These were the Top 10 hits in America this week in 1981

Diana Ross, the Boss and a recently deceased Beatle dominated the pop charts.


January of 1981 was the dawn of the new era, when the Eighties truly began in earnest. Disco was breathing its last breaths, as new-wave and synth-pop began to storm the charts. The sound was getting glossier. Still, at the top of the pop heap were names that had been around for years. Rock and soul singers from the 1960s were still cranking out the hits. 

The world was still mourning the shocking loss of an icon. Let's take a look back at the Top Ten songs from Billboard, as reported in its January 24, 1981, issue.

1. John Lennon - "(Just) Like Starting Over"

People were still coming to grips with the fact that the Beatles legend had been gunned down a month earlier outside his home in Manhattan. Lennon described his throwback ode to Yoko as the "Elvis/Orbison" track. 

Image: Discogs

2. Neil Diamond - "Love on the Rocks"

The ballad from Diamond's 1980s film The Jazz Singer reached its chart peak this week. It was not a jazz song.

Image: Capitol / Discogs

3. Blondie - "The Tide Is High"

Debbie Harry and crew fought the winter blues with this slice of Caribbean candy.

Image: Chrysalis / Discogs

4. Barbra Streisand - "Guilty"

As the craze surrounding the Bee Gees began to subside, the Gibbs smartly shifted to more behind-the-scenes work, writing and producing massive smashes for others. Barry Gibb teamed with Babs to keep the Saturday night fever alive on this love duet.

Image: Columbia / Discogs

5. Bruce Springsteen - "Hungry Heart"

Bouncy, retro and to-the-point, "Hungry Heart" didn't quite sound like most Springsteen hits. There was a reason. The Boss wrote it for the Ramones. He decided to keep it to himself, but it's easy to imagine Joey Ramone crooning it.

Image: Columbia / Discogs

6. Air Supply - Every Woman in the World

"Girl, you're every woman in the world to me," the pillow-soft pop duo cooed. It quickly became a staple of Light FM stations.

Image: Arista / Discogs

7. Rod Stewart - "Passion"

The former Faces singer deftly adapted to the shifting pop landscape, transitioning from disco-funk to the synthetic, neon-nightlife sound of the '80s. This track would have fit right in on Miami Vice a few years later.

Image: Warner Bros. / Discogs

8. Eddie Rabbit - "I Love a Rainy Night"

Put together with the Lennon cut and Springsteen's nostalgia, this track proved people were yearning for the 1950s, at least when it came to their rock & roll.

Image: Elektra / Discogs

9. Diana Ross - "It's My Turn"

The Supreme queen belted this theme song from a Michael Douglas rom-com. Undoubtedly, it was slotted right alongside Air Supply and Diamond on FM stations.

Image: Motown / Discogs

10. The Police - "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da"

As with most of his Police tunes, Sting masked dark verses with a cheery, sing-along chorus. What sounded like a cute schoolyard kiss-off to a girl was a rather pointed message for those who listened closely.

Image: A&M / Discogs

SEE MORE: 13 One-Hit Wonders of 1979

Try some, buy some, fe fi fo fum… pop music! READ MORE

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