Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 21

Chart Week: February 12, 1983
Song: “Down Under” – Men at Work
Chart Position: #1, 15th week on the chart. Spent four non-consecutive weeks at #1 in January and February.

If you’ve paid very close attention to my music posts over the years, you may recall that I kicked around a project in which I would find the best single weekly top 10 of the 1980s. A couple summers back I spent a few nights scrolling through top 10s and marking down my favorites as I watched Royals games. I still have that list but have never gotten around to diving into it.

This week would likely be on that list. It’s a monster, with some very 1980s outliers that bring it down.

At #10 was Phil Collins’ cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love,” which I have always loved, even when I grew to really dislike much of his music.

Number 9 was “Stray Cat Strut,” by The Stray Cats. A song I liked a lot back in the day, would be fine skipping over today, but can still acknowledge its place in 80s music history.

Number 8, “Rock the Casbah.” The peak of The Only Band That Matters’ biggest US hit.

Number 7, the first outlier: “You And I” by Eddie Rabbit and Crystal Gayle. Blech.

Number 6, “Maneater” by Hall and Oates. One of their biggest and best songs and a former #1.

At #5, Toto’s “Africa,” which slipped after spending one week at #1. Still a great song, even if you’re sick of Weezer’s version.

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s “Shame on the Moon” was at #4. Not his best, nor one I’m thrilled to hear.

Number 3, Marvin Gaye’s last hit, the legendary “Sexual Healing.”

At #2 was, RIP, James Ingram and Patti Austin’s lovely “Baby, Come To Me.” In a decade full of cheesy, duet ballads, this was one of the few truly great ones. It reached #1 a week later.

And then at #1 this week was “Down Under,” which spent three weeks at #1 the previous month, dropped behind “Africa” for a week, then reclaimed the top spot for one more week. Men at Work, and this song, seemed kitschy and silly at the time. But this song became one of the iconic songs of the decade.

So that’s a pretty good top 10, right? But it has me thinking I need to dive back into that list I made two summers ago. Because I know there are weeks better than this. In fact, many of those weeks came later in 1983, when Michael Jackson took over the charts.

One more thing…this is one of those shows I remember hearing back in 1983. How do I remember this one? Well, before playing “Down Under,” Casey shared a story of how their manager got CBS Australia to sign them. He put signs all over the CBS offices that said “Men At Work.” Fake constructions signs. Signs in hallways. He would glue phone receivers to their bases and slap a “Men at Work” sticker on them. That’s one of those details I’ve never forgotten, and I vividly remember sitting at our kitchen table on a (likely) cold early afternoon back in ’83 and hearing that anecdote for the first time.