smash One More Night, it ascended to a four week run at #1 in only its fourth week on the charts.

We Are the World remains one of dozen the biggest selling singles in the world more than 30 years after its release. The phenomenon raised millions for famine aid and tied in with Geldof’s plan for a huge concert to raise even more money.

INTERESTING NOTE: The singers who joined together as USA for Africa had in aggregate sung lead on a stunning 66 #1 Hot 100 hits before participating in this project. Many went on to log even more #1s and many had notched chart-toppers on the Country, R&B, and Adult Contemporary charts. That’s a pretty impressive musical resume.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending October 6, 1984

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Let’s Go Crazy Prince and the Revolution 2
R & B Let’s Go Crazy Prince and the Revolution 1
Country Everyday The Oak Ridge Boys 1
Adult Contemporary Drive The Cars 3
Rock On the Dark Side John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band 3
Album Purple Rain Prince and the Revolution 10

RebbiepedeThis week sees the third and final Jackson sister enter the Hot 100. Ironically, Rebbie Jackson was the oldest of the charting Jackson siblings, born Maureen Jackson in 1950. With Jackson-mania just beginning to fade, she notched her one hit, written by brother Michael, in 1984. Sister LaToya had managed one minor hit (Heart Don’t Lie [#56]) earlier in the year. Janet had also stumbled around the middle of the charts, waiting for her big success to begin in 1986. That made Rebbie the first sister to break into the Top 40 as well. Centipede debuted at #88 this week and eventually peaked at #24.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending March 10, 1984

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Jump Van Halen 3
R & B Somebody’s Watching Me Rockwell 2
Country Going, Going Gone Lee Greenwood 1
Adult Contemporary An Innocent Man Billy Joel 2
Rock Jump Van Halen 8
Album Thriller Michael Jackson 32

Eat_It_Weird_AlThis week sees yet another manifestation of Thriller-mania enter the charts. Talented parodist and accordion player “Weird Al” Yankovic created a pitch-perfect parody of Beat It, the third single from the monster album. Mixing his trademark wit and uncanny talent for mimicry, Yankovic took the persona that had charted with parodies of three previous number ones and set the bar for musical comedy very high indeed. Capturing Jackson’s trademark vocalisms while creating his own work, he made something strangely compelling. Refuting fad diets while riding the Jackson wave, Eat It was an amazing thing. The video was also nicely done, forming a wonderful parody of the gang battle. Yankovic has maintained an enviable career, mixing humorous and insightful originals with amazing parodies, lasting for decades longer than some of the artists from whom he has drawn inspiration.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending March 3, 1984

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Jump Van Halen 2
R & B Somebody’s Watching Me Rockwell 1
Country Woke Up In Love Exile 1
Adult Contemporary An Innocent Man Billy Joel 1
Rock Jump Van Halen 7
Album Thriller Michael Jackson 31

MJThrillersingleThis week sees Michael Jackson rack up the final astounding accomplishments from the biggest-selling album of all time. Released in late 1982, the album was in its third run at the top of the charts, logging its 31st of 37 weeks at #1. Jackson had managed an unprecedented six Top 10 hits — including two #1s — from the album. Just when everyone though it was running out of steam, he announced a long-form video for the title track. The anticipation prepped the companion single for fast success. Thriller entered the Hot 100 at a robust #20 on February 11. It leapfrogged to #7 the next week, becoming the album’s seventh Top 10, a record that lasted for years until changes in the charts and the music business made long-lasting albums the charting norm. Week three saw the song at #5, and this week it eased to #4, peaking in only its fourth week. It stayed there for a second week and began a rapid chart descent. It spent its final, 14th week in the Hot 100 at #99 on May 12, 1984.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending April 2, 1983

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Billie Jean Michael Jackson 5
R & B Billie Jean Michael Jackson

8

Country When I’m Away From You The Bellamy Brothers

1

Adult Contemporary You Are Lionel Richie

6

Rock Photograph Def Leppard 3
Album Thriller Michael Jackson

6

Billboard4283This week sees a stunning example of chart tenacity. The only new #1 is on the Country chart (which had only two songs last more than a single week during all of 1983). Michael Jackson dominates, sitting atop four of the charts — including his 11th and final week at #1 on the Dance chart with the entire Thriller album.

