Sep 09

Popular ’84

FT + Popular/93 comments • 6,030 views

I give every record on Popular a mark out of 10 (and if you’re registered, so can you). Here’s where, by the magic of polling, we look at the year as a whole. Tick any and all records you’d personally give 6 or more out of 10 to, and then we can use the comments box to discuss 1984 from various perspectives.

Which Of These Number One Singles Of 1984 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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My highest mark of the year was a 10 for “Two Tribes”: my lowest a (perhaps generous) 3 for Stevie W.


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  1. 1
    TomLane on 6 Sep 2009 #

    It’s not a bad list of #1’s. The only ones I didn’t vote for are Stevie, McCartney and Jim Diamond and “Power of Love”.

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 6 Sep 2009 #

    Seven for me – although one or two only just made the cut. This was Frankie’s year for me. I’ll dig out my old copy of The Face later to see what they rated.

    BTW – could there be a permanent link to all the year end polls in the ‘Links for popular’ section to the right?
    I don’t know when they started but I’d like to go back through previous years’ polls at some time – and I imagine other late comers may wish to do the same.

  3. 3
    Billy Smart on 6 Sep 2009 #

    Ten for me, though perhaps missing out ‘Hello’ is a little mean of me. I don’t think that its just because I was 12 at the time, but this does strike me as being one of the most memorable year’s songs. Only Pipes Of Peace and I Should Have Known better seem to have faded into relative obscurity.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 6 Sep 2009 #

    The NME critics list for 1984 doesn’t include all that many bona fide chart hits;

    1. Love Wars – Womack & Womack
    2. I Wanna Be Loved – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
    3. Free Nelson Mandela – The Special AKA
    4. Don’t Look Any Further – Dennis Edwards
    5. Slippery People – The Staple Singers
    6. Yah Mo Be There – James Ingram
    7. What Difference Does It Make? – The Smiths
    8. Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen
    9. When Doves Cry – Prince
    10. Jump – Van Halen
    11. I Feel For You – Chaka Khan
    12. No Sell Out/Malcolm X – Malcolm X
    13. Hey DJ – World’s Famous Supreme Team
    14. War Is In The Dance – Frankie Paul
    15. And I Don’t Love You – Smoky Robinson
    16. Love Has Finally Come At Last – Bobby Womack & Patti Labelle
    17. Bachelor Kisses – The Go Betweens
    18. Keep On Keeping On – The Redskins
    19. Somebody Else’s Guy – Jocelyn Brown
    20. We Need Money – Chuck Brown
    21. You’re The Best Thing – The Style Council
    22. Venceremos (We Will Win) – Working Week
    23. Taxi – J Blackfoot
    24. Madam Butterfly – Malcolm Mclaren
    25. Track Three – Scott Walker
    26. What Presence? – Orange Juice
    27. Tinsel Town In The Rain – The Blue Nile
    28. Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
    29. Calamity Crush – Foetus Art Terrorism
    30. Small Town Boy – Bronski Beat
    31. What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend – The Special AKA
    32. In The Ghetto – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
    33. Dark Streets Of London – The Pogues
    34. Sensoria – Cabaret Voltaire
    35. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
    36. Don’t Go Lose It Baby – Hugh Masekela
    37. Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
    38. Peace In Our Time – The Imposter
    39. It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World – The Residents
    40. Pride (In The Name Of Love) – U2
    41. Ain’t Nobody – Rufus & Chuka Khan
    42. I Bloodbrother Be – Shock Headed Peters
    43. Do The Square Thing – The Three Johns
    44. The Big Music – The Waterboys
    45. The Killing Moon – Echo & The Bunnymen
    46. Michael Caine – Madness
    47. Abele Dance – Manu Dibango
    48. Honey At The Core – Friends Again
    49. Each & Every One – Everything But The Girl
    50. Out Of The Flesh – Chakk

