Are you a Billboard Chart buff? Do you love the 1980s? Then this is the playlist for you (or the first of several I'm creating, but this is a great one to start with)!
This is in chronological order from January 1980-December 1989.
It has the vast majority of the #1 singles of the entire decade! I have tried to import them from the original albums (or remastered versions) whenever possible. My goal is to make it as authentic as possible. If album and single versions differ, I favor the album version if it doesn't go much over five minutes. In some cases, I favor the single version (especially if it's available on some version of the album).
There are of course some holes, nearly half of them courtesy of Spotify's friend The Purple Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As (what's the progress on getting his music back?--we were told Spotify was working hard on that--seems to me the best way to do it would be for Spotify to just swallow Tidal whole--I think everyone wants that). Anyway, some notes:
If a song hit number 1, then was displaced and subsequently returned, the song is placed in the order where it first hit #1. This happened a few times in the first half of the decade. The sole exception is that I have "Please Don't Go" before "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" at the very beginning. This is because The Pina Colada Song was the very last #1 of the 1970s. It was displaced by "Please Don't Go" in the first week of 1980, BUT, it returned to #1 the second week of the year. So I have it as the second #1 of the decade even though it technically hit #1 before "Please Don't Go."
As for the holes, I debated how to handle them. Ultimately, I decided to go with tribute/imitation/vocal karaoke versions, at least for now. I'm considering getting them from iTunes (all of the unavailable #1's are available there, I think) and importing them. But then followers would have to have these songs on their physical hard drives for the playlist to work properly and be complete. For now, I'll keep the tribute/imitations. Here are the holes or deviant versions:
1. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts--I Love Rock 'n Roll. The absence of the original recording of this song on Spotify is very well documented and complained about, but I have never seen an adequate explanation as to why both the song and its parent album are unavailable when her later album Up Your Alley (including the hit "I Hate Myself for Loving You") is very much available. It would be nice to know why this huge, iconic early 1980s hit is not on Spotify. It's obviously not a case of the artist banning all of her work. The imitation I have in its place is quite good.
2. Michael Sembello--Maniac. There is a version out there labeled "Re-Recorded/Remastered," but I am very unsure of its authenticity. It certainly SOUNDS good. But because I was unsure, I backdoored it from the original Flashdance soundtrack. I had the "Re-recorded/Remastered" version there, which seems to have better sound quality, but decided to replace it. If anybody can comment on the authenticity of this version (i.e., is it really Sembello--he is listed as the artist, which you usually can't get around, so I assume so), then I'll put it back.
3. Prince--When Doves Cry--The first of four 80s #1's from The Purple One, darn him. This imitation is OK, but imitating Prince is a tall order.
4. Prince--Let's Go Crazy--Sigh. The Purple One again. darn Taylor Swift for giving him the idea to do what he did last July. Imitation version from the same source as above.
5. Dire Straits--Money for Nothing. After much waffling, I decided to go with the original long version from the Brothers in Arms album rather than the shorter single version, which appears to be available on a compilation. Yes, this is the full version with the long overture and the unedited second verse with the famous thrice-repeated gay slur. But with this song, the single was kind of an adulteration, so I opted for pure authenticity here.
6. Prince--Kiss. Ditto the above, unfortunately. The imitation is a shadow. Nobody can truly imitate that distinctive falsetto.
7. Peter Gabriel--Sledgehammer. A live performance from a Human Rights Concert event is available, but the quality is highly questionable. I used it anyway since it is the original artist. I understand that the full So album has been available from time to time, and Gabriel himself seems oddly out of the loop about its varying presence I would think that getting it back might be one of the more attainable goals--certainly more promising than wooing back The Purple One.
8. Bob Seger--Shakedown. Probably the third most notoriously absent artist from Spotify. It seems to be an intractable issue between Seger's manager and his old label, and Spotify can't do a thing about it. It doesn't help that Seger appears to be a virtual luddite and totally uninvolved with the stupidity. It's really unfortunate that this can't be worked out--again, this is not a litigious, Prince-like artist. Why can't we get it done? Anyway, this is a good vocal karaoke version.
9. Def Leppard--Love Bites. In a pissing match with their old label, the band notoriously won't release any of their old catalog in non-physical form. They've done "forgery" re-recordings of a couple of songs, but not this one, which was their only #1 of the era. It's available on the live "Viva! Hysteria" soundtrack from 2013 and sounds amazingly similar to the original. Even 28 years later, those dudes, while getting older, can rock. Would still love to have the original, though. Doesn't seem likely anytime soon.
10. Prince--Batdance. I had to go to an even weirder source for the Tribute/Imitation version here. If he can ever be brought back, special attention needs to be paid to the availability of this track, since it's not one of his traditional album songs.
When I first made the playlist, Patti Austin/James Ingram "Baby, Come to Me" was unavailable, but it appears that since then Qunicy Jones (a true friend of Spotify) has made a special effort to get it unblocked (who knows what the original reason for that was).
Finally, the three Milli Vanilli #1's from the second half of 1989 (the end of the decade) appear to be the originals on a "4 Hits" compilation, the original album being notoriously out of print for notorious reasons. Despite lip-synching scandals from decades ago, these were huge #1 hits, and it's good we have them available. Rob Pilatus has since tragically died. I honestly don't think re-releasing the original album would be a horrible thing. But these three #1 songs appear to be authentic.
The last #1 song of the decade (and the first of the 1990s) was Phil Collins--Another Day in Paradise.
For 232 songs, that's not a bad track record.
I'm working on playlists for the entire Top 10 songs from the decade (one for each peak position), and will post links here when I think they are ready. For now, enjoy this, and PLEASE follow. I haven't been able to attract followers, despite the fact that I think this is a great compendium playlist that chronicles a great decade of music.