Police-album-synchronicityThe Police – “Wrapped Around Your Finger” – (1983)

First, this song has nothing to do with the other two from earlier this week. Second, depending on what country you’re in (U.S. or U.K.), this was either the fourth or second single, respectively, released from Synchronicity. It was a top ten hit in both countries, but did manage to hit #1 in Ireland. It’s just another great track from the Police in 1983.

220px-BillyJoel_AnInnocentManBilly Joel – “The Longest Time” – (1983)

An Innocent Man might be my favorite Billy Joel album – mostly because it plays with doo-wop music on multiple hit singles, including this which only features two instruments (a bass and a drum played with a brush) and a bunch of layered vocals, all provided by Joel himself. Because of this, “The Longest Time” is popular among a cappella singers. But if you want to hear how good of a singer Billy Joel was back in the day, this is all you need.

220px-DonnaSummerSWHftM590x590Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money – 1983

I think this is my favorite song by Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco. Maybe that’s because it’s really not as disco-heavy as the rest of her major hits. This was also her last major hit, coming in 1983. It has a cool new wave beat that makes the whole song feel like it’s supposed to only be used in montages. It hit #3 on the Hot 100.

Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – “Say, Say, Say” – (1983)

Paul McCartney teamed up with a fairly young Michael Jackson for this Hot 100 #1 hit in 1983. I’ve never really known what to think of this song but as I’m listening to it I’m realizing that Jackson’s vocals are awesome (as usual) and McCartney’s performance is pretty good too. But the combination of the two really works. It doesn’t even sound tragically 80s – which it really had the opportunity to do. I guess that’s a good thing.

Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – “Islands in the Stream” – (1983)

This song was written by the Bee Gees. Listen to it and you’ll be able to hear it. It was the second and final #1 hit for both Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – well, on the Hot 100 anyway. The Bee Gees didn’t record it until 2001 but it stands as one of the signature duets of all time and a signature song for both Rogers and Parton. It was later famously sampled as “Ghetto Supastar” by Pras. This song is really not as bad as everything you could imagine tells you it is.

Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack – “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” – (1983)

Born to Love was a duet album recorded by Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson in 1983. This song only made it to #16 on the Hot 100 but it was a staple at weddings for following 10 years after its release and is fairly widely known. This is the type of song that may not have exploded on the Hot 100, but it was a solid Adult Contemporary hit gaining a ton of airplay. And on a side note, I really like Peabo Bryson’s voice – but maybe that’s because I so associate it with Disney films.

Jimmy Buffett – “Brown Eyed Girl” – (1983)

First, sorry for linking to a live version – but ol’ Jimmy ain’t too bad live. Even if he happens to pander to the Chicago crowd in that video. Obviously, this is not a Buffett-original (although I would suggest the Buffett album version over a live version). The song was originally done by the incomparable Van Morrison in 1967. It remains Van Morrison’s signature song. This version was also a hit, hitting #13 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1983.

Def Leppard – “Foolin’” – (1983)

Do you like hair bands? It was a (short-lived) phase I went through a couple years ago. For the most part they’ve never been too appealing to me but I will admit that Def Leppard is one of the biggest bands to come out of the 80s. This is a hard rock song known for its stuttering chorus “F-f-f-foolin'” and the well-sung line “Is anybody out there?” This song hit #28 on the Hot 100, making it the third-biggest hit from Pyromania.

#20 – Rita Coolidge – “All Time High” – (1983)

This song just sounds like a sappy movie theme song from the 1980s. Which is exactly what it is. I don’t think sappy was the intention, but it’s just the nature of the time period in which it was written and the artist chosen to perform it. Apparently, Barbara Broccoli, the daughter of the producer of the Bond films at the time, was a big fan of Rita Coolidge (who wasn’t all that popular by the time 1983 rolled around). Broccoli would play Rita Coolidge albums around her dad until he finally took the hint and hired Coolidge to sing the theme for Octopussy.

U2 – “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – (1983)

Some bands take it upon themselves to be the torch bearers of some political cause. Usually it’s just annoying. But Bono manages to take it to a new level of annoying. And it isn’t just a recent thing. This song is one of the more political songs U2 ever recorded. It’s about the Bloody Sunday incident in Northern Ireland when British troops opened fire on protesters and bystanders. And it was on an album titled War. It was a top ten hit in the U.S.

Big Country – “In a Big Country” – (1983)

Much like the Escape Club’s “Wild, Wild West” we featured last week, I have this song thoroughly confused, chronologically speaking. Not sure why, other than it reminded me of that song, which I also thought was from the 1990s. This one isn’t even close, having been released in 1983. It’s considered New Wave, but it doesn’t sound anything like the other New Wave hits of the period. There is something else to be said of any band whose first album includes a song that is nearly identical to the name of the band. It almost guarantees that you won’t have another big hit because one and two will always be associated with each other (I’m trying to think of another example right of the top of my head and am failing). I guess all of this doesn’t matter because this song absolutely kicks ass.

U2 – “New Year’s Day” – (1983)

I was trying to come up with songs about the New Year and, well, this one had the holiday’s name in its title so I figured it would work. War was U2’s third album and, in all honesty, the first one with any songs of note (I almost said, “The first one that mattered” but didn’t want to be attacked by Bono and called a simpleton for “not understanding” their early work). Anyway, this was the lead single and it brought the band commercial success. Of course, the lyrics have to be about a plight somewhere in this world (in this case, Poland). The bassline is pretty groovy and it works well as a rock song – not so much as a New Year’s song, other than the title.

