Charting in the Face of History: 1983
February 9, 1983
The prog-rock band Toto will be releasing a new album in the next few weeks (Toto XIV, because we’re apparently counting their records like Super Bowls) and have been doing some promotional press. Of course, you can’t have a Toto interview without asking about their ubiquitous hit “Africa”, which rewrote the ratio of “catchy song” to “racist video” just in time for Duran Duran to borrow it on “Hungry Like the Wolf”.
“Africa” hit #1 on the US Billboard charts on February 9, 1983. Quick, what was the rest of the top 10 that week? Don't remember? Weren't born yet? Were too high on that sweet, sweet 80's cocaine to recall correctly? Well, lucky for you, I'm here to fill you in, because dammit, I want to drop the gift of knowledge. To make it even more fun, I’m throwing in a designation of those that have been elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF):
10: Phil Collins – “You Can't Hurry Love” - Ok, we've started off very 1983ish, right? Interestingly, this song was featured on the first ever Now That's What I Call Music compilation. Well, thanks Phil, for starting that trend off and peppering my Total Request Live experience with commercials for the 21st through the 27th version. RRHOF.
9: Eddie Rabbitt With Crystal Gayle – “You and I” - Don't remember this one? Yeah, me either. Weird. Hey, Crystal Gayle’s hair was really freaking long. Moving on...
8: The Clash – “Rock the Casbah” - Hey, The Clash! The guys that are on those t-shirts! Those fellas were pretty good, and actually talented musicians, and are kind of regarded as pretty much one of the most seminal English bands in the last 40 years! This was by far the biggest mainstream hit for The Clash, way higher on the chart than "Should I Stay or Should I Go" (peak position #45) RRHOF.
7: Don Henley - Dirty Laundry - The ex-Eagle had a string of hits after this, but none bigger than this one, which peaked at #3 earlier in the year. Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down. Interestingly, there’s no official music video for this song on YouTube, just a performance from MTV’s Inauguration Ball for Bill Clinton in 1993. Do you remember that MTV did an inauguration ball for Bill Clinton in 1993… and it was hosted by Dennis Miller… and Clinton actually showed up??? Hang on, I’ll come back after I’ve watched his speech about 7 times.
Ok, I’m back. Related... I f*cking hate this stupid song. RRHOF.
6: Hall and Oates - Maneater - Whoa, there they go! This song was a monster; the longest running hit for the band, peaking at #1 for four weeks from 1982-83. It was also unironically used in the film Runaway Bride, so... whoa, there you go. RRHOF.
5: Shame on the Moon - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band - It don't get no more American than Bob Seger. Listening to Bob Seger is like drinking a Hamm’s beer on the roof of a seedy hotel in Michigan, looking wistfully at your Chevy truck in the parking lot with a hooker by your side. Unfortunately for you Segerheads (Is that a thing? Like Deadheads or Parrotheads, except, for, like Bob Seger?), there’s no video for this’n. RRHOF.
4: Baby, Come to Me - Patti Austin With James Ingram - Another forgettable entry. Look, they can't all be legendary, for god's sake. Hang on, we're about to go on a good run...
3. Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye – Hoo boy, it just got sexy up in this bitch! Yes. This is good. 808 beats abound, as well as unabashed romantic advances on a possibly unsuspecting target. It’s cool though, sexual healing is good for him. Yeah, actually, all kidding aside, this song is a little rapey… I gotta be honest. Also, the video is basically a porn flick without the sex. Get up, get up, get up, get up. RRHOF
2: Down Under - Men At Work - Speaking of sexy! Wait, this is about how great Australia is. Ok, sorry. Regardless, this was the first and biggest hit by Men at Work, who were much better than you probably remember.
Which brings us to...
1: Africa - Toto
So to recap, that's 6 members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in that week (Henley with the Eagles and Collins with Genesis) in the top 10... in 1983. It was a weird and interesting year already, and we were just a few weeks from a low-key, bass-driven dance number called "Billy Jean" that would tear sh*t up for 7 weeks starting in March.
Other notable number ones from 1983 include David Bowie's "Let's Dance", MJ's "Beat It", The Police's "Every Breath You Take", The Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", and frat boy favorite "Total Eclipse of the Heart". What a year!
Ok, there was also Lionel Richie's redundantly titled "All Night Long (All Night), and Michael Sembello's dancetastic "Maniac", but what are you gonna do? It was 1983.