1985 was the year Rock Hudson died of AIDS. It was an unfortunate death, but it raised awareness of this plague to new heights. It was also the year of awareness of famine in Ethiopia. In terms of the pop music world, “new wave” really took over and left classic and traditional rock music fans seething.
Let’s take at the top five songs of 1985 as compiled by Billboard and listed by Music Outfitters.
5. Chaka Khan, “I Feel for You”
Chaka Khan’s biggest hit peaked at the end of 1984, which was the beginning of the 1985 chart year. It peaked at No. 3 in November and December of 1984. This top hit was originally written by Prince in 1979.
As Songfacts notes, Melle Mel, who was a rapper with Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, sang the rap part of the song. At the time, it wasn’t common to hear rappers in pop songs. That changed in the late 1980s, and by the mid 1990s, the concept became so common that people started referring to rappers on pop songs as “rent-a-rappers.”
4. Foreigner, “I Want to Know What Love Is”
Foreigner’s 1985 top comeback hit “I Want to Know What Love Is” topped the charts for two weeks in February of 1985. It was the lead single from the band’s hit album Agent Provocateur. Many consider this 1985 hit as Foreigner’s biggest. It’s still the band’s biggest recurrent airplay hit song.
According to Team Rock, the original idea was to have Aretha Franklin sing the gospel part of the song. Lead singer Lou Gramm once told a radio show that whoever filters information to Aretha Franklin denied her another No. 1 song.
3. Wham!, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”
Wham! not only broke out at the end of 1984, but they exploded. Their first hit single in the United States, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” hit No. 1 in November of 1984 and stayed their for three weeks. It was the first No. 1 of what was considered as the 1985 chart year.
This top hit song, which was from their megahit album Make it Big, turned Wham! into a teeny bopper sensation. Michael would later admit to not like being boxed in as a “teeny bopper.” As a solo artist, he tried his best to brush off the image, and it worked very well. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is one of two Wham! songs in this list.
2. Madonna, “Like a Virgin”
Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” turned the native Michigander from a star to a worldwide phenomenon. It spent six weeks at No. 1 beginning in December of 1984. It would be Madonna’s longest running No. 1 song until 1995, when she spent seven weeks at the top with “Take a Bow.”
“Like a Virgin,” which was produced by Nile Rogers, was a huge departure for Madonna. Her self-titled debut album was heavily influenced with R&B, and even used some top R&B producers such as Reggie Lucas. However, “Like a Virgin” was pure pop, and the title certainly caused controversy in the very conservative Reagan era. This top 1985 hit is one of the very few hits that Madonna didn’t co-write or co-produce.
1. George Michael (Wham!), “Careless Whisper”
“Careless Whisper” was the second No. 1 hit from Make it Big. When it was released, it was considered a Wham! song, although it is currently listed as a George Michael solo hit. It spent three weeks at No. 1 beginning in February of 1985.
According to the Independent, George Michael couldn’t understand why everybody loved this top 1985 hit. Michael wrote the song when he was only 17-years-old and never considered it part of his emotional development.
[Featured Image by MediaPunch/AP Images]