19
Jul 09

Popular ’83

FT + Popular/146 comments • 5,943 views

Every Popular entry has a mark out of 10 – here’s where you get to choose which you’d have given 6 or above to (and make any general comments on the year in the comments boxes, of course). The highest 1983 mark I gave was 9, for Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” (pre-death!). The lowest I gave was 3 apiece for UB40 and Rod Stewart.

Which Of These Number One Singles Of 1983 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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Comments

1 4 5 6 All
  1. 126
    flahr on 6 May 2017 #

    I had never seen the video before – it was quite unsettling how serious Ivan looks in it! For something fairly 80s and noveltyish I suppose it is a pretty didactic song lyrically speaking, but his stern facial expression and stentorian air make it seem like if you don’t get boogieing on down immediately he’s half a mind to deck you.

    I also expected him to have been wearing a hat, which I realise is despite direct instruction.

  2. 127
    Mark M on 6 May 2017 #

    Re125: Blimey, I never knew that Louise Court was the woman from the Safety Dance video. Unless I knew and forgot, which seems unlikely. (I freelanced for about six months at Cosmo during her editorship. Big CPFC fan). You’d have thought it would be something someone in the office would tell you on your first day.

  3. 128
    Mark M on 6 May 2017 #
  4. 129
    Lazarus on 6 May 2017 #

    Although I have to admit I’ve not heard of Louise Court, I remember the video very well and had always assumed that the crazy blonde was the singer’s girlfriend, as is usually the way of these things.

    That line in the ABC song grates to this day – one of the worst ever rhymes in pop, it makes no sense and doesn’t even scan. “Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble, guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles” would have ticked every box.

  5. 130
    Mark G on 6 May 2017 #

    I just popped in to say, no Lazarus that’s not better.

    OK, my go.

    ‘Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble, I make a leap of faith but then I stumble’

    Your go..

  6. 131
    flahr on 7 May 2017 #

    “Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble, I want love not another midnight fumble”

  7. 132
    chelovek na lune on 7 May 2017 #

    Yeah, that line is a rare slip from ABC. “Beauty Stab”, as much (at least as much) as their better known first album, is filled with clever and well-scanning lyrics. And this one, taking pride of place on its debut single.

    “Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble, I would shout but I am far too humble”

    Nah, not much better. Tip: don’t end a line that requires a rhyme with “grumble”

  8. 133
    chelovek na lune on 7 May 2017 #

    20 Oct 1983
    Peebles and Long

    David Grant – “Love Will Find A Way”
    A fairly boring start

    Peebles calls on “the breakers and the body-poppers”:
    Rocksteady Crew “(Hey You) Rocksteady Crew” (on video)
    There’s a bit of innovative dancing in the video, as he said, and I suppose the whole thing was breaking new ground (in Europe, anyway), but it’s not much cop, not least the way it constantly repeats itself.

    Howard Jones “New Song”
    Another song we’ve seen on TOTP before, but at lease one that stands the test of time. Drama with the man in chains is a bit too drama school maybe.

    Billy Joel “Uptown Girl” (on video)
    Video is hilarious, with its choreographed dramatisation of blue collar work, very much in the Broadway musical tradition. The song, of course, is class. The best thing by far on the show yet.

    Gary Numan “Sister Surprise”
    Long dedicates this to “the Numanoid fans” (it being increasingly clear these were the only people buying Numan’s records by now). Great electronic sounds and tone, and the usual robotic feel, but this seems like a pastiche of previous and better Numan tracks (especially “Music for Chameleons”) , alas. Long instrumental sections that don’t disguise that this isn’t much of a song. For the Numanoid fans only.

    Freeez – “Pop Goes My Love”
    Another dull and insubstantial track we’ve heard before. Even dancers doing robotic moves on podiums as though they are encaged can’t make this a winner.

    Elton John “Kiss The Bride” (on video)
    A posse on bikes at the start at the video, just as there had been at the end of the Billy Joel video. This is a bit better than run-of-the-mill, Elton was good form round about this time, but from his catalogue overall this track is definitely middiing rather than top drawer.

