Thirty years ago this week, in the January 26, 1985 edition of Billboard Magazine, the Hot 100 singles chart was loaded with classic singles by some of the era’s biggest stars. Rock, pop, dance and R&B are all represented, and at #1 this week three decades ago is one of the era’s most iconic singles. It wasn’t just the Top 20 that was loaded with classics this week – lower down in the chart, on their way up, are iconic singles like Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer,” REO Speedwagon’s #1 “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” David Lee Roth’s “California Girls,” Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax,” Teena Marie’s “Lover Girl,” Bronski Beat’s “Small Town Boy,” and Animotion’s “Obsession” to name a few. They all helped to make 1985 another terrific year in pop music. Here are the top 20 singles this week thirty years ago, with a Spotify playlist at the end containing all 20 songs for your trip back to the glorious ’80s.
20. Stevie Wonder – “Love Light in Flight”
The follow-up to his #1 smash “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” the upbeat, funk-pop “Love Light in Flight” was Wonder’s second hit from The Woman in Red Soundtrack. It would peak at #17, one of eleven Top 40 hits for Stevie Wonder in the ‘80s.
19. Jermaine Jackson – “Do What You Do”
The second single from Jackson’s 1984 self-titled album (following the #15 hit “Dynamite”), “Do What You Do” is a soulful, romantic ballad with a video that featured supermodel Iman. “Do What You Do” would end up peaking at #13. He would have only one more Top 40 pop hit: “I Think It’s Love” in 1986.
18. New Edition – “Cool It Now”
With lead vocals by Ralph Tresvant, “Cool it Now” was the biggest hit in the ‘80s for teen sensations New Edition. It hit #4 on the pop chart and #1 on the R&B chart. It wouldn’t be topped until 1996 when their reunion single “Hit Me Off” reached #3.
17. Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
The all-star holiday charity single to benefit starving children in Africa, organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure and featuring many of the top British artists of the era, reached #13 in the U.S. over the Christmas season, and was still hanging around in the Top 20 by late January. It hit #1 in at least 14 countries world-wide.
16. Pat Benatar – “We Belong”
The lead single from Benatar’s fifth studio album, Tropico, was a massive departure from her usual hard-rock style. The lush, melodic pop track, heavily rhythmic and featuring a beautiful vocal performance by Benatar, charmed its way up to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, tying 1983’s “Love is a Battlefield” as the highest-charting single in her career.
15. Duran Duran – “The Wild Boys”
Produced by Nile Rodgers, who had recently given Duran Duran their first #1 hit in the U.S. with his remix of “The Reflex” in 1984, “The Wild Boys” was the lone studio track on the band’s live album Arena. With tribal drums and an elaborate and costly video featuring vocalist Simon LeBon strapped to a large wheel which dunked his head under water with each spin, “The Wild Boys” climbed all the way to #2 in the U.S.
14. Ray Parker, Jr. – “Jamie”
The first single for Ray Parker, Jr. following his #1 success the previous year with the theme from Ghostbusters, “Jamie” is a smooth, mid-tempo R&B track that peaked at #14. It would be his final Top 20 hit in the U.S.
13. The Pointer Sisters – “Neutron Dance”
Featured in the film Beverly Hills Cop starring Eddie Murphy, and also included on the trio’s smash album Breakout, “Neutron Dance” became The Pointer Sisters’ fourth Top 10 hit in a row, following “Automatc,” “Jump (For My Love),” and a re-release of their 1982 single “I’m So Excited.” It peaked at #6, the final Top 10 hit for the trio (1985’s “Dare Me” stalled at #11).
12. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Method of Modern Love”
The follow-up to their #1 single “Out of Touch” and second single from their Big Bam Boom album, “Method of Modern Love” became the duo’s fifteenth Top 10 hit when it climbed to #5. The legendary duo would only hit the Top 10 once more: 1988’s “Everything Your Heart Desires” reached #3.
11. Bruce Springsteen – “Born in the U.S.A.”
The title-song to Springsteen’s massive #1 album Born in the U.S.A. peaked at #9. It was the third of a remarkable seven Top 10 hits from the album, the biggest of which was the lead single “Dancing in the Dark,” which peaked at #2 during the summer of ’84. Only two other albums have scored seven Top 10 hits: Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. Michael Jackson almost did it again with Bad, until “Another Part of Me” stalled at #11.
