American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 5/12/84: Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time”

Before I started this blog, I posted about songs from old AT40s on Facebook, January-July 2017. I’ll be moving them here over time. This entry has been edited somewhat from the original.

I’ve mentioned previously that WTLX, the campus radio station at Transy, got a lot more active my sophomore year after my friend Kevin took over its reins. One of the more enjoyable things he, I and a couple of our friends did toward that end was go shopping three or so times each semester for 45s to add to the station’s collection. Our store of choice was Disc Jockey Records, which at the time was located in the Regency Center on Nicholasville Rd. in Lexington. The first few times we were there, in Fall 83, the manager gifted us with promotional copies of 2-3 albums, ones I presume he thought would be duds and hence not played over their in-house system.

However, he made a significant misjudgment regarding the two disks he passed on during one of our last visits that fall. One was Matthew Wilder’s I Don’t Speak The Language, which contained the top 5 hit “Break My Stride.”. It was just about to break out as we were given the LP, so it was easy to make it available for our jocks to play. The other freebie we got was one of the biggest sensations of 1984: Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual.

It’s maybe a little easy to understand why you would bet against this album’s success, much less it becoming a multimillion seller. Cyndi’s pose on the cover is awkward and looks contrived; it certainly doesn’t speak of lots of $ being invested. If you’d known her bio, you also might not think it’d be a hit, as relatively few artists first break through in their 30s. Nonetheless, she overcame whatever odds there were, and how. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was loopy but completely un-self-conscious and joyous (plus, I would argue that she transformed–much for the better–the meaning of Robert Hazard’s original). After it became clear that “GJWtHF” was going to be a big hit early in 84, I occasionally went down to the station when it was off the air to listen to the whole album. It sounded to me like there were other hits to be had, as indeed there were over the course of the year. I was pleased when they released my favorite, “All Through the Night,” and it made the top 5 in the fall.

But the emotional centerpiece and maybe the most influential track of SSU over the years–it’s charted four times as a cover–is “Time After Time.” It was probably important to have it be the second single, so as to try not to typecast Cyndi as that “Girl.” The song and the accompanying video gave us a different, more sympathetic perspective. I don’t think I’m making this up, but I could swear I first heard it in December of 83 on, of all stations, WKQQ (maybe that was a sign of the upcoming Lauper tsunami?). It’s #10 here, and it’s the first #1 hit to be featured in this series.

Oh, and I don’t think we ever got another promo LP from the manager at Disk Jockey.

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