Classic Chart Check-In: 5 Underrated Gems from the Top 40 Charts 40 Years Ago This Week

On the Billboard Top 40 pop charts for the week ending May 12, 1984, Lionel Richie’s ballad “Hello” was sitting at the top spot. Other artists denting the Top 10 that week included ’80s luminaries like Rick Springfield, Phil Collins, and Cyndi Lauper.

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Look a little bit further down the list, and you’ll find some underrated tracks that might not be on quite as many ’80s playlists as the big hits. But it’s our opinion that these five unheralded gems should be.

“Love Will Show Us How” by Christine McVie (No. 38 on the Chart)

After the 1982 album Mirage, the members of Fleetwood Mac went their separate ways, not reuniting until Tango in the Night in 1987. While they were anxious to show off their solo chops, they also likely needed to get away from each other for a bit, considering how combustible the band was at the time. Christine McVie’s solo stuff showed off the same strengths she displayed as a member of Mac: unerring pop smarts, easy-flowing lyrics, and an optimistic outlook. “Got a Hold on Me” was a much bigger hit for at that time, but this rocking little number has just as much charm to spare.

“My Ever Changing Moods” by The Style Council (No. 36)

There were so many bands that arrived during the so-called “second British Invasion” of the ’80s it was easy for some to get lost in the shuffle. The Style Council enjoyed great success in the UK, but “My Ever Changing Moods” was the only track that was able to squeak through in America, making it as high as No. 29. Paul Weller, who had also led the popular late-’70s group The Jam, played and sang lead on this track. The horn-filled single version is jazzy and fine, but you should also check out the version with Weller solo on piano that’s found on the album Cafe Bleu.

“Show Me” by the Pretenders (No. 31)

Give credit to Chrissie Hynde for her resilience in keeping the Pretenders afloat in the wake of one member’s death and another’s firing. She used a kind of ad hoc group on the earlier singles “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City Was Gone,” then gathered more new players to complete Learning to Crawl. Even with all of that volatility in the lineup, the album comes out sounding unified and as one of the band’s finest, in large part because Hynde’s singing and songwriting on tracks like this bittersweet minor hit were foolproof.

“No More Words” by Berlin (No. 23)

Berlin soared to movie-soundtrack, power-ballad heaven in 1986 with “Take My Breath Away.” That might have opened the door to wider audiences learning about the band, but New Wave fans knew Terri Nunn and company had been churning out edgy singles and albums since the beginning of the decade. “No More Words” was their biggest hit before that ballad in ’86, and it did indeed smooth out some of the rougher edges for pop-radio consumption. But Nunn’s vocals, cool and hot all at once, were still the main selling point.

“I’ll Wait” by Van Halen (No. 22)

Of all the singles coming from Van Halen’s 1984, “I’ll Wait” feels like it might have had the shortest shelf life in lasting popularity. Perhaps because the band skipped making a video for the song. Hearing it today, it’s a dynamic piece of music that shows off how ahead of his time Eddie Van Halen was in melding his guitar heroics with his growing interest in synthesizers. The instrumental breakdown in the middle of the track is particularly thrilling. Throw in those killer vocal harmonies, and a slyly subversive David Lee Roth lyric about love and lust from afar, and you’ve got a steaming track on the whole.

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