Joan Jett & The Blackhearts posters; The Go-Gos; Hall & Oates book cover
1982 was the year that the "Second British Invasion" -- as opposed to the first, that had come fifteen years earlier with bands like The Beatles and The Stones in the vanguard -- began in earnest. Groups like ABC, Depeche Mode, The Human League, Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark and Spandau Ballet, to name but a very few, presented us with a New Pop sound that shattered the chart hegemony of mainstream pop-rock. Enthusiasm and innovation were the foundations of this new sound, and when blended with sophistication and technique, ensured chart success. In time, it would also bolster sagging record company sales, but this didn't happen overnight. (See below.) Clearly a change was taking place, and no one could deny it -- even though some tried to, and others deplored it -- not when The Go-Go's posted a six-week stay at the Number One spot with their album Beauty and the Beast and The Human League had what some dubbed the record of the year with "Don't You Want Me." Best of all, this commercial success hinged on creativity. It wasn't necessarily the kind of creativity that traditionalists preferred; at the same time that Human League was flaunting the fact that non-musicians could craft hits on synthesizers and drum machines, the Musicians Union of Central London was trying to ban those devices from both live and recorded performances. The blending of creativity and commercialism was perhaps best exemplified by a flood of remixes, 12" dance mixes, alternative mixes, and sleeve discussions. In short, New Pop crafted the best of electronic, rock, pop, new wave, disco and reggae, wrested the dance club scene away from soul artists -- who, with the exception of Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & The Gang and a few others, were content to recycle the same old, mass-appeal pablum -- and invigorated the teen market with a sound they could claim as their own.
That's not to say that American artists didn't make significant contributions to the ascendancy of New Pop. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts ("I Love Rock 'n' Roll"), The J. Geils Band ("Centerfold"), Hall & Oates ("Private Eyes" and "I Can't Go For That") and The Go-Go's ("Our Lips Are Sealed") proved this to be true. One criticism of New Pop was that while the music was exciting, different and eminently danceable, it didn't always have a lot to say. If anything, the message was in the groove, not in the lyrics. And New Pop took the rebel out of music; these people weren't interesting in the the dubious glory accorded starving artists. Music critic Steve Taylor perhaps described it best. "Now the rhetoric ran," said Taylor, "that these young pop turks were engaged in some higher subversion, nouveau-riche diatribes against the prehistoric music industry." Allan Jones called Taylor's turks something else; "Virtually unanimously," he wrote, "the new pop tarts are neatly turned, clean and tidy; mostly polished, they've never been ruffled. They don't look like they've had a bad night in their lives. They look like their music sounds: like boxes of cutlery, gleaming but heartless, sparkling but cold."
In America, country music became increasingly accepted into mainstream pop, thanks to the slick sophistication born of the '70's Nashville Sound that made Eddie Rabbitt and Kenny Rogers quite compatible with Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond. A Country Music Association's 1982 survey found that nearly half of the radio stations in the U.S. were programming country music, with full-time country outlets numbering 2,133 up from 525 in 1971.Baby boomers, it seemed, were turning to country thanks to crossover hits like Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," The Oak Ridge Boys' "Elvira," and the country-rock discography of the 70s superband, The Eagles. The most popular country group this year was Alabama, while Juice Newton reigned as Queen of Country -- except in the opinion of Barbara Mandrell fans. Reggae could not seem to recover from the untimely death of Bob Marley -- no one else seemed capable of insinuating the music into white suburbia. Rock was still dominated by faceless mainstream bands -- Foreigner, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Asia; Time's February article "Rock Hits the Hard Place" illustrated just how bland and message-less many critics found their work. 1982 could also be touted as The Year of the Australians; Men At Work, Air Supply, Rick Springfield and The Little River Band all had hit singles. Meanwhile, Indiana-born John Cougar Mellencamp had the bestselling album of the year with American Fool and won a Grammy as Best Male Rock Performer.
