The Fantastic 40 – Episode 3: Top-40 Chart Domination for 1982

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Welcome back to The Fantastic 40:

The artists whose work dominated Billboard’s Top 40 for a calendar year between 1980 and 1991.

This time around, we’re looking at 1982.

What were the stories of 1983’s Fantastic 40?


• The trend: MTV makes a difference.

The channel, which debuted a year earlier, boosted the career of 1981’s top artists, Daryl Hall and John Oates.

But its influence was inescapable in 1982, with at least seven of the Top 10 (led by John Cougar, Rick Springfield and, again, Hall and Oates) having a memorable video garnering MTV attention.


New names:

Survivor rode their “Rocky III” smash “Eye of the Tiger” and its follow-up to a Number 16 spot.

Huey Lewis and the News came in at Number 36 via their first two Top 40 hits…

The Human League made it to Number 25 solely on the 21-week chart run of one song, the chart-topping smash “Don’t You Want Me?”

And at Number 38, Laura Branigan made it in on the strength of “Gloria,” a song that was still in Billboard’s Top 5 on the final weekly chart of 1982. 


Final bows:

After making their Fantastic 40 debut the preceding year, The Alan Parsons Project eke out a Number 39 placement in 1982. They would have a few more Top 40 singles, but not a sustained streak to return them to the list.

Say goodbye, too, to the Steve Miller Band (32), Crosby, Stills and Nash (24), Paul Davis (21), The Rolling Stones (29), and several mainstays of the Fantastic 40 in 1980-82: Kenny Rogers (23), Neil Diamond (18), and Dan Fogelberg (10).

Another shocker: Number 7: Olivia Newton-John wouldn’t pull together another streak to make the list after 1982.  


Only in 1982:

After blasting into the Fantastic 40 with three pop-rockers each, neither Number 5 Joan Jett and the Blackhearts…

…. nor Number 13 The Go-Gos returned – although both acts had additional Top 40 hits later in the decade.

Number 40: Bertie Higgins was a true one-hit wonder with “Key Largo,” while the acts in positions 33-35 (Alabama, Willie Nelson and Quarterflash) had at least one more Top 40 hit up their sleeves.


Time and again:

Ray Parker Jr. comes in as a solo act at Number 37 after making the list in 1981 with Raydio.

Elton John, absent in 1981, returns at Number 26…

… And Stevie Wonder does the same, placing 22nd on the strength of two hits.

After two of its members hit the Top 40 solo, Fleetwood Mac returned in 1982, and they will be back for another go-around.

The Pointer Sisters leap to Number 19 with three songs, the last of which will contribute to another placement for them in a couple of years.

And Kool and the Gang just keep on hitting – 16th in 1980 and 21st in 1981, they’re Number 17 for 1982. And nowhere near stopping.


Hit machines:

Air Supply makes the Top 40 with five different hits in 1982. The first three capped a streak of seven consecutive Top 5 hits before they cooled off, with a pair of singles that barely made the Top 40.

Anyone impressed by that five-hit streak – or by Hall and Oates’ similar streak the year before – will be stunned in 1983

Hint: More than one act will pull off that trick.

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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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lovethisconcept
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September 11, 2023 12:24 pm
Reply to  cstolliver

Glad to see John Cougar (or John Mellencamp, as he would later be known) topping the list. Spent Labor Day weekend with family in Mellencamp country. Had a great time visiting and can also report that JCM continues to give back to the community in very real ways.

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 11, 2023 8:36 am

This weeks new names for me;
Quarterflash
Bertie Higgins
Paul Davis

Turns out that Quarterflash and Bertie did scrape into the bottom end of the UK chartin 1982. Harden My Heart at 49 and Key Largo for Bertie at 60. Paul Davis overshadowed by his namesake in the Arsenal midfield during the 80s.

Did a bit of digging to see how different our charts were in this period. The answer is; very.

Of your 40, only 17 had a UK top 40 hit in 1982 and for 10 of the 17 it was with one single. Nine of the 40 never had a UK top 40 hit at all – most notably the British Alan Parsons Project. Alan might be as well known here for his studio work with The Beatles and Pink Floyd as his own band.

Vive la difference!

mt58
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mt58
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September 11, 2023 10:18 am

Nice chart comparison there, JJ.

It has absolutely nothing to do with his music, but I wonder: How could a guy with a name like ‘Bertie Higgins’ not be a household name in the UK? If he’s not sitting in the study, wearing a tweed suit, and sipping a cup of Earl Grey, I’ll eat my hat.

In one of those associations that I’ve cooked up in my head, I always think of The Carpenters’ “Goodbye To Love” and Paul Davis’ “Cool Night “ as musical first cousins, because they are both breezy adult contemporary tracks that suddenly break out a loud and distorted guitar solo when you would least expect it.

And, and both cases: it completely works.

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 11, 2023 10:56 am
Reply to  mt58

Bertie Higgins sounds he’s a character in a musical set in London in the early 20th century.

Case in point King Edward VII who succeeded Victoria to the throne. Despite being King Edward he was actually Albert Edward and known as Bertie. He had a reputation as a cad, enjoying the finer things in life and the company of ladies. So much so that for some he’s a prime candidate for being Jack The Ripper.

Then we have Bertie Wooster who didn’t do much to redeem the name.

So the tweed hat and Earl Grey image is about right. Probably why Bertie Higgins didn’t make it. Too much cognitive dissonance to get our heads round that he didn’t live up to the image of past Berties.

lovethisconcept
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September 11, 2023 12:21 pm

Bertie Wooster is my all-time favorite Bertie. Loved the Wodehouse books for years before the television series introduced me to Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, for which I will be eternally grateful.

