This show came toward the end of my sophomore year in college. Transy has a four-week May Term at the end of its academic year, and this could have been the weekend before that began. I took Dr. Miller’s Compiler Construction class that May; I pulled an all-nighter or two wrestling with my code for “Jonesie,” the course-long project.
I love the way the countdown starts.
#40: Talk Talk, “It’s My Life.” Inner-circle Hall of Fame 80s tune.
#39: Bon Jovi, “Runaway.” Believe it or else, this was the only week this song was on AT40. I’m not a huge fan of the band, but I dig “Runaway” pretty much. Feels like it should have been a bigger hit.
#38: Paul Young, “Come Back and Stay.” Amazingly good—I love the mood, the ambience created. Pretty easily my favorite of Young’s.
#37: Madonna, “Borderline.” You could feel the momentum building throughout 84 with each song Madonna was releasing. I’d say this was the best on either of her first two albums, though—not kitschy, not overtly provocative, just a solid dance tune with a good (for her) early vocal performance.
#36: Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time.” I’ve written about this one already.
#35: Queen, “Radio Ga Ga.” If it hadn’t been for Wayne’s World, this would have the last week that Freddie Mercury and company spent on the Top 40.
#34: Bonnie Tyler, “Holding Out for a Hero.” This is the first of four songs from the Footloose soundtrack on the show, and it’s the only one I especially like. Speaking of hit-making days being over, the following week would be the last one in the 40 for Tyler (coincidentally, her first week, 4/22/78, was also played this weekend as the 70s rebroadcast). A bit overwrought, but, then again, maybe not so much relative to “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
That’s a really good set of seven songs kicking off the show!
#33: Van Halen, “I’ll Wait.” Every countdown has a few songs I think are clunkers. Not one of my fave VH efforts.
#32: Night Ranger, “Sister Christian.” I’ve always really liked this one. Makes me think of a long-time friend.
#31: Berlin, “No More Words.” Berlin toned it down on their second album, trying more to grab for the ring of commercial success. The Bonnie-and-Clyde-themed video (as well as Terri Nunn’s hairstyle in it) is plenty silly, but this is not a bad song at all.
#30: Shalamar, “Dancing in the Sheets.” Another from Footloose. Eh.
#29: Pretenders, “Show Me.” I’d bought Learning to Crawl by this time. It has nothing of the ferocity of her first two albums, but the early phase of Chrissie’s more mature period was plenty appealing.
#28: Tony Carey, “A Fine, Fine Day.” An unlikely hit, a story song about a relative’s first hours after being released from the joint. Underrated.
#27: Steve Perry, “Oh Sherrie.” I’ve always thought that Sherrie Swafford, Perry’s girlfriend at the time, looked uncomfortable in the video.
#26: Irene Cara, “Breakdance.” This was Cara’s last venture into the 40, which feels a little odd, since she’d had so much success over the previous year. You just never know. Overall I enjoyed her stuff, including this, pretty well.
#25: Billy Joel, “The Longest Time.” There’s a small scene out of my life that involves this song, but writing it up will wait for another time. Joel had “Movin’ Out” on 4/22/78.
#24: Yes, “Leave It.” I’ve got a lot to say someday about Yes, as well. This is a really good one for singing along.
#23: Deniece Williams, “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” Williams has a remarkable voice and the video is cute enough. Yet another artist also on the 4/22/78 show, singing “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” with Johnny Mathis. Tyler, Joel, and Williams are the only three duplicate artists between the two shows.
#22: John Cougar Mellencamp, “The Authority Song.” I’m a much bigger fan of Scarecrow and The Lonesome Jubilee than the majority of his work that came before them. I thought he really matured and improved over time.
#21: Huey Lewis and the News, “I Want a New Drug.” I liked this more then than I do now, but I’d probably still rather hear it than everything except “Jacob’s Ladder” off of Fore!
We’ll tackle the top 20 later in the week. In the meantime, have some Bon Jovi. I wouldn’t have predicted mega-stardom based on this clip, but like I said above, it’s not a bad track; it sounds better than it looks.