Let’s face it: right from the start, we all knew that this poll would be a straight fight between the Seventies and the Eighties – didn’t we? This could of course be a natural consequence of the demographic breakdown of my readership, many of whom were at their prime age for pop music consumption during this period. However, I don’t think that’s the sole reason. The pop charts of 1980s – especially in the first half of the decade – were a place where innovative, cool, startlingly new records frequently ended up, with many artists coming in from the post-punk cold and unashamedly embracing the possibilities of commercial mass appeal. What was great about this period: these people had a broadly “artistic” agenda, which went well beyond a lust for fame for its own sake – they were in more or less full artistic control, with their bewildered record companies frequently struggling to keep up – and they were keen to push the envelope of what was possible in a chart hit.
Which is not to say that this particular Top 10, from February 1983, was a particularly good case in point. Wham!, Tears For Fears, The Belle Stars and Kajagoogoo were all well towards the commercial end of this ethos, although all four acts were – at least for a short time – producing fresh, distinctive pop records. Meanwhile, Fleetwood Mac, Phil Collins and Joe Cocker were all still plodding along, hanging on in there with their airbrushed AOR sound, waiting for the more favourable musical climate which – after Live Aid once again re-drew the musical map – was only just over two years away. For I always thought that Live Aid sounded the death knell for early 80s “new pop”, re-introducing as it did the concept of a “rock aristocracy” which punk and new wave had only briefly swept aside.
In this poll, 1983 produced two slightly unlikely winners (Phil Collins and Kajagoogoo), and no losers at all – a unique achievement. It also spent most of the 10 days yo-yo-ing for position with the 1970s, on two occasions sharing the top position.
Congratulations on coming second, Nineteen Eighties. Let’s celebrate your decade’s Best Bits visually, shall we?
Click here for a stunning 1980s Visual Cavalcade, which has been placed on a separate page in order to spare the agonies of dial-up users. When viewing, you might also care to hover your cursors over the images.