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Status of "problematic" 1980s Top 40 Songs

Status of "problematic" 1980s Top 40 Songs

This is a separate follow-up to my long-dormant thread about 1980s Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 songs not available on Spotify.  I plan to update that thread with some new information, as there has been quite a bit of activity since I did.  But I thought that a separate thread with information I know about the individual songs would be nice, if for nothing else then to let Spotify know where some work needs to be done with labels and rights holders.  I will go through the songs in order of peak position, as on that thread.  I will talk about songs that have been "problematic," not just songs that are unavailable right now, and some will be treated more extensively than others.


The good news is that finally, AS OF RIGHT NOW, March 12, 2020, all 232 #1 songs from 1980-1989 are available, all except one in their original versions.  That exception, Michael Damian's 2009 version of "Rock On" (1989) is fairly insignificant, since the 2009 version sounds remarkably similar to the original and is confirmed to be the original artist.  However, there is one song on the #1 list that is "problematic," a huge six-week chart topper from 1983.


I am talking about "Flashdance...What a Feeling" by Irene Cara.  The entire "What a Feelin'" album was greyed out a couple of years ago, and it has not returned.  It is licensed to Canadian label Unidisc.  The #1 song itself was unavailable for most of that time, but it very recently reappeared via a compilation (fairly common when albums are suppressed that "hits" will appear on compilations--often they are nuked when the "right" people get wind of this, and I realize that I am drawing attention to it here).  Neither the "What a Feelin'" album art nor that of the "Flashdance" soundtrack album displays, only the art from the compilation.


The big problem with this song is that Spotify is LITTERED with fakes credited to Cara.  The trained ear can hear that they are not authentic, but it keeps attention away from the "real" song's absence.  The other big problem is that the album has three other Top 40 hits.  One of them is Top 10, another Top 20.  I would say that making this album available again should be ONE OF SPOTIFY'S TOP PRIORITIES!  Whatever is up with Unidisc, fix it.  In the age of the disappearing holdout, a massive #1 hit should be available, and certainly its parent album with three other hits should also be made available.  Underlings of Mr. Ek, please find out what is up.  Don't leave it to your consumers.  This is a big hit.


All of the 94 #2 singles are available except for Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue" (1983). It disappeared at some point in 2016 and has been stubbornly unavailable since.  There is an unconvincing fake out there.  The real song has been removed from all other platforms as well.  Somebody REALLY does not want this hit available.  Is Spotify doing anything to figure out why?  Or tell us if they do (yes, we know that never happens, we always get the inane form text).


For whatever reason, the single version of George Michael's "I Want Your $ex" (1987) is not available separately from its "Part 2" ("Brass in Love") as a long 9+ minute track.  WHY?


The 106 #3 singles were fairly stable until this week, when the parent album for "Take Your Time (Do It Right)" by the S.O.S. Band (1980) was nuked.  The hit itself is playable from a compilation, but it annoyingly cuts off the fade and ends abruptly, slamming directly into the next playlist track, whatever it may be.  I think a "good" version with the fadeout is available somewhere else, but wouldn't it be better just to make the original parent album available again, which worked very well?


Also, Anita Baker had a #3 song in 1988-89.  It's been available for a while, but for some reason, the original album art for both this album ("Giving You the Best That I've Got") and the earlier "Rapture" album still will not display, despite most songs being available.  Compilation art displays for all Anita Baker 1980s hits.


The 71 #4 songs do not show any problems as of right now.


The 101 #5 songs were available and stable until a couple of years ago, when problems arose.  Some of those are detailed on the other thread.  The good news is that both Johnny Lee's "Lookin' for Love" (1980) and Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me with Science" (1983) seem to be back and stable and sourcing from their original albums after a long period of unavailability and/or sketchy compilation sourcing.


The 64 #6 singles do not have any major issues at this point.


The 77 #7 songs have two major and glaring issues.  These are long-term; the two songs in question have NEVER been available.  Almost every Paul McCartney song in existence is available, but not the 1985-86 theme song "Spies Like Us."  I understand that Paul is likely embarrassed by this song, but it was a Top 10 hit, after all, so he should not stand in the way of its availability.  It could conceivably be sourced from the 1993 deluxe edition of the "Press to Play" album, where it is greyed out.  Nobody seems to know why Michael McDonald's "Sweet Freedom" (1986) has never been available when practically every other song he did solo, with the Doobie Brothers, or as a backing vocalist can readily be played.  Again, the song has NEVER been available.  And the internet provides no answers as to why.  It is buried in the recesses of the greyed-out database.


The only one of the 68 #8 singles currently unavailable is "Breakdance" (1984) from the aforementioned Irene Cara album.  Please see above.  "I Remember Holding You" by Boys Club (1988-89) was VERY recently made available as a single with what looks like almost a selfie of the two band members in b/w as cover art.  It is probably not a selfie, as the photo is clearly of their 1989 selves.  It also appears to be the original recording.  But I would take its stability with an enormous grain of salt.  Why not make the entire album available (the band's only one) with the original art?  I appreciate the availability of the hit, but why not the rest of the album??  It has never been available nor in the database before now.