Business-wise, record companies continued to suffer -- and they blamed the blank tape. The Record Industry Association of America estimated that nearly 500 million albums were taped by consumers who borrowed the platters from friends. And the British Phonographic Industry indicated that album sales were down 21%; once again home taping was fingered as the culprit. The U.S. Congress considered an amendment that if enacted would require manufacturers of blank tapes and recording equipment to pay royalties. The end result of all this copying: the labels had less profits to turn into signing and marketing new talent, and so relied on tried-and-true acts that bored the younger music lovers -- the ones who spent the largest percentage of their discretionary cash on albums. A vicious cycle, indeed. But for Atlantic, Capitol, CBS, Elektra Asylum and Warner Bros. had to cut back their staff severely. Record World, the American trade magazine founded in 1964, filed bankruptcy in New York federal court in April, leaving only two "trades" still standing -- Billboard and Cashbox. But all of this was going to change as the '80s rolled on.
Notable Events of the Year
Liverpool honored its favorite sons by naming local streets after them: John Lennon Drive, Paul McCartney Way, George Harrison Close and Ringo Starr Drive began to appear on maps.
Two people were killed -- one shot, one stabbed -- at a Peter Frampton concert in Hermann Park (Houston, TX). Another was seriously wounded in a knifing.
The BBC got permission from the government to begin broadcasting television programs on a second satellite channel beginning in 1986.
The Who's "final tour," with 39 dates, grossed $23 million, making it the top money-making tour of the year.
Deaths: American jazz great Thelonious Monk, age 64; Murray Kaufman, the self-proclaimed "5th Beatle" and New York disc jockey, of cancer at age 60; American rock journalist Lester Bangs, 33; James Honeyman Scott, Pretenders guitarist, 25; Marty Robbins, country & western superstar, of a heart attack at age 57.
IMAGE: Ticket to Billy Idol performance, New York City, August 1982
Top Ten Singles
1. "Physical," Olivia Newton-John
2. "Waiting For A Girl Like You," Foreigner
3. "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)," Daryl Hall & John Oates
4. "Let's Groove," Earth, Wind & Fire
5. "Harden My Heart," Quarterflash
6. "Centerfold," J. Geils Band
7. "Leather and Lace," Stevie Nicks
8. "Turn Your Love Around," George Benson
9. "The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known)," Juice Newton
10. "Trouble," Lindsey Buckingham
1. "Centerfold," J. Geils Band
2. "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)," Daryl Hall & John Oates 3."Harden My Heart," Quarterflash
4. "Shake It Up," Cars
5. "Open Arms," Journey
6. "The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known)," Juice Newton
7. "Sweet Dreams," Air Supply
8. "Physical," Olivia Newton-John
9. "Turn Your Love Around," George Benson
10. "Leader Of The Band," Dan Fogelberg
1. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
2. "Open Arms," Journey
3. "Centerfold," J. Geils Band
4. "That Girl," Stevie Wonder
5. "Sweet Dreams," Air Supply
6. "We Got The Beat," Go-Go's
7. "Shake It Up," Cars
8. "Mirror Mirror," Diana Ross
9. "Pac-Man Fever," Buckner & Garcia
10. "Make A Move On Me," Olivia Newton-John
1. ""I Love Rock 'n' Roll," Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
2. "We Got The Beat," Go-Go's
3."Chariots Of Fire," Vangelis
4. "Freeze-Frame," J. Geils Band
5. "Don't Talk To Strangers," Rick Springfield
6. "Make A Move On Me," Olivia Newton-John
7. "Key Largo," Bertie Higgins
8. "Do You Believe In Love," Huey Lewis & The News
9. "Open Arms," Journey
10. "That Girl," Stevie Wonder
1. "Ebony And Ivory," Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder
2. "Don't Talk To Strangers," Rick Springfield
3. "867-5309/Jenny," Tommy Tutone
4."I've Never Been To Me," Charlene
5. Chariots Of Fire," Vangelis
6. "'65 Love Affair," Paul Davis
7. "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
8. "The Other Woman," Ray Parker, Jr.
9. "Did It In A Minute," Daryl Hall & John Oates
10. "Freeze-Frame," J. Geils Band
1. "Ebony and Ivory," Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder
2. "Don't You Want Me," Human League
3. "Always On My Mind," Willie Nelson
4. "Rosanna," Toto
5. "The Other Woman," Ray Parker, Jr.
