There was a lot of fabulous stuff hitting the pop scene in the spring of 83 that never made the Top 40. Today and Friday, I’ll highlight some of those tracks from 3/26/83, which is this coming weekend’s featured 80s rebroadcast. Many are pretty well-known and still in rotation on various stations today; others, maybe not so much.
The Bubbling Under section on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart is comprised of the songs that would be in slots #101-110 were such tunes officially listed. One of those ten from this week, Champaign’s “Try Again,” at #103, went on to make AT40, reaching #23. But five others that fell short of being played by Casey were very good-to-amazing and are still in my head after thirty-five years. I haven’t paid strict attention to all that many of these just-outside-the-Hot 100 lists, but this strikes me as a high percentage of high quality stuff for that range. Let’s get to it!
#109: U2, “New Year’s Day”
It would be almost a year before I purchased War in perhaps the single-most important music-buying trip of my life. I know I was hearing this song on WKQQ (then at 98.1 on the dial) during the spring of 83, though. It’s gotta be in my U2 Top 5. Peaked at #53.
#107: George Clinton, “Atomic Dog”
WLAP-FM 94.5 was the Top 40 station in Lexington at the time, but there was also a station in nearby Winchester at 100.1 on the dial (I forget its call letters) that had a more expansive playlist, including a bit of a focus on R&B/soul/funk/rap. That’s how I came across “Atomic Dog” by funkmeister George Clinton. Bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay! Peaked at #101.
ETA: Talk about dumb luck. After I posted this, I happened to catch the 3/17/84 show, where Casey welcomes WFMI in Winchester, KY to the AT40 family. That was the station at 100.1.
#105: Fixx, “Red Skies”
I’m thinking I learned about this one via MTV, as it got plenty of play there after the Fixx broke through later in 83. I don’t know much about their stuff outside the singles, which overall I like but still find hit or miss. “Red Skies” is one of the better ones, but not quite up there with “Stand or Fall,” “The Sign of Fire,” or “Secret Separation.” Also peaked at #101.
#104: Scandal, “Love’s Got a Line on You”
I know that Q102 in Cincinnati supported Scandal heavily in 83, playing “Love’s Got a Line on You” after I was home for the summer; I imagine they’d featured the first single, “Goodbye to You,” as well. Both are pop classics in my view and should have been big hits. This one’s almost been forgotten, though, while “Goodbye,” admittedly the catchier tune, still gets played pretty often (YouTube views: 350K for “Love’s,” over 7M for “Goodbye”). Peaked at #59, six spots higher than “Goodbye to You.”
#102: Modern English, “I Melt with You”
One of my 10 favorite 80s songs. I absolutely was hearing it and loving it that spring, certainly on 100.1 and maybe on WKQQ, too. Never saw the movie Valley Girl but I was aware this was on the soundtrack. It’s another one whose video I saw on MTV a bunch.
One of the albums that WTLX got as a freebie in the fall of 83 from Disc Jockey Records was Wire Train’s …In a Chamber. I gave it a spin or two down at the station, and was struck by how similar “I Forget It All (When I See You)” is to “I Melt With You.” There’s no way someone isn’t ripping someone else off here.
Peaked at #78 (sadly).
On Friday, several tunes in the Hot 100 on 3/26/83 that never cracked the Top 40.
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