    Charts

    Depeche Mode “Love In Itself.2” (Peebles with the correct pronunciation, Long having gone “ay” at the start of the show and again after their performance)
    Another one we’ve seen before. There’s a carefully honed minimalism on display here at times- including bits that seem to be a precursor to the rather brilliant “A Question of Lust”. Yep they sure are developing and maturing.

    Charts
    Men Without Hats “The Safety Dance” (on video)
    Mrs Trudeau chucks in a token French word, amid much vaguely mediaeval frolicking in the countryside with maypoles and an annoying jester. Imagine Denis Thatcher – or Cherie Blair – or Philip May- doing the same. This is fun.

    Charts
    Culture Club “Karma Chameleon”
    Another repeat of their “American footballers” performance in the TOTP studio. Proper quality pop music, in a different league entirely from most of the other stuff on this edition….

    Quick cut to remove reference to disgraced beardy DJ
    Dance out to Meat Loaf “Midnight At the Lost and Found”, which is not great at all.

    A fairly mediocre edition overall.

  9. 134
    Adam Puke on 8 May 2017 #

    Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble, if only all bees could be bumbles.

  10. 135
    chelovek na lune on 11 May 2017 #

    3 Nov 1983
    Powell n Read

    ABC “That Was Then But This Is Now”
    Ditching the gold lamé for something more approachable, and with great crashing metal guitars, and a dreadful lyric about apple crumble. I love the new, Beauty Stab, sound, and think the album is wrongly overlooked and underrated…But….this single….is not its strongest moment. I can see why they chose it, its commercial hook – and it’s adventurous, very capably performed and likeable. But from the creators of “All Of My Heart”….one can see why one might want more. Good but not outstanding. Annoying they cut it off just before the feedback-filled ending…

    Donna Summer – “Unconditional Love” (on video)
    Musical Youth have a hand here too. A heavy hand. Donna is handing out rulers to children in a school demanding the kids’ unconditional love in return, all over a reggae beat. The lyrics are a bit modern hymn in places. My sense, on one listen is; there are so many bad ideas here I don’t know where to begin, and not quite enough of Donna Summer herself showing off her vocal talents… I imagine it could be a grower, or at least stick in your head, maybe…..

    Elton John “Kiss The Bride”
    In studio at the Jo’anna in a hat he might have nicked from a buliding site foreman who aspired to join the Italian traffic police. Like the song, this is neither bad nor distinguished. The assertive dancing and jumping elsewhere on stage does fit the act.

    The Police “Synchrocity II”(on video)
    Family drama with Jungian analysis. Interesting – and possibly too complex for the constraints of a 3-minute single. A “dystopian” video.. Earnest. And nearly as pompous as Fish-era Marillion. Jesus.

    Status Quo “A Mess Of Blues”
    An cover of an early Elvis single, but in the very generic Quo style. Unremarkable.

    Charts
    Madness “The Sun and the Rain” (on video)
    Nutty Boys in London vid, of course. Old school entertainers. A gentle and relatively subtle song for them. Nice piano bits.

    Charts
    Shakin’ Stevens “Cry Just A Little Bit”
    Drum machine not doing Shaky many favours here. Then the dreaded 80 sax enters. Too generic Shaky for words.

    Charts
    New no 1 Billy Joel “Uptown Girl” (on video)
    Highlight of the show.

    Dance out to Men Without Hats “Safety Dance”

    Not really a good edition either.

  11. 136
    Mark G on 12 May 2017 #

    More Balloons! It’s TOTP ferchrissake!

    Jensen and Peel in panto mode, just to prove they can do this, and provide a sly wink to the rest of us..

    Musical Youth look no older at this point, and get to do a pretty decent cover of “007” a shanty town..

    Talking of panto, here’s Adam Ant hanging on by his fingernails with the song of Puss In Boots. Karen Landau. There you go. His next single would feature Frida from Abba doing a voice-over. You won’t be seeing that one on TOTP, or much else for a while from him..

