Michael Jackson's Thriller, the most successful album not only of 1983, but of all time, was released in 1982 and began its epic domination of the music charts the following year, 1983. The album spawned seven hit singles and stayed on the US and UK charts for over three years. Michael was nominated for ten Grammy Awards, of which he won eight: seven for Thriller, and the other for the song "Someone in the Dark" featured in the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Thriller paved the way for countless other African-American artists' music to be aired on radio and MTV. Thriller has sold over 104 million copies, making it the greatest selling album of all time by an extremely large margin. Michael's domination of the 1980s was fuelled by his follow-up hit album Bad (released in 1987), which held the title of the second greatest album of all time for several years.
Top 20 Singles of 1983
1. Australiana - Austen Tayshus (right)
The persona Austen Tayshus (adopted by Sandy Gutman) was born at Sydney's first comedy store in Jamieson Street in 1981. He stood up for the first time after a fairly precarious delivery in March of that year. By the following year, "Australiana" was ready to record and it was released in June 1983. It sold in excess of two hundred thousand copies, went double platinum and still holds the record for the highest selling Australian single ever. Austen Tayshus became a household name immediately and began touring extensively throughout Australia and New Zealand.
2. Flashdance (What A Feeling) - Irene Cara (right)
This was the title song to the movie Flashdance, a huge hit movie which told the story of an aspiring dancer, played by Jennifer Beals (an image of Jennifer Beals from the movie is part of our logo for the 80s decade). The song's music video featured a dance sequence from Flashdance. It was for many years a well kept secret that Jennifer Beals did not dance in the movie - the dance scenes in the video (and the movie) were performed by body double, Marine Jahan. Flashdance helped fuel the aerobics and leg warmers trends of the 1980s, and spawned a number of music based dramas such as Footloose and Dirty Dancing. This song won the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal and an Oscar for Best Film Song. Cara wrote it with the help of Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey. Moroder wrote "Danger Zone" and "Take My Breath Away" for Top Gun, while Forsey wrote "Shakedown" for Beverly Hills Cop II and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" for The Breakfast Club. When the movie came out, the Flashdance soundtrack quickly sold out in stores. The record company did not anticipate the huge demand the film created for the music. When the movie was released on video, it was the very first to be marketed for sale as well as for rental; up until that time, movies were for hire only.
3. Gloria - Laura Branigan (right)
Originally an Italian Pop song recorded by Umberto Tozzi in 1979, the song was covered by Branigan on her debut album. Her version earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. She lost to Melissa Manchester's "You Should Hear How He Talks About You." The song was also recorded by Sheila B. in French. Interestingly, each version of the song all have somewhat different lyrical meanings, and are not literal translations. What the song is about is still somewhat of a mystery - the most popular explanation is that it tells of a schizophrenic woman who is desperate for a man. Sadly, Laura had passed away in her sleep 26th August 2004 of a brain aneurysm.
4. Billie Jean - Michael Jackson (right)
One of Michael Jackson's biggest hits and the second top 10 hit from the Thriller album, 'Billie Jean' is about a woman who claimed that Jackson was the father of her child. She used to stalk him and write him letters about a son she thought was his. Jackson had a hard time dealing with her and became quite reclusive as a result. Quincy Jones, who produced Thriller, wanted to change the title of "Billie Jean" to "Not My Lover" because he thought it would be confused with tennis star Billie Jean King. The song broke the color barrier on MTV, being the first video by a black artist to get regular airplay on the channel. It showcased Jackson's signature dance moves that he became famous for. High-energy dancing was a huge part of his act, and artists like New Kids On The Block and his sister Janet followed his lead and made dance moves a big a part of their shows. Jackson choreographed the dance moves in the video himself. The moonwalk was first performed in a live concert of this song. When he and his choreographer were practicing for that concert, Michael first did the moonwalk while just messing around. The choreographer told him to do it again, and again, and again. The next night, when he did it during the guitar solo of "Billie Jean", the fans loved it.
5. Up Where We Belong - Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes (right)
The theme song to the movie An Officer And A Gentleman, 'Up Where We Belong' won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1983. Will Jennings wrote the lyrics. Says Jennings: "Joel Sill, who was head of the music department of Paramount, asked me to consider writing a song for this film. I watched a rough cut, loved the film and I heard enough parts to make up a song in the work track of the film. I asked Joel to send me the work track and I stitched together the verse, chorus, and bridge of the song and wrote the lyric and Joel sent it to Stewart Levine, a fine music producer. He went in to the studio and cut the hit track with Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker. Warnes also duets in the movie theme for Dirty Dancing with Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers in "The Time of My Life".
6. Total Eclipse Of The Heart - Bonnie Tyler (right)
Before her well-known collaborations with Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman who co-wrote this song for her, Welsh-born singer Bonnie Tyler (born Gaynor Hopkins, 1953) performed on and off in her homeland with the R&B band, Mumbles; nodules on her vocal cords prevented her from singing full time until 1976, when she underwent an operation to have them removed. The surgery right her with a raspy, husky voice somewhat akin to Rod Stewart's that proved an effective instrument and drew notice from writers/producers Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe, who became her managers. Tyler scored a No.3 hit with their composition, 'It's a Heartache', in 1978. Inspired by Steinman's work on Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell album, she looked him out and he came up with the album Faster Than the Speed of Light and the hit song, 'Total Eclipse of the Heart', from it. Jim would produce one more album for her, Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire (1983), which included 'Holding Out For a Hero' that was used in the soundtrack of the blockbuster movie, Footloose. The song enjoyed a revival in 2004 when Jennifer Saunders, star of the hit TV show Absolutely Fabulous, gave an equally punchy rendition of it as the voice of the Fairy Godmother in the movie, Shreck 2.
