Billboard Hot 100: March 26, 1983

Three hours of waiting for Duran Duran to perform on Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards felt like an eternity but the adrenaline rush of hearing “Hungry Like the Wolf” certainly made it worthwhile. Most successful bands have a few “required hits” that they play every show but something about this one never gets boring to me. Hell, it has only been 13,940 days since the song peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 and it still sounds fresh to me. I took a peek at the entire Hot 100 from that week when “Hungry Like the Wolf” peaked on the chart. It is an incredibly strong list of songs so I decided to spend some time exploring it. Here are some of the highlights:

Keeping Duran Duran away from the #1 slot were “Billie Jean” and Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” and that is fair. Both songs are iconic in their own right. For a science-fiction obsessed ten-year old, Styx’ “Mr. Roboto” is still a thrill but one I forgot was the equally intense “Twilight Zone” from Golden Earring. This video has held up well!

Just a few spots further down the chart, Greg Kihn Band was delivering more creepiness with “Jeopardy”. I’m fairly certain the video (along with Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”) helped shape my impression of marriage as a teen. I had to look up the church and it is still standing in San Francisco so that’s going on my MTV Bucket List. Speaking of video locations, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” was holding strong at #15 this week in 1983 and you can tour the locations for the video online here. The pool hall scenes are from the same bar where The Doors took pictures for their Morrison Hotel album cover. The name of the bar? Hard Rock Cafe. A restaurant chain borrowed the name a few years later and they are still selling burgers today.

Right behind Michael Jackson was “Der Kommissar” by After the Fire. I didn’t realize it was even a hit even though I loved the video (it has a spider in it). I thought Falco had more success with the same song but I am wrong. A string of MTV classics follow on the chart with “Stray Cat Strut” (Stray Cats), “Down Under” (Men At Work), “Poison Arrow” (ABC), and “Lies” (Thompson Twins) all in the top 30 on this week while “She Blinded Me With Science” (Thomas Dolby) was just behind at #31. That is a formidable run of MTV staples!

Entering the chart this week in 1983, David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”) and INXS (“One Thing”) are about to explode into popular culture over the coming year but there are plenty of songs I simply cannot remember such as Oxo’s “Whirly Girl”. It sounds like a classic New Wave tune but I honestly don’t recall ever seeing the video. Others, I loved more than I maybe should have but “Pass The Dutchie” (Musical Youth) and “Mexican Radio” (Wall of Voodoo) had such cool videos that I couldn’t resist.

Def Leppard’s “Photograph” inched up to #65 this week as the heavy metal tide started to creep into mainstream music. By November, Quiet Riot would have the #1 album with Metal Health and glam metal would replace New Wave as the music trend for the latter half of the decade with Poison, Motley Cure, and others riding high. But New Wave was still ruling the charts and minor bands like Steel Breeze were all the rage.

From Prince (“Little Red Corvette”) to Barry Manilow (“Some Kind of Friend”), Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” rose through an eclectic, diverse array of songs to almost top the Billboard 100 in March of 1983. It is a fascinating time to look at the charts as the proverbial changing of the guard is being played out right before your eyes. What strikes me most though is how many of the songs in the Hot 100 that week are still relevant in popular culture today. Bands like Journey and Duran Duran are still wowing audiences with these songs which sound as fresh today as they did back then.

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