Even more remarkable than this chart-topping stagnation, the Hot 100 experienced an extremely rare phenomenon on April 2, 1983. Every single in the Top 10 was in the same position this week that it held the previous week. When there are big singles in the Top 10 (as is certainly the case this week), it is not unusual for a number of them to hang on to a slot or to peak for a number of weeks. Absolutely no motion is virtually unheard of, something of a chart April Fool’s Day.

Here are the stubborn songs from 30 years ago, many providing an overview of the big acts of the early 80s.

10. Twilight Zone by Golden Earring – second and final week at its peak
9. One On One by Hall & Oates – third week at #9 before peaking for three weeks at #7
8. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) by Journey – third of six weeks at its peak
7. Mr. Roboto by Styx – on its way to a two-week peak at #3
6. We’ve Got Tonight by Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton – second of three weeks at its peak
5. Back On the Chain Gang by the Pretenders – last of three weeks at its peak
4. You Are by Lionel Richie – second and final week of its peak
3. Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran – second of three weeks at its peak
2. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? by Culture Club – second of three weeks at its peak
1. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson – fifth of its seven weeks atop the chart

Even more remarkable, the #11 song was also stuck. Dexys Midnight Runners waited outside the Top 10 until the logjam broke; Come On Eileen made an impressive surge to #4 on April 9 as it headed to the top of the chart.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending February 26, 1983

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Title Act Weeks
Hot 100 Baby Come to Me Patti Austin and James Ingram 2
R & B Billie Jean Michael Jackson

3

Country Why Baby Why Charley Pride

1

Adult Contemporary You Are Lionel Richie

1

Rock Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) Journey 2
Album Thriller Michael Jackson

1

thriller-michael-jacksonThis week sees Thriller mania take firm hold. Michael Jackson launched a successful solo career in 1971 while still performing with his brothers as the Jackson 5 and later the Jacksons. When he recorded Thriller, he had been to #1 solo three times and logged four other Top 10 hits. Four of those seven singles were from his 1979 album Off the Wall, which was considered a tough act to follow. Somehow, Jackson managed.

Thriller racked up an unprecedented seven Top 10 singles, recalibrating the way albums and songs were treated by major labels. It spent a massive 37 weeks at #1 on the Album charts in four separate runs; only the West Side Story soundtrack has logged more time at the top. Total sales in the U.S. near 30 million units and worldwide sales exceeding 60 million make this the biggest-selling album of all time. In 1983, signs of Thriller were everywhere and Michael Jackson was catapulted to a level of fame unknown since Elvis and the Beatles.

The singles from Thriller [with their debuts on the Pop Hot 100] were:

  1. The Girl Is Mine [11/6/82], duet with Paul McCartney — #2 Pop, #1 Adult Contemporary (4 weeks), #1 R&B (3 weeks)
  2. Billie Jean [1/22/83] — #1 Pop (7 weeks), #9 Adult Contemporary, #1 R&B (9 weeks)
  3. Beat It [2/26/83] — #1 Pop (3 weeks), #1 R&B (1 week)
  4. Wanna Be Startin’ Something [5/28/83] — #5 Pop, #5 R&B
  5. Human Nature [7/23/83] — #7 Pop, #2 Adult Contemporary, #27 R&B
  6. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) [10/8/83] — #10 Pop, #37 Adult Contemporary, #46 R&B
  7. Thriller [2/11/84] — #4 Pop, #24 Adult Contemporary, #3 R&B

With at least one single on the chart from November 1982 to May 1984, Thriller had a stunning 18 months of chart presence on the Hot 100; with only small gaps, it had similar duration on the R&B Chart. It spent 122 weeks on the album chart, impressive, but not enough to even put it in the overall 50 longest (coming in even behind Off the Wall at 169). What’s amazing about Thriller is its concentrated power in sales and chart performance. Its 78 weeks in the Top 10 remained unbeaten for a non-soundtrack album until last year when Adele’s 21 notched 79 weeks.