  5. 5
    Billy Smart on 6 Sep 2009 #

    The Melody Maker critics list is perhaps a bit more in tune with what general pop consumers of 1984 were actually listening to;

    1. Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Two Tribes
    2. Womack & Womack: Love Wars
    3. Echo & The Bunnymen: The Killing Moon
    4. U2: Pride (In The Name Of Love)
    5 The Special AKA: Nelson Mandela
    6. ZZ Top: Gimme All Your Loving
    7. Orange Juice: What Presence ?!
    8. Bronski Beat: Smalltown Boy
    9. The SOS Band: Just Be Good To Me
    10. The Human League: The Lebanon

  6. 6
    Rory on 6 Sep 2009 #

    Seven of this year’s UK number ones went on to reach the top in Australia (counting Nena’s “99 Red Balloons/Luftballons” as the same song), which was only the second time that that had happened. (The other was 1967. I’ve made a spreadsheet. Sad, eh.) Australia only saw five of them in 1984 itself, so some of the impact was felt the following year for us, but whichever way you slice it, the international chart impact of the UK at this moment was huge. From 1981 through 1984, 70-80% of UK number ones each year were by UK acts, and most of them went on to chart success elsewhere, reaching if not number one then close to it in Australia, New Zealand, and often the U.S. and Canada as well. It was a second British Invasion, with Band Aid its crowning moment; and, in hindsight, its endpoint. UK chart dominance diminishes noticeably from here on, and although there will be other years when the Australian and UK charts have as many number ones in common, they won’t often be British exports.

    This also marks a reasonable endpoint for my own obsession with the charts, and its softening to mere interest. Throughout 1984 I had been exposed to many other musical influences than Countdown and AM radio, and late in the year a friend gave me a C90 that took me off in a whole new direction: one labelled “White Album”. I still watched Countdown, though, and followed the charts for several years yet, so our relationship wasn’t over. We were just seeing other people…

  7. 7
    Tom on 6 Sep 2009 #

    11/14 – one of my favourite years, though of course that’s partly my age. But I’m a sucker for Event Pop and there was plenty of that.

    No FGTH in the NME list! Was this a fear of nepotism, or a “fuck you” to Morley? :) (or of course maybe they just didn’t like the records…)

  8. 8
    Jonathan Bogart (but as they say logged out innit) on 7 Sep 2009 #

    Point of reference: would “Dancing In The Dark,” “When Doves Cry,” “Jump,” and Cyndi Lauper not count as bona fide chart hits in Britain? Because they’re the definition of the thing in US84.

    A relatively low-scoring year for me, even though I voted for all but two of the songs I’ve heard; this may be the most unfamiliar year of the 80s yet for the average American listener.

  9. 9
    taDOW on 7 Sep 2009 #

    usa #1’s 1984

    paul mccartney & michael jackson – say say say (2 weeks)
    yes – owner of a lonely heart (2 weeks)
    culture club – karma chameleon (3 weeks)
    van halen – jump (5 weeks)
    kenny loggins – footloose (3 weeks)
    phil collins – against all odds (take a look at me now) (3 weeks)
    lionel richie – hello (2 weeks)
    deniece williams – let’s hear it for the boy (2 weeks)
    cyndi lauper – time after time (2 weeks)
    duran duran – the reflex (2 weeks)
    prince & the revolution – when doves cry (5 weeks)
    ray parker jr – ghostbusters (3 weeks)
    tina turner – what’s love got to do with it (3 weeks)
    john waite – missing you (1 week)
    prince & the revolution – let’s go crazy (2 weeks)
    stevie wonder – i just called to say i love you (3 weeks)
    billy ocean – caribbean queen (no more love on the run) (2 weeks)
    wham! – wake me up before you go-go (3 weeks)
    hall & oates – out of touch (3 weeks)
    madonna – like a virgin (2 weeks)

    except for wham! and stevie i’d go 6 or higher for all of them, 8 or higher for 7 of them (voted 6 for 6 or higher on uk list, would go 8 or higher for 3 – nena, chaka, frankie says relax).