6. "Heat Of The Moment," Asia
7. "Crimson And Clover," Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
8. "Don't Talk To Strangers," Rick Springfield
9. "It's Gonna Take A Miracle," Deniece Williams
10. "867-5309/Jenny," Tommy Tutone
1. "Rosanna," Toto
2. "Don't You Want Me," Human League
3. "Hurts So Good," John Cougar
4. "Eye Of The Tiger," Survivor
5. "Let It Whip," Dazz Band
6. "Hold Me," Fleetwood Mac
7. "Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me," Juice Newton
8. "Tainted Love," Soft Cell
9. "Only The Lonely," Motels
10. "Abracadabra," Steve Miller Band
1. "Eye Of The Tiger," Survivor
2. "Hurt's So Good," John Cougar
3. "Abracadabra," Steve Miller Band
4. "Hold Me," Fleetwood Mac
5. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry," Chicago
6. "Even The Nights Are Better," Air Supply
7. "Keep The Fire Burnin'," REO Speedwagon
8. "Vacation," Go-Go's
9. "Wasted On The Way," Crosby, Stills & Nash
10. "Take It Away," Paul McCartney
1. "Abracadabra," Steve Miller Band
2. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry," Chicago
3. "Eye Of The Tiger," Survivor
4. "Jack & Diane," John Cougar
5. "You Should Hear How She Talks About You," Melissa Manchester 6. "Hurts So Good," John Cougar
7. "Even The Nights Are Better," Air Supply
8. "Hold Me," Fleetwood Mac
9. "Take It Away," Paul McCartney
10. "Eye In The Sky," Alan Parsons Project
1. "Jack & Diane," John Cougar
2. "Who Can It Be Now?," Men At Work
3. "Eye In The Sky," Alan Parsons Project
4. "I Keep Forgettin'," Michael McDonald
5. "Somebody's Baby," Jackson Browne
6. "Abracadabra," Steve Miller Band
7. "You Can Do Magic," America
8. "Heart Attack," Olivia Newton-John
9. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry," Chicago
10. "I Ran (So Far Away)," Flock Of Seagulls
1. "Up Where We Belong," Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes
2. "Heart Attack," Olivia Newton-John
3. "Truly," Lionel Richie
4. "Gloria," Laura Branigan
5. "Heartlight," Neil Diamond
6. "Who Can It Be Now?," Men At Work
7. "Jack & Diane," John Cougar
8. "Muscles," Diana Ross
9. "Mickey," Toni Basil
10. "Maneater," Daryl Hall & John Oates
1. "Mickey," Toni Basil
2. "Maneater," Daryl Hall & John Oates
3. "Gloria," Laura Branigan
4. "Truly," Lionel Richie
5. "The Girl Is Mine," Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson
6. "Steppin' Out," Joe Jackson
7. "Dirty Laundry," Don Henley
8. "Sexual Healing," Marvin Gaye
9. "Rock This Town," Stray Cats
10. "It's Raining Again," Supertramp
merican Fool, John Cougar (Mellencamp); Human League's Dare;
Physical, Olivia Newton-John
Albums of the Year
Imperial Ballroom, Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Columbia)
Costello's seventh album in six years, this one followed in the wake of Almost Blue, a disappointing collection of country covers. Columbia touted Imperial Ballroom as a masterpiece, and while it failed to produce any singles, the album has become the favorite of many Elvis fans and fawning critics. It stands as the high watermark of Costello's career, and stands as proof positive that Elvis is one of the most inventive songwriters in rock.
Marshall Crenshaw, Marshall Crenshaw (Warner)
For years Crenshaw starred at John Lennon in the musical Beatlemania, but as the decade of the '80s opened he quit that lucrative job, determined to make his own music. The end result was a debut album that critics loved; Rolling Stone called it "an alternately rousing and heartbreaking cycle of infectious pop rockers." Inspired by such diverse influences as Buddy Holly and The Squeeze, Crenshaw crafted perhaps the best pop rock album of the year. (The single "Someday, Someway" was a Top 40 hit.)
Freeze Frame, J. Geils Band (EMI)
Though they had been around since 1967, the boys in J. Geils Band had never had a Top Ten hit -- until "Centerfold" reached #1 in February 1982. The single spent six weeks at the top spot, while it's parent album, Freeze Frame, lingered for four weeks at the top, too. Critics lamented that the boys had strayed from its R&B roots for a more commercially-viable rock sound, but as front man Peter Wolf told an interviewer, the band's goal was simply to "make a good rock 'n' roll record." That they did In '83 Wolf would leave to try his luck with solo projects, and the band would never again achieve the success they enjoyed -- and so richly deserved -- with Freeze Frame.