This week began the album’s true dominance of the charts. Billie Jean was #1 R&B and #4 on the Hot 100, ready to leap to the top the following week. Beat It debuted on the Hot 100 at #78 and would zoom to the top, held off from succeeding Billie Jean by Dexys Midnight Runners’ one week at #1 with Come On Eileen. The album as a whole was in its sixth of 11 weeks at the top of the Dance chart. It also nudged Men At Work from the Top of the Album chart, beginning its astounding run.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending November 6, 1982

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart Song Act Weeks
Hot 100 Up Where We Belong Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker 1
R & B Sexual Healing Marvin Gaye

1

Country You’re So Good When You’re Bad Charley Pride

1

Adult Contemporary Heartlight Neil Diamond

3

Rock Dirty Laundry Don Henley 3
Album American Fool John Cougar

9

This week sees the Hot 100 debut of the first single from the most successful album of all time. Cute and cloying, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s The Girl Is Mine was one of a handful of superstar duets from the early 80s (most of which featured Paul McCartney). It blasted onto the charts at #45, easing into the Top 40 at #36 the following week. The song peaked at #2, stuck behind the monster hits Maneater and Down Under.

Jackson didn’t suffer much disappointment, however. His next two singles from Thriller went to #1. It became the first album to launch SEVEN Top 10 singles, a feat seldom duplicated even in the post-Thriller approach to albums. The best-selling album of all time with over 100 million units sold, Thriller dominated the charts and the airwaves for a year and a half. During that run, the dynamic duo released a second matchup from McCartney’s Pipes of Peace. Say Say Say turned out to be Jackson’s sixth #1 and McCartney’s ninth — and final — post-Beatles chart-topper.

Billboard #1s for the Week Ending October 2, 1982

This week’s Time Capsule!

Chart

Song

Act

Weeks

Hot 100 Jack and Diane John Cougar 1
R & B Love Come Down Evelyn King

1

Country Put Your Dreams Away Mickey Gilley

1

Adult Contemporary Love Will Turn You Around Kenny Rogers

2

Rock Everybody Wants You Billy Squier

6

Album American Fool John Cougar

4

This week sees two songs with unusual origins make chart debuts. Neil Diamond moves into the Top 40 with Heartlight, which surges from 52 to 34 in its fourth week on the Pop chart. Diamond wrote the song with Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach. The trio had just seen the movie E.T. — The Extraterrestrial and were inspired by the title character’s glowing chest. Seven weeks later the song peaked at #5 where it stayed for four weeks. Heartlight was Diamond’s last of 13 Top 10 hits. It was also his last #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts; he had eight, spending 25 weeks at the top.

The highest debut on the Hot 100 this week was Muscles by Diana Ross, bowing at #61. The lusty song was written by Michael Jackson, who claims it was named for his pet snake. The song leapt up the charts, breaking into the Top 40 two weeks later and the Top 10 in its seventh week. (Curiously, Muscles and Heartlight peaked the same week, November 13.) It lodged at #10 for an impressive six weeks and then plummeted out of the Top 40.

Song of the Day, April 23: Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners

Today’s song is Come On Eileen by Kevin Rowland and Dexys Midnight Runners. This is one of my very favorite hits of the 80’s and a rare example of a song I loved making it all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It didn’t sound like anything else on the radio; I also credit the joyous fiddling and singing with starting my interest in British folk. Of particular note is the week (April 23, 1983, 28 years ago today) that this song spent at #1. For seven weeks prior, Michael Jackson had held the top spot with Billie Jean; after Come On Eileen’s single week at the top, Jackson returned for a three-week run with Beat It. That this quirky One Hit Wonder interrupted a week of Thriller-based chart dominance has always pleased and amused me. Enjoy a bit of 80’s nostalgia today with Come On Eileen.

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