Chart Week: November 3, 1984
Song: “Penny Lover” – Lionel Richie
Chart Position: #18, 5th week on the chart. Peaked at #8 for two weeks in December.
Usually these entries are about great songs, forgotten songs, or just songs that have some kind of special meaning to me. This week is a little different: this song was selected purely for interesting trivia reasons.
I’ve always considered very late 1982 through mid–1985 the peak of 1980s music. New Wave was at its height. Pop was insanely strong. The hair metal that would dominate the back half of the decade was ascending. There were a handful of strong r&b artists that were hitting the charts consistently. It was also the period that contained the biggest albums of the decade: Thriller, Purple Rain, Born in the USA, and Like a Virgin to name a few that probably come to mind quickest to most people.
Even for a music trivia fiend like myself, if you asked me to expand that list, I bet it would take me awhile to get to Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Once I got there I would probably smack my forehead at listing it so low; it was massive at the time, spinning off five singles, each of which hit the top ten, and two #1 songs. It, not Purple Rain or Born in the USA won the grammy for best album. In time it sold over 10 million copies and is the 18th best-selling album of the decade.
Why isn’t it remembered as well as those other albums from that time? Likely because Lionel’s music leaned more to adult contemporary than any of the other albums of that era, and thus hasn’t aged as well. And while “All Night Long” still gets played a lot, you really don’t hear the other songs from the album played in high rotation on 80s stations, where you’re likely to hear a handful of songs from Springsteen, Jackson, or Prince’s biggest albums.
There were two tremendous pieces of trivia surrounding Can’t Slow Down this week in 1984. With “Penny Lover,” the album became the first ever to have a single on the charts continuously for over 52 weeks. From when “All Night Long” cracked the Top 40 in October 1983 until “Penny Lover” fell off the chart in January 1985, there was no week without at least one Lionel Richie song in the countdown. I guessed Thriller when Casey Kasem teased this going into a commercial break.
Outrageous, as Lionel would say.
Another piece of trivia: “Stuck on You” became the first song to ever hit all four major charts: it hit #3 on the Hot 100, #1 on the adult contemporary chart, #8 on the black singles chart, and even peaked at #24 on the country chart.