7. Save Your Love - Renee & Renato (right)
Renee & Renato were an Italian based singing duo made up of Italian male Renato Pagliari and English female Hilary righter. Together, they spent four weeks at the top of the charts with this song via a record deal brokered by Ron Atkinson. Describing it as a 'novelty hit' probably isn't a fair description as it was just the type of song that would have topped the chart before Rock 'n' Roll kicked in. It was certainly not the sort of record one would expect to sell in the 1980s, let alone to hit the top of the chartsorldwide. They followed it with "Just One More Kiss" a few months later but it failed to secure them a second hit.
8. Karma Chameleon - Culture Club (right)
Of this song, Culture Club lead singer Boy George says, "It is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing. It's about trying to suck up to everybody. Basically, if you aren't true, if you don't act like you feel, then you get Karma-justice, that's nature's way of paying you back." Phil Pickett, the former keyboardist of the 1970s UK band Sailor, helped write this song, which was Culture Club's biggest hit. It won the 1984 Brit Award for Best Single. The songwriters were later sued for alleged plagiarism by the writers of "Handy Man," a 1960 hit for Jimmy Jones. Boy George admitted, "I might have heard it once, but it was certainly not something I sat down and copied. We gave them ten pence and an apple." Penned by George, this song could have been written for Jon Moss, the drummer for Culture Club and Boy George's boyfriend during the height of the group's fame. They had a difficult lover-professional relationship; it was hidden to the public and Jon never admitted it during the 1980s. "You're my lover, not my rival..." is likely a reference to Jon.
9. Beat it - Michael Jackson
Written by Jackson, one of the reasons this was a huge hit with white audiences was the airplay it got on MTV. The lyrics are about life on the streets and gang activity, something Jackson was very detached from. He was schooled by tutors his whole life and became a star at a young age. It was based on the movie West Side Story (early 1960's), which was based on a Broadway play. The fight scene between the Jets and Sharks is somewhat similar to the dancing in the video. The very first words spoken in that movie are "Beat it". Another reason for the song's success is the guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen. Members of the group Toto also played on this recording. The US Department of Transportation once used the song in advertisements to discourage drunk driving. In exchange, Jackson was invited to the White House where he met President Reagan. Jackson showed up in his sequined suit and sunglasses, which made for an interesting photo with the president.
10. Every Breath You Take - The Police (right)
The biggest hit of 1983 worldwide, and the biggest hit of the British band The Police. Of the song's meaning, Sting says: "I wrote it initially as a seductive love song ... and yet my life began to invade the song unconsciously, because at the time I wrote this song my life seemed to be falling apart. I was very successful at the time and yet my band was falling apart, my first marriage was falling apart, I was falling apart. And I think that invaded the song, and for me the song is quite dark, and it's not about seduction, and it's not about love and tenderness, it's about surveillance and control". The recording process created a great deal of tension in the studio; The Police broke up after this album. Sting was very particular about his song and would not let the other members of the band (Andy Summers and Stuart Copeland) do much with it. The middle of the song was finished last. They didn't know what to do with it until Sting sat at a piano and started hitting the same key over and over. That became the basis for the "missing" section. "Every Step You Take" won Grammys in 1984 for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Performance By Duo Or Group With Vocal. At the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1983, the music video won for Best Cinematography. The Police performed this song when they were inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2003.
11. Bop Girl - Pat Wilson
Pat Wilson was a journalist for the 1970s music magazine Go-Set writing under the pen-name "Mummy Cool". Usually regarded as a one hit wonder, Wilson released several singles in the early 1980s including the hit single "Bop Girl". The song was written by her then husband Ross Wilson of the band Daddy Cool, its style and lyrics satirising 1980s fashion and pop music. It reached No.2 on the Australian music charts. Subsequent singles failed to repeat this success. The "Bop Girl" music video is notable for containing the screen debut of 15 year old Nicole Kidman playing the role of a young "bop girl". Songwriter Wilson recalled that Kidman was chosen by director Gillian Armstrong to represent "an up and coming starlet with a bright future".
12. Reckless - Australian Crawl
The music of Australian Crawl was a defining feature of Australian surf culture during the 1980s. Their 1980 debut album The Boys Light Up had a number of hit singles including the title track; "Indisposed"; and "Beautiful People". An EP, released in 1983, contained what would become their best-known song, "Reckless". Following the death of two band members and tensions between those remaining, Australian Crawl disbanded in 1986. After they disbanded, lead singer James Reyne went on to pursue a successful solo career.
13. I Was Only 19 (A Walk In The Green Light) - Redgum (right)
Redgum were an Australian folk and political music group formed in 1975 when three students at Flinders University in South Australia collaborated for a musical assessment piece for their Politics and Art course. They are most famous for their protest songs exploring the impact of war - "I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green)" - and Australian consumer influences on surrounding nations - "I've Been To Bali Too" (1984). "I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green)" precipitated a Royal Commission into the use and effects of chemical agents in the Vietnam War by the Australian military.
14. Twisting By The Pool - Dire Straits (right)
Dire Straits recorded and released their first, self-titled album in 1978 initially, within the UK, to little fanfare but to No.1 platinum success in the rest of Europe and then the US. "Sultans of Swing" was belated released as a single and became an unlikely UK chart hit, making the UK top 10. Five albums and numerous hit singles later, the band released a four-song Extended-EP in 1983, featuring the hit single "Twisting By the Pool". This was followed by the double live album, Alchemy, in 1984. During the early 1980s Mark Knopfler wrote the music score for the films Local Hero and Cal.
15. Rain - Dragon
The band Dragon relocated from New Zealand to Sydney in 1975 after they landed a recording contract with CBS records. Always a lightning rod for controversy, the band was rocked by the heroin overdose death of drummer Neil Storey only weeks after arriving in Australia, and their original manager was also deported back to New Zealand on drugs charges. There were high hopes of an American breakthrough, but these were scuttled by a disastrous tour in which lead singer Marc Hunter incited a crowd in Austin, Texas, by calling all Texans "faggots", resulting in the band having to dodge flying beer bottles. Hunter right Dragon in 1979, and by the end of that year the band had broken up. Dragon was forced to reform in 1982 to pay off outstanding debts; they stayed together and decided to have another shot at success. The band's second comeback single "Rain" proved to be a massive hit. The band continued to tour and record under various line-ups until 1997. Marc Hunter died of throat cancer a year later.
