The Fantastic 40 – Episode 4: Top-40 Chart Domination for 1983

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Welcome back to The Fantastic 40:

My personal journal of the artists whose work dominated Billboard’s Top 40 for a calendar year between 1980 and 1991.

This time around:

We’re looking at 1983.


• The trend: Hits, hits and more hits:

Unlike 1980 through 1982, where several acts were able to place in the Fantastic 40 via one monster hit, only one act could pull that off in 1983:

Bonnie Tyler:
With “Total Eclipse Of The Heart.”


Indeed, the week of May 7, seven different acts had two songs apiece in Billboard’s Top 40:

  • Lionel Richie
  • Michael Jackson
  • Culture Club
  • Duran Duran
  • Styx
  • Journey
  • and Daryl Hall and John Oates.

All seven are among the top 20 artists of the year. The top three artists (Jackson, Richie and Culture Club) each had five songs in Billboard’s Top 40 in 1983 – Jackson’s all from the monster album “Thriller.”


• New names:

Debarge makes its Fantastic 40 debut at No. 27 via three hits.

Back-to-back at #20 are Bryan Adams…

.. and at #21, Def Leppard – two artists who will see the Fantastic 40 often.

Prince begins his long hit streak by placing 10th for 1983.

Lionel Richie kicks off his solo career at Number 3.

Eurythmics…

Duran Duran…

and Culture Club. Each will recur.


• Final bows:

Asia, Christopher Cross, Air Supply, Irene Cara, the Police, Men at Work, Styx and Toto – acts who had made the Fantastic 40 at least once between 1980 and 1983 – won’t return after this year.

Same for ’60s veterans The Kinks (40)

And ’70s disco-pop queen Donna Summer (25).

The Little River Band close out their hit-making stretch at Number 36…

David Bowie finishes at Number 11…

…and singer-songwriter Jackson Browne places 31st.


• Only in 1983:

The Stray Cats and Naked Eyes both make impressive debuts in the Fantastic 40 (at Nos. 12 and 18, respectively) but neither will return.

The Stray Cats at Number 12…

… and Naked Eyes at Number 18 both make impressive debuts in the Fantastic 40 -but neither will return.

Same for The Fixx… (22)

… and Michael Sembello (33).


• Time and again:

Kool and the Gang take a breather in 1983. But returning to the Fantastic 40 are:

Kenny Loggins (38),

the newly rechristened John Cougar Mellencamp (35),

Pat Benatar (26),

Elton John (19),

Rick Springfield (14),

Laura Branigan (15),

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band (13)

and Billy Joel (8).

All will be back.


• Solo women: Regaining momentum:

The 1983 Fantastic 40 includes Branigan, Benatar, Summer, Tyler, and Cara. And:

Stevie Nicks. Making her first appearance; a fluke, as two “Belladonna” singles were collaborations that precluded her from making 1982’s list).

The women of 1984 won’t be hold back by such a constraint – or, really, by any.


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Chuck Small

Journalist-turned-high school counselor. Happily ensconced in Raleigh, N.C., with hubby of 31 years (9 legal).

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rollerboogie
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September 19, 2023 7:30 am

I graduated from high school in 1983, so this topic is like comfort food to me.
I’ll have much more to say about this in an article I’ve got coming up, but man, when you look at that list, what stands out to me is the variety of artists and styles, many of which have little in common other than that their music came out in the same year. It’s really cool that you were documenting the trends at the time and still have your journal. If I had something like that, it probably would have been thrown away at some point, like my prized beer can collection or my box of missalettes (don’t ask.)

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 19, 2023 12:20 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

There’s no way you can end with a ‘don’t ask’ and not be asked. Curiosity is too much for me. I’ve Googled missalettes which does answer my main question of what are they, on the other hand, they don’t appear to go hand in hand with a beer can collection.

rollerboogie
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September 19, 2023 3:12 pm

Instead of a large, hardbound missal in the pews of Catholic churches in the early 70s, the trend in the U.S. was the monthly missalette, which had the order of the mass, and all the readings of the month and seasonal music selections. It was thinner, more compact, and would simply be replaced with a new one the next month. As a 9 year old, I began collecting them. I took an interest in the mass, and they came in a different color each month. Other kids collected baseball cards. I collected missalettes. An early sign of what I would end up doing with my life? Probably, yes.