There were two long-term issues with the 70 #9 singles.  Two of them, both from 1989, were unavailable for a very long time, but both now appear to be stable and sourcing from the original albums.  These are Paul Carrack's "Don't Shed a Tear" and the Doobie Brothers' "The Doctor."  Let's hope they stay up.


Of the 84 #10 singles, there had been some very good news.  The long-absent "Baby Love" by Regina (1986), along with its entire parent album "Curiosity" was made available in 2018.  This was very exciting, but recently, the whole album, including the hit, were greyed out.  What a gut punch.  I found Regina Richards's FB account and asked her about it via PM.  She apparently saw it, but did not respond.  Let's hope that it becomes available again quickly.


In better news, the long-absent "Cry" by Waterfront (1989) appears to be available sourced from its parent album, which is also now available.  Let's hope it doesn't pull a Regina and disappear.  Jimmy Harnen's "Where Are You Now" (1989) has never been available.  Oddly, Harnen is a bigwig in the music industry now, working with Tay-Tay's label.  There is even a podcast episode on Spotify featuring an interview with him.  Thus, it is exceptionally odd that his Top 10 hit is not only unavailable, but apparently not even in the database.  Somebody at Spotify must have contact with Harnen given his current employment.  Let's get his song available!


The biggest issue with the 43 #11 songs is that Sheila E.'s "A Love Bizarre" (1986) is only available in the interminable 12-minute album version.  Why is the single version not available for a song whose album track is this long?  I'm sure Prince's heirs have something to do with that.


Of the 59 #12 songs, there are two medleys whose availability is extremely unlikely.  The Beach Boys Medley from 1981 IS in the Spotify database, so it is not hopeless, but probably low priority and probably won't ever happen.  The Beatles Movie Medley from 1982, however, is unlikely ever to see the light of day.  The mere existence of this medley seems to embarrass those in power, and it is even promptly nuked if it shows up on YouTube.  It qualifies as by far the most "unavailable" 1980s Top 40 hit.  Obviously, it is not in the database.


Peter Wolf's "Lights Out" and its parent album (1984) have never been available and are not in the database.  The internet has various theories as to why that is, since Wolf is very much active in the industry.  Nobody knows why this album and his later one "Come As You Are" are total ciphers these days.


Likewise Sa-Fire's "Thinking of You" (1989) appears to be totally unavailable and not in the database.  Who knows why.  Probably not enough of the right people care.


The 52 #13 songs include Charlie Dore's ORIGINAL version of "Pilot of the Airwaves" (1980) which appears to be stable and sourcing from the parent album.  Unfortunately, the ubiquitous fake in a lower key is still floating around Spotify.  It was great to see this become available last year.  The only other unavailable #13 songs are Irene Cara's "Why Me?" (1983, see above) and "Another Lover" by Giant Steps (1988), which has never been available and is not in the database.


Of the 47 #14 songs, John Schneider's "It's Now or Never" (1981) has never been available and is not in the database.  It was a Scotti Bros. song, and when that label went defunct, much of its catalog went into a pit of darkness, never to return (Survivor and Weird Al largely excepted).


The 50 #15 songs are mostly available.  Ali Thomson's "Take a Little Rhythm" with its parent album and original album art (1980) have been available for a while, but I'm suspicious of the licensed label (Enterprise Music) and the sound quality, and I wouldn't count on its stability long-term.  A bad lower-key fake is still lingering, I think.  Peter Wolf's "Come As You Are" (1987) is of course unavailable and not in the database (see above).


The 37 #16 songs are apparently now all available as "Cry" by Godley and Creme (1985) was VERY recently made available from the database.  Hopefully it is stable.


42 songs peaked at #17 in the 80s.  Of these, Greg Guidry's "Goin' Down" (1982) is the most prominent unavailable song, and it is not in the database.  Information is hard to come by.


Of the 50 #18 songs, Fred Knobloch's "Why Not Me" (1980) has never been available and is not in the database.  It was a #1 AC hit, so this is a travesty.  Appears to be another victim of the Scotti Bros. black hole.  Henry Lee Summer's "Hey Baby" (1989) is only available in a live version, which is odd because his earlier and lower-charting song "I Wish I Had a Girl" and its parent album are readily available.  Why can't we get the original of this?


49 songs peaked at #19.  Of these the GLARING omission is "All Night Long" by Joe Walsh (1980), in the database, but long unavailable.  Other unstable former absences from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, including "Lookin' for Love," seem to be available now, as does other material from Walsh.  What is holding this up?


50 songs peaked at #20.  The big absence is "Without Your Love" by Roger Daltrey (1980), along with the entire "McVicar" soundtrack.  It is in the database.  Why won't Daltrey make it available?  Beautiful song.