16. 1999 - Prince (right)
This is said to be a protest song about the policies of the Reagan administration regarding the "Evil Empire," the USSR. The first single released from the album of the same name, it didn't make it into the Top 40 on its first attempt, but did upon re-release after "Little Red Corvette" hit the Top 10. Prince re-recorded this song in 1998 after leaving Warner Brothers, who retained rights to the original recording. He did this in an attempt to keep them from profiting from the original version. The new version was a minor hit at the beginning of 1999. According to Rolling Stone magazine, Prince originally recorded the opening verse in three-part harmony. Later he split up the vocals and the harmony parts became a new melody. When he recorded this track, Prince would go all day and all night without rest, and turn down food since he felt eating would make him sleepy. The song is credited to "Prince And The Revolution", the latter being his backup band at the time.
17. Give It Up - KC & The Sunshine Band (right)
In January 1982 lead singer Casey was badly injured in a car accident seven blocks from his Florida home. It took him nearly a year to recuperate and it was during this time that the UK office of Epic Records decided to push this song as a single. It rose to the top of the British charts to give KC his only UK No.1. Epic in the US were not interested, so KC released the track on his own label, credited to just KC. Harry "KC" Casey says, "I always thought "Give It Up" was a hit but was surprised when they released it in the UK, because it had been around for quite a while."
18. Heartbreaker - Dionne Warwick (right)
"Heartbreaker" was released in 1982, nine years after her last big hit. It marked Warwick's successful comeback. The song was written and co-produced by Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees at a time when the group was itself going through a quiet period recording-wise. Barry and his twin brothers did numerous songwriting and production collaborations with solo artists in the 1980s. The Brothers Gibb also added their vocals, which are clearly heard during the chorus. Warwick wasn't thrilled about this song initially, but she knew that recording something written by The Bee Gees was in the best interests of her career. It became her biggest hit since "I'll Never Love This Way Again."
19. I'm Still Standing - Elton John
In the late 1970s, Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin (right) moved apart, each writing songs with and for other artists. They re-united again for Elton's 1980's album, 21 at 33, which featured the Top 10 single "Little Jeannie." Over the next three years, Elton remained a popular concert artist, but his singles failed to break into the top 10, even if they reached the top 40. In 1981, Jump Up! became a gold album on the strength of "Blue Eyes" and "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)," his tribute to John Lennon. But it was the 1983 Too Low for Zero album that began his last great streak of hit singles, with the MTV hit "I'm Still Standing" and the top 10 single "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" lifted from it. The lyrics of "I'm Still Standing" reflect Elton's belief that, though he may have been down, he was certainly not out.
20. Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant (right)
One of the highest-charting Reggae-influenced pop songs ever, Grant claims its lyrics refer to Electric Avenue is a well-known street in Brixton, the area of South London with the highest concentration of West Indian immigrants and their descendants (especially Jamaicans). Eddie grew up on such a road, Aston Road, an incer city place in Birmingham. England. Grant, a native of Guyana, had many Pop and Ska groups in England and Barbados. His first band, The Equals, had three top 10 hits in England in the 1960s. They were the first multi-racial band to find success in the UK. Grant tried to buy the rights to Bob Marley's songs in 1991, but he was outbid. Many artists, including the Rolling Stones, record at Grant's studio in Barbados. This was the biggest hit Grant ever had, but he still made showings in the top 40 internationally with several British singles and "Romancing the Stone" in the US.
6. Send Me An Angel - Real life
Melbourne band Real Life formed in the early 1980s, and with the release of their debut single, "Send Me An Angel", were hailed Australia's most promising new act. The song, featuring synth work that was every bit as good as anything being done by their overseas contemporaries Human League or Flock of Seagulls, got extensive airplay and shot up the charts in Europe and the US. Reaction in Australia, however, was mixed where, as singer David Sterry explains, "we got called a haircut band and have never had any credibility."
7. Fraction Too Much Friction - Tim Finn (right)
Tim Finn was a founding member of Split Enz (formed in 1972) when the then New Zealand band was known as Split Ends. They moved to Australia in 1975, changed their name (their new name indicating that they had right NZ behind) and built up a strong following in Australia. After a number of hits in the early 1980s, Tim Finn recorded a solo album, from which the single, "Fraction Too Much Friction", came. Split Enz lost their momentum, eventually dissolving in 1985 after the release of Conflicting Emotions. Finn continued his solo career, while brother Neil went on to form Crowded House (also with Tim until 1992) with group member Paul Hester (drums).
9. Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang - Monte Video & The Cassettes
Monte Video aka Murray Grindley was an ex-member of The Underdogs. He is best remembered for his 1982 catchy single mouthful, "Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang", which peaked at No.11 on the Australian national charts in 1983. He followed it up with the single, "Whos calling?" backed with "All Night Long" and the ultra catchy Egyptian love single, "Sheba (She Sha Shoo)"
10. Overkill - Men At Work
Men At Work's first album, Business as Usual (1982), took the group to No. 1 in the US, UK and Australia with two hit singles, "Down Under" and "Who Could It Be Now". The band's second album, Cargo (1983), was somewhat less successful, however three more hit singles emerged from it: "Overkill", "It's A Mistake" and "Dr. Heckyll And Mr. Jive". Lead singer Colin Hay, who wrote this song, says of it: "It was a song about what was happening at the time, the experience we were going through of stepping into the unknown. It's about having a fear about that, but also knowing that what was going to happen was inevitable. Leaving behind where you are and stepping into something which is out of your control to some degree. That's what it felt like at the time." According to Hay, this could relate to a relationship with a person or a relationship with a place. He was living in St. Kilda in Melbourne at the time and felt he was going to leave there soon. "It's about leaving somewhere and leaving your comfort zone. You spend a lot of years trying to get something - fame or recognition or getting to a certain point, and then when you actually achieve it, there's always a certain amount of fear that comes with that, a sense of loss of control, because all of the sudden you're not in control of a situation any more, there's other people involved, it gets bigger and bigger with much more stress. That was the first song I wrote where I thought I might make a living as a songwriter. I was very happy with that song." Hay recorded an acoustic version for his 2003 album Man At Work, a collection of new songs combined with stripped-down versions of Men At Work's hits. The band "Lazlo Bane" re-worked a slower version of "Overkill" with Hay guesting on vocals on the last verse in the late 1990s.
