CHART ATTACK! #43: 8/1/81

Written by Chart Attack!, Music

We need to change the title of this series this week.


Don’t believe me?  Well, why don’t we take a trip together – a laaaaame trip together – back to August 1, 1981!

10. Queen of Hearts – Juice Newton  Amazon iTunes
9. Hearts – Marty Balin  Amazon
8. Boy From New York City – The Manhattan Transfer  Amazon iTunes
7. Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes  Amazon iTunes
6. Slow Hand – Pointer Sisters  Amazon iTunes
5. Elvira – The Oak Ridge Boys  Amazon iTunes
4. I Don’t Need You – Kenny Rogers  Amazon iTunes
3. Theme From "Greatest American Hero" (Believe It Or Not) – Joey Scarbury  Amazon iTunes
2. The One That You Love – Air Supply  Amazon iTunes
1. Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield  Amazon iTunes

Am I right or am I right?  Can someone tell me what was horrible things happened in July of 1981? I checked out the Wiki for the month, and, yeah, some bad stuff happened, but I can’t find anything devastating enough that would have led the record-buying public to suddenly have an insatiable hunger for the blandest, whitest music possible.  They even accepted country music, for crying out loud!

Now, as I related this Top 10 to Mike, he insisted that this wasn’t a bad week; he feels it’s an awesome week.  He may be right.  Not all of these songs are bad.  But you have to agree that all of them are bland, right?  Except for maybe #1?  Well, you be the judge.

10. Queen of Hearts – Juice Newton

It’s obviously coincidental, but I still find it unfair that this is the third Juice Newton song we’ve covered on CHART ATTACK!. This song is stupid, but just like "Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me," I find myself just completely endeared to Newton and the way she hams it up in her videos. She doesn’t get massively injured in this video like the other one, but she wears some cute costumes, and sorta comes off looking like a porn star who’s trying to act in her first Cinemax movie.

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Of her seven hits in the Top 40, this one was her biggest, reaching #2 in September.

9. Hearts – Marty Balin 

Whaddya know, it’s our Mellow Gold selection from this week!  What?  You haven’t read it?  Go, go, go!

(I’m so glad I don’t have to write anything more about "Hearts" ever again.  But apparently there’s more Balin in my future.  You guys are killing me.)

8. Boy From New York City – The Manhattan Transfer

"The Boy From New York City" was a cover of the 1965 hit by The Ad Libs. I don’t know how they did it, but The Manhattan Transfer somehow removed all soul from the original, thus continuing the rich BLAND ATTACK! tradition of August 1981. The original was a doo-wop song. This one somehow keeps the harmonies but adds in terrible, cheesy, early ’80s production values. Everyone ate it up, of course, and The Manhattan Transfer wound up winning the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. They also won the Best Jazz Performance, Duo or Group award the same year, becoming the first group to win in both categories in the same year.

But the song still sucks.

7. Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes (download)

This is the girliest Rod Stewart has ever sounded. 

Just kidding!  Y’know, I always thought that Kim Carnes could have just had one good cup of tea and a strong cough and cleared that voice right up.

Do you remember exactly how friggin’ huge this song was?  Although Jackie DeShannon had co-written and recorded it six years prior, Carnes brought the song ridiculous amounts of success.  It sold more than any other song in 1981 and won Grammy Awards for both Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year.  With 9 non-consecutive weeks at #1, it became the second-highest charting song of the year, behind "Physical."  (By the way, the song that broke up Carnes’ 9-week run?  "Stars on 45.")

Bette Davis loved the song, especially because it made her look cool in her grandson’s eyes.  She wrote Carnes a letter, thanking her for the re-introduction into pop culture, and Carnes sang the song in a tribute shortly before Davis’ death.



One day, I plan to have a hit with a song called "Kim Carnes Throat," and maybe she’ll write me a letter thanking me.

6. Slow Hand – The Pointer Sisters

Almost Mellow Gold, this one bordered on a country song – so much so that Conway Twitty covered it a year later and wound up with a #1 on the Country charts.  Personally, there are a number of Pointer Sisters songs I prefer to this one – I think this one is on the bland side – but the country clearly disagreed, making this song the most successful song the women ever released.  Yes – it’s even more successful than "Jump (For My Love)" or "I’m So Excited," although you probably wouldn’t know it from airplay.  The song was co-written by John Bettis, who’s had his hand in quite a few successful pop singles, including Michael Jackson’s "Human Nature" and Madonna’s "Crazy For You."

