Remember back in January I noticed what a lousy year 1980 was in terms of UK number one hit singles. I was wondering today, whilst watching the Olympics, in what year music became good. So I went on to the Internets and looked up 1981.
What do we see? Well, it was a year which was a little like the curate's egg (good in parts).
John Lennon "Imagine" 10 January 1981
Number one soley because he got shot by Mark Chapman the previous month, conclusively disproving the saying 'life begins at forty'.
John Lennon "Woman" 7 February 1981
At least Imagine was a good song, this one is a bit more problematic as it was written about Yoko. Still, Lennon was an important and talented musician whose main failing was allowing Ringo to join the band.
And was way better than Mick Jagger.
Joe Dolce Music Theatre "Shaddap You Face" 21 February 1981
Dreadful, but best remembered as the song which kept Ultravox's Vienna off the number one slot in the UK. It could have been worse, Andrew Sachs nicked Joe Dolce's idea prior to release and did a version as Manuel (from Fawlty Towers). A small lawsuit ensued and Joe (rightly) won.
Thank you lucky stars for small mercies.
Roxy Music "Jealous Guy" 14 March 1981
'A Tribute' Pah. A cash in more like. No Eno, no good.
Shakin' Stevens "This Ole House" 28 March 1981
This become number one the day I became a teenager. You can imagine my horror.
Bucks Fizz "Making Your Mind Up" 18 April 1981
Hey, you may mock, but they pulled off girl's skirts and won bloody Eurovision. A bit of a classic really and not nearly as bad as their later singles. Best sung in the style of Bob Dylan (try it).
Adam and the Ants "Stand and Deliver" 9 May 1981
Now you are talking. A great video, great song and Adam as the dandy highwayman. Great song, well executed.
Smokey Robinson "Being with You" 13 June 1981
I had to look this up, I remember it but it didn't really impinge on my consciousness the way Adam Ant did.
Michael Jackson "One Day In Your Life" 27 June 1981
I never really 'got' Michael Jackson. I have no opinion on this vaguely mawkish offering. I have plenty of opinions of Michael Jackson though.
Bloody awesome. The summer of 1981 was marked by race riots, protest over unemployment and violence in Northern Ireland. The UK was in the clutches of a Conservative Government that had no empathy with many of it's people.This song summed it all up. A brilliant peice of social commentary disguised as a pop song.
Plus it appeared in Father Ted.
Shakin' Stevens "Green Door" 1 August 1981
Oh dear. Who the hell bought this? I want to find them all and fine them retrospectively. The original was bad but this is just inexcusable.
Aneka "Japanese Boy" 29 August 1981
This song was played at every nightclub, disco and party from 1981 until the mid 1990s by my reckoning, and rightly so. A great cover of a great song, Marc Almond delivers a seedy, almost proto-goth ambiance to this electropop anthem.
Adam and the Ants "Prince Charming" 19 September 1981
Good Lord! Things are looking up. Great song, great video with Diana Dors as a fairy god-mother and Lulu of all people as a damsel in distress.
My only observation would be that it turns out that ridicule is something to be scared of, especially if you have a very public breakdown and get arrested for it.
Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin "It's My Party" 17 October 1981
More electro-pop. This time a simple cover of an 1963 Lesley Gore song. I really like it.
The Police "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" 14 November 1981
Past their peak but still deleivering stonking songs. Again, memorable for being good.
Queen and David Bowie "Under Pressure" 21 November 1981
What do you get if you combine two of the world's greatest front men? This.. A great bass line combined with a less memorable song. Vanilla Ice and Jedward did it better.
Julio Iglesias "Begin The Beguine (Volver A Empezar)" 5 December 1981
How did this get in here? Not good, not good at all.
Sheer electronic bliss.
So there we have it. I'd have to say that compared to the previous year, 1981 was a positive triumph.