You Can't Hurry Love - Phil Collins (right)
This cover of the Supremes hit surprisingly gave Phil Collins the first No.1 single of his career. But rarely have four words rang more true than the four that make up the title of this song. This was written by the prolific Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. It was based on a Gospel song entitled "You Can't Hurry God," which was sung by Dorothy Love Coates and the Gospel Harmonettes, a Gospel group based in Birmingham, Alabama. Holland came up with the title to Brian Holland's melody. Lamont Dozier recalled in 1000 UK No.1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "We were trying to reconstruct 'Come See About Me' and somehow it turned into 'You Can't Hurry Love.' It was basically a gospel feel we were after." The Dixie Chicks covered this song for the soundtrack of the 1999 movie, Runaway Bride. View the video online
Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye (right)
Gaye's first hit in five years, it was also the last to make the top 20 during his lifetime. It moved quickly up the chart to No.4 to become his highest charting single since "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" spent three weeks at No.1 in 1969. When Tommy Vance announced this track on The Top 40 Show, he was instructed to refer to it as "Healing" due to the BBC's 'then' attitude to such matters. A writer named David Ritz gave Gaye the idea for this. Gaye had a large collection of pornography, to the point that many people felt he was addicted to porn.
When he noticed the large collection of pornography, Ritz told Gaye he needed some "Sexual Healing," and Marvin had him write some words which became the lyrics to the song. Gaye had invited Ritz to help write his biography. Ritz was not given a writing credit for this, but was thanked in the liner notes. This damaged his friendship with Gaye, as Ritz sued for a songwriter credit. After Gaye died, he won the case and got the credit. Gaye had a lot of success writing very sexual songs and built a reputation as a ladies' man, however he was the son of a preacher and struggled with his religious values. This conflict tormented him for years and played a part in his death when he was shot dead by his father on 1st April 1984 after an argument about his lifestyle, just one day short of his 45th birthday. His father claimed he shot in self-defence. Hear the song online
Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson (right)
Three years beflore this single, Jackson had released two excellent singles that both became major US hits, but his star has seemed to have faded since that time. He hadn't stopped recording, his recordings just hadn't been commercial enough, until this one, which reached No.6. When Joe Jackson's marriage broke he moved to New York to record Night And Day. The title is from the Cole Porter song, and the album was designed to have the feel of 24 hours in New York City, with the first side representing "Day" and the second "Night." This song is about the anticipation and excitement of a night out on the town. According to the American TV show, Pop Up Video, the phrase "steppin' out" was coined in New York City in the 1930s. The music video featured a housekeeper pretending she was a Cinderella figure. It was filmed over one night in the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. View the video online
Rosanna - Toto
This was the big winner at the 1983 Grammy Awards. It had originally been released in April 1982, but had failed to chart. Following the success of "Africa", it was re-issued and reached No. 12. Its subject matter is said to be actress Rosanna Arquette (so were a number of tracks on Peter Gabriel's 1992 album, Us). It was do or die for Toto with their fourth album, and they rose to the challenge. Largely dispensing with the anonymous studio rock that had characterized their first three releases, the band worked harder on the melodies, made sure its simple lyrics treated romantic subjects. Augmenting Bobby Kimball's vocals by having other group members sing, they brought in ringers like Timothy B. Schmit (The Eagles), and slowed down the tempo to what became to be known as "power ballad" pace. Such a song was "Rosanna," the old story of a love lost, matched to a bouncy beat. View the video online
Africa - Toto
The second - and biggest - of three major hits for Toto, the others being "Hold The Line" and "Rosanna". A couple of the members of Toto also appeared in the line-up of a band called the Far Corporation, that had a UK top 10 hit in 1985 with a cover version of the Led Zeppelin classic, "Stairway To Heaven". In an article in Time magazine, one of the group members said they were looking for a song just to close off the album and did not think "Africa" would do as well as it did. They also mentioned that if you listen close enough during the lyrics "catch some waves," some group members were singing "catch some rays." The album won a Grammy for Album Of The Year. What do the lyrics mean? No one knows, or if they do, they are not saying. View the video online
All Night Long (All Night) - Lionel Richie
In 1983, Lionel Richie released the album, Can't Slow Down, which shot him into the first rank of international superstars. The album also won two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year. It spawned the No.1 hit "All Night Long", a Caribbean-flavored dance number that was promoted by a dazzling music video produced by former Monkee, Michael Nesmith. The song itself combined Richie's soulful Commodores style with Caribbean influences and contains an old Jamaican chant. The song is about a party that lasts all night long. Richie performed the song at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. All Night Long, as well as its composer, Lionel Richie, are both popular among middle easterners. Richie has performed for audiences in Morocco, Dubai, Qatar, and in April 2006 he performed his first show in Libya. Military personel reported to Richie that his song "All Night Long" was played in the streets of Baghdad throughout the night when the occupation began as American armed forces entered the city. View the video online
All Time High - Rita Coolidge (right)
