Music · Trivia

Stuck at 2: the whole of the 1980s

The concept of “Stuck at 2” (songs that almost made it to #1 in the UK chart but missed out by one place) continues to preoccupy me. This piece from last week looked at the whole of the 1970s, with a link to this list on the Trivia Menu. Today’s piece looks at the whole of the 1980s. A full list of all the relevant songs can be found here, on the Trivia Menu. It covers December 1979 through to January 1990. As with previous pieces, when a single was kept off #1 by more than one song, each one is listed, along with how many weeks it kept its rival at #2.

Here are a few observations about the songs and artists that were stuck at 2 in the 1980s.

Longest sequences

The longest sequence of songs that were stuck at 2 in the 1980s was 15 weeks (8 October 1983 to 14 January 1984), with the following:

  • Modern Love (David Bowie, 1 week)
  • They Don’t Know (Tracey Ullman, 2 weeks)
  • All Night Long (All Night) (Lionel Richie, 3 weeks)
  • Say Say Say (Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson, 2 weeks)
  • Love Of The Common People (Paul Young, 3 weeks)
  • My Oh My (Slade, 3 weeks)
  • What Is Love (Howard Jones, 1 week)

None of these recordings made it to #1. David Bowie, Lionel Richie, Paul Young and Slade all reached #1 with other releases. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson reached #1 as solo artists, but not together. Tracey Ullman and Howard Jones have never had a UK #1.

The longest sequence of #2s where every #2 song also reached #1 at some point was 10 weeks (16 November 1985 to 18 January 1986), with these releases:

  • The Power Of Love (Jennifer Rush, 1 week)
  • I’m Your Man (Wham!, 2 weeks, non-consecutively)
  • A Good Heart (Feargal Sharkey, 1 week)
  • Saving All My Love For You (Whitney Houston, 4 weeks in total)
  • Merry Christmas Everyone (Shakin’ Stevens, 1 week)
  • The Sun Always Shines On TV (A-Ha)

Longest runs at #2 for songs that didn’t make it to #1 (the 1980s)

Last Christmas / Everything She Wants by Wham! spent 5 weeks at #2, the longest run for any song that was Stuck at 2 in the 1980s.

The following 8 songs each spent 4 weeks Stuck at 2 in the 1980s:

  • Can’t Be With You Tonight (Judy Boucher)
  • Daddy’s Home (Cliff Richard)
  • Drop The Boy (Bros)
  • Got My Mind Set On You (George Harrison)
  • Hand On Your Heart (Kylie Minogue)
  • The Loco-Motion (Kylie Minogue)
  • Vienna (Ultravox)
  • You Drive Me Crazy (Shakin’ Stevens)

Two of these acts never had a UK #1 (Judy Boucher and Ultravox)

In addition, I Have A Dream (Abba) spent 4 weeks at #2, beginning in late 1979.

78 acts who hit #2 in the 1980s and never had a #1

There are 78 acts who have never had a UK #1 but were stuck at 2 in the 1980s.

Dire Straits managed it with two different releases (Private Investigations, Walk of Life). Here’s the full list, in chronological order according to each act’s first #2 hit.

