Thursday, January 20, 2005

Friday Top 5: Vegemite Sandwich

In January 1983, change was afoot. My girlfriend had just moved into my apartment in Dubuque, Iowa, which tends to make a young bachelor adjust his lifestyle. Not only that, the Top 40 landscape of the early 1980s, a place where Anne Murray could still make the pop charts, was being swiftly transformed by MTV and the Second British Invasion. It was all just starting to accelerate during this week in 1983. Here's the Top Five:

5. "Sexual Healing"/Marvin Gaye. Gaye's first significant hit in almost five years didn't get much airplay in Dubuque--apparently only non-sexual healing was encouraged in what was then a strongly Catholic town. Some people consider this to be one of the great romantic slow jams, but to me it's just boorish. Waking up your lover because you want to get it on? Dude, take a shower and leave the girl alone.

4. "Maneater"/Hall and Oates. This had closed out 1982 at Number One, was the biggest hit of H&O's career, and falls smack in the middle of their streak of 12 Top-Ten hits in 13 releases between 1981 and 1984. Weirdly light on funk, though, despite the heavy bass line. "Maneater" was also H&O's first foray into video--if you don't count a rare, almost homemade clip that accompanied the original release of "She's Gone" in 1973.

3. "Dirty Laundry"/Don Henley. There was nothing subtle about Henley's satire of TV news, including that organ-from-hell and Joe Walsh's guitar solo. Still topically accurate after 22 years, however.

2. "The Girl Is Mine"/Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.
The first of two major hit collaborations between Jackson and McCartney, this was from Thriller, although it would have been a better fit on either of McCartney's early-80s albums, Tug of War or Pipes of Peace, just as "Say Say Say" would have fit better on Thriller. Big news when it was released, and utterly forgotten in the blizzard of Thriller hits to come.

1. "Down Under"/Men at Work. This record was as laden with obvious hooks as any record ever recorded, from the little drum and flute bit in the intro to the weird lyrics that were fun to sing along with, even if you didn't quite know what they meant. Those lyrics introduced Vegemite and the verb "to chunder" to the world beyond Australia, and this record represented the height of the Men's blazingly short career.

Elsewhere on the charts that week, various famous MTV kids were getting into position to conquer the world--Duran Duran, Culture Club, the Stray Cats. But Bob Seger and Toto were there, too, and still making records without videos. Not for long, though.


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