Ranking top ten singles, 1981

Seen in toto, the top tens of 1991 formed an intermittently appetizing mishmash of seventies-hangover ballads, AOR pummelers, PG-rated new wave schlock-a-rama, and Gino Vannelli, living inside himself while bellowing about himself.
Despite ample Billboard coverage about the industry-wide slump, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon sold in the millions; with all the dough Journey piled up in 1981, you think they could afford a “g” for their most enduring hit. And Steve Winwood, fuck you for anticipating Howard Jones’ synthesized self-help claptrap. Worst, though, is “The Boy From New York City,” which the Muppets performed better than the original’s Daisy Duck.

Below my readers will find hyperlinks to several songs profiled in Worst Songs Ever.

The Hague

The Manhattan Transfer – The Boy from New York City
Blondie – The Tide is High
Don McLean – Crying
Barry Manilow – I Made It Through the Rain
Neil Diamond – Hello Again
Stevie Nicks and Don Henley – Leather and Lace
Joe Scarbury – Believe It or Not (Theme from The Greatest American Hero)
Gino Vannelli – Living Inside Myself
Kool & the Gang – Celebration
George Harrison – All Those Years Ago
Neil Diamond – America
Stevie Winwood – While You See a Chance
Stars on 45 – Stars on 45 (Medley)
Journey – Who’s Crying Now
Air Supply – Here I Am
Diana Ross and Lionel Richie – Endless Love


Rod Stewart – Passion
The Commodores – Oh No
Diana Ross – It’s My Turn
Franke and the Knockouts – Sweetheart
Eric Clapton – I Can’t Stand It
Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only
Diana Ross – Why Do Fools Fall in Love
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
Olivia Newton-John – Physical
Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne
Mike Post and Larry Carlton – Hill Street Blues Theme
REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You
John Lennon – Woman
Christopher Cross – Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)
Bob Seger – Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
Kenny Rogers – I Don’t Need You
Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb – What Kind of Fool
Marty Balin – Hearts
Little River Band – The Night Owls

Sound, Solid Entertainments

Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen
Blondie – Rapture
Eddie Rabbit – Step by Step
The Rolling Stones – Start Me Up
Foreigner – Waiting for a Girl Like You
Electric Light Orchestra – Hold On Tight
Delbert McClinton – Givin’ It Up for Your Love
Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio – A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)
Dan Fogelberg – Hard to Say
The Oak Ridge Boys – Elvira
Grover Washington Jr. & Bill Withers – Just the Two of Us
Ronnie Milsap – (There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me
Juice Newton – Angel of the Morning
Smokey Robinson – Being With You
Commodores – Lady (You Bring Me Up)
The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Daryl Hall and John Oates – Kiss On My List
Sheena Easton – Morning Train (Nine to Five)
The Police – Don’t Stand So Close to Me
Quarterflash – Harden My Heart

Good to Great

Daryl Hall and John Oates – I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove
ABBA – The Winner Takes It All
The Police – De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Dolly Parton – 9 to 5
The Pointer Sisters – Slow Hand
Rod Stewart – Young Turks
Juice Newton – Queen of Hearts
Foreigner – Urgent
John Lennon – Watching the Wheels
Rick Springfield – I’ve Done Everything For You
Lindsey Buckingham – Trouble
Daryl Hall and John Oates – You Make My Dreams
Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes
Rick Springfield – Jesse’s Girl
Daryl Hall and John Oates – Private Eyes

3 thoughts on “Ranking top ten singles, 1981

  1. Jukebox

    1981 is like 1989 (mainstream) It didn’t know where where the fuck being. Is TRANSIT as a bad film. Only I would fell off that terrace If I were stuck in that year in a musical loop. Practically all your MEHS are in my purgatory.
    Being with You is ruined for one of the cheesiest saxs of the decade, bar none. And I love Smokey. His last great single was Cruising. Kevin Cronin makes me puke. Journey air-piano ballad makes me cringe. Fuck millenials who thought this was rock! Pity you didn’t do the number ones, only. I guess you didn’t wanted to Hague everything around. You very nice.

  2. februarycallendar

    Just about the only link to the UK context of the SDP’s Lost Moment here is “Hold on Tight”: 1981, when even ELO, the arch Anglospherists from the heartlands of Brexit, had a verse in French.

    Don’t think the Clapton even charted here: he always seems to have been more popular abroad, even before he did the things whose toxicity wouldn’t have been so understood elsewhere.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s