    So here I am, cribbing from Popscene as to what was on, but I guess I missed Marilyn when I was watching this (edit?) repeat, so I shall refrain from comment for now. Remind me, I might come back to do that one…

    Anyhow, it’s Eurythmics time and Annie is wearing a Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat. Like a mattress on a bottle of wine, indeed. Anyway, Dave Stewart has one of those plastic guitars that got discovered in a warehouse find around this time. They looked cool, no idea if they were any good or not. Slightly above the ones that you could buy back in the day with The Beatles’ faces on, but not by much I would say..

    And now, following a chart rundown, it’s that bundle of reticence that is Robert Smith and The Cure. See, in the video he’s mugging like crazy but here he’s channeling Syd Barrett doing Apples and Oranges on Dick Clarke’s show. Anyway, he bursts a balloon at the end, so we all end up happy. Note: Subtitles are, well, they have the correct lyrics, a couple of lines on this one I never knew, but someone’s gone nutty with the commas: “We Missed, You Hissed, The LoveCats”! Nooh it’s “We missed you”, hissed the Love Cats.

    Anyway, more chart rundown, then Billy Joel with Uptown Girl, you know, and now one of my highlights of TOTP for all time: The Zoo Dancers take “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and render it more cheerful than Russ Abbot’s “Atmosphere”, Whoo noises, more balloons, and bloke gets to mug frantically at the fade of the show. You’ll either laugh till you cry, or walk away in silence…

    God, people: You wonder why I don’t do these elongated show descriptions so much these days? Man! And I’m very annoyed as my Tivo box deleted the two shows I was hoping to keep forever from this year, the “New Order live” one and the “Twisted Sister and Heaven 17” one. Godammint! I mean, I’m way behind the saving of the Punk/NewWave hits to DVD disc, but I guess that’s what Youtube is for – I’ll have to see if the full episodes are there someplace. I did find the “100th Episode” there, yesterday. Was tempted to review that one here, but it didn’t seem appropriate somehow.

    Anyway, pass you onto the next one – This show was not exactly bad, not exactly good. Boom Shanker, as they say in Pizza Hut.

  12. 137
    chelovek na lune on 16 May 2017 #

    10 Nov 1983
    Jensen n Peel in Robin Hood gear

    Musical Youth “007”
    A competent Desmond Dekker cover, that is either a low-key glorification of criminality or possibly a warning against it rather than a direct homage to the secret agentcraft that the title might suggest, this would sound pretty good blasted out in Notting Hill, it has rhythm and life, and a riff surely nicked from “The Tide Is High”. For a group who could frequently be severely irritating, this is not bad at all.

    Adam Ant “Puss In Boots” (on video)
    Peel periliously close to making a “pussy” joke at the start. The video has lots of people in various kinds of get up as cats and mice. On the road from Highgate to central London he has a chance to make a right Whittington of himself. Video is fun, but musically this is not much more than a rehashing of past glories,fresh out the wash. Enjoyable enough and pretty decent with an insistent chorus -but a couple of years earlier this man had been something else entirely, the world was at his feet…now it is merely entertained. Well entertained, admittedly In retrospect – not so odd it was his final top tenner, stlil.

    Marilyn “Calling Your Name”
    Comment about “dressing up in silly costume” that I don’t think would cut the mustard in context nowadays (still, the Kid is Robin Hood, so maybe). Overhyped, maybe, but this has an easy and gently swaying charm about it. Light entertainment, essentially.

    Eurythmics “Right By Your Side”
    Annie Lennox dressed up like Alyson Williams, years ahead of her time, dark glasses, African hat with leopard printmatched by a shawl thing that could just be a real leopard. Dave Phillips in smart white jacket, backing gospel singers. A tropical feel musically too. Oh so postcolonial. One of the more interesting, capable, and eclectic, singles acts of the 80s stlil on a run of good form.

    Charts

    Limahl “Only For Love”
    Dinghied from Kajagoogoo already despite having been the best thing about them, this is a curio, really. Female backing vocals giving it woo woo during the chorus being the best part. Otherwise – gah, it’s a factory produced Kajagoogoo track that is not up to very much, but is not devoid of appeal – maybe for the very contemporary synth sounds if for no other reason.

