Released today in 1985: Last Christmas


Epic WHAM1

Which half of the 1980s produced the best pop music? There was plenty of good stuff from both of the periods 1980 – 1984 and 1985 – 1989, of course. But the songs that the decade is most closely associated with are probably those million-selling singles that everyone remembers. 20 singles first released in the 1980s have to date sold over a million copies each in the UK, and interestingly the vast majority were first issued in the earlier half of the decade.

Just three were first released in the UK in the late ‘80s, and two of those owe much to the early part of the decade. Jennifer Rush’s The Power Of Love was first issued on her album Jennifer Rush on 2 March 1984 in Germany, and released as a single there in the same year. Her career wasn’t launched in Britain until 1985. Black Box’s Ride On Time relied heavily on sampled vocals and instrumental sections from Loleatta Holloway’s 1980 hit Love Sensation, so might also be considered a product of the early part of the decade. The only song definitely composed in the second half of the ‘80s is The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York; Shane MacGowan talked about the song’s composition in the Christmas edition of Melody Maker in 1985, although it wasn’t ready for release then. It underwent a number of changes before it was finally recorded in 1987. It should be noted that it reached #2 when first released and was some way off selling a million at the time; it is only recently that it has achieved this, through seasonal re-issues and the inclusion of digital download sales in the last few years.

In release date order, the 20 best-selling singles in Britain first released in the 1980s are:

Stand And Deliver by Adam And The Ants (1981)
Tainted Love by Soft Cell (1981)
Don’t You Want Me? by The Human League (1981)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight by Tight Fit (1982)
Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor (1982)
Fame by Irene Cara (1982)
Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners and The Emerald Express (1982)
Blue Monday by New Order (1983)
Karma Chameleon by Culture Club (1983)
Uptown Girl by Billy Joel (1983)
Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1983)
Two Tribes by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1984)
Careless Whisper by George Michael (1984)
Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Junior (1984)
I Just Called To Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder (1984)
Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid (1984)
Last Christmas/Everything She Wants by Wham! (1984)
The Power Of Love by Jennifer Rush (1985)
Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl (1987)
Ride On Time by Black Box (1989)

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 9
VISAGE (Steve Strange) In The Year 2025 (Polydor POSP660)
WHAM! Last Christmas [Re-issue] (Epic WHAM1)


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