Private Eyes, Daryl Hall & John Oates (RCA)
The product of 100 sessions over a four-month period at Electric Lady Studios, Private Eyes -- the duo's ninth album (and first Top Ten platter) -- was released in late 1981 and became one of the biggest albums of 1982, with two #1 singles, "Private Eyes" and "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)." Private Eyes represents the perfection of the Hall & Oates sound -- a blend of rock 'n' roll, R&B and modern dance rhythms -- that would make the duo one of the hottest acts during the first half of the 1980s and win them the American Music Award's Favorite Band, Duo or Group (Pop/Rock) trophy.
Dare, Human League (A&M)
At first critics were skeptical of this British band who were unabashed in their goal of substituting technology for their lack of skill with musical instruments, but Dare -- with its big hit "Don't You Want Me" -- proved that listeners were amenable to synth pop, and sold five million copies in the process. In a sense, then, Human League paved the way for countless other "new pop" bands (mostly British) that would find fame and fortune in the mid-Eighties. This was the third album for Phil Oakley & Co.; the first two -- Reproduction (1979) and Travelogue (1980 -- had been UK-only releases, and it featured a new lineup for the band following the departure of founding members Ian Marsh and Martyn Ware.
I Love Rock 'n' Roll, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (Boardwalk)
While Joan Jett was with the Seventies all-girl band The Runaways, she heard "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by The Arrows, and loved it. But she couldn't get her fellow Runaways to agree to record the song. When the group broke up, Joan formed The Blackhearts, and the anthemic "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" became her first single. It was a big one, too, staying at US#1 for seven weeks, despite the fact that New Wave radio stations thought it was too rock and rock stations thought it was too punk. The album by the same name reached US#2, and was perhaps the best pure rock records of the year.
American Fool, John Cougar [Mellencamp] (Riva)
When Riva signed "Johnny Cougar," owner Billy Gaff described his new artist as the "next Bruce Springsteen." With American Fool, the Indiana-born Mellencamp proved that he could infuse poignant stories from America's Heartland with an infectious, rockin' beat and find commercial as well as critical success. Future albums -- Uh-Huh (1983), Scarecrow (1985) and The Lonesome Jubilee (1987) were all classics that even The Boss could be proud of, and Mellencamp would score over 20 singles in the Hot 100. American Fool, selling over five million copies, was crowned by Billboard as the biggest-selling album of the year, and produced the artist's only #1 hit, "Jack and Diane," along with another Top Ten tune, "Hurts So Good." It was a harbinger of great things to come from one of the decade's most important songwriters.
Business As Usual, Men At Work (Columbia)
The house band for a Melbourne, Australia club called Cricketer's Arms, Men At Work were discovered by CBS exec Peter Karpin. Their first single, "Who Can It Be Now" (written, as were all their other hits, by lead singer Colin Hay), reached US#1, as did "Down Under," while the parent album, Business As Usual, not only spent 15 weeks at the top of the US album charts -- a record broken by Michael Jackson's Thriller -- but also topped the UK and Australia charts as well. It was a truly meteoric rise for a talented group of musicians who'd been paid $10 a week only a couple of years before -- and while Men At Work would remain popular throughout the Eighties, Business as Usual remains their best work.
Physical, Olivia Newton-John (MCA)
Olivia summarily dispensed with her "girl-next-door" image with this album, released in December 1981 -- a platter that produced several Top Ten hits including "Make A Move On Me" (US#5), "Heart Attack" (US#3) and "Physical." The latter remained at the #1 spot on the Top 100 chart for ten weeks starting in November 1981, a record beaten only by Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" (11 weeks, 1956). Billboard designated "Physical" the #1 single of 1982, a feat all the more notable since the suggestive lyrics shocked some radio programmers so much that they banned or censored the song. "Physical" also became a staple of aerobic exercise sets. The album proved to be the commercial high point of Olivia's musical career
Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen (Columbia)
On January 3, 1982, Springsteen sat down in his New Jersey bedroom with an acoustic guitar on his knee and sang a dozen songs into a four-track tape recorder. They were bleak and brilliant musical portraits of an America of shattered dreams and dark, desperate times -- and proved more hauntingly authentic without E Street Band accompaniment. It was a risky venture for an artist poised at the brink of superstardom following 1980's The River, with its hit single "Hungry Heart," but Springsteen didn't let such considerations prevent him from singing his conscience. The superstardom would come later, with Born In The USA (1984).