Way Back Wednesday: The Music of 1983

I’ve long held the belief that it was, by far, the best year for 80’s pop music.

There’s a scene in the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, where the character Andy (played by Anne Hathaway) is complaining to a co-worker, Nigel (played by Stanley Tucci), about her job, her boss and the unfairness of it all. Nigel shoots back with probably the greatest quote from the entire movie:

Don’t you know that you are working at the place that published some of the greatest artists of the century? Halston, Lagerfeld, de la Renta. And what they did, what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it.

The sentiment conveyed in that quote is how I feel about 80’s music. I am a true child of the 80’s. Born in 1970, I was 10 when the decade started, and all of my formative years were lived out with 80’s music as their soundtrack. What those musicians and artists create were more than just hit records because I lived my life in them. Adolescence. High school. The first half of college. Arcades, band practice in garages, nights driving around, school halls, backyards, riding my bike around town, sleepovers, dances, dates, ball games, school trips, on and on and on. More memories than I can count have a song tied to them. Even now, I can hear certain 80’s songs and tell you where I was, who I was with and what I was doing when I heard that song which is why I absolutely love the music from that decade.

If you know me or follow me on social media, you know that I curate several different Spotify playlists that are 80’s themed: “We Love the 80’s” which is over thirty four hours of 80’s music goodness, “80’s Hair Club” which focuses on hard rock and heavy metal from the 80’s, and  “80’s – This Week In…” where I’ve been walking through the Top 40 charts for the past few years (started with 1984 and we’re getting ready to start in on 1987). My interest in music started in late ’82. It quickly blossomed into an obsession in 1983. I was listening to music everywhere all the time, procuring it any way I could. And what a time for music! In addition to the bevy of one hit wonders that broke out that year, it was the year of Michael Jackson and Thriller, Def Leppard and Quiet Riot put heavy metal on the charts and on the radio, David Bowie went pop with great success, a guy named Prince made his presence known on the charts, and the Police showed up with their biggest album to date. By the mid to late 80’s, I was playing guitar and listening, almost exclusively, to hard rock and heavy metal. But in ’83 and ’84 I was all about pop music on the radio.

Some of the decade’s most iconic songs came out of 1983. Which is I why I’ve long held the belief that it was, by far, the best year for 80’s pop music. Don’t think so? Well, that’s why we’re here, dear reader. I’m going to prove it to you. Starting next Wednesday, I’m going to walk us through the Top 40 charts from 1983 on a weekly basis and show you what I mean. Hopefully at the end of 2020, you’ll be persuaded to my way of thinking. Or you can be wrong…your choice. ?

Let me set the scene for you: 1982 didn’t really have a musical identity. Disco was almost buried (with a few stragglers still trying to hang on), there was an iconic song sprinkled in here and there, but the charts were full of soft rock, adult contemporary, and country crossovers (here’s a Spotify playlist of some of the biggest songs of 1982). However, by the end of the year, 80’s pop rock found its footing and, on the last Top 40 chart of the year, the Top 10 was made up of songs like “Maneater”, “Mickey”, “Down Under”, and “Rock This Town”. 80’s pop was about to take over.

And that’s where we’ll pick up our story next week…the first Top 40 chart of 1983.

About Eric Vardeman 111 Articles
80's lover. Screenwriter. Cohost of The Greatest Lists podcast. Christmas enthusiast. Tulsa Curling Club founder. Cherokee. Guitar player. Boomer Sooner. Curator of 80's playlists (https://open.spotify.com/user/127168733)

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