    Peel with an arrow thru his head
    Charts

    The Cure “Love Cats”
    Marmite-like song maybe. Nice double bass bits. Neurotic outsiderdom romance of course. And singalong. But to my ears the inferior of the two cat-themed songs tonight.

    Top 10 video show brought back . Sort of Well top 9 anyway
    Madness “The Sun And The Rain”. great vid of course, and decent song of course
    Culture Club “Karma Chameleon” vid doesn’t live up to the song or particularly suit it IMO
    Men Without Hats “Safety Dance” medieval revelry
    Duran Duran “Union Of The Snake” posturing
    Adam Ant “Puss N Boots” as above
    Shakin Stevens “Cry Just A Little Bit” well, a bit tedious, tbh. So naturally we are inflicted with a lot of this one.
    Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson “Say Say Say” very much less than the sum of its parts, though the Jacko bits beat the Macca bits easily
    Lionel Richie “All Night Long (All Night)” happy but annoying,. So lots of that too.

    no 1
    Billy Joel “Uptown Girl” (on video)
    As previously discussed. One of the picks of this top 10 anyway.

    Dance out (incongruously) to Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
    Russ Abbot “Atmosphere” dancing.

    Pretty agreeable edition overall

  13. 138
    chelovek na lune on 16 May 2017 #

    24 Nov 1983

    Skipped a week because Savile. Which means we missed the glories of Aztec Camera’s “Oblivious” & Vince Clarke + Feargal Sharkey AKA the Assembly’s rather brilliant “Never Never”

    Bates n Skinner

    Paul Young ” Love Of The Common People”
    Very 80s purple n pink n white patterned sweater. As for the gel-laded haircut. Unlike all the visual accoutrements, this updating and presentation of an older song has aged really well though.. Blue-eyed soul with a hint of gospel. Classy.

    Tina Turner “Let’s Stay Together”
    Second cover in a row, and her first top 40 appearance for a decade. I think it fails the “do it differently or do it better” test, as while her vocal range is obviously not that of the Revd Green, and there’s a very slight latin touch here, the style is not wildly different from the original. And it sure is not better. Pitifully bad and overblown in places, even.

    Smiths “This Charming Man”
    Gladioli-a-go-go, obviously a ground-breaking appearance. Certainly a new niche sound gaining some level of popular approval. And man it’s good. Mozza thumbs his nose at the audience like he would. More flowers, fewer balloons would be a good approach for the TOTP producers to take.

    Thompson Twins “Hold Me Now”
    More subtle than some of their recent hits, a bit pedestrian even. Better than wallpaper music, just. It don’t alf go on though.

    Marilyn “Calling Your Name”
    In futuristic specs and a skimpy white thing & red trousers, maybe this was more about image than raw talent after all. Can’t help but think he looks like a camper Miles from the Wonder Stuff here. The song is alright.

    Charts. Yes “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”

    Simple Minds “Waterfront”
    Before they got extraordinarily mindblowingly pompous, but signs that some of their earlier lighter touch has already grown a coat of unwelcome pomp and circumstance. This is not good. And man it goes on and on and on.

    Charts

    Style Council ” A Solid Bond In Your Heart” (on video)
    Back to late Jam style. , vid at a disco at Woking FC, Energy and drive aplenty with a hint of ill-defined raucousness/mod laddishness somehow. Competent. But underwhelming.

    Charts
    No 1
    Billy Joel “Uptown Girl” (on video) as discussed oft

    Obviously editing out of reference to DLT.

    Dance out to Eurythmics “Right By Your Side”

    A bit mixed.

  14. 139
    swanstep on 18 May 2017 #

    @chelovek, #138. Re: Tina Turner’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ cover. When I hear the tune now with full awareness of Green’s original I think it does sound to me much as you describe it here. But my memory of hearing it as a teen back in 1983 when Al Green was completely unknown to me was that it sounded *fantastic*, very sensual, a great groove, etc.. I think that that was a pretty common reaction at the time, so much so that I remember some reviews of Tina’s Private Dancer album the next year being quite sniffy about it and explicitly lamenting that she would have done better to have kept working with Heaven 17 (i.e., because her LST was so great).