  1. Billy Preston & Syreeta, With You I’m Born Again
  2. Whispers, And The Beat Goes On
  3. Liquid Gold, Dance Yourself Dizzy
  4. Lipps Inc, Funkytown
  5. Randy Crawford, One Day I’ll Fly Away
  6. Ottawan, D.I.S.C.O.
  7. Ultravox, Vienna
  8. Kim Wilde, Kids In America
  9. Ennio Morricone, Chi Mai (Theme From TV Series The Life And Times Of David Lloyd George)
  10. Starsound, Stars On 45
  11. Kate Robbins & Beyond, More Than In Love
  12. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra arranged and conducted by Louis Clark, Hooked On Classics
  13. Tweets, Birdie Song (The Birdie Dance)
  14. Laurie Anderson, O Superman
  15. Altered Images, Happy Birthday
  16. Stranglers, Golden Brown
  17. Toni Basil, Mickey
  18. Imagination, Just An Illusion
  19. Chas & Dave, Ain’t No Pleasing You
  20. Bardo, One Step Further
  21. Yazoo, Only You
  22. Steve Miller Band, Abracadabra
  23. Trio, Da Da Da
  24. Dire Straits, Private Investigations, Walk of Life
  25. Fat Larrys Band, Zoom
  26. Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Annie I’m Not Your Daddy
  27. Dionne Warwick, Heartbreaker
  28. F R David, Words
  29. Heaven 17, Temptation
  30. Freeez, I.O.U.
  31. Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack, Tonight I Celebrate My Love
  32. Tracey Ullman, They Don’t Know
  33. Howard Jones, What Is Love
  34. Cyndi Lauper, Girls Just Want To Have Fun
  35. Kool & The Gang, Joanna / Tonight
  36. Weather Girls, It’s Raining Men
  37. Thompson Twins, You Take Me Up
  38. Nik Kershaw, I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (re-issue)
  39. Neil, Hole In My Shoe
  40. Black Lace, Agadoo
  41. Ray Parker Jr, Ghostbusters
  42. King, Love And Pride
  43. Alison Moyet, That Ole Devil Called Love
  44. Tears For Fears, Everybody Wants To Rule The World
  45. Marillion, Kayleigh
  46. Harold Faltermeyer, Axel F
  47. Nana Mouskouri, Only Love
  48. Su Pollard, Starting Together
  49. Sam Cooke, Wonderful World (re-issue)
  50. Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald, On My Own
  51. Nu Shooz, I Can’t Wait
  52. Sinitta, So Macho / Cruising
  53. Jermaine Stewart, We Don’t Have To… (Take Our Clothes Off To Have A Good Time)
  54. Five Star, Rain Or Shine
  55. Pepsi & Shirlie, Heartache
  56. Percy Sledge, When A Man Loves A Woman (re-issue)
  57. Judy Boucher, Can’t Be With You Tonight
  58. Bruce Willis, Under The Boardwalk
  59. Spagna, Call Me
  60. Abigail Mead & Nigel Goulding, Full Metal Jacket (I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor)
  61. Jan Hammer, Crockett’s Theme
  62. Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale Of New York
  63. Terence Trent D’Arby, Sign Your Name
  64. Bomb The Bass, Beat Dis
  65. Climie Fisher, Love Changes Everything
  66. Fat Boys & Chubby Checker, The Twist (Yo Twist)
  67. Salt-N-Pepa, Push It / Tramp
  68. Brother Beyond, The Harder I try
  69. Bobby McFerrin, Don’t Worry Be Happy
  70. INXS, Need You Tonight
  71. Mike & The Mechanics, The Living Years
  72. Michael Ball, Love Changes Everything
  73. London Boys, London Nights
  74. Lil’ Louis, French Kiss
  75. Richard Marx, Right Here Waiting
  76. Technotronic featuring Felly, Pump Up The Jam
  77. Milli Vanilli, Girl I’m Gonna Miss You
  78. Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville, Don’t Know Much

The following 5 acts were also stuck at 2 but are not included in the above list for the reasons shown:

  1. John Lennon, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band with The Harlem Community Choir, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (re-entry) [John Lennon had 3 posthumous solo #1s.]
  2. England World Cup Squad, This Time (We’ll Get It Right) / England We’ll Fly The Flag [The England World Cup Squad had a UK #1 in 1970 with Back Home. It was a completely different squad from the 1982 squad who released this record but the name of the act was the same.]
  3. Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson, Say Say Say [Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson both had solo #1s and Paul McCartney also reached #1 in a duet with Stevie Wonder.]
  4. Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield, What Have I Done To Deserve This [Pet Shop Boy and Dusty Springfield both had #1s separately.]
  5. Fat Boys & The Beach Boys, Wipeout [The Beach Boys had 2 #1s in the 1960s.]

Other points of note

  • Two different songs called Happy Birthday reached #2, both of them in 1981: Stevie Wonder for 1 week, Altered Images for 3 weeks. Stevie Wonder had a solo #1 in 1984, Altered Images never had a UK #1.
  • Two different songs called Love Changes Everything reached #2: Climie Fisher for 1 week in 1988, Michael Ball for 2 non-consecutive weeks in 1989. Neither act has had a UK #1. [Update, May 2020: Michael Ball has reached #1 since this article was first posted: You’ll Never Walk Alone, with Major Tom Moore, April 2020.]
  • Neil’s recording of Hole In My Shoe reached #2, as did the original version of the song by Traffic in 1967, which features in this piece from last month, Stuck at 2: 1967, 1983. Neither act has had a UK #1.

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