Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week I’m hopping into my time machine again, this time setting the coordinates for 35 years ago this week. As I step out of my time machine, the #1 song in the nation is Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s “Ebony and Ivory,” but just past that I hear synth-pop and pop-rock coming from everywhere.
So let’s get into this exploration in Billboard Hot 100 history. Of course, since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
2. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me
With its dark synths, and iconic opening line – “You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar …” – “Don’t You Want Me” epitomizes the synth-pop revolution synonymous with the 80s.
An under-appreciated aspect of this song is the rebuttal verse from the woman. It may not be as memorable as the opening line, but it makes “Don’t You Want Me” the rare song that tells both sides of a story.
14. Soft Cell – Tainted Love
Inarguably one of the greatest cover songs of all-time, Soft Cell’s version of “Tainted Love” took the 1964 Gloria Jones song in a whole new, decidedly modern direction.
It’s hard to imagine there’s anyone out there who doesn’t love this version of “Tainted Love,” which, 15 years after its release, gained a whole new life as the soundtrack for an all-time great commercial for Levis.
19. Survivor – Eye of the Tiger
The theme from Rocky III, and a requirement in the playlist of every martial arts exhibition ever, I dare you to listen to “Eye of the Tiger” and not get ridiculously hyped. By the end of the intro you should be ready to take on an entire motorcycle gang on your own, and there’s still nearly four minutes of music left!
Heck, just writing about this song has me ready to rip a phone book in half. They still make those, right?
31. Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny
A song that’s impossible to get out of your head, “867-5309/Jenny” sparked thousands of phone calls to random people who probably hated Tommy Tutone for making their phone number the most memorable phone number in history.
The song is an era-defining classic that has lived on far longer than even Tommy Tutone probably ever imagined it would, but hey, we’d all love to give Jenny a call, and we have her number!
63. Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy
Bow Wow Wow wanted candy, and even though their lead singer, Annabella Lwin, was only 15 at the time, she wasn’t singin’ about lollipops and jujubes.
The band was no stranger to controversy, as Lwin posed nude on the cover of their 1981 album See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy! the year prior.
Strangely, “I Want Candy” wasn’t a gigantic hit for Bow Wow Wow, peaking at #62, but it’s experienced the kind of lasting impact most bands would kill for.
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.