  15. 140
    Lazarus on 25 May 2017 #

    Livebloggin’ one for a change … Peel and Jensen in charge tonight with the Kid rockin’ the Christmas jumper. As last seen on the Specials, a year earlier I believe? I didn’t realise this had been a Thing for quite so long.

    Slade – well they have another hit in the charts of course but this perennial from ten (just ten!) years earlier has returned to the chart as well. No big hats or fancy dress this time though, well except on Dave of course. He couldn’t let us down.

    Culture Club – ‘will almost certainly be at number one by the time you read this’ ran the blurb on the first Now album, but they reckoned without a crew of chancers who we’ll come across soon. Lush and rather lovely, with a video to match, this was much loved by Mrs Laz and so of course I have a soft spot for it as well.

    Billy Joel – retro video introduced by an ersatz Ed Sullivan. This was a 45 release before ‘Uptown Girl’ if memory serves, but missed the chart completely, though it was too strong a song not to get a second chance. Still sounds good, having not had the over-exposure of his biggest hit.

    Waterman/Cole – the third hit from ‘Minder’ if you count the Firm’s ‘Arthur Daley’. We never did see ‘er indoors did we, she was one of the great unseen TV battleaxe wives, like Mrs Mainwairing, and Mrs Barraclough. Good live vocal and this still makes me smile, unseasonal though it may be.

    Chart 30-21. Roland Rat, please God no!

    Paul McCartney – another vid, and this one is well-known. A future number 1 of course. WW1 Xmas day-footie game theme. He’s done better, for sure, but I don’t mind hearing the Pipes of Peace – at least they’re not bagpipes this time. Chart 20-11.

    Howard Jones – not sure if this is a repeat. His biggest hit, I think? On its way to number 2, possibly kept at bay by the aforementioned Macca. Howie in red boiler suit, no chain guy this time. Strong chorus. He deserved his 15 minutes (and then some) I reckon.

    Top 10. Big climb for the Quo, the record that saw off Alan Lancaster I believe.

    No. 1 – Flying Pickets – future Corrie actor – last seen heading off with Mike Baldwin’s Jag – sings lead on this. One of them looks like Uncle Fester. A not unpleasant novelty. I’ll take it over the shite that Cowell has served up over the last 15 years any day.

    And there it is folks, merry Christmas!! The Rat sees us out, never mind. Wasn’t a bad show all considered.

  16. 141
    chelovek na lune on 29 May 2017 #

    8 Dec 1983
    Skipped another week.

    Read n Vance dressed as Thomson and Thompson a.k.a Dupont et Dupond

    The Thompson Twins “Hold Me Now”
    Still a bit indistinguished if inoffensive. And far too long.

    Read bringing on a Chinese guy to help him with his numbers. Shoot me now.

    Billy Joel “Tell Her About It” (on video)
    Which is a good bit of songwriting at least

    Paul Young “The Love Of The Common People”
    Best song of the show so far, by far. Joel also had a bit of the semi-gospel backing vox.
    Young looks disconcertingly like a cross between Gary Glitter (excessive hair gel) and Cliff Richard (fresh face) in this performance. The song is just lovely though.

    Tina Turner “Let’s Stay Together” (on video)
    Read says Turner “allegedly taught Mick Jagger how to dance”. I have my doubts. As things go, a bad cover version is still a bad cover version.

    Tears For Fears “The Way You Are”
    Fair to say this qualifies as a “forgotten single” (v odd chart run too, peaking at no 24 on its 7th and final week in the T40). Although characteristic early TFF touches are present, it feels a bit unfinished as a song, not a patch on “Pale Shelter” or “Mad World”.

    Charts
    Howard Jones “What Is Love?”
    A second promising single to follow a first, a slight change of pace, a bit less in-your-face, more introspective than immediately demanding. Keyboards and wide open spaces. 1981 Futurism still lives, and thrives.

