Sunday, April 09, 2023

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 1

As last year was winding down, I wanted to come up with some blog posts I could easily prepare in advance, hopefully increasing my overall output. The first thing I thought of was reviving “Weekend Diversion” posts, but how?

I stopped doing regular “Weekend Diversion” posts when NZ's free-to-air video music TV channels ended, because when they did, I no longer had much connection to new music. Still, I’ve done posts about older music many times, and I suddenly realised that this year I could focus on the Number One pop songs of 1983.

The thing about 1983 isn’t (merely) that it was 40 years ago, it’s that it was my first full year living in Chicago, and it’s when I established what my life would be up until 1995 when I met Nigel and moved to New Zealand. 1983 was a very significant year for me.

The idea for these posts is loosely based on a series of posts Roger Green did as artists turned 70. Like his posts, these wouldn’t necessarily be every week because pop songs are often Number One for weeks in a row. Even so, the specific dates are fixed, so I could do the posts well in advance. As a bonus, the Number One dates for 1983 are all Sundays this year—almost like it was planned.

That’s when it all fell apart: I completely forgot all about it. In fact, I only remembered it because I ran across some links I saved at the end of last year, but that means I’m already behind schedule.

So, this week I’ll include three songs, which will mean I’ll be able to get back on track next week. Let’s get started.

The first song to hit Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983 was “Maneater” by Daryl Hall and John Oates, which was Number One in the USA January 1 and 8, 1983:

This was a song I liked back in the day, though not for any particular reason: It had a good beat, and all that. I don’t actually have anything to say about it other than that. I’ve always mentioned chart performance, and in addition to it being Number One in the USA for the first two weeks of 1983 (and being certified Gold), it hit Number 4 in Australia and Canada (it was Platinum in Canada), also 4 in New Zealand, and Number 6 in the UK.

Next up, it’s "Down Under" by Australian band Men At Work, which was Number One from January 15-29, 1983:

Back in the day, more than a dozen years before I met Nigel, I liked this song. In June 2009, the band was sued for copyright infringement, the allegation being that the flute part was lifted from a 1932 Australian song called "Kookaburra", despite a perception in the public that it was in the public domain. The band lost the suit in 2010, and was ordered to pay 5% of its royalties from 2002. My personal opinion was, as it so often is in copyright “infringement” cases, that it was all nonsense, but the Australian courts have ruled on the matter, and our opinions don’t matter at all. The larger issue is that copyright law needs a massive overall everywhere, especially in the USA, which is crazy drunk with fealty to mega corporations and their claim to “copyright” in defiance of the framers of the US Constitution.

All that aside, in addition to hitting Number One in the USA (Platinum), it hit (surprisingly) Number 24 in Australia (Gold), Number One in Canada (Gold), Number One in New Zealand, and Number One in the UK (Platinum).

Finally for this week, it’s “Africa” by Toto, which was Number One on February 5, 1983:

I was never a fan of this song—but I can confidently sing along with it due to how much the song was played back in the day. I quite literally hated the line about Kilimanjaro rising above the Serengeti, which, at the time, struck me as the most insipid and banal song lyric ever, until other lyrics said, “hold me beer!”.

Having said all that, I actually liked Toto, and I bought their 1978 debut album “Hold the Line”. It was this particular song I disliked.

Despite my, um, indifference, the song still reached Number One in the USA (8x Platinum), 5 in Australia (12x Platinum), Number One in Canada (Gold), and Number 5 in New Zealand (Gold), and Number 3 in the UK (3x Platinum). So, what do I know, right? Yeah, well, I still skip it when it comes up in random play on my devices.

That’s technically it for this outing, however, “Down Under” was Number One on the “Hot 100” again on February 12. Next week, more of 1983.


Roger Owen Green said...

I think you've inspired a blog post

Arthur Schenck said...

Well then, that'll make it a complete circle!