Ranking #30 singles, U.S. edition: 1981-86

I know. Kate Bush, blah blah. Jeffrey Osborne and Junior, etc. But, readers, it’s “Space Age Love Song.” Armed with effects pedals, a couple of chords, and an echo suggesting the vastness of the space between Saturn and Neptune, A Flock of Seagulls’ second best song exemplifies what I call the Two Gin Euphoria, i.e. the moment when the second gin and tonic hits and you and the world are gorgeous and you can do anything. It’s possible I overrated 2019’s queer film End of the Century thanks to the director’s expert deployment when he wanted a little Spanish fly to get his two young men’s mouths, sticky with beer and need, all over each other.

What cheered me about these #30-charting singles is how well they match what Mike Score’s splendidly quiffed quartet’s passion. Thundering across the moors, a synth like a foghorn, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” is its match. Before he took the ballad route for crossover dreams, Jeffrey Osborne released one daft new wave-drenched R&B hit after another (“Plane Love,” “Don’t You Get So Mad”), the best of which is “Stay With Me Tonight,” boasting the line “ooh we start to neck” as the electro-calypso colors brighten to quite a sheen. A pity a former Doobie Bro didn’t also continue in the Flashdance vein. I’m not sure if “Mirror Man” falls in this category, but I relish Phil Oakey’s stresses (“The water shines“), Ian Burden’s bass line, and the crystalline mix.

Nothing here stinks; the mehs define the category, though for the right price I may promote Greg Kihn’s forgotten follow-up to “Jeopardy.” And would you begrudge Corey Hart’s label for wanting another “Never Surrender” when Bryan Adams had already moved on from “Heaven” to Tina Turner duets? Someone needed to fill that niche.

The Hague

Moving Pictures – What About Me


Christine McVie – Love Will Show Us How
Greg Kihn – Lucky
Sheena Easton – When He Shines
Thompson Twins – Lies
Corey Hart – Everything in My Heart
Toto – Make Believe

Sound, Solid

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Possession Obsession
George Benson – Lady Love Me (One More Time)
Steel Breeze – Dreamin’ is Easy
Kool & The Gang – Let’s Go Dancin’ (Ooh La La La)
The Pointer Sisters – I’m So Excited

Good to Great

A Flock Of Seagulls – Space Age Love Song
Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
Junior – Mama Used to Say
Jeffrey Osborne – Stay With Me Tonight
Patrick Simmons – So Wrong
The Human League – Mirror Man
Jackson Browne – For America
INXS – The One Thing

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