Making Music History – 1984 in Music
We've spent so much time looking at the films that helped define a decade and are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, but since we are a radio station, maybe its a good idea to look at the music that turned 30 this year too.
Instead of focusing on a single song for this list, we're looking at albums that were released in 1984. Not just the most successful albums in terms of chart placement and units sold, but also albums from people that are still worth noting today. We have several debut albums to take a look at, as well as some of the biggest albums not only of the year, but also the decade, and even of all time.
Yes, we're starting our 1984 list with an album that was released in November of 1982, but you cannot talk about 1984 in music and not cover 'Thriller'. A mainstay on the Billboard charts since its release, 1984 was the year that the Guinness Book of World Records recognized 'Thriller' as the best selling album of all time, and went on to win eight American Music Awards, 3 MTV Video Music Awards, and a record-setting eight Grammys, including Album of the Year.
The sixth studio album for Van Halen, '1984' is not only the group's most successful album, but the last full-length album to feature all four original members with David Lee Roth leaving the band the following year and Michael Anthony leaving in 2005 before Roth rejoined in 2007. '1984' hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 behind 'Thriller' and remained there for five weeks, producing a #1 hit in 'Jump' and three other hit singles. Since its release it has regularly shown up on lists of decade-defining albums.
Notable Tracks: Apart from the Billboard Hot 100 #1 single 'Jump', Van Halen had two more Top 20 hits, 'Panama' and 'I'll Wait'. And their video for 'Hot For Teacher' became a hit in the early days of MTV.
Though not a standout hit, Bon Jovi's self-titled album is noteworthy for being the debut album of the wildly popular and long-lasting group. Peaking in the 40s in the Billboard Hot 100, 'Bon Jovi' ended up producing two top 50 singles, but much of the album's songs were abandoned in live performances two years later with the release of 'Slippery When Wet'.
Notable Tracks: 'Runaway' was the highest charting single from album, peaking at #39, and 'She Don't Know Me', trailing behind at #49.
The second studio album for Weird Al Yankovic, 'Weird Al Yankovic in 3D' saw the starting of two trends for Yankovic, parodying Michael Jackson and polka medleys of popular songs. The Jackson parody, 'Eat It' hit #12 on the BIllboard Hot 100 and remained Yankovic's best charting single until 2006's 'White & Nerdy'. The album reached an impressive #17 on the Billboard charts, had three Top 100 singles, and even won a Grammy for 'Eat It'.
1984 featured yet another debut album from a long-standing iconic group, this time the self-titled album from hip-hop legends Run-D.M.C. While hip-hop in the early 80s was known for light beats and lyrics, the increase of intensity and aggression by Run-D.M.C. lead to more popularity and exposure for hip-hop, branding the group as the pioneers of the modern hip-hop movement. The group's debut hit #53 on the Billboard Hot 100, but also ranked #14 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
Acting as the soundtrack to the film of the same name, 'This is Spinal Tap' became unique in the music world as both a soundtrack, a debut album, and an album for a fictional band (all songs actually being written, composed, and produced by the actors themselves). Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer would continue to play as Spinal Tap due to the success of the film and the popularity of the soundtrack, going on to make many live appearances on television shows like 'The Simpsons' (of which Harry Shearer is a regular cast member), 'The Tonight Show', and 'Saturday Night Live' (which all three members have been cast members of). The group would also go on to produce two more studio albums, the latest as recent as 2009.
In the early 80s, Slade was seeing a resurgence in popularity due to Quiet Riot's cover of their songs 'Cum On Feel The Noize' and 'Mama Weer All Crazy Now'. With 'Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply', Slade saw their most success in the states hitting #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and staying on the charts for over 4 months. Another reason worth noting Slade's contributions is the number of bands that have cited them as inspiration, including Nirvana, KISS, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Oasis, and Smashing Pumpkins.
Notable Tracks: Though most tracks from the album were met with acclaim, 'My Oh My' and 'Run Runaway' were the two breakout hits in the states, with 'Run Runaway' becoming the group's first true hit in the states and both singles cracking the Top 40.
The third studio album for Twisted Sister gained the group their two biggest hits and a load of controversy. When a congressional panel lead by then-Senator Al Gore was brought together to discuss censorship in music, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister was chosen as one of three artists to speak on behalf of the music industry, with Snider's hard-edged lyrics and presentation being used as examples by those pushing for censorship. Specifically, people accused the band's biggest hit, 'We're Not Gonna Take It', of being an anthem promoting the youth of America to disobey their parents and authority figures. Despite the criticism, the album became immensely popular and sold over 3 million copies.
