Pop Top 40: Top [Album Rock] Tracks for the Week Ending December 25, 1982

On the cusp of ‘83, AOR grapples with New Wave in real time

Chrissie Hynde in the video for The Pretenders’ “Back On The Chain Gang” (Image: Vevo)

As Album Oriented Rock (AOR) radio moved to a much more singles-based format in the late ‘70s and especially early ‘80s, it had to figure out how to approach what some programmers simply called “new music.”

That term initially encompassed the likes of post-punk and pub-rockers from the Cure to Elvis Costello, but eventually meant more specifically new wave and new wave-adjacent music – which includes the likes of artists we hear as incredibly mainstream today, such as the Fixx and Men at Work, not to mention New Romantics like Duran Duran. All three of those artists, and several more, are present and accounted for on this chart from the end of 1982.

Plenty of the format’s warhorses were here, too, though: Petty, Benatar, and Zeppelin, to name just three. It made for an interesting melange. (Pre-computerized chart data, Billboard’s charts were frozen for the final week of each year, so this chart also applied for the week ending January 1, 1983, making it 40 years old this week.)

[this week, last week, weeks on chart, title, artist]

1 2 (10) DOWN UNDER – Men at Work (1 week at #1) – It’s a ridiculous novelty record, and it’s always been a ridiculous novelty record. I’m not a fan of “Down Under,” and have never fully understood how Men at Work made such a splash in the U.S.: an absurd 15 weeks at #1 for their debut Business as Usual (it was in its seventh week atop the album chart at this very moment), two #1 pop singles, and a Best New Artist Grammy to boot. [This was “Down Under”’s second spell atop the chart; it previously spent two weeks at #1 before getting knocked off by the record immediately below it; it ruled the roost for 5 weeks total.]

2 1 (7) YOU GOT LUCKY – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Petty’s Long After Dark was predictably an immediate AOR smash, topping the Rock Albums chart in its third chart week; lead single “You Got Lucky” got there in its fourth. Pound for pound, this is one of my favorite Petty singles, a sharp stick of a record featuring some searing guitar work from Mike Campbell that always sounded most fascinating to preteen me after dark (pun unintended). It’s almost spooky. [Three weeks hence, this returned for a final week at #1.]


VIDEO: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “You Got Lucky”

3 6 (6) TWILIGHT ZONE – Golden Earring – Prog wasn’t dead yet. Sadly. [In February, this notched one week at #1.]

4 8 (3) DARLENE – Led Zeppelin – From the posthumous odds-and-ends comp Coda (see Lee Zimmerman’s thoughts on its 40th anniversary for RNRG). This one’s an outtake from 1978’s In Through the Out Door, a surprisingly rollicking barroom-ish time (complete with appropriately boogie-woogie piano and a very bluesy, almost strained vocal from Robert Plant). Unknown to me before writing this, and quite solid. 

5 4 (12) ON THE LOOSE – Saga – This is precisely how you add prog flourishes to a solid rock song and make it kinda great. That opening keyboard trill always excites me, and Michael Sadler’s vocal has just the right amount of keening urgency to it.


VIDEO: Saga “On The Loose”

6 5 (6) I DO – The J. Geils Band – Devotees (do they still exist?) insist that they were a great live band in their prime. Well, this is a live recording, and I don’t hear it. The ultimate example of a bar band who got lucky.

7 11 (5) STAND OR FALL – The Fixx – This is another one that I loved even more after dark: the chiming guitar, that loping bassline, those eerie keyboard washes, just sounded different. It also fascinates me that the place where I first learned The Fixx, very much a New Wavish band early on, was AOR radio – and I can assure you that Indianapolis’s Q95 (then one of the midwest’s biggest AOR blowtorches; now just another corporate “classic rock” outlet) was spinning them plenty. 

8 7 (4) GOODY TWO SHOES – Adam Ant – re AOR grappling with new wave, that goes about quadruple here. The idea of this, with its pounding, Bogdan Wiczling-played tribal drums and Ant’s pure snark vocal, rubbing up against classic rock warhorses on the radio is beautifully befuddling to me now. But it happened! I often found Ant’s work with his former band the Ants a bit too verging on parody to enjoy, but this, while still fairly absurd, gets the balance just right.

9 33 (14) SUBDIVISIONS – Rush – Of course, when it came to adding prog to rock records (see: Saga, above), no one mastered it better than Saga’s Canuck compatriots Rush. As a wee preteen, I found the lyrics of “Subdivisions” inexorably deep – you’d better believe “conform or be cast out” resonated with me – but nowadays it feels a bit more John Hughes-simplistic. Still good though, and Rush pulled off the addition of synths to their prog rock with easy aplomb, better than almost anyone of their era. Parent album Signals is strong.


VIDEO: Rush “Subdivisions”

10 25 (8) CRAZY – Supertramp – I know that Supertramp are classed by many as prog, too, but to my ears they’re just self-consciously “artsy” (and those quote marks are vital). They thought they were really, really smart. Spoiler alert: not so much. Not to mention that Roger Hodgson’s voice is smack in the middle of my personal “obnoxious” register.