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 11, 2023 11:00 am
Reply to  mt58

Oh and after last week, I’m at work with a UK chart history primer. Except its led me down ever more rabbit holes and obscure corners of the internet inhabited by chart fanatics who are still angry about decisions made 50 years ago. Article status = Its complicated.

lovethisconcept
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September 11, 2023 2:32 pm

Saw Quarterflash live once. They opened for Tom Petty. Did a pretty good show, but were never able to do much more. But they did help me on my list of concerts seen by filling in the “Q” slot, which is pretty slim. Lots of “M’s” and “S’s”, but only one “Q”.

mt58
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September 11, 2023 2:39 pm

Woah.
An alphbetical list of shows?
This, we gotta hear about…

lovethisconcept
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September 11, 2023 2:41 pm
Reply to  mt58

I didn’t start it until a few years ago, so I might have missed a few early ones, but I have put down all that I can remember. I’ll try to write something up.

Virgindog
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Virgindog
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September 11, 2023 2:43 pm

I’m guessing you never saw Queen.

Pauly Steyreen
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September 11, 2023 3:16 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

Or Queensryche… (again, give me an umlaut for the letter Y)

mt58
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September 11, 2023 3:38 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

My guess?
This.
This is Love’s “Q:”

https://youtu.be/zBvjXhUSUpU?si=jv4X65AcfdFJxI0j

lovethisconcept
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September 11, 2023 4:00 pm
Reply to  mt58

Alas, no. But I would have if I could.

Last edited 8 months ago by lovethisconcept
lovethisconcept
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September 11, 2023 4:01 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

Would have loved to, but it never happened.

lovethisconcept
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September 11, 2023 3:59 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

Sadly, no.

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 11, 2023 10:13 am

Members of a more subversive underground are creeping into the charts at this point!

The Human League started out as a darker, more industrial-adjacent synth pop group.

By the time of Dare!, they found a much more polished and radio-friendly sound, though the songs were still plenty weird by most conventional standards.

And the Go-Gos came out of the LA punk scene. Belinda Carlisle was originally Dottie Danger, drummer for the infamous scuzz punk band The Germs–though she got mono and never actually got to play with them.

And Joan Jett was part of the Runaways, who were more marketable than the Germs, but were truer in spirit to what the Go-Go girls were actually like off-stage. “I Love Rock n Roll” is conservative by comparison, but it still gives a similar feel.

Not to mention, Huey Lewis and the News is the band of choice for Wall Street serial killers…

JJ Live At Leeds
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September 11, 2023 10:30 am

Human League’s 1978 debut single was Being Boiled with the b-side Circus of Death. They weren’t exactly a bundle of fun. At home the minimalist electro foreboding of Being Boiled, now four years since first release somehow ended up following Don’t You Want Me into the charts in 1982 and reached #6.

https://youtu.be/bRC9K7iLUAw?feature=shared

Phylum of Alexandria
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September 11, 2023 10:39 am

I didn’t realize that “Being Boiled” had charted, but that’s obviously UK rather than US. We’ll never be that cool.

Last edited 8 months ago by Phylum of Alexandria
cappiethedog
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September 11, 2023 5:53 pm

I like “The Sound of the Crowd” almost as much as “Don’t You Want Me”. More proof that the UK is cooler, the lead single(ahead of Dare) peaked at #12.

Aaron3000
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Aaron3000
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September 16, 2023 1:44 pm

Re: that picture sleeve in the YouTube clip… another Mary Tyler Moore Show font sighting. (I looked it up and it’s actually Peignot font, designed in 1937. But it will always be MTM to me.)

mt58
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September 16, 2023 8:41 pm
Reply to  Aaron3000

You’re gonna make it after all.

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Aaron3000
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September 17, 2023 10:09 am
Reply to  mt58

*goes to throw hat in the air, only to realize he doesn’t wear hats*

cappiethedog
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September 11, 2023 6:02 pm

I saw The Go-Gos on Showtime.

Learned a lot.

There is a reason why the biopic fell through.

Some parts of their story, arguably, unfilmable.

Virgindog
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Virgindog
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September 11, 2023 10:35 am

In trying to remember how Alan Parson’s “Eye In The Sky” goes, my brain conflated Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” with Journey’s “Wheel In The Sky,” and you know, it’s not half bad.

Pauly Steyreen
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September 11, 2023 3:38 pm

Back in 1982 — when I was 7 on the cusp of 8 — my favorite band was definitely Hall & Oates. I was an early MTV addict, so if the shoe fits… A year later, I was all in for MJ Thriller and Men at Work. Looking back now, I’d be more of a Go-Go’s or Fleetwood Mac kind of guy. But I recall thinking Fleetwood Mac were for older people, and Go-Go’s were for younger people — like kids music. I was almost 8 — on the cusp of (perceived) adulthood!

Ozmoe
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September 12, 2023 8:06 am

Impressive that one-hit wonder Bertie Higgins made the top 40 for your list in 1982. Interviewed him once for my Billboard Book of Number One Adult Contemporary Hits and he was very nice.

On a related note, it was only in the last year or two that I finally watched Key Largo. Wow, what a good film! Maybe not quite as excellent as what Bogie and Bacall did in To Have and To Have Not and The Big Sleep, but still very enjoyable. Claire Trevor deserved her Best Supporting Actress Oscar, while Edward G. Robinson should’ve gotten at least a nomination for his work as the villain in the piece.

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