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The Best Selling Songs of 1980 in the UK

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Richard is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys all forms of entertainment, including movies, music, and television.

The UK's Top 10 Best Selling Songs of 1980

While Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall continued to top the UK chart at the beginning of 1980, several musical styles either continued to or began to influence the British record buying public.

1980 saw disco remain a potent force, as hits by the likes of Kelly Marie, Ottowan, Odyssey, Diana Ross and The Detroit Spinners dominated the UK chart. The new wave hitmakers also showed a continued stranglehold on chart placings, as the likes of The Jam had two Number Ones and Blondie scored three Top 10 hits.

Familiar faces from the previous decade managed to survive the disco and new wave trends, as Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder and Don McLean, among others, all contributed hit songs.

For some, however, 1980 was a year to remember as it was the time that they had their first hit record. Among those celebrating were Sheena Easton, the Nolans, Linx, Lipps Inc., Bad Manners, Liquid Gold and the Vapors.

Musically, however, 1980 will be remembered by many as the year that was overshadowed by the tragic death of John Lennon. The former Beatle was on the verge of relaunching his recording career and, in an ironic coincidence his song that was charting at the time of his shooting was called (Just Like) Starting Over. The following weeks saw this and other songs from Lennon's back catalogue leap to the top of the charts.

Elsewhere, The Police achieved the distinction of having the best selling single of the year, but for many one of the best bands of 1980 was The Specials. They scored four Top 5 hits and led the ska revival in the UK, along with the likes of Selecter and The Beat.

1. The Police: Don't Stand So Close To Me - No.1: Week Ending Sept. 27, 1980 - Week Ending Oct. 18, 1980

Don't Stand So Close To Me was the third of The Police's Number One hits in the UK and became the best selling single of 1980, spending four weeks at the top of the charts.

It achieved the rare feat (at the time) of entering the chart at the summit, while their British achievements were reflected in the USA, where many of the band's songs landed on the Billboard Hot 100.

The success of this single led to it winning the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

2. Barbra Streisand: Woman In Love - No.1: Week Ending Oct. 25, 1980 - Week Ending Nov. 8, 1980

Woman in Love was one of Barbra Streisand's most successful songs chart-wise.

Spending three weeks at the top of the charts from late October, it was written by the Bee Gees and taken from her highly successful album, Guilty.

It achieved the same feat in the US where it sold around two million copies, selling almost a further 800,000 copies in the UK.

Notable Musical Births of 1980

January 25 - Alicia Keys.

January 28 - Nick Carter, The Backstreet Boys.

March 21 - Deryck Whibley, Sum 41.

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April 12 - Brian McFadden, Westlife.

April 29 - Kian Egan, Westlife.

May 28 - Mark Feehily, Westlife.

July 10 - Jessica Simpson.

July 23 - Michelle Williams, Destiny's Child.

July 26 - Dave Baksh, Sum 41.

September 11 - Mikey Way, My Chemical Romance.

October 5 - Paul Thomas, Good Charlotte.

3. Kelly Marie: Feels Like I'm In Love - No.1: Week Ending Sept. 13, 1980 - Week Ending Sept. 20, 1980

"Who the heck is Kelly Marie?" you might be asking. Well, she had the third best selling single of 1980 with this Euro-Disco track that was written by Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry fame.

Hard to believe, but this song was originally going to be offered to Elvis Presley to record, but his untimely death occurred before this could happen.

The single was the biggest of Kelly Marie's short chart career, spending two weeks at Number One and eventually it crossed the Atlantic to US clubs the following Spring, where it became equally successful.

4. Ottawan: D.I.S.C.O. - No.2: Week Ending Oct. 11, 1980 - Week Ending Oct. 25, 1980

If you happened to be vacationing in Europe at any time during the summer of 1980, this is the song that was filling the dance floors at clubs and hotels. Many British holidaymakers loved it so much that it was bought in its thousands once they returned home.

D.I.S.C.O. by Ottawan was originally recorded in French by the group duo, Jean Patrick and Annette, and released in 1979. It wasn't until 1980 that the English version became popular and then peaked at No.2 for three weeks in October. It eventually remained on the UK chart for eighteen weeks and then became a favorite at parties and wedding receptions.

The group managed one more Top 5 hit the following year with Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart) before fading into obscurity.

5. Dexy's Midnight Runners: Geno - No.1: Week Ending May 3, 1980 - Week Ending May 10, 1980

Geno was the first of two Number One songs for Dexy's Midnight Runners in the UK, following up their first minor hit single Dance Stance. Their sound was in stark contrast to the then post punk recordings of groups such as The Jam and The Police, instead lending itself more to the Northern Soul output from the 1970s. The song itself was a tribute to soul legend, Geno Washington.

Based in Birmingham and led by Kevin Rowland, the group achieved eight UK Top 20 singles before splitting up in 1987. They are probably best known internationally for the single Come On Eileen, which topped the charts in both the UK and the USA.

6. Fern Kinney: Together We Are Beautiful - No.1: Week Ending March 15, 1980

Fern Kinney's Together We Are Beautiful topped the UK charts for a sole week in March 1980.

While she had been in the music business for a number of years as a backing singer, this song was only her second attempt to crack the charts and she hit pay dirt big time on this occasion.

With its slow, sultry beat, the single was ideal for the time, but further success eluded her with the decline in the popularity of disco music. As a result, she became a One Hit Wonder in the UK - one Number One single and then nothing else.

In addition, she could not duplicate her success in her native USA, where the record failed to sell.