I may or may not continue this with Nos. 21-40, where there are more issues and more hopeless cases.  But for now, you have this information, listeners and Rock Stars!  Let's continue the improvement that has been evident recently.  Certainly let's get Regina's "Curiosity" album back and finally fix the Irene Cara issue.








9 Replies

I did forget one item up in the #10 songs, and that is the status of "Hold On to My Love" by Jimmy Ruffin (1980).  This song has long had major availability issues.  A decent re-recording, though obviously not the original, is available from several sources.  I believe this was made by Ruffin himself, but I cannot be sure.  The original is not available on any platform.  There are a couple of sources for the S.O.S. Band's "Take Your Time (Do It Right)" that do not cut off early.  Make sure the duration is 7:40, not 7:34.  Sadly, the redirect from the now-unavailable original album (with the original cover art) is to one of the early cut-off versions.  Argh.


I may use the virus downtime to continue this "compendium" for songs that peaked at Nos. 21-40.



Hey there @hansenkd


Thanks for reaching out to the Community about this. 

Spotify works hard to constantly add music to its content database. We want all the world’s music and podcasts on Spotify, but availability can vary over time and between countries, depending on agreements between Spotify and rights holders, such as artists or record labels.

We add new content to Spotify every day, so if you can’t find something you’re looking for right now, it may appear (or reappear) soon. Alternatively, you can always contact the artist or record label with your query as well. Also, feel free to check out our content request form.


Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any more questions. 



As much as I have railed against the idiotic and banal form response from moderators and Rock Stars (who seem more and more like bots every time it is posted as a reply for the umpteen bazillionth time), I NEVER expected to see it as a response to my informational compendium here, nor did I ask for it.  Because you must know how much you are insulting our intelligence every time you post this, it increases suspicion of "bot" activity.


Look, anybody who has visited these forums more than twice has seen this idiocy multiple times, and yet it keeps showing up.


But here's the thing.  Obviously Spotify knows the EXACT reason for the disappearance of most things, certainly in more high profile cases.  It is also obvious that anybody tagged a rock star or moderator on these forums is utterly and absolutely forbidden from sharing specific information about individual cases.  We get all that.  But surely I'm allowed to make an informative and informational post like this, which shows a compendium of knowledge, past and present, to draw the attention of users and yes, Spotify itself, to certain situations without having my intelligence insulted with the form response.  Geez.  Look at the comprehensive nature of my post.  Clearly I know more about the status of these cases than you do, which makes the form response even more comical.  Seriously.

Update: A surprising disappearance, the #20 "Pop Goes the World" by Men Without Hats

I just noticed that "I Never Knew Love Like This Before" by Stephanie Mills (#6 1980) is sourcing oddly, not displaying the album art that it was before with her image.  In other words, it pulled an Anita Baker.  Baker's Top 40 hits are all available, but the album art doesn't show up and they all source weirdly.  She has an odd attitude toward streaming, but couldn't prevent her hits from appearing via compilation.  I suppose she is exerting more control over the albums themselves and their art.

It would be very nice to know what is up with the 1985 Heart album.  I never suspected it would be pulled, but it has.  Three of the four Top 10 hits are doing the weird compilation/awful album art source thing, but one of them, "Nothin' At All" will not play at all.  I inquired at Heart's official website about this and got an auto response that someone would reply to me, but nobody has.  My guess is that it's coming out in a reissue and for some reason, it was deleted in advance.

Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes is also problematic. It's not the original but what I think is a later re-recording she did.

The Mistaken Identity album was removed just in time for its 40th anniversary.  I hope a reissue is coming out.  Bette Davis Eyes and Draw of the Cards are still playable, sourcing from compilations with weird album art (as often happens when albums are removed such as the 1985 Heart album, which has STILL not returned).


There is a re-recording of BDE, but as of now the original can still be played, just not with the Mistaken Identity album art.

Hi there folks,


Thank you for your posts and feedback.


As @Ivan mentioned - availability can vary over time and between countries, depending on the permissions from rights holders.


You can read more about how your feedback reaches Spotify here.


Once again - thanks for the feedback, we appreciate it. Let us know if we can help you with anything else. 


Take care!

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I'm going to be nice, but this is already known.  Posts like this (and the older, longer one to which it refers) are meant to be informational.  Responses like this are littered across the community forum.  We all know the drill.  It is also apparent that it is against the rules to provide information about specific cases (even when Spotify clearly knows those specifics) unless some major artist or album absence (like Taylor Swift, Prince, or Bob Seger in the past) happens to be covered in the media.


But does the fact that we know there will be no answers on specifics preclude the sharing of information that might be useful to other users or even to Spotify in their negotiations?  I would hope not.  Such informational posts don't really need an answer or non-answer, and I hope it's clear why seeing the same thing we have seen many times and boilerplate text we already clearly understand can be somewhat intelligence-insulting.


Just let the information be useful to whomever it might be useful.  We know that providing specific answers about the content is verboten and that's OK.  Just know that we already know this and use the information in such summaries wherever it might help.

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