We often have conversations at work based around “what’s you favourite …….song”. They’re often started by @jimi10ant. We have a right laugh with some of our answers.
One such conversation was about one-hit wonders. We mainly talked about one hit wonders from the 1980s. At home later (yes, I really do things ‘at home later’ nowadays – what is the world coming to?) I was trying to recall some of them to see if I had them on my iTunes.
But I couldn’t remember the ones that – at the time – I’d thought “I will definitely remember these songs and see if I own them to put them on my playlist.” Safe with the knowledge that they’d soon be songs I was skipping when listening to the playlist, before eventually deleting them from the list.
In an attempt to re-jog my ailing memory I looked up the best selling songs of the 1980s. It didn’t really help me remember the songs I was trying to remember. It did make me think what the fuck was going on in the 1980s. Sure, I knew the ode to starvation by Band Aid would be top of the tree (where we are urged to thank God that it is the Africans starving and not us as though God, if she/he did exist, would make a judgement call on where famine would be taking place). Relax being number two also didn’t surprise.
The rot starts at number three. I just called to say I love you was the third biggest selling song of the 198os. I am not saying I hate the song – or even that I have never sang along to it. But more people bought that record than all the other songs available to buy in an entire decade (apart from two other songs)? To be fair to the record buying public most of the top 20 is mainly classic pop songs of the decade. Most. Also in the top 20: Eye of the tiger from Rocky films, Especially for You from Neighbours and The Lion Sleeps Tonight from people saying wimaweh.
The rot starts to sink in the 20s: Swinging the Mood (Jive Bunny) and Agadoo (Black Lace) rear their heads. Novelty hits are one thing and I know every now and then some shit songs get really popular. But these songs sold more than any single by Michael Jackson or Madonna, who between them owned the 1980s. Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up is there at number 35 (You Tube hits in 2011 are not included in the sales figures).
Vienna by Ultravox is only number 42 – one behind The Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz. And one in front of Seven Tears by Goombay Dance Band. Yes, Goombay Dance Band. The highest selling Michael Jackson song comes in at 46. The ‘King of Pop’ owned the 1980s. You remember all the big hits from back then so clearly you’d be able to guess what his biggest selling UK single of the 1980s was. That’s right it’s One Day in Your Life which didn’t have zombies in the video.
That Madonna’s Like A Virgin is only at No. 53 was a big enough surprise to me. But the songs just above one of the definitive pop songs of the decade really reflect well on the British single buying public. The Birdie Song, 19, Every Loser Wins and Shaddup You Face are the four songs immediately ABOVE Like A Virgin.
Billie Jean is number 88 on the list; Diana Ross’ Chain Reaction is at 63; Mistletoe and Wine is number 37. Well done Britain.