The Best Hit Songs of 1984

Yesterday, I brought out the bottom of the barrel for the year of my birth, so it’s only right to spotlight the best songs that 1984 had to offer. As a quick refresher for this series, I’m listening to the year-end Billboard Hot 100, giving every song a score, tallying those up and writing about the best and the worst. No one set the office on fire over the worst, so I’m back to do the best.

Honorable Mention: Michael Jackson – Thriller – Year-End: #78, Peak: #4
When I’ve got a tie around the #10 spot, I’ll add in an honorable mention or two so here’s this year’s. I don’t know if this song gets the respect it deserves because of the album it came from and the other chartbusting hits that preceded it. Plus, I think more people think of the music video for the track than the actual track itself. I don’t think that’s fair as the song itself is a great piece of sound theater, telling a story through lyrics and sound effects. And c’mon, Vincent friggin’ Price.

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The Worst Hit Songs of 1984

Since I’ve been tasked to be the site’s judge of new pop music, I thought it would be interesting to look to the past in-between weeks when I’m looking at the present. With that in mind, I foolishly gave myself the project of covering the years that we’ve collectively been alive (1982-2019) and today we start with the landmark year 1984. The world gathered in Sarajevo for the Winter Olympics, Ghostbusters hit theaters, Reagan was gonna start the bombing in five minutes and I was born. Big year.

This is briefly the nuts and bolts of how this series will go. I’ll take the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 chart, listen to each song, give them arbitrary scores and then write about the top and bottom ten on my list. There’s almost certain to be a song in the worst list that’s one of your favorites. I can guarantee you’ll question my sanity with one of the entries on the best list and that’s the point of all of this. I’m certain Jeremy and Zack will throw verbal rocks at me on the next podcast.

One of the hardest parts of looking back at songs this old is the nostalgia factor, which is probably where most disagreements will start. Looking up and down this year’s list I see a ton of songs I heard all the time growing up. We were a pop household and I’m pretty sure early Chicago was the “most rock and roll” my parents record collection got at the time. It was tough to look at many of these songs with a critical eye, but here’s the best go that I could give. Without further ado, I give you the ten worst hit songs of 1984.

10. Lionel Richie – “All Night Long (All Night)” – Year-End: #12, Peak: #1
The first single from Can’t Slow Down, this “party” track was released in October 1983, but peaked on the charts later that winter and hung around until the spring of ’84. Centered around a light yet infection rhythm and a breakdown full of nonsense lyrics that were intended to be another language (Richie admitted he didn’t have time to hire a translator like he wanted), it’s been hailed as a fun party song. I was confused that this mid-tempo meh track passed for a party anthem in the early 80’s, but then I remembered cocaine and it all made sense. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of all of the traits that this song is hailed for to justify it’s position in the 80’s music pantheon.

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