Chart Week: April 10, 1982
Songs: “We Got the Beat” – The Go-Go’s; “I Love Rock ’n Roll” – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Chart Positions: #2, 11th week on the chart. Would spend three weeks at #2.
/#1, 10th week on the chart, fourth week at #1. Would spend seven weeks at #1.

A two-fer, as a tidbit I heard on this countdown connected with some trivia I had heard awhile back and was hoping to eventually write about.

1982 was a huge time for women in rock. Perhaps no moment was bigger than this point in April with Joan Jett was in the top spot with the Go-Go’s right behind her.

“I Love Rock ’n Roll” was the first song ever by a female-led band to reach #1 on the Billboard Top 40. Which seems crazy, right? It took us until 1982 for this to happen?!?! Well, some of that is just because of the silly ways we categorize music. Women had been hitting #1 for decades, but always while listed as solo artists, halves of duos, members of groups that didn’t play their own music, or as the lead singer of a band that was ostensibly “led” by a man. Joan Jett was the first woman ever who was not just the front-woman for a band, but was also the organizer, primary writer, and business leader of the band. The Blackhearts were her band, not some producer’s or record company exec’s assembled to back her up.

What a song to stake this claim. “I Love Rock ’n Roll” is big, bold, and unforgettable. Those opening drum beats, those massive guitars, and Jett’s growl all kick your ass from the start. She was presenting herself as the baddest woman in the world on this song. I think it worked. For seven weeks she held the #1 spot with what became one of the biggest songs of the decade.1 She’s still a badass today.

Behind Jett at #2 were the Go-Go’s, with their first big hit. They were blocked from reaching #1 by “I Love Rock ’n Roll” for three weeks before “We Got the Beat” began sliding back down the charts. While their single is also an undeniable classic of the ‘80s, the bigger news was their album, Beauty and the Beat. It was the first-ever album from an all-female group to crack the Billboard Hot 100 album chart. Which, again, seems insane. But as unique as Joan Jett was, the Go-Go’s were even more unique for the moment. A band made up entirely of women? Who made new-wave/rock music? And wrote and played it all themselves? That just wasn’t happening on a large scale yet.

Both of these tidbits seem strange nearly 40 years later, when whole swaths of the music industry are dominated by women who are doing their own thing and totally in control of their careers. It was a brave, new world in 1982 as times were just beginning to change.

This was kind of a wacky week that demonstrated the state of pop music in 1982. There were two theme songs on the charts: “Magnum P.I.” was at #36 and “Chariots of Fire” was at #3. There were two medleys on the charts: “Pop Goes the Movies (Part 1)” at #35 with “The Beatles Movie Medley” a slot ahead at #34. And there were two novelty songs: Bob and Doug McKenzie’s “Take Off” at 19 and Buckner and Garcia’s “Pac-Man Fever” at 11.

1. It is officially listed as Billboard’s #13 song of the 1980s.