WHAT WAS A BOY TO DO? It was New Year’s Eve 1983. I was in my teens but not yet able to drive, though I’m sure there were teen parties going on in my small Michigan town … but my invites must have been lost in the mail (again).
There I was, living in the sticks, a TV antenna on the roof and no prospects for cable, and I was supposed to look back on the year that was while anticipating the year that would be — alone?
Except, I wasn’t lonely.
That’s because then, as now, music was a constant companion, a source of solace, a glass of reflection.
While I surely watched Dick Clark count down and rock in 1984, the bulk of my time was almost certainly spent watching a music video countdown. I don’t recall which station it was — again, no cable means no MTV — but I’m guessing it was NBC, since that network had the foresight to program “Friday Night Videos” into its lineup starting in July 1983, giving rural kids access to the revolution that was changing the music industry.
I happily spent the evening dancing with myself, in the safety of my living room, a fridge full of junk food at my beck and paws.
Of course, once I acquired my driver’s license, I don’t think I ever spent a New Year’s Eve at home — though I did spend one in the rain (long story) — until my early 30s. Now, it’s a matter of course for me to stay home: the invites seem to be lost in the mail (again), and two little boys under the age of 3 wouldn’t appreciate being out at midnight.
But again, I’m not lonely — and not just because my wife is with me; it’s because of music. We spend the evening clicking through the year in videos. Though we’ll play some catch-up with today’s popular music, we much prefer to be sucked into VH1 Classic, reliving our music-obsessed youths and remembering what it meant to dream of getting cable TV while eating a whole pizza, a box of ice cream and an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting.
But just in case the “Classic” part of “VH1 Classic” now means 1993 — or even 2003 — I’ve compiled all the videos for the Top 50 songs of 1983.
The Police, “Every Breath You Take”
Irene Cara, “Flashdance (What a Feeling)”
Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”
Men at Work, “Down Under”
Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney, “Say, Say, Say”
Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Lionel Richie, “All Night Long”
Michael Jackson, “Beat It”
Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers, “Islands in the Stream”
Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
James Ingram & Patti Austin, “Baby Come to Me”
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, “Shame on the Moon”
Michael Sembello, “Maniac”
Hall &Oates, “Say It Isn’t So”
Marvin Gaye, “Sexual Healing”
Culture Club, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”
Eddie Rabbitt & Crystal Gayle, “You and I”
David Bowie, “Let’s Dance”
Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney, “The Girl Is Mine”
Billy Joel, “Uptown Girl”
Donna Summer , “She Works Hard Money”
Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf”
Eddy Grant, “Electric Avenue”
Air Supply, “Making Love Out of Nothing at All”
Men at Work, “Overkill”
Billy Joel, “Tell Her About It”
Don Henley, “Dirty Laundry”
Greg Kihn Band, “Jeopardy”
Lionel Richie, “You Are”
Men Without Hats, “Safety Dance”
Journey, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Sergio Mendes, “Never Gonna Let You Go”
Kenny Rogers & Sheena Easton, “We’ve Got Tonight”
Styx, “Mr. Roboto”
Culture Club, “Time”
Stevie Nicks, “Stand Back”
Dexy’s Midnight Runners, “Come On Eileen”
Hall & Oates, “One on One”
Pat Benatar, “Love Is a Battlefield”
Stray Cats, “Stray Cat Strut”
The Pretenders, “Back on the Chain Gang”
The Clash, “Rock the Casbah”
After the Fire, “Der Kommissar”
Spandau Ballet, “True”
Thomas Dolby, “She Blinded Me By Science”
Phil Collins, “You Can’t Hurry Love”
Prince, “Little Red Corvette”
The Police, “King of Pain”
Michael Jackson, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”
Originally published Dec. 31, 2008; updated Dec. 30, 2009.