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:
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
- 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.
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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