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25 Scorching Rock Hits From the Summer of 1984

todayMay 27, 2024 5

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The summer of 1984 delivered something for everybody, as an array of timeless tracks filled the airwaves.Glam metal’s invasion was in full swing at the time, helping acts like Ratt, Night Ranger and Twister Sister score their breakthrough hits. Of course, the biggest band on the planet at the time was Van Halen, and the group continued its dominance by releasing one of their most popular singles in the summer of ‘84.Also ruling over pop-culture at the time was Prince. The Purple One was everywhere thanks to his masterpiece album (and accompanying film) Purple Rain. Prince’s impact was even felt beyond his own work, as he helped collaborator Sheila E. score the biggest hit of her career.READ MORE: Top 50 Albums of 1984Advancements in electronic music gave rock its newest sound, and the summer of 1984 saw plenty of artists embracing the style. Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and Corey Hart were among the acts who achieved chart success with synth-heavy tunes.Of course, the old guard of rock stars weren’t left out in the dark. Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Steve Perry all enjoyed continued success – and the summer of ‘84 even delivered one of the greatest comebacks in rock history.Check out our roundup of 25 Scorching Rock Hits From the Summer of 1984 below.Van Halen, “Panama”No self-respecting 1984 backyard barbecue would have been complete without Van Halen blasting through the speakers. The band – which, coincidentally, got its start playing backyard barbecues – released their sixth studio album, 1984, in January. While many listeners were surprised by the group’s infusion of synthesizers, the LP spawned multiple top 20 hits. Among them, “Panama,” their third single, which was released in June of ‘84 and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.Duran Duran, “The Reflex”The stars of ‘80s new wave, Duran Duran released their third studio album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, in ‘83, but it wouldn’t be until late April of ‘84 that “The Reflex” was released as a single. This version was heavily remixed from the album cut and steadily climbed up the Billboard chart. It eventually reached No. 1 on June 23 and remained there for two weeks.Ratt, “Round and Round”Glam metal was enjoying its peak mainstream appeal in ‘84, with Hollywood’s Sunset Strip serving as ground zero for the movement. One of the many bands to emerge at the time was Ratt, but it took a minute for the group to catch on. Debut album Out of the Cellar was released in February and slowly began generating attention. Single “Round and Round” followed similar suit – it took four months for the song to debut on the Billboard Hot 100, and it eventually peaked at No. 12 in August.Scorpions, “Rock You Like a Hurricane”Loud, audacious, brimming with sexual innuendo – “Rock You Like a Hurricane” really was the quintessential ‘80s rock hit. Released as the lead single from Scorpions’ ninth studio album, Love at First Sting, the emphatic track became the German group’s first song to crack the Top 40. It spent a total of 16 weeks on the chart, peaking on Memorial Day weekend.Twisted Sister, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”As the summer of 1984 dawned, Twisted Sister unleashed their defiant anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The rousing battle cry against authority struck a chord with young people across America. The song climbed to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it Twisted Sister’s only Top 40 single.Bruce Springsteen, “Dancing in the Dark”The Boss was already a rock icon before the ‘80s even started, still it was 1984 that delivered the summer of Springsteen. Thanks to his hugely successful LP Born in the U.S.A. (which arrived in June), Springsteen was at the commercial zenith of his career. Lead single “Dancing in the Dark” was released ahead of the album and proceeded to becoming the biggest hit of the Boss’ career. The tune echoed through boomboxes throughout the summer and spent four weeks at No. 2 beginning June 30, 1984 (two other songs on our list kept it from ever reaching No. 1).Prince, “When Doves Cry”One of the songs that kept “Dancing in the Dark” out of the top spot was “When Doves Cry,” the transcendent lead single from Prince’s masterpiece LP Purple Rain. Prince’s impact on the summer of ‘84 cannot be overstated. Thanks to Purple Rain, the singer was ubiquitous – at the movies, on the radio, on MTV, there really was no escaping him. Not that music fans wanted to. As the biggest name in pop culture at the time, Prince was on top of the world, and “When Doves Cry” helped lead the charge.Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy”Well, we told you he was everywhere. While other artists would typically sit back and let their first single run its course before putting up a second, Prince quickly followed “When Doves Cry” with “Let’s Go Crazy,” which was released as Purple Rain’s second single on July 18. Like its predecessor, the song surged up the charts, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.Elton John, “Sad Songs (Say So Much)”Compared to the lofty standards he set in the ‘70s, the early ‘80s were something of a down period for Elton John. Sure, he still scored a couple of platinum albums, but generally his LPs featured one or two hits, surrounded by mostly forgettable album cuts. Case in point, 1984’s Breaking Hearts. The album’s buoyant lead single, “Sad Songs (Say So Much),” was a Top 5 hit, however only one other tune, “Who Wears These Shoes,” managed to crack the Top 20.The Cars, “Drive”Released on July 23, 1984, “Drive” was the third single from the Cars’ Heartbeat City album. The heartfelt ballad, built upon a lush electronic foundation, entranced listeners around the globe. The track became the Cars’ biggest commercial hit, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spurring Heartbeat City to multi-platinum sales.Steve Perry, “Oh, Sherrie”While Journey was a brief break, frontman Steve Perry decided to record his debut solo album. Street Talk arrived in April of 1984 and it’s lead single, “Oh, Sherrie” began a steady climb up the charts. The romantic tune, penned as an ode to Perry’s girlfriend at the time, Sherrie Swafford, resonated with listeners. It eventually peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June.U2, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”1984 found U2 in a transitional stage. The band had become a huge sensation in their native Ireland, but breakthrough success in America still eluded them. Released in early September, “Pride (In the Name of Love)” would become their first single to cack the U.S. Top 40. The lead single from The Unforgettable Fire – which would arrive in October – connected with audiences thanks to its dramatic subject matter and soaring chorus.Dio, “The Last in Line”Following stints in Rainbow and Black Sabbath (where he replaced Ozzy Osbourne), Ronnie James Dio had ascended to become one of the biggest names in metal. In ‘82 he formed his own namesake group and almost immediately struck gold with the album Holy Diver and its powerful title track. Dio returned for an encore in the summer of ‘84 with The Last in Line, and once again the album’s title track led the way. The powerful track – which starts slow before unleashing an onslaught of guitars and operatic vocals – eventually became the highest charting single in Dio’s catalog, peaking at No. 10 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.Depeche Mode, “People Are People”Despite scoring a bevy of U.K. hits early in their career, Depeche Mode still hadn’t reached the U.S. Top 40 by 1984. That changed with “People Are People,” the lead single from their fourth studio album, Some Great Reward. Released in July of ‘84, the song eventually peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and officially marked the band’s breakthrough in America. Still, Depeche Mode was conflicted over the track, often remarking that it was too commercial for their liking.Depeche Mode, “Master and Servant”Perhaps in response to the overly-commercial nature of “People Are People,” Depeche Mode chose a controversial track for their second single from Some Great Reward. The BDSM-themed “Master and Servant” certainly turned a lot of heads, as conservative onlookers decried the track’s explicit nature. Despite being banned by many radio station in the U.S., the song still cracked the Hot 100. It’s since remained one of the most popular tunes among Depeche Mode fans.Billy Idol, “Eyes Without a Face”We’d forgive you for believing the biggest hit from Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell album was the memorable title track. But the truth is “Eyes Without a Face” far exceeded “Rebel Yell,” or any other single at that point in Idol’s career. The soft ballad peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July while its music video was in heavy rotation on MTV. The single’s popularity helped Idol reach new audiences and set him up for further success throughout the decade.Night Ranger, “Sister Christian”Night Ranger began turning heads in 1982 with their debut album Dawn Patrol. The band’s success subsequently reached another level with sophomore LP Midnight Madness and its standout single, “Sister Christian.” Inspired by the younger sister of drummer Kelly Keagy – who, it should be noted, was named Christy not Christian – the coming-of-age tune clicked with listeners thanks to its soaring power ballad chorus. “Sister Christian” surged up the charts in the summer of ‘84 and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”It’s perhaps the greatest second act in the history of music: Tina Turner, the captivating singer who found success in the ‘60s and early ‘70s alongside husband Ike Turner, had seemingly seen her time in the sun fade away. Yet after ditching her abusive husband, and reportedly with almost no money to her name, Tina delivered her comeback album, 1984’s Private Dancer. The album’s second single, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” spent three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 that summer and went on to win three Grammys. With its success, the Queen of Rock officially reclaimed her throne.Corey Hart, “Sunglasses at Night”Music fans often inaccurately label Corey Hart one of the ‘80s biggest one-hit wonders. The Canadian singer actually scored eight Top 40 hits during the era, however all of his other tunes have always been overshadowed by his first hit, “Sunglasses at Night.” Released as the lead singer from his debut album First Offense, the tune took a while to catch on in the U.S. Still, powered by a distinctive synth backbone, the earworm track proved too powerful to resist. “Sunglasses at Night” eventually peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Sept. 1, 1984 and remains one of the era’s defining songs.Scandal, “The Warrior”New York rock band Scandal was founded in 1981, but struggles with their record company delayed a debut album for several years. By the time it was ready to come out, onlookers had already declared Scandal’s frontwoman, Patty Smyth, their breakout star. As such, single “The Warrior” was officially credited to Scandal “featuring” Patty Smyth in an effort to get the singer’s name to the public faster. Released in June of ‘84, the song peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. It proved to be Scandal’s only Top 40 hit, as Smyth soon embarked on a solo career.Sheila E, “The Glamorous Life”Unlike other Prince proteges, percussionist Sheila E. had already carved out a nice career for herself before collaborating with the Purple One. She eventually contributed to Purple Rain and released her debut album, The Glamorous Life, in June of 1984. The album’s title track was full collaboration between E. and Prince, as both musicians wrote, sang and performed on the tune. “The Glamorous Life” peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned Sheila E. a pair of Grammy nominations.Wham, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”Despite massive success in the U.K. with their 1983 debut album, Wham found it difficult to break into America. The English duo – made up of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley – eventually found the right formula with “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” the lead single from their 1984 sophomore LP. The bubbly tune became a global smash, reaching No. 1 in nine different countries, including the U.S.A.Sade, “Smooth Operator”The summer of 1984 boasted a wide blending of genres, with burgeoning sub-genres like electronic and hip-hop influencing more established styles like rock and funk. Still, few could have expected a soft jazz ensemble to deliver one of the year’s biggest hits. Sade, led by Nigerian-born British singer Sade Adu, released their debut album Diamond Life in July of ‘84. Its breakout single was “Smooth Operator,” a soulful tune that eventually peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.John Waite, “Missing You”After the Babys disbanded in 1980, singer John Waite forged a solo career. His debut effort, 1982’s Ignition, garnered only mild attention, but 1984’s No Brakes fared better thanks to breakout hit “Missing You.” The single – in which Waite tries unsuccessfully to convince himself that he doesn’t miss his lover – was released in June of ‘84 and became a chart-topping success. It spent a week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped propel No Brakes to gold sales.Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “Two Tribes”After telling listeners to “Relax” in 1983, Frankie Goes to Hollywood returned with a much more powerful message in ‘84. Released in June, their single “Two Tribes” was a vehement anti-war statement, concealed by a driving bass line and catchy chorus. The track was a huge hit in the U.K., where it spent nine weeks at No. 1, the longest streak of any song in the ‘80s. American audiences were slightly less enthusiastic. “Two Tribes” hovered on the outskirts of the Top 40, never matching the popularity of “Relax.”Next: 1984’s 40 Most Awesome Music VideosTop 20 1984 Heavy Metal and Hard Rock AlbumsIt was a triumphant year for the genre, but changes loomed on the horizon. Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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