The best bits of a golden year - The Snow In The Summer or So-So

15 November 2018
What is the music of 1983?

A letter to Smash Hits. "What is the music of the 80s?" asked Susannah Walker in Macclesfield. This is.

Our top ten TOTP studio performances this year.

The Belle Stars - Sign of the times - 13 January "The original group of gender benders are almost forgotten now, as their gimmick was nicked by Culture Club. On this performance, they've come as cowboys in white, sharp dressers and butch as anything. Up and down the country, genderqueers are cheering for them, perhaps in ways they didn't know they knew."

Haysi Fantayzee - Shiny shiny - 3 February "The whole performance drips of hot and frantic sex. 'Hope my mother wasn't watching,' muses John Peel afterwards."

Thompson Twins - Love on your side - 10 February "On their debut, the band already look at ease." We could have picked any of their performances, they were never less than excellent.

Spandau Ballet - True - 5 May "This is TOTP 1000, and Spandau Ballet own it. To prove Noel Edmonds wrong, the band have come in sharp suits, Tony bestrides the stage like a colossus. Look, we get bored of this song as much as anyone, but there's so much charm when Tony's singing the opening lines."

Creatures - Miss the girl - 12 May "The picture goes into black-and-white, and Zoo look into the camera as it moves along their line. It's spooky and ethereal, and adds so much to the song."

Heaven 17 - Crushed by the wheels of industry - 8 September "An uptempo stomper with an irresistable hook. Glenn Gregory looks in control of the whole stage, even the guys dancing like loons behind him."

Tracey Ullman - They don't know - 29 September "Two backing dancers making like a choir of Kirsty MacColls. They're dressed in 50s fashions, and it's a sharp performance, using the two dead stops to great effect."

Howard Jones - New song - 20 October "A streamlined performance, just Hojo and mime artist Jed, and the banks of synthesisers. This one works, in a way the cluttered staging four weeks ago didn't."

Paul Young - Love of the common people - 24 November "Paul Young kicks off this live show, snug in his winter jumper, singing like it's a welcome cup of hot chocolate. We're not fans of the recording, but love this performance."

Simple Minds - Waterfront - 24 November "One of the greatest introductions in rock history, crashing guitars obscuring a pulsing keyboard-and-bass riff. Jim doesn't just find the camera, he stares down it. The first verse has messy direction, at least one camera was out of position, but Jim uses his monitors and gently signals, before a literal jump for joy in the chorus."

The Smash Hits Poll Winners for 1983 were---

Most Promising Act - Howard Jones, ahead of The Lotus Eaters and Marilyn. Of the rest of the top 10, only The Alarm (4), Paul Young (8), and Big Country (9) were still making hits into '86. It's difficult to think of any major act the voters missed.

Best TV Programme - Top of the Pops, The Tube, Coronation Street. Three of a Kind and The Young Ones round out the top five.

Best album - "Fantastic" - Wham!, "Colour by Numbers" - Culture Club, "Thriller" - Michael Jackson. A very strong category, the hit albums were all fantastic.

Best radio show - Mike Read's Breakfast Show, Steve Wright in the Afternoon, The Top 40 with Tommy Vance. Timmy on the Tranny (Piccadilly) the top regional show, but Dave Lee Travis ranks below Lenny Henry's Sunday Hoot. By rights, this award should go to whoever's got the biggest audience amongst the Smash Hits readers, and that will always be the Radio 1 breakfast jock.

Best video - "Union of the snake" beat out "They don't know" and "Karma chameleon". Votes were returned in early November, the result reflects what was of that moment. "Club tropicana", "I'm still standing", and "Wings of a dove" rank below.

Best single - "Karma chameleon", "Union of the snake", "Is there something I should know". Love also for "True" and "Blue Monday".

Twits of the year - Black Lace, Duran Duran, Kajagoogoo. Jonathan King (12) beats Steve Wright (13) for twittish DJ. This category would later become The Spiders Award for Most Very Horrible Thing.

Most Fanciable Female (as they wrote in 1983) - Tracie Young, Kim Wilde, Tracey Ullman. Leslie Ash from The Tube is 9th, Sarah Greene 11th, and Siobhan is the top-rated Bananaramaite.

The John Taylor From Duran Duran Award for Most Fanciable Male - John Taylor From Duran Duran, Boy George, Andrew Ridgeley. George is 10th, behind the rest of Duran Duran and just ahead of Jon Moss.

Best Male Singer - Simon Le Bon, Boy George, Paul Young, with David Bowie and Nick Heyward behind. This list stands up to the test of time.

Best Female Singer - Tracey Ullman, Siouxsie Sioux, Annie Lennox, with Alf and Tracie behind. Boy George comes 10th, and his bandmate Helen Terry 11th. From 2018, it's weird to think Tracey Ullman was a popular pop singer, but we've watched Top of the Pops, and she's bloody good. Strong singer, and the best songs. Annie and Alf will have their time in the sun, Siouxsie was a bit of a niche singer.

Best Group - Duran Duran, Culture Club, Wham!. Spandau Ballet and Madness just behind. Shalamar rank 16th, in spite of not being particularly successful.

Event of the Year - Duran Duran at Villa Park, The Kajagoogoo / Limahl split, The Wham! Club Fantastic tour. The only non-music event to crack the top 20: Eddie Yates marrying Marion Willis in Coronation Street.

Permanent link