LinkCrawford
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September 19, 2023 7:42 am

Agreed…even though I might not count a lot of these as my favorites (though plenty are), they really fit like a glove since I was 12 turning 13 at this time.

Of all of the songs on your list, the one that has made the most impact lately is Stevie Nicks’ “If Anyone Falls”. I didn’t love it then. I’d almost forgotten it. But then a year or two ago it appeared back on my radar, and now I LOVE that song! Always a fun list.

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 19, 2023 8:07 am

A truly great year for pop music.

But…who is this “Duran Duran” character? Did Mr. Duran sing anything I might know?

Napoleon of Birds
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September 19, 2023 8:47 am

I think there is something you should know. Please, please, tell me now if you recognize him from that.

mt58
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September 19, 2023 9:18 am

You’ve just sent out a de-facto Bat-Signal.

in 5…4…3…

dutchg8r
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September 19, 2023 10:29 am
Reply to  mt58

Team Roger Girl reporting for Duty. 🫡

Don’t tempt me to babble more about Duran Phylum……..

rollerboogie
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September 19, 2023 10:36 am

He was a boxer.

mt58
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September 19, 2023 10:48 am
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cappiethedog
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September 19, 2023 2:33 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

No mas.

rollerboogie
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September 19, 2023 3:14 pm
Reply to  cappiethedog

Nicely done.

cappiethedog
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September 19, 2023 3:53 pm

He appears on the soundtrack for Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 19, 2023 4:26 pm
Reply to  cappiethedog

“I know Nino Rota; I don’t know the score.”

cappiethedog
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September 19, 2023 6:52 pm

I thought you were fishing for a Barbarella reference. dutch wrote ” Team Roger”, and it just dawned on me right now, that she probably meant Roger Taylor, not Roger Vadim, the director. Milo O’Shea plays Duran Duran in Barbarella, and he sings on the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack.

Oh, boy. This is what happens when you watch too much movies. Totally misread the room.

Great line from a great song by a great songwriter.

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 19, 2023 8:31 pm
Reply to  cappiethedog

Well, it didn’t help that I botched the line. “I’m no Nino Rota…”

Virgindog
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September 19, 2023 9:51 am

It seems like The Stray Cats left a pretty big footprint for such a short time on the charts. I never even bought their albums but I seem to hear them a lot more than, say, Culture Club. Is that just the crowd I run with?

dutchg8r
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September 19, 2023 11:05 am
Reply to  Virgindog

Considering the musician crowd you run with VDog, I wouldn’t be surprised y’all are drawn more to the unique musicianship of Stray Cats over the sleeker pop stylings of Culture Club.

Not to mention, Brian Setzer ROCKS. 😎

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 19, 2023 10:30 am

The recognition factor is higher this year. Only the one I don’t recognise and it turns out they’re Brits. Naked Eyes (which to me is a terrible name but very 80s) had one chart entry here at a lowly peak of 59. Though one half of the Eyes; Rob Fisher, would reappear in the late 80s as one half of Climie Fisher and do much better, if only for a brief period.

Nice to see The Kinks with their last hurrah on the singles charts even if it is bizarre to me that Come Dancing seems to have been their biggest US hit. I quite like it but given what they did in the 60s and early 70s it is truly illogical to me.

Virgindog
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September 19, 2023 11:12 am

I think The Kinks were always bigger in the UK than the US. I could be wrong about that but either way, the States never gave them as much love as their brilliant songwriting deserved. A lot of their stuff holds up really well even now.

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 19, 2023 11:21 am
Reply to  Virgindog

From the mid 70s they did a lot better in the US than UK. After 1972 Come Dancing was their only real hit single here and other than compilations none of their albums charted whereas they were regulars on the US Album chart through the mid 70s to mid 80s.

It’s a very strange commercial trajectory that the period they were ignored over here is when they did best in the US and came long after their creative peak.

