Author: Eric Vardeman

Child of the 80's. Tulsa Curling Club founder. Musician. Christmas nut. Olympic enthusiast. Doesn't share food. I curate several 80's themed playlist over at Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/127168733

Music Monday – Week of March 26th

 

Music Monday

 

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending March 26, 1983

  • Michael Jackson still holding strong at #1 while his next hit, “Beat It”, is climbing the charts.
  • One of my favorites, “On The Loose” by Saga has finally dropped from the list.
  • Prince is slowly climbing the charts with what will be his first top 10 hit, “Little Red Corvette”. His first top 40 hit was “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (a song that would sound right at home with Justin Timberlake or Adam Levine) in 1979. That was also his most recent. “Corvette” isn’t actually the first single from the album 1999. The song “1999” was released late in 1982 but it barely got a peek at the top 40. It’ll be re-released later this year after the success of “Corvette”.
  • The song “Twilight Zone”, by Golden Earring, has peaked at #10. All told, the song will spend 27 weeks on the charts. Guitarist George Kooymans was inspired to write the song after reading The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (a nod to the longevity of that franchise). The music video was one of the first to feature a cinematic story line and dance choreography. The original version of the music video, however, was rejected by MTV because of a shot of a topless woman and simulated drug use during one of the dance sequences.

Music Monday – Week of March 19th

 

Music Monday

 

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending March 19, 1983

Michael Jackson still rules the chart and three new songs enter the arena this week. Songs with noticeable titles: “Beat It” (which debuts out of nowhere at 24), “Little Red Corvette” and “She Blinded Me With Science”. It seems at some point, however, in the very recent past, Mr. Thomas Dolby took his song off of Spotify (I swear I just heard it last week on my 80’s playlist). Well, I wasn’t going to just skip it like it didn’t exist so I went looking for different versions of it on Spotify. That led me down a rabbit hole of a genre called 8-bit music. For those of you that don’t know, 8-bit music is the type of music you’d hear on old 80’s video games. There’s a whole genre on Spotify for this and it’s strangely fantastic (I recommend the 8-bit version of “My Sharona”). I found an 8-bit version of “She Blinded Me With Science” and put THAT on the playlist just for a place holder. It’s oddly catchy…as is the rest of the genre. Check it out if you get the chance…

Music Monday – Week of March 12th

 

Music Monday

 

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending March 12, 1983

Michael Jackson still owns the top spot. In fact, the top five songs remain unchanged this week. “Der Kommissar” by After The Fire is steadily climbing the charts. Interestingly, late in 1982, after touring as the opening act for Van Halen, After The Fire announced that they were splitting up. However, they had already recorded an English language cover of Falco’s “Der Kommissar” (a song that really went nowhere for Falco just a year before). Early in 1983 it’ll peak at #5 but success happens a little too late for ATF. Also of note, Laura Branigan recorded a song, in 1983, titled “Deep In The Dark” that is written over the melody and hook of “Der Kommissar”. Look it up and give it a listen. It LITERALLY sounds like “Der Kommissar”.

Music Monday – Week of March 5th

 

Music Monday

 

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending March 5, 1983

Michael Jackson starts a seven week stranglehold on the #1 spot with “Billie Jean”. Oddly enough Quincy Jones, producer of the Thriller album, wanted to cut the song from the album citing it as weak. Jones also wanted Jackson to cut the iconic 29 second intro down to 12 seconds. Jackson refused, though, saying that was the part of the song that made him want to dance. While it spends seven weeks in the top spot, another song spends even longer in the top position later in the year.

  • One of my favorite 80’s songs, “On The Loose” by Saga, stalls out at number 26. It spends a couple of weeks there before sliding back down.
  • Another one of my favorite songs, Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring, is slowly making it’s way up the chart.
  • “Pass the Dutchie” by Musical Youth, peaks at #10. Musical Youth were the first black artists to make a studio appearance on MTV.
  • Check out how many iconic song titles are on the chart this week.

Music Monday – Week of February 19th

 

Music Monday

 

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending February 19, 1983

There are three songs in the top 10 that moved up at least 10 spots to get there: “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson (who made the biggest jump from 23 to 6), “Do You Really Want To Hurt me” by Culture Club and “Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran. “Hungry Like The Wolf” was first released in early 1982 and didn’t even chart in the US but, thanks to MTV and the success of the song’s video, it was re-released later in the year and is climbing steadily.