  10. 10
    taDOW on 7 Sep 2009 #

    that phil-lionel stretch is right in the heart of prom season btw

  11. 11
    Tom on 7 Sep 2009 #

    #8 yup, they were all smashes here too, top 5 except for Van Halen, which was top 10.

    #7 and of course there is Frankie in that list. I assume both Billy and I could look no further than Foetus Art Terrorism.

    Why did the NME so wildly rate “I Wanna Be Loved”?

  12. 12
    Billy Smart on 7 Sep 2009 #

    Was Mark voting by this stage? He should be able to tell us.

    Personally, I reckon that the NME’s love for ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ is a combination of several factors; the excellence of the song and the interpretation, the scarcity value of Costello singing something so emotionally direct and unembellished with puns and trickery (especially in the context of the album ‘Goodbye Cruel World’, where you rather suspect that even Costello didn’t understand what he was singing about anymore), but also because it fits in with a critical agenda, an authentic rock/soul fusion.

    I think that its a wonderful single. I rather fear that “A foolish man, for a lot of my life” would be my ideal epitaph.

    I’ve never heard the original, though. Is it as good?

  13. 13
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 7 Sep 2009 #

    My first music-related feature wasn’t till 86: I’m sure I didn’t get a vote before then. I don’t know the answer to the Frankie question: my guess is conflict of interest — certainly there were pro-Frankie writers, the LP got a good-ish write-up (as event-pop) from R.D.Cook.

  14. 14
    Erithian on 7 Sep 2009 #

    The Radio 1 top thirty best-sellers of the year:

    1 Do They Know It’s Christmas?
    2 I Just Called To Say I Love You
    3 Relax
    4 Two Tribes
    5 Careless Whisper
    6 Hello
    7 Agadoo – Black Lace (2)
    8 Freedom
    9 Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr (2)
    10 Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
    11 Last Christmas / Everything She Wants – Wham! (2)
    12 I Feel For You
    13 White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It) – Grandmaster & Melle Mel (7)
    14 99 Red Balloons
    15 The Reflex
    16 Take A Look At Me Now (Against All Odds) – Phil Collins (2)
    17 What’s Love Got To Do With It? – Tina Turner (3)
    18 I Want To Break Free – Queen (3)
    19 Hole In My Shoe – neil (2)
    20 No More Lonely Nights – Paul McCartney (2)
    21 The Power of Love
    22 I Should Have Known Better
    23 Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper (3)
    24 Radio Ga Ga – Queen (2)
    25 Together in Electric Dreams – Giorgio Moroder & Phil Oakey (3)
    26 When Doves Cry – Prince (4)
    27 Doctor! Doctor! – Thompson Twins (3)
    28 Self Control – Laura Branagan (5)
    29 Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper (2)
    30 The War Song – Culture Club (2)

    Again, the cut-off point before Christmas means that a Christmas hit isn’t properly ranked in the list, although this time it affects the number 2 hit. “Last Christmas/Everything She Wants” is the 26th best-selling single in the UK in the period from 1952-2002, and the biggest selling number 2 hit ever. Note that George Michael sings on five of the top 11 singles of the year.

    1984 is one of only two years (the other being 1997) to have seven entries in that all-time top 100: “Ghostbusters” (92), “Careless Whisper” (34), “Last Christmas” (26), “Two Tribes” (22), “I Just Called To Say I Love You” (13), “Relax” (7) and of course “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (2).

