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Chart Week: January 30, 1982
Song: “Waiting for a Girl Like You” – Foreigner
Chart Position: #2, 17th week on the chart. Spent 10 weeks at #2.

Chart geeks like me love the little tidbits that give the history of the charts added context. Highest debut, most hits by one artist in the top ten, biggest drop from #1, etc. I love all that shit.

In late 1981 and early 1982, Foreigner became one of the unluckiest bands in the history of the chart.

When the calendar flipped to 1982, there was a juggernaut topping the charts. Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” was in its 8th week at #1. It would remain there through the week of January 23, a nice, round ten weeks in the top spot. “Physical” took over the top spot the week of November 21, 1981. A week later, Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” slid past Hall & Oates’ former #1 “Private Eyes” into the #2 spot. It was a massive song, made for slow skates at roller rinks and probably for teenagers necking to in their cars. Because that’s what teenagers did in 1981, right? I was 10; I have no idea.[1] It seemed inevitable that it would ascend to the chart’s top position.

“Waiting for a Girl Like You” stayed in the #2 spot for all of December. And all of January. When “Physical” finally fell to #4 the week of January 28, 1982, it wasn’t Foreigner who took over the top spot, but Hall & Oates with “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).” After that final week at #2, “Waiting” began losing steam. When “Centerfold” knocked Hall & Oates from the top spot a week later, Foreigner fell to #3. Three weeks later, like a balloon losing all its air, the song was out of the Top 40.

That ten week run at #2 without ever hitting #1 set a Billboard record that still stands. Missy Elliott tied it in 2002–03 with “Work It.” But the modern charts make no sense so I still call Foreigner the true hard luck champions.

Foreigner eventually reached #1 with another mega ballad, “I Want to Know What Love Is.” It spent two weeks at #1, keeping the far superior “Easy Lover” out of the top spot.

By the way, Thomas Dolby played the unforgettable synth lines that anchored “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” He never hit #1 either.

As I scrolled through the 1982 charts, I noticed that there were a lot of huge #1 hits in the front half of the year. I define huge as spending five weeks or more at the top of the charts.

First there was “Physical,” and its 10 week reign. When “Centerfold” took over, it held the top spot for six weeks. “I Love Rock ’N Roll” was then #1 for seven weeks. After “Chariots of Fire” was #1 for a week, “Ebony and Ivory” held it down for seven weeks. “Don’t You Want Me” was #1 for three weeks, followed by “Eye of the Tiger” for six weeks. Finally things calmed down, with only “Jack & Diane” spending more than three weeks at #1 in the back half of the year.

I spent an evening looking through all the 1980s charts while L had soccer practice. 1982’s four songs with five or more weeks in the top spot – five if you count “Physical”’s 1981 weeks – was a record for the decade. In fact, no year from 1985–1989 had even a single song that spent five weeks at #1.

That shit changed when streaming was finally recognized.

Again, the miscellany that probably only interests us chart geeks.

  1. It was not on the Footloose soundtrack but was featured as the slow dance song when Ren takes his friends to the club across the state line to dance and drink.  ↩