5. Elvira – The Oak Ridge Boys 

That’s it.  I’ve officially lost my patience with August 1, 1981.  I’m not taking the blame since I was only four, but I ask this to any of you who were buying records at the time (and that includes you, mom): what the hell was wrong with you people?

"Elvira" is not a tribute to, y’know, that Elvira.  That would have been an improvement, I think.  At least we would’ve gotten a good video out of it.  In actuality, the song was written and recorded back in 1966 by Dallas Frazier, and recorded a number of years later by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition.  However, The Oak Ridge Boys hadn’t heard the song until ’78, when a guy named Rodney Crowell recorded it on his debut album.  Why so many people got such a kick out of combining a doo-wop sound with country is absolutely beyond me, but like every other shitty song this week, the public ate it up, taking it to #5 on the Hot 100 and all the way to #1 on the country charts.

So let’s place blame where blame is due: Frazier wrote a ridiculously stupid song.  My favorite lyric is "’Cause I know that my Elvira’s mine."  You already implied that when you said "my" Elvira, you imbecile!…oh wait, now you’re saying some random giddy-yup-hi-oh-Silver-away crap.  You’re on a horse?  Great.  And don’t think those two key changes are going to save you here.

You gotta check out this video.

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We’ve made fun of a lot of bands on here, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say none have been uglier than Oak Ridge Boys circa 1981.  Is that Charles Manson?  My favorite is the lead singer, who looks like the love child of Oates and Lionel Richie.  And check out the audience shots:  they love this song!  I hate them!

4. I Don’t Need You – Kenny Rogers

This song was Rogers’ twelfth #1 on the Country & Western charts (out of an eventual 20), and the third of eight AC chart-toppers.  We don’t usually discuss these charts ’cause they suck, but I need to mention them in order to illustrate the fact that, whether we like it or not, Kenny Rogers was untouchable between 1977 and 1983.  Also, I have no problem mentioning those charts because they clearly both infected the hell out of the Hot 100 this year.

I was all set to snark on this song, but the truth is…I kinda like it.  I just can’t figure out why.

3. Theme From "Greatest American Hero" (Believe It Or Not) – Joey Scarbury (download)

Oooh, another Mellow Goldie on the charts this week!  Scarbury was hired by the famous Mike Post to record the vocal for the "Greatest American Hero" theme.  Smelling a single, Elektra quickly released an extended version of the song, which made it to #2.  They also released a video, although sensing that Scarbury kind of looked like a male porn star (which meant he was butt-ugly with a big moustache), they kept him safely in the shadows.

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Quite honestly, I really like this song.  I can’t help it.  And it’s actually quite hard to sing – especially when he throws in that key change.  I realized there’s a big difference between quietly singing it to yourself and actually trying to perform it.  I won’t make that mistake again.

Scarbury had another minor hit, but couldn’t match his TV theme success – although apparently he tried, recording "Flashbeagle" for It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown, and this video just made this entire CHART ATTACK! worthwhile. 

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I can’t believe this is real…but it is.

2. The One That You Love – Air Supply

The other day, I went over to Hype Machine and looked at their stats on Air Supply. Eight tracks listed. Five were from this site.  I think I’ve said enough about Air Supply recently, don’t you?  So I’ll just say that obviously I love this song, and leave it at that.

1. Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield

Finally, some rock on this chart!  I really like this line from the "Jessie’s Girl" wiki"While some try to highlight deeper symbolic meanings of the piece, most enjoy it for its catchy tune and memorable lyrics."  (This Wiki would have been much better had it linked to the "some" trying to analyze it, but they get high marks for calling it a "piece.")

Anyway.  Overplayed?  Yah.  Awesome?  Yah.  And remarkably hard for me to play on guitar.  I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for any song utilizing the word "moot." 
Deserving, I’d even say, of the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance Grammy.  (You can argue me, but the point is probably moot since nobody gives a shit about the Grammys.)  And just think – if he hadn’t changed the name to protect the innocent, we’d be singing about "Gary’s Girl."  (Actually, no, we probably wouldn’t.)

I found this nifty little album on iTunes called 80s Hits Stripped, and it included an acoustic version of "Jessie’s Girl."  Sadly, it’s in a lower key and I could do without the slide guitar, but have a listen anyway:

Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl (acoustic) (download)

…and that does it for this week’s CHART ATTACK!, although I still maintain it was more of a limp slap on the arm than an actual attack.  Will we recover from this wussy Top 10 output?  Only one way to find out: come back next Friday!