Coolidge scored her last hit in 1983 with "All Time High", which was the James Bond film, Octopussy. Another well-known movie song, although not really a hit for Coolidge, was the love theme from the movie Splash, entitled "Love Came For Me". "All Time High" was written by John Barry and Tim Rice. According to the Billboard Book of Number One Adult Contemporary Hits, however, Coolidge is said to have disliked the song immensely despite its chart success (since it was written so quickly, she felt it was not a finished work), and in later concerts often had her backing musicians play "All Time High" as an overture so she wouldn't have to sing it herself. View the video online
Bark at the Moon - Ozzy Osbourne
"Bark at the Moon" is the first track of Osbourne's 1983 solo album of the same name. It was composed by Osbourne and is notable for its frenzied guitar work. There are two guitar solos in the song, similar to Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley," although that song featured a different guitarist, Randy Rhoads. The song features animated voice work from Osbourne, including the famous wolf howl which opens the second solo. The song itself is about a mythical beast that once terrorized a town, was killed but then resurrected itself to once more wreak havoc. The music video, however, is about a scientist who accidentally turns himself into a beast, is killed, and resurrected as a free human again. This song is similar to the Black Sabbath song "Iron Man" in its storyline. View the video online
Buffalo Soldier - Bob Marley and the Wailers
A reggae song co-written by Bob Marley (right) and Noel G. "King Sporty" Williams, it is derived from Marley's final recording sessions in 1980. It did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of "Confrontation", when it became a big hit and one of Marley's best-known songs. The title and lyrics refer to the 9th and 10th US Cavalry regiments, comprising some 2,000 men in total, who were known as "Buffalo Soldiers", who fought in the Indian Wars after 1866. These regiments were comprised solely of black Africans who were called buffalo soilders by the Native Americans because of their dreadlocked hair, as it resembled that of a buffalo. The buffalo soldiers' job was to exterminate American Indians. Many of the soldiers were in fact slaves taken from Africa. Marley gives a small history lesson in a protest song about the black man's role in building the country that oppressed him. It has been widely observed that the music is similar to that used in the Banana Splits theme song, "The Tra La La Song". View the video online
Burning Down The House - Talking Heads
Lifted from their album Speaking in Tongues, "Burning Down the House" became one of Talking Heads' more popular songs. Chris Frantz thought of the titular chorus after seeing a funkadelic show where the crowd chanted "Burn down the house." It has been covered by "Weird Al" Yankovic and also by Tom Jones with The Cardigans on his 1999 album, Reload. Bonnie Raitt covered the song on her live album, Road Tested. Even Montreal DJ/Producer Tiga recorded a cover of this song for his 2006 album, Sexor. It has been used in a number of movies, the first being during the Alpha Betas frat house party in Revenge of the Nerds. The title line was recited when the Alphas' antics involving a high-proof liquor and a lighter ignited the drapes. View the video online
Burning Up - Madonna (right)
This song was produced by Reggie Lucas and received a mixed reception from music critics on its release. Madonna's second single in the spring of 1983, its only chart success was in Australia, where it was a top 20 hit in mid-1984. It is believed to be Madonna's only officially released song that she had written and performed long before being signed to Sire Records in 1982. Prior incarnations of the song appear in several bootleg forms, both live with her band Emmy, and also as an early studio demo featuring Madonna on rhythm guitar. Over two decades later, she would play rhythm guitar on the track again when it was performed on her 2004 Re-Invention Tour. Original vinyl pressings of her debut album feature a longer, alternate studio version of the song, which also resurfaced as the UK b-side to the "Angel" 7-inch single in 1985. The shorter, more guitar-driven version which was used in the video and on subsequent pressings of the album is viewed as the definitive version of the song. View the video online
Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody - Joni Mitchell
At the age of 22, as Joni Mitchell prepared to leave her home in Saskatoon to relocate to Toronto, Canada, in February 1965, she fell pregnant to her then-folksinger husband, Chuck Mitchell. Seeing no other alternative, she gave her daughter, Kelly Dale Anderson, up for adoption. The experience remained private for most of her career, though she made allusions to it in several songs, most notably the song "Little Green," (from Blue) and, years later, in "Chinese Cafe" from Wild Things Run Fast ("Your kids are coming up straight/My child's a stranger/I bore her/But I could not raise her"). Her daughter, renamed Kilauren Gibb, began a search for her as an adult, and the two were reunited in 1997. Wild Things Run Fast marked a return to pop songwriting for the folk songstress, including "Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody" which incorporated the chorus and parts of the melody of the famous Righteous Brothers hit, and "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" - which charted higher than any Mitchell single since her 1970s sales and popularity peak. Hear "Chinese Cafe" online
Come Back And Stay - Paul Young
In December 1979, British musician Paul Young (not to be confused with the late singer Paul Young who was in Sad Café and Mike & The Mechanics) formed the Q-Tips, who established their name by playing live in the UK, but had no hits. The band split in 1982, and Young embarked on a solo career. His first two singles, "Iron Out The Rough Spots" and "Love Of The Common People" saw limited success, but the third, a cover of the Marvin Gaye classic "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" was No. 1 in the UK and a top 10 hit in Australia.
