Chart Music Through The Years – 1984

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

1984-movie-bb_a11

Behold, in 1984 we finally landed in the future. Big Brother was watching us, flying cars were flying us to our various space-age android sex factories, and other Orwellian words were flapping around like the head of a stoned giraffe. In 1984, I was a mere mewling babe, soiling my trousers and putting bowls of beans on my head while mum and dad took photos and emitted bizarre cackling gurgles – I don’t really know as I can’t remember. Outside of my pram, the first Apple Mac was released, Tommy Cooper laughed his last (laugh), AIDS was ‘discovered’, GCSEs replaced O-Levels, Reagan was re-elected, and the world learned of the terrible famine in Ethiopia. In the music world, Band Aid unleashed Do They Know It’s ChristmasRelax was banned from airwaves and went straight to Number 1, Alice Cooper took a break, Marvin Gaye was murdered, unborn meme fans rejoiced as Lionel Richie sang Hello, Iron Maiden headed behind the Iron Curtain, Tipper Gore got all in a flap and went on a moral rampage, and Bruce Springsteen reminded Americans what it was like to be American. A year of turmoil and unrest then, so you would expect the music to reflect the atmosphere of fear and paranoia – lets find out!

1. Stevie Wonder: I Just Called To Say I Love You

I know this song gets a lot of stick from people, especially hardcore Stevie Wonder fans. I still haven’t actually listened to a full Stevie Wonder album at the time of writing, and I only know his big hits. This is one of those big hits, and as cheesy as it may be, I love it. It has all the hallmarks of an 80s disaster – synth, flat papery beats, but it has Stevie’s voice, twinkling pianos, hilarious bass, ghostly whistle synth sounds, and an immortal chorus… all together now! I just called.. to say…. I love you! Take out the 80s crap and the melody remains true, focus it more towards a minor key and it becomes a different beast entirely.

2. Culture Club: War Song

I pity the fool who doesn’t get this reference. I forgot this song ever existed. The lyrics are hilariously bad, yet the the chorus is strangely catchy. Rhyming ‘stupid’ with ‘stupid’? We get a section of war chanting and Dark Side wailing followed by a strange bridge with marching drums which suddenly breaks away into that juicy, sunny Culture Club sound. An odd one, I’m surprised this got so far up the charts.

3. Wham: Freedom

Chinese stuff. Talking. More talking. Too much talking. Outrageous screech. Do do do doooo. Singing and clanging guitar and clanging something. Aaaand finally the chorus, which of course we all know. Verse melodies okay. Not much else, pretty funny stuff, I wonder what China made of it. There’s a happy lightness and joy to the song which feels real and infectious so I can’t criticize it for that. Unnecessarily long.

4. Ray Parker Jr : Ghostbusters

A movie soundtrack classic, though this one does go on a fair bit too. I don’t think you need me to talk about this one right? Who ya gonna call? I have always loved the weird, eerie build up to the famous intro though, so I’ll mention that at least.

5. The Cars: Drive

So many 80s sounds in one list. I was always a bit partial to this one, but I never went out of my way to find or listen to it. It sounds very sad and moody and atmospheric and even though it is drenched in 80s, it doesn’t sound dated or cheesy. Emotion people – add it to you music and watch it live forever.

6. Paul McCartney: No More Lonely Nights

I actually have most, or a lot of McCartney’s non-Beatles stuff, but haven’t listened to it yet. I think I was put off by listening to a lot of Lennon’s and not liking it – mostly I know Paul’s major solo and Wings hits, but looking at the title of this one I didn’t recognise it. Listening now I don’t recognise the verse. It’s pretty bland stuff. The chorus doesn’t do a lot either, but throws in some sudden guitar blasts. It goes on and on a bit too, a lot of songs here being longer than they need to be – and I love long songs!

7. Bronski Beat: Why

Terrible screech. And, even worse 80s noises. Know amount of emotion would stop this from being dated and cheesy. I’ve no idea what the song is about, but it sounds important from the snippets of lyrics I can make out on first listen. Trumpets and other assorted drippy droppy sounds. I think we can do without ever hearing this again.

8. U2: Pride

I’ve never been much of a U2 fan, a lot of that was probably to do with my upbringing and by the time I could have made my own choices I already thought Bono was a knob. Having said that, there are plenty of U2 songs that I do like. I’m not sure if I’ve heard this in its entirety before (probably have). As with a lot of U2 songs from this period this has the same jangling guitar by Edge and the stadium chorus. It’s actually a fairly plain and simple song, made stronger by Bono’s vocals.

9. Giorgio Morodor and Philip Oakey: Together In Electric Dreams

Another one which is on endless rotation on the radio stations my wife listens to. It’s another with dreadfully dated synth and that bland, deep male vocal from a million other 80s one hit wonders. Having said that, it does of course have a great chorus so I won’t take that away.

10. Prince: Purple Rain

So, since writing this post originally in Feb 2016, Prince has sadly passed away. Yet another legend traversing through space and light and time to pop out on the other side with all the other souls which have escaped their earthly bodies. Or some such. Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a Prince fan. The few songs of his that I’ve heard never really did a lot for me. But I must emphasis the few, as I’m aware Prince released nearly 40 albums, which is ludicrous. Hopefully a few of those appear in Colin Larkin’s Top 1000 Albums and I’ll finally be able to listen to them. Anyway, I’ve rewritten this song entry just to say that this song didn’t have much of an impact on me, but it does feel more poignant now. Still, the drums, the vocals, the production all irritate me and the melodies don’t do much for me. I must be some sort of monster. Good guitar though.

There you have it folks, 1984. But these songs only tell a little of the story. Elsewhere we had albums such as Defenders Of The Faith, self-titled efforts by The Smiths and Run DMC, Psalm 9, Born In The USA, All Over The Place, Ride The Lightning, Powerslave, Reckless, Like A Virgin, and many more. It was a seminal year for many genres. Have a gander and these 10 alternative songs from 1984 – your ears will thank me.

  1. Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – yes yes, from her 1983 album, but released as a single this year
  2. The Smiths – This Charming Man
  3. Weird Al Yankovich – Eat It
  4. Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA
  5. Metallica – Creeping Death
  6. Iron Maiden – 2 Minutes To Midnight
  7. Van Halen – Jump (I know, I know)
  8. Madonna – Like A Virgin
  9. Bryan Adams – Summer Of ’69
  10. Joe Esposito – You’re The Best

Let us know what you were listening to in 1984, and which songs and/or albums from that hallowed year you still put on these days.

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