Quanto ci piacciono le classifiche soprattutto se sono nostalgiche e vedono Prince in cima alla lista come per questa 100 Best Singles of 1984, Pop’s Greatest Year stilata da Rolling Stone.
100 Best Singles of 1984: Pop’s Greatest Year
Let’s go crazy: The standout songs from radio’s ‘Thriller’ season
5. Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
Hot 100 Peak: Number Four
In the worst of all possible alternative universes, songwriter Rod Temperton stuck with his original title: “Starlight.” Fortunately, in our happier, weirder world he went with “Thriller.” The final hit single from the blockbuster album that popped out seven of them (starting way back in October of 1982) is a perfect mix of campy winks and genuine chills, aided spooktacularly by a synth bass that’s even creepier than Vincent Price luxuriating in the word “evil.” The music video for “Thriller” was also quite popular. K.H.
4.Prince and the Revolution, “Let’s Go Crazy”
Hot 100 Peak: Number One
In 1984, Prince ruled every major musical category — pop, R&B, rock, dance — with one album, the soundtrack to Purple Rain. With that album’s opener, “Let’s Go Crazy,” he flashed the breadth of his mastery in one song: sprinting Linn drum-machine groove, blackout-dizzying guitar solo, adrenaline-swizzling synth solo, all kicked off by a fonkily reverbed testimony from the bandleader himself as a church-organ swelled. His band the Revolution (full collaborators for this alchemical moment in time), flaying every turn and breakdown, until it all concluded with Prince turning Hendrix into a cartoon superhero, while hopping off his motorcycle to kiss Apollonia in the video. C.A.
3. Chaka Khan, “I Feel for You”
Hot 100 Peak: Number Three
Ten years since her last Number Three hit, Rufus’ “Tell Me Something Good,” Chaka Khan finally matched it. For Khan, it recharged her career. For Prince, this high-tech cover of a 1979 album cut was a late feather an unstoppable year — beyond his Number One album/singles/movie were hits he also wrote for Sheila E. and the Time. For producer Arif Mardin, who’d been producing records since the mid-Sixties, it was a chance to change with the times, and possibly change them himself: “As we were mounting the recording onto the main master,” he told NPR, “my hand slipped on the repeat machine — ch-ch-ch-ch-Chaka Khan. So we said, ‘Let’s keep that, that’s very interesting.'” For America, “I Feel for You” was another early meeting with hip-hop culture (and its uncanny ability to be pop music) thanks to a Melle Mel rap, a sampled Stevie Wonder harmonica solo and video full of breakdancers. C.W.
2. Madonna, “Borderline”
Hot 100 Peak: Number 10
“I dared to believe this was going to be huge beyond belief, the biggest thing I’d ever had, after I heard ‘Borderline,'” Seymour Stein, the record man who signed Madonna, recalled. “The passion that she put into that song, I thought, there’s no stopping this girl.” His gut was right on target: The fifth and final single from Madonna’s 1983 debut album was her first to hit the Top 10. The melodic synth-a-palooza with the plunky low end was one of two on the LP penned by Reggie Lucas, who used a drum machine instead of a live drummer for the first time on the tune, doubling a synth bass with Anthony Jackson on electric bass guitar (“They’re playing so tight you can’t tell the difference,” Lucas said). Madonna turned in a sweetly-sung, restrained but emotional vocal (her voice wavers just so when she gets to “Feels like I’m going to lose my mind”) about a beau who has her heart twisted. The radio remix, which trims nearly three minutes from the tune, boasts one of Madge’s most iconic fade-outs, standing by as she “la la la”s into the void. C.G.
1. Prince and the Revolution, “When Doves Cry”
Hot 100 Peak: Number One
The year’s biggest hit (five weeks at Number One) was also its most visionary. After the shrapnel of Prince’s introductory guitar volley settles, a hypnotic Linn drum pattern syncs with a synth figure courtly enough for a minuet. Vocals of cold menace and desperate abandon vie for preeminence until climatic screeches of pain carry the day. It’s a song that has everything — except a bass. Prince brazenly lopped off his original bass line the studio and then, according to engineer Peggy McCreary, boasted, in true Prince fashion, “There’s nobody that’s going to have the guts to do this.” K.H.