According to Billboard, 1981 had 3 of the top 13 songs of all time: Physical (Olivia Newton-John), Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes), and Endless Love (Lionel Richie).

1981 also placed the 80th greatest song – Waiting for a Girl Like You (Foreigner), and split with 1980 the 47th top song – Lady (Kenny Rogers).

While Billboard’s methodology is suspect, 1981 definitely was a great year. I remember it well, and the music was great.

The large number of mega hits in one year could have been the result of the end of the disco era. 1981 was the first year, in many, without any major disco hits. 1981 was also the year Rapture by Blondie was released. Not the first rap song, but a turning point away from disco heading towards rap having a major influence.

Interestingly, these huge hits also essentially marked the end of the careers for their singers and bands. Not bad, to go out on top (or to take the money and run), although I would have like to see more hits.

So lets hear it for 1981 – and for Bette Davis Eyes !

1981 The Greatest Year in Music?
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