Ranking #34 singles, U.S. edition: 1980-1985

Assembling these things can get irritating. Many readers may not know I use this website, then CNTRL-F that day’s chart position. Invariably I get thing wrong if I move too fast. Some positions produce blah results: several once promising posts will never emerge from WordPress drafting. Tonight’s post exemplifies why I keep doing this shit. Beginning strong, it sagged so badly in the middle — were ZZ Top and John Stewart’s forgotten entries the best of this period?! — I almost scrapped the post. As usual 1984-1985 saved my ass.

Leading the charge: one of Prince’s best neo-psychedelic numbers, donated to Sheila E; Spandau Ballet’s only convincing ballad, and it should’ve done as well as “True” but Tony Hadley wants the audience to see the sweat glimmer in his mullet; “Communication,” the catchiest, funkiest thing John and Andy Taylor cut with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson. They compensate for plodding synthesized mid tempo things like “No Lookin’ Back,” Michael McDonald’s contribution to modernity before joining Patti LaBelle, Billy Crystal, and Gregory Hines a year later.

Amid the also-rans and paunchy mid tempo synth strutting, though, a shaft of sunlight: Lisa Lisa, Cult Jam & Full Force add the R&B to Shannon’s experiments two years earlier. The result: freestyle.

The Hague

Dr. Hook – Girls Can Get It
Sneaker – More Than Just the Two of Us
Asia – The Smile Has Left Your Eyes


Michael McDonald – No Lookin’ Back
UB40 – Red Red Wine
Billy Joel – The Night is Still Young
Cliff Richard – Carrie
Chris de Burgh – Don’t Pay the Ferryman
Journey – The Party’s Over
REO Speedwagon – Live Every Moment
Elton John – Chloe
Jermaine Jackson – You’re Supposed to Keep Your Love For Me

Sound, Solid

Tom Johnston – Savannah Nights
Ray Parker, Jr. – Girls Are More Fun
Don Henley – Not Enough Love in the World
Michael Sembello – Automatic Man
The Alan Parsons Project – Prime Time
Joe Walsh – A Life of Illusion
The Pure Prairie League – I’m Almost Ready
Anne Murray – Blessed are the Believers

Good to Great

Lisa Lisa, Cult Jam & Full Force – I Wonder If I Take You Home
Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out for a Hero
Spandau Ballet – Only When You Leave
Sheila E. – The Belle of St. Mark
The Power Station – Communication
ZZ Top – I Thank You
John Stewart – Lost Her in the Sun
Loverboy – Queen of the Broken Hearts

4 thoughts on “Ranking #34 singles, U.S. edition: 1980-1985

  1. Oh yeah, love for Lisa Lisa/Cult Jam/Full Force and Spandau Ballet, but really, “Communication” was the jewel in the [partially tarnished] Power Station crown! Such a taut elegance

      1. Glad to see the call out for belle of st mark. A personal favorite that i think still holds up.

        Lost her in the sun too 😉

  2. I prefer “Cheap Sunglasses”. But I’m stunned something from “Degüello” make it in 1985. The “Eliminator” holdover?

    That Lisa Lisa song is my favorite of theirs. The first free-style song I heard on AT40 (I was not listening in 83-84; the KC show landed here in 85). It’s funny because the less the melody they had, the better they got. “All Cried out” showed how thin paper Lisa Velez’s voice was. All vibrato and no color. It used to bother me.

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