    Charts

    Culture Club “Victims” (on video)
    A great showpiece for Boy George’s super voice, mostly, over some tender piano, a change of pace from Culture Club that works reasonably, if not outstandingly,well. Probably more than sufficient to get the Club the “singles act of the year” honour.

    Charts
    No 1 Flying Pickets “Only You” (Read wearing a jacket with their name on the back)
    Still prefer the Yazoo version, but this is something different anyway. And the next miners’ strike was still yet to begin.
    Vance says, mysteriously to a vocalising Read (and maybe I am missing a reference” “If you carry on like that Mike, you’ll never get a number 1 anywhere, not even on the Isle of Dogs”

    Dance out to Wham! “Club Fantastic Megamix” (which really is their forgotten single, and deservedly so).

    Not a great edition overall

  17. 142
    Lazarus on 30 May 2017 #

    I noticed that comment from Tommy Vance too. Mike Read had released several singles at that point which had all failed to chart (the Guinness compilers noted his misfortune when explaining their decision to restrict the book to the Top 75, since a couple of his ’83/84 releases did get into the 76-100 section), and must have been particularly miffed when new boy Steve Wright beat him to it. No idea where the Isle of Dogs came into it though.

  18. 143
    chelovek na lune on 1 Jun 2017 #

    Lazarus @142, I did wonder if it might be a “flying picket” allusion – maybe with reference to industrial unrest in the London Docks, which I think there had been in first half the 1970s (before the docks on the Island closed)…but maybe that’s too remote. Either that or implying something about hanging out with the NF types that used to abound in Millwall? Not sure…

  19. 144
    chelovek na lune on 1 Jun 2017 #

    15 Dec 1983
    Bates n Long

    Status Quo “Marguerita Time”
    Not their worst single of the year, but a bit more of the same old same old, of course. Has an end of the pier feel about it in places. The Quo look very happy in this edition. Fair play.

    UB40 “Many Rivers To Cross” (on video)
    Video set in a church, with gospel singers hanging about mostly providing very subtle accompaniment, Ali Campbell dressed as a preacher of sorts . The song? Fairly middling mid-tempo UB40 pop-reggae, neither here nor there but not unpleasant.

    Slade “My Oh My”
    Strange how this has largely been forgotten, as it’s a decent enough swing-along sing-along thing that might have qualified as “soft metal” a few years later. As Read says, 10 years on from its first release, “Merry Xmas Everybody” is in the charts as well, but this shows another side of Slade, worthily and attractively.

    Barry Manilow “Read Em And Weep” (on video)
    A Steinman composition. Not really sure how much it suits the Housewives’ Favourites’ style. The clown costumes in the vid don’t really. Song is fine, singer is fine, but do they go together? Not convinced.

    Charts

    Pretenders “2000 Miles”
    The enduring Christmas classic from this year. And it is a delight.

    Charts

    Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton “Islands In The Stream” (on video)
    Also something of a classic now, and deservedly so. Nice bit of country, talented performers, performing the work of talented songwriters. That’s how you do it.

    Charts

    Flying Pickets “Only You”
    Dressed as snowmen, because. Including one with a pipe in his mouth. That’d not be allowed now. The presentation is fun, adds a certain something to what is in places a spine-tingling rendition. I still prefer Yazoo’s original though.

    Dance out to Kool and the Gang “Straight Ahead”
    which seems to be forgotten now. Generic rather than dreadful.

    A short and neither outstanding nor hideous episode.

  20. 145
    Mark G on 3 Jun 2017 #

    Have to say, the recent Christmas best-of wasn’t bad, with Siouxsie and The Cure and so on. Just popped in to acknowledge that the “Love Cats” subtitles did get fixed with regard to ‘”We missed you” hissed the Love Cats’. Nice to know these comments are being seen by those at the controls…

  21. 146
    Mark G on 9 Jun 2017 #

    Hmm, that’s three songs Jim Lea has performed on this week’s TOTP, some sort of record there, yes?

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