  15. 15
    lonepilgrim on 7 Sep 2009 #

    The Face’s Top 60 singles for 1984:
    01. Free Nelson Mandela – The Special AKA
    02. When Doves Cry – Prince
    03. I feel for you – Chaka Khan
    04. No sell out – Malcolm X
    05. Cockney Translation – Smiley Culture
    06. Ain’t nobody – Chaka Khan
    07. Venceremos – Working Week
    08. Breakin’ Down – Sugar Samba
    09. Wood beez – Scritti Politti
    10. What difference would it make – The Smiths
    11. Somebody else’s guy – Jocelyn Brown
    12. Small town boy – Bronski Beat
    13. Don’t look any further – Dennis Edwards
    14. Two Tribes – FGTH
    =15. Dr Mabuse – Propaganda
    =15. Automatic – Pointer Sisters
    =15. What Presence – Orange Juice
    18. We need money – Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers
    =19. I wanna be loved – Elvis Costello
    =19. Caught you in a lie – Louisa Marks
    21. Change of Heart – Change
    =22. You’re the best thing that ever happened – Style Council
    =22. The Glamorous Life – Sheila E
    24. Stay with me tonight – Jeffery Osbourne
    =25. Renegades of Funk – Afrika Bambaataa
    =25. Todos Menina Bahiana – Gilberto Gil
    27. Love Resurrection – Alison Moyet
    28. Love Wars – Womack and Womack
    29. Rockbox – Run DMC
    30. The Medicine Song – Stephanie Mills
    31. Don’t go loose it baby – Hugh Masekela
    32. The Girl from Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto
    =33. Why? – Bronski Beat
    =33. Small Town Creed -Kane Gang
    =33. Ave Maria – The West India Company
    36. Room 123 (She’s so strange) – Cameo
    =37. Long enough – The Last Poets
    =37. It’s raining men – The Weather Girls
    39. Lip Service – Beatmaster
    40. (Return to the valley of) Out come the Freaks – Was not was
    =41. Hello – Lionel Richie
    =41. Diorella de Fontaine – Lightnin’ Rod
    =41. Re-Ron – Gil Scott-Heron
    44. Give me tonight – Shannon
    45. You think you’re a man – Divine
    46. Hand in Glove – The Smiths
    47. Let’s stay together – Tina Turner
    48. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now – The Smiths
    49. Perfect Skin – LLoyd Cole & the Commotions
    50. Let it Blow – The Dazz Band
    51. Smooth Operator – Sade
    52. Your love is King – Sade
    53. Menergy – Sylvester
    54. The Reflex – Duran Duran
    55. Master and servant – Depeche Mode
    56. The Day before you came – Blancmange
    57. Me God, Me King – Papa Levi
    58. Slippery People – The Staple Singers
    59. Strike – The Enemy Within
    60. Praxis – Bill Laswell

    It’s an interesting list with a strong soul/dance emphasis. Looking at how many of these records in this list (and the NME one too) I either owned or at least had a strong opinion on makes me realise how significant the year was to me musically and the extent to which The Face shaped my tastes.
    It’s good to remember some forgotten (by me) gems like ‘The medicine song’ which is part of a long line of innuendo laden R&B/Soul/Dance hits.

  16. 16
    Billy Smart on 7 Sep 2009 #

    Aha! Further researches reveal that the original ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ was written by Farnell Jenkins and performed by Teacher’s Edition, and released on Hi in 1973; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u9KRErL-BA

  17. 17
    LondonLee on 8 Sep 2009 #

    The video of ‘I Wanna Be Loved” helped it connect with me, wasn’t too keen on it at first but that pushed its emotional directness (still preferred the b-side ‘Turning The Town Red’ though)

    Nice to see ‘What Presence?’ on so many of those lists, that might be my favourite OJ single.

  18. 18
    punctum on 8 Sep 2009 #

    #13 – it’s possible that music writers in general might have felt a bit Frankied-out by the end of ’84; also I recall at the time of the readers’ poll in early ’85 Danny Kelly saying shamefacedly that Pleasuredome would probably have topped the NME album poll (it came joint top with Born In The USA with the readers) if it hadn’t gone to press before the thing came out (see also Zen Arcade and the first Run-DMC album). Then he started slagging off the readers for not voting in sufficient numbers in the Best Soul Act and Best Reggae Act categories, which wasn’t really a wise thing to do.

