Chart Week: February 16, 1980
Song: “We Don’t Talk Anymore” – Cliff Richard
Chart Position: #32, 18th week on the chart. Peaked at #7 for two weeks in January.
I’m guessing most, if not all, of my readers have no memory of Cliff Richard.
That’s kind of crazy, because he was one of the most popular singers in the world for a long, long time. He’s sold over 250 million records around the world in his prolific career. In the UK he had 14 number ones and a staggering 69 top 10 hits; only Elvis and the Beatles sold more records in Richard’s homeland. While his success was more modest in the US, Richard still racked up nine Top 40 hits here.
He spread out his American success pretty efficiently. As Casey noted in this countdown, Richard was the first artist to hit the US Top 40 in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. That came via one Top 40 hit in both the ‘50s and ’60s, two in the ‘70s – including this track which first hit in late 1979 – and then five more in 1980 and 1981 before he basically disappeared from American radio.
While his highest charting track in the US was 1975’s “Devil Woman,” which hit #6, this was his biggest international hit. It cracked the top ten on pretty much every pop chart around the world, and hit #1 in at least nine counties.
I’ve always loved it, from way back when I (likely) first heard it on KJAS in Jackson, MO. It has a groovy bass line. The synthesizers have a proto-New Wave quality to them. The chorus is catchy-as-hell. It’s hard not to get swept away by the track’s pleasant bounce.
When I was a kid, I mostly paid attention to the chorus and thought it was about a couple that were still together but had grown apart. Thus, I assumed was Richard singing about the realization that a relationship had changed. Maybe the couple was still traveling in the same direction, but they were doing so on different paths.
As I got older, I realized the entire song is more about him bemoaning the loss of a love that came about because of the choice of his lover.
Even with those two different views of the song, I’ve never completely understood what the title line means, “It’s so funny, how we don’t talk anymore.” I can’t decide if it’s a sarcastic statement, an incredulous statement, or a “Huh, that’s kind of weird,” statement.
I don’t think it helps that the song sounds so damn happy. Can Richard really be singing about heartbreak when the song makes you smile and want to bounce around?
I’m probably overanalyzing a song that was meant to be more pleasing to the ear than profound.
Besides, I’ve always been a melody-first guy, and this song is loaded with melody. Which is more than enough to make up for any lyrical inconsistencies or questions. This is pop music in its purest, most pleasing form. If Leo Sayer got a 7, this has to be an 8/10.
I will again share two videos for this track, because, as with Kansas, they are both amazing. The first is the official video, which for some strange reason was the sixth video aired on MTV. It is certainly something.
I’ll follow that up with a lip-synced performance from November 10, 1979 on the (West) German show Starparade. His outfit! His moves! The spinning with the camera! And the absolute stones to stand there, holding his index finger in the air over the intro as he prepares to sing. It’s as if he’s saying, “Yes, this is my song and it is number one!” For some reason I imagine him saying that with a German accent since he was on a German show, which makes it even more fun.
For comparison, Mariah Carey has had 19 number ones and only 28 Top 10 tracks in the US. ↩
His first UK number one came in 1959, his last in 1999. He hit #2 in 2006 and his final (as of now) Top 40 hit in the UK was in 2009. ↩
UK, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Finland, and Switzerland. ↩