The follow-up single "Come Back And Stay" reached No. 4, and a re-released "Love Of The Common People" made it to No. 2. The album No Parlez was certified platinum in various countries. 1984 was a difficult year for Young, however, as his first heavy promotional and live concert tour of America affected his vocal cords to the extent that he couldn't sing at all for most of the year. He recovered to famously perform the opening line to the Band Aid single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" His second album, The Secret Of Association, secured his future success in America, Japan and Australia. He continues to have occasional voice and throat difficulties. View the video online
Cruel Summer - Bananarama (right)
Bananarama's debut album, Deep Sea Skiving (1983) contained several hit singles - "Really Saying Something", "Shy Boy" and a cover version of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye". Their next album, Bananarama (1984) was a more serious and socially conscious effort. The songs tackled heavier topics: "Robert DeNiro's Waiting" is about teenage girls who react to disillusionment in real relationships by retreating into the illusion of celebrity-obsession; "Hot Line to Heaven" is a stand against the drugs-are-cool culture; and "Rough Justice" dealt with social apathy. The album contained the hit single "Cruel Summer" (1983), which was included in the movie The Karate Kid. The trio also recorded the single "The Wild Life" for a 1984 American film of the same name. View the video online
Cry Me A River - Mari Wilson
"Cry Me a River" was a modest hit for 1980s queen of the beehive hairdo, Mari Wilson. It was the only chart hit for both singer and composer (Arthur Hamilton), A torchy, jazzy blues tune, it was originally written for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in the film Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). But the producer insisted Hamilton remove the word "plebeian" since "audiences wouldn't accept a black woman in the 1920s using that word." Hamilton tried but eventually refused to make the change, and the song was dropped. Fitzgerald first released a recording of the song on her album Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! in 1961, however the song's first and most famous recording was by actress/singer Julie London in 1955. This version featured in the 1956 film The Girl Can't Help It. More recently, the song has been featured on the soundtracks of the films Passion of Mind (2000) and V for Vendetta (2006). In 1970, Joe Cocker made the charts with a rendition of it in his classically gravelly voice on the album Mad Dogs and Englishmen. In 1995, British actress Denise Welch's double-A side "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"/"Cry Me a River" spent three weeks in the UK singles chart, reaching No.23. View the video online
Dirty Laundry - Don Henley
Following the breakup of The Eagles, Henley embarked on a productive solo career, the most commercially successful of any of the band members. His first solo album, 1982's I Can't Stand Still, was a moderate seller. The song "Dirty Laundry" received the most airplay. In The Eagles' Live in Melbourne concert, Henley dedicated this song "to Mr. Rupert Murdoch." The song is about the loss of integrity in evening news broadcasts. Henley sings from the standpoint of a news anchorman who "could have been an actor, but I wound up here", and thus is not a real journalist.
Its theme is that TV news coverage focuses too much on negative and sensationalist news; in particular, deaths, disasters, and scandals, with little regard to the consequences or for what is important ("we all know that crap is king"). The second verse contains an obvious reference to the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, which occurred the previous year, as the music video for the song depicts the newsroom of the station getting excited at the prospects of the death of a major figure, even anticipating an interview with the widow before the figure has even died. The song was covered by Lisa Marie Presley in 2005. It was the only single released from her album, Now What. View the video online
Don't You Want Me - Human League
Lead singer Phil Oakey claims this is not about love but about power politics between two people. On the advice of his brother, the lyricist of this song put in the word 'baby' to make fun of songs that overuse that word in their lyrics. The song was inspired by an article in a woman's magazine. The band considered themselves very cutting-edge and relied on electronic sounds and considered guitars "archaic and antique." At first, they didn't want the song released as a single because they thought it was too mainstream. It became the first No.1 in the UK for Richard Branson's Virgin label. Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells was the album; Virgin then had to wait another eight years before their first No.1 on the UK singles charts. View the video online
Gimme All Your Lovin' - ZZ Top
Bearded American blues rock band ZZ Top reached the peak of their commercial success in the 1970s and 1980s, scoring many hit songs during that era. They reached new heights of popularity with the 1983 album Eliminator, boosted to prominence by memorable music videos for the tracks "Gimme All Your Lovin'", "Legs" and "Sharp Dressed Man" each of which featured a small bright red 1933 Ford Coupe 3-window hotrod called The Eliminator and a trio of mysterious, beautiful women who travel around helping various people. The album also featured a distinctive synthesizer-laced sound - a rarity in the blues rock genre - which added a modern, electronic edge to the music, and helped the album become successful and a fan favourite. Eliminator remains their most successful album to date. View the video online
I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues - Elton John (right)
With original band members Davey Johnstone, ex-Spencer Davis Group drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray got together again with Elton after seven years working on other projects. Elton returned to the charts with the 1983 hit album Too Low For Zero, which included "I'm Still Standing" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues", the latter featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica. It gave Elton his biggest hit since "Little Jeannie". Indeed, while he would never again match his 1970s success, he placed a number of hits in the top 10 throughout the 1980s: "Little Jeannie" (1980), "Sad Songs (Say So Much)", "Nikita" boosted by a mini-movie pop video directed by Ken Russell (1986), an orchestrally backed version of "Candle in the Wind" (1987), and "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That" (1988). His albums continued to sell, but of the six released in the latter half of the 1980s, only Reg Strikes Back (1988) made the Top 20. View the video online
I Love Rocky Road - "Weird Al" Yankovic
Though lacking the cult following in this country that he enjoys in his native America, "Weird Al" Yankovic (born Alfred Matthew Yankovic) is still widely known and loved for his humorous parodies of specific songs by contemporary musical acts that make light of popular culture. Since receiving his first accordian lesson the day before his seventh birthday, "Weird Al" has sold more than 12 million albums and recorded more than 150 parody and original songs. His works have earned him three Grammy Awards among nine nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States. Yankovic's first top ten Billboard album and single were both released in 2006, nearly three decades into his career. His send-up of Joan Jet's "I Love Rock n' Roll" and Michael Jackson's "Beat It" (Weird Al turned it into "Eat It") were the first of the comic's many parodiy singles to be released in Australia. View the video online
Johnny B. Goode - Peter Tosh
If any song tells the story of the beginnings of rock'n'roll, then it's this one. Based on the life of pioneer rocker Chuck Berry, it tells the tale of a boy with humble beginnings with a talent for guitar. Some details were changed: Berry was from St. Louis, not Louisiana, and he knew how to read and write very well. He in fact had graduated from beauty school with a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology. The line, "That little country boy could play" was originally, "That little colored boy can play." Berry knew he had to change it if he wanted the song played on the radio. Berry got the name "Johnny" from Johnnie Johnson, a piano player who collaborated with Berry on many songs, including "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Sweet Little 16." Johnson often wrote the songs on piano, and then Berry converted them to guitar and wrote lyrics.
