June, 1983 – 30 years ago – Irene Cara was at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with her mega hit movie theme song “Flashdance… What a Feelin’”, which was co-written and produced by the one and only Giorgio Moroder (who also features prominently on this week’s current #1 album by Daft Punk, “Random Access Memories”). Irene Cara’s pop/dance anthem is one of the most iconic singles of the 80s – a track that helps define pop music in that decade.
An odd coincidence, perhaps, that the #1 album from this week and the #1 song from 30 years ago would have a key contributor in common. But how about #2? The track in the runner-up position this week in 1983 was David Bowie’s brilliant single “Let’s Dance,” a song that would eventually ascend to #1 to become his 2nd and final chart topper in America (following “Fame” from 1975). “Let’s Dance” was produced by former Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers who – of course – is also prominently featured on the new Daft Punk album.
Another classic was sitting at #3 –Culture Club’s “Time (Clock of the Heart)”. It did indeed have a gleaming pop/R&B production and soulful melody which wouldn’t be out of place on “Random Access Memories,” but the Steve Levine-produced track would seem to have no direct connection with this week’s #1 album. If only the French duo had snagged Boy George for a vocal like Mark Ronson did a couple years back on his single “Somebody to Love Me,” we’d have a pretty amazing coincidence. Ah well.
Still, all three of these tracks still sound fantastic 30 years later, and perhaps the current popularity of “Random Access Memories,” its obviously retro vibe and inspiration, and its direct links to the late 70s and early 80s pop, R&B and disco scene will inspire younger fans to go back and discover some of these classic singles that they might view only from a nostalgic point of view. Let’s hope. 1983 was an incredible year in pop music, perhaps one of the best ever, and there is much to discover for younger fans who want to take “Random Access Memories” as a starting point and journey through the amazing tunes and artists that inspired it and, in some cases, directly took part in its creation.