11 9 (3) LOOKING FOR A STRANGER – Pat Benatar – The follow-up to the triumphant “Shadows of the Night” features a prominent, cheesy organ and a chugging rhythm that doesn’t fit Benatar well, even if the song’s lyrics do. This slightly rocked-up take on power pop doesn’t work.

12 19 (11) BACK ON THE CHAIN GANG – The Pretenders – As great a song as Chrissie Hynde wrote for her late bandmate James Honeyman-Scott, what really makes this is that chiming guitar riff played by Rockpile’s Billy Bremner: so iconic and instantly recognizable. 

13 3 (4) I DON’T CARE ANYMORE – Phil Collins – Oh, those gated drums! Is there an instrumental sound more ‘80s? I love ‘em, though, and no one knew how to use them quite like Collins. This is another one that falls firmly in the “eerie” bucket, along with “best heard after dark.” Collins often interests me most when he’s outwardly not attempting to be pop, and this most definitely isn’t pop; even with its preponderance of synths, this is very much rock and definitely a bit off-kilter, and bless it for that. Sounds as good as it did 40 years ago.


VIDEO: Phil Collins “I Don’t Care Anymore”

14 13 (2) YOUR LOVE IS DRIVING ME CRAZY – Sammy Hagar – The moment when Hagar, a rock radio stalwart to this point both solo and with the icky ‘70s rockers Montrose, found a chewy pop center to his music. This got to #3 Rock and #13 on the Hot 100, but I can promise you that in much of the midwest, it felt a lot bigger. And for fine reason: it’s a delicious Tootsie Roll of a single.

15 22 (4) ONE STORY TOWN – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – At its chart peak, this non-single, the opening track on Long After Dark, is an uptempo chugger that does well everything Petty and the Heartbreakers, well, do well. Artistically speaking, they were firmly at their peak right here. 

16 20 (2) HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF – Duran Duran – You can hum this in your sleep, sure, but did you know this song gave the Birmingham, England quintet their first-ever Billboard #1 – on this chart? The chart week ending 1/22/83, “Wolf” ascended to the top, where it spent three weeks. For all the knocks some make against Duran, this is undeniably a rock song, expertly arranged, played, and produced. And it’s perfect ear candy. [For much more on “Wolf” and Duran, I highly encourage you to check out Annie Zaleski’s superb entry in the 33 ⅓ series about parent album Rio.]

17 32 (2) COME ON EILEEN – Dexys Midnight Runners – Yet more new wavishness making its way up the chart; this would peak at #6. It’s an odd single, really, a blend of Irish folk (it’s nearly a jig) and pop hooks, sung with unabashed ebullience by lead Runner Kevin Rowland. But it works.

18 36 (9) MANEATER – Daryl Hall and John Oates – I recently went deep on the 40th anniversary of parent album H2O and its splendid lead single here on this very website. “Maneater,” at its peak, was H&O’s biggest-ever rock radio chart hit; at this point they were too pop for the format. 

19 14 (3) OZONE BABY – Led Zeppelin – Like “Darlene” (see above), an In Through the Out Door outtake, but this one doesn’t go very far, happy to idle; it’s clearer why this one didn’t see release as part of a “proper” album.

20 31 (3) DON’T TELL ME YOU LOVE ME – Night Ranger – On its way to #4 (it would also scrape into Casey Kasem’s world by getting to #40 on the Hot 100), this is a pretty hard rocking record and easily the best single by Jack Blades and company, featuring an impassioned vocal and tasty guitar licks. I’m surprised that Night Ranger often gets lumped in with hair metal, as they so clearly predated it, and their influences sound much more ‘70s meat-and-potatoes rock than glam etc. 


VIDEO: Night Ranger “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”

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Thomas Inskeep

Rock and Roll Globe contributor Thomas Inskeep tweets more frequently than he blogs, reviews singles on a regular basis for The Singles Jukebox, and has previously written for SPIN, Seattle Weekly, and Stylus. He lives in Indianapolis, IN.

4 thoughts on “Pop Top 40: Top [Album Rock] Tracks for the Week Ending December 25, 1982

  • December 29, 2022 at 10:28 pm

    This is awesome. Do you know where Billboard archives these lists? Have been googling but can’t find it. Thanks!

  • December 30, 2022 at 2:47 pm

    Brilliant walk down memory lane. For a 20-observation list, the sole point I can really contend is the characterization of the awesome Montrose as “icky.” I was shocked to see two Zeppelin Coda cuts on here and so right about the improbable annoyingness of Hodgson’s voice.

    • January 1, 2023 at 9:06 am

      “Devotees (do they still exist?) insist that they were a great live band in their prime. Well, this is a live recording, and I don’t hear it. The ultimate example of a bar band who got lucky.”

      The J Geils Band is a bar band who got lucky? Way to piss all over a band who was much more than that. Maybe you should judge them more than one song from 1982?


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