Berry joined Johnson's group, The Sir John Trio, in 1953. He quickly became the lead singer and centerpiece of the band. Berry got the word "Goode" from the street where he grew up, Goode Street in St. Louis. Johnson was very well-respected among many musicians. He played with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker and many others before his death in 2005, age 80. The song has been covered by many artists, including Judas Priest, Peter Tosh, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles. Tosh's cover of this Chuck Berry classic is the only one of many recorded to have made it back into the top 10 of the world's music charts. The Reggae singer does a great twist on "Johnny Be Good", however, by making Johnny a reggae singing "Jamaica boy" instead of a rock-and-roll "country boy". View the video online
Long Hot Summer - The Style Council (right)
The Style Council was an English musical group formed in 1983 by ex-The Jam singer and guitarist Paul Weller with keyboardist Mick Talbot. Both Weller and Talbot had played a significant part in the Mod Revival. The band's early singles showed another level of Weller's songwriting ability and diversity of musical styles; "Speak Like A Child" (with its loud soul-influenced style), the extended funk of "Money-Go-Round" and the haunting synth-ballad "Long Hot Summer". All of these showcased Talbot's abilities on keyboards and organ. View the video online
Moonlight Shadow - Mike Oldfield
British multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield released this song as a single in May 1983 and included it on the album Crises in the same year. The vocals were performed by the Scottish vocalist Maggie Reilly (and not Mary Hopkin as is widely believed), who had joined Oldfield in 1980. A 12" single (later reissued on a 3" CD single) featured an extended version of the song with an extra verse, which appears in his compilation album The Platinum Collection; and the single B-side was "Rite of Man" which was a rare instance of Oldfield singing lead vocal. The single peaked at No.4 in Britain, making it Oldfield's second highest ranked single after "Portsmouth", which reached No.3 in 1976. It was long believed that the lyrics are a reference to the murder of John Lennon, although when asked about this in a 1995 interview, Oldfield responded: [It's] not really [about Lennon]... well, perhaps, when I look back on it, maybe it was.
I actually arrived in New York that awful evening when he was shot and I was staying at the Virgin Records house in Perry Street, which was just a few blocks down the road from the Dakota Building where it happened, so it probably sank into my subconscious. It was originally inspired by a film I loved - Houdini, starring Tony Curtis, which was about attempts to contact Houdini after he'd died, through spiritualism ... it was originally a song influenced by that, but a lot of other things must have crept in there without me realising it." The Lennon story may have arisen as a consequence of the content of the promo video that accompanied the song, which juxtaposes footage of Oldfield and his band playing the song with a loose storyline in which Oldfield plays a man who gets killed in a pistol duel. View the video online
New Year's Day - U2 (right)
The third song and lead single from U2's 1983 album, War, "New Year's Day" is driven by Adam Clayton's distinctive bassline and The Edge's keyboard. It was the band's first hit single. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine placed the single at No.427 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The lyric had its origins in a love song from Bono to his wife, but then was reshaped and inspired by the Polish Solidarity movement. The band only appeared in the performance scenes of the music video as it was filmed in the dead of the Swedish winter. U2 guitarist The Edge revealed in the official U2 biography that the four people riding on horseback in the video were in fact four Swedish teenage girls disguised as the members of U2 riding with masks over their faces. This was done as the band were frozen from shooting the video in sub-freezing temperatures the day before. The biography also states that Bono refused to wear any headgear despite the cold weather and had a lot of trouble mouthing the lyrics. "New Year's Day" is U2's third most frequently performed live song. View the video online
Pipes Of Peace - Paul McCartney
"Pipes of Peace", written by Paul McCartney, was first released on his album of the same name on 31st October 1983. The video was shot for "Pipes of Peace" at Chobham Common, Surrey, and depicted the famous 1914 Christmas truce between British and German troops. Produced by Hugh Symonds, it featured more than 100 extras, and for added realism McCartney had his hair cut short especially for the shoot. Despite featuring on 22 UK No.1 singles (as a member of the Beatles and Wings), this was McCartney's only No.1 hit in Britain as an entirely solo artist though he released many. View the video online
Say Say Say - Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney
McCartney's 1982's album, Tug of War, reunited him with Beatles' producer George Martin and Ringo Starr. It featured McCartney's duet with Stevie Wonder, "Ebony and Ivory", as well as his tribute to Lennon, "Here Today". Two further hit duets followed, both with Michael Jackson: "The Girl Is Mine", from Jackson's Thriller album, and "Say Say Say", a single from McCartney's 1983 album, Pipes of Peace. The pipes of peace betwen McCartney and Jackson played somewhat muted after 1985, the year in which the publishing rights to the songs of Lennon/McCartney (Northern Songs) were sold by Associated TeleVision (ATV) to Jackson. McCartney, who'd tried unsuccessfully to persuade Yoko Ono to join him, was outbid by Jackson, who paid a reported $47 million.