Some recognizable songs that are on the verge of breaking into the top 40:

  • “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runner
  • “She Blinded Me With Science” by Thomas Dolby
  • “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” by Night Ranger
  • “Jeopardy” by The Greg Kihn Band.

 

To see how things got to this point, check out the post, Music Monday for the Week of February 12.

Music Monday – Week of February 12th

Music Monday

 

I’m a child of the 80’s. I was born in 1970 and graduated high school in 1988 so the bulk of my formative years were spent in what some consider to be the greatest decade known to man. It was right around 1983 that I started really listening to and escaping into music. Among other things, Casey Kasem and his American Top 40 did a fantastic job of helping inform my musical identity at the time. I consider myself somewhat of an 80’s music connoisseur and not a day goes by that I don’t listen to either my 80’s on 8 playlist (443 songs) or my Hair Nation playlist (241 songs). That’s almost 700 songs of 80’s goodness right there.

While those playlists span almost ten years of music, I’ve long contended that 1983 and 1984 were the pinnacle of 80’s music. A large percentage of the songs we consider quintessential 80’s tunes – the stuff that compilation and greatest hits albums are made of – came out of these two years. In an attempt to prove out my contention that those years were, in fact, the halcyon days of 80’s music, I’m going to take some time and walk through the weekly top 40 charts starting in 1983. I’ve built a Spotify playlist that I’ll update every week, I’ll point out some of the songs going up and down the charts and, since I’m a font of useless 80’s information, point out some interesting facts about a tune or two. We’ll try it for a while. If it works it works, if it’s a snoozer we’ll stop. Join me, won’t you?

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending February 12, 1983

  • “Down Under” by Men At Work is the number one song. Two weeks ago, it was number one but fell to number two last week. This week, it claws its way back to number one.
  • One of my favorite 80’s songs, “On The Loose” by Saga is climbing the charts.
  • Michael Jackson is beginning his assault on the American music charts. The album Thriller was released in November of ’82 and the first huge single, “Billie Jean”, is climbing.
  • “Mickey” by Toni Basil fell off the charts this week after peaking at number one. To be honest, I never knew it reached the top spot.
  • Roboto” by Styx debuts this week. One of their biggest hits, they refuse to play it in concert now.
  • Take a look up and down the chart and notice all the songs that are regarded as some of the most recognized (if not iconic) songs of the 80’s. This will happen all year long.

 

Heisenberg: My 80’s Contraband Life

Heisenberg

I read an article last week talking about the fact that cassette tapes were making a comeback. In fact, cassette tape sales were up over 130% in 2017. I used to love cassette tapes. They were my musical modus operandi all through junior high, high school and into college. While the renewed interest in this antiquated technology may be nothing but a passing fancy, reading the article brought back some fond, fond memories for me.

I was a late bloomer, musically. I didn’t really get into music till around the age of thirteen. Up to that point (and even after), my parents had tried to head the rock and roll devil off at the pass by pushing me towards Christian music. Early in 1984, though, I heard two songs that cemented my rock and roll fixation forever: “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and “The Reflex”. One day, while at a mall with my family, I spent some of my hard-earned lawn mowing money at Hastings Records and Tapes on two cassettes. I bought Midnight Madness by Night Ranger and Seven and The Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran. My parents promptly made me return them, opting instead to take me to the Christian book store where I plunked down my hard-earned cash on a couple of tapes from a little known Irish band called U2, October and War  (the jokes was on them with that purchase…but I digress).

 

Night Ranger

 

I didn’t matter though. I was hooked. I found a friend at school who had the album versions of both the tapes I tried, unsuccessfully, to purchase and paid him a dollar a tape to record them for me. I started recording everything. I had cassettes full of songs recorded off of the radio as well as television. I also soon discovered that a local radio station, KMOD in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would play albums from beginning to end in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. I started recording those as well. I would set a watch alarm under my pillow so I could wake up and change the tapes out when I needed to. On several occasions I scored the mother lode. One night, they played four Van Halen records back to back (I, II, Diver Down and 1984). Recorded them all. Another night, they played four Ozzy Osbourne records (Blizzard of Ozz, Diary of A Madman, Speak of The Devil and Bark at The Moon). Got them too. On and on and on.

Continue reading “Heisenberg: My 80’s Contraband Life”