The Essential Soundtrack to Pop's Greatest (and Gayest) Year


By Aaron Hicklin

A Musical Primer to 1983 (if there was a better year for music, we'd like to hear it).

Two young men from the well-to-do English city of Bath, Curtis Smith and Roland Orzabal (a.k.a. Tears for Fears), release their first album, The Hurting. The album hits number 1 in the United Kingdom, and all three singles — “Mad World,” “Pale Shelter,” and “Change” — reach the top 5. Although it barely scratches the Billboard charts, it paves the way for the band’s massive 1984 single “Shout” and subsequent album, Songs From the Big Chair, which would sell more than 5 million copies in the United States. “It was the period where electronica exploded,” recalls Orzabal of 1983. “You have to go back to the creation of the electric guitar to see something similar. Every new piece of technology that came out shaped the sound of someone’s next record.”

The title track of Spandau Ballet’s third album, True, hits number 1 in the United Kingdom and stays there for four weeks; in the United States it peaks at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Five years after forming in Birmingham, Duran Duran find massive commercial success in the United States with the reissue of “Rio” and the release of “Is There Something I Should Know?” which debuts at number 1 in the United Kingdom before being displaced two weeks later — by David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”

Tags: Music