Band Aid

1984 Christmas Top 40

1984 was the high water mark for ’80s pop. Duran Duran, Wham!, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet and Frankie Goes To Hollywood dominated the chart. If only all these amazing acts could come together to record one enormous hit single together, what a record that would be. What a shame that could never happen… but wait! It did!

The full top 100 for this week can be found on the Official Charts Company site.

Party Starters

As we reach the halfway point in the decade, most of the main stars of the era are here: Madonna’s first enormohit Like a Virgin is at 5, Duran Duran’s Wild Boys is at 31 and Wham!’s Freedom re-enters the top forty at 39. As the movie hits the cinemas, Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters is on its way back up the chart at number 7, while from an entirely different movie Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty Four) by Eurythmics is at 17. With Chaka Khan’s former number 1 I Feel For You still hanging on at number 25, Grandmaster Melle Mel revisits his opening rap in his own hit Step Off at 35, one place above The Dazz Band with their prototype house hit Let It All Blow at 34. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Kool & The Gang; their fifth consecutive Christmas hit Fresh is at 13. It also wouldn’t be Christmas without Black Lace, sadly, as they follow up their massive summer hit Agadoo with Do the Conga at number 14; and following last year’s success with My Oh My it seems it wouldn’t be Christmas without Slade either, their naggingly similar All Join Hands is preforming much worse than last year at number 27.

Party Poopers

It’s the battle of the power ballads as Chicago (dropping to 34 with Hard Habit to Break) take on Foreigner at 11 (and on their way to number 1 next year) with I Want To Know What Love Is. Having been number 1 back in August, Stevie Wonder is still annoying all his fans with the anodyne I Just Called To Say I Love You climbing back up 13 tedious places to 21. Perhaps oddest of all is Bronski Beat – never ones to shy away from controversy – at number 30 with It Ain’t Necessarily So, a George & Ira Gershwin song which expresses doubt at “the things that you’re liable to read in the Bible”. Odd then that that clarinet on the track was played by Richard Coles, who went on to become a Church of England priest, via a spell as the keyboard player in the Communards.

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It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaas!!!

It’s easily the Christmassiest chart of the decade, if not of all time, with six definite Christmas songs in the top forty plus one which has become a Christmas song by default. Queen’s actually-quite-clever-if-you-think-about-it Thank God It’s Christmas is already on its way down at 32, being outsold by Alvin Stardust who has had a blinder of a year. Having scored two consecutive top ten hits for the first time since 1974 (I Feel Like Buddy Holly and I Won’t Run Away both reached number 7, the latter is still at number 18), his festive offering So Near to Christmas is at 29. Another glam rocker having a surprisingly good year is Gary Glitter – there, I’ve said it. His second hit of the year Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas is at number 8. As the apparent glam rock revival continues there’s surprisingly no sign of Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody, but in its stead Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday is at 23. Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s third number one from three attempts The Power of Love is absolutely not a Christmas song but continues to be thought of as such to this day, largely due to its nativity-based video – it’s down to number 6 this week. A bona fide festive classic making its début this year is Wham!’s Last Christmas, a monument to bad timing as it sold in astonishing quantities but still only made it to number 2, thanks to… well, we’ll come to the number 1 in a bit.

Novelty Island

Lots of disparate acts coming together to record a single with proceeds going to charity? There’s a novelty… or not, as Paul Weller’s Council Collective support the striking miners with Soul Deep at 24. Another “novelty” record with a serious message is Police Officer by Smiley Culture at number 40, now deeply ironic following his death in a police raid in 2011. The obvious winners though are Sunderland’s Toy Dolls, whose punked-up version of Nellie the Elephant, originally released two years earlier, finally makes it to number 4. Although we’ve already mentioned Gary Glitter, we’ll ignore We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus at number 3 on grounds of decency.

Related:  Off The Chart: 17 November 1984

The number 1

In the middle of a five week run at number 1 is the biggest-selling single of the ’80s, which only came about because Bob Geldof happened to be watching television. The Boomtown Rats’ singer was shocked by scenes of famine in Ethiopia, broadcast by the BBC in October 1984, and was determined to do something to help. With his friend Midge Ure he wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas and set about recruiting as many stars as possible to record it. With acts as diverse as U2, Bananarama, Status Quo and Kool & The Gang in tow, the congregation – now christened Band Aid – recorded the single on November 25th. It became the UK’s fastest selling of all time, entering the chart at number one and going on to sell over three million copies, making it the biggest-selling single in UK history up to that point, a title it held for almost 13 years until it was finally usurped by Elton John’s Candle In The Wind 1997. The single was also a major US hit, even though Christmas was long gone by the time it could be released in the States, and raised over £8 million for famine relief.

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One comment on “1984 Christmas Top 40

  1. Except this chart wasn’t regarded as the Xmas chart at the time, it was the previous week. Let me explain. This was the first year a chart had been published between Christmas and New Year but was totally ignored by Radio 1. Although it was published in Record Mirror a few weeks later (to mine and many people’s surprise) the station jumped from the chart w/e 22 Dec 84 (played by Richard Skinner on Sunday 23rd) to the chart w/e 5 Jan 85 (played by Skinner the following day) and used all the “last week” positions from a fortnight previously. This chart, while counting in the overall statistics, wasn’t played anywhere on the BBC.

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