Last edited 9 months ago by JJ Live At Leeds
mt58
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September 19, 2023 11:40 am
Reply to  Virgindog

When people ask, “which bands are among the most underrated,” my top four answers are:

– The Bee Gees (Yes, really.)
– The Faces
– King Crimson

And these guys:

https://www.google.com/search?q=kinks+songs

rollerboogie
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September 19, 2023 3:23 pm
Reply to  mt58

May I make a humble suggestion that The Zombies be added to this list?

cappiethedog
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September 19, 2023 11:35 pm
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The Rescue Now Charitable Foundation covered “Staying Alive”. The video was shot in Kharkiv. They made it their own. The female vocalist starts from the second verse. She transforms the lyrics into something Barry Gibb couldn’t have possibly imagined. Cut to chorus, cut to bridge, and it ends on a heavily edited third verse.

Two-minutes of hope.

rollerboogie
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September 19, 2023 3:21 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

They were banned from touring in the U.S. by the American Federation of Musicians for four years, beginning in ’65, which made it difficult for them to gain traction here during the height of the British invasion. We missed out on some great music. The reason for the ban wasn’t clear, but most people assumed it was because of their rowdy behavior on tour.

lovethisconcept
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September 20, 2023 11:22 am
Reply to  Virgindog

I believe the answer is in my response to JJ. That ban hurt them a lot.

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 19, 2023 11:51 am

“Come Dancing” is also an odd hit given its sad subtext, which US audiences almost certainly did not pick up on.

Virgindog
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September 19, 2023 12:06 pm

I just looked it up. That is sad, though the song has a happier ending.

lovethisconcept
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September 20, 2023 11:21 am

A big part of the reason was their first US tour which led to a four year ban on touring in the states. This would have been their prime time for exposure and to take advantage of the British Invasion infatuation.

https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/the-kinks-ray-davies-banned-from-usa-america/

dutchg8r
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September 19, 2023 10:44 am

Damn.

I mean, honestly, damn! Those are some heavy hitters in 1983, what a line up of artists and fantastic songs. 1983 is a monumental year for BabyDutch, as that was when she got her first cassette that she could call her own (Thriller) and EVERYTHING about Top 40 radio became all consuming. That’s when I got my first tape recorder, and started taping songs off the radio by putting the tape recorder up on top of the fridge in the kitchen next to the radio speaker and would scramble to climb the chair next to the fridge to hit record as soon as I heard a song I liked. Background noise from family meals just added to the song on the recording. 🙃

And of course soon after in very early 1984, my Life As a Duranie kicks off full steam. Still going strong 40 years later. In case I hadn’t been clear about that before now. I’m rather low key about that. 😁

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 19, 2023 11:25 am
Reply to  dutchg8r

Low key? I’d say you were Notorious for your Duranie devotion. 😁

dutchg8r
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September 19, 2023 11:31 am

Awww, y’all so sweet with your Duran punnies for my sake….

My Wild Boys. 🤗

mt58
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September 19, 2023 12:08 pm
Reply to  dutchg8r

Um… something… something last chance on… the stairway

Boy, I really stink at this.

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 19, 2023 12:10 pm
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Hey, People are People.

No, that’s not it…

dutchg8r
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September 19, 2023 11:47 am

Gunter gleiben glauchen globen.

Just saying. It’s not All Duran, All the Time, ya know. Mwah-ha-ha

Virgindog
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September 19, 2023 11:51 am
Reply to  dutchg8r

That translates to “Gunter believes in globes.” Good to know he’s not a flat earther.

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 19, 2023 11:55 am
Reply to  Virgindog

Given the milieu, maybe it’s a pair of globes he believes in…

Ozmoe
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September 19, 2023 11:02 pm

Since I graduated from high school in 1983, all of these acts are very familiar to me. The one that stands out here the most is Elton John, who has acknowledged that “I’m Still Standing” was his determined response to tell the industry that he remained a creative force in music and had no desire to hit the oldies circuit anytime soon. Still one of his best songs in my opinion.

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