On Monday, I wrote about five songs knocking on the door of the Billboard’s Hot 100 on 3/26/83. Today, it’s some brief notes about a dozen tunes on that chart, none of which managed to make AT40 and many of which haven’t been entirely relegated to the dustbin of history.
#86: Weather Girls, “It’s Raining Men”
This is in its 17th and next-to-last week on the chart, down from a peak of #46. It was a top 10 hit in the UK, Ireland, and Norway; a cover by the former Ginger Spice was a mega-international sensation almost two decades later.
#84: Wall of Voodoo, “Mexican Radio”
#76: Oak Ridge Boys, “American Made”
The early-80s wave of country songs that also became AT40 pop hits was coming to a close. Ronnie Milsap’s last appearance, “Stranger in My House,” is debuting on the Hot 100, ascending toward a #25 peak. Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle
had both just fallen ETA: were just about to fall off for the last time, with their duet “You and I.” Anne Murray unsuccessfully tried to score with “A Little Good News” later in 83. Kenny Rogers was about a year away from being done with the pop portion of his career.
That fate had already befallen the Oak Ridge Boys. They’d had their day in the sun with “Elvira” and “Bobbie Sue,” their only AT40 hits. “American Made” was their 8th (and final, naturally) appearance on the pop charts overall, topping out four spots higher than this.
#70: Missing Persons, “Walking in L.A.”
I strongly associate “Words” with a vacation my family and I took to Myrtle Beach in August 82, just before I packed off to college; it popped up on the radio a lot on that trip. Dale Bozzio’s squeak sure made it stand out. It wasn’t until the spring of 92, though, that I got turned on to the other primary cuts from Spring Session M, particularly “Destination Unknown,” but also this one. Love all of it–it’s somewhat of a surprise that they never struck Top 40 gold. This is the peak position for “Walking in L.A.”
#66: Adam Ant, “Desperate But Not Serious”
The follow-up to “Goody Two Shoes,” it’s fun but not quite as good as his big hit. This one didn’t get any higher, either.
#62: Berlin, “Sex (I’m a…)”
I remember a piece of this being included on “Weird Al” Yankovic’s first polka medley, “Polkas on 45” (the Clash song below is also on it). Thirty-five years ago, it was reasonably provocative stuff. I don’t believe I ever caught it on MTV, but I did see “The Metro,” a considerably better song, occasionally. Another one at its peak.
#61: Billy Joel, “Goodnight Saigon”
While The Nylon Curtain wasn’t quite the hit-making machine the other peak-era Joel albums were, it’s got a high proportion of memorable tunes on it–several of them have a prominent place on the soundtrack of my freshman year in college. Dan Seeger at Coffee for Two wrote a really nice tribute to TNC this past weekend.
Not sure “Goodnight Saigon” really should have been a single, but I’ll listen to it anytime it comes on. It got as high as #56.
#57: John Anderson, “Swingin’”
Speaking of country music… Anderson has a voice that’s memorable for all the wrong reasons. The song’s catchy but I find it awfully annoying. I almost wish we’d gotten to hear Casey introduce it once, though, to perhaps get a read on what he thought. It topped out at #43.
#53: Psychedelic Furs, “Love My Way”
I like “The Ghost in You” better, but this is mighty fine. Deserved better than a #44 peak. My favorite Richard Butler vocal, though, is on Love Spit Love’s “Am I Wrong,” from 94.
#52: Mac McAnally, “Minimum Love”
File this under I-really-should-know-better-than-to-like-it. McAnally had a #37 hit, “It’s a Crazy World,” in August 77, and this was the only other time he got close. It made WLAP’s automated playlist for a few weeks in spring 83, and James and I would rake it over the coals for its insipid view about relationships. Still, I’ve grown kinda fond of it because it does take me back to a fun period in my life. Peaked at #41.
#50: Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go”
They tried twice with this one, both before and after “Rock the Casbah.” It just wasn’t meant to be: it made #45 the first time and #50 the second.
#47: Ric Ocasek, “Something to Grab For”
Ocasek released a solo album, Beatitude, between Shake It Up and Heartbeat City. This song sounds like a cross between “You Might Think” and maybe something from Candy-O. The title phrase is just plain awkward to sing in rhythm/tempo; I wonder if that held it back. Yet another at its high point.
I’ll pay closer attention to other charts as the weeks and months pass, to see how often there were this many notable songs that didn’t cross the Rubicon into Casey-land.