Top 100 Singles of the 80s: 20-16
David Bowie: Ashes to Ashes
We’ve come across several singles in the Top 100 that bridged the gap between Eighties pop and Nineties pop. And this was the one that, in three perfectly formed minutes, drew together all that was great about Seventies pop and set it out as a template for the years that followed. Musically, Bowie took Major Tom and made him into a New Romantic. And in the video, he took Steve Strange and some of the Blitz kids, and put them on a world stage.
Dead or Alive: You Spin Me Round
Another big-hitter in our recent Best 50 12”s rundown, this – surprisingly – is the only appearance from Dead Or Alive in our Top 100. But even more surprisingly, it’s the only appearance from the production team of Stock Aitken Waterman. According to Pete Burns, he came up with this song – both the group’s and SAW’s first UK number one – in an attempt to emulate Luther Vandross’ I Wanted Your Love and fuse it with Little Nell’s See You Round Like A Record.
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Maid of Orleans
Here’s something that couldn’t possibly be allowed to happen in the modern pop world of multi-national companies and brand differentiation. The subtitle of Maid Of Oreleans – OMD’s 1982 UK number-four hit – was The Waltz Joan Of Arc. Why? Because their previous single, a number-five hit in October 1981, was also called Joan Of Arc. Confusing, but as soon as you hear this you remember greatness.
One of two groups in our chart to appear – at least in the script – in Doctor Who (the other being Duran Duran), Ultravox’s Vienna is famous for only reaching number two on the UK chart. Held off the top by Joe Dolce’s Shaddap You Face (which, funnily enough, doesn’t get a placing here), it shares the honour of a number-two peak with The Stranglers’ Golden Brown (which missed out on number one thanks to The Jam’s Town Called Malice).
Furniture: Brilliant Mind
You wouldn’t think that this dark, almost gothic cult classic would have much in common with George Michael’s Careless Whisper but – factoid ahoy! – this, too, was written on a bus. But unlike George’s single, this never reached the mass market or the top of the UK charts. Instead, it’s spread by word of mouth, subtly creeping into more and more people’s iTunes libraries as the years go by. And with good reason.