Notable Tracks: Overall a beloved album by hard rock and heavy metal fans, 'We're Not Gonna Take It' and 'I Wanna Rock' went on to be the group's biggest hits, receiving constant airtime on radio and MTV.
Tina Turner's fifth solo album brought a multitude of hits, but also her most renowned single, for which her biopic was named for, 'What's Love Got To Do With It'. Turner was highly praised for the blending of intense emotion with a range of styles including pop and R&B. Almost the entire album ended up being released as singles on the radio, with five tracks making it into the Top 40, several in the Top 10, and 'What's Love Got To Do With It' hitting #1 and staying there for a few weeks. 'Private Dancer' went on to win 4 Grammy Awards in 1985.
Notable Tracks: 'What's Love Got To Do With It' hit #1, while 'Better Be Good To Me', 'Let's Stay Together', 'Show Some Respect', and 'Private Dancer' all hit high on the Billboard Hot 100. A cover of the Beatles hit 'Help' was primarily released on copies in the UK and became a chart topping hit overseas.
When considering music in the 80s, specifically hip-hop, the Fat Boys must be given their just due. Another debut album in 1984, the Fat Boys self-titled album was met with acclaim and performed respectably on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top Hip-Hop/R&B Albums, ranking #48 and #6 respectively. After the success of their debut, the Fat Boys went on to work with artists like The Beach Boys and Chubby Checker, recording the theme song for 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 4', and appearing in their own film 'Disorderlies'.
One of the biggest hits of the year and one of the most iconic albums of the decade, 'Born in the USA' is the album that successfully kept 'Thriller' out of the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100. Springsteen was praised for his shift in tone from his previous album, going from dark and gritty to passionate and hopeful, and finally breaking into wide-spread appeal and mainstream exposure. Springsteen went on a two-year world tour after the success of the album and tied Michael and Janet Jackson's record of seven Top 10 singles. The album would go on to hit platinum status 15 times over, selling 15 million copies.
Notable Tracks: Though having seven Top 10 singles, two have shined above the rest 30 years later, 'Born in the USA', which is regularly mistaken as a patriotic tune due to the chorus, and 'Dancing in the Dark', which featured a then-unknown Courtney Cox in the video.
Another soundtrack to a hit film, 'Purple Rain' surpassed the label of being a soundtrack and went on to mainstream success as a rock/pop album. Going platinum in its first week, it went on to sell 13 million units in America and a total of 20 million worldwide. Topping the Billboard Hot 100 for the remainder of the year, 'Purple Rain' is regularly considered second only to 'Thriller' as one of the best albums of the 1980s.
Notable Tracks: Though darn near impossible to find videos of on YouTube, 'Purple Rain' produced four Top 10 hits, including its title track, 'When Doves Cry', 'Let's Go Crazy', and 'I Would Die 4 U'.
Though not a huge success at the time, the self-titled debut of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was the first step in a long and impressive career for the group. Songs from the album have rarely been played live in the past 20 years, but the group set the tone of their energetic and fun-loving style with this album.
Notable Tracks: Only two tracks from their debut album made the rounds as singles, 'Real Men Don't Kill Coyotes' and 'Get Up and Jump', both of which were phased out of the groups live set in the early 90s.
The 12th studio album for KISS, 'Animalize' marked a time of success and transition for the band. 'Animalize' continued on with the success the band found by removing their make-up and changing their style, selling nearly 2 million albums. The band was in a state of flux at the time though, with Mark St. John replacing Vinnie Vincent earlier in the year and then being replaced himself by Bruce Kulick shortly after 'Animalize' was released. Also, this was the first album for the band not headed up by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons as a team, with Simmons taking time away to pursue acting.
Notable Tracks: Only 'Heaven's On Fire' ended up on the charts, barely breaking into the Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 and being the only song from the album to still be played by the band regularly today.
The second studio album for Madonna, she stepped up as a producer to have more creative control over the project, resulting in one of the most successful albums of all time, reaching #1 on the Billboard charts, selling over 21 million copies worldwide, and having several hits that Madonna is still known for and performs 30 years later.
Notable Tracks: The title track, 'Like a Virgin', not only served as a success for Madonna, but her offhand comment about it turning into a Weird Al parody resulted in another hit for Weird Al the following year. 'Material Girl' and 'Into The Groove' also gained world-wide success, with the former used as the inspiration for a movie starring Madonna.