Their friendship and collaboration with McCartney and Jackson ended suddenly as a result. It turned out Ono had actually encouraged Jackson to buy the shares, telling the press after the sale, "I just feel like a friend has them." When asked how he felt about having Jackson as his "boss", as controller of the song catalogue, McCartney replied, "I think he needs to give me a raise." McCartney reportedly did ask Jackson for a royalty increase but was turned down, further cooling their relationship. McCartney's MPL Communications has recently bought or secured publishing rights to several early Beatles songs not published by Northern Songs, including "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You". View the video online
She Works Hard For The Money - Donna Summer (right)
In 1983, Donna Summer scored her biggest triumph since "Bad Girls" with the release of the disco-sounding "She Works Hard for the Money" single and album. The song became a pro-feminist anthem and was a staple on MTV, making her the first black female artist to have a video air in heavy rotation by that channel. The success of the She Works Hard For The Money album permanently poisoned Summer's relationship with Geffen, in fact, album liner notes on the "Cats ..." album pointedly allude to "thanking David for staying out of the kitchen this time and hopefully enjoying this meal that Donna had prepared for him". A second single from the album, the reggae-flavored "Unconditional Love" (which also featured vocals by black British group Musical Youth), was also an early MTV favourite. The 12" release "Stop, Look and Listen" did not have much impact. Despite the album attaining double-platinum certification, She Works Hard for the Money marked the end of Summer's prime. Hear the song online
Shout at the Devil - Mötley Crüe (right)
"Shout at the Devil", a popular song by the American heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, was written by bassist Nikki Sixx, and was the title track of their 1983 album. This song caused some controversy because some people saw it as demonic. Sixx later denied any Satanism in the song. It was re-recorded by the band for the 1997 album, Generation Swine, under the name, "Shout at the Devil '97". Shout at the Devil was their second album.
The record, along with its predecessor, Too Fast for Love, is regarded as one of the most influential of its genre. Shout is a textbook example of classic heavy metal as it existed in the 1980s. Song topics included sex, Satanic themes, violence and youthful rebellion. In addition, the visual influence of the band in this era was palpable as their massive hair, makeup, and tough, violent imagery contributed greatly to the visual aspects of glam metal. The cover of the album, much like their debut, is a tribute, this time to The Beatles' Let It Be. View the video online
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Eurythmics (right)
Eurythmics' commercial breakthrough came with the Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) album, the hit single of the same name from the album featured a dark, powerfully sequenced synth bass line and a striking video that introduced lead singer Annie Lennox sporting an orange crew cut. The band's fortunes changed immensely from this moment on. The album became a huge hit due to the title track. Lennox was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Stewart recently revealed that the famous synth bass line in the song was discovered by accident when he inadvertently played a track backwards. Another track, "Love Is A Stranger", was subsequently re-released and became a hit also. The "Love Is A Stranger" video saw Lennox in a variety of different character guises, for which she later became known for in subsequent videos ("Beethoven" and "The King & Queen of America" among them). View the video online
Tell Her About It / Uptown Girl - Billy Joel (right)
"Uptown Girl" was one of the first songs written when Joel returned from vacation in 1982. It is widely considered to be about Christie Brinkley who he started dating during the song's creation (the music video also included Christie Brinkley in it). It became a worldwide hit upon its release, and Joel's sole No.1 in the UK. The resulting album, An Innocent Man, was compiled as a tribute to the rock and roll music of the 1950s and 1960's, and spawned Joel's second US No.1 hit, "Tell Her About It", which was the first single off the album in the Summer of 1983.
The album itself reached No.4 on the US charts and No.2 in UK and Australia. In March 1984, "The Longest Time", a Doo Wop song, was the next single release from the album and peaked at No.5. "Leave A Tender Moment Alone" followed and hit No.27 in the US while "Keeping the Faith" peaked at No.8 there in January 1985. An Innocent Man was also nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy, but lost to the inevitable winner that year, Michael Jackson's Thriller. View the video of "Tell Her About It" online | video of "Uptown Girl" online
The Safety Dance - Men Without Hats
Men Without Hats were a pop group from Montreal, Quebec who ere at the height of their popularity in the early to mid 1980s. They were characterized by the deep, expressive vocals of their lead singer Ivan and their elaborate use of synthesizers and electronic processing. Their most-remembered single was "The Safety Dance". Though music fans have often interpreted the song as everything from a metaphor for nuclear war to a call for safe sex, and even a protest against club slam dancing bans, group member Stefan Doroschuk says that "The Safety Dance" is about non-conformism and everyone's ability to leave their friends behind and strike out on their own. The music video showed the band, along with Mike Edmonds, orchestrating a Morris dance, in a scene reminiscent of The Wicker Man. The music video also shows a maypole dance. View the video online
Tonight I Celebrate My Love - Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack
Peabo Bryson is well known for singing soft-rock ballads, often as a duo with female singers, and for his contribution to several Disney animated feature soundtracks. Bryson won a Grammy Award in 1992 for his performance of the song "Beauty and the Beast" with Céline Dion and another in 1993 for "A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)" with Regina Belle. Peabo's greatest solo hits include 1978's "Feel The Fire" and "I'm So Into You" and the 1984 hit "If Ever You're In My Arms Again". In 1985, he appeared on the soap opera One Life to Live to sing a lyrical version of its theme song. Bryson's vocals were added to the regular theme song in 1987. Among his duets are: "Here We Go", with Minnie Riperton; "Beauty and the Beast", with Céline Dion; "Light The World", with Deborah Gibson; "The Gift", with Roberta Flack; "A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)", with Regina Belle; "Tonight I Celebrate My Love", with Roberta Flack; "The Best Part", with Nadia Gifford; "Lovers After All", with Melissa Manchester; "You Are My Home" (from The Scarlet Pimpernel) with Linda Eder; "By The Time This Night is Over" with Kenny G. Hear the song online
True Love Ways - Cliff Richard
This song is a Buddy Holly original that was recorded by Holly under Norman Petty's guiding hand in October 1958. Petty was Buddy Holly's first producer and owned the studio in Clovis, New Mexico, where all of Buddy's early recordings were made. The melody is based on an old gospel song, "I'll Be All Right", as sung by the Angelic Gospel, that Holly particularly liked. Their version of this o ld tune was played at Holly's funeral. "True Love Ways" and "It Doesn't Matter Any More" were Buddy's first recordings to use orchestral string arrangements, which accentuated his vocal mannerisms. After Holly died in a plane crash, the album The Buddy Holly Story was released, which contained many of his early hits and some never released songs, of which this was one. Over the years, many artists have covered these Holly classics. Cliff Richard first sang this song with the Shadows during the 1960s. In that decade, the song was also a top 10 hit for British duo, Peter and Gordon. View the video online