FLASHBACK: America's Top 10 January 25, 1981

In this week's episode of America's Top 10, Casey gets "right to the action" on the Pop chart, counting down each of the Top 10 songs.  And then he checks the action on the Album chart, highlighting three albums before revealing the Number One Album and then the Album Spotlight Song of the Week featuring the "Mount St. Helen of Rock" (according to her PR person).  Casey then turns to the Soul Singles chart and calls out the three debuting singles before unveiling the Number One song and then going right into the Country Singles chart, where he notes the two debuting singles as well as last week's Number One before telling us the new Number One. All charts are from the January 24, 1981 issue of Billboard.  This week's Trivia Question is "What was the longest playing hit single?"  And then the edit of the episode is over and you still have 51 minutes left on your lunch hour.  Bon Appétit!

(actually next week's Spotlight because there wasn't one this week.)

(click on chart titles to listen)

One expects to see more than a few greatest hits albums on the charts for the Holidays as they are big sellers but I thought it was odd that on the Country LPs chart this week, half of the albums in the Top 10 were literally titled Greatest Hits.  Further down the chart there are five Best Of.. albums and an additional three artist anthologies under titles other than Greatest Hits or Best Of..., making 13 single artist compilations on a chart of 75 albums.  Sweet Kenny Rogers holds down number two with his Greatest Hits and also number 30 with Ten Years Of Gold which had been on the chart for more than three years at this point.  
An assortment of artists found themselves on the Disco Top 100 chart this week including The Police with two album cuts, both of which are very danceable.  The Jacksons are also represented with three tracks from their Triumph album, a personal favorite.  Two albums are on the chart in their entirety: Prince's Dirty Mind and Kool & the Gang's Celebrate!, though the latter is listed as Celebration, perhaps in confusion with its lead single of the same name.  If I had to pick one track that sums up the chart, I'd go with The Jacksons and their bass-poppin' "Walk Right Now" which later a proper disco remix by John Luongo.

Half of the Pop Top 10 is in the AC Top 10 though strangely not John Lennon's most adult contemporary sounding song "(Just Like) Starting Over" or its follow-up "Woman".  Three movie soundtrack songs made the AC chart this week, one each from the films 9 to 5, Xanadu and The Jazz Singer.  Even better, all three songs are sung by the stars of their respective films: Dolly Parton, Olivia Newton-John and Neil Diamond.

The Top 10 of the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart shares seventy percent of its songs with the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 chart including a mutual Number One song.  The three songs exclusive to the former chart are Sweet Kenny Rogers and "Lady", Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" and Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot".   Here's how those three singles fared on The Hot 100:
  • "Lady" had already peaked back in November and December when it spent six weeks at Number One and fell to number 20 this week from number 9
  • "Celebration" sat right outside the Top 10 at number 12 and would jump into the Top 10 the following week pausing at number 3 before topping the chart the next two weeks
  • "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" had peaked at number 9 back in December and this week was at number 28 in its seventeenth week on the chart

Was in line with both the Hot 100 and Cash Box as far as the Number One song but had more in common with the Cash Box Top 10 than Billboard's.  Both the Queen and Devo singles were fading on the Hot 100 and Cash Box's Top 100 but alive and doing really well on WLS despite peaking in September and December respectively.  WLS was also driving the REO Speedwagon hit up the national charts - it sat at number 23 on its way up on both the Hot and Top 100s though I would have sworn it was the Number One song as much as I heard it on the station back then.  I recently read that WLS had a policy of playing more AC friendly adult pop during daytime hours while adopting and more rock and kid pop format at nights during this time and 99% of my listening was after supper.

Despite devoting the entire January 22, 1981 issue of the magazine to the life and music of John Lennon, Rolling Stone's unpublished Top Hundred Album chart that week featured Barbra Streisand's Guilty in the top spot and Lennon's Double Fantasy down at number 8, though it would become Number One the following week and several weeks to come as we grieved. Kinda weird that David Bowie's Blackstar was released shortly before his death as well and our collective sense of loss sent it up to the top of the charts. 

Canada     New Zealand      UK      Australia
It is always interesting to get an alternate view of the charts, especially these four countries (I know the UK is not a country but you know what I mean, right?) which usually offer unique glimpses of popular music.  Three of the four feature Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over" with the UK opting for three other Lennon songs: "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)", "Woman" and "Imagine".  Blondie's "The Tide Is High" also made three of the charts with the UK once again abstaining. The UK chart, courtesy of Music & Video Week and the Official Charts Company archives, did give me a "new" song: The Look's "I Am The Beat".  Over on the chart from Oz, ABBA's "On And On And On", a Number One dance hit here in the States, was at its peak position at number 9.  The surprise on the New Zealand chart is country crooner Don Williams laid back love song "I Believe In You" while I am torn for a Canadian selection - a toss up between "Turning Japanese" and "Wasn't That A Party?"

Tunecaster Pop
Once again, no Lennon.  They already had him descending the chart at number 14 with "Woman" debuting at number 28 this week.  This chart is the usual AC/Pop hybrid with a little spice.  This week, the spice is Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen" and Heart's cover of "Tell It Like It Is", which were numbers 14 and 13 respectively on the Hot 100 and numbers 15 and 14 on Cash Box's Top 100 chart.

Tunecaster Rock
The Rock chart has some real good stuff, including aforementioned "Woman" in the pole position.  A couple of REO Speedwagon tunes, a rocker and a ballad, are joined by Brits The Police, Queen, Steve Winwood and Alan Parsons.  Steely Dan shows up at number 8 with "Time Out Of Mind" with fellow countrymen The Outlaws holding down the runner-up spot with their rockin' cover of country classic "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky".  "Yippie i ay Yippie i oh"

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