#7 – Quiet Riot – “Cum On Feel the Noize” – (1983)

This is a cover of a song by British rock band Slade, who did it in 1973. Quiet Riot’s version pretty much kicks ass. It’s immensely singable and plays almost as much as a dance track as it does solid, heavy metal. If you’re going to be a one-hit wonder, this is definitely the way to do it – completely awesomely. “Come on feel the noise… girls rock your boys… we’ll get wild, wild, wild…”

#17 – Dio – “Rainbow in the Dark” – (1983)

Ronnie James Dio died a little over a year ago (this was the band that bore his name, obviously). Because it’s hair metal from the 80s, songs like this tend to get mocked every now and then. But Ronnie James Dio was the replacement for Ozzy Osbourne at Black Sabbath. And this song is awesome. Don’t mock the man or the tune.

#23 – Kiss – “Lick It Up” – (1983)

Kiss’s “time” may have been the mid-to-late 70s, but “Lick It Up” sounds more or less identical to the stuff they were doing in the 70s. This song featured the “more mature” version of the band – it was their first video sans makeup. If I have one complaint about this song, though, it’s that it seems hollow, like there is a rhythm component missing. Eh, I guess it’s just Kiss.

Billy Joel – “Keeping the Faith” – (1983)

Billy Joel popped out hit after hit in the 80s and “Keeping the Faith” was a Top 20 hit in 1984. An Innocent Man is a brilliant album that harkens back to a number of different musical styles from the 50s and 60s (we’ve already talked about “Uptown Girl”). The video for this song makes me think it’s supposed to be early-60s rock, but for whatever reason I just don’t hear it. But it’s still a pretty good song.

Huey Lewis & the News – “If This Is It” – (1983)

Interesting trivia: this song was Huey Lewis’ third consecutive #6 hit on the Hot 100 – like the chart was playing some cruel joke on the band that they couldn’t break into the top 5. This is a solid pop rock song – it’s not a ballad by any means but it doesn’t have that punch that its Sports album-siblings like “The Heart of Rock and Roll” and “I Want a New Drug” have.

Billy Joel – “Tell Her About It” – (1983)

So is this album cover where Jerry Seinfeld picked out his haircut? From where I’m sitting (and the image is kind of small) Mr. Joel looks quite Seinfeld-ish. Billy Joel actually had quite interesting music videos… kind of elaborate-like. Rodney Dangerfield is in this one (another great comedian). This song was a #1 and it was Billy’s homage to Motown (but this is not his only Motown-influenced song). I think Billy Joel could still write songs like this – catchy pop tunes – if he wanted to. He needs to. Do it, Billy!

Madonna – “Holiday” – (1983)

This was the song that launched a career. It was Madonna’s first hit. It’s an up-beat dance track that made use of the electronic musical gadgetry available in the early 1980s – stuff that the developing hip-hop scene was using to launch their genre. Fun fact: Madonna is credited with playing an instrument on this track: the cowbell.

The Fixx – “One Thing Leads to Another” – (1983)

I see this song labeled as “New Wave” but it definitely has a more pop rock feel to it than. It was a top five hit in the U.S – by far their biggest mainstream hit (they were a staple o the Mainstream Rock chart throughout the decade). The Fixx is still together and have a new record due for release this year.

Madonna – “Borderline” – (1983)

“Borderline” was Madonna’s fifth single and first top ten hit. It was also the last single from her self-titled debut album. Listening to this song again now, the music really sounds dated. It’s very early-80s-ish… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Genesis – “That’s All” – (1983)

“That’s All” is a very recognizable song from Genesis. It was written by Phil Collins and appeared on the bands 1983 self-titled album. It hit #6 in the U.S. and #16 in the UK. And that’s all I have to say about it (yeah, you walked into that one).

The Police – “Every Breath You Take” – (1983)

This is the Police’s signature song – and Sting’s. Gotta love the upright bass he plays in the video. So why was “Synchronicity II” on the countdown and not this? Valid question. It probably should have been, is my answer. But it wasn’t – so here it is.

#9 – UB40 – “Red Red Wine” – (1983)

Here’s another tropical 80s hit. “Red Red Wine” was written and originally released by Neil Diamond in 1968, but it wasn’t anywhere near this much fun. This song was a #1 in the UK upon its first release in 1983. It didn’t hit #1 in the U.S. until 1988. Which is kinda weird. The last concert I was at was a UB40 concert (I know, right?) and they waited until the very end to perform this, and rightfully so, it is their signature song. But I really had to go to the bathroom and I didn’t want to miss it. So I had to stand there and dance for an hour before I finally heard it. Worth it. One thing I love is that when you listen to this song you picture a very Bob Marley-looking fellow singing it. Then you see this average looking white guy from Birmingham belting out these amazing lyrics with such perfection… it really throws you. I love it.

#20 – Spandau Ballet – “True” – (1983)

I’ve never heard someone say “I” in such a dramatic, drawn-out way. It’s so peaceful sounding. This song was in Sixteen Candles, which is part of the reason it was so huge – hitting #1 in the UK and #4 in the U.S. It was their biggest hit. I’m guessing there are a lot of people who know or have heard this song (it’s been in a lot of movies and TV shows) but have no idea who sings it. Well it’s Spandau Ballet and they are still touring. Oh, and this is yet another song from the 80s with prominent saxophone.