The first ‘British Invasion’ of the American charts took place in the mid-1960s, with acts from the UK regularly making the upper reaches of the Billboard Hot 100: in 1965, a record 14 of the Top 40 singles in the US were by British artists. It wasn’t until the 1980s that it happened again: the ‘Second British Invasion’, propelled by new wave and synth-pop bands from the UK, began in the summer of 1982 and lasted until 1986. It peaked on the 16th July 1983, with half the Top 40 (including 7 of the Top 10 singles) coming from the Brits. Apart from the music, a driving force behind this level of success were the accompanying videos: stations like MTV wanted to show varied and interesting promotional clips and the easiest way to achieve this was to include those coming from across the Atlantic. The most popular musical genre in the States at the time was rock, and rock bands tended to make music videos replicating the look of their stage performances. Videos with a storyline – such as The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me Baby – became popular simply because of their originality, and in turn the music got more airplay.
As the 80s progressed, so the variety of promotional clips improved for artists working in all genres of popular music. Accordingly, home-grown talent returned to fill the Billboard charts again, and by the autumn of 1986 the Second British Invasion was officially over. The chart for the 7th of February in 1987 shows how different tastes were between the UK and US:
Number of British artists in the US Top 40: 5
Duran Duran; Dead Or Alive; Peter Gabriel; the group he used to be lead singer for, Genesis; and (rather surprisingly) Samantha Fox – the highest placed of the bunch climbing five place from the previous week to #5.
Number of Smash Hits covers stars in the US Top 40: 7
Duran Duran; Samantha Fox; Pete Burns (as part of Dead Or Alive); Madonna; Jon Bon Jovi’s Bon Jovi; Beastie Boys; Bangles.
Acts in the US Top 40 who never had a hit single in the UK:
Billy Vera and the Beaters; Chico DeBarge; Benjamin Orr (but his former band, The Cars, did have hits); Corey Hart; Eddie Money; and Jeff Lorber and Karyn White (although White did chart on her own – their duet was a one-off, and Lorber had a chart album).
Other US Top 40 hits that failed to chart in the UK:
Will You Still Love Me? by Chicago; We’re Ready by Boston; You Got It All by The Jets; Nobody’s Fool by Cinderella; This Is The Time by Billy Joel; and I’ll Be Alright Without You by Journey.
In addition, two singles in the US Top 40 were not issued as 45s at all in the UK: Huey Lewis and the News’s Jacob’s Ladder (it was released as the B-side to their single Doin’ It (All For My Baby) in the UK); and Without Your Love by Toto.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Feb. 7
No release scheduled for this date.