  19. 19
    LondonLee on 8 Sep 2009 #

    I do remember being surprised at the NME making ‘Love Wars’ single of the year (didn’t the album top that chart too?) I mean, it’s a terrific record and all but not sure if it was the best of the year, especially the album. Have the writers of a pop paper ever been further away from the tastes of their readers?

  20. 20
    punctum on 8 Sep 2009 #

    Close – NME’s album of the year was Poet II by Bobby Womack, the first three tracks of which redefined deep soul for the eighties, while the remainder is very fine but scarcely album of the year material. Then again, my own choice would have been Treasure by the Cocteau Twins so what do I know?

  21. 21
    mike on 8 Sep 2009 #

    The Face’s end of year list is well-nigh immaculate, and (any number of belting Hi-NRG floor fillers excepted) bang in line with my own listening pleasures of 1984.

    This was my own Top 20 at the time:

    1. relax – frankie goes to hollywood
    2. rocket to your heart – lisa
    3. two tribes – frankie goes to hollywood
    4. why? – bronski beat
    5. strike – the enemy within
    6. beat box / diversions 1-4 / moments in love – art of noise
    7. i feel for you – chaka khan
    8. rock box – run dmc
    9. lost in music (1984 remix) – sister sledge
    10. holiday – madonna
    11. let the music play – shannon
    12. william, it was really nothing / how soon is now? – the smiths
    13. somebody else’s guy – jocelyn brown
    14. song to the siren – this mortal coil
    15. unity – afrika bambaataa & james brown
    16. slippery people – the staple singers
    17. hip hop bommi bop – the incredible t.h. scratchers starring freddie love
    18. give me tonight – shannon
    19. you think you’re a man – divine
    20. cockney translation – smiley culture

  22. 22
    punctum on 9 Sep 2009 #

    “Hip Hop Bommi Bop”! “Dumbkopfs. DUMB-kopfs! You guys must be from Dusseldorf!” Somebody reissue that on CD please.

  23. 23
    punctum on 9 Sep 2009 #

    Oh, and a word for the elephant in the 1984 singles living room: “Upside Down” by the Jesus and Mary Chain.

  24. 24
    DV on 17 Sep 2009 #

    There are some good songs here, but a lot of duffers. Looking back, this may have been the year I started thinking that there had to be more to life than chart music.

  25. 25
    Billy Smart on 24 Sep 2009 #

    NME Readers’ Poll 1984. Best single;

    1. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax
    2. The Special AKA – Nelson Mandela
    3. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes
    4. U2 – Pride
    5. Cocteau Twins – Pearly Dewdrop Drops
    6. The Redskins – Keep On Keepin’ On
    7. Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
    8. The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make?
    9. Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
    10. The Style Council – You’re The Best Thing
    11. New Order – Thieves Like Us
    12. The Smiths – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now
    13. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – I Wanna Be Loved
    14. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Green Fields Of France
    15. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark
    16. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
    17. The Smiths – William It was really Nothing
    18. Loyd Cole & The Commotions – Forset Fire
    19. Wah! – Come Back
    20. This Mortal Coil – Song To The Siren

  26. 26
    punctum on 30 Mar 2014 #

    TPL opens its 1984 account, but don’t tell anybody: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/eurythmics-touch.html

  27. 27
    punctum on 13 Apr 2014 #

    TPL update: the Big Music, the North’s proud and defiant response, as Scotland refuses to let pop, or rock, lie down and die: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/simple-minds-sparkle-in-rain.html

  28. 28
    punctum on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Yet another TPL update: yes, I even found something of merit (and newness) here – http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-thompson-twins-into-gap.html

  29. 29
    punctum on 15 Apr 2014 #

    TPL examines a road not very well travelled: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/howard-jones-humans-lib.html

  30. 30
    punctum on 27 Apr 2014 #

    “Oh, will you quench me when I’m thirsty?”: TPL reaches Jamaica: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/bob-marley-and-wailers-legend-best-of.html

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