10. Prince & The Revolution – “I Would Die 4 U”
The electrifying fourth single from Prince’s epic smash Purple Rain album followed its predecessors into the Top 10, peaking at #8. Purple Rain would yield one more single: “Take Me With U” reached #25. Only three months later Prince would be back with his next album, the psychedelic Around the World in a Day.
9. Billy Ocean – “Loverboy”
The follow-up to Billy Ocean’s #1 smash “Caribbean Queen” from the previous year, “Loverboy” was one of four Top 40 hits from the R&B singer’s smash album Suddenly. It would eventually reach #2 for a week in February, kept out of the top spot by “Careless Whisper” by Wham!
8. Don Henley – “The Boys of Summer”
The lead single from Don Henley’s second solo album, Building the Perfect Beast, “The Boys of Summer” would eventually peak at #5. It was one of four Top 40 hits from the album, including “All She Wants To Do Is Dance,” “Not Enough Love in the World,” and “Sunset Grill.” The track earned a Grammy award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
7. Bryan Adams – “Run To You”
The lead single from Adams’ massively successful Reckless album, “Run To You” would climb to #6 on the Hot 100 pop chart, and #1 on the Billboard Rock Singles Chart. It was the first of a remarkable six Top 40 hits from “Reckless,” including his first #1 single, the power-ballad “Heaven.”
6. Jack Wagner – “All I Need”
Known for his role as Frisco Jones on General Hospital, Jack Wagner became a one-hit-wonder when his ballad “All I Need,” the title-song from his debut album, soared all the way to #2. It was his only Top 40 hit. The follow-up single, “Lady of My Heart,” stalled at #76. Co-writer Glen Ballard would later achieve massive success as producer and co-writer on Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. Unfortunately “All I Need” is not available on Spotify, so we’ve used a “karaoke” version instead.
5. Wham! featuring George Michael – “Careless Whisper”
Released as a solo single by George Michael in the U.K. and most other countries, in the US “Careless Whisper” was billed as Wham! featuring George Michael. A beautiful ballad known for its iconic saxophone riff, “Careless Whisper” became the second U.S. #1 for the duo following “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Both are included on the album Make it Big¸ along with a third #1 single: “Everything She Wants.”
4. Philip Bailey and Phil Collins – “Easy Lover”
Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist Philip Bailey scored by far his biggest solo hit with “Easy Lover,” a high-energy pop/rock duet with Phil Collins from Bailey’s album Chinese Wall. “Easy Lover” would reach #2, one of an impressive run of ‘80s hits for Collins. Bailey’s follow-up single, “Walking on the Chinese Wall,” couldn’t replicate the success of his smash duet – it stalled at #46 on the Hot 100.
3. Chicago – “You’re the Inspiration”
This week thirty years ago, Chicago’s ballad “You’re the Inspiration,” with vocals by Peter Cetera, reached its peak position of #3. It followed another ballad from the band’s smash album Chicago 17 – “Hard Habit to Break” also reached #3. The album yielded four Top 40 hits in total, and continued the commercial momentum started with 1982’s Chicago 16 and it’s #1 ballad “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.”
2. Foreigner – “I Want To Know What Love Is”
Arena-rockers Foreigner spent a frustrating ten long weeks at #2 with their 1981 smash “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” They finally reached the top with another ballad, the epic “I Want to Know What Love Is,” which features vocals by The Gospel Music Workshop of America and Jennifer Holliday. It was the lead single from the band’s Agent Provacateur album, which would yield only one more Top 40 hit: “That Was Yesterday” peaked at #12. “I Want to Know What Love Is” was co-written and co-produced by Alex Sadkin, who would die tragically in a car accident only three years later.
1. Madonna – “Like a Virgin”
The lead single and title-song from Madonna’s second album, “Like a Virgin” was the superstar’s fourth Top 40 hit and first to reach #1. “Like a Virgin” is the song that catapulted Madonna into the stratosphere of massive fame. Her infamous performance of the song in a wedding dress at the MTV Video Music Awards is still talked about as a pivotal moment in music television. “Like a Virgin,” written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly (a duo who also wrote smash hits like Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame,” Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” and Heart’s “Alone,” to name a few) and produced by Nile Rodgers, “Like a Virgin” was the first of four Top 5 smashes from the album including “Material Girl” (#2), “Angel” (#5), and “Dress You Up” (#5). Madonna would ascend to the top of the Hot 100 eleven more times over the course of her legendary career.
Here’s the entire Top 20 as a playlist: