"You Should Hear How She Talks About You" Melissa Manchester (1982) Mention the name Melissa Manchester, and anyone who knows her at all will likely remember a ballad: "Midnight Blue," "Through the Eyes of Love (Theme from Ice Castles)," "Don't Cry Out Loud." But her biggest (and final) Top 40 single (No. 5) was actually a new-wave song that's nothing like the adult-contemporary fare for which she became a mid-level pop star, and it won Manchester her only Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, against 100 percent uptempo competition (including Laura Branigan's "Gloria"!). For a song that couldn't possibly sound more '80s, it has aged pretty well.
"Can't Shake Loose" Agnetha Faltskog (1983) Frida wasn't the only ABBA lady to go Top 40 in the U.S. in 1983 (with "I Know There's Something Going On," No. 14). Agnetha would make it No. 29 on her own later that year, but modest success (compared to Frida's worldwide smash) wouldn't lead to longevity for the song. Interestingly, both Frida and Agnetha enjoyed their lone solo Top 40 entries with songs written by Russ Ballard that veered closer to the dominant new-wave pop-rock sound of the time than to ABBA's brand of soft Europop.
"Souls" Rick Springfield (1983) I thought I knew every Rick Springfield Top 40 hit from 1981's "Jessie's Girl" to 1988's "Rock of Life" almost by heart until a few months ago when I came across an old Billboard Top 40 list from 1983. I wondered, What's this song "Souls"? Then I YouTubed it and listened. It sounded vaguely familiar, but I still couldn't place it, as in attach it to a single memory from 1983. Where was I when the third hit from Living in Oz was climbing to No. 23? What kind of fool am I? Oops, wrong Springfield song that just missed the Top 20!
"Don't Answer Me" The Alan Parsons Project (1984) Before there was a-ha and the Norwegian trio's iconic 1985 video for "Take on Me," The Alan Parsons Project was revolutionizing MTV with its own animated clip, the one for a No. 15 single that's now a sadly forgotten highlight from my favorite year in '80s music. (It doesn't even get its own Wikipedia entry!)
"Don't Shed a Tear" Paul Carrack (1987) When you think of Paul Carrack (if you think of Paul Carrack), which song never pops into your head?
A) "How Long," Ace's 1975 No. 3 hit, on which Carrack sang lead. B) "Tempted," Squeeze's 1981 No. 49 cult classic, on which Carrack sang lead. C) "Silent Running" and "The Living Years," Mike + The Mechanics' 1985 No. 6 and 1989 No. 1 (respectively), on which Carrack sang lead. D) "Don't Shed a Tear," Carrack's 1987 No. 9 solo hit.
If you picked D, join the club. Attention, members! Carrack's only solo Top 10 sounds better than you don't remember, especially that I don't need… bit at the coda.
"Boys Night Out" Timothy B. Schmit (1987) He may forever be best known as the guy who sang lead on Eagles' final Top 10 hit (1980's "I Can't Tell You Why"), but Schmit's facial expressions in the video for his only solo Top 40 (No. 25 peak) makes me wish he'd done/had more. (Fun fact: When Schmit went Top 40 with "Boys Night Out," bringing the number of solo Top 40 Eagles to five, Eagles surpassed both The Beatles and Duran Duran, each of which spawned four Top 40 spin-offs, among bands who bore fruit and multiplied. That would make Eagles the U.S. Spice Girls, 10 years earlier.)
"Call It Love" Poco (1989) Here's the confusing thing: Randy Meisner, who only appeared on Poco's 1969 debut album (and was fired before its release), and not Timothy B. Schmit, who replaced him in both Poco and Eagles, was the one who reunited with Poco for its 1989 comeback. Schmit must have been still enjoying his boys night out.
"The Doctor" The Doobie Brothers (1989) Here's a Top 10 trip (No. 9) that's all the more impressive because the band didn't need Michael McDonald to take it, which might actually be precisely why you'd probably have to be a diehard fan to remember it.