7. Kenny Rogers: Coward of the County - No.1: Week Ending Feb 16, 1980 - Week Ending Feb 23, 1980

To date, Kenny Rogers has only managed three solo Top 20 hits in the UK and here is one of them.

Coward of the County was his second Number One, following on from the success of Lucille in the Spring of 1977. He has managed several other chart placings dueting with Sheena Easton and Dolly Parton.

His first real success in the UK came around ten years earlier when he was the lead voice with the First Edition.

8. The Detroit Spinners: Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me Girl - No.1: Week Ending Apr.12, 1980 - Week Ending Apr.19, 1980

The Spinners, or Detroit Spinners as they were known in the UK, were one of the most successful and enduring US soul groups of the era. Their recording career was more successful in their homeland, but they managed to have six Top 20 hits in the UK over a ten year period.

Working My Way Back to You was a dance update of the Four Seasons song that had been a US hit in 1966 and this was put together in a medley with a Michael Zager song called Forgive Me Girl.

The single stayed at No.1 in the UK for two weeks in April and peaked at No.2 in the US.


Notable Musical Deaths of 1980

January 29 - Jimmy Durante, pianist & entertainer.

February 19 - Bon Scott, lead singer of AC/DC.

April 28 - Tommy Caldwell, Marshall Tucker Band.

May 18 - Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division.

June 21 - Bert Kaempfert, German composer, bandleader and arranger.

July 23 - Keith Godchaux, Grateful Dead.

September 25 - John Bonham, Led Zeppelin.

October 27 - Steve Peregrin Took, bongo player for Tyrannosaurus Rex.

December 8 - John Lennon.

Georgeanna Tillman - The Marvelettes.

9. Sheena Easton: Nine to Five - No.3: Week Ending Aug 16, 1980

This was Sheena Easton's second single release in the UK, where it peaked at No.3 in August. In the US, it was retitled Morning Train (Nine to Five) to avoid confusion with the Dolly Parton recording of the same name.

Easton's career and popularity began because she was featured in a BBC reality series called The Big Time, created by Esther Rantzen. The show followed Easton as she worked to become a professional singer and then secure a record deal. Once the show finished, her career took off and at one point she had two songs in the UK Top 10, the other being Modern Girl.

9 to 5 went on to even greater success in the US, where it peaked at Number One the following year, earning Easton the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1981.

10. David Bowie: Ashes to Ashes - No.1: Week Ending Aug. 23, 1980 - Week Ending Aug. 30, 1980

This song was the second of five of rock legend David Bowie's UK Number One singles and came five years after the re-release of Space Oddity hit the top spot.

Ashes to Ashes has often been regarded as a very close cousin to Space Oddity, due to its reinterpretation of the character from the latter, namely Major Tom. Bowie regarded the single as his interpretation of hammering the nail in the coffin of his Seventies career - a suitable epitaph.

Ashes to Ashes hit Number 4 in the UK in its first week of release, rising to Number 1 a week later, making it Bowie's fastest selling single up until that point. It was issued in three different sleeves, the first 100,000 copies including one of four sets of stamps, all featuring Bowie in the Pierrot outfit he wore in the accompanying video.

Surprisingly, the single failed to dent the US Billboard Hot 100.

The 1980 Poll

Meanwhile, in the United States...

Top 10 Songs of 1980 - US Billboard Year End Charts


1. Blondie

Call Me

2. Pink Floyd

Another Brick in the Wall

3. Olivia Newton-John


4. Michael Jackson

Rock With You

5. The Captain & Tennille

Do That to Me One More Time

6. Queen

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

7. Paul McCartney

Coming Up

8. Lipps Inc.


9. Billy Joel

It's Still Rock & Roll to Me

10 Bette Midler

The Rose

Major Grammy Awards: 1980

Record of the Year: Sailing - Christopher Cross

Album of the Year: Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross

Song of the Year: Sailing - Christopher Cross

Best New Artist: Christopher Cross

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Richard

What Are Your Memories of 1980?

EricKnight on March 14, 2013:

Awesome lens. Excellent song selection!

navalava lm on February 18, 2012:

It is nice to remember few of the old favorities. It was fun reading your lens!

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on January 13, 2012:

1980 was a year of a lot of great music for me. Nicely done, good memories, blessed.

Spikey64 on September 01, 2011:

What a trip down memory lane again. Thanks

Spikey64 on August 27, 2011:

Brilliant lens. Dexy's midnight runners has got to be my favourite we used to substitute the name Geno for the name of our favourite footballer and sing it at matches.

DuaneJ on June 23, 2011:

great lens...!!!

outsource123 on January 30, 2011:

Useful information. thanks for updating this lens.

LadyLovelace LM on September 08, 2010:

This was an interesting look at an era I missed out on - thank you for putting it together!

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on August 02, 2010:

Thanks, Richard! You always bring back fond memories with the music that you choose on your lense. Fun stuff!

anonymous on September 07, 2009:

Great lens on the year 1980. 5 stars from me! I love 80s songs so much that I have a blog on it. Enjoy.

tdove on November 15, 2008:

Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on November 07, 2008:

Fun stuff, nice job on this one!

Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on November 06, 2008:

Excellent lens. Great job.

Andy-Po on November 03, 2008:

Excellent lens. That brings back happy memories.

Rich from Surrey, United Kingdom on November 02, 2008:

[in reply to poddys] Thank you, Tony. I always appreciate your comments :)

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on November 02, 2008:

Great lens. You did a really nice job of this. I hope you are going to follow up with the subsequent years? If so I am looking forward to that. Lensrolled into all my lyrics lenses and added as